I spent this morning at a meeting / “unconference” for library staff about blogging.  I was interested enough in attending this meeting that I went even though it was on my free day — every other day this week I needed to work because of staffing issues or because I was going to be conducting class visits at another local school.  On the whole this was a good meeting — it was practical in parts and generally well-intentioned, but there were a couple of pitfalls along the way.

First off, I counted 40 people at this meeting.  Now if it’s just a case of people sitting and listening to a lecture that’s one thing, but if it’s supposed to be an interactive meeting where people are making different presentations, asking questions, and participating in the always time-consuming and not-really-necessary “breaking up into small groups” activity … well, then 40 people can be a little unwieldly.  And not to be an elitist or anything, but I also think that it would have been a good idea to have limited the invitations to people who actually WERE blogging, instead of opening it up to everyone who thought that blogging was a nice idea.  Okay, maybe that did sound kind of elitist.  But during that small group discussion, I was the ONLY person in my group who actually worked in a branch library.  The rest of my group consisted of people who worked in the research libraries, people who worked in central offices, and (I swear) a lady who wasn’t even supposed to be at the meeting but just wandered in when she discovered that we were there.  And several of them had never actually blogged before, and were not familiar with what blogs currently existed on the library’s website.  Which means that we were coming from very different perspectives on the subject of what kinds of blogs the general public would actually like to read.

Anyway, the group discussion pretty much derailed the meeting from its loosely outlined schedule, and the break and the Drupal discussion fell by the wayside.  We gained focus again in the last half hour, with presentations from the library’s fundraising and marketing people.  Which says something about the library’s desperate financial state, if the fundraising and marketing people were coming to talk to a bunch of bloggers about ways that we could help pull our library system out of the financial pit of despair.

And speaking of finances, on the plus side I learned after the meeting that there is money set aside for materials for our new branch (which MIGHT be completed within a year), and that I’m going to get a call tomorrow morning about what kinds of YA materials I’d like to get for the new collection.  So that will be a nice virtual shopping spree, the last one I’ll probably get to experience for a while.  On the minus side … did I mention before that we were going to get some new pages to replace one or more of the ones who quit?  Well, we’re not.  By which I mean, the positions were advertised, interviews were conducted, and THEN we were told that there wasn’t any money left to spend on these minimum-wage positions.

Pffffffft.

Anyway, the blogging meeting was nice and helpful in several ways.  At the top of the list for me was the fact that I got to see and talk to some of my fellow bloggers in person, including several who used to read and comment on my staff blog (and who might be lurking here for all I know).  It was nice being in the same room as Shelly and several more of my Dear Readers, just because it happens so rarely.  It was also helpful to be able to share our ideas / complaints / constructive criticism with like-minded people.  It was good to know that our blog posts are liked and followed and tweeted … and it was also good to know that our posts are being VIEWED, even though we have to peek over somebody else’s shoulder to know what those numbers are.  And it was also nice to have a meeting in a lovely location with lovely refreshments that made us feel, ya know, civilized and all.

And then, since I didn’t have to head back to my branch afterwards, I got to do some early Christmas shopping and then swing by the Shake Shack before heading home.  Where the cat stared at me with big eyes until he got samples of my bird dog and double cheeseburger.  He let me keep the french fries for myself.

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