Oh my horror at the personal brand notion! My intense and overwhelming dislike of it! It has taken a long time to actually address this question without contempt or anxiety, and this seems to be the case for lots of librarians in the CPD23 Thing 3 mire (yes, I know I’m doing this a bit out of time, but working through it as I am currently without dissertation and or employed). But I am going to fall in and try, because it was sad to neglect this blog when I have a pile of other posts I wanted to put on it.

If all this proves too long, I am taking the following approach and hope this helps anyone else wrestling with doing this project (or having shied away from it because they think these terms do not fit their politics or personality). I am completely uninterested in ‘constructing’ a ‘brand’ for myself. I question the individualistic nature of the concept of a ‘personal brand’ and the extent to which it fits in with a profession that is really about public service too. That said, I do seek to represent myself online as I am in person and would feel very uneasy if I didn’t.

Name and photograph

I chose the name for the blog because it planted itself in my brain when I read Infinite Jest, and like a lot of things I feel for my own amusement, it was rattling around as a unique title for a library blog.

I am marginally anonymous – you can get to this blog through my Twitter account.  Having grown up with the internet, I am just a lot more comfortable with a degree of separation between my on- and offline identity.

Social media

Representing myself on social media: I used Facebook to manage my social life until February 2012, when I decided it was hovering up time, boring me, and making them too rich. I now use it in a limited way, because this is what makes me feel most comfortable. I kept my Twitter account public for most of my year at library school in London, which was good for maintaining networks and more fun than having a closed account. Now I live in a small city again, and I think it’s unwise to have an open twitter account here for personal reasons. My name and picture are recognisable to those who know me offline.

I seriously question how useful Linked In is. After a year on it and getting to grips with most of its basic features, it has never brought me useful information and/or work.

Professional identity

I am often a bit more worried about how much of an academic do I appear to be in job applications (and is this a good or a bad thing?) than how much do I tweet about the wrong things? (the academic/librarian split is something I really want to write a post on, but later) I edit Twitter frequently, and am very careful in writing about work or others on it, except when it is my own writing/historical work, which is entirely independent of my library identity. I treat Twitter as a loose observational diary more than anything else, and I don’t try to use it to promote myself as a type of librarian.

When I looked through the list of CPD23, I realised I had done most of the things on the list already. But no one saw me do them. So no harm in doing them again and blogging them, right?

What I want to do and, well, don’t

Weeks 15 to 17 are new and far enough away to look exciting, especially advocacy and podcasts.

I shudder at most of the early Things – particularly ones that involve joining another social network. (I miss the old days of the internet, when everyone was anonymous and had inane names, and I’m not on Facebook). The words personal branding almost make my eyes bleed and the words ‘the use of the language of the market in every facet of our lives…’ spill from my frothing mouth. Not quite though. I’m not sure how I’m going to deal with that one.

Me as a librarian

I didn’t see this coming.

I came to London last year in order to take up the full-time UCL course. I’d maybe had enough of university already – I’d gone through the full cycle of taking a degree to doing a doctorate to lecturing in one. There is always more to learn, by yourself in the library stacks/online (my preferred methods), or by acquiring the often expensive MLIS.

When I started the year, I wanted to be a cataloguer because I was lucky enough to work on a set of pamphlets relating to the Popish Plot during my graduate traineeship (Titus Oates was a fascinating creep – check him out in the pillory and stocks). Now I’m interested in what lies beyond cataloguing. Education works!

The idea of getting to do more research and create exhibitions is one potential future.  The idea of total fluency in lots of useful programming languages is another. And then there is – well – being an actual librarian in a public, special or school library. Infinite other possibilities and excitement in every direction.

Where I’ll land is another thing.


I decided I’d give this blogging about libraries business a second shot. Partly because I thought I’d try CPD23.

Librarianship blogging and twittering in London and the UK is a big deal. I resisted because I want to spent my spare time and time on the internet not doing stuff to do with paid employment or a career: writing creatively, reading, drawing, exploring, and learning guitar, learning about stuff I don’t know anything about. And not feeding my brain with any more information.  That said, the internet is by far the best way to keep up with the world of libraries and technology, which seems to keep changing every 10 minutes. This is a step towards trying to control that digital onslaught, by generating some.

In addition to this, I am a historian who did a PhD on an Irish subject. I am still always on the lookout for subjects and trying to rework my research for publication… but more about that later.

Library-related things which I’ve read and have excited me:

8vo : this is by far one of my favourite blogs, about anything. Witty, subversive and insightful stuff on historical bibliography and a lot of other cool stuff.

Jessamyn West Without a net: librarians bridging the digital divide: although written from the perspective of an American rural librarian, I could see it holds true for rural, and even urban, Ireland, and perhaps everywhere else, too. During my traineeship, a library user arrived, having come across the country to use the library. When I explained that the catalogue was only accessible through the computer, he said “I don’t do computers” and left. Being in a place like London and a slightly cosseted environment where everyone has pretty high digital literacy skills and can be hyper-competitive in showing this off, it can be easy to collectively forget that for a lot of people, just operating a computer is a trial.

http://humanlibrary.org/ and http://www.libraryasincubatorproject.org/

witching.org  : I discovered it when I tried to make a facet analysis for witchcraft as part of my classification module. I wish more people were producing historical work like this.

As the end of my graduate traineeship descends and I return to broke studentdom once more, in perhaps the most expensive city in Europe, I will probably have to start blogging just so everyone knows how much porridge I’m eating.