When, in the early 2000s, you were passionate about your work in libraries, full of ideas and eager to hear others’ ideas about how libraries can best serve their communities, excited about what the future holds for libraries, hungry to discuss this stuff with people who shared these interests, and NOT a librarian or enrolled in library school or headed there, there were two great free channels where you could jump into the fray and educate yourself: listservs and blogs. These tools not only flattened geographies–so librarians from far-flung areas could ideashare– they flattened hierarchies: library paraprofessionals who might never get an audience with their own library’s director could comment on posts and engage in conversations with the very librarians their director had hired to speak at Staff Day. In my case, that librarian was Michael Stephens.
In the sense that an alma mater is a place where you are first introduced to a range of exciting ideas and encouraged to engage with them, Tame the Web is my alma mater. I can’t overstate how incredible a gift and opportunity blogs like TTW were and continue to be for library paraprofessionals (joined now by Twitter, SlideShare, and MOOCs) often overlooked by their employers when it comes to sending staff to conferences or tapping staff for local teams. We can keep current; we can participate; we can have a voice, we can even influence the field. That’s a radical, jaw-dropping thing: that staff who may not have any influence or voice in their own workplaces may be able to influence and can have a voice in the field.
There’s another sense to alma mater, which is often translated literally as “fostering mother”. Tame the Web has become this kind of alma mater, too, for me and many others, by offering itself as a platform for guest posts and facilitating (fostering) the spread of guest posters’ ideas. TTW guest posters might be librarians at the height of their careers, new librarians, library school students, library paraprofessionals, or none of the above. I feel very lucky to have been one of them. What we have in common are ideas that Michael thinks will be valuable to TTW’s readers. And I thank him for acknowledging and understanding, as very few do, that valuable ideas may come from folks at all levels of library work. Would that more library systems offered “guest-post like” opportunities to their non-librarian employees.
One way to tame something is to feed it. Tame The Web has been feeding the web with enthusiastic, challenging, and insightful content for ten years. Congrats to you, Michael; happy anniversary, and most importantly, thanks.
Emily Lloyd is an Associate Librarian with Hennepin County Library and lives in Minneapolis. She writes a library webcomic/blog, Shelf Check, and tweets @poesygalore.
#TTW10 “Tamer” Graphic by Theresa Papaurelis, Graphic Artist at Indian Prairie Public Library. (http://ippl.info)