Today is the first anniversary of the Annoyed Librarian at Library Journal. Yay! Who’d have thought I’d make it this far. What a long, strange, and (since this is my 125th blog post here), busy trip it’s been.
The thing I’ve noticed most over the past year is that while the page views remain high, the comments have settled down considerably, and this can only be a good thing. Some of those first posts were dominated by people who seemed to think if they wrote "I hate this blog" enough times the AL would just go away. At some point those bozos realized their plan wasn’t working and went off to read Tame the Web instead.
The old blog built up its audience slowly, so that by the time there were a lot of readers the commenters had self selected. This one had to start from scratch with lots of new readers who didn’t know what to make of it. One negative commenter early on claimed the blog was bad because the posts were long and he was expecting short posts. Readers with short attention spans have presumably given up and gone to shorter pastures. Twitter, maybe.
Were we thinking about it, we all would have noticed that library journalism hasn’t collapsed from having the AL at LJ. Some of the initial responses from anti-AL types in the early days ranged from spittle-flecked rage to borderline mentally unstable. I recall one person claiming she would never again read LJ or the work of anyone who ever wrote for LJ. Somehow LJ is still producing responsible news content, and has increased the range of voices in the blog section. Go figure.
Many long time readers have noticed the blog has changed some. Some claim it’s worse, but I don’t think so. It’s definitely different, mostly because it’s more consistent. Very long time readers probably noticed the old blog evolved quite a bit in the 3.5 years it was around. Years ago, I tried an experiment to write a serious piece once a month like one might find in an American Libraries column. Before the year was out, most of the pieces were like that, as the blog evolved from something almost purely satirical and sarcastic to something more akin to an opinion column. When I moved here, I deliberately revamped the AL as semi-weekly opinion column, usually on topical subjects.
I thought this would have been clear enough after a few months, but I noticed a comment a few weeks ago from someone disappointed because other people had already written about the story I was commenting upon, as if the AL had ever been a place to come for late-breaking news. If librarians ever come to rely on the AL for library news, then library journalism will indeed be dead.
I’ll end this self-examination on a grateful note. I’d like to thank Francine and Dan at LJ, who have been most supportive and helpful over the past year. I’m not sure they realized just how controversial this move was going to be, but I have nothing but gratitude for their courteous and professional treatment. Originally, I had my doubts about blogging for an established journal, and wondered if it would rein me in or "censor" me in some way. But as promised I was given complete control (of the content, not the platform), and instead of reining me in I feel instead it’s allowed me to reach new readers and prompted me to further develop my voice and tone.
I’d also like to thank all the readers out there. And I’d like to give a special thanks to that network of people who help with the AL with comments, suggestions, and discussion of possible topics. You don’t know each other, but you know who you are. The AL is a lot more of a group effort than many people realize.
Whatever happens to the AL eventually, the last year has been an worthwhile learning experience for me. And now I’m off to celebrate at the AL Anniversary party. The champagne will soon be flowing, and Chip has promised us an exotic dance. Good times.