I used the LIS 855 reading journal partly to jumpstart my first attempt at a “professional blog.” I figured that since a major blogging pitfall is failure to actually blog, this would be a good way to establish a firm foundation for what I hope will be my professional blog for years to come. Privacy and disclosure issues were at the front of my mind in some of my posts, and I wondered, should my blog receive more traffic in the future and I actually got to know some of the people working at the companies or in the industries I discuss, would something I said in one of these blog posts get me into hot water? While I tried not to shy away from actual critical analysis, this line of thinking did make me consider what I wrote more carefully than I would have in a private journal. Freedom of speech does come with responsibility to one’s readers, and I felt I owed it to the entities I was analyzing to consider all sides of an issue whenever possible, or at least acknowledge that there might be other sides to consider if I did not feel equipped to comment on them more fully. I hope I did this as consistently as I seem to remember I did.
How has my thinking about ERM changed over the course of the semester? Well, the bottom line is that the part of my brain labeled “ERM” used to say “digital stuff? pay money? how?”, but now says something more akin to the tag cloud in the right-hand menu of this page (minus the tags related to my music posts!). I feel like this 3-credit class got me a basic foothold in all the major issues related to ERM, gave me an idea of who/what the major industry players and standards were, and cemented those points with some nifty hands-on activities in class. It gave me a good idea of where to do further research, should I need more detailed information about any particular issue or standard in the future as part of a job. My thinking about ERM has changed fundamentally in the sense that I am now aware of how much I don’t know, but I don’t feel lost. I know where I would go to amplify my knowledge. I can certainly appreciate now why ERM is a full-time job at so many places, and even if I never become an ER librarian, I am pretty sure that the content of this class will also help me think more comprehensively about collection development and the general information environment (especially digital) that libraries are so much a part of. And, on a sort of random note, I also now realize how techy ERM can be, and am very thankful that I at least got to untangle some of those acronyms for myself via this course.
My “turning point” post was probably Week 3, where I discussed Litman and the ProCD v. Zeidenberg case at length. I really got into those two readings that week, and writing that post I felt like I might actually be saying something worthy of a public readership. Overall, I have found that keeping a reading journal really does help me solidify questions and information in my head. I certainly did not care much for journals of any kind in undergrad, but the blog culture has revolutionized that for me since my first LiveJournal blog that I started in 2006. I feel nervous about having an audience for my informal thoughts, but it’s a good kind of nervousness–a feeling of responsibility–that makes me actually think harder when I write, and sometimes does make me a better writer at least in content even if not in style.
Writing about the CONTU and CONFU guidelines in that Week 3 post also made me realize how difficult it was to write good, clear, and lasting policies, and how that difficulty has created all sorts of problems with ERM. I think the part of me that wanted to be a lawyer when I was in 3rd grade might eventually become the librarian who likes drafting policies from time to time. It was interesting, too, how guidelines can be extremely broad (e.g. the four Fair Use factors) and extremely narrow (e.g. CONTU). I think good policies can be found along the whole spectrum of broadness/narrowness, but the key is to achieve the level of broadness/narrowness that you intend, and, in the case of broad policies, to be clear as to who has the final say in policy interpretation.
It’s been a good semester. Now for the final paper!