Sunday, May 17, 2009

Don't just blog there -- say something.

The first rule of blogging is "have something to say." For the last two and a half months, I've been thinking about what to say and I've concluded that the purpose of this blog has changed.

Before I started my new job as site manager at Polaris Library Systems, I tried to blog whenever I ran across something that I thought would be useful or interesting to my readers. To find these tidbits, I spent at least half an hour each day doing current awareness activities; reading blogs, newsletters, RSS feeds, listservs, websites, etc. Things move fast in library technology and I felt it was critical to keep up as best I could.

The first two weeks at Polaris were overwhelming. The popular expression is "drinking from a fire hose." The site manager is the primary contact for Polaris customers and is the liaison between technical support and customer sites. I've been told that it takes two to three months just to get a handle on everything and six months to become really productive.

Polaris is a complex integrated library system (ILS) and the site managers come in contact with everything. The public library where I worked had been on Polaris for about a year and half, but I had only used a very small part of the system. Now I was trying to learn several new software programs, figure out the workflow and learn everyone's name. The biggest challenge was Structured Query Language (SQL), a key part of the job. If you want some information from the database, you can't just type in, "I want a list of the library's holds notices for items that are missing." A special computer language has to be used and the query must follow a structure. I was new to this and felt like I was back in high school geometry. But I did a SQL query last week that I couldn't have done two months ago.

For those first two weeks at Polaris, I didn't do my current awareness at all. Partly, I didn't need it for what I was doing and, after working intensively with a computer all day, I just couldn't face one in the evening. As my comfort level with the job has increased, I've gradually been reading my information resources more frequently. But I don't think I'm going to rely on them as a source for my blog posts.

In the past, I found things to blog about as a result of my current awareness activities. Since that's not a big part of my current job, I'm not running into them anymore. So the blog will change. Future postings will not be as frequent as they used to be and will cover other things that I'm interested in, such as folk music, acoustic guitars, books and who knows what else. I think so now, anyway.


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