Thursday, August 23, 2007

More quiet than usual: Change

My public silence has been particularly pronounced due to an amazing change: My institution has set up internal blogs for the entire staff! Potentially that is over 2,000 people, not including communal accounts (most organizational units also have email accounts). So recently I've focused my blogging energy there, always intending to continue here as well.

On one hand, this is an amazing change. Staff is able to write about whatever they want, and these articles can be read by everyone in the institution. I've already "discovered" coworkers whom I've never heard of or encountered before, but who have worked there for many years (sometimes many decades). We are all beginning to feel comfortable in communicating with one another. To be sure, there is a long period during which people need to figure out how they can use their blog by exploring topics and focus. Some have written about mundane, personal, local matters (such as fixing copying machines) to broader issues that affect much of the staff (e.g. cataloging policies, and my own general thoughts on internal blogging). I eagerly look each morning to see what people have written. It's very exciting!

On another hand, of the probable 2,000+ employees, since June only 46 people have posted on their blogs. That's about 2.3% of the entire staff. (Of those 46, only 11 have more than 10 posts.) I find that surprisingly small, and have been wondering what is the reason.

It could be that staff is not technically proficient in all things web-related (i.e. Web or Library 2.0). Even though blogs (in general) have been around for years, I've heard coworkers state that they have read a blog for the first time only a few months ago. (It could be that they've been reading them all along without realizing that they were blogs.)

But there could be a larger issue. Change is a difficult thing to deal with. People become accustomed to doing the same thing and thinking in the same ways. What they do becomes tied up with their own personal identity. To get them to change can be a major hurdle because of these psychological issues. (That's why Change Management is a large aspect of life today -- from the individual level as in psychology up to leadership and management in the world today.)
(I have actually thought of taking coursework leading to a diploma in Change Management.)

When change is introduced at work, I sometimes hear coworkers murmuring that our duties are already so overloaded, and that taking on a new task just causes more stress. This would explain the antagonism toward change (even when the change is potentially helpful).

That could be part of the reason why my coworkers have not jumped at the chance to have a blog. One of the causes of depression is the feeling that one can not communicate with others. So a personal blog could be a step in the direction of alleviating staff cynicism or skepticism.

Personally speaking, I have come to recognize that one can not live in the past. Au contraire, to be happy and live well, one must actually embrace each day's challenges and rewards and engage them with vigor and energy, as if riding a surfboard over the waves of change. To be able to do this eventually gives one the skills of generally managing hurdles, obstacles and challenges that come in life (and boy, do they come).

So while I keep aware of these issues, I'm hoping that more of my coworkers will get on board with blogs. To that end, I feel that we, the bloggers, should gently push in that direction. One way of low-key proselytizing is through communication. Asking "Did you read X's blog today?" can be a way to motivate people to look at the blog site. Even better, at a recent staff meeting, I mentioned what I had read on someone's blog. When several people expressed interest, I repeated the URL of our internal site, and suggest they visit it for themselves and to consider getting one of their own.

Change is definitely in the air, and I sense that blogs are only the beginning.


Hedgehog Librarian said...

It's very forward thinking of NYPL to be doing this! Brava! But one other thing I might note as to why people are not contributing is this: It's sponsored by their place of work.

People may be more comfortable speaking about work/pow/person things on a private blog that won't immediately be seen by their coworkers. It's why many people blog anonymously (A Fuse #8 Production--an NYPL Childrens librarian being the obvious exception). Perhaps helping coworkers find a boundary where they can communicate without fear of repercussion would help?

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

posysilas said...

Gosh, I'm an NYPL employee, and I'm no computer expert, but I'd be happy to try blogging, but I'd venture to say the reason why we are not blogging at NYPL is because we have no idea that it's been offered to us! Where is this mysterious NYPL blog site? How do I get started? I started working here in January, and have heard nothing about this, except by reading your blog, Furtive Librarian.

nycboot said...

Hi Posysilas,

I don't want to post the site since that would open it to hackers. But if you contact me through our internal e-mail, I will give you the information. (Since your Blogger profile is set to private, I can't respond to you directly.)

posysilas said...

Sigh. I don't understand how to email you. I don't know your name, and can't find any email links on the FL page. But I changed my profile so you can email me. This web 2.0 stuff is so time consuming! Thanks!

Shelly said...

I'm not someone who embraces change, but I do love learning new things, especially if they're computer related and don't require years of study. Blogging and social networking fall into the relatively easy to learn, fun new cyber toys.

Even when some people get excited about the prospect of blogging, when it comes to actually doing it, they find reasons not to. No time. Too confusing. They don't know what to say. Fear that they'll do something wrong. (Yes, I've gotten that from folks, at work and elsewhere.)

It would be nice to have people get accustomed to blogging, with those of us veteran bloggers helping them. Then, if they want, they can venture out into the realm of personal, anonymous blogging. But as a way for staff to communicate and even meet each other where otherwise, they can't, it's great.

Kate said...

I too am an NYPL employee and have never heard of said blogs. I think it's a great idea, especially as I have my own blog. I'll have to look into setting mine up...

nycboot said...

Hi Kate,

Unless you use your address, I can't respond. But you can get an inkling of what's going on at