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There seems to be some very negative views in the blogosphere about anonymous librarian blogs. However, I think that there are cases where it is appropriate to be an anonymous blogger. Many public libraries are very careful about their public image and do not want any information about their library published unless it has been vetted by the public relations department. I chose to be semi - anonymous: my blog does not mention my library system, so that I can be clear that I am representing my own views and not necessarily representing the views of that system. By looking at my associated web presence (such as my Ning profile), one can see what system I work for and could probably determine my identity.

What do you think about anonymity for bloggers? Do you think that it impacts the respectability of the blog?

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I give my name and general region of the world on my blog, but stop short of naming my library system. I've done this because my blog is for me, not them, and I don't want any confusion to arise over who I am speaking for.

I can think of some very good reasons for librarians and library workers to blog anonymously. I was just talking about this the other day with a coworker. I don't think being anonymous makes one automatically less reliable or believable - in some cases, anonymity can be freeing, allowing those who are hesitant or scared of retaliation to voice the truth.

In our 1 existing blog at work, I created a "universal" account for all staff to use, in case they want to post something but wish to stay anonymous. This was done to encourage people to speak up in our system - there are a lot of thoughts and opinions about what happens but not many staff are willing to voice them openly.
Quoting Bob from above: "I feel the basic reason one chooses anonymity is to avoid responsibility for what one says. Communication between people requires trust among people, and anonymity is a way to avoid and destroy that trust. Thus, in general, I am strongly against anonymity unless everyone is anonymous (in which case the communication is probably close to worthless anyway)."

"To be sure, there might be situations where anonymity might be warranted, such as whistle-blowing activities for a just cause. But these situations are unique, and the circumstances of each are different."

Very well said, Bob. If you can't trust the source, whatever is communicated will probably have little or no practical value. When the source is willing to stand up for what they say, that goes a long way towards establishing trust. I think intention, when it can be discerned, says a great deal about credibility. I do think things may become sketchier when we move away from the area of reportage and into the area of artistic expression.

The jazz bass master, Charlie Haden, made an observation (and I'm paraphrasing loosely here) that when a musician is willing to die for every note that they play, you can hear it in their music . Might this be a standard to which bloggers should aspire?
Well to update everyone, I did ask my Chief Librarian about blogging under my own name. He said that it would be fine. I have my name up on the blog now. I find it a relief not to lead a double life ;-) . Thank you all for your comments.

In a world filled with people who are more than willing to line up to support truly bad ideas - ideas that are shallow, affected, cruel, etc. - it's always wonderful to see someone stepping up to act with compassion, kindness, and dignity. Well and bravely done, RefLibrarian!
Kevin, thank you for your kind words and encouragement!
I have been blogging consistently two or three times a week for the past nine months in the context of writing and posting book reviews. It is a personal blog and not associated with my real identity. I was most concerned about anonymity in the early days and checked my online identity regularly to see if in any way it could connect to my real name and real life profession. After some months, I have decided that it is less of an issue than I had feared; I’ve progressed now to the stage where I don’t broadcast my real identity on that blog, but neither do I worry too much about it if people make connections. If someone (in real or professional life) asks me for the URL of my blog, I usually just tell them. If a literary agent wants my name and address in order to mail me a forthcoming title, contacting me for that information through the blog email address, again I usually just tell them. At some point, I assume there will be convergence of my online and professional identities.

I recently wrote an article for my membership that referenced my experiences with Ning as a social network. One of the elements that I noted with surprise was the number of librarians in this particular network who had put personally identifiable images on their profiles. In fact, I attributed it to the fact that Bill Drew was brave enough to put his own photo up on Ning. Interacting with others in the context of a social networking platform is becoming commonplace enough that I don’t think it’s as much of an issue as it might have been three years ago. The Library 2.0 community here seems fairly comfortable with being public about their participation.

In the same way that one wouldn’t behave badly in public in this environment or at a professional conference because of the possible repercussions, I don’t think that one need have too many concerns about blogging publicly. Just remember what constitutes professional behavior in public.
I just came across an article from the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication which investigates the degree of self disclosure by bloggers and the reasons for choosing to be anonymous as a blogger. Much of the data seem to concern personal journals, rather than informational/professional blogs. It would be nice to see more research on anonymity - why it is chosen and its consequences for informational blogs.

Very nice good information thanks a lot for sharing


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