Need a new year’s resolution – contribute to the Clinical Librarians Blog in 2016 … by Matt Holland

Want to contribute to the Clinical Librarians Blog?  Why not write a piece in 2016. During 2015 the blog received a respectable 6400 plus views from an audience of health care librarians (we assume) in the UK, Australia, USA, Canada and beyond. It’s a unique forum to write about professional and work issues that concern you. Unsure if you want to contribute? Worried you don’t have anything to say? In the tradition of blog writing, here are ten thoughts that should ease any obstacles to your publishing something here.

#1  Your name on the page

An academic friend once told me that writing was part vanity, part hard work. You need to have the ambition to say something as well as something to say. Vanity won’t get you all the way there but it will get you started. The reverse is also true. A reticence about putting your name to an opinion or discussion prevents you from starting. It might help you to know that blogging won’t make you that conspicuous. There are so many voices out there that you may not be heard above the din. Write something good though, and it will drive people to your website and profile pages. That vanity again …

#2 Making the hat fit  …

Formats may vary to fit your writing style. A good rule is no longer than 1000 words. Short sentences aid readability. A good structure that is obvious to the reader helps them to navigate screens of text. Lists, 5 things or 10 things are a useful peg to hang your ideas on. Essay formats that present the reader with blocks of text are off putting, but a well written essay that grabs the readers attention should draw them in. A snappy title is essential. An informal, but not too jokey style, helps.

#3 It’s good to talk …

It’s only a point of view, but we don’t write enough about everyday practice. The informality of a blog is ideal for this type of discussion. Not everything we read needs to report innovation. Talking about the basic stuff makes a contribution as well. Sharing experience, what we did well, reflecting on your own practice, case studies, thoughts about the broader aspects of health care library practice are all good blogging topics. Small scale, local and short (no more than 1000 words) is a good rule of thumb.

#4 Finding a place for your inner journalist

There aren’t that many fora for us as library and information professionals to express our thoughts in writing. Professional magazines (CILIP Update), newsletters and internal marketing material are about the limit. Blogging is the ideal vehicle but difficult to sustain. Judge this by the many Librarian blogs that are started and then … well, not continued. The LIHNN Clinical Librarians blog has hit on the formula of one blog many contributors. Not unique by any means. It’s one that is adopted across the web (Medium and The Conversation).  Anyway LIHNN have built it. Why not join in.

#5 Making it count …

Blogging is a professional development activity. When you complete your CILIP Revalidation Portfolio you have something to add that is unique to you which didn’t require you to leave the comfort of your office, or home, to complete. When you blog you develop a range of skills in writing and composition that make professional communication easier. Blogging helps build your professional profile. Something to add to your CV or link to from your online profile page. In other words, it’s all good.

#6 Write to learn …

One thing I have learned from experience is that if you want to learn something, write about it. Writing prompts you to do the research, talk to other people, form your own opinion and reflect on your own work practices. Looking for opportunities to write will give you a different take on your professional world as well. It makes it a slightly more interesting place to be.

#7 The entry level is low …

The entry level for blogging is low. Just write a piece and eMail it to the editor. Anyone who submits a well written piece can expect it to be published. No writing to the editor to sell your work or extensive review process. The quality of the blog relies on your ambition to want to write something worth reading. If you start your own blog of course you can publish what you like (see #4 above). This is not to under sell the blog as a medium but to emphasize a strength.  It’s a suitable forum for new writers as well as old hacks.

#8  A useful distraction …

Depending on how you write, furrowed brows over a hot keyboard or making the odd note on your mobile, writing a blog is a great time filler and distraction. On the Issue Desk, sitting in less than interesting meeting, traveling to or from work/meetings, walking the dog, or just moments when the work flow slows. These are good moments to write. Making productive use of downtime.

#9 Brief communications

Need to get a message out. The LIHNN Clinical Librarians blog had 3000 plus individual visitors from around the globe in 2015. A good audience to reach to engage in a discussion or share ideas and another reason to be a contributor.

#10  Over to you …

So it’s over to you. If you read this far then there is a good chance you want to get involved. Just to mention, the LIHNN Clinical Librarians Blog is supported by librarians working in healthcare in the North of England. However it has an international audience. Colleagues from outside the UK who may want to contribute are also welcome.

Matt Holland  [ Matt.Holland@nwas,nhs.uk ]
NWAS LKS, supported by HCLU North.  January 2016

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