Although I created this blog specifically for Awakening the Digital Imagination, a “networked faculty-staff development seminar,” I have had the idea for this blog for some time. I already maintain several different blogs and microblogs to communicate with various groups of people: the department that I serve as a College Librarian at Virginia Tech (http://hnfelibrarian.blogspot.com/), my colleagues at Virginia Tech Libraries http://pd-vtl.blogspot.com/), other information literacy professionals (http://informationlitany.tumblr.com/), and the world in general (http://twitter.com/#!/rebeccakmiller), I haven’t really had a place to brainstorm “out loud.” That’s what I intend to do with this blog–first through the readings and discussion that take place through the seminar, but then perhaps more broadly.
A bit on the name of the blog: as you can see from the tumblr site I linked to above, I claimed the title “information litany” awhile ago. There are a few different meanings behind this title; first of all, it sounds a bit like “information literacy” which is one of my main concerns, and research areas, as an academic librarian. A lot of what I post about for the seminar (and beyond) will relate to and expound upon the concept of information literacy, so I won’t define it here–I’ll point to the Wikipedia page for that!
The word “litany,” though, has more meaning for me than just sounding like “literacy.” It has several different connotations–(1) an invocation or prayer, or (2) a meaningless, (tedious) repetitive chant or list. In my opinion and experience, librarians (and other teachers/thinkers/professionals that deal with the same issues) vacillate between these two different interpretations in their everyday work. Many of us believe that our work in organizing, disseminating, and helping others find information is sacred, but our goals, beliefs, and hopes often start to sound tedious and repetitive when we try to explain or defend ourselves to other people, groups, or even students. The mission of this blog is to walk that middle ground, taking the sacred and philosophical, and applying it in everyday situations or discussions.
A final thought: in church services, litanies often have a call-and-response. Although these responses are scripted, it still creates a nice metaphor for a blog. Response is an integral part of the blogging experience, creating communities and facilitating interactivity among thinkers. It is my hope that whatever is called out from the blog will generate thoughtful, curious, and helpful responses!