Some people belong on the “A list”

Now, let’s be clear here: The “A list” in the biblioblogosphere is somewhere down in the B or C or D level within the blogosphere as a whole. But there are a handful of library-bloggers who have Bloglines subscription counts in the thousands instead of hundreds and other metrics to match.

One of them, unquestionably, is Jessamyn West at She has a current post discussing that situation, what she thinks about it–and a set of bullet points describing her attitudes toward doing what she does.

I’m with Jessamyn in asserting that the “A list” concept within the biblioblogosphere overstates the homogeneity of who “these people” are and why they do what they do. (I say “they” because this blog is most definitely not part of the A-list–although when you include Cites & Insights, my total reach is in the same neighborhood, albeit on the B-list side.) Here’s what she says:

There are a lot of reasons, and to me the whole “A List” idea seems to imply that the reasons are more tightly linked, that to achieve in one arena is to achieve in all, that we all share the same goal. Most library bloggers, if they make any money at all, make more money writing online than I do. Most library bloggers, if they are employed at all, have better-paying higher-status jobs than I do.

I’m guessing that Jessamyn (yes, I agree that it’s unfortunate to only use a person’s first name, but note that I did use “Jessamyn West” at the start of this post, and I have met her face to face, which is my usual criterion for first-naming) makes no money writing online, so the second sentence is hard to argue with (I don’t make anything from W.a.r, but I do currently make some money “writing online”). Since she’s been upfront about her salary and job, it’s really hard to argue with that last sentence. And it’s pretty clear to me that most widely-read librarian-bloggers have their own motives, and that those motives are not at all homogeneous. Fortunately.

But that’s not the reason for this post. After noting that one reason has such wide reach is that she’s been doing it longer than most (seven years!), she offers this set of bullet points:

So, with the caveat that I’m just some over-educated and over-thinking sometimes librarian with a popular website, this is what has worked for me in the past, and I’m sorry if I sound like a snob by saying so.

  • be gracious with everyone
  • be consistent
  • lead by example
  • encourage, nurture, read and link to newer bloggers
  • meet bloggers in person whenever possible
  • keep pissing matches and whining off your blog, take grudges offline
  • read constantly, offline and online
  • know what you are talking about and admit when you don’t
  • make your content presentable and accessible and findable
  • don’t turn down other opportunities to get your message out and make a good impression
  • accept the power and the responsibility that comes with where you are, and use it for good

If any of that does sound boastful or snobbish (including the last bullet), well, you probably haven’t met JessicaJessamyn. I would refine one point: not only admit it when you don’t know something, but admit the possibility of being wrong (which she does). (I’m sorry, but the thought of Jessamyn West being thought of as snobbish just occasions laughter…)

I disagree with Jessamyn about various things at various times; our political perspectives are distinctly different, as are some of our views on libraries and librarianship.

That disagreement has never turned vicious, has never led to shouting matches or childish nonsense or any of the stuff I’ve sometimes seen elsewhere. It is a pleasure to read, a pleasure to chat with Jessamyn West in person, and an honor to know her. She’s done a lot to build the biblioblogosphere and set a good example for blogging at its best.

Good post, Jessamyn. Keep it up–but then, I know you will.

2 Responses to “Some people belong on the “A list””

  1. The Pinoy A-list

    Is there a Pinoy A-list?

  2. walt says:

    It may not be obvious from the comment above that the “commenter name” is actually a link to a discussion of the Pinoy A-list. Interesting stuff.