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April 23, 2004

Librarians who Write

For librarians who write--in country or not--what about an Algonquin Circle, just for us? A list, or a blog, or even just a button we could wear on days we're feeling proud of our efforts? We could meet at library conferences and do Show and Tell.

I've proposed this from time to time over the last ten years. It's always met with tepid interest, although in my most insecure moments I'm sure this group already exists and that there's an agreement that I won't be invited to it ("she has comma issues, and did you catch that run-on sentence in her last piece for AL?").

I like the NWU guidelines for membership: "You are eligible for membership if you have published a book, a play, three articles, five poems, a short story, or an equal amount of newsletter, publicity, technical, commercial, government, or institutional copy. You are also eligible for membership if you have written an equal amount of unpublished material and are actively writing and attempting to publish your work."

Posted by kgs at April 23, 2004 08:32 AM

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I'm on this list but it's super low traffic. Might be a good place to start asking about this idea though:


Posted by: jessamyn at April 23, 2004 10:25 AM

I'm on that list also, and Jessamyn's characterization is exactly right.

But then, I may be like KGS regarding my acceptability in a group of Writers.

Anyway, I'd probably (no, certainly) join such a group...

Posted by: Walt Crawford at April 23, 2004 10:28 AM

Oh hell why not.

Posted by: Michael at April 23, 2004 11:03 AM

Me too. But where's our Algonquin? Online?

Posted by: David Dodd at April 23, 2004 11:07 AM

Lovely idea.

Relatedly, I'm chairing the committee that maintains NMRTWriter and it's just one of those lists that can't seem to sustain traffic. Someone suggested to me that it might be because people are cagey about talking about stuff they are trying to get published. It's unfortunate but could have something to do with it, I suppose (even though our attempts at bi-weekly topic posts don't seem to get much response either!).

So yes, the group you suggest is a great idea, I'd join.

Posted by: amanda at April 23, 2004 11:24 AM

This is a great idea! I vote for a blog. How do we get started?

Posted by: Beatriz at April 23, 2004 11:26 AM

A couple of people spoke to the idea of a virtual librarian writing group on my blog when I was complaining about writing a while back. Are newbies to the profession welcome?

Posted by: Eli at April 23, 2004 11:26 AM

I'm in for a group...and a blog....

Posted by: Michael Stephens at April 23, 2004 11:29 AM

Between confs, online? At confs, at bars? Anyone want to host the blog? I might could do it myself, but am not objecting if Blake or whoever wants to emerge with an offer to make us something slash-dotty. Have I Started Something? (This thread is getting interesting, and I'll check back later, after Lunch With Mother!)

Posted by: K.G. Schneider at April 23, 2004 11:30 AM

There is a Library Writer's Blog out there already. [ http://librarywriting.blogspot.com/ ]
This site lists calls for papers, presentations, etc.

Perhaps this would be something different?
A support group? A discussion forum?

Posted by: Michelle Mach at April 23, 2004 12:34 PM

I'm in. Can I be Dorothy Parker, with better shoes and only half the bitterness? Anyone else make it to the Librarian session at BloggerCon II at Harvard last weekend? I lurked.

Posted by: Beatrice Pulliam at April 23, 2004 12:36 PM

I find the comments very interesting, this has everything but the cafe associated with the Algonquin Circle.

Nevertheless, a place where people could talk about those things that cross the barriers of the profession, and also to talk about anything that makes it hard to start writing would be a good thing for all of us.

Posted by: Oliver at April 23, 2004 12:38 PM

I would be interested.

Posted by: Teri at April 23, 2004 12:46 PM

I'm interested--but only if I can take the half of Dorothy Parker's bitterness that Beatrice doesn't want.

Posted by: Kevin at April 23, 2004 02:15 PM

Should it please the group, we can let Beatrice and Kevin divide up Dorothy Parker. As for Eli, you have been publishing left and right--that you are new, or even a librarian-in-training, seems to me to be a plus.

As a librarian-writer, some of my hurdles include making time for non-library writing; not letting library work crawl all over writing work (very hard when you're a highly connected librarian); understanding how to publish outside of the library trade; knowing the ins and outs of negotiating (in and out of LibraryLand); soliciting first and second readings of work; and a place to pose style and grammar questions to librarians who are really writers, not grammar snobs or mere academicians.

What about... librarianswhowrite.com? or librarianswhowrite.info? Or writerlibrarians.org? Or someofusarejustlikedorothyparker.net? Anyone who met our criteria (you know--the criteria we haven't developed yet) could join. Hmmmm. What if we required everyone to post at least once a month, however briefly--sort of a roll call/bed check?

Posted by: K.G. Schneider at April 23, 2004 02:54 PM

Having done most of my latest writing outside of the library world, I've been feeling a little disconnected from the usual writing crowd. The roll call sounds like a good idea. Sign me up!

Posted by: Sarah Johnson at April 23, 2004 03:32 PM

What about those of us who are stuck writing in the library world and can't get out? :) I'm in!

Posted by: Rachel Singer Gordon at April 23, 2004 07:04 PM

Is it being "stuck," Rachel, or is it just a good but underappreciated choice? (Why do I suddenly feel like Carrie Bradshaw?)

Posted by: K.G. Schneider at April 24, 2004 09:58 AM

I would love to join a group like this, or a community blog, or whatever.

Posted by: Terri at April 24, 2004 08:28 PM

OK, I've gone ahead and created a list on yahoogroups.com called librarian-writers. If it turns out to not be workable then it'll be okay.


should be accessable, if I need to create a tinyurl for it, it won't be difficult. If this gains acceptance as a forum to communicate, it will be wonderful.

Posted by: marty salo at April 24, 2004 09:26 PM

I believe a blank email message sent to:


should work. maybe subscribe needs to go in subject or body, probably not, but some may prefer not to taunt the fates.

Posted by: marty salo at April 24, 2004 09:32 PM

I guess it depends on whether we're feeling glass half-full or half-empty today, Karen! I've done very little non-library-related writing, but may branch out in the future, if some of this mythical substance called free time floats my way...

Beatrice: I think NMRTWriter has seen more action since Karen posted this there than it has in months! But it ebbs and flows.

Posted by: Rachel Singer Gordon at April 24, 2004 11:14 PM

So, what's next? I have done mostly "non-library" writing (I have done a little magazine and newspaper writing and currently review fiction for the Boston Globe), but I also probably need to do more "library writing" the benefit of my library career. I have written some LJ reviews and contributed a chapter to The Librarian's Career Guide (Scarecrow Press, late 2004) but not much else.

Or should I have posted this to Marty Salo's new list?

Posted by: Kevin at April 25, 2004 09:09 AM

Kevin/Mr. Benchley: There's still some discussion happening on the listserv. As a newbie, I still like Karen's idea of a monthly rollcall/bedcheck.

Posted by: Beatrice Pulliam at April 25, 2004 10:56 AM

I'm in if you'll accept wannabes. I only have one article and one book review published but I'd like to do some more scholarly work. Also, been browsing Elizabeth Rankin's book "The Work of Writing" and am interested in a writing group like she's mentioned.

Posted by: Christina at April 26, 2004 05:39 AM

Sounds great. As to "where is our Algonquin?" I think online, except when we can manage a conference meet (rare, for me). Let us know, Karen!

Posted by: Louise at April 26, 2004 11:21 AM

It seems there are two groups here--those wanting to branch out beyond writing for library-related publications and those wanting to BEGIN writing for library-related publications! Either way, I think the group will be interesting and there's no reason it can't be both.

The blog mentioned in a previous entry was for library-professional writing only.

I am trying to do both--write more fiction and learn about writing for the professional literature.

Right now I am paid to write book reviews (non-fiction) and would like to write more fiction reviews (and be paid for it.)

Posted by: Beatriz at April 26, 2004 01:42 PM

If there's room for yet another Beatrice, count me in. I used to write poetry, but haven't written much in years. These days, I write mostly restaurant reviews.

Now my job requires that I publish. Where to start and what to write about is the issue for me.


Posted by: Beatrice N at April 26, 2004 03:15 PM

I think this is a great idea! One of the problems with writing is getting enough comments and suggestions. The ability to post part of articles in development for comment would be especially helpful, at least for me -- though I'm unsure of how this would actually work on a blog -- maybe linking through Quick Topic?: http://www.quicktopic.com/docreview

Perhaps the overall format could look similar to Research Blogs?: http://researchblogs.org/

(I'm interested in the academic end of the writing spectrum.)

Posted by: Raizel at May 4, 2004 02:31 PM