LibWorld – Russia

Our guest author from Russia is Katerina Martjyanova from Yekaterinburg. She works as a reference librarian at the Ural State University Library. She is one of the few librarian bloggers in Russia, you can find more information about her on her blog: Library Bat


I was very surprised and flattered, when in the end of may I was asked to write a sort of article about Russian biblioblogoshere for the international project Infobib. I must confess that I first agreed and then started thinking what I will be writing about, as at that moment I was sure I was the only librarian-blogger in Russia. The situation has changed recently. I have learned that my friend and coworker Marianna Ponikarovskaya has a kind of blog on library related topics. And in the end of june the Russian State Library has also started blogging. So, one can say that nowadays there are at least three library blogs in Russia.

But still I want to focus your attention on the fact, that it is too early to speak about Russian biblioblogoshere. To my mind, any subject-oriented blogosphere consists of two core components – authors, that keep a blog, and readers, that read posts and comment them. But in Russia both of these components are poorly developed.

I think that the absence of library related blogs in Russia can be explained by a number of reasons.
The first reason is the lack of information about blogotechnologies. Most librarians don’t know what a blog is, how to create and maintain it, and how libraries can use blogs for professional purposes.
The second reason is the lack of motivation even among young promising librarians. I don’t know why it is so. Maybe, some of them think they have nothing interesting to say, someone is afraid to say something wrong, incorrect or stupid. May be someone has a stereotype that a blog is not a serious occupation, that takes a lot of time and effort.
The third reason is the lack of time. Librarians, that have a lot of interesting thoughts, ideas, and useful knowledge to share with others, are usually so busy with their main duties, that they often have no time for any other occupations.

Theoretically, all these problems can be solved as they are personal and depend on librarians themselves, but what to do with the fourth problem – the lack of technical facilities: unstable, cut and filtered Internet or its complete absence, the lack of computers. In many libraries it is usual to have one PC for 5-6 librarians, which is often as old as some of them.
If to speak about the reader’s audience, the reasons for its weak activity are likely the same – lack of information and technical facilities. And undeveloped culture, experience and habits of internet communication (communications in blogs, web forums and conferences).
But I am sure the picture will change for the better in the nearest future.

As I have already said, that nowadays there are at least three library blogs in Russia. They are Мысли вслух (Thoughts Aloud), the Blog of the Russian State Library and Мышь Библиотечная (Library Bat). I am going to say some words about each.

The author of the blog “Thoughts Aloud” is my friend and coworker Marianna Ponikarovskaya. She started blogging in March 2007. Since then the blog rather regularly is filled up with interesting and useful information on various library topics which Marianna finds in the internet. And being a psychologist by education, she devotes many posts to psychological fundamentals of librarian-reader communication, psychology and sociology of reading, conflicts in libraries. On average she publishes 7-8 posts a month, it is not much, but quality is always better than quantity.

The first post on Russian State Library Blog appeared on June 26, 2007. It is a historical event indeed, the news of which spread in no time (the authors of RSL blog were very surprised at that). At the moment I cannot say much about this blog, because its authors are still thinking about the content, concept and design. They say, they would like to cover the inner library life, problems, that worry librarians and patrons, to tell something interesting, that cannot be put on official news. They also plan to attract their coworkers to write for the blog. One of the RSLblog authors – Vladimir Bolotin – says, that they have very few visitors, and it is difficult now to judge about the hypothetical attendance and popularity of the blog. But still the future of this blog seems to me wonderful.

And last but not least comes my own blog – Library Bat. I have created it in the beginning of February 2007 as a kind of experiment and in half a year blogging I can say that the experiment is successfully. Totally my blog visited about 900 people all over the world, about 17 visitors a day. I have made some useful and pleasant circle of friends. I receive favourable reports and praise from my colleagues on workshops and conferences.
There are two versions of my blog – in Russian and in English. At first I intended to write identical posts in two languages, but it appeared to be rather difficult and sometimes even there was no sense in it, as I do much translation. So I made up my mind to devote more time to the Russian version, as it seems to be more needed and useful.
The topics I try to cover are absolutely different – from comics to problems with wi-fi and education, but all of them somehow are related to librarianship and the library I work in. The core issues I am interested in are – the development of virtual reference services in a library and technologies and tools of library 2.0. And of course most of my posts are devoted to these topics. As there is no information about library 2.0 in Russian, I do a lot of translations from English. In this situation it is very difficult not to violate other persons’ copyright, so I have to post citations or reviews. And I want to thank all the authors that gave my permission to translate their posts or articles, especially Tracey Reed, whose post on tagging was rather popular, and John Blyberg, whose “11 reasons why library 2.0 exists and matters” I have just finished translating.

So, what conclusion have I come to about library blogs in Russia? Absolutely positive! There is always room for improvement, as my teacher of English used to say, and we – Russian librarians – have a lot of opportunities for development. And what is most important – we have lot of examples to follow, much experience to take into account. I am sure that in a year I will be able to make a review not of three, but of thirty blogs of different libraries – from schools to academies.