- Technorati now tracks over 37.3 million blogs
- The blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months
- It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago
- On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day
- 19.4 million bloggers (55 percent) are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created
- Technorati tracks about 1.2 million new blog posts each day, about 50,000 per hour1
Another useful resource for understanding how people use Internet tools is the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Pew reported on blogs in 2005, including:
- Blog readership shoots up 58 percent in 2004
- 6 million Americans get news and information fed to them through RSS aggregators
- But 62 percent of online Americans do not know what a blog is2
In this era of Web 2.0, we are looking to each other for news, recommendations, and advice instead of the proverbial “expert.” It is this proletarian nature of the blog that lends itself to the current atmosphere of trust in one’s peers. We want to be involved; we want to write our own story. Blogs are opinionated, personal, amateur, and sometimes anonymous, but may still serve as a valuable research resource. As with any new publishing outlet, measures of value need to be customized in order to judge information quality and recommendation methods should be adapted to disseminate it.
Ellyssa Kroski, Infotangle, http://infotangle.blogsome.com/2006/02/20/authority-in-the-age-of-the-amateur
So although the name may be a turn off or misunderstood, my guess is a lot of folks have encountered blogs and simply didn’t know that it might be called a blog. Library users may even be returning to the cool page that has all the best news and not even know it’s a blog!
- is organized chronologically by date (newest entries are usually at the top);
- self-archives by date (done by software);
- is updated somewhat regularly with relatively short entries;
- includes links, more links, and still more links;
- uses a unique URL (called a “permalink”) for each individual post;
- provides an RSS feed that syndicates the blog’s content;
- does all the dirty work of creating pages and archives.
Weblog features usually include:
- Dated entries
- Mission, goal statement, or About the Blog area
- Categories for posts
- Permanent URLs for each post
- Comments on posts by readers
- Lists of other blogs the author(s) reads
- Navigational links
- Tags (or keywords) for each post assigned by the author(s)
- Contact info
Posting to a blog is a simple process. Once configured, most blog software is accessed via a Web-based interface. The posting process might go something like this:
- Open a Web browser
- Log into your blog software
- Select “new/create entry”
- Type text in the boxes for title and entry
- Click submit button
As I’ve explored the “biblioblogosphere,” I’ve been struck by several things. First has been the vitality and generosity of the professional exchange taking place. I have shamelessly grabbed references to other blogs and web sites, to interesting papers and new books to read. Second has been the reflectiveness of many posts—the thoughtful consideration of context, of related issues and concerns, of evaluation. Finally, there is the personal voice—with revelations of frustration, happiness, anger, optimism.
Mary Ghikas, ALA, The Green Kangaroo Blog, http://blogs.ala.org/greenroo.php
Laurel Clyde, at the University of Iceland, was the leading scholar in this arena. Her untimely death in September 2005 tragically cut short her research. She did, however, publish some useful articles and a book. In Weblogs & Libraries, she defined the content-management system-based tool as follows:
A Weblog can take the form of a diary, a news service (or summaries of and links to current news items on a topic), a collection of links to other Web sites, a series of book reviews, reports of activity on a project, a journal or diary, a photographic record of an event or activity, or any number of other forms. Most Weblogs display material for the current month or the current week, with older material being archived on the site for browsing and/or searching.3
In the same work, Clyde presents a 2003 survey of library information-science blogs, including sections devoted to blog basics, blogs as sources of information, and a basic content analysis of fifty-seven library blogs. At the conclusion of the chapter analyzing those blogs, Clyde noted that researchers Weaver and Alcock both reported the potential of libraries to use blogs—to interact with library users through such mechanisms as “commenting.” Commenting in blogs allows readers to type responses to the original posts and publish them to the blog record. A conversation among blog authors and readers who comment potentially follows.
Clyde, however, was not convinced that libraries were adopting blogs at any substantial rate, and she urged librarians to consider blogging as a means to communicate and enhance user experience: “By not taking advantage of this simple medium (and doing it well), libraries will be the losers,” she stated in “Are You Serious?” in the Electronic Library “Viewpoint” column.4
Since Clyde published her research, blogs in general have gained popularity. In Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers, authors Robert Scoble and Shel Israel argue that blogs are better than traditional one-way marketing venues because they allow instant two-way communication with customers.5 They theorize that if a business doesn’t provide a blog where customers can interact via commenting with the blog authors, those customers will find a business that does allow two-way communication.
Not only do blogs bring current trends and issues to the attention of libraries and information scientists, but they can also help practitioners to keep up to date—in other words, reading and participating in library and information science weblogs can be a professional development activity.
Laurel Clyde, Weblogs & Libraries
Other library professionals have written about blogs and libraries as well. Paula Hane acknowledged blogs as a “natural for librarians,” while Marylaine Block proclaimed they are a useful communication tool. Terrence Huwe decreed librarians are “born to blog!” And Darlene Fichter noted in an oft-cited article that librarians can use Weblogs to promote service internally and externally.
I wonder why we are still using e-mail to plan our state conference. If I were more knowledgeable we would be blogging our way to success.
Participant in Michael Stephens’s SirsiDynix Webinar, “Weblogs & Libraries,” February 2006
- Library News Blogs—A straightforward catch all of many of the other types listed here—all the news that’s fit to blog, if you will!
- Marketing & Promotion Blogs—Announces and promotes activities and programming, might be tied to the library calendar.
- Materials/Resources Blogs—Highlights certain parts of a library’s collection. Might focus on fiction, electronic resources, new reference books, just-added DVDs, or similar. The Darien Public Library, Darien, Connecticut, posted this on December 14, 2005:
King Kong opens today and it’s playing right here in town! Now, the question is, are we determined enough to brave these bone-chilling temperatures and leave the homefires to view the mighty beast? Come on! The reviews are so good, this may turn out to be the rare screen event that launches a classic. Besides, the movie, at more than 3 hours long, will give us ample time to thaw and we can enjoy chills of the spine-tingling variety!
Within sight of the Playhouse, right here at the Library, we’ve got some great new titles on DVD. Released yesterday were the action-packed science-fiction thriller The Island, and from Canada, Saint Ralph, a story of adolescence, endurance, faith, and miracles. Also, now out on DVD is The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Dare I say how much I enjoyed this movie? Yes, it’s got some of the crass humor one would expect given the cringe-inducing title, but, this is also a great buddy movie and a sweet, romantic comedy. (Did I mention how funny this movie is?)
“What’s the Forecast for Skull Island?” Darien Public Library Movie Blog, December 2005, www.darienlibrary.org/connections/movies-music/archives/2005/12/post_1.html
- Service-Oriented Blogs—A blog devoted to a particular service of a library: gaming programs for teens, etc.
- Project Blogs—Chronicles a project: a new building, a long-range plan, a research study.
- User-Specific Blogs—Focused on a particular user population: teens, faculty, seniors, graduate students, highlighting library services and news just for that group. Canada-based McMaster University posted this information on its Library News & Events Blog on April 6, 2006:
Health Sciences Library acquires Wiley journal Backfiles
The Health Sciences Library is pleased to announce the purchase of two complete backfiles of Wiley journals:
Cell and Developmental Biology
The Wiley InterScience Neuroscience Backfile Collection contains more than 100 years of digitized back-issue content across fourteen leading journal titles. The collection provides a backfile resource for core research across the sub-disciplines of neuroscience, and includes full coverage, back to inaugural issues, of seminal titles, includingJournal of Comparative Neurology, Annals of Neurology, Journal of Neuroscience Research, and GLIA.
The Wiley InterScience Cell & Developmental Biology Backfile Collection contains more than 113 years of digitized back-issue content across thirteen leading journal titles. The collection provides a backfile resource for core research across the discipline of cell and developmental biology, and features full coverage, back to inaugural issues, of seminal titles, including the Journal of Cellular Physiology and Developmental Dynamics (formerly American Journal of Anatomy).
Funding for these purchases was provided by the Faculty of Health Sciences.
Category: All Library News, Health Sciences, e-Resources, New HSL Resources Contact: Dorothy Fitzgerald | Permalink
McMaster University Library News & Events Blog, http://library.mcmaster.ca/php/blog.php?id=353&display=full
Note that the above entry includes information about the resource, a note about funding, a permalink and a contact name.
- Association & Organization Blogs—Devoted to news and information about an association or and organization relating to libraries.
- Conference Blogs—Could be related to associations or organizations. Devoted to all things related to a conference or meeting.
- Internal Blogs—Devoted to internal communication and news. (See “All about Internal Blogs,” page 20).
- Librarian’s Blogs—Opinions, insights, and information from librarians and library workers, which could be devoted to a specific topic or type of library work.
This year, for the first time, the annual conference will be complemented by a collective blog. Bloggers from all regions, as well as those new to blogging, are invited to contribute. We hope to offer descriptions of and reactions to the conference sessions and social events, as well as other aspects of the Edmonton experience, including weather updates and travel tips.
Connie Crosby, announcing the Canadian Association of Law Librarians Conference Blog
For an overview of all the different kinds of blogs in the Biblioblogosphere, and to add your own library blog, visit Amanda Etches-Johnson’s Blogging Libraries Wiki (see figure 5).
- Easy, do-it-yourself intranets
- A way to reduce e-mail and paper clutter
- A vehicle to share knowledge and experiences
- A way to create buy-in for projects
- A powerful communication tool
- An easy way to create dynamic Web pages
- A method to make searchable archives6
The Voice of Public Librarianship
Beyond all of our “technobabble” in the Biblioblogosphere, which dear friends you know I love, is a voice so pure that I’m more often than not moved by the words. I get chills. This voice shares exactly what it’s like in many public libraries today—working reference and interacting with people.
Michael Stephens, Tame the Web, http://tametheweb.com, February 24, 2006
Since late 2004, Lane Medical Library at Stanford University Medical Center has used an external blog to communicate frequently asked reference, information, and policy questions. A move to a single-service desk model—combining reference and circulation—necessitated training sessions “that move”; the library staff members realized they needed an internal blog listing policies and procedures as well as a one-stop shopping clearinghouse of library information.
There is absolutely nothing I could have said to her that would have made any difference at that point. Something personal would have been completely inappropriate and unprofessional, not to mention obviously unwanted. In Reference Interview seminars, we are taught to end with, ‘Does this answer your question? Please let me know if I can help you further,’ or other wrap-up phrases. But she was so intent on getting the information from that book that I immediately ceased to exist, and those phrases served no purpose. They don’t ever cover this in library training, but sometimes, the best thing to say is nothing.
“Not One Word,” Feel Good Librarian, http://feelgoodlibrarian.typepad.com/feelgood_librarian/2006/02/not_one_word.html
“Our intranet was just not cutting it for this type of information—poor searchability, cumbersome to add content, relied on a few people to add EVERYTHING, etc.,” Rikke Ogawa, information services librarian at the Lane Medical Library, told me. According to Ogawa, staff members were sending too much content in e-mail messages, and “We needed something more permanent and easily referenced so that people who didn’t normally do tech troubleshooting or general reference had something to refer to first instead of just grabbing another staff member who might be working on something else.” In February 2005 a staff version of the FAQ—as a blog—went online, specifically to communicate policies and procedures, tech support, and reference.
Internal blogging can replace e-mail in many instances, bulletin-board postings, and even some meetings! Sarah King Steiner, learning commons librarian at Georgia State University Library in Atlanta, explained, “GSU has a really extensive and well-used internal blog system, in fact our main internal blog has become so popular that mass e-mail messages to staff have gone pretty much the way of the dodo.” Nicole C. Engard, Web Manager at Jenkins Law Library, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and author of “What I Learned Today” (http://web2learning.net), told me an interim internal blog is in place at her library “to keep the staff up to date for a few months now as a primer to the release of our new Intranet, which will include an internal news blog and an infinite number of project-specific blogs.”
Another benefit is transparency—letting staff members know how the library’s funds are being spent (including money spent on conferences). Some libraries send staff members off to meetings and seminars and never require a debriefing, or written reports disappear into the ether of internal communications. But that’s not so for the librarians at George Mason University. The TripNotes Blog (http://timesync.gmu.edu/tripnotes) offers a place where staff members report on conferences, presentations, meetings, and other activities. “I finally realized a blogging package was the way to go,” said Wally Grotophorst, associate university librarian/systems at George Mason (who planned the WordPress-based, pilot-project blog), in a post at the Library Systems Office blog (http://timesync.gmu.edu/wordpress/?p=74). Brown Bag events or conference debrief presentations didn’t fit the bill. “Not everything a staff member attends is worthy of a group meeting or a newsletter,” added Grotophorst. “For this particular need, I think a blog hits the sweet spot: Web-based, multiple posters so it pretty much runs itself… . It will offer a searchable archive of professional development activity, and it will give staff a bit of practice with blog technology.”
As to getting involved in the LIS side of blogging I was thinking about those of us who don’t have the time/energy/creative juices to write a blog but have the occasional idea that might like to share with the ‘sphere. We can still contribute to the conversation by sharing our ideas, new services, etc. with folks who do blog. I’ve always had positive experiences passing ideas along to LIS bloggers who in turn share those ideas with their readers.
Glenn Peterson, Hennepin County Public Library, Minnesota
Using these technologies can also offer another important benefit: experience. Steve Backs, Adult Services Department manager at the Monroe County Public Library, Bloomington, Indiana, began internal blogging “within the last year as part of our efforts to create reasons for staff to work with up to date technologies.” This may be the most important benefit of internal experimentation and use of new tools. He told me, “At the same time we were assessing computer competencies, and this idea fit in with the efforts to encourage staff to immerse themselves more completely in the tools that our patrons are using.”
According to George Mason University-based Gro-tophorst on the Library Systems Office blog, “I had a new WordPress blog up and running in about fifteen minutes.” WordPress, available free from (http://wordpress.org), is a local server-side solution many libraries use.
Christine Brown, information services and electronic collections librarian at Waterloo Public Library in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, started the INFOSTUFF blog (http://wplinfostuff.blogspot.com). “There are some things about Blogger that I don’t like, for example there is no way to create subject categories,” she says. “I am investigating other options such as WordPress.”
Our internal blog provides us with a very effective means to communicate. The openness of the blog lends itself to a strong sense of group-imposed responsibility. Every staff member can read and comment on the blog. Both the writer and the commenter share a responsibility that is policed by the larger community of readers. Snarky or inappropriate questions or comments will be seen as such by everyone. Likewise, questions posed but unanswered, or answered in an unsatisfactory manner, will be available for all to see. So, for both parties, reputations are at stake. As branch manager I cannot simply choose to ignore the comments and questions posted to the blog. Oh, I could ignore them, but at my own peril, and with the loss of any positive reputation or respect. Likewise, staff value that line of communication, and so long as they use the blog in a responsible manner they know that management will respond to them.
Michael Casey, “Communicating with Blogs,” Library Crunch, www.librarycrunch.com/2006/03/communicating_with_blogs.html
Sacks (Monroe County Public Library) took a slightly different approach: “I told staff they would be expected to pay attention to the blog and there would be no more announcements to all staff in my department via e-mail. In other words, ignore the blog at your peril.” The result? “They have seen the benefit of having fewer e-mail messages from me.”
Ann Arbor District Library www.aadl.org
Included is the mechanism for registered users of the library to comment—to enter into a conversation with the director and other librarians. Key word here: transparency.
Brian Kenney reported in Library Journal: “These blogs aren’t sleeping—they are generating plenty of response from the community: ‘The response has exceeded our expectations,’ said Parker, noting that over 7,000 people have registered to use the site in less than three weeks. ‘They are even being used so the public can talk with each other. The library is the public forum.’”
Scanning the AADL site, one finds posts with a few comments and those with many. In the Teens area and on gaming blogs, it is not unusual to see a thriving discussion with more than two hundred or three hundred comments, some of it lighthearted “dissing” or trash-talking gameplay. In our Roadshow sessions on blogs in libraries, Jenny and I have asked the audience: “How many of you can say you have a thriving teen presence inside your library Web site?”
This model will translate. University libraries could implement similar sites and begin conversations with faculty and students. Special libraries could do the same with their clients. Use the implementation strategies and best practices in the next chapters to guide the way.
As the media specialist in charge of coordinating technology related to Lakeview’s Holocaust unit, I created a blog so students could exchange their views of Night with kids 720 miles away in the English class of Honey Kern at Cold Spring Harbor High School in New York. Lakeview High School English teacher Carol Terburg found the blog to be an effective and engaging teaching tool, giving students the chance to talk to their peers in another part of the country. As a result, kids ended up exploring questions that were essential to their Holocaust lesson without realizing it. For example, one student asked, “How does one dehumanize another person/group?” Terburg says that her students found the blog to be the most meaningful activity related to Wiesel’s book.7
Early in the website design process, we made the decision that blogs would constitute the nucleus of our dynamic website content. In addition, we wanted to enable commenting on those blogs. We really had no idea what kind of response we would get—of what form that response would take. Just a brief look at our Director’s Blog will illuminate the fact that the blogs promote a constant two-way dialogue between our director, Josie Parker, and the public. Of course, making this successful requires a director who is courageous enough to regularly face the public head-on. But if you’re not ready to go there, be sure to take a look at some of AADL’s other blogs that are staffed by some very clued-in, bright minds. Virtually every material type garners it’s own blog. New blog entries are added several times a day. Often, blog entries serve to promote what, otherwise, may be obscured by the bigger names. In essence, blogging your material taps into the long tail by putting oft-overlooked titles in front of eyeballs.
John Blyberg, Blyberg.net, www.higheredblogcon.com/index.php/patrons-in-the-drivers-seat-giving-advanced-tool-sets-to-library-patrons
Has blogging continued at Lakeview High School? Lincoln’s own colleague at Lakeview High School, Carol Terburg, also eagerly embraced the blog concept and has been committed to using The Night Blog again. She adds, however, “This semester we’ve blogged among ourselves because our Night unit couldn’t coincide with our New York friends, but I think it has still been fun and a great learning experience. At first, it was difficult to get less adventurous students to participate in the blog, especially when the task of contributing posts was assigned as homework. When I gave them time from class, they became more than enthusiastic.”
The Night Blog http://nightwiesel.blogspot.com
“Witness to History,” by Margaret Lincoln www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6302986.html
Terburg used another tactic for the second semester: she encouraged students to do more interacting with one another rather than just responding to the topic. After contemplating the fall 2005 experience and then deciding to apply what she learned from it, Terburg reports she challenged students to really learn from each other, not just revisit their own ideas. The Lakeview High School administration and parents have generally been supportive with regard to the use of the blog. One student in Terburg’s class this past semester remarked that her father didn’t want her to use her first name. Additionally, there were three “Jessicas” and two “Kens” in the class so students were permitted to use “pen names” known only to Terburg. A blog permission slip (in accordance with the Lakeview’s AUP) was also signed by parents.
… every record in the catalog gets its own page, which means it has its own static, permanent link (also known as a “permalink”) that can be indexed by non-library search engines such as Google and Yahoo, as well as tracking of new items in engines like Technorati. Because it’s blogging software, each record also offers comments, trackbacks, and (yes, believe it) tags.
Because WordPress is open-source software and uses an open architecture, anyone with the proper knowledge can write a plugin to modify the content, the display of search results, the display of the individual records, or users can remix content to their hearts’ delight. This means that instead of limiting development to what the vendor offers or to what the programmer (you hopefully have on staff) can do, anyone who knows how to write a WordPress plugin can now enhance the OPAC—which suddenly opens the field to potentially thousands of new helpers.8
This is a project to watch closely!
Lamson Library’s “WPopac” www.plymouth.edu/library/opac
“Library 2.0 in the Real World,” by Jenny Levine www.techsource.ala.org/blog/2006/01/library-20-in-the-real-world.html
- Easy to configure, with templates and colors
- Access to the blog from any Internet-connected computer
- Allows multiple authors
- No categories
- Stored with thousands of other blogs of all kinds, including spam blogs
The other type of software is loaded locally on a library server. On-site solutions, like Movable Type or WordPress, are customizable to the users’ content.
- Loads of potential for configuration and added features, called plugins
- Full support for categories, keywords, and other snazzy blog features (such as Trackback, a listing of other blogs that have linked to a post)
- Support for multiple blogs and multiple authors
- Can be difficult to install and requires some knowledge of servers and programming languages, may not be the best choice for small libraries
- Can cost $100 or more
- May not include technical support
Open-source software solutions prove to be the way to go for many institutions. With a community of support, various enhancements, the available number of plugins, and installation comprising a relatively simple process, software such as WordPress can be the perfect solution for internal blogging. For more on choosing blog software, see the “Blog Software Smackdown” (at www.sitepoint.com/print/blog-software-smackdown-review).
Blog Software Smackdown www.sitepoint.com/print/blog-software-smackdown-review
Sure, I wrote on Tame the Web, it can lead to spamming. But there are plugins available to prevent blog spam from getting out of control. Monitoring comments also is an effective way to minimize spamming.
In my opinion, “turning on” comments can be very scary for some librarians. “Oh! What if they start asking us questions?” a librarian said at a recent stop of the Roadshow. It’s good—GREAT, in fact!—if you get questions! But you need to be ready to respond. That’s the next step for library blogs: conversation! It is time to enter into networked conversations.
On our Roadshow Tour, Jenny often tells the story of talking to Ann Arbor District Library’s head of technology Eli Neuberger about comments. She relates that all of the comments are not moderated at AADL. The IT staff does watch blog posts and comments; only once has the IT staff had to delete a four-letter word. Other than the deletion of the four-letter word and the note, “Edited for publication,” the post is intact.
- Create your blog and determine the permanent URL: Build the blog and determine what its URL will be. Make it a “marketable” URL that can be promoted via the various outlets at your disposal.
- Decide if you want one blog or more: For many libraries, especially smaller institutions, you may only need one blog. Some small libraries even start with a Blogger blog first—to test the waters. Other larger libraries may want to create separate blogs into different ones about resources, programming, subjects, etc. This could also be done with separate categories in WordPress or Movable Type.
- Post SJCPL blog entries formatted with bold, italics, and inserted hyperlinks;
- Insert special characters as needed with HTML coding;
- Locate and insert images from our resources for blog entries; and
- Utilize the style sheet and guidelines to ensure consistent posts across the system.
After the training, we created two handouts: a style guide and a blog guidelines sheet. Armed with handouts and logins, we discussed the blog—the mission of the SJCPL blog and how the team could make their posts effective and consistent and still reflect their individual voices.
After discussion, I took them through building a post. I asked all of the blog authors (via e-mail a few days before) to come to the session prepared—with text for a blog post so we could use it to do some live training.
At the session, we discussed choosing a title for the entry, a “headline” that might catch readers’ eyes. We also talked about choosing a correct category and entering text. Together, we visited Amazon.com to look at cover art, and we examined the library’s OPAC on St. Joseph County Public Library’s leased content-server. We experimented with images at both sites as well as how to insert them via the <img src> tag. Simple HTML commands such as that are very helpful in some blog platforms.
Sample “Blog Guidelines,” adapted from SJCPL and used in my blog workshops include:
- Have fun!
- Write about things you love or feel strongly about.
- Be real. Avoid jargon or library-speak.
- Have an informal tone. It’s not a scholarly essay!
- Spell check!
- Write often! Look for inspiration in your collection, the news, and events going on around you!
- Don’t spend too much time on reviews or com-mentary.
- Posts can be as short as a sentence or two or as long as a few screens. Shorter posts should have photographs or links, longer posts better be really interesting.
- Write in complete sentences and use proper grammar.
- Establish your credibility and your own voice. It is okay for us to employ different writing styles. We are the HUMAN voice of the library, but don’t forget that you are speaking as a library employee.
- Be truthful.
- In general, don’t post harshly negative reviews. In a real sense, we are promoting library use and materials.
- Cite your sources and provide links to them when possible.
- Respect others’ privacy. Don’t post information on, or the opinions of, other identifiable people without their permission. Likewise, don’t post e-mail addresses or telephone numbers without permission.
In the training sessions at SJCPL, those of us involved in the blog’s planning, urged the authors to share their opinions with each other. “Feel free to tell the other bloggers when you like or don’t like their posts,” said Joe Sipocz, author of the guidelines for SJCPL and head of the library’s blog initiative at that time. “We don’t usually get much feedback otherwise,” he said, “so let’s talk to each other.”
- provides time for any glitches to be discovered; and
- provides staff blog authors with some time to get comfortable in their “publishing” personae.
It’s important to remember that the library blog will be where ninety percent of your new content is “placed.” It needs to be found, the content on it needs to be interesting, and it needs to be sustainable.
At SJCPL, whenever we had a big program or event, I checked the blog to make sure there was coverage there. I kid you not, no one is going to find that little update you made to a page buried three levels deep in your library’s Web site!
- Read and Evaluate as Many Blogs as You Can. Start here. Take a look at all of the blogs that interest you. Use the “Blogging Libraries” wiki to find blogs created by similar libraries. Evaluate them and note what you like and what you don’t. This builds a feature set you can translate to your own configuration. As you do this, record what types of posts librarians are writing on their blogs. Can you produce similar content? Inspiration will follow!
- Learn about the Ethics of Posting to a Blog and Publishing Posts. Read Karen G. Schneider’s, “The Ethical Blogger” and incorporate it into discussions as you plan for your blog.9
- Find Your Voice and Develop a Mission. Do not start a blog until you and your blog team have defined the mission and scope of your library blog. Use the various types of library blogs discussed previously in this chapter to decide what your focus will be, and then create a mission from that. You may be asking, “Why a mission?” Not only will it help your authors preserve the voice of the blog, it sets a tone as well: “The authors of the blog care enough to verbalize their mission. This blog is serious.”
- Create Staff Buy-In. See Resources section (page 33) for more on this.
- Focus on Content. Once you’ve configured colors, graphics, and general “look and feel,” let the software take care of creating the mechanics of the blog. Librarian blog authors should focus on content. Focus on creating interesting, useful posts on new materials, programs, what’s hot on campus, or out in the world. Reach out to users with what interests them. If people are asking about a particular topic at your reference desk, it may merit a post or two! Scan other library and related blogs for inspiration about content. New books, new movies, programs, and holidays are all reasons to compose a post.
- Share Authorship. Depending on your library’s size, this could be a handful of authors—authors from every service point or department, or, in the case of very small libraries, just you! Multiauthor blogs are beneficial to libraries because it disperses the writing duties and, hopefully, ensures that, each week, there are a few new posts. The group should agree on the voice and mission of the blog.
Examples of Stated Blog Missions and Goals
“This blog is a forum for the IU South Bend community to share their opinions on the 2005–2006 One Book, One Campus book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. Readers may also view entries about the 2004–2005 title, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges.” http://ee.iusb.edu/index.php?/onebook
“The goal of this blog is to more effectively communicate information about library resources in the area of business. The primary audience for this blog will be students of the College of Business who need assistance with their projects, although others might find useful information here as well.” www.library.ohiou.edu/subjects/businessblog/?p=3
- Post Often and Succinctly. Users don’t want huge blocks of text. A blog with short posts that get to the point, and a few intermittent longer essays, will work just fine. A library blog will grind to a halt if its authors suffer from “over writing” a brief post about new books. “It’s not a dissertation,” said one the SJCPL blog authors. Write informally but error free. Make your readers want to return or subscribe.
- Tag Your Posts. If your blog software supports tagging, your entries will find their way to Technorati and join the growing pool of blog content searched by that engine.
- Develop a Style Guide. This should mirror whatever style guide you use for written promotion.
- Take the Time to Train Staff Members about Posting to a Blog. Get your bloggers together and give them some training. Let them play! Let them try out posts and talk to each other while they do it. This also creates buy-in for the project.
- Integrate Blogs into Your Site. Focus on content, but pay careful attention to creating a seamless environment between the rest of your Web site and your online resources. Link back and forth between the catalog, pointers to leased databases, and your calendar.
- Create a Feeling of Transparency. Write about the library’s plans and projects. Tell users how you are spending resources. Be honest. Tell them, every step of the way, about whatever new thing you are bringing to the library and why.
- Be Human (First Person) and Give Good Voice. One of my favorite posts at the SJCPL blog by AV Librarian Julie Hil says it all: “I love lists. I love to read lists, make lists, and check off lists. So imagine my pleasure when I saw a list of what movies South Bend residents are watching. I was digging around on Netflix.com (the online movie rental site) this afternoon and found a feature that allows you to search by city. So I thought I’d give it a try. Here’s what South Bend is renting this week… .”10 Put a human face on the library blog with pictures of the authors. If some staff members are not comfortable with their pictures online, use a graphic or image to represent them. Let them be creative with their pictures. Change them over time.
- Designate a Point Person to Review Content. The library blog initiative should be organic. People who have worked together on certain projects may be working to bring those projects together in the library blog. Other staff members may be writing content based on what’s happening at the library. Someone, however, should be designated as the point person for the blog. This person could call meetings so blog authors could discuss blog strategy, assign certain types of content to librarians, and this individual should be monitoring all the posts to the library’s blog. This ensures that even though staff members have discussed the voice and mission of the blog, no posts outside that mission remain.
- Cite your sources. Link to them. It’s what this Web and blog thing is all about.
- Post often but have something to say. I’d rather read one or two super-good posts than multiple posts that someone puts up because they feel they have to. I used to post every day, but now I focus on what’s really interesting to me and what I can comment on.
- However … make the commitment to follow through. It pains me to see a new blog go up, get listed here and there, and then never hear from it again. Being a blog author is an investment of time and energy, so commit. If it doesn’t work out, pull the plug and either take it down or archive the blog.
- Post about what you’re passionate about, and don’t be afraid to say what you think!
- Share yourself. I love learning about folks and how they see the world. Different individuals’ perspectives may help me understand or change mine. It also adds to the community that is the Blogosphere, and more so, to the World Wide Web community. We are people … be yourself!
- Never miss an opportunity to show your administration how well an external library blog is working. Did you get a nice e-mail message from someone who found your blog helpful? Forward it to all involved. It’s feedback of the best kind.
- If you are authoring a personal blog, don’t do it on your library’s dime. Breaks? Lunch? Sure! In the speaking I’ve done about blogs, I’ve had numerous library-admin types ask what to do about a blogger on their staff. If it’s a library-related blog, discuss what you might do as part of professional development with your supervisor.
- Blog unto others as you’d have them blog unto you. In other words, play nice. I don’t want to read flames. I do want to read a differing opinion from someone who thought out their points on whatever the topic of the day is.
- Read other blogs for inspiration and Ah Ha! moments. Comment. Chime in on your blog. CITE!
- Learn all there is to know about your blog app and make use of its features. These are good skills to have.11
Library Podcasting Examples
Buffalo State College (NY) Podcasts www.buffalostate.edu/podcasts.xml
Kankakee Public Library www.lions-online.org/Podcasts.html
Lansing Public Library (IL) www.lansing.lib.il.us/podcast.htm
Pritzker Military Library (IL) Podcasts www.pritzkermilitarylibrary.org/podcast
Thomas Ford Memorial Library (IL) Click-a-Story www.fordlibrary.org/clickastory
- 1. Podcasting could be called “audio blogging.” Podcasting is uploading an MP3 audio file to a blog post and syndicating it out via RSS 2.0 or an ATOM feed. Aggregators such as Bloglines or Apple’s iTunes Music Store can subscribe to podcasts and automatically pull in new podcasts when they become available. You do not need an iPod to listen to podcasts. Any MP3 player or computer that can play MP3 files will work.
- 2. Libraries are using podcasts to share and syndicate audio content. Take a look at Listen Up!, the monthly news and information podcast from the Decatur Campus Library of Georgia Perimeter College to see university library podcasting in action. The podcasts include news about the library, services, resources, and special guests. Find it athttp://gpclibraryradio.blogspot.com.
- 3. Podcasting adds even more dimension to the library’s voice.
- 4. Podcasting requires equipment you probably already have. Most new computers come equipped with the hardware needed to record audio. A free software solution is the open-source application Audacity for Macs or PCs (http://audacity.sourceforge.net). Add an inexpensive microphone, find a quiet room in your library, shut the door and your podcasting studio is complete! Apple’s Garage Band, v.3 (part of the iLife ’06 suite of Apple i-apps) comes with built-in support for producing slick podcasts as well.
Podcasting in academic libraries is still so new that its importance and ultimate utility has yet to be determined. This has not stopped a number of institutions from experimenting with the technology, adapting it for a variety of uses ranging from library tours to database tutorials to recordings of library events. More than any of the suite of social software applications that exist today, such as blogs, wikis, and IM, podcasting adds a new dimension to the library, giving it the opportunity to create a personality for itself, its services, and its greater community.
Chris Kretz, Dowling College, www.higheredblogcon.com/index.php/learning-to-speak-creating-a-library-podcast-with-a-unique-voice
- 5. Podcasting takes time and a commitment to the service. For a library to produce audio content (monthly? weekly?) there will need to be a serious investment of time and staff, at least at first. It must be a priority. Promotion is a key as well. Do not spend valuable staff time and resources if you are not promoting your podcasts. Track usage via download statistics and gather anecdotal evidence.
- 6. Content abounds in the library setting for podcasting. Have a visiting author? Will guest speakers sign off on a “podcast clause” when visiting libraries? Or will they agree to be interviewed for the library’s feed? This is marketing for your library and publicity for the person involved, so they will probably be happy to do it; however, make sure that your “interviewer” is skilled in asking questions and has time to put together a brief intro and set of questions. Other ideas for podcasting (or videocasting, which may be on the horizon for some libraries, via librarian David King, Kansas City Public Library):
- Perfect for augmenting a teen-driven Web site
- Professors can archive/aggregate course lectures
- Oral histories
- Online storytimes
- Local storytellers telling a story
- Internal training
- External training
- Promotion of library events: interviews, music programs12
- 7. Having presence in iTunes is a good thing (see appendix 1).
- 8. Think about loaning podcast devices at your lib-rary. Ponder loaning devices—iPods or other media players—at your library and include library-created podcasts on them. Librarians could create audio tours of their buildings, training for electronic resources that guide users click by click, or marketing announcements and general news-item podcasts.
Bloggers and to a lesser extent teens who read blogs are a particularly tech-savvy group of Internet users. They have more technological tools such as cell phones and PDAs and are more likely to use them to go online. Not only do they live in technologically rich households, but they are more likely to have their own computer at home and to be able to use it in a private space. They help adults do things online. Most strikingly, they have more experience with almost all online activities that we asked about. Bloggers are more likely than non-bloggers to engage in everyday online activities such as getting news, using IM or making online purchases, but content creating and sharing activities are the areas where bloggers are far ahead of non-bloggers.
Pew Internet & American Life Report, “Teen Content Creators and Consumers,” www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/166/report_display.asp
- 9. Involve your users. Remember, Web 2.0 is all about participation. Some libraries have partnered with patrons, students, faculty members, or clients to assist in the creation of audio content. Feel free to create some new service that brings librarians and library users together. Look to teens and young adults as a starting point. Libraries such as Thomas Ford Memorial Library in Western Springs, Illinois, have involved teens in recording book reviews for the library’s Web site.
- 10. Create a podcast studio or digital creation station(s) in your library. It’s very likely that this is most important thing we could do for our current and future users. Provide them with the access to the technology and the space to collaborate on the creation of new content. Teens, students, and other users might be looking for a space to record podcasts, edit digital video, and mix up and mash up content. This very well may be a future role of libraries. We need to create spaces in our libraries for collaboration and so that users can gain experience with Web 2.0 tools. Thomas Frey offers the same suggestion in his piece on the future of libraries:
Experiment with creative spaces so the future role of the library can define itself. Since the role of the library 20 years from now is still a mystery, we recommend that libraries put together creative spaces so staff members, library users, and the community at large can experiment and determine what ideas are drawing attention and getting traction. Some possible uses for these creative spaces include:
- a. Band practice rooms
- b. Podcasting stations
- c. Blogger stations
- d. Art studios
- e. Recording studios
- f. Video studios
- g. Imagination rooms
- h. Theater-drama practice rooms13
Paula J. Hane, “Blogs Are a Natural for Librarians,” NewsLink 24 (2001) www.infotoday.com/newslink/newslink0110.htm (accessed June 1, 2006).
Geoffrey Harder and Randy Reichardt, “Throw Another Blog in the Wire: Libraries and Weblogging,” Feliciter 49, no. 2 (2003): 85–8, www.cla.ca/feliciter/v49n2.htm (accessed June 1, 2006).
Terence K. Huwe, “Born to Blog,” Computers in Libraries 23, no. 10 (2003): 44–5.
Brian Kenney and Michael Stephens, “Talkin’ Blogs,” Library Journal 130, no. 16 (2005): 25–7, www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6261414.html (accessed June 1, 2006).
Brian Kenney and Michael Stephens, “LJ Talks to the Feel-Good Librarian,” Library Journal 130, no. 16 (2005): 25–7, www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6262153.html (accessed June 1, 2006).
Steve Lawson et al., “Teach an Old Blog New Tricks,” A Presentation for the Colorado Association of Libraries, http://library.coloradocollege.edu/cal2005 (accessed June 1, 2006).
Andrew Rosenbloom, “The Blogosphere,” Communications of the ACM 47, no. 12 (December 2004): 31–3, http://portal.acm.org/toc.cfm?id=1035134 (accessed June 1, 2006).
Michael Stephens, “The iPod Experiments,” Library Journal netConnect (2005), www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA515808.html (accessed June 1, 2006).
|1.||Dave Sifry, “State of the Blogosphere, April 2006 Part 1: On Blogosphere Growth,” Sifry’s Alerts (April 17, 2006), www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000432.html (accessed May 31, 2006).|
|2.||Lee Rainie, “The State of Blogging,” Pew Internet & American Life Project (January 2005), www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_blogging_data.pdf (accessed May 31, 2006).|
|3.||Clyde, Laurel. , . Weblogs & Libraries. Oxford: Chandos Publishing; 2004.|
|4.||Ibid. “Weblogs—Are You Serious?”The Electronic Library 2004 May;22(no. 5):390–92.|
|5.||Scoble, Robert; Israel, Shel. . Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons; 2006.|
|6.||Stephens, Michael. “How and Why to Try a Blog for Staff Communication,”Computers in Libraries 2006 February;26(no. 2):50.|
|7.||Margaret Lincoln, “Witness to History,” School Library Journal (February 1, 2006), www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6302986.html (accessed June 1, 2006).|
|8.||Levine Jenny “Library 2.0 in the Real World,” ALA TechSource Blog (January 30, 2006), www.techsource.ala.org/blog/2006/01/library-20-in-the-real-world.html (accessed June 1, 2006).|
|9.||Karen G. Schneider, “The Ethical Blogger,” Library Journal (April 15, 2005), libraryjournal.com/article/CA515805.html (accessed June 1, 2006).|
|10.||Julie Hil, “What South Bend Is Watching,” SJCPL Blog (April 5, 2006), www.libraryforlife.org/blogs/lifeline/?p=829 (accessed June 1, 2006).|
|11.||Michael Stephens, “Ten Things a Librarian Blogger Must Do,” Tame the Web Blog, (June 9, 2004), www.tametheweb.com/ttwblog/archives/000255.html (accessed June 1, 2006).|
|12.||Ibid., “TTW on Podcasting,” Tame the Web Blog (March 3, 2005), http://tametheweb.com/2005/03/ttw_on_podcasting.html (accessed June 1, 2006).|
|13.||Thomas Frey, “The Future of Libraries: Beginning the Great Transformation,” The DaVinci Institute Web Site, www.davinciinstitute.com/page.php?ID=120 (accessed June 1, 2006).|
|1, 16, 23 (dates)||1st, 16th, 23rd|
|10:00 a.m.||10 a.m.|
|1st, 2nd, 3rd Floor||First, Second, Third Floor|
|a.m./p.m.||AM, am, A.M./PM, pm, P.M.|
|Centre Township Branch||CTR, Centre Branch, Centre Library|
|E-mail, e-mail||E-Mail, EMail, Email, email|
|Francis Branch||RBF, Robert B. Francis Branch|
|LaSalle Branch||LAS, LaSalle Branch Library|
|Lakeville Branch||LKV, Lakeville Branch Library|
|Main Library – Humphreys Multimedia Room||Multimedia Room|
|North Liberty Branch||NLB, North Liberty Branch Library|
|River Park Branch||RVP, River Park Branch Library|
|Sights & Sounds, Sights and Sounds||A.V.|
|SJCPL||St. Joseph County Public Library|
|Standard Case||ALL UPPERCASE|
|Title of Book or Movie||“Title of Book or Movie”|
|Thursday, December 16http://thehyperlinkedlibrary.org/libtechreport1/wp-admin/post-new.php?post_type=page||December 16, 2004|
|Tutt Branch||VMT, Virginia M. Tutt Branch|
|Website||web site, web-site|