Monday, May 19, 2008

Article Note: On blogs in academic libraries

Citation for the article:

Schrecker, Diane L. "Using Blogs in Academic Libraries: Versatile Information Platforms." New Library World 109.3/4 (2008): 117-129.

Read via Emerald.

This is probably one of the better articles on the topic of blogging as it applies to academic libraries. Given that I maintain our library's blog, it was of interest to me. It was brief, and it was practical. The author looked at four blog examples from her university and discussed how the blogs were being used as well as how they were assessed. After presenting the four blogs, the author provided a brief overview of some of the tools and widgets that were integrated into the blogs in order to enhance them. I have to admit that widgets is not something I have explored extensively. I have a few things on my own blogs, but it is not something I have pondered much for our library's blog yet. There is some food for thought here for me. By the way, this article draws on a poster presentation, and as I read it, I was thinking this was the kind of presentation I would have found interesting at TLA. It is not totally basic, but rather goes beyond the basics to show what is actually being done. Now, on to some highlights or points I want to remember:

  • A good reason to have a blog: "Traditional means of faculty communication, e-mail notifications, web page bibliographies, and book lists, were utilized with varied broad-spectrum success while consistent announcements led to a certain blasé attitude towards the actual content of the notices; e-mail was deleted, web page statistics indicated bibliographies largely unread, and booklists were withering in the literature rack. Furthermore, it was painfully obvious a large contingency of the intended audience, namely students, were not being reached with these methods. The time had come to examine alternative techniques for presenting collection development information to targeted audiences, enter the idea of an Instructional Resource Center blog" (118).
  • This is certainly a concern when you are trying to do liaison work or outreach: that your message after a while will be tuned out or deleted. A well-built blog can certainly address some of that issue.
The article is full of little practical idea that I may see if I can implement at some point for our library blog:
  • Adding various types of announcement such as book awards, to give readers additional items of interest.
  • One of the things I have considered is writing little pieces about our profession. For example, we attend various conferences, where (ideally) we learn various things. I think a piece on why we go to conferences and what we learn and how we bring some of that knowledge back to our campus might be of interest. Anyhow, an idea I have been bouncing around.
  • Sidebars: Wordpress, which we use for the library blog, has the option of having pages to go along with the blog. These could be used for various static information elements, which could then be presented in a consistent way.
  • I have thought of book reviews. Ideally, this would work if other librarians and staff who read items, especially from the bestseller collection, would contribute a small review note once in a while to add different voices. As often happens, I have found that gathering that collaboration is a bit challenging. But I am not giving up on the idea yet.
Overall the key idea, for me at least, is of using a blog as flexible and versatile information platform. There is a lot of potential that I still need to explore. The learning continues.

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