I was just scanning the directory of library blogs, most of them academic, over at the College and University Feed Directory, and the list is growing quickly. So lots of us are jumping on the library blog bandwagon. I have yet to see much in the way of research that informs us about the effectiveness of a library blog. Do our intended audiences read them? Do they motivate users to make greater use of library services? Do faculty integrate library resources into their courses as a result of reading library blogs? Most importantly, how do academic library blogs contribute to students achieving learning outcomes? Many questions and few, if any, answers. We’re spending valuable time on these library blogs, but what’s the return?
A library blog certainly has potential as a tool for promoting library resources and services. That’s assuming that the user community is reading the library blog. How they manage to do that, and what we can do to improve the likelihood they will is the subject of another discussion. In this post I would like to point those who already have developed a blog for their library, and those who are thinking about it, to a blog post by Stephen Downes that offers some of the best advice I’ve seen for developing and sustaining a blog, personal or library. In “How To Be Heard” Downes takes the reader through a well-laid out blueprint for constructing a blog and getting it out to its intended audience.
If you’ve yet to discover the blogs and publications of Stephen Downes this is a good starting point. When it comes to discovering news and information about educational technology, and helping us to understand its impact, Downes is one of the best.
5 thoughts on “Thinking About A Library Blog”
There are some user statistics included as part of this early study of the Georgia State blog experience (one of the richer blog programs currently coming out of an academic library):
Vogel, T. M., & Goans, D. (2005). Delivering the news with blogs: The Georgia State University library experience. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 10 (1), 5-27.
It relates to a public library but fascinating to think about along with the question of whether patrons read library blogs is the new SuperPatron blog (http://vielmetti.typepad.com/superpatron/):
“Superpatron is a weblog for library patrons who love their libraries, who take advantage of everything they have to offer, and are always on the lookout for great ideas that libraries around the world are doing.”
Maybe users are more interested in “creating the library” than we thought?
Take a look at the Wall of Books (http://vielmetti.typepad.com/superpatron/2005/12/visual_wall_of_.html) – what a great way to browse!
I had read about the superpatron blog. Thanks for bringing it to the attention of ACRLog readers. It, like the library blog at AADL, is a bit of an anomaly. The library blog at AADL is certainly a good example of how a library blog could blend well with its community. I think superpatron is not likely to be much duplicated elsewhere (in other public library communities) – although it would be nice to have patrons who show their appreciation in this way – want to help build the digital library. If there were more library patrons like Vielmetti than the OCLC “Perceptions” report would have been quite different.
Hi, I’ve updated the wall of books notes at
I’m still thinking about how I can make this more useful or usable (and a fair bit of it is for me so that I can snag new books even though I am not at the library very much).
The history of library patrons doing real work with catalog interfaces is pretty broad, if you look more generally at the people who are not librarians trying to get data in and out of bibliographic systems. What happens more often than not is that patrons get frustrated by creaky and baroque library software and instead turn to Amazon and its well documented web services interface for their browsing needs. There’s a ton of Amazon based services out there.
This is extremely cool. We’ve been talking at our library about how to make our new books page more visible. Well, this would sure do the trick.
I admit – we have had students come to the reference desk with Amazon printouts: “do we have this?” There’s a lot about Amazon’s search that frankly drives me wiggy, but the cover art and reviews and “search inside” features are attractive. I have privacy concerns about recommendations based on storing personal information but I know people have come to expect them. Now if we could have a “related records”-type linking system based on common citations… hmm, dream on Barbara.