Alchemical Thoughts

Putting the library’s blog on an editorial calendar

Posted on: November 7, 2007

I am thinking about implementing an editorial calendar for the new library blog we just implemented here at UT-Tyler. The idea for me came from this post by Darren Rowse, of the blog Problogger, on "Editorial Calendars and Professional Blogging." While our library's blog is not a professional blog, it is a library publication, so I would like to treat it in a more professional manner when it comes to creating the content as well as being consistent in publishing that content. One of the things I learned when we implemented the library blog at UHD was that consistency was needed. While you certainly have posts as needed, and you can certainly have what I would call breaking or impulse posts, you should also give your readers some small sense of structure. This way your readers know what to expect from your blog. I think it would help to add focus to the blog. It would also help me out since I am the primary blogger for the library's blog. It would be helpful to have a schedule I can commit to in order to stay productive. Mr. Rowse tells us why this may be a good idea: "Because it forces you to think about what you’re posting in advance and to try to structure your writing."

In my personal blogs, I have a sort of schedule when it comes to posting. For The Gypsy Librarian, my professional blog, I aim for three times a week, usually Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. For The Itinerant Librarian, my personal blog, the goal is less ambitious. It is once a week, usually on Fridays, but this is also the blog where I am likely to do an impulse post if anything catches my fancy. I don't usually plan any features ahead of time. Could I use the editorial calendar for my professional blog at least? Maybe. I can see where it would be of benefit to try it out, but it is not a high priority right now. Certainly it is something to think about. However, that is a separate line of thought and maybe a different post.

Back to the library's blog, I like Mr. Rowse's ideas for who benefits when you use an editorial calendar. Let me quote them here:

"Bloggers, because the calendar would introduce an element of consistency into their blogging, and would encourage them to think about the bigger picture. You don’t have to be locked into the calendar – if a topical news item breaks, then you have a duty to cover it if it’s important to your readers.

Readers would also benefit, because posts would appear more regularly, and by using themes they know what type of content to expect on any given day."

Again, I am looking for some consistency with the library blog. As I mentioned, it was something I learned about the last time I was involved in a library blog. Back then, we really did not have a sense of consistency. We posted announcements and topical news, but that was about it. I wanted to think about a bigger picture. Here, we are starting from scratch, so I think we have a good opportunity to look at a big picture. The fact that the campus administration is aware of the blog (yes, someone from campus information actually looked at it) gives me a bit more of an incentive to aim for a quality product. Mr. Rowse also gives some ideas for posts and themes to use. Out of his list, these are the things I think work for us with some things I am adding. Emphasis is in the original.

  • "Link round-ups – put together a list of the best posts you’ve read within the week (always good for Fridays)." This is an easy thing to do. I would modify it to add links to good Internet websites or interesting articles for the academic community. In terms of articles, I would probably draw more on higher education and education in general as well as things about books and reading.
  • "Reviews of products/services/websites in your niche." I think this can go along with the above for websites. For example, do a review of a new database, or a reminder of when and how to use interlibrary loan services.
  • Research tips and advice would probably be a good feature to have now and then.

These are just some preliminary ideas. As we add other librarian authors to the blog I am sure they will bring some of their ideas as well. So my next step now is to make a small list of possible topics and make an initial commitment. We'll see how it goes, and I will try to post about my progress here.

Note: After typing this post, I recalled reading this article on "10 Steps to Better Blogs" published in University Business for November 2007.In the article, Karine Joly discusses what to consider when implementing a blog in higher education. Some of the advice is applicable to what we are doing here.

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