Alchemical Thoughts

Article Note: Stephens on blogs, Part 1

Posted on: November 9, 2007

Citation for the article:

Stephens, Michael. "Blogs." Library Technology Reports 42.4 (July/August 2006): 15-35.

In the blogs' article, I read a lot of things that I knew already about blogging. However, I try not to read journal articles like this (i.e. when I read them for professional development or just for learning) if I expect not to learn anything. I was not disappointed because I did learn some new things. One of the things that intrigued me the most was the use of internal blogs.

This is something I have given some thought here and there. However, reading Professor Stephens's descriptions and narrative helped me to acquire a better perspective. Before I left UHD, we had been working on creating a knowledge base from the many answers we provided for the Ask-a-Librarian e-mail service. At the time, we were working towards a wiki, and that can still be a possibility. Here now at UT Tyler, I find myself thinking about internal blogs again. Some small talk here and there with colleagues led to the suggestion we may want a wiki rather than a blog. For them I think the appeal of the wiki is search capabilities and that pages can be a bit more static. In other words, the idea is to avoid the reverse chronological structure of a blog. And that may be the way to go. I don't have the answer, and we may still need to talk it over some more. The idea of the blog may be appealing if one uses good tagging for the posts, and if it is used consistently. It could certainly serve as a solution or counter to the various mass e-mails that go out every time someone has a policy question or an issue that needs referring back to. It could certainly be better than having to look through an e-mail inbox for some answer you vaguely recall may address some present issue that was in an e-mail months ago. Type that e-mail as a post instead, tag it, and there you have a record in time you can refer back to. This could work not only in terms of the knowledge management but also in terms of accountability and documentation (we said such and such on X date). So, you could make a simple F.A.Q. or knowledge base with an internal blog.

Some food for thought in terms of internal blogs (remember, we are talking here about blogs for internal use in the library by its staff):

  • "Internal blogging can replace e-mail in many instances, bulletin board postings, and even some meetings!" (21). Sometimes I wonder if some really long meetings I was subjected to in the past could have been shorter if some informational items had been posted to a blog instead and all staff required to actually read them.
  • At George Mason University, they have a TripNotes Blog that "offers a place where staff members report on conferences, presentations, meetings, and other activities" (21).

Note that for an internal blog to work, it needs to have staff buy-in. The buy-in has to come from administration as well as the frontline staff. You need to find ways to get as many people as possible involved. The goal should be to make the blog the official knowledge management tool. This means staff should be required to use it. Depending on the situation, need, etc., it does not mean everyone has post to the blog, but everyone should be reading it and commenting if necessary. So, this means that training would be necessary for any staff needing to learn about blogs. The training would serve to dispel the mystery of blogging, so to speak, thus making the tool more familiar to the staff.

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