Alchemical Thoughts

Article Note: Stephens on blogs, Part 2

Posted on: November 9, 2007

Citation for the article:

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

I read the article in print.

After the part about internal blogging, Professor Stephens goes on to discuss how to implement a library blog. Some of this material I had read in his blog, Tame the Web, which is a must-read for librarians in my humble view. But reading it in the article provided me with a good review. More importantly, the material here can serve as something I can present to my colleagues as we continue to develop our library's blog.

To be honest, a part of me wanted to have a bit more time to plan the blog before launching it. However, we wanted to have it operational so we could use it to communicate with the campus about the library website redesign, which we just started. By the way, our webmaster is really doing a great job with the design itself. I am serving as a coordinator of the project, and our archivist is also along providing advice, suggestions, input, and very importantly, taking notes so we can have things documented. I am thinking that we will probably use some of those notes for blog posts that would allow us to show progress to the campus community. A measure of transparency I believe. As for my small apprehension about launching sooner, well, alea iacta est (the die is cast). But in the end, it may be a good thing. We have a tool in place. Now we just have to use it.

Some things to think about as we develop the library blog:

  • I would like to add authors to the blog. I already added our webmaster and business librarian. However, I would like others to contribute as well. I need then to find out degrees of interest and ability in terms of writing and blogging. That would allow me to see who needs to be trained and who can simply be unleashed, in a manner of speaking.
    I like this notion: "Some of the best library blogs are comprised of multiple voices. If the teams works together, in my opinion, the group voice becomes the collective voice of the library" (25). In other words, I would like us to have a collective voice.
  • I would remain as the point person for the blog, the lead blogger. This means I will likely do most the posts, and that is fine by me. I do enjoy blogging.
  • Another idea I liked from the article: "I think the best consequence of group blogs in libraries is that they provide their host libraries with a human presence–library users can begin to see the humans behind the libraries' walls (outside of their libraries!). Patrons will get to know authors and their interests" (25-26).
  • I think we can do fine with just one blog. Some larger libraries have multiple blogs. For now, I think a small blog with well defined categories will do the trick. This would allow for the instruction librarian to have her own posts about instruction and information literacy. The subject librarians could post for their areas by labeling the posts with categories relevant to the areas (business, education, etc.).
  • However, if there is good growth, we could go to multiple blogs. Another possibility could be a subject blog evolving to be a subject guide or resource.
  • Training of staff is important according to Professor Stephens. He outlines briefly how he provided training for the staff at SJCPL (St. Joseph County Public Library). This included handouts (a style guide, blog guidelines), and hands-on opportunities. He did ask people to come in prepared with some text for a post. Here, I would be a bit concerned since we do not have a good space for everyone to get on a computer at the same time. I may have to ask if we could simply borrow some of the laptops we check out to students to then take people into the conference room, or a room we could reserve. The idea is to allow people to play a bit and try things out before they go out and blog for the world.
  • I am planning on drafting a small style guide for our blog. Guidelines will likely be minimal I think. I also need to draft and post a small mission statement for the blog. That statement I can post to the "about" page provided in the blog.
  • Content is very important. Professor Stephens writes that "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" (29).

The article concludes with a good section on podcasting, the way to add sound to the blog. This may be a while off for us. It can certainly be a possibility in the future. When that time comes, I may want to review this article again.

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