Why Librarians should blog…

National Library Courtyard by Yeh Teng Hock

Kevin, I’m looking into how public libraries are using blogs as a way to enhance their services as well as a kind of advocacy and user-education tool. I found this recently, from Omro Public Library in Wisconsin USA. They are using a blog to provide timely updates on new arrivals. Simple but effective, and precisely the kind of things that users want. Of course the challenge is how to get users to learn about RSS to fully optimise the blogs. – Ivan Chew (Singapore’s National Library Board)

Blogs have been adopted by scholars and made relevant to our work. But what Ivan said is true in that libraries are very much about information management and what better a tool for librarians than blogs?

As Ivan mentioned in the Omro Public Library example, blogs can be advantageous for libraries as:
1. The speed of updating a blog with recent acquisitions would be an asset to librarians
2. The ease at which updates can be read via RSS would be of benefit to the public (self-serve)

However, a third and possibly more potent point might be how a library’s blog could act as a central resource for meta-information on books. An important benefit is the interaction between blogs, comments, trackbacks and technorati tags. The meta-information on say a book title might not need to come from the librarian himself, but by previous readers who can leave comments on books they’ve read, or even as reviewed in their own blogs. The big idea is similar to how Amazon has their customers provide reviews on products.

For a library blog, this can be naturally aggregated through pre-defined trackbacks and technorati tags. For example, say I read a book called “The Art of Persuasion”. The library could offer a technorati tag (which borrowers could see when they lookup their loans via online library accounts) called “artofpersuasion” and have anyone write and tag it as so. Needs refinement but the idea is to have minimal work, yet maximal output (i.e. laziness is a virtue). Interestingly, this would go in line with NLB’s latest campaign called “My Library Movement” where the library seeks to engage members of the public to come forward and take an active role in shaping “my library”. What are your thoughts?

2 thoughts on “Why Librarians should blog…

  1. Hmm, I loved those self checkout machines at the National Libraries… indeed, perhaps library users could opt-in to connect their blogs to their loans. So for example, if I loan “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, I could have my loan made into an RSS feed that I could subscribe and display on my blog. That RSS feed could provide the necessary related tags which I can then use for a review in the same blog. If anyone were to click on the “Brave New World” library rss link in my blog, I should be able to see other blogs that also publish reviews on the same book. Just stretching my brain here at 2.48am, but this probably exists in one form or another in Amazon or Google Print. Such a direct synergistic application of existing library technology with today’s free web services could be immensely powerful!! 😀

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