Librarians and the Blogosphere

Technology has grown rapidly in the last few years. One of the newer tools available to librarians is the blog. Blogs started out being called weblogs and the name was shortened in time. A blog is defined as “a mixture of what is happening in a person’s life and what is happening on the Web, a kind of hybrid diary/guide site” (Aharony, 2009, p. 174). Draper and Turnage offer a slightly different definition calling the blog a “modified website offering personal observations” (2008, p.16).  Blogs have become popular because they are a type of amateur journalism providing access to unfiltered information. Blogging is attractive to librarians who want to use strong technological tools to help them inform and improve services to patrons. (Stephens, 2008) They also “have become a great social communication tool between professionals” (Draper & Turnage, 2008, p.22).  Librarians are even talking to each other on blogs.

There are quite a few reasons that librarians blog. Most of them blog to share information or to participate in a larger community (Stephens, 2008). Walden (2009), who serves in a hospital library, blogs to share medical information with patients. She believes that librarians should willingly share the information that they can find more readily. To share issues, insights or news is one of the more popular reasons that librarians blog (Stephens, 2008). Blogs are efficient if updated regularly and offer timely content much quicker than print newsletters. Also, they are generally less expensive to produce (Bardyn, 2009). Stuffy professional information can be made more personal by placing it in the casual blog setting (Aharony, 2009). One unintended result of blogging is a greater sense of community for patrons. This happens as patrons are engaged with the blog through regular readings and commenting. In addition, if a blog links back to the library web site, traffic usually increases on the site (Bardyn, 2009). There are even more reasons for the school librarian to blog. Blogging shows the librarian is keeping those technological skills up-to-date and allows the librarian to take advantage of students’ natural attraction to technology to enhance their learning (Branch, 2009).

When a library decides to become part of the blogging community, some plans need to be made to help ensure blogging success. Available software, time required, and writing skills of the librarian must be considered (Bardyn, 2009). Which staff members will contribute to the blog must also be decided. Blogs can have single or multiple authors (Aharony, 2009). Multiple authors not only allows for sharing the writing load but also means that more departments and ideas will be represented. Blogs can focus on themes, topics, or communities.  “Blogs that are popular have recurrent themes: news and events, marketing the library, and internal communications” (Draper & Turnage, 2008, p. 22).  In addition, there are many types of blogs to consider such as multi-media or photoblogs (Aharony, 2009) that would showcase library information in different ways. Joining the blogging community before the blog starts will help librarians understand the format and purpose of blogging (Branch, 2009) along with sorting through the ideas of categories and tags (Aharony, 2009).

Blogging advice for librarians is abundant. Branch (2009) reminds librarians that it is better to make mistakes in learning and developing new skills than to not address the skill.  Successful blogs will include regular and short posts and allow comments. Please invite comments from the readers, (Branch, 2009) but make sure they are moderated (Abram, 2009). Those comments engage the patrons and make them feel part of the library community. Keep the post or entry short because “research had shown people have more trouble retaining what they read when online content extends more than a screen or two” (Harayda, 2009, p.66). Make sure to schedule time to write on a regular basis (Abram, 2009) to make sure the blog is updated. Lastly, study other blogs (Branch, 2009). Many library blogs have already been started with their own unique themes, designs and news bites. Joining those communities will enhance a librarian’s personal blogging experience.

Librarians are blogging. Blogging means that more information is being shared and patrons are feeling more engaged. Librarians are sharing ideas with other professionals through blogs. Available research shows that successful blogs are well planned and produce new content on a regular basis as well as allowing for comments. While some research studies have been done, most of the information available at this time is anecdotal. Success is viewed in terms of participants that comment or the number of hits received by a blog or the connected website (Draper & Turnage, 2009). Blogging is a fairly young technological tool and even newer to librarians. As blogging is watched more closely, perhaps some uniform measurements will be developed that can better convey the true success of this medium.

Reference List:

Abram, S. (2009). Blogging as a special librarian: blogging can be part of an effective communication strategy – if you can figure out what to blog about and how to do it effectively. Information Outlook, 13(4), 47-48.

Aharony, N. (2009). Librarians and information scientists in the blogosphere: an exploratory analysis. Library & Information Science Research, 31, 174-181. doi: 10.1016/j.list.2009.02.001

Bardyn, T. P. (2009). Library blogs: what’s most important for success within the enterprise? Computers in Libraries, 29 (6), 12-16.

Branch, J. L. (2009). Practicing what we preach: Information literacy for teacher-librarians in the 21st century. Canadian Library Association, 55 (3), 98-100.

Draper, L. & Turnage, M. (2008). Blogmania. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 13 (1), 15-55. doi: 10.1300/J136v13n01_02

Harayda, J. (2009). Critics don’t need free books and other things blogging taught me about reviewing. Publishers Weekly, 256 (30), 66.

Stephens, M. (2008). The pragmatic biblioblogger: examaning the motivations and observations of early adopter librarian bloggers. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 13 (4), 311-345. doi: 10.1080/10875300802326475

Walden, R. (2009) Spreading awareness. Library Journal, 134 (5), 39.

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