Friday, 10 August 2007

Blogs in Libraries

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a few librarians who said they would like to get into blogging but couldn’t see what use they could have in a library setting. I had a similar conversation again this week which made up my mind to post an entry in my own blog about where to start.

3 Sources of Ideas:

First of all, as an introduction read chapter 3 of Phil Bradley’s book “How to use Web 2.0 in your library” probably not available in all good bookshops but can be purchased via Facet Press – just get your Cilip membership cards out for that discount. Phil covers the obligatory “what is a weblog?” bit but then places it in a library setting. Here he describes the publicity angle of a blog: promoting exhibitions, events and new stock.

The beauty of this medium is that you can use your smaller displays to easily tie in to wider and much larger events on the net. Similarly, one of the conventions of a blog, the comments page allows your readers or students to let you know exactly what they think. If they make recommendations for new stock, they are doing half of the work for you!

Secondly, I would recommend Week 1 of “Five Weeks to a Social Library”. There are plenty of presentations here but if you only watch one I would recommend Anne Welsh’s screencast “From Writer’s Block to Library Blog”. Although Anne writes from a very specific point of view as information officer at DrugScope, she talks about very universal themes. This presentation gave me loads of ideas. Her basic theme is to think about the things we do anyway and just do them differently. All we are doing through our blogs is repackaging what we already do but in a way that makes it more interesting to us and to our audience.

Thirdly and finally, I would highly recommend you read Roddy MacLeod’s guest article (there’s another idea for you!) UK Library Blogs - What Do We Think We're Doing? on Brian Kelly’s UK Web Focus. Roddy’s university, Heriot Watt’s Library produce a blog called “Spineless?” (gedditt??!!). Halfway down the article Roddy lists the purpose and suggested posts for the blog. There are loads of ideas here.

Make sure you also read the comments to Roddy’s article. Again there are plenty of ideas and encouragement, particularly from Phil Bradley (that man again!). Those who worry that they need to get everything right first time will be put at ease by Phil’s comments.

If anyone has any other good places librarians should start, or ideas librarians could put in practice, please feel free to comment.