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OPAL Session: Weblogs and Libraries

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 5 months ago

OPAL: Weblogs & Libraries

 Presentation by Michael Stephens

(notes taken by Starr Hoffman)



Here are the notes in MS Word format: Library2-0ExtravaganzaNotes_6-15-06.doc


Some examples of Library Blogs


H20boro Lib Blog (public library)

Waterboro Public Library


  • hosted by Blogger


WPLBookClub (public library, book club)

Waterboro Public Library


  • hosted by Blogger
  • continue discussion of books online (after the monthly meeting in person)


Moraine Valley Community College (academic library)


  • 4 different blogs, 1 interface
  • the 4 blog titles:
    • library news
    • resources & search tips
    • construction updates
    • Frankenstein exhibit (temporary, event-driven blog)




  • information on how to create a library blog
  • provides a wiki listing library blogs, divided by type
  • also provides examples of intranet blogs


Black History Month Blog

Virginia Commonwealth University (academic library)


  • only post to it during February of each year
  • temporary but recurring (event-driven)


SJCPL Lifeline (public library)

St Joseph County Public Library


  • uses for news


Student Reflections on Night by Elie Wiesel

(blog by school librarian)


  • HS students in Michigan
  • also cooperative with class in NY state
  • place for students to discuss the book
  • article in School Library Journal


Collaborative Blogs


Other Association Blogs


Librarian Blogs



Jakob Nielson’s “Weblog Usability: Top Ten Design Mistakes”




  1. no author bios
  2. no author photos
    1. need both of these for the “human” factor
  3. nondescript post titles
    1. should be memorable
  4. links don’t say where they go
  5. “classic hits” posts are buried
    1. should have their own link on the side navbar
  6. calendar/archives = only navigation
    1. use categories
  7. irregular publishing frequency
    1. create an “information policy”
    2. could be daily, Tu/Th, weekly
  8. topics not mixed
  9. forgetting that you write for your future boss
    1. more relevant for librarian blogs, not library blogs
    2. being Googled—be sure that information won’t hurt you
  10. just hosted by Blogger
    1. get your own domain name


Hennepin County Library


  • good example of librarian photos & bios
  • Library 2.0 is about connections
  • photos/bios give “humanity” to these librarians


Planning Steps

  • who will blog?
    • one person, staff, librarians, multiple users
  • where will it live?
    • Blogger, webhosting service, own domain / hosting
  • what will you blog about?
    • be specific about the content you plan to create
  • can create several different kinds of content on one blog
  • will you enable commenting?
    • try it! you can always turn it off later
  • training staff


Who will Blog?

  • takes responsibility & time
  • maybe place in someone’s job description
    • “creates content for library website”
  • look for people with interest, commitment, and dedication
  • need writing & editing skills
  • desire to reach out to users


Possible Content / Purpose

  • news / information (communicate with your community)
  • create transparency & presence


The strongest virtual communities have an in-person component.

community = conversation + communication


Some Related Publications by Michael Stephens:


  • “Web 2.0 Best Practices for Social Software in Libraries” (TBP in July 2006)


  • “Recent Research in Virtual Communities”


    • online learning is enhanced by cohort & F2F (face-to-face) meetings
    • cement online relationships by meeting in person
    • similar to bloggers meeting at conferences



  • share how the library works
  • share how resources are used
  • share projects
    • example: tell the community why they need a new library branch
  • internal: communicate to staff what people do (LAN / IT, for instance)


Best Practices in Library Blogs


Voice / Mission

  • what is your library’s goal for this blog?
  • how do you want to say it? (voice / tone)
  • are you ready to speak & listen?
  • leave blog up awhile before announcing it; test it out
  • how will you promote it?
  • need to respond to comments


Focus on Content

  • create interesting & useful posts
  • if you’re asked the same question 3x’s at the reference desk, perhaps that topic merits a post
    • for instance, “Where is freshman orientation being held?”



  • create a seamless environment with your library website
    • use same colors, layout, font, etc.
    • use one “brand” or “wordmark” for your library name and be consistent
    • choose a style guide (more on this later)
  • usability: test a lot
  • stay on top of tech advances
    • (CSS, anyone?)
  • consider making the blog the top page of your library’s site
  • look at it in several browsers
  • look at it on a PC and a Mac


Share Authorship

  • 1-10 people
  • spreads out writing duties
  • need to agree on voice & mission (see previous)


Post Often & Succinctly

  • not huge blocks of text
  • write informally, but error-free (unlike IM)
  • make users want to return / subscribe


Develop a Style Guide

  • use the same guide for website, blog, and print resources (such as subject guides)
  • example: print all titles in bold and italic: Pride and Prejudice
  • continuity: use the same library name and/or abbreviation


Train Staff to Blog

  • give them time to blog!
  • give them handy “tag sheets”
  • discuss what makes a good post
  • if you are the administrator or director of the blog project, read it
  • …and praise them


Incorporate your library blog into the library website.


Create Feeling of Transparency

  • blog about projects, plans, & events
  • “listen” to user comments
  • respond


Ann Arbor District Library


  • their front page is a blog
  • have 6 or 7 different blogs on this site
  • they talk with users through comments
  • provide book reviews, thoughts, events, etc.


The Cluetrain Manifesto (business book)

by Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, David Weinberger



The Catalog as Blog

Lamson Library




Subject Guide as Wiki

St. Joseph County Public Library


  • users can enter comments, adding their own suggested resources




Question/Answer Session

(NOTE: paraphrased!)


Has LIS scholarly publication changed as a result of blogging?

No; I would like to see professional blogs count as professional publication.


What about v-logs, audio-blogs, and podcasts? Will these eventually replace text blogs?

These new technologies are great, but text will likely endure.

See: http://davidleeking.com/


What about corporate library blogs?

Difficult to view; usually behind a firewall.



Tips & Comments


Search Technorati to find popular library / librarian blogs.


Citing cycles in the biblioblogosphere


Second Life “photo” of Michael Stephens:


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