Time to blog about blogging! Things 3 and 4 are all about blogging as the original Learning 2.0 programme used blogs as a way to track the progress of participants and encourage them to reflect on their learning. All participants were required to create a blog and register it and all participant blogs were listed on the main blog to encourage participation and support. Bloggers were allowed to be anonymous as long as the programme administrators knew who they were. For me this is a fascinating part of the learning 2.0 programme as reading these blogs is a great insight into what participants felt while actually participating. I’m sure this was much more valuable than trawling through piles of evaluation forms at the end of the course! There is an obvious downside in that many people feel as uncomfortable about ‘public writing’ as public speaking and making that writing compulsory, even anonymously, could be very intimidating. I came across at least one programme that made the blogging optional and used commenting on a main blog as a record of progress. Much as I have enjoyed reading the blogs I think I’d be tempted to go with the optional blog and use commenting more. I can see the value of using blogging as an assessment but if participants only have a limited amount of time to complete each task there could be a danger that more time is spent writing and rewriting the blog post than playing with and enjoying the tasks.
But what has blogging got to do with libraries? Explaining blogging is never as difficult as explaining the value of blogging. As always, the CommonCraft team have a great video on blogs to help but I think many people still view blogs as slightly dodgy amateur ramblings that are only read by people with far too much time on their hands. The only way to get past this has to be by demonstrating useful blogs full of great content. The Orange County Library System were able to use their own blogs for ‘Introduction to Blogs‘ including their Library Director’s blog ‘Library Leader‘ but there are plenty of great library related blogs out there to choose from. For anyone talking about public library blogs in the UK & Ireland I’d recommend The Manchester Lit List or the Galway Public Libraries Blog as good examples of sharing ‘official’ library blogs. But although news blogs are great for sharing information they can be nothing more than an easy way to produce an RSS feed and may be best kept for the RSS section of the programme.
My favourite blogs are the ones that challenge me to think and participate in the discussion. Since I’m interested in libraries and technology they tend to be library related blogs but now that blogging has been around for a while there are blogs to interest everyone and the Technorati Blog Directory can be useful for demonstrating this. Discussions can be difficult to demonstrate as they can take place over a number of blogs as writers link and respond to one another. Gaming in libraries is a great topic for provoking debate so I’d have to recommend The Shifted Librarian for examples of blog commenting and discussions.
Finally, what do you do when you have too many blogs to read? Start writing a blog weeding policy? I don’t think there’s an easy solution to this one although it certainly gets regularly addressed as a problem. Library and Information Update now has a regular column called ‘Blogwatch’ providing a summary of some key topics from library related blogs but I’m not sure they’re still hot topics by the time the print copy of Update comes through my door. I’d love to hear if anyone has come across an online equivalent, a blog that summarises what’s hot in library blogland? Or if you only had 10 minutes a day, what key blogs would you choose to keep up to date with library issues? Hmmm… off to think about that one!
I’ve come across a couple of blogs, finally, for UK public libraries! Both describe themselves as ‘semi-official’ and have a mix of library news, reviews and general information. Paige Turner has been writing on behalf of Swansea Public Libraries since December 2006 and writes short interesting posts on all sorts of topics. She also publishes pictures of new libraries in Swansea and some more personal posts about the library world in general. I’m not sure what the intended readership of the blog is as it feels much more like a personal blog than an institutional one but I certainly enjoy reading it! Sutlib Reader is a very new blog started this month and presenting itself as “The (semi) official blog of Sutton Libraries”. Only 4 posts so far but I like the idea and according to the author it has the support of the Head of Libraries so I look forward to seeing how it develops. Congrats to the first UK public library blogs I have found!
Last night I attended a thought provoking CILIP event at Basingstoke Library – RSS, Blogs and Wikis by Karen Blakeman. Organised by my local sub-branch this was a very popular event – interesting as I had seen very little publicity and had wondered if we would be the only ones there! At the beginning Karen did a quick hands-up assessment to see how many folk had heard of the different 2.0 technologies. About half of the room had heard of RSS feeds although not everyone was sure what they were for; blogs were only used by a small number of people and wiki knowledge was mostly limited to the odd search on Wikipedia. Probably quite indicative of an average group of UK library staff but it was good to see how many people had given up their evening to come along and find out more. I’ve been reading Karen’s blog for a couple of months now and had come across most of her recommendations before but it was really interesting to hear which services she recommended for beginners and how to get experimenting. Today Karen posted her presentation and recommended links on the RBA website and I’d recommend having a look as it is a useful introduction to the subject.
I’m looking forward to getting together with my colleagues who also attended and seeing how we can start to use this technology to improve our library service. Maybe an internal wiki for library procedures and ideas or RSS feeds for readers to get news of new books/library events etc. There is always the standard difficulty of permission, getting the powers that be to agree (or even the IT department!) will probably be the biggest battle but I’m hoping if we start small and demonstrate something that works and makes a difference we can move onto bigger things. Watch this space…
Jennifer Macauley in her excellent blog Life as I Know It has created a comprehensive list of sites and citations on library 2.0. Library 2.0 Roundup was originally posted in October 2006 and it is a pretty huge list to work through. Thanks to Jennifer I’ve discovered a wealth of posts and ideas that I hadn’t previously come across and I’m only about a third of a way through. I imagine it would also be a really useful resource for anyone wanting to chart the development of the library 2.0 idea from autumn 2005 to the present. Just don’t blame me if you stay up all night reading the posts, I’m finding it rather addictive reading…
Back in November last year I considered the complete absence of public library blogs from the UK . This afternoon I had a good hunt through the list on the The Blogging Libraries Wiki to see if any UK public library blogs were listed. After a number of false hopes caused by English sounding place names such as Rye, Cambridge and Cumberland I failed to find any based in the UK. I did come close with an interesting blog from Galway Public Libraries in Ireland. The archive goes back almost a year and they seem to post pretty regularly on library news, books and events. They describe themselves as the first Irish Public Library Blog and I think they’re a good example for other public libraries to follow demonstrating a passion for books, writing and libraries.
Another blog that I came across is pretty far from being a UK library blog as it comes from Singapore! High Browse Online is an initiative from the National Library Board of Singapore “Helping you make informed reading decisions”. It is an online version of their printed booklist with a greater focus on reviews and discussion and I’ve really enjoyed reading the last few posts. Great example of a library blog which set a clear aim and has stuck to it with a good level of participation and useful links to library services such as the catalogue and enquire services.
Still haven’t found any UK public library blogs though…
This week I have been reading and pondering…
Robots in the stack at Chicago State University
George Needham’s thoughts on Why Does Library Management Suck
Comments on AADL’s fascinating new Catalog Seach Cloud
Library Garden’s interview with Richard Sweeney of NJIT about his research on The Millennial Generation and Libraries
David Lee King’s excellent articles on Inviting Participation in Web 2.0
Predictions for 2007 from: Stephen Abram
Michael Stephen’s review of blog posts of 2006 What a Year! 2006 in Posts, Presentations, Permutations and …PARTICIPATION!
Meredith Farkas’ confession on Information Wants to Be Free about why she doesn’t use her local public library It’s not just the OPACs that suck prompted similar confessions and thoughts from Nicole on What I Learned Today Physical Spaces Suck Too and Life as I Know It The OPAC Isn’t The Only Problem
Posts about a public library in the US closing during the afternoon due to problems with teenagers from
Tame the Web
Provocative thoughts on collection development in libraries from OCLC’s Lorcan Dempsey Justifying your place on the shelves and Tim Coates Library Books in American Public Libraries
Arlington Heights Public Library’s Weekly Video Blog
Miss Potter at the Harbour Lights Picturehouse . Highly recommended!