Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My definition of a boombatic library blog

I’ve also heard librarians discussing the same concept in the library community. In library-related articles, blog posts, and presentations I’ve attended and/or read this past year, the presenters/writers have been saying that Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 are all about starting conversations, building community, and telling our stories. But the writer/presenter tends to skip over what I think is the most important part - they never explain how to do it. [David Lee King]

David Lee King makes the case that a library (blog) should invite participation or, if possible, be actionable. While I find this ambition admirable, I don't entire agree with it. I subscribe to the "you use a library, you don't make friends with it" school of library twotopianism.

This is my suggestion on how to do it: use your library (blog) to connect readers with readings. Or, more generally, make every post a connection between your library and the world they live in.

Here are the specifics. First, think about how your readers decide what book or article to read next. Chances are, they don't use your library or its OPAC to decide what to read. Your readers rely on the recommendations of their friends and/or from their reading of newspapers, magazines, journals and even blogs.

So, as you read your magazines or your local or national newspaper, online or otherwise, make note of the books, government reports, and scientific papers mentioned and see if its available through your library. Heck, you can do the same for books that you've head mentioned on the radio. Even if the government report scientific paper you read about is free online, your readers will appreciate the direct link to it as it will save *them* the aggravation of having to navigate the Statistics Canada website, for example.

The benefits of such blogging is multifold. Not only does it help the reader, this regular reading helps the librarian in keeping up with the world. Checking to see if you have the books that are currently being reviewed in the press is a great way to measure how successful your library's approval plan is working (or not). Furthermore, the librarian gains a stronger understanding of their strengths of the library's collection through what I'd like to call, curiousity-based collection development.

Here's an example of it: some months ago I was curious if the library at MPOW had The Pillars of the Earth, a recent book recommended by Oprah. At the time, when I checked what readers had said about the book on Amazon, it told me that folks who bought that book also were interested in Cathedral: The story of its construction by David Macaulay. Following that link, I learned that this was the same man responsible for The Way Things Work (which we had in our library's education collection) and The New Way Things Work (which we did not).

I'm not enirely that fond of the notion that the library blog is a tool of conversation between a library and its users - at least, not in the sense of how The Cluetrain Manifesto uses it. Reading is the real conversation.

1 comment:

K.G. Schneider said...

Great post -- fully agree on the "connecting" and your other points. Connecting readers with books in new and interesting ways is pretty cool business; I think some librarians need to be reminded of that.