So I have come around th country and I am back in Vancouver and looking at my current University’s library (or libraries, there are many branches to the UBC library). On the library’s main “about us” page it says that the “UBC Library stands out as a leading institution in North America.” So when I asked myself “Does the UBC library have a blog?” the answer had to be “Yes.” But where is this blog?
First off, the UBC library doesn’t have one blog, it has many affiliated blogs. Each library branch has some form of blog/news feed, individual librarian’s have their own professional blogs linked to the Library website and possibly hosted by UBC blogs. I’m sure some of the librarians have their own blogs that are not linked to the library in any direct way. (But I don’t know how to find them.) That being said, the library has a list of affiliated blogs and has a news feed that brings in recent posts from a number of those affiliated blogs. This list and blog reel are found under the news tab on the main page when you click on the button “more news.”
Now, I am an enterprising MLIS student on a mission to complete my final project; I knew that the UBC library must have a blog or blogs, and that I was going to find them. I am also new at the university and have only had one very busy semester to explore all the different resources available to me through the library, let alone campus wide, but I did not know about these blogs except in the theoretical until now. Why are they all compiled under news? Are all blogs news? Are all news feeds blogs? If I only had a passing interest in finding a UBC library related blog would I have found this large list of affiliated blogs? Probably not. Should I even wonder why so very few of them have comments. (Do rhetorical questions get question marks?)
I have come to realize through this project that many libraries treat blogs as a simple, one-way news feed. This may be because of the upsurge of twitter and other micro-blogging that doesn’t require such substantive posts that blogging has become less central, I don’t know.
As is stated in the Library Best Practices Wiki blogs can be a powerful tool for libraries but they have to be used to their full potential and they have to be put where users will see and read them. I don’t think that is happening with the blogs affiliated with the UBC library. Maybe single blogs are better at advertising themselves to their targeted audience, but as a whole they are not exactly accessible.
Having a look at the list of blogs on the news page, there is quite a variety. Some of them are professional blogs meant to be read by other librarians and staff. Some are informing their subject or department community about recent events and new ideas in the field. Some are news and updates about what events are happening at that library branch, hours, and closures. The blogs that seem to commented on the most are the professional blogs that have been established for a long time. The list is lacking a link tot he UBC blog community where many professors and students outside the library have blogs that may or may not be relevant to the user. Did you know UBC had it’s own blog service?
I like the way Meredith Farkas in her blog posting Web/ Library 2.0 Blacklash (Dec. 1, 2005) used the idea of a paradigm shift in her definition of Library 2.0. In her definition, and in my own mind, Library 2.0 is more about how you use the tools and how you structure your services than it is about what technology you make use of. Just having a blog doesn’t make a library “2.0,” a “2.0” tool focuses on things like user feedback and content generation, responding to the needs and wants of your user instead of telling them what they want, and using the inter-connectivity of the internet to create dialogs and community. Before you start a blog, ask yourself why you are starting it and what are your goals. Then down the line, reassess whether you are meeting those goals. If all you want is a news feed, that’s fine, it’s a news feed, but don’t pretend it’s some fancy new tool that is going to revolutionize the library. For the examples I’ve seen that do make the best use of the potential in blogs, I am amazed, impressed, and inspired. I will keep reading, and sometimes, commenting.