As I said in my About page I want to look at libraries I have used or visited for my blog. So first I went to my hometown library page, the Whitehorse Public Library. This is an extremely boring library website housed within the territorial government’s website. Because it is part of the Government’s website it has to have the same boring layout and poor navigation. It doesn’t look like they have made any attempts to incorporate Web 2.0 tools. Disappointing but not surprising.
Second I looked at the Halifax Public Libraries main website. As far as I can find they maintain one blog called The Reader which is created and maintained by the Readers’ Services Staff. The stated purpose of the blog is “ to create a forum for book news and related discussion among leisure readers. A place for Halifax leisure readers to interact with their library and the larger community of leisure readers.” The blog appears to be updated every day by a variety of library staff. Most of the posts are book recommendations focused around a particular topic or new releases at the library. The occasional post goes more into depth on a particular item or a certain activity going o at the library. These are the post that I find the most interesting but the book recommendations are useful too.
So the blog is updated regularly with new material.It is presented in casual language but is well written and entertaining. It provides useful reading recommendations and includes information about upcoming events, great. But what about the stated mission of creating a discussion? Is the library interacting with their users through this medium? Not really. I scanned through several weeks of postings and saw very few comments, 3 comments in 4 weeks or 27 posts. And two of those were from the same person on the same posting. This blog is mostly a one way discussion and resembles traditional, top down media more than the collaborative form of media which is such a big part of Web 2.0.
This blog is meeting some of the goals of library blogging as set out by Sharyn Heili in her Libraries and Librarians Rock blog. They are reaching out to their users, spreading the news, and getting more staff involved in spreading the word an marketing their services (as can be seen by the list of contributors to the blog). But they are also missing some of the points. They have added interactivity and say they want to promote discussion, but it’s not being used. They may want to listen to the needs and wants of their users, but it’s hard to listen to nothing. I did find one comment where a reader commented that s/he couldn’t get one of the books recommended in the post. The author got back within two days saying apparently the book had gone missing but that he had ordered a new copy and it would be available for holds within a day. So the possibility of interactivity and responding to users if there, it’s just not being utilized.
Perhaps the blog would be utilized better if it was easier to find of the HPL website. The link for the reader blog is at the bottom of the home page under Readers. A link to the blog is not included under the What’s New section which is more prominently displayed higher on the page. The blog also has to compete with the library’s twitter feed for attention. The twitter feed seems to be a higher priority for HPL as the feed is featured more prominently on the homepage and is of course updated much more frequently. They could also try generating more interest by creating a new blog for teen readers and featuring it on the HPL teen site and linking it to the current reader blog.
Next post, I’m going to have a look at HPL’s catalog and their use of tagging and the aqua browser! Stay tuned!