So from the Halifax Public Library I move to the Patrick Power Library, the library for St. Mary’s University, or SMU for short. SMU is where I finished my undergraduate degree in Criminology. I spent some time in the library, most of it in the last year when I was working on my thesis. My fondest memory of a reference interaction happened at this library when I was getting help with finding primary source material for my thesis.I had a good relationship with this library and it’s staff so I was quite surprised to find out that it has had an affiliated blog since 2006. I didn’t graduate until 2008.
The PowerBlog is written by one staff member, the Promotional Services Librarian. The “about” section on the blog is not filled in so I had to look up the author in the library’s directory in order to find out some more information about the author. There is also no stated objective for the blog but guessing from the posts it is mostly a news feed, updates about the library. It is updated intermittently depending on what is going on. During high use times at the library there appear to be more more posts.
As with the HPL blog, there seem to be very few comments on any of the posts in this blog. It is focused on disseminating library news, which it does, but it isn’t generating a discussion. Where is the bi-directional communication that Graham Cormode and Balachander Krishnamurthy talk about in their article Key Differences Between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0? Blogging existed before the concept of Web 2.0 was developed and maybe a blog itself isn’t Web 2.0. Maybe it’s how that blog is used. In the two examples I’ve looked at so far, the focus isn’t on generating a discussion, it isn’t on bi-directional communication, it is on top down, unidirectional communication. The SMU library blog more so than the HPL readers blog. It is hard to generate discussion around library hours, closures, and upcoming refworks workshops.
Or is it? Library hours were a hot topic hen I went to SMU. I even remember it being an issue that came up in elections for the student association. At the time, the library hours were rather restricted and most students wanted some extended hours, especially around mid-terms and finals. The blog could have been used as a forum to discuss this issue with the students. To open up a dialog between students and library and university administration. Unfortunately it was not. No dialog was created with the blog or any other tool. A few statements, akin to media releases, were sent to the student paper and that was it. The library administration may have had very good reasons for having the hours they did, but at the time, when there was increasing focus on open dialogs, partly because of Web 2.0, the library came off as the authority handing down a decision. Like it or lump it.
Now I see from the blog that the library has extended it’s hours during the exam period. But still no discussion, only a statement of fact.
Maybe it would help if the blog was presented differently. On the library’s home page the blog feed is presented as a news feed with no ability to comment unless the user clicks the link to go to the main blog entry. It’s not even called a blog on the homepage. Whatever the reason the appears to be falling short of it’s potential.