I have been an avid blog reader for many years now, so I was excited by our task this week. Even though I’ve had my Google Reader set up for a few years, it’s always nice to find out about other blogs I wasn’t aware of. There were quite a few on the LIS Wiki that I will have to check out.
I was first introduced to Google reader and blog following while I was completing my Library Tech Diploma. My prof had told me that subscribing to blogs was the best way to keep updated on current trends in Librarianship. It wasn’t until I started working in the field that I realized the importance of blog reading. Not only do blogs help librarians stay current, as Greg Schwartz points out, they also promote advocacy of specific issues and more importantly foster a community.
This last point was why I continued to read blogs while I was working. At the time, I was the only staff member in a small and specialized library. Unfortunately the organization was undergoing tremendous change at the time, so I couldn’t ask my colleagues for help in trying to establish the library in the institution. Instead, I looked to blogs to help me sort out problems, come up with suggestions and most importantly to stay excited about working in libraries. For librarians working alone, I think blogs are essential. Blogs like Stephen’s Lighthouse, Swiss Army Librarian, Letters to a Young Librarian and iLibrarian made me excited about the potential projects I could administer in the Library, and generally gave me a sense of community.
I noticed that the readings this week, focused on setting up blogs, and sharing information amongst librarians – but what about engaging library patrons, or non-library users? There was minimal discussion on how to foster communities with library patrons through blogs. Darlene Fichter touched on the marketing possibility of blogs, but what if patrons are not subscribing to the blog? How can libraries get the initial ball rolling?
I quickly searched for the London Public Library in Google Reader and saw that there are only 37 subscribers to their feed. This is a very low number, although it’s possible that patrons have signed up for the feed in other ways. The posts ranged from discussions on new books, upcoming events and problems the library is facing – all suggestions given by Fichter to keep patrons engaged in the library blog. But the lack of subscribers did make me question whether public libraries are using blogs effectively, and also, if library blogs are better suited for fostering a librarian community. Perhaps, library blogs are more ideal for discussions amongst other librarians, rather than trying to engage patrons. Any thoughts on this?