Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Library Blogs

OK, I am starting with a joke because there is a dearth of humour in most library blogs.

Five surgeons are discussing who makes the best patients to operate on. The first surgeon says, "I like to see accountants on my operating table, because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered."
The second responds, "Yeah, but you should try electricians! Everything inside them is color coded."
The third surgeon says, "No, I really think librarians are the best; everything inside them is in alphabetical order."
The fourth surgeon chimes in: "You know, I like construction workers...those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over at the end, and when the job takes longer than you said it would."
But the fifth surgeon shut them all up when he observed: "You're all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on. There's no guts, no heart, and no spine, and the head and butt are interchangeable."
(Found here)

I've spent some time rummaging around the wiki Amanda Etches-Johnson built that lists blogs by libraries and library directors. I did not look at every entry but I looked at lots. A few words sum up my impressions. Ernest, dry, not regularly updated, without personality. You get my drift. In fact, some aren't really blogs, in my opinion, because commenting is turned off.

Of course, there are some that stood out. Those that grab my eyeballs use "I", humour, pictures, non-library topics, are clean, well-lit places, and post regularly.

Kansas State U Libraries has lots of blogs--some are clearly used for internal library communication, and some are aimed at their users. Talking In The Library has only been going for three months, but I liked the light touch and real human voices. Others include Oberlin College Library (it's telling that a post about allowing coffee in the library, complete with pictures, attracted six comments...a large number for a library blog), Middle Tennessee State University library, Archdale (NC) Public Library, Worthington (OH) Libraries teen blog, West Palm Beach youth services blog, Johnson County (KS) Library, University Laboratory High School (Urbana, IL), National Library of Scotland (actually I liked this one primarily because of the August 24th post about Sean Connery visiting the lib, with pictures) @ the library (written by the Dean of Libraries at Colorado State U), and McMaster University Library.

There's no reason at all that library blogs have to be impersonal and dry. Think about your own favourite blogs to read and visit...I'll bet they are compelling and interesting not because of a steady (or not so steady stream) of facts but because they entertain as well as inform, and because there's a human voice.

Consider this anecdote from the voice behind the McMaster U Lib blog, University Librarian, Jeffery Trzeciak. He's writing about meeting a student who thanked him for blogging: "He encouraged me to write more frequently and I mentioned how I wanted to take the time to carefully consider each post. His response: just write about what you're doing--say something about a book you're reading. It doesn't always have to be 'big thoughts'. You know...he's right. People crave communication. It doesn't always have to be the 'big issues' but it should be heartfelt."

Ya gotta have heart if you blog...having a blog for your library that is boring and heartless is not good marketing. It suggests your library is too.


Rosario said...

Alane and others:

The blog being kept by the Dean of Libraries at Colorado State University is the Dean at the Pueblo campus, not the "main campus" located in Fort Collins. Just wanted to make that clarification. Enjoyed the posting.

ludewig said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ludewig said...

I, too, deplore the lack of humor on library blogs (and in the profession in general), so my co-conspirators and I called Library Pariah into life. If parody and a bit of savage wit are your thing, humor abounds there.