or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Good Example of a Library Blog

   August 14th, 2013 Brian Herzog

Robbins Library blog postI get behind on Twitter very easily, so it was only recently when I was going back reading old tweets that I saw Jenny Arch retweet of the Robbins (Arlington, MA) Library's blog post about Under-the-radar library resources.

I thought that was a great idea for a blog post at my library too, so I am going to shamelessly steal the idea soon.

But then I started reading more of the posts on the Robbins Library blog, and realized just how great a job they do with it. It actually made me feel a little bad about how lax I've become with the Chelmsford Library blog - so I'm going to turn that guilt into inspiration to do a better job.

My goal for our library blog is one post a week, with the topic being something of slightly lasting content. We use Facebook and Twitter for more immediate or interactive content, whereas the blog posts are things that people might find months or years from now and still find useful. Also, blog posts tend to be longer, explaining how to use a database or the rationale behind a new policy. I like these guidelines - I'm just going to make a point of being better at it.

Good job, Robbins Library!



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2012 Library Blog Award Winners Announced

   June 19th, 2012 Brian Herzog

Salem Press released the results of the 2012 Library Blog Awards this morning - congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

Salem Press Library Blog Award ribbons

Since I was a winner last year, I was asked to be a judge this year - and it was tough. I keep hearing that blogs are old-fashioned, but obviously the format is still going strong.

Thanks to all the writers and editors who put time into sharing information, experiences, and news with the rest of us - and to Salem Press for annually recognizing the standouts.



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Last Call for Salem Press Library Blog Awards 2012

   June 5th, 2012 Brian Herzog

Today is the last day to nominate your favorite library blog for an award! Read all about this year's contest in Salem's Library Blog Center or simply make a nomination by emailing them at blogs@salempress.com.

Last call for nominations
Last call for nominations

Use Salem's Library Blog Directory to search for or browse library blogs by focus, type, or audience.

2012 nominees will be announced on Friday, June 8th. Also be sure to check out last year's winners (full disclosure, I won in the public library category).



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Knowing When To Say When

   January 26th, 2012 Brian Herzog

Reduced signSo, this post might not matter to anyone but me, but I felt like I should announce it anyway.

For the last few years, the blogging schedule I've stuck to was new posts every Tuesday and Thursday, and the Reference Question of the Week on Saturdays. Over the last couple months though, I've felt that I'm both running out of things to say and have less free time to work on posts, so I've decided to cut back to just one new post a week and the Reference Question on Saturday.

Not a major change I know, but it feels major to me because it's a schedule I've stuck to for so long. I know a schedule isn't mandatory for blogs, and most people probably just post only when they have something interesting to say. For me though, I think that if I didn't make myself stick to a schedule, I'd quickly slip into nothing at all.

So anyway, again, I don't know if anyone would have even noticed if I didn't say anything, but there you go.

But I am curious about the schedule/no schedule thing, both for personal and library communications. Does you're library have a set goal or schedule for blog posts, tweets, email newsletters, etc., or do you only do it when you've got something to say? In my library, it varies: I try to have a new blog post once a week, but Twitter is much more as-needed (in addition to automated tweets for library events). We have a main email newsletter that goes out once a week, but also sort of a childrens supplement which only goes out when the Childrens Room has something specific to communicate.

It seems like all models work in their context, but I'd be curious to hear if other libraries have had success following one path or another.



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Visualizing the Flow of My Library’s Information Online

   August 4th, 2011 Brian Herzog

My library just launched our long-overdue Facebook page. In the course of preparing it, we had a discussion about why we needed a Facebook page, what we wanted to use it for, and how it related to everything else we were doing online.

This led to the realization that no one really understood exactly what all we were doing online. We have a website, Twitter account, blog, email newsletters, flickr account, and now Facebook, but no clear policy as to what gets posted where, when information is duplicated, how things are updated, etc.

To help understand how our various types of information are represented online, I created the diagram below - it's probably not 100% complete, but it does cover most of our bases:

Flowchart of flow of online information

On the left are our different types of information (MacKay is our branch library), and the arrows show how that information flows through different electronic tools. There isn't necessarily a hierarchy at work*, other than perhaps the automatic updates necessarily come after the manual updates. Otherwise, the boxes are laid out just so they all fit on the page.

After discussing this, we uncovered two philosophies at work:

  1. use the different end tools - website, Facebook, Twitter - for unique content, so as not to duplicate things and essentially "spam" our patrons that use more than one service (for example, you can see above that no event information is posted to Facebook)
  2. publish all of our content almost equally through all of our channels, so we're sure to reach all our patrons regardless of which tool they choose to use

I don't think they are mutually-exclusive, but it does take a lot of work and forethought to do it well. I also think that more of what we do could be automated, as cutting down on the manual postings would save staff time.

Do other libraries have similar online information relationships? I imagine things range from very structured to a free-for-all to orphan accounts galore, but I'm curious to hear what other libraries are doing, to get ideas on how to do it better at my library.

 


*Something to note on the diagram is our "secret" Twitter account. We have a primary Twitter account we encourage patrons to follow and we use for regular tweets. The secret account is one we use only to post messages directly to our homepage. The reason for two, and why I don't really want anyone following to the homepage updater one, is that clearing the message off the homepage requires sending a blank tweet - it's not the end of the world if anyone follows it, but the blank tweets do look odd. Besides, everything posted to it gets posted through our primary account anyway.



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Last Call for 2011 Salem Press Library Blog Awards Nominations

   May 10th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Salem Press Library Blog AwardsYou only have a few more days to submit your nomination for the 2011 Salem Press Library Blog Awards - nominations close May 13th.

Last year's inaugural awards went to some very deserving blogs, so be sure to support your favorite - new and old - again this year.

Read about the judges and full details on Salem Press' website, but here's a bit about awards, nominations, and judging process:

2011 Nominations
Please share your favorite blogs with us. Doing so will enter your beloved online reading in our 2011 Awards process. We'll be accepting suggestions through May 13, 2011. To send us nominations (including a working link to the blog), email ptobey@salempress.com.

Bigger & Better
This year, Library Blog Awards returns with the same goal—to recognize blogging excellence across the library spectrum—but with a new structure. We have increased the number of volunteer judges (from four to 15) and blog categories (from five to eight) and added a new dimension to the process: the public vote.

After our judges complete the first round of eliminations and finalists are announced on May 18th, we will ask readers and interested parties to cast their votes online. The list of winners (one per category) will follow in mid-June.

Last year I was awarded gold star recognition, which is great. But what I like most about these awards is how they work as a discovery tool in finding new bloggers and resources.

If you are so inclined, send in your nomination before May 13th.

Update 5/17/11: Public voting is now open until June 1st - cast your vote for your favorite blogs (and thanks everyone for nominating me for Public Library blog!)



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