25 comments on “Some university library blogs suck, some could do better, and some are quite good

  1. I work in one of the Bodleian Libraries at Oxford, and in our defence you’ve come across what is probably more of a utility type feed for technical issues relating to the online catalog OLIS, which is used by many libraries at Oxford, some that are part of the Bodleian Libraries, some that are not. There are two well-maintained news feeds aimed at readers available from the Bodleian Libraries home page at http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/, see Reader Notices and News at the bottom of the page.

  2. I think the problem is that many libraries think “Let’s have a blog” without really thinking through what they want to do with it, and just end up replicating information which is available elsewhere on their webpages.

    I’m a subject librarian at University College Birmingham, and use my blog to provide information which our students may not traditionally associate with the library, so that they get a better idea of the support that we can provide. I’m attached to the School of Childhood and Education, so the blog gives them links to new reports, research etc in this area as it is released. And as most of the information is picked up from RSS feeds or email alerts, it means I don’t have to spend a lot of time looking for it.

    One other thing: don’t just launch and assume your target audience will find the blog for themselves. It needs to be promoted heavily during inductions / information skills sessions etc. If it’s any good, users will come back (my stats bear this out!).

    http://bcftcschildhoodeducation.blogspot.com

    David

  3. Thats a great post. I noted my ow nuniversity library I work at has a blog. Which usually repeats whats on the website,twitter and facebook. So a really unique experience for the user then?

  4. Hi Les,

    I suppose that people sometimes come to a library’s blog, website, Twitter and Facebook from different places, so some duplication may not matter, but a blog offers an opportunity to do some things that are not possible via the other services.

  5. Many thanks for the mention, Roddy, and I am relieved that I am not in the boring category! As David has said I suspect that many blogs are set up because “everyone else has a blog” and without thinking about it’s purpose. If information is already on the web pages why would people want to go the blog?

    It’s a different matter, though, if your “news” has to sit in an uploading queue for 4 weeks and you are not allowed to embed videos, presentations, photos, news feeds etc on the web pages. That is where something like an externally hosted blog, wiki or Netvibes page does benefit the organisation and its users. I would also reinforce David’s comment that promoting the alternative sources of information using all means possible is absolutely essential.

    But if you find you are not updating your blog or whatever for several weeks, it is time to consider whether or not it is serving a useful purpose.

  6. Thanks Karen. As usual, you provide very good advice.

    I’d like to see some library blogs do things such as post details of their budget, post details of what various library staff do, post their strategic plan, etc – to open up what happens in the backroom so that readers might better understand the workings of university libraries.

  7. Hi Roddy,

    Just to let you know we’re making a death post for our old blog location, and hopefully we can begin to link in our other web presences to our Blog.

    Thanks a lot for the feedback. It’s good to learn more about what your doing from another perspective.

    Andrew (from ILS Matters)

  8. Further to this I would be very interested to know how successful some libraries consider their blogs to be, it would be great to see some analytics to see how items on the blog have highlighted resources that have then been more heavily-used. I suspect that some people would want to see this sort of justification of before considering “allowing” their librarians to blog. Has anyone surveyed their users to see how much students read the blogs?
    I agree with David Renfree that sustained promotion of the blog here, there and everywhere is key to the success of a blog and I do think some people can give up on them very early when there isn’t an initial stampede to read a blog. Some are more of a slow burn and gradually build up a reputation of being a good source of news and information. Embedding content within a library’s webpage seems to be a good idea and University of Huddersfield certainly do this with micro-blogging. It seems to be a good compromise for making sure that the library start page has up-to-date info on it.

  9. Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for that. Yes – Evaluation! Library bogs could do with more evaluation and analysis. How true.

    JISC fund a lot of worthy things. They should consider an overall evaluation of UK University Library blogs. This is the sort of thing that might energise Brian Kelly.

    I’ve subscribed to your blog RSS feed, which I like the look of.

  10. Hi Roddy,

    Thanks for noticing our Innovating Research blog and alerting us to the fact that it should have been appropriately closed (or killed) when the department responsible for its upkeep closed last summer. I’ve now corrected this with a death post as you suggested, although I would like to assure you that research and development activities are still taking place at our university library, just within a different and new wing. When our previous bloggers have left or moved, they did however update the followers so that they had the option to migrate with them so perhaps all was not lost!

    Many thanks,

    Dr. Donna Carroll, Academic Services Development Manager, The University of Warwick Library

  11. Thanks Roddy – I’ve got to say, my initial response to my colleagues who noticed your original posting was that it’s not our blog that sucks – when it comes to blogging it’s me that sucks! It was all going quite well until I took over… afraid try as I might (which isn’t very often) I just can’t blog! I guess it’s not for everyone? I’m a scientist by training so I just like to think that reflecting is not one of our strengths.

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  13. With ours we have limited content to specific subjects and try to at least have an image, but where appropriate also videos or presentations – something we intend to do more in the future. Hopefully it stops it being too boring. We have the feeds embedded in our web pages. There is a further challenge for us, in that all our publicity has to be in Welsh and English, hence two blogs:
    http://aberssel.blogspot.com/
    http://cpelaber.blogspot.com/

  14. Hi Karl,

    I think your blog is impressive – what a good mixture of things, with videos and slides as well. Othe library bloggers could get some good ideas by looking at your Academic Services Blog.

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