Update on NPTech Search Engine
Organizational Barriers to Using Web 2.0 Tools

A Librarian Asks "What's the Big Deal About Blogs?"

Jill Markgraf of Five Weeks to a Social Library mused yesterday about why blogging is such a big deal. After all, libraries have had web sites and e-mail for years. Then she realizes:

"Here's a thought came to me. Maybe more than anything else blogs have changed the way we think about communicating with our patrons. When I look back on years of working on library websites, I am flooded with memories of committee meetings where we spend untold hours choosing individual words, placement of words, images, buttons, colors, sizes, etc., to have everything just so. Blogs free us up a little bit to be more, well, real. The blogosphere seems just a little bit looser, a little more relaxed, a little less perfect, more natural, more conversational, more spontaneous. And maybe that in itself makes us a little more inviting, responsive, interesting and human. Maybe that's the big deal. (The word "ga-ga" never would have made it past the web committee)."

Yep--I think that's it. If you're an organization that is presumably about making connections to people, then blogging does allow you to use a different, less "institutional" voice. It also speeds things up so that communicating with your customers doesn't require weeks and months of committee work before you can get a message online.  There are dangers to that, of course, but my personal opinion is that the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Another point, hidden a little in Jill's comments, is that blogging software (in particular Typepad), puts the tools of web publishing in the hands of non-technical people, freeing them up to have a web presence without needing a webmaster. I've actually just finished building a basic web site for one of my clients using Typepad. Once I teach her staff how to use it, she will be able to update her site anytime she wants without having to go to a webmaster to do it. That's a big thing for a small organization.

On a side note, Five Weeks to a Social Library is actually a course that's being taught between now and March 17. Although it's closed to further participation, they will be making all modules viewable to the public and will be archiving their webcasts, too. Could be a great resource.


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