Sunday, February 15, 2009

What makes a good library blog?

After some extensive searching on what makes a good blog, I finally found a list that I believe encompasses many of the aspects of a good blog. How do I know what makes a good blog you might ask? Well I don't consider myself an expert, I do however think I have a pretty good idea seeing as I visit my fair share of blogs that interest me on a daily basis. One of these blogs is called 43 Folders. Merlin Mann authors the blog. The content of the blog focuses on finding ways to do your best creative work.

During this past summer he posted 9 things that he believes make a good blog. Here is a link to the post. I found this to be very enlightening and after processing the assignment I figured I could adapt his list of 9 things into a list of 9 things that make a good library blog. Here we go....

  1. Good blogs have a voice - This is something I remember from elementary school. Good writing always has a strong voice. If you can write with personality, people will be more apt to read your blog. Find the person in your library who will occasionally post the witty email to the library listserv. Utilize their humor to advertise what some may consider, "boring" library services. Writing with a sense of humor will still allow your blog to get its point across and it will also keep people reading the blog.
  2. Good blogs reflect focused obsessions - Face it. When you tell someone you just met that you are a librarian or are in library school, their reaction is usually one of surprise. A lot of people view it as an odd choice of profession. But we know the truth. Most of us are obsessed with a part of the field. Whether your obsession is based on order, preservation, or just finding innovative ways to help people find things, we as librarians, are obsessed. Transfer this obsession to your blog. Emphatically discuss library issues which you are obsessed with. People will recognize that, "hey, this person has really strong opinions on library policies, and I agree/disagree with what they are saying. I think I'll find a way to engage this blogger in discussion." You will connect with your readers whether they agree with you or not. They will recognize your obsession and your blog will be better because of it.
  3. Good blogs are a product of "Attention multiplied by Interest" - Tell a story about your library. Find out the history of the library and dedicate a series of posts to detailing that history to your readers. If you can keep them coming back for updates, you're doing a good job.
  4. Good blogs are made of paragraphs - This is probably my favorite suggestion. Sure, stream of conscious writing works for some blogs, but we are librarians. We pride ourselves on order, proper grammar, and ease of use. No one wants to read a giant block of text that describes a new service your library is providing. Use paragraphs. It's so much easier on the eyes.
  5. Good "non-post" blogs have style and curration - Not all of your blog posts actually have to be "posts." That is to say that not everything you publish must contain the standard format of text + pictures + more text. Spice it up a bit. Post a funny picture with witty one line caption. There are successful blogs on the internet that do just that. Now it's not something you'd want to do all the time because ultimately your library blog is an additional service you provide to our patrons, but a humorus post every once and awhile will keep people on their toes.
  6. Good blogs are weird - Librarians are weird. We nail this one. Seriously, we will be making post arguing for things like federated searching and copy cat cataloging. To someone unfamiliar with library science, this is very very weird.
  7. Good blogs make you want to start your own blog - This is huge. We as librarians are obsessed with "benchmarking." Benchmarking is basically what you do when you are thinking about starting a new service. Before starting the new service, (ie... a blog) research will be conducted to find out what other libraries are doing with similar services. Create a blog that other libraries will want to copy and you've done your job.
  8. Good blogs "try" - Don't just go through the motions. If you're not having fun doing it, chances are people are not having fun reading it. Personalize it, customize it, add some flare to it. Do whatever it takes to have a good time while blogging. The result will be a better blog.
  9. Good blogs know when to break their own rules - This one is up to you. Break away from the rigid format you've relegated yourself to. Be spontaneous. Post a picture of a cat with a funny caption. Spontaneity will keep people interested. If you can keep it relevant to the library while being spontaneous then you're doing ever better.
So there it is. The list certainly is not comprehensive but I do believe its a step in the right direction. I would advocate a lighthearted approach to blogging mainly because those are the types of blogs I like to read. Keeping a sense of humor, no matter the subject, is what will keep me coming back to the blog. If you can employ that in your library blog, you will be successful.