Blogs and RSS feeds

I agreed with a lot of the points Greg Schwartz made in his article “Blogs for Libraries.”  I think that blogs can play an important role in helping librarians stay informed as to what is going on in the library community. Blogs are especially useful for those working in small libraries where there may not another staff member to consult about a particular issue. Subscribing to blogs is free, meaning librarians can keep up to date and build a network with colleagues around the world even on a limited budget. Blogs are also a great way to promote library services. Patrons can subscribe to RSS feeds about new books. Libraries can even create genre-specific blogs and related RSS feeds. Many libraries also use a blog format for their teen site. This is a great way to reach teens because the most current information is always at the top, teens typically know how to use blogs and are often bloggers themselves, and using the blog’s comments feature is a good way to encourage participation. Blogs can also be used to update patrons on library programming. Many libraries encourage librarians to blog, but I remember hearing in my readers’ advisory class last semester about a library where the librarians are required to blog as part of their job. Personally, I wouldn’t mind, so long as the blogging took place during paid time and not my own free time, since I find I enjoy blogging and it’s a simple way to communicate with patrons, but I wonder if it’s effective to force people to blog? It ensures the blog will always be updated, which is important, but if someone is not really interested in blogging, will this come through in their posts? I wonder what others think of the idea of “enforced blogging.”

I thought Darlene Fichter’s article  “Why and How to Use Blogs to Promote Your Library’s Services” raised some important points in terms of considering the needs of your blog’s potential readers as well as security and privacy concerns. For example, if your blog uses a site whose server is located in another country, it may be subject to different laws. I liked her suggestion of using the library blog to post community news. This is a good way to keep patrons informed, as well as provide a platform for community groups to get the word out to a larger audience. I also liked Fichter’s idea about targeting specific audiences, such as making parts of the blog available in other languages. This is a good way to build connections with diverse user groups. The library can look for volunteers from the community to help with the translation, thereby getting the community involved in the library blog.

In terms of RSS feeds, I already use Google Reader, so I find it quite easy to subscribe to blogs. It is handy to have everything organized in one place rather than have to go to each site individually. The problem I have, though, is that if I don’t check my Google Reader every day, the blog updates become overwhelming. I don’t have time to go through everything, but at least having everything in one place makes it easy to skim. I found it pretty easy to add an RSS link to my blog. I don’t know if anyone would actually want to subscribe to it but I guess we’ll see!

In terms of the lesson delivery, the screen shots were nice, but I appreciated the video as well. I personally didn’t have any problems setting up an RSS feed, but for anyone who needs help, I think a video is more useful for something like that than reading written instructions. With the video, it is easier to see step by step what to do.

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