Recently a news article stated that 1 in 4 American adults did not read a book in 2006. This is a sad commentary on American literacy and indicates that libraries need to do more community outreach. We need to reach our patrons where they are most comfortable and that seems to be on the web. For more information, check out Blogworld & New Media Expo or Information Today, Inc.
A blog is a web log or diary in which one person or many people may contribute content. Traditionally, blogs have been used as an outlet for people who want to sound off on a variety of topics ranging from politics to their daily observations. Part of the thrill of blogging lied in its relative anonymity. However, blogging has become so mainstream that many people actually list their blogs on their resumes. In fact, some companies are hiring professional bloggers to promote their professional interests as well as share information about what is going on within their companies.
In the case of libraries, blogs are being used as a method of promoting services within the library and as a way for patrons to interact with others in the community who share a common interest. I propose we use the blog as a method of promoting literacy within the community by creating a Readers’ Advisory Blog. Each librarian/staff member throughout the Luzerne County Library System would be able to enter information about a book they are reading. The blog would then be open for comments from members of the community. Because of the informal nature of the blog, community members as well as library staff members may be more inclined to use this service.
Libraries that are currently using Readers’ Advisory Blogs as a form of connecting to their patrons are listed below:
While this list is by no means comprehensive, it shows what can be done with the right amount of marketing and support from library staff and administration. In order to develop interest in the Readers’ Advisory Blog, staff and administration have to be willing to create some buzz. They can let patrons know about the blog as they check out their materials, put information on the library’s website, post information on the information board, place notices on the check out receipts, etc. But most of all patrons have to know that they will be able to contribute and that this is a resource that is being provided for them to use.
Blogs can be created in as little as ten minutes using any number of free software. Two of the most popular resources are Blogger.com and WordPress.com. Maintenance on either site is minimal. Staff members or IT can periodically check to make sure that no one is being inflammatory if we go with open commenting. Or we can use a more secure method of moderating comments, which means that a staff member will have to read each comment and determine whether it is appropriate for the website.