Walt Crawford took an in depth look at both public and academic library blogs in the September issue of Cites & Insights. He examined over two hundred academic library blogs, first in 2007 and again this year. He made some interesting discoveries:
- 122 blogs had no comments in either year.
- Very few library blogs averaged even one comment per post in 2007—five of them, four fewer than in 2009.
- Only 33 of the 155 blogs with posts in May 2009— 22% —had any comments at all.
What Crawford’s study shows is that there is very little conversation that goes on in the comments of most library blogs. Patrons, for the most part, are not interacting with these blogs.
This does not mean that library blogs are useless or that patrons aren’t reading them. Many library blogs are awesome, but they serve a different purpose. Often they’re informational and as Crawford says, “serve functional roles that wouldn’t call for responses.” If that’s the purpose behind your library’s blog then that’s fine. But what if you actually want interaction with your patrons? What if what you’re looking for is online conversation related to your library? Blogs don’t seem to be doing the trick for most libraries.
It’s important to have your goals in mind when you implement a technology. What is it you want to accomplish? If you’re looking for online conversation related to your library and blogs aren’t working, then perhaps a different technology is appropriate. Maybe a tool like Twitter or Facebook would help you accomplish that goal. It’s much quicker to post something and these tools are more conducive to conversation and responses to posts.
It’s not necessary to do something because “everyone else is doing it.” You don’t have to stick with technologies that aren’t getting the results you desire. It’s always important to reevaluate your technology from time to time to see if it’s actually helping you accomplish your goals.
Some library blogs are great, but perhaps some libraries could accomplish their goals more effectively using a different technology.