Library Blogs Aren’t Getting Comments

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.


Old media vs. new media

photo by a.drian on flickr

photo by a.drian on flickr

I was just thinking how much I enjoy letter writing. I stay in touch with a couple friends from college in this way and it is probably one of my favorite forms of communication.

I hate talking on the phone and don’t often feel comfortable doing it. I need to use my facial expressions when I’m talking. I also despise email, because most of it is so worthless (though I do get a feeling of accomplishment when I send off a really well crafted email). Texting and especially communicating via Facebook or Twitter are much more my style. Perhaps because it feels more genuine.

But letter writing is still my favorite. It takes a lot longer than any other form of communication, but longer can be better. It forces you to think about your life and what has been going on in it. It forces you to think about your friend and their life and how they’ll respond to your letter. It is by far the most contemplative medium of communication, and that, I think, is why I enjoy it so much.

I am constantly sending off emails or tweeting, but when I get the chance to actually sit down and create a story of my life, my thoughts, and my interests in relation to a friend, it’s much more personal than updating my Facebook profile. Receiving a letter in the mail is a joy and much more rewarding than checking someones most recent tweet.

The same can be said of other forms of media, such as books in comparison to blog posts. Books force one to slow down and be more contemplative. I appreciate all this new social media that is now ubiquitous, but I feel at times that something is missing. It’s at these times that I slow down and do something introspective: write a letter, read a book, journal, meditate.

Do other people do this anymore, or is it dying?


The Magic of Writing

TC & Me

TC & Me

The author T.C. Boyle was on campus this week, and I was able to meet him. He stopped by the library to view cover art that students had created for his novel The Tortilla Curtain. Some of the art was pretty amazing and very creative. I know we are told to never judge a book by its cover, but everyone does it anyway.

He also spoke Tuesday evening, which I live-twittered. There was something that he said that really resonated with me. He said something to the effect that he doesn’t know what he thinks until he writes about it. In describing his writing process for The Tortilla Curtain he said that around the time he was writing the book (as always) there was a big debate about immigration with people staunchly on one side or the other. It sounded like Boyle wanted to learn more about how he felt about the controversy, so he wrote a story about it.

His way of writing seems pretty amazing. He simply goes through and writes slowly and thoughtfully without really changing things after he decides on them. He never plans out endings. He lets the story go where it takes him.

This hit home with me because I think I am the same way. I often am not sure what I think about things. Writing things down, and blogging makes my thoughts more concrete. I may not always agree with myself later, but I can see my own thinking process and even have a discussion with myself later. That is one of the great beauties of writing: it is a way of freezing time, taking a picture not of physical things but of thoughts and feelings.