Salem Press Blog Award Winner!

This blog was just named the best Academic Library blog in the 2011 Salem Press Library Blog Awards! I feel really honored to be nominated by some of the great judges, but especially to be included among the winners. In the academic category there were a lot of great blogs nominated, especially one of my favorites: ACRLog. I never miss any of their posts and was even asked to submit a post there.

I really enjoy a lot of the blogs that won and were nominated. I was excited to see the Hack Library School won for best newcomer. It is written by some great folks, and they post on much needed topics for students. Many library schools are severely behind, and this group of folks are helping students be more proactive and working to make sure that a library school education does not get in the way of learning. I really admire what they are doing and was delighted to have the chance to post on their blog about some of my experiences in school.

I also feel honored to be in the company of such smart, enthusiastic and dynamic people like Buffy Hamilton, Sarah Houghton-Jan, and Brian Herzog. I have been subscribed to all of their blogs for a while. In addition, I appreciate what Salem Press is doing in putting on these awards. Not only does it incorporate a little fun into staying current in the profession, it also allows people to discover new blogs that hadn’t been on their radar. I just discovered and subscribed to the Waki Librarian.

Also, most importantly, I don’t want to forget the people who read this blog and voted for it. Thank you so much for reading, commenting and chatting with me on Twitter. I get tons of ideas from people’s comments and conversations with me, and I’m glad you all are getting ideas too. I really appreciate this and I look forward to continuing the conversation here.


We Need to Work on Our Listening Skills

Photo by Fozzman on Flickr

Photo by Fozzman on Flickr

People are talking about your library in both the physical and virtual world. It is difficult to know what is being said in private conversations without being omnipresent, but it’s easy to discover what’s being said online. You just need to work on your listening skills. Using tools like RSS, alerts, and saved searches it is possible to hear most of what is being said about your library online.

Twitter Alerts

To find out what users are saying about your library on Twitter, first go to Twitter advanced search. From there you can run any number of searches for your library using either exact phrases or including certain words. Use your librarian chops to run searches that might be about your library. For example at my institution our building is called the Miller Information Commons, but people may just refer to it as the Champlain Library. So some searches may include: “miller information commons,” “mic,” “champlain college library,” and “champlain library.” After you run each of these searches you’ll see a link on the right that says “feed for this query.”


You can then grab this feed and save it to Google Reader or your feedreader of choice as a saved search. Whenever someone says something using those words you’ll be notified.

You can also set up searches by location. For example, I have set up a search for the word “library” within 25 miles of my city. I get some unrelated hits (which are still pretty interesting), but I also get many that I may have missed otherwise.

Google Alerts

Another useful tool to know what is being said is Google Alerts. This tool gives you “updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.” Once again, you can set up variations of searches for your library. These alerts can be delivered once a week, once a day, or as they happen. You can then get them sent either to your email or again create a feed for them and have them go to your feedreader. I actually have a folder in Google Reader that is all saved searches and alerts for my library.

Blog Alerts

It’s also possible to set up alerts for what is being said in the blogosphere about your library. If you go to Google Blog Search you can run the same searches as above and find blog posts about your library. After you run a search there is once again the option on the left side of the results screen to subscribe either via email or feed.

Social Search

In addition to these searches, both Bing and Google will be adding social searching capabilities within the coming weeks. This will make it even easier to find out what people are saying on Twitter, Facebook and possibly other social networks. Once these features are rolled out try setting up alerts on these services as well. I know I’ll try it.

Once you know what is being said you can address people’s concerns, respond to compliments, and ultimately understand your users better.

Kelly Dallen and Chris Brogan both have good information on this topic as well.


My Top Five Non-Library Blogs

Photo by Laura & Chris Pawluk on Flickr

Photo by Laura & Chris Pawluk on Flickr

There are a lot of great library blogs out there, but only reading library blogs leads to narrow mindedness  and circular thinking. To truly innovate we need to look at disciplines outside our profession and bring their ideas into the library world. So in that spirit I’ve compiled a list of five of my favorite blogs outside the library world that are still relevant to what we do:

  • Mashable - This blog provides social media news and web tips. They have a lot of great posts about Twitter or Facebook, or new web technologies that are coming to the forefront. This blog is a great way to stay current on what’s going on in the social web.
  • Chris BroganChris Brogan blogs about all kinds of stuff, but he primarily focuses on marketing, building relationships and communicating using emerging web tools. He always has a lot of great content and really cares about his audience. A must read for anyone interested in marketing and PR in relation to your patrons.
  • Read Write Web – “ReadWriteWeb is a blog that provides analysis of web products and trends.” This blog is a good one to stay up to date on new technologies. I’d call it the “thinking man’s Mashable.”
  • Harvard Business Blog – This blog offers a lot of great info. Libraries could learn a lot from the business world. There are posts on innovation, leadership, marketing, and effective communication. These are all things libraries should be thinking about and doing.
  • Seth Godin – Marketing guru, author, speaker, and generally dynamic individual, Seth Godin’s writing is inspiring. His blog posts are almost always thought provoking and his latest book Tribes really got me energized.

My favorite blogs have a lot to do with web technologies and business/marketing, but library and information science could benefit from a lot of disciplines. What about psychology blogs or anthropology blogs? What about history or media/communication blogs?

Often new ideas aren’t new, they’re just transplanted from somewhere else. More interdisciplinary thinking in libraries is what will drive innovation. What are your favorite blogs outside of the library world?