Steven Bell on Academic Library Blogs

Via one of my student’s blogs!

Steven does a couple of surveys and offers tips for library blogs. This struck me:

Despite the rapid proliferation of library blogs I was skeptical about their value and doubted that college students were ready for them. Nevertheless, in fall 2004 I began experimenting with a blog for the Paul J. Gutman Library at Philadelphia University. My skepticism, it turned out, was warranted. In an informal survey, I found that fewer than five percent of the respondents had even heard of RSS (real simple syndication) or news aggregators.

I still believe our work is not yet done with instructing/educating users. In our training workshop, one suggestion was getting away from the whole RSS name (just like not using the word blog either!) and use such choices as “feeds” or “subscriptions.”

Bell winds up with this:

One benefit for libraries blogging to courseware is seizing a leadership role for the library in creating awareness about and education in the rapidly evolving technologies of blogging, news aggregation, social networking, and search personalization. In my own academic community, blogging to courseware has produced the added benefit of sparking faculty interest in RSS technology. Several faculty members expressed an interest in understanding how blogs, RSS, and news aggregators can help students learn about their disciplines. For example, a science professor wanted to feed postings from a blog about the everyday, practical applications of scientific principles into his chemistry course, finding it an excellent way to help students make connections between course content and the world beyond the classroom.

Great stuff!