I’m pleased to announce the availability of Academic Library Blogs: 231 Examples.
The 289-page 6×9 trade paperback (x+279 pages) features descriptions and sample posts for a wide range of blogs from 156 institutions of higher education in the United States, Canada, Australia, Botswana, England, Greece, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales.
You can buy the paperback with a great cover and cream heavyweight “book paper” interior pages for $29.50 plus shipping from the Cites & Insights bookstore at lulu.com (lulu.com/waltcrawford) or from Amazon.com—or, initially, Amazon’s CreateSpace subsidiary (www.createspace.com/3330738). (At this writing, the book isn’t searchable via Amazon, but it should be at some point.) At Amazon, the ISBN is 978-1434832894; the Lulu version doesn’t have an ISBN. The book’s most definitely a book—but if you really don’t want it in print form, it’s possible to buy the Lulu version as a PDF download for $20.
The book’s been out and fully available since January 17, 2008. It complements Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples (same price) and generally uses the same rules and metrics, except that I don’t attempt to use service populations for academic libraries.
Here’s part of Chapter One:
Should your academic library have a blog—or more blogs than it already has?
I can’t answer that question. I can say there’s a good chance your library could benefit from one or more blogs.
If anyone tells you that your library must have a blog, they’re wrong. Very few solutions apply to every library, no matter how large or small.
On the other hand, dozens of academic libraries already use blogs to good effect. I believe most academic libraries could serve their communities well by initiating blogs or adding new blogs—although some of those blogs might not look like blogs..
This book won’t tell you how to start and maintain a blog. You can find plenty of advice within the library literature and elsewhere, including sources as diverse as Michael P. Sauer’s Blogging and RSS: a librarian’s guide (Information Today, 2006) and the first week’s content in the Five Weeks to a Social Library course (www.sociallibraries.com/course/week1). For that matter, you can go to blogger (blogger.com) or wordpress (wordpress.com) and try one out, just to get started: It doesn’t take long and it’s absolutely free.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking about a blog for your library or adding more to what you already have. Or you’re at one of the 165 academic institutions or libraries included here and want to see how your blogs compare to others.
You could check out every academic library blog listed in the two major sources (the “Weblogs – Academic Libraries” page of LISWiki…and the “Academic libraries” page of Blogging Libraries Wiki... But that’s more than 525 links (in late December 2007)—a lot of blogs to go through.
The purpose of this book is to guide you to blogs that you might find useful when thinking about your own library’s case—blogs from nearby libraries, blogs from institutions you consider peers or blogs that specialize in topics or work in ways that you’ll find interesting.
What’s here? Academic library blogs that were listed in one of the two primary wiki lists of library blogs as of May 2007 and that met a few basic criteria:
Ø In English
Ø Started before 2007 (since “young” blogs have a high failure rate and I’m interested in showing plausible successes)
Ø Have at least one post in two of the three “study months,” March, April and May 2007
Ø Appear to be a blog in most key respects, or to be a blog portion of a library home page (in some cases, the blog is the homepage)
That resulted in 211 blogs from 169 libraries and groups of libraries (I didn’t count institutions at that point). A few of those disappeared before I began preparing the book in late 2007, and as I was doing that preparation, I added other blogs from the same libraries (never more than five blogs from one library) that met the criteria but weren’t listed in the wikis. The final result: 231 blogs from 165 libraries or groups of libraries in 156 academic institutions.
If your library is considering a blog, this book should help you find blogs from comparable libraries as examples. If your library has a blog and is considering more (or revising the ones you have), this book should help you find interesting examples.
Blogs are included from these academic institutions:
Ø Adrian College
Ø American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Ø Arizona State University
Ø Armstrong Atlantic State University
Ø Art Institute of Dallas
Ø Ashland University
Ø Auburn University
Ø Auraria Library
Ø Austin Community College
Ø Ball State University
Ø Binghamton University
Ø Bloomfield College
Ø Boise State University
Ø Bond University
Ø Bridgewater State College
Ø Buffalo State College
Ø Butler Community College
Ø Butler University
Ø Case Western Reserve University
Ø Central Piedmont Community College
Ø College of DuPage
Ø College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University
Ø College of William & Mary
Ø Colorado College
Ø Colorado State University
Ø Colorado State University-Pueblo
Ø Danville Area Community College
Ø Drexel University
Ø Duke University
Ø Dundalk Institute of Technology
Ø Eastern Kentucky University
Ø Eastern Oregon University
Ø Empire State College
Ø Georgia Perimeter College
Ø Georgia State University
Ø Grand Valley State University
Ø Green River Community College
Ø Guilford Technical Community College
Ø Harry Oppenheimer Okavango Research Centre (HOORC)
Ø Harvard University
Ø Heriot-Watt University
Ø Highline Community College
Ø Indiana University South Bend
Ø Institute for Astronomy
Ø Kalamazoo College
Ø Kansas State University
Ø LaGuardia Community College
Ø Lawrence University
Ø Lewis & Clark College
Ø Lidcombe College of TAFE
Ø Louisiana State University
Ø LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport
Ø Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ø McMaster University
Ø Medicine Hat College
Ø Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology
Ø Montgomery County Community College
Ø Moraine Valley Community College
Ø Mount Saint Vincent University
Ø Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Ø Muskingum College
Ø National Art School
Ø Naval Postgraduate School
Ø New York Institute of Technology
Ø North Carolina State University
Ø North Metro Technical College
Ø Northeastern State University
Ø Northern Virginia Community College
Ø Northwestern University
Ø Oberlin College
Ø Ohio University
Ø Olympic College
Ø Otterbein College
Ø Pacific NW College of Art
Ø Pasadena City College
Ø Pennsylvania State University
Ø Pennsylvania State University-Delaware County
Ø Pensacola Junior College
Ø Philadelphia University
Ø Pratt Institute
Ø Princeton University
Ø Purchase College
Ø Regent University
Ø Reid Kerr College
Ø Rio Hondo College
Ø Rollins College
Ø Royal College of Midwives
Ø Ryerson University
Ø Saint Mary's University
Ø Seattle University
Ø Slippery Rock University
Ø Sonoma State University
Ø Southern Illinois University
Ø Springfield Technical Community College
Ø St. Bonaventure University
Ø St. Mary's University
Ø St. Petersburg College
Ø SUNY Brockport
Ø SUNY Potsdam
Ø Temple University
Ø Tennessee Wesleyan College
Ø Texas State University-San Marcos
Ø Tufts University
Ø UConn Health Center
Ø Uiniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
Ø University at Albany, SUNY
Ø University College Dublin
Ø University of Alabama at Birmingham
Ø University of Alabama, Huntsville,
Ø University of Alberta
Ø University of Baltimore
Ø University of British Columbia
Ø University of Calgary
Ø University of California, Berkeley
Ø University of Canterbury
Ø University of Colorado at Boulder
Ø University of Connecticut Stamford
Ø University of Evansville
Ø University of Georgia
Ø University of Glamorgan
Ø University of Houston
Ø University of Huddersfield, Oldham
Ø University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Ø University of Iowa
Ø University of Massachusetts Amherst
Ø University of Michigan
Ø University of Minnesota
Ø University of Montana-Missoula
Ø University of Montevallo
Ø University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Ø University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Ø University of Richmond
Ø University of San Francisco
Ø University of Saskatchewan
Ø University of South Alabama
Ø University of South Carolina
Ø University of Tennessee
Ø University of Texas Dallas
Ø University of Toledo Health Science Campus
Ø University of Victoria
Ø University of Waikato
Ø University of Windsor
Ø University of Winnipeg
Ø University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Ø University of Wyoming
Ø Vanderbilt University
Ø Virginia Tech
Ø Waubonsee Community College
Ø West Virginia University
Ø Western Carolina University
Ø Western Kentucky University
Ø Western Michigan University
Ø Wheaton College
Ø Wheelock College
Ø Yale University
What are the blogs “about”?
Most are general-purpose blogs or news blogs, in several cases just using a blog as a convenient way to provide library news on the library’s home page. Many of the others are blogs for departmental libraries. Including those blogs, I note these categories:
Ø Antarctic: one blog
Ø Architecture: one blog
Ø Art: three blogs
Ø Astronomy: one blog
Ø Biology and biological sciences: four blogs
Ø Books (as a topic): one blog
Ø Business: six blogs
Ø Children’s literature: one blog
Ø Classical/antiquities: one blog
Ø Conference reports: one blog
Ø Design: one blog
Ø Digitization and digital resources: three blogs
Ø Director’s blogs: five blogs
Ø Distance education: two blogs
Ø Economics: one blog
Ø Education: five blogs
Ø Engineering: four blogs
Ø Environment: one blog
Ø ERC: one blog
Ø Gaming: one blog
Ø Geology: one blog
Ø Google Scholar: one blog
Ø Government and government documents: seven blogs
Ø Indigenous studies: one blog
Ø Journalism: one blog
Ø Law (blawgs): eight blogs
Ø Learning commons: one blog
Ø Linguistics: one blog
Ø Management: one blog
Ø Maps: one blog
Ø Media: one blog
Ø Medicine: seven blogs
Ø Midwifery: one blog
Ø Okavongo: one blog
Ø Physiotherapy: one blog
Ø Podcasts: one blog
Ø Poetry: one blog
Ø Population research: one blog
Ø Reference: two blogs
Ø Repository: one blog
Ø Research: one blog
Ø Resources: six blogs
Ø Reviews: three blogs
Ø Scholarly communication: two blogs
Ø Science: six blogs
Ø Special collections: four blogs
Ø Staff: two blogs
Ø Systems and technology: three blogs
Ø Textiles: one blog
Ø Thanks: one blog
Ø Undergraduate: two blogs
There is no such thing as an average blog–and they vary so much that the mean and median for any given measure tend to be quite different.
So it is with these 231 blogs. I used the same metrics as for public libraries (and generally include the same information). I won’t repeat those metrics and findings here; the October 2007 Cites & Insights details the metrics used (with public library results).
You could say that an “average academic library blog” had 27 posts during the three-month period March-May 2007, with 2.5 comments received, 16 illustrations, a total length of 3692 words and an average of 178 words per post. (Don’t bother to multiply: No, the average post length times the average number of posts does not equal the average total words—because the average post length is the mean of all average post lengths.)
On the other hand, you could say that a “typical academic library blog” (the median rather than the mean) had 14 posts, no comments, one illustration, a total of 2,244 words and an average length of 143 words per post.
Both statements would be equally meaningful, which is to say not very. So, for example, there are three blogs with 27 posts each—but none of them had any comments, two had no illustrations (one had 12), and the average words per post was 88, 161, and 325. There are nine blogs with 14 posts each, the median, and indeed, six of the nine had no comments—but only one of the nine had one illustration and only one (a different one) was within 10% of the median average length per post. There is, as expected, no such thing as an average academic library blog.
It may be hard to visualize the blog writeups that make up most of this book (and Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples). Here’s an actual example (from “16057” through the line starting “URL”), reformatted just enough to fit within Cites & Insights:
Bailey Library, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania 16057
“a library newsletter, a compendium of interesting tidbits, a communication tool....from Bailey Library @ Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. (Site Feed)”
Links to and from library website. Multicontributor blog with signed posts. Many posts show distinctive personal style—a very readable blog.
Metrics: 50 posts, 37 comments (0.7/post), 50 illustrations (1/post). Average length 203 words. Began October 2004. Slightly visible (1.4).
Sample post (April 30, 2007):
Withdrawn from the Collection Today....
Cheryl Downing, School Nurse by Ruth MacLeod (1964) that concludes with this statement:
“Suspended in a sea of rapture, Cheryl’s only rational thought was that now she could look forward to the most wonderful career of all—that of a wife helping her husband achieve his highest ambitions.”
Yuck. I couldn’t find any cover illustration for Cheryl Downing, so used one of the more ubiquitous Cherry Ames (accused by Nancy Drew of not being able to hold a job, in some parody I read.) The Cheryl Downing book is part of a series called “Career-Romance for Young Moderns,” which also includes such titles as Introducing Patti Lewis, Home Economist, Allison Day: Weather Girl, Tomboy Teacher, and Magic in Her Voice (a tale of a telephone ad-taker.) I strongly suspect they all conclude with suspension in a sea of rapture when Mr. Right takes them away from the horror of working for a living. Let’s think of some sequels!
[The comments are priceless, but you’ll have to go look for those yourself.]
Since I didn’t include an actual example last October, here’s one from Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples (from “07922” through the line beginning “URL”):
Berkeley Heights Public Library, Berkeley Heights, New Jersey 07922. Serves 12,000.
Welcome: “This family friendly blog features frequently updated news about the Berkeley Heights Public Library with a strong emphasis on BHPL’s library services, popular books and non-book materials. Local and New Jersey events and people are often noted. Stories from the Reference Department of this small public library are sometimes featured, but patron anonymity is always assured.” Followed by a “how this blog works” statement encouraging comments.
Link to library website within set of right-column links, below a set of links to sites mentioned in posts. Link from library website on secondary page, “weblinks.” All posts signed by Anne deFuria, reference librarian.
Wide-ranging “book-related” posts with distinctive voice.
Metrics: 38 posts, 5 comments, 3 illustrations. Average length 205 words. Began May 2005. Slightly visible (1.3).
Sample post (March 7, 2007), partial:
Books in the Bookbag
Books in bookbags and backpacks, stuffed in a purse, piled on the coffee table or bedside table, waiting on the kitchen counter to be returned to the library, stuffed sideways on bookshelves waiting to be read: wherever you keep the books that buffer you from the possibility of being bookless when you finish the one you are reading might be the bibliophilic (word?) equivalent of keeping milk and bread on hand in case of a snowstorm.
BHPL has uncataloged paperbacks which patrons borrow without actually checking them out so there is no due date. When finished, return the book or another paperback of your own. Think of these books as security blankets which can be kept on hand without worrying about due dates. Turn to them if your current pile of checked out books prove to be duds and snow has shut down all the roads to the library. (BHPL rarely closes for snow, though.)
Lately, I’ve found another kind of bookish security blanket: books of very short short-stories, which is called either “sudden” fiction or “flash” fiction. Stuffed in the necessarily largish reticule (as S.J. Perelman would have said) is New sudden fiction : short-short stories from America and beyond / edited by Robert Shapard and James Thomas. One story told in just five pages tells the surreal tale of a bank clerk who covets a red fox fur coat, really obsesses on this coat, puts a downpayment on it and suddenly becoming athletic, starts to run in the forest, develops an acute sense of smell, craves bloody meat...you can see where this is going….
Cites & Insights Books isn’t a traditional publisher, but there are now five books linked to that name: Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change, Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples, Cites & Insights 7: 2007, Cites & Insights 6: 2006 and Academic Library Blogs: 231 Examples.
They’re all trade paperbacks with full-color covers featuring my wife’s travel photography (Academic Library Blogs has another picture at Ephesus, but not the library). The two Cites & Insights volumes are 8.5x11" on bright-white 60lb. book stock; the others are 6x9"—on cream 60lb. book stock from Lulu and (except for Academic Library Blogs) bright white 60lb. book stock from CreateSpace/Amazon. (Academic Library Blogs is on cream stock from both sources.) Each book is $29.50. PDF ebook versions of the three 6x9 books are also available from Lulu for $20. (If I could bundle the print and ebook versions for a lower price, I would. So far, I can’t—just as I can’t bundle the two blog books, much as I’d like to.) The bound volumes of Cites & Insights are exclusively available from Lulu.
I believe each book is a bargain. I think many of you would find one or more of them worthwhile. Purchases of the books help support Cites & Insights, at least indirectly.
I don’t anticipate that there will be any more Cites & Insights Books for the first half of 2008. At or around the time of ALA Annual, I’ll formulate some initial thoughts on how this experiment is going and where it might go.
Preparing this commentary, I realized there are other things I could have done with the data used to prepare the two library blog books—e.g., look for correlations between blogs with more comments than most and other blog characteristics. I might yet do some of that informal analysis in future issues of Cites & Insights. If time and interest permit, that is.
Cites & Insights is sponsored by YBP Library Services, http://www.ybp.com.
Opinions herein may not represent those of PALINET or YBP Library Services.
Comments should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large is copyright © 2008 by Walt Crawford: Some rights reserved.
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