Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large
ISSN 1534-0937
Libraries · Policy · Technology · Media

Selection from Cites & Insights 9, Number 10: September 2009



Public Library Blogs:A Limited Update

Two years ago, I set out to see how public library blogs—that is, blogs officially associated with public libraries—were doing. I published the results in a book that was, in retrospect, poorly conceived—both because the market was smaller than I’d hoped and because the book devoted most of its space to profiles of individual blogs, with a small portion devoted to metrics and comments on the entire population—and, deliberately, no subjective comments on blogs.

The book, Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples, will go out of print at the end of August 2009 (it’s still available from and Amazon, for those in search of a rarity). The first portion—the part devoted to metrics and overall comments—appeared in the May 2009 Cites & Insights (volume 9, number 6,

Where Are They Now?

If the book had been more successful or I had found sponsorship, I believe it would have been interesting and valuable to follow the progress of these blogs. While no study of blogs can be comprehensive, the 2007 study was a broadly representative sample of active English-language public library blogs.

2008 came and went. I did carry out a lateral study of liblogs—but not of library blogs, since the silence that greeted the first effort was nearly deafening. (That’s not quite fair. In all, 80 copies of the book were purchased, most recently in March 2009. In fact, it’s the academic library equivalent that was almost wholly ignored, with 45 copies purchased to date.) I’m now convinced that any major study of library blogs needs to be carried out by library school faculty or students, or someone else paid up front to do such research. At the end of this article, I’ll provide a link for the final spreadsheet from my own work. You’re welcome to use it, but I’d appreciate credit as the creator of the original research.

I wasn’t quite ready to give up on that data without one more look—and it’s possible to do a limited update without too much effort. That’s what I’ve done (all web research took place July 17-20, 2009). Here are the results.

Late-breaking caveat: In rechecking pioneer blogs and “intriguing” blogs for notes at the end of this article, I find one or two cases where a blog moved without a link, leaving behind a 404 error or other situation that counted as a “defunct blog.” I rechecked all 29 blogs that might be involved and adjusted the article and quintiles appropriately.

Survivors and Currency

All 252 blogs in the 2007 study originated in 2006 or before—and each blog had at least two posts during the March-May 2007 study period, with at least one post in two of the three months.

Here’s the situation in July 2009:

·         Twentyseven of the 252 blogs—11%—have disappeared. Of those, 11 yield 404-error (or equivalent) pages; nine are unreachable or have no apparent server; five have been explicitly removed or deleted (from Blogger or another hosting service that protects the “removed” status); and two, unfortunately, are now parking pages offering ads and links.

·         Two more have been protected—they’re unavailable except with password.

·         Five have no dates attached to posts; it’s impossible to tell how recently they’ve been updated. (Two more don’t have readily available dates for each post, but have posts arranged in such a manner that it’s clear there were posts in May 2009. Those are included below.)

·         That leaves 218 (87%) that still yield visible, dated posts—although not always at the same URL. Eighteen of the 218 have new URLs, usually with links from the old archived blogs, sometimes only findable through searches.

For the 218 with visible, dated posts, I looked at currency as of May 31, 2009: How many days before that the most recent post appeared. There are anomalous cases, blogs with no posts between February 1, 2009 and May 31, 2009 but at least one post since then—but it’s hard to know what to make of blogs updated so rarely.

Of those 218:

·         Twenty (9%) had posts on May 30 or 31.

·         Forty-two more (19%) had posts on May 28-29; thus, more than a quarter had posts within the most recent half week.

·         Twenty-three (11%) had a post within a week but not half a week. That’s a total of 85 (39%) updated within the week.

·         Thirty-three (15%) more had a post within two weeks, and 31 more (14%) within May. That’s a total of 149 (68% of blogs with visible dated posts, 59% of all blogs) with at least one post within the month. Let’s call those “active blogs” (although you might reserve that term for the 118 with at least one post in the second half of May 2009).

A mere 21 more had a post in March or April; using a 90-day cutoff. That yields 78% (or 68% of all blogs) that could be considered semi-active.

·         Extending the period to 120 days, Technorati’s generous cutoff for “active,” yields five more blogs.

·         Eighteen blogs had not been updated within 120 days but had been updated within a year—that is, sometime since May 31, 2008.

·         Twenty-four blogs had a post sometime between May 31, 2007 and May 31, 2008.

·         Two blogs had their most recent post within the earlier study period, between March 1 and May 31, 2007. In all, that’s 44 blogs (17% of the total population) that appear entirely moribund but have visible archives.

I did a similar quick-check in December 2008, using the term “robust” for blogs updated sometime within the week before the check and “active” for those updated sometime within the two weeks.

·         In December 2008, 83 of the 252 blogs (32%) were robust; May 2009 was a little better with 85 (34%).

·         In December 2008, 66 were active but not robust; that was down considerably, to 33.

A more meaningful comparison may be with the 2007 study, comparing average posts per week in May 2009 with average posts per week in March-May 2007:

·         In 2007, 119 (47%) of the blogs averaged at least one post per week. In 2009, that was down to 80 (37%).

·         In 2007, another 66 (26%) averaged at least one post every other week. In 2009, that was down to 31 (14%).

I think of active and robust blogs as being in “pretty good health,” a description that fit 73% of the blogs in the 2007 study. Only 118, or 47%, fit that description in May 2009—and even if you leave out blogs that have disappeared entirely, a small majority (54%) meet the standard.

Conclusion? Most public library blogs that began before 2007 aren’t very active in 2009—only about half manage even one post every other week.

What about comments—that great promise of community involvement that never did work out for most library blogs? Dividing 2007 figures by three, we get a total of 589 comments per month—and only 118 blogs with any comments at all. For 2009, noting that the design of Ann Arbor’s blog makes it nearly impossible to calculate comments, only 49 of the blogs had any comments at all during May—and there were a total of only 224 comments. (Ann Arbor’s blog had an average of 130 comments per month during the 2007 study, so a better comparison might be 459 comments for 2007 and 224 for 2009, still a drop of more than half.) Conclusion? There’s even less community feedback showing up directly in blogs.

The Quintiles

I didn’t introduce quintile analysis until the liblog project, and did it retrospectively for library blogs in a series of posts on Walt at Random. Quintile analysis—describing the population in fifths of the whole—seems particularly useful for something as heterogeneous as blogs.

This time, I looked at total posts and total comments. I didn’t study length of posts or number of illustrations. This study yields three metrics: post count, comment count and posts per comment. For each of those three, I offer the 2007 quintiles, 2009 quintiles and change quintiless. Some caveats:

·         For changes from 2007 to 2009, I’ve included only the 218 blogs for which posts and comments could be counted in both cases, leaving out five with counting difficulties and those that have disappeared entirely.

Quintile sizes aren’t always one-fifth of the blogs (50 or 51 for 2007, 44 or 45 for 2009) because of clusters with the same value—that is, there’s no way break a quintile between two blogs both having 3.3 posts per month in 2007.

·         The differences are extreme in 2009, because so many blogs (33%) had neither posts nor comments; as a result, Q1-Q4 are relatively small, representing segments of blogs with non-zero numbers. That’s also true for comments and conversational intensity in both years, where Q1-Q4 represent segments of the minority of blogs that had any comments at all.

Post Frequency

To make the comparison reasonable, I divided 2007 figures by three, yielding average posts per month—comparable to one-month figures for 2009.

For the 252 blogs with posts in the 2007 study, there were an average of 1,992 posts per month—which works out to an average of 7.9 posts per blog, but the median blog had four posts (one per week).

The quintiles for 2007:

The 20% of blogs with the most posts represented 62% of all posts (well below the Zipf 20:80 mark).

Compare that with quintiles for 2009:

Here, the top 20% (actually 16%) represent 63% of all posts—but note how much lower the numbers are across the board, with the median dropping from one post per week to one every other week.


Here’s the list of public library blogs averaging at least two posts per week in May 2009—37 of them, one-sixth of all the blogs in the study. I’m including the zip code (or postal code or country abbreviation) because some blog names are a little mysterious.

Changes from 2007 to 2009

Although posts in May 2009 declined more than half from a typical 2007 month in general, that doesn’t mean every public library blog had fewer posts. In fact, nearly a third had more posts. Here are the quintiles (or, rather, the quarters of the top two-thirds):

A note here: I may have posted a comment on Facebook that was more negative than necessary—the first time I did these calculations, I was comparing May 2009 to March-May 2007, yielding terrible results.

The real results are neither wonderful nor terrible. Of the 218 blogs that still have visible and countable posts, 65 (30%) have at least as many posts in May 2009 as in the average 2007 month. Of those, roughly half have at least half again as many posts in May 2009 (that is, at least a 50% growth):


Blog it and they will respond? That was never a reasonable assumption for library blogs, and it hasn’t worked out very well in practice.

In March-May 2007, fewer than half the blogs had any comments at all. Dividing by three to reflect a typical month, we get 589 comments for the whole set of blogs. Here are the quintiles for 2007:

In this case, the Zipf formula applies with a vengeance: the 12% of blogs with the most comments included 82% of all comments.

The quintiles for 2009:

Only 49 of the blogs with posts in May 2009—22%—had any comments at all. The blogs with at least five comments during the month—6% of the universe, roughly a quarter of those with any comments—had 72% of all the comments.


The dozen blogs with more than four comments:

Note again that Ann Arbor’s blog resisted easy counting because of the way it’s presented. It’s certainly worth noting that three of the dozen blogs with significant numbers of comments are teen blogs.

Changes from 2007 to 2009

Since a change from no comments in 2007 to one comment in 2009 is, effectively, an infinite percentage increase, I forced the value “1000%” for any blog that had comments in 2009 and didn’t in 2007. On the other hand, if a blog had no comments in either year, there’s no (0%) change. Here are the quintiles, with notes following:

What this table shows:

·         Thirteen blogs with no comments in March-May 2007 did have at least one comment in May 2009 (recorded as 1000%). Additionally, one blog, Connections—Books (06820)—had 14 times as many comments in May 2009 as in the average 2007 month. (It had 0.3 comments per month in 2007, that is, a single comment during the three-month study, and five in 2009.)

·         Sixteen blogs had at least as many comments in May 2009 as in the average 2007 month.

·         Eighteen more blogs had comments in both 2009 and 2007, but had fewer comments in 2009 than in 2007.

·         Seventy blogs had comments in 2007 but not 2009.

·         One hundred blogs had no comments in either year.

Conversational Intensity

My term for a secondary metric: Number of comments divided by number of posts. Quintiles for 2007:

Very few library blogs averaged even one comment per post in 2007—13 of them, one fewer than in 2009. On the other hand, no blog came close to the sheer intensity of 2007’s top scorer, Teen Blog (98446) with its 13.5 comments per post. The most intense blog for 2009 had fewer than four comments per post, as shown below:


The 14 blogs averaging at least one comment per post in May 2009:

One possibly-interesting item here: Three of the 14 blogs are from Canada. Unsurprising: Six of the 14 are teen blogs.

Changes from 2007 to 2009

Finally, here are the quintiles for changes in conversational intensity between 2007 and 2009, using the same rules as for changes in comments themselves:

What this table says:

·         Thirteen blogs with comments in May 2009 but not in March-May 2007 appear as Q1.

·         The second group, Q2, includes 20 blogs with at least as much conversational intensity in 2009 as in 2007—including one “true 0%”: a blog with exactly the same ratio of comments to posts in the two studies.

·         The third, Q3, includes 16 blogs with comments in both periods but lower conversational intensity in 2009.

·         The rest either had comments in 2007 but not in 2009 (Q4) or lacked comments in both years (Q5).


Some public library blogs that were around in 2007 haven’t fared that well lately. Quite a few of them appear to be doing just fine. For some public libraries, one post every other week is healthy; for tiny all-volunteer libraries, it’s remarkable.

Are they engaging the community? There’s no good way to know from outside, except for the minority that get significant numbers of comments. Comments aren’t the only measure of engagement; a library blog can succeed without ever getting (or even allowing) comments.

I believe the days are over when libraries were counseled that they needed to have blogs—at least I hope they are. What’s been said of scientists may be equally true for libraries (and librarians): While each one could potentially benefit from a blog, not every one should have a blog.

Source Data

The spreadsheet including the raw data for this study and a list of library names by Zip code, is available at (no hyphens in the URL). It doesn’t carry an explicit license, but as far as I’m concerned, anyone can use it at will, for commercial or noncommercial purposes, with credit for my work if that’s appropriate. I’m done with this particular line of inquiry.

Pioneers and Intriguing Blogs

As I was gathering information on these blogs in 2007, which typically included reading or at least skimming three months of posts, I was impressed by the variety, personality and vitality found in blogs.

I jotted down some of the blogs I found particularly intriguing for one reason or another in 2007—in Zip order, since I gathered them as I made the last pass through the profiles.

The brief commentaries that follow include some “intriguing” blogs I’d noted in 2007 and pioneering public library blogs—those started before 2004 that were still present in 2007.


h20boro lib blog

Waterboro Public Library, East Waterboro, Maine 04030. One of the oldest—perhaps the oldest—public library blogs, and apparently doing quite well in 2007, with quite a few posts and good visibility.

The blog’s still there, but the most recent post is dated August 16, 2007. The library’s website uses a different mechanism to provide current events and does not point to the blog.


Redwood City Public Library, Redwood City, California 94063. Another very old library blog—and, again, the age could only be asserted through external knowledge, since there was no archival function when I studied public library blogs in mid-2007. (I thought the blog began in 2002.)

Now I do find an archival function—dating back to November 1999, which might make this the oldest public library blog. Unfortunately, the most recent post is January 1, 2008: Once again, a very old library blog appears to have run its course. The library’s website does not point to the now-dead blog.


Tompkins County Public Library, Ithaca, New York 14850. Another pioneer from 2002, but this one’s still running. There were four posts in May 2009, a considerable decline from the monthly average in 2007—but ten more in June 2009 and four in July 2009.

This is a solid example of a blog that continues to provide detailed items about news and events at the local library on a regular basis.

Sites and Soundbytes

Elisha D. Smith Public Library, Menasha, Wisconsin 54952. One of four blogs from this library in a community of 24,000, this blog—which came to Menasha with the director—was very active in 2007 (83 posts, among the top 12).

While it wasn’t quite as active in May 2009, there was still an average of nearly two posts per week. After six years, Tasha Saecker still produces a healthy stream of well-written first-person posts on aspects of libraries and technology, with an emphasis on the web.

FPL Teen Blog

Framingham Public Library, Framingham, Massachusetts. 01702. Certainly one of the earliest teen/YA blogs, dating back to June 2003.

In 2007, this blog was lively, averaging three posts a week covering books, library activities and other areas. Since then, the URL changed—and, on September 12, 2008, the “virtual YA librarian” left. That was the last post on the old site (the last post there was dated September 6, 2008) or the new one.

Kids Lit

Elisha D. Smith Public Library, Menasha, Wisconsin 54952. “Kids” in this case includes teens, and this blog began two months after FPL Teen Blog. But there’s a difference: Kids Lit continues to be active, indeed the second most active blog in this followup study.

Another Menasha blog—and another one Tasha Saecker brought with her from a previous library. It’s also another lively, well-written, first-person blog that’s a pleasure to read and seems to serve its community well. It was one of the most prolific blogs in 2007 (averaging 35 posts per month, and with a reasonable number of comments). Now, Saecker’s posting a little more often and still getting a fair amount of feedback (second highest number of comments for May 2009).


Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, Topeka, Kansas 66604. In 2007, I characterized this as “a complex, rich combination of essays, new book listings, reviews and what have you.” It was also a frustrating blog to study, since the format blocked cut-and-paste at the end of each post. Still, it was clearly a busy (159 posts over three months), interactive (72 comments), in-depth (average length 315 words, based on sampling 10 posts) blog, with good visibility.

Where is it now? That’s not clear. The server won’t respond at the given URL. Searching for the blog yields an RSS page that only seems to have one live link and doesn’t mention the blog. The T&SCPL home page doesn’t mention blogs at all. As a result, this one isn’t included in the May 2009 study. Whatever the current status, it was a lively and worthwhile blog for several years.

Marin County Free Library Blog

Marin County Free Library, San Rafael, California 94903. This blog began in late 2003 and was quite active in 2007.

It still is in 2009—with an average of a post every other day, a higher frequency (20% more) than in 2007. The light-blue on medium-blue/gray typography may be a little hard to read, but as an RSS feed, this blog offers a steady, varied stream of notes about the library and its services.

Children’s Department Paperless Notebook

Bethel Park Public Library, Bethel Park, Pennsylvania 15102. Reasonably active in 2007, one of the earliest children’s blogs may still be around—but if so, it’s invisible to the outside world, an invitation-only blog. That may make sense for a children’s blog, but prevents inclusion in an external study.

Actually, it’s more confusing than that. The URL from 2007 now yields a “PROTECTED” page—so I stopped right there. The Bethel Park website has a list of blogs, which does not include this blog at all.

But, if you click on the Children link, one of the listings under “Children’s Services” is for another blog (not listed on the blog page), That blog doesn’t include the charming “Paperless Notebook” subtitle. Posts have dates but not years—but since the most recent post is dated “Friday, August 1,” it would appear that the new blog hasn’t been updated in a year.

Off the Shelves

La Grange Park Public Library System, La Grange Park, Illinois 60526. Another pioneering library blog, dating back to December 2003. While the posts tended to be short in 2007 (averaging 49 words), the blog averaged one post a week—not bad for a library serving 13,000 people.

Because the URL yielded a flat 404 error when checked, I didn’t search further, and this blog also isn’t in the 2009 study. Checking further, it turns out that the blog was recreated as a Typepad blog (, with no link from the previous site. The new blog incorporates the old archive. It still consists of very brief entries—almost always links to some outside source—and had 22 such brief posts during May 2009. It’s about as close to a pure linklog as you can get.

eBranch Blog

Harris County Public Library, Houston, Texas 77054. This pioneering blog had somewhat less than one post per week in 2007 but included lots of illustrations. The blog’s still there; the frequency’s nearly doubled.

This is a lively, varied blog, including post titles such as “Top 10 Excuses for Not Joining HCPL’s Summer Reading Programs”—which appeared shortly after a similar list of reasons to join the program.


Eleven pioneers. Three moribund, three disappeared or morphed in ways that are difficult to trace. But nearly half of them are still going strong, now for at least five and a half years. That’s good news.

Other Intriguing Blogs

Why did I find these blogs intriguing? (Three pioneers were on this list, but I’ve already covered them.) To the extent that it’s still apparent, I note the reasons below. It’s fair to say that libraries in the northeast are overrepresented, since I started jotting down interesting blogs as I did the final, Zip-code-ordered, investigation, and typically marked only the first case of an “intriguing” category.

Newton’s Quick Job Search Blog

Newton Free Library, Newton Centre, Massachusetts 02459. This blog struck me as interesting because it was—and is—an active blog with a very specific purpose a little outside the usual blog categories (book reviews, library news, teens, genealogy): “Helpful Web sites for the job searcher.”

With a mission like that, you don’t expect a flood of posts; you do expect posts to be focused. They are—and it appears to be appreciated.

From the Reference Desk

Nashua Public Library, Nashua, New Hampshire 03060. In 2007, this blog had lots of posts (74), long posts (an average of 371 words) and a fair number of comments. It was a lively, varied blog.

In 2009, it still is—even though, oddly enough, “From the reference desk” appears only in the browser page title, not the banner itself. It’s nowhere near as active (down to one post a week in May 2009, compared to six a week in 2007), but it’s still lively and interesting, with posts that encourage you to think.

Dover Public Library news

Dover Public Library, Dover, New Hampshire 03820. In 2007, I called this “a robust, varied blog offering a variety of voices on a variety of topics”—almost one post a day (and 23 comments over the quarter) in a library serving a relatively small population.

Still there, still frequent (23 posts in May 2009), still drawing occasional comments (4 of them on these 23 posts)—and still lively and varied. The library’s on Twitter and Facebook too.

The Short List

Essex Library Association, Essex, Connecticut 06426. This struck me in 2007 because it was a fairly active book-oriented blog with a striking, unusual design that didn’t get in the way of the content. It was a young blog (begun October 2006) with 47 posts during the March-May 2007 period.

It’s still there, with the same striking and very readable design. It’s also one of those blogs for which a one-month mini-study is terribly misleading. There were only three posts in May (and only one in June 2009)—but there were a dozen in July 2009, a dozen in April 2009 and 14 in March 2009. For a book blog that rarely focuses on individual books, this one continues to be strong.

Connections - Books

Darien Library, Darien, Connecticut 06820. Darien had ten blogs in March-May 2007; this one, primarily book news and reviews, was active and well read.

It wasn’t the Darien blog that I flagged in 2007 as “intriguing”—but it’s as good an example as any. In 2009, it’s active and getting community response. (The Darien site is fed by a blog, providing the center column of events.) Oddly, I can no longer find a list of blogs—and the “RSS Feeds” page offers a video explaining RSS Feeds, but not a list of them. Indeed, the “On the web” list of services includes a bunch of websites—but no blogs.

Westport Public Library MOVIE & MUSIC blog

Westport Public Library, Westport, Connecticut 06880. One of two active blogs full of notes and reviews (the other’s the WPL BOOK blog). It was an all-star in 2007—in the top quintile for post frequency, number of comments, illustrations and post length. The posts were also interesting.

Come May 2009, and the posts are just about as frequent, although there aren’t as many comments. They’re still interesting posts; this is still a fine blog.

West Long Branch Public Library

West Long Branch Public Library, West Long Branch, New Jersey 07764. One of those cases where a small library uses a blog as the library website, with the address in the banner, hours and resource links on the side and current items (the posts) down the middle.

In 2007, there were 54 posts over three months—not bad for a library serving 7,600 people. In 2009, the blog-as-website continues with a steady stream of functional posts—14 of them in May 2007, similar numbers in other months.

Highland Park Public Library Teen Blog

Highland Park Public Library, Highland Park, New Jersey 08904. I may have marked this teen blog because the posts, while not particularly frequent in 2007, were unusually long—863 words, second longest in the 2007 survey. The blog also used a lot of illustrations (five per post).

In 2009, the name’s changed (to Michelle’s Blog) and the posts are more frequent—five in May 2009 as compared to four in March-May 2007. (While post frequency is erratic, there are more posts in January-July 2009 than in all of 2008 or 2007). Still lots of photos when appropriate, still fairly long posts (maybe not as long), still seems to be a good teen blog in a relatively small community.

Administratively Speaking

Goshen Public Library & Historical Society, Goshen, NY 10924. That’s the first (alphabetically) of ten blogs in 2007, from this library with 17,000 service population—and I was marking the set of blogs as a group. This director’s blog didn’t have many posts (three over the quarter) but they were fairly long (596 words).

As of July 31, 2009, the most recent post was November 14, 2008. The posts in late 2008 appear to be monthly messages from the director, interesting and detailed. (The director’s up front about things: The About page includes this comment: “Of late I’ve not had as much time to dedicate to it as I might like, but I’ll do my best to keep you apprised of pertinent news and information.”)

A page of Goshen blogs still shows nine—but two of those yield 404s, and only two of the nine have 2009 posts. The blogs don’t link to the library’s website. That website, which seems to be in a state of slight flux, doesn’t point to the list of blogs.

Sellers Library Teens

Upper Darby Township & Sellers Memorial Free Public Libraries, Upper Darby, Pennsylvania 19082. A very active teen blog in 2007 (averaging more than a post a day), with lots of comments and an extremely varied set of posts. Identified as a group blog by the teens and librarians.

Not as active in May 2009, but more than a post every other day and with quite a few comments (15 comments over 17 posts). Still a varied, interesting, clearly effective teen blog.

Birmingham Public Library’s Latest News, Reviews & Information

Birmingham Public Library, Birmingham, AL 35203. I probably flagged this blog because it was a standout in 2007 in almost every respect—frequency (60 posts in three months), comments (13 comments), illustrations (essentially one per post), length of posts (273 words). I called it “lively and personal.”

In 2009? More posts (27 in May 2009), more comments (9), higher conversational intensity. This continues to be an active, varied group blog with interesting posts (still “lively and personal”) that appear to reach the community.


Worthington Public Library, Worthington, Ohio 43085. Teen blogs should draw comments. This one had fairly strong conversational intensity in 2007 (0.9 comments per post).

2009? The highest conversational intensity by quite a margin, with 24 comments on seven posts. It’s one of those where a post can include a question—and get answers. (Note that, although there were seven posts in May 2009, there were 20 in June and 22 in July; it’s an active and highly variable blog.)

Turning the Page...

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. This blog featured “lengthy, thoughtful posts by several staff members.” I extrapolated length from the first 10 of 92 posts in March-May 2007, yielding 458 words per post. There were also a fair number of comments.

The frequency was down considerably in 2009, but the reviews are still long and interesting.


St. Joseph County Public Library, South Bend, Indiana 46601. Back in 2007, this blog was busy (203 posts, third highest frequency in the study), had many comments (153, second most) and loads of illustrations (814, most in the study)—and appeared to reach a lot of people.

In May 2009, it was much less active but still had more than one post every other day; it had the most comments of any blog in the study. It still appears to be a solid, well-received blog.


Madison Public Library, Madison, Wisconsin 53703. A “well-rounded” book-oriented blog in 2007—not the highest on any particular measure, but among the top group on all metrics, and with good visibility.

Although there are fewer posts in May 2009, it still stands out in most respects, including comments. Post titles such as “Using the Veg-O-Matic while listening to my victrola” are enticing, and the essays rarely disappoint.

What’s New @ Coloma Public Library

Coloma Public Library, Coloma, Wisconsin 54930. In 2007, this blog stood out for one specific reason, undoubtedly the reason I flagged it: Long posts—averaging 865 words, longest in the study. There weren’t that many posts but they were definitely essays.

There were nine posts in May 2009, three times as many per month as in 2007, in this blog serving a small community (under 2,000). But there’s been a big change in approach for this “What’s new” blog. In 2007, it was all text, no illustrations—and in 2009, it’s essentially all illustrations (book and DVD cover) and links to catalog records, with almost no text. That’s true all the way back for the new blog at the new URL, with no redirect from the old one.

ICARUS... the Santa Fe Public Library Blog

Santa Fe Public Library, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501. Another very active (112 posts in March-May 2007), wide-ranging blog.

Still very active in May 2009 (32 posts, third highest in the study)—and now, unlike 2007, there are some comments as well. The posts continue to be varied, signed and with clear voices and interesting, and May 2009 clearly wasn’t a fluke. Except for a slight dip in 2008, the blog’s had more than 300 posts each year since it began in 2005—and with 200 posts through the end of July, it’s on track for a similarly active 2009.

The Librarian’s Own Grove

Riverside Public Library, Riverside, California 92501. My comment in 2007 makes it clear why I tagged this one: “An unusual and rather lovely set of untitled essays by various librarians.” The essays weren’t all that frequent (12 over three months) or long (averaging 244 words), but they were lovely.

More recent essays continued to be interesting—but the last one appeared June 27, 2008. These later essays were signed. The writer of the final essay announced his departure from the library in that post; the others have apparently chosen not to continue.

Seldovia Public Library

Seldovia Public Library, Seldovia, Alaska 99663. Those who have heard me speak about library blogs know why I marked Seldovia’s blog as intriguing: The blog is the website for this “all-volunteer library serving the Seldovia, Alaska community since 1935”—and it’s highly unlikely that this tiny library (serving a population of fewer than 400) would have an active website at all otherwise.

The blog—the website—is a solid example of WordPress as a content management system, with pages for a range of library issues along with the central blog, primarily describing (and linking to catalog records for) new items in the collection. There were 14 posts in March-May 2007, most of them fairly long. The site continues to average one post per week. It continues to be a shining example of how a well-thought-out blog can make a tiny, underfunded library more functional at little or no cost and with relatively little effort.

Fahrenheit 451: Banned Books

The Town of Pelham Public Library, Fonthill, Ontario, Canada L0S 1E0. In 2007, this was an active blog (45 posts and 45 comments) devoted to banned and challenged books and resources. At the time, I noted: “An astonishing depth and variety of posts, including local banned book challenges (for people to read challenged books).”

In May 2009, there were a lot fewer posts (three) but still an average of one comment per post, and still a stream of challenging posts on the general topic of book challenges and censorship.

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large, Volume 9, Number 10, Whole Issue 120, ISSN 1534-0937, a journal of libraries, policy, technology and media, is written and produced by Walt Crawford, Editorial Director of the Library Leadership Network.

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