Exercise 2 – Blog Characteristics

My first assignment was to subscribe to five required blogs to my Google Reader site, which I find to be extremely helpful. My next assignment was to pick and subscribe to three more blogs, which I chose from the broad Blogging Libraries Wiki. As I read through several posts from each blog, I came to some conclusions vis-a-vis the components that create a successful blog. Firstly, I found that the title does make a difference. True, everyone knows the age-old saying of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. And, truthfully, I have found many books with awful titles but intriguing and well-written narration. However, when choosing a book in the library, I tend to be drawn by the more interesting titles first. The title of a blog is no different. Blog readers are drawn to clever titles, with thoughts of a promising read, and are willing to subscribe to those blogs. My favorite blog title had to be “In the Library with a Lead Pipe”. How clever! A reference to the classic game of Clue, with a twist of humor as its byline. Secondly, I found that visuals were extremely important. When I utilize the internet for my ubiquitous shopping needs, I find that I would rather pay a dollar more, and navigate a well-run and user-friendly interface. The ‘look’ of the website makes a huge difference! Within the past six months, the Los Angeles Public Library system instituted a new OPAC. Not only is it more comprehensive, but it’s nicer looking, clearer, and much easier to use. A blog should mirror these attributes. Nicely set up page, with good graphics, and appealing pictures in each post, adds a whole new layer to the blog. Thirdly, and in my opinion most importantly, is the personal touch. While reading what items makes for a great blog, I noticed that many writers mention adding a personal touch. I found myself more interested and more involved with the posts that spoke more intimately – almost as if they trusted me to read their personal words. This would mean that I could now write back some personal thoughts, or at least connect to a human being instead of a written piece on the internet.

The five blogs that I was required to post to were the following: Librarian’s Commute, In the Library with a Lead Pipe, Librarian by the Day, David Lee King, and the Distant Librarian. I found them to each be unique in their own way, and analyzed them individually.

  1. Librarian’s Commute:  The woman who writes for this blog is a reference librarian who works for a junior college library, and discusses interesting discoveries or thoughts regarding librarianship. The blog is not connected in any way to her work, other than the fact that some blog posts are about happenstances that occurred while she was working. I enjoyed how the writer’s posts included a picture at the top, and the blog posting itself was neither too long nor too short – just the right length to hold a reader’s attention and present the relevant material. Her posts were written in a more personal and casual format, but were still informative and well-written; both areas necessary for a successful blog. The page itself was set up simply but with useful information, including bits relating her catchy title regarding her commute. There’s even a Google map routing her commute!
  2. In the Library with a Lead Pipe: This blog included several authors that seemed to alternate in submitting posts. The tone was more academic, and the length of the post reflected that intellectual feel. The blog’s purpose seemed to be directed at an academic audience searching for lengthy discussions on certain topics. There is even a page that delineates submission guidelines for a guest author, and they are quite formidable! As a subscriber, I would find it too tedious to read through every post, but as an academic, I would be interested in certain posts relevant to what I may be studying at the time. My favorite part of this site was that Flickr pictures played a big part in expressing the ideas of the authors, which made the post all that more interesting.
  3. Librarian by the Day: I think this blog was my least favorite. The postings were varied, which is something I normally appreciate in a blog, but in this instance they seemed to be all over the place. The page hurt my eyes in the sense that I felt like I had to concentrate on the writing and not the two columns of widgets, something I discovered being very frustrating. I did like how the author incorporated many different visuals and even social media pieces like YouTube videos into her postings. To me, these types of things only enhance the writing. Another part of this blog that I appreciated was that the single author, a woman librarian, had an overall relevant topic that she was presenting and seemed passionate about.
  4. David Lee King: Though the least interesting title, I found this to be my favorite of the five required blogs. David King’s postings are just long enough to capture the reader’s attention and interest, and I like how they are related to hot topics or the library he works at. He writes in an engaging style, which I found appealing, and adds his personal touch. One item in particular that I really thought was a good idea was the fact that he will put related links or posts at the bottom of the daily blog piece. I also liked how he took a ten step idea, and made it into a series of ten postings. Very clever site. King utilizes the social media very well, adding tweets, posts, etc on the side of his blog, in an unobtrusive yet informative way.
  5. The Distant Librarian: The idea of creating a mobile blog was inventive and great for this Web 2.0 age. The male author has compelling snippets, each catchy and interesting. He writes in an extremely casual tone, which can be somewhat offensive if one is into the intellectual verse, but I thought it to be refreshing. The pieces incorporate great visuals, which makes them even more readable and attractive. What bothered me most about this blog was the ‘ads by Google’ on the left hand side of the screen. Though I’m sure it’s there to help offset costs and bring in a little money, they still are a put off for me as a reader and I didn’t appreciate them.

The three blogs I chose from the special libraries section, and the state libraries section. I was interested in discovering a little bit more information about special libraries in general, and I chose a Texas library because the state of Texas intrigues me.

  1. Smithsonian Libraries: A wonderfully masterful library blog, the author of ‘Smithsonian Libraries’ incorporates many features and a variety of topics to lure her readers into the world of the Smithsonian. Each blog post has pictures of the item being described, complete with corresponding explanations, and other items of similar interest. The blog also contains links to popular social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. Links on the side of the blog page bring the reader to more informative pages. All in all, in relation to disseminating information, a librarians’ ultimate job, this blog fulfills that goal perfectly. This was my favorite of the three blogs I chose.
  2. Resource Center Blog: The Lincoln Center Institute’s Resource Center’s Blog is a compilation of postings; each related to a resource that the Lincoln Center holds. The blog describes the resource in great detail, thus allowing the reader a complete feel for the item. The writings are professional with a casual and personal tone sprinkled amidst the piece, and are co-authored by the staff and teaching artists of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. The blogs include pictures, testimonials, and comments, to best serve the curiosity of the reader. I found this site to be well assembled and extremely informative.
  3. Inside the Gates: The Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library at the Alamo, or the DRT, puts out a blog that details a variety of information in relation to the library. Some posts discuss the fascinating resources that a part of the library’s collections, while others will be short blurbs of news related to the library. Each posting is professionally written and presented, and provides visual images to interest the reader. The site has an old Western feel befitting a Texas library at the Alamo, and is maintained by a female archivist. This was the most fascinating blog as it presented more of an archive library, and the materials imparted were very interesting.