UContent: The Information Professional's Guide to User-Generated Content

Some Interesting Thoughts about Librarians and Blogging

Blogging is one of the earliest forms of user-generated content. The Web’s first blog, called “Justin’s Links from the Underground” was started in 1994 by Justin Hall while he was a student at Swarthmore College. Hall, now a reviewer of gaming conferences, blogs to this day–a testimony to the tenacious nature of bloggers. Librarians, who are always adding content to the internet in one form or another (e.g., video tours and tutorials, slide presentations, library Facebook pages), actively blog, too. While many are followed by their peers, Jessamyn West, author of “The Librarian in Black” blog came to the attention of a wider reader audience when AbeBooks reblogged a list of the “25 Most Famous Librarians in History,” which included Jessamyn right alongside Melvil Dewey and Giacomo Casanova.

Before I began writing the Blogs chapter of UContent, I corresponded with Walt Crawford. Walt, a prolific veteran of the library blogosphere, is the author of the 2010 book But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009. He also writes two blogs Cites & Insights and “Walt at Random.”

When I asked what makes a good “liblog” (a blog written by library people), Walt replied, “Good liblogs have personality (the writing is in the blogger’s own voice), interest (the posts are engaging), and have substance (the blogger has something to say that is at least worth reading, which does not mean every post or even any post has to be deeply serious).”

In my Blogs chapter I chose dozens of high profile blogs, and accessed their influence on librarianship in two ways. I looked at the level of each blogs activity (number of posts). I also noted the number of interactions with readers (comments posted). The random sample of blogs I studied came from several notable lists including GetDegrees’ “Top Fifty Librarian Blogs,” the aforementioned Cites & Insights (June, 2009), Blake Carver’s “10 Librarian Blogs to Read in 2010,” and others. The full list of the sites I consulted is here.

The author of a recent question on a library discussion list, wanting to gain a foothold of the liblog landscape, asked colleagues to name some interesting blogs written by librarians. Many individuals gave their preferences, and I added that my ranked list was also a great place to begin. Here are the top four blogs from my list of 47, which ranked individual librarian’s blogs (by number of interactive comments, and the total number of blogger posts). The sample was taken from three randomly chosen months during 2008 – 2010:

The “Annoyed Librarian” ranked number one with a whopping average of 71 comments per post. Having 8.57 comments per post, Meredith Farkas’ “Information Wants to be Free” ranked second. “Judge a Book by Its Cover” was third with an average of 8.36 comments per post, and “In the Library with a Lead Pipe” was fourth. It averaged 8.27 comments per post.


About Nicholas Tomaiuolo

Nick Tomaiuolo earned his MLS at Southern Connecticut State University where he was named a Scholar of the School of Library Science and Instructional Technology, inducted into Beta Phi Mu (the International Library and Information Studies Honor Society), and has been designated a Distinguished Alumnus. He teaches online research skills courses for both Central Connecticut State University and the University of Maryland University College. Likes: database searching, literature, marottes, Stratocasters, theater, and travel. Dislikes: hubris, martinets, opportunists, and technology for technology’s sake. His first book, The Web Library, was published in 2004. His second book UContent: The Information Professional's Guide to User-Generated Content was published in January 2012.

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