CIL:Weblogs as Customer Communication and Collaboration Tools

Susan Fingerman, Johns Hopkins University
Christina K. Pikas, Johns Hopkins University
Susan Klopper, Goizueta Business Library, Emory University
Clara Hudson, University of Scranton


Christina K. Pikas
Christina talks about what ehy have done with blogs at APL.
Current Blog
Internal Blog
Environment at APL: Very centralized IT management, no library servers, no lab-wide support.

Their need at APL:
Need for a newsletter, but intranet portal was inflexible.

Our first try:
Librarian suggested software, but the techie chose something entirely different.  Unfortunately, this did not work.  Their server was taken away when IT centralized.  The blog software they had was not flexible.

Second try:
Head of library new an off-site techie who was willing to host the site.  Purchased Movable Type license, set up on another host.  Can create multiple blogs quickly with one interface.

Current blog
Statistics:  Using Apache/Webalizer (2,000 hist per month)
E-mails received requesting mentioning on the blog.  Almost a race to get mentioned on the internal blog.

Beg, borrow, or steal a host.  Not hosted on the library server.  Unfortunately, a lot of libraries with centralized IT run into this barrier, as those who control the servers don’t see the big picture.

Lots of other internal blogs at APL, but there is no centralized place to find them.

Lessons learned:
Try to get a stable host
Do not assume customers and IT know/get blogs
Back-up your posts in case you need to change hosts, or if the IT environment software is unstable.
Put lots of contact information on the blog.

Susan Klopper
So you want to start a blog  -or-  If you build it, they may not come
Based on Susan’s personal experience in the library at Emory

Gallup report:  Blog Readership Bogged Down—reported in the Chicago Tribune
9% of Internet users read blogs
66% have never read a blog in their life
Bottom line is more people are doing more of the same thing:  email, shopping, booking travel.  Not blogging.

According to Technorati, a new blog is created every second of every day….About 75,000 a day.

Susan raises the quesiton:  If a blog is not updated regularly, is it really a blog?

Emory has been talking about setting up a blog since 2003.  2004 they created a blog for their academic area.  Hoped to create a dialogue of best practices and lessons learned.

Emory blog questions:
Who is the intended audience?
What does the library hope the users will get out of the blog?

A year later, they still don’t have the answers.  Finally, one question did not have an answer:  Did the community really want a blog?

Queried senior faculty to millenials about what blogs were.  Lots of confusion about what a blog was.  Came to the conclusion that the librarians wanted to create a blog.  Their reasons were primarily based on their own interests (newness, blogs are cool, blogs will make us cutting edge).

Modeling the assement of blogs, by asking what kind of information the patrons currently were not getting.

Have not created a blog?  Still studying the issues.  Still looking at a blog as a knowledge management tool.

Clara Hudson

Slides are available in the preceedings, as she only had five minutes to present.
“Feel like a fraud, because she is not really a blogger.”

Started a blog to communicate with committee members.  Had a mixed reaction.

All of her blogs are internal, closed blogs.  A community of communication.

Has taken blogs into the classroom.  Has taught computer students and other folks about blogs and blogging.  Ethics of blogging is something that she focuses on.  A lot of students already are using things like blogs—Facebook and MySpace.  So blogs are second nature to a lot of them.

Using blogs to teach off of  is a lot easier than handouts.  Notes are on the web.  Take the tool into the classroom as a very effective teaching tool.

Technorati Tag: CIL2006

CIL: Wikis in Action

Binghampton and Stony Brook are both using blogs for internal communication. Both discussed how a wiki can be used to facilitate internal communicaiton. Both groups mentioned the need for getting staff buyin, as well as the need for having a supportive systems staff.

Binghampton talked a good deal about their training model for their staff wiki. They incorporated hands-on training with staff to train users how to use the wiki as well as add and edit content. Both groups talked about the need to create a shell, or add content before turing the wikis over to the general user community. This is good advice, as an empty wiki may be confusing to a new user, perhaps evening discouraging them to add content.

The main thing that I learned, and that I need to implement, is a sandbox on my Biz Wiki. The sandbox enables those not familiar with a wiki to play and become familiar with a wiki without the worry of messing up the content. Perhaps with a sandbox, users would be more willing to learn how to use the wiki, thereby getting others to contribute to the resource.

Technorati Tag: CIL2006

Computers in Libraries 2006

It’s 10:00, and I’m in my hotel room. I’m exhausted, as it was a very full day. Wireless access for bloggers at the conference was not working quite right, so I took notes in NoteTab Light. The posts that follow are the notes that I took. I’m a little too fatigued at the moment to do much cleanup of the notes in the following posts, but I’ll try to go back and clean the posts up (and offer additional commentary) as I have time. Thus far, I’m really enjoying the conference, and am learning quite a bit that I hope to implement in my library.

There are numerous other bloggers at the CIL conference.  Take a look at the list on the CIL website to find other blogs to read.

Technorati Tag: CIL2006