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

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