According to Wikipedia, blogs have been around since the late 1990s. Since then, they have evolved to sophisticated avenues of sharing personal and organizational news and events. Whatever the purpose, blogs are now used widely by corporations, local government, and, yes, librarians. So how does a librarian use this tool in an effective way? How does it evolve and stay relevant both for the writer and reader?
First, keep in mind the goal when starting a blog. Do you want to just advertise your book group or talk about every book you’ve ever read? Do you want to announce library programs at your branch or rather discuss librarianship as a whole? Should you document your journey through library school or the last year of your retirement from librarian life? Having a clear, focused objective is the first vital step in starting a blog.
Second is to be consistent—blog on a regular basis—and “be yourself.” This tip is recommended by Wendy Crutcher, blogger of The Misadventures of Super Librarian. Eleven years of writing her blog about romance novels and librarianship has led Crutcher to this piece of advice. She also recommends finding your own personal voice rather than imitating someone else’s. Blog readers will sense any whiff of inauthenticity right away and just move on to another blog.
April Shroeder, a teen librarian with Loudoun County Public Library, agrees that being consistent is a good idea. She recommends setting a goal and sticking to it to get content posted regularly. “In 2012 and 2013 I reviewed on my blog every single book I read. I was bound to blog more than once a week.”
Once the blog is established, how should a librarian be sure to keep momentum going? Giveaways and contests are one way. Crutcher joined a GoodReads Challenge for last year and this year. Her progress on both challenges is recorded on her blog. Another momentum idea is communicating with commenters. “For me, I like to respond to comments on my site and solicit ideas,” says Elizabeth Bird, author of the blog A Fuse #8 Production. For Bird, such interaction leads to new post ideas or resources in the field. Readers often share links with her and her audience on a variety of things related to children’s literature. Jennifer LaGarde, the web’s Adventures of Library Girl, said that a negative comment on her blog led her to respond by writing a post that not only responded to the negative remark but also gained a lot of support from her readers. It led to great discussions amongst readers as well as with LaGarde.
In addition, be sure to include the blog address in e-mail signatures. List it on Facebook pages if you or your organization has one. Word of mouth with book club members or patrons in general is always a good idea.
Muriel Richards of New York Public Library says it best when advocating for blogs. “I believe that blogging, as a flexible forum in terms of diverse writing styles (i.e., brief and formal, creative and lengthy, etc.), is well-suited to conveying information in a variety of formats to a heterogeneous audience.”