Academic Library Blog
Huh. When I first waltzed into the University of Connecticut Torrington Library blog via the Wikipedia listing of library blogs, I thought: This is nice. Simple. Clean. Easy to read. Navigation isn’t bad either. Has internal table of contents to titles of posts. Posts consist of library tips, announcements, and services. The title ‘Uconn Torrington Library Blog’ could be in a different colour so it’s properly visible, but I’ll let it slide. Not updated as much as it could be, but it was recently updated so at least it’s still live.
To make my assessment of this blog, I had to look at the main library website itself and see how the tool was used. So I go to the University of Connecticut Libraries website, and what do I find? No links to the blog. Heck—no links to that BRANCH. Not exactly using the blog to its potential now are we? (When I eventually did find branch information about Torrington, no link was posted there for the blog either!)
So scratch that. I refuse to review a blog that a) doesn’t have the mind to get itself posted to its library’s mainsite–(Although, I feel sorry for it if it has tried and the main site is too stuffy to post a link. If that’s the case—poor little blog, you have my pity)–or b) isn’t able to make the link easily accessible (if a link does exist and I just don’t see it).
SO! Onward to a different academic library blog: The Hartness Library System of the College of Vermont and Vermont Tech, maintains a blog here. Ah. There we go. On the main library site, the second line under the “Welcome to Hartness Library” heading is a link to the blog. Here, ladies and gents and UConn Torrington, is what we call accessibility.
The HLS blog offers much of what we’ve seen before: library news and events including hours of operation, notable publications, posts on the current discussions on academic related issues (including the “Wading into Web 2.0” report by OCLC Online Computer Library Center, See Nov. 14, 2007 post), tips for using the library, RSS feeds, and a generous use of tags and categories. However, in particular, what is new on this library blog I have not previously discussed in a post is the use of an IM (instant messaging) service.
The HLS blog chose to throw a meebo widget on the right-hand table of the blog, which is a IM service which allows users to chat with people visiting their site. As we saw in Module 7, “IMing” is the simultaneous exchange of text-messages between two users at different locations. This little widget is also available on the main library site, so it seems that this tool is used by HLS patrons, not just the bloggers. I assume, because it is offered on the HLS site and blog, that users would be chatting with HLS librarians on the other end, which is a rather helpful bit of information: I have used the BC run AskAway service in the past from a link at the SFU library site thinking it was just SFU librarians I was talking to–I was sadly mistaken. And though it is much more prudent to have a service staffed by many librarians across the province, at times it is often helpful to have a more localized receiver. This easy to use IM tool is a simple alternative to the more advanced IM reference help at the scale of AskAway (and MUCH cheaper since it’s free!). Meebo, like others similar, is essentially an IM platform compatible with all the IM services out there, like AIM, Yahoo, Googletalk, MSN, and ICQ.
But back to HLS Blog. Like the rest of the blogs reviewed, this blog is relatively easy to navigate and use, though there does not seem to be a place which encourages discussion and interaction with the user other than the IM service. This blog acts as a tool of output rather than input, so does not have any complicated platforms one has to learn, to access and read the blog effectively. This blog acts as the more ‘unofficial’ site of the HLS, and is the place to go to if one needs to know about current goingons at the library. The HLS system as a whole seems fairly interactive, also providing an “Ask A Librarian” service which promises a prompt response during library hours, so this blog acts as a nice counterpart to receive information rather than ask it. It seems well maintained and has many interesting posts—I’d use it if I was a student at Hartness! Though I do think it would be more comprehensive had it a more interactive environment encouraging book discussion or patron recs, and make it an extension of campus life. But maybe that’s wishful thinking.
That’s all folks!