THE LIBRARY'S PLACE IN PLACE BLOGGING
by Marylaine Block
I take it as a given that a public library is not only a prime repository of local information, but also a collator of other sources of local information. That's why I think public libraries should become involved with place blogging.
To begin with, you may very well already be "place blogging," whether or not you think of it that way. Whenever you post information on your blogs about local events or news, library or community events and exhibits, your own digital collections and those of other local agencies, you are adding to a searchable body of online information about your local community.
If you haven't tagged it as a place blog, though, or gotten your blog linked to geographical blog directories, that information is not necessarily retrievable by anyone seeking information about your community.
That's why your first step should be to go to blog directories and submit a link to your blog, tagged by its location as well as by its title and subject. There are several directories that specifically catalog and retrieve sites by geographic area, including: Globe of Blogs <http://www.globeofblogs.com/?x=location>, Blogwise <http://www.blogwise.com/>, Placeblogger <http://www.placeblogger.com/>, Outside In <http://outside.in>, and others.
The next step would be to use these directories to identify other blogs within your own community. While you're at it, check your local newspaper and broadcast media web sites as well, to see if they maintain blogs. (FYI, journalism professor Jay Rosen and his students have compiled a list of the best blogging newspapers in the U.S., <http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/blueplate/issue1/best_nwsps/>.)
Then put those local blogs on your regular reading list. When issues come up on those blogs that would interest your patrons, you can link to their entries from your own blog. You can also put links to local blogs on your blogroll and on your local information web page.
When a blog raises questions or issues that your library's resources or services can assist with, you have a great opportunity to spread the word about them by adding a comment to the post, or e-mailing the blogger with the information. When one of your upcoming library events would clearly be of interest to another local blogger's audience - a "one city, one book" event, for example - you could send the information to the bloggers, suggesting that they post it, and, better yet, even participate in the event.
Another thing public libraries are about is building a sense of community. It seems to me that place blogging has a strong potential for building a virtual community that can spill over into the real world. If you want your library to be at the heart of your community, shouldn't you make sure it's at the heart of your virtual community as well?
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One of the things I learned in library school is that when people have an information need, they'll always ask people they know before they ask a librarian. The trick is making sure that librarians are some of the people they know.
Jessamyn West. "Metafilter: Going Your Way." Library Journal, Oct. 15, 2006, http://libraryjournal.com/article/CA6379558.html
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