RSS Feeds and Library Blogs
This week, I read Darlene Fitcher’s “Why and How to Use Blogs to Promote your Library’s Services.” Fitcher’s article demonstrates how blogs can be used to promote library events and programs and to engage and support your community. Blogging websites are normally very user-friendly, and can be set up within minutes. They are an interactive way for libraries to connect with their patrons, particularly more web-savvy patrons. As Fitcher notes, it’s important to consider one’s audience while setting up a library blog and to assess whether your target audience has enough of an online presence to make a blog worthwhile. Within a small community branch library, a blog is probably not necessary, but a blog for a particular county or district that encompasses a branch library may be useful within a library system. Librarians should also consider the level of interactivity that they want to set up on their blog – it can be difficult to monitor unhelpful blog comments (such as advertisements, or profane posts) that might arise. Some libraries may chose “post only” blogs, but if comments are disabled then the blog runs the risk of alienating its viewers. All of these factors should be considered before creating a library blog.
I browsed the Toronto Public Library blogs to see examples of library blogs in action. I noticed that they have quite an extensive amount of blogs, divided by categories. Many of these blogs are of interest to me — in particular, I’ve added The Buzz About Books and TPL Teens to my RSS feed. The TPL system also offers blogs for specific branches (like the Toronto Reference Library) or for geographic groupings of branches (like the Brentwood & Lakeshore Libraries Blog). All of these blogs seem to be updated fairly regularly, with blog posts added at least once a month.
I also set up an RSS feed for this week’s lesson. I used Google Reader, which was fairly intuitive to set up. It seems to be a very efficient way to follow numerous blogs, which is helpful to me since I have had difficulty following non-WordPress blogs of my fellow classmates (for another course, LIS 9364). But now, by using my Google Reader, I’ll be able to follow blogs on Blogger, WordPress, LiveJournal, or any other site that offers RSS feeds. Since many people are beginning to use RSS feeds (or already have for many years!), it is important to ensure that when creating a library blog, it’s essential to set up its RSS feed.