Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Ngee Ann Polytechnic's Readers' Choice blog

Updated:
.22 Apr 05 (URL for Readers' Choice Blog)
.25 Aug 05 (Yet another new URL for their blog)

Conducted a phone interview today with Wendy, librarian from Ngee Ann Polytechic Library. She was telling me about their Readers' Choice blog (http://learners.np.edu.sg/liblog/) http://nplibrary.typepad.com/readerschoice/ started in Dec 04.

Before the blog, "Readers' Choice" was just a display of selected books for members to borrow. The blog now serves as an online platform to complement the physical display. It allows interaction between the library and users (e.g. readers submitting their recommendations and/ or commenting on the books).

Here's an exerpt from the phone interview* (edited for brevity):
Rambling Librarian (RL): How does Readers' Choice work?
Wendy (W): We have a 'Readers' Choice' book display, based on best sellers (as listed in the local bookstores like MPH, Times). We post the book summaries/ reviews by our own library staff and those submitted by readers in the blog.

RL: How do you encourage people to submit book reviews and summaries?
W: We give the Ngee Ann Co-op vouchers to anyone who submits a review. Their reviews don't necessarily have to be published, but reviews must be on books found in the Ngee Ann library. We have a deal with the Co-op to give out the vouchers.

RL: Who can submit reviews?
W: Students and anyone from the Ngee Ann community (faculty & staff).

RL: How do you track or measure the effectiveness of the blog?
W: From the number of comments received, loan circulations, number of reviews submitted. We put bookmarks in the books on display. Readers are requested to indicate if they learnt about the book from the blog. We also invite readers to leave a comment, either on the bookmark or in the blog.

RL: Can you elaborate on the tracking of the loan circulation?
W: For each item we want to track, we flag it in the system (by scanning the barcode). This tells our system to specially keep track of them when they are borrowed. We are able to generate the loan statistics for those particular items.

RL: Do you moderate the comments submitted?
W: Yes. The library vets the comments before publication but we don't edit them.

RL: Have you received any nonsense (e.g. vulgarities, spam)
W: So far, no.

RL: What's your boss' take on the blog?
W: She was supportive of the idea when we suggested to her. She agreed it was a good platform to interact with students. We also justify the blog by the loan rates.

RL: Did you find that loan circulation increased because of the blog?
W: Yes, it did. I don't have the exact figure now (left it in the office) but I remember the circulation increased by at least 50% compared to when we only had the display. The results were dramatic.
In case any of you wonder if I'd faked this interview, well, Wendy is a real person. She's a librarian at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Wendy gave me permission to include her yahoo email address here. You may wish to contact her to find out more about the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Library's blog.

* Too bad I have not bothered to learn how to do podcasting. Maybe I should consider a regular interview with librarians, like the Mr Brown Show. I'm waiting for the right time to contact Mr Brown, to ask him to consider conducting a public workshop on podcasting. Anyone interested?


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5 comments:

  1. Ngee Ann Polytechnic's got a good idea going. If only we had RFID chips or some bookmarking code embedded in books for the public to easily go to a comment on the books online once they loaned them. My University at Buffalo library has this online service called MyBookBag which lets you see the status of your loans... imagine having an RSS feed on it and the ability to work with that info for easy reviewing. Talk about this before, so I am starting to sound like an old geezer. Just interested in ways we can tie the physical books into the virtual domain.

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  2. the ngee ann library has good intentions, and i think they're going in the right direction. however, i think there's plenty of room for improvement. for one, they could make the reviews more informal, instead of copying and pasting from other sources. and they shouldn't put all the posts for the month at one time...

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  3. Kevin - I'm sure the RFID technology company would be interested to have your ideas. *Fwah* ... RSSfeed linked to physical book... I like how you think man! I gotta think about it some more.

    Calm one - yeah, agree with you. I think a blog should have "personality". Be conversational. Not write a corporate press release. But NP Library has more than good intentions. They are doing an excellent job with the blog.

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  4. Just wanted to cast one vote for podcasting interviews. I am most definitely interested.

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  5. About the RFID idea, it is possible, and in fact it is possible with some special barcode called 2D barcode, which is square or rectangular. The only concern here is the reader. The cost of the reader is not cheap, and not sure if anyone would want to spend hundred of dollar on it. My company deal with barcodes, so i roughly know the price of these devices.

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