Wednesday, January 02, 2008

library@esplanade has a blog

I bet you didn't know about the NLB Public Library's fourth blog: it belongs to library@esplanade -

Not surprising, since the blog is barely a month old.

library@esplanade » AboutFrom its first post:
Through this blog, we hope to engage you, our users, by:

1. Updating you quickly on what’s happening at the library@esplanade

2. Highlighting to you our special collections services, programmes and promotions

3. Providing you with the resources to spark your imagination through the performing arts

4. Allowing you to participate in shaping this blog through your reviews, thoughts and opinions about music, dance, theatre and film

Besides updates, you will be given glimpses into what goes on behind the scenes at the library and get to know the library@esplanade team. You will be treated to musings by our very own librarians and library staff. You can also look forward to exciting contests (yes, besides those we already have in the library!) where you can win prizes. We also hope many of you will contribute to the content of this blog.

I discovered my earlier post back in April 2005, where WrkShy shared how she'd started a blog for library@esplanade when it first opened in September 2002.

But the experimental blog (since taken down) didn't take off. I wrote about four possible reasons why it didn't:
  1. Starting a blog does not automatically mean that it would be read.
  2. Having a blog is just half the equation. What makes it complete is for users to subscribe to its newsfeeds.
  3. There needs to be a "voice" -- a personality -- to the blog. If not, it's just another website or online brochure.
  4. No links or tags to the blog.

Now that I'm older and wiser, with 3.5 years (only?) of blogging hind-sight, I should say I was right about points 1, 3 and 4 (about the links).

Having a blog certainly doesn't mean people will know about it (you didn't until you read this post, right?)

It certainly needs to have a voice (and I must commend my EPCL colleague, Peck Keong, for giving the library@esplanade blog just that -- considering that he wasn't an active blogger until he was tasked to write for the library blog).

There needs to be links (he's been incorporating YouTube videos and links to people featured in the blog). And I've also seen him make what I deem to be baby-steps in leaving comments in other people's blogs and facebook groups.

library@esplanade » Blog Archive » Two Guys, A Girl and Amanda

Now I'm not so sure if having RSS subscribers was a critical success factor. I used to think it was. But until today, RSS is still not well used by many people -- even bloggers.

I suppose what I was trying to say was there should be a regular following for the blog.

But even that would be wrong, I just realised.

Because having readers of the blog (either regular readers, or those who find their way via Internet search engines) is really an outcome of doing the right things for your blog.

And doing the "right things" mean writing in a manner that your readers can identify (i.e. having that appropriate "voice"), posting relevant content, using titles and words that people are likely to search, post frequently, linking to others, leaving meaningful comments in other blogs...

... I suppose the most elegant way to put it would be to quote from authors Shel and Scoble, from their book "Naked Conversations" published in 2006:
  • Blog with Passion (i.e. what you love)
  • Blog with Authority (i.e. what you know best)

It's not so much that blogging with Passion and Authority would result in readers per se.

It might not (for other reasons).

But at least it would mean blogging -- especially if its work-related -- becomes fun, relevant and sustainable for the blogger.

That's pretty fundamental.


  1. I'm guessing what you meant with (2) is that the blog writer(s) only makes up half the equation for a successful blog.

    The other half is made up of the blog's active community, and the likeliest group of people who would make up this community are the feed subscribers and blog bookmarkers.

    So in that sense, I'd say subscribers and bookmarkers are pretty important to a blog's success as well.

    -Peck Keong

  2. True, Peck Keong.

    Oh, here's a related point then -- to get that "active community", the librarian-blogger has to be PART OF that community, and not just "trying to get that community to visit one's blog".

  3. I don't disagree with that.

    However, I still think that the primary role of a "librarian-blogger" (using your term) is to focus on building content for your library's blog.

    If the priority is given to leaving comments on others' blog, we might as well leave out the blogging part altogether and be "librarian-commenters" instead.
    This would work in a similar vein as the idea for Yahoo! Answers.

    My point is that a blog is unnecessary if commenting precedes content.

    That's because to leave a comment on another's blog is also to make an invitation for others to visit your blog.

    If your blog content is neglected because of the focus given to commenting, it'd be like inviting others to a BBQ at your place, only for them to arrive and find there's no meat.


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