Monday, April 25, 2005

No easy answers: Getting management buy-in for Blogs (part 3)

I'm posting like there's no Tomorrow* 'cos I'm going off to a week-long training course. So... this follows part 1 and part 2:

I'm watching the development of a "private discussion in a public square"(Vic Gundotra). Very interesting. I picked it up from Scoble (btw, Scoble was hired into Microsoft by Gundotra).

As far as I can tell, it goes something like this (from Scoble's blog):
  1. Steve Ballmer writes to Microsoft's employees over anti-discrimination bill (Steve Ballmer is Microsoft CEO)
  2. Steve Ballmer's memo posted, my reply
  3. My boss's boss responds to my earlier post about Ballmer's response
  4. Adam Barr sees suspicious part in Ballmer's memo
  5. Vic wonders about arguing corporate issues in public
And the story will continue... We had Reality-TV. And now, welcome to Reality-Blogs! Geek-soap opera in the making.

And what's the relevance to my "Getting Management Buy-in" post? For one, I'd say the above example represents the very extreme of a "organisational blogging culture".

I don't see such microsoft-like openess happening in Singapore in the near future. For government agencies, we definitely can't be as liberal like what Microsoft is doing. Employees might get carried away and blog about information that might say, give a potential vendor unfair advantage in pricing its products or services. Information is potential power. The line can be grey.

Maybe such openess would be the norm in 5 - 8 years time. But by then, people may find it no longer a novelty, especially when every company is doing it.

* But there is! And here's Tomorrow (a SG blogger community effort. How can the library get into the act, I wonder?)


No easy answers: Getting management buy-in for Blogs (part 2)

This follows the previous post:

I read this from Librarystuff, about pushing librarians into public awareness (quoted from Marylaine Block). That's what I'm after. Not to promote Blogs or Blogging per se, but to use an available technology to enhance what libraries and librarians do.

But recent events have made the pitch to management and colleagues more difficult, specifically the "CZ incident" (scroll to the section header "The first posts").

It's unfortunate that the public is conscious (via the traditional print media) of only the wacky and fun stuff, but not bloggers who write "serious" stuff. I've observed that blogs make local headlines when: (1) they are quirky stuff, usually associated with teens who are hip and happening, or (2) when blogs are involved in some controversy, like the CZ thingy.

And probably this incident in Nov 2003 -- "Bloggers go unplugged" (by Eugene Wee , Straits Times, 17 Nov 2003). About a student who captured, on his PDA, a scene of his teacher berating a classmate and then posting the video clip to his website. The clip got circulated and eventually attracted media attention and raised "the ire of students, parents and teachers alike."

Here's another (early) instance -- Bon voyeur: Go online and tell the world what you did last summer -- or last night. By Chua Hian Hou, Computer Times, 18 Dec 2002.
In fairness, the article was pretty balanced and informative, but people tend to remember headlines more than the actual content.

So to most Singaporeans unfamiliar with Blogging (like I used to be), there certainly is varying degrees of negative connotations towards blogging. I'd hazard a guess that to Singaporean non-bloggers, they think blogging is:
  • Something that only kids & teens indulge
  • Content-wise, there isn't any to speak of, because it's basically any mundane thoughts and teen-angst. That much of it is "verbal diarrhoea".
  • Adults see it as a kind of voyeurism, i.e. peeking into the thoughts of others (note: another guess is that we all like to peek, but don't like being peeked at).
I'm not the only one who thinks that the local media depicts local bloggers poorly. Like

SingaporeAngle says our local mainstream media doesn't understand blogs. I tend to agree. Maybe local journalists ought to be blogging, so that they get linked up with the more coherent bloggers (I stand to be corrected because who's to say our local journalists aren't blogging already. Except maybe they do it anonymously).

It doesn't help that the internet is rife with news about people getting fired for blogging (nevermind what was the real cause -- the headlines is what people tend to remember).

As of 25 Apr 05, when I googled for fired for blogging, the search returned 523,000 hits. The google search for promoted for blogging only returned 141,000 hits. That's rounded up to a ratio of 4 to 1 (i.e. 4 "fired for blogging" articles for every 1 "promoted for blogging").

Ok, the search might not be precise, so I used quotation marks for "fired for blogging", which returned 33,400 hits. Surprisingly, "promoted for blogging" did not match any document. I then tried "rewarded for blogging" and there was effectively 1 hit.

So there's definitely alot more issues to consider before making any pitch to management. Ah well, "if something is easy, it's probably not worth doing".


No easy answers: Getting management buy-in for Blogs (part 1)

After my piece on employer intervention (19 Apr 05), I was wondering about effective ways to promote blogs to management, or address some of management's concerns.

I got in touch with Shel (the guy who introduced me to blogging). Shel and Scoble are writing a blogging-related book over at RedCouch, so I thought Shel might have a clue.

Shel very kindly referred me to Scoble, who promptly replied. I asked if I could quote Scoble. Sensing that Scoble might be tied up, Shel wrote to "go ahead" because Scoble's "the world's most transparent guy. They call him Mr. Cellophane".

Of which I confirmed with Scoble later (his permission to post his reply, that is. I don't know about the Cellophane bit). Here's Scoble's comment to my questions:
Subject: RE: Any advice for employees trying to convince mgt that blogging has more benefits than risks?

That's a very tough question.

One way is to just take a risk and start one without asking for permission. That's sorta how it happened here.*

Another way is to get permission to start one blog as a trial to show it can bring some benefits to the company. That's a lot safer, but then everyone will probably get involved and try to PR control it.

Another way is to get an entire group to blog. Say 10 people. This makes it a little less likely that PR will get involved in everyone's life. But, many people will wait until their competitors start one, take over the #1 spot on Google (user research shows that's the only one that matters)
and then they'll be forced to start one up to compete.

* Scoble works at Microsoft.

Shel added: "One other possibility may be to start a private blog, and let the employers see what its about and that it's safe."

Thanks guys, for the advice. Now for me to translate some of those ideas into action. As the saying goes, "Nothing worth doing is ever easy" (something like that).

P.S. In case anyone wonders -- I'm nowhere near the league of those two guys when it comes to blogging. To borrow a quote (from saecker), "in the blog world, no one knows how small you are".


Sunday, April 24, 2005

10 points on Blogs & RSS (Newsfeeds)

[This post is updated from time to time. Record of changes at bottom. Comments & suggestions are welcome. Last updated: 11 Feb 2006]

I've been explaining about Blogs and RSS to colleagues. Decided to post the info here. They came up to be 10 items. It's not meant to be comprehensive. If you have suggestions, comments or if you want me to link to your tutorials, do email me, or submit as a comment.

This post is organised as follows:
Introduction to RSS & Newsreaders - you might not want to blog, which is fine (like, I certainly don't intend to windsurf). But you might want to learn more about Newsreaders, RSS and Aggregators.

Why use Newsreaders? I'll use a quote from Preetam:

"Instead of going to several sites, you can subcribe to those sites and the new content will come to your feed reader. It is like instead of going to the store to buy the newspaper, you could get it delivered to your home."
On Blogs & Blogging - In case you want to pick up blogging or understand more about blogs, I've included links to sites/ blogs that provide tutorials, and links to free tools to enhance your blog. Also links and resources on how to blog well.

1) What's an "aggregator", a "newsfeed" or "RSS"?

  • Find out more here -- but the best way to learn is to actually use one.
  • I had ZERO knowledge of newsfeeds. Then I signed up for Bloglines (web-based, so no installation needed) and was reading feeds in minutes.
  • You can view all my blogline feeds [added: 12/5/05]
  • This is their FAQ page (btw, they don't pay me anything to promote them).
  • Here's a tutorial from Preetam, on using Newsgator (another web-based newsreader).
  • He's also done a tutorial on Using Bloglines [added 25/4/05]
  • If you're feeling confident and want to install newsreaders on your computer, try these:
  1. NetNewsWire Lite - for Macs
  2. Feed Demon - free trial for PC
  3. Shrook - for Mac OS X
  4. More are listed at and RSS Compendium.

2) So you've read a few blogs and you're asking "What are Blogs"?

  • Find out more at How Blogs Work. Better yet, get blogging!
  • I've found Blogger to be the most user-friendly. You hardly need to know any HTML. Signing up and getting started only takes 3 or 4 steps.
  • If you prefer a tutorial, here's a step-by-step Blogging 101 course (on using [broken link - July 06]

3) Before you start some serious posting, remember: Blog Responsibly

  • Blogging can be liberating. But before you start revealing your most intimate thoughts, or complain about your co-worker or your boss in your blog, do read this (from Blogger).
  • Here's a set of search results ("how not to get fired for blogging") from Google. This is from Yahoo!
  • IBM has a set of guidelines for their employees [added: 19 May 05]
  • You might also ask"Should I remain anonymous in my blog?". This is what I think - "To be (anonymous) or not to be: that is the question" [12 Apr 05].
  • My other opinions on blog ethics etc.:
  1. Common sense and respect above a Blogging Policy [11 Feb 05]
  2. Thinking Aloud; Blogging Allowed - "When the blogger blogs, can the employer intervene?" [19 Apr 05]
  3. Thoughts on blogging: What would you do if someone took issue with your blog post and think you should take it down? [4 Aug 05]
  4. Starting A New Blog (a personal step-by-step account in starting my new Art Blog [11 Feb 06]

4) Now that I'm blogging, is anyone reading my blog?
Add a counter or tracking tool to know how many visits you have on your blog. Find out how people find your blog, what search engine they use, what search terms etc. Some free tools:
. Sitemeter
. Statcounter
. CQcounter
(You need to know a little about HTML to install the codes in your blog -- but just a wee bit.)

5) Having a blog is just half the story. Enable others to subscribe to your blog
If you want a wider audience for your blog, enable your site feed (from Blogger). Here's a tutorial by Kevin, on counting your blog's RSS subscribers using Feedburner.

6) Drive traffic to your blog
You can also submit your blog to various blog search-engines and directories:
. plazoo
. BlogSearchEngine
. Bloogz
. Blogwise
. Technorati
. There's of course Google, Yahoo! etc

Here's a PDF document on "16 ways to drive traffic to your blog" (source:NextLevelPartner)

7) More tools to enhance your blog

  • Search feature in your blog: I found this feature useful as my blog grows. There's one from Technorati (you need to sign-up for a free account in order to get the code for the Searchlet). Here's another from Feedster.
  • Learn about (great for hosting your pictures)
  • Design Templates: After a while, you might get bored with the design of your blog. Here's where you can get free templates done by other bloggers (isn't the Blogosphere great?!):
  1. Blogger Templates (not affliated with Blogger, I think)
  2. nipo
  3. Eris
Oh, go easy on the flashy stuff, ok?

8) On writing well
. How to write killer blog posts and more compelling comments
. Why blog and what makes a blog successful?

9) Books on Blogging & Weblogs
Click here for the list (I've compiled only items in the NLB public libraries' holdings at time of this post). Please email me to suggest titles that you might like the library to acquire.

10) I still don't understand what's the hype and fuss about blogs
You need (yes, need!) to read these two definitive works (online or print version):

We the Media: Grassroots journalism by the people, for the people
NLB Call No.: 302.23 GIL
ISBN: 0596007337
Click here to check for book item availability in NLB libraries.

The cluetrain manifesto: The end of business as usual
NLB Call No.: 658.054678 CLU -[BIZ]
ISBN: 0738204315
Click here to check for book item availability in NLB libraries.

- item 3 & 7: Added recent post re: blog ethic; included link to, 8 Aug 05
- item 3: Added link to post on IBM guidelines for IBM employees, 19 May 05
- item 10: Added bookcover images linked to, 15 May 05
- item 1: Added link to my blogline subscriptions, 12 May 05
- item 1: Added Preetam's BloglineTutorial, 25 Apr 05
- Originally there were 9 points, but I added one more on how to avoid getting dooced, i.e. Fired for blogging.

- item 3: Added link on "Starting A New Blog", 11 Feb 06

[Tag: , ]

Saturday, April 23, 2005

BusinessWeek: Blogs will change your business (of libraries)

I'm about to logout of Bloglines when this post (or the magazine cover, rather) from Steve Rubel's Micro Persuasion* hits me in the face -- BusinessWeek's May 2005 issue has a cover story on blogs.
[* I like how he included an info page on "My Employer" on his blog.]

Yet another example of the power of blogs. Or maybe a "threat" to libraries, depending on how you look at it. Here I am, a librarian, supposedly at the forefront of the information wave. I used to be the first to know what magazine arrives in the library. Not anymore.

Readers with the know-how can bypass libraries. They might even be the first to ask librarians, "How come the issue hasn't arrived yet?"

But I see opportunities for libraries rather than threats. By subscribing to the right blogs, the librarian can get alerts faster (or just as fast) as the readers we serve. Today is 23 Apr 2005. I am blogging about a BusinessWeek issue coming out a week later. Anticipating that blogs are hot-topics, I have a week's notice to plan for related book displays, tracking of statistics, preparing simple readers' survey...

I should really title this post "Blogs will change the business of libraries -- in positive ways".

>>BusinessWeek - highlights of 2 May 2005 issue (Asia Edition)
>>Six Tips for Corporate Bloggers
>>Why you can't ignore blogs any longer - Frank Barnako (MarketWatch, 22 Apr 2005)

[Tag: ]

Great Books, Great Blogs, Great Librarians: What if Dewey or Ranganathan had blogs?

Read this article from, about the passing of Ms. Alberta Massingill, director of the Grand Rapids Public Library (Michigan, USA) from 1972-79. She lived to a very respectable age of 90.

The headline got my attention - "Former library director's legacy could fill a book". Inevitably I thought, "What legacy would I leave behind, never mind librarianship?" Ah, delusions of grandeur... I entertain them from time to time. Shall keep them private for now. Ask me again when I'm like, 80 or 90.

While the article paid tribute to the person, it still didn't reveal much. I've heard and read accolades to the point of them being clichéd. So what would tell us more about the person (or what the person wants us to know)?


Great blogs are those that speak to you. That personal voice. Great blogs have personalities. You can't project personality with only a few posts. It's built over time, over many quality posts. A first-time visitor would look through the latest and the earliest ones, and get a sense of that quality without ever corresponding with the author. Sounds like what great books do, doesn't it?

Maybe for me, an accolade might be "Librarian's legacy fills a blog"... hmm, sounds a bit stange.

My mind wandered further -- what if the really great or famous (not necessarily both) librarians had blogs? What would they have written? Dewey, Ranganathan... would the DDC and 5 laws develop to become Wikis?

If CEOs can blog, why not library directors? Anyone know of any Library Director's Blog?

BTW, some stuff relating to Dewey and Ranganathan:

[Tag: , , , , ]

Friday, April 22, 2005

Karate, a blog, and MACU: Reminiscences

[Updated 23 Apr 05: Grammatical errors & minor factual addition on Hanyu Pinyin]

A rambling post about the Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) Karate Club, Karate's origins, a blog, and M.A.C.U:

NP Karate Club: In my previous post, I said I was involved in the NP Karate Club as a student then (btw, this isn't about the story of how I ended up with the Club). Out of curiosity , I searched for "Karate club" from the Poly site and found this.

Was disappointed that the Karate folks don't have a webpage. I mean, the Ninja-do people got one! Lest you think I have some grudge with the Ninja-dos -- I don't. In fact, I had a friend with the Ninja-do club. Except that he was hardly seen around the club house... guess that's why they're called Ninjas, i.e. smokebomb-disappearing-acts! *ouch* (Sorry, Ninja-dos. Just kidding).

Karate originated from Okinawa. More about the art of Karate here, and here (warning: the second link has a really distracting red background).
Karate = 空手 = Empty Hand
Do (pronounced 'Doh' in English; 'Dao' in Mandarin) = = Way (i.e. Art of)
空手道 = The Way of the Empty Hand ('Kong Shou Dao' ~ HanYu PinYin)
During my time, the club was called "Karate-Do Club". Why did they karate chop drop the 'Do' now? "The club of the Empty Hand" isn't as accurate as "The Club of the Way of the Empty Hand". But I'm niggling here.

Karate-Club Blog: The club ought to have one. Would be an excellent tool to promote the club and correct popular misconceptions about Karate. If I were there, I'd volunteer to maintain a blog. Some likely posts would be:
  • Karate - It's not just "chop-chop" with the hands. We use our feet too!
  • The Karate Kid: That ain't real Karate! [I liked the movie. But having been exposed to some Karate, I watched the re-run with new perspectives and found the Karate moves really bad. Daniel-san's stances were all wrong. Ignorance was bliss, I tell you]
  • Don't mess with us: We're registered with M.A.C.U.

M.A.C.U: Stands for "Martial Arts Control Unit" (we called it "ma-koo"). During my time, anyone who took up martial arts had to register with the Registry of Societies. My club seniors told me it was because we were acquiring deadly skills. Should we kill or maim someone, our records could be traced. We had to be mindful about using our skills.

Woah, serious stuff man.

My seniors were not entirely wrong though. In the early 70s, Singapore had a problem with gangs and secret societies. Martial arts skills were used in gang clashes and to intimidate victims. The 1974 Martial Arts Instruction Act served to restrict secret societies from setting up or taking over martial arts organisations as a means to further their own ends.

The Act, deemed to have outlived its usefulness, was repealed on 16 Oct 2003, at the 3rd reading at Parliament. Here's what I dug up:
  • Martial Arts Instruction (Repeal) Bill [PDF], 28 Aug 2003. 1st reading of the Bill (no. 18/2003) - (for those unfamiliar with Singapore's legislation: We inherited the British Parlimentary system. The Bill is kind of like a paper/ proposal stating the intent).
  • Second reading of the Bill - Speech by Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee, Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs, on 16 October 2003
  • Full official report of the Parliamentary Debates (vol 76, no. 22), 16 Oct 2003. This is the PDF; this is the google HTML version. Go to page 110 of the report (or page 114, inclusive of content page).
  • Martial Arts blog
  • History of National Registration Department - (scroll to the bottom of the page; brief mention about MACU)

Tag: , , , ]

New url for Ngee Ann Poly's Readers' Choice

Soon after I posted the interview with Wendy, I was informed that their blog has a new url, at (formerly But I got a 404 error as I tried to access the new url for the past half hour. A surge in access to the blog?

Not that I had a big part to play. More likely it was from Librarystuff's referral. Should I ever apply for a job at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, particularly its library, maybe I could chalk up brownie points. I did play in part in promoting its library blog. : )

Warning! Ramble:
Little known fact: I spent 3 years in Ngee Ann Poly (Business Studies course, class of 1989/99). Had fond memories of the Karate-do club (how on Earth did I pick up that sport? A story for another time perhaps).

[Tag: , ]

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Thinking Aloud; Blogging Allowed - "When the blogger blogs, can the employer intervene?"

My longest blog post yet:

Received this email from Chonz: "Ivan, I am one of those people who use the NLB a lot and enjoy your blogs." Thanks, Chonz! It's always nice to hear from a library user.

I don't know Chonz personally. He or she probably decided to email me after reading my blog. Chonz also alerted me to this NYT article*, "When the Blogger Blogs, Can the Employer Intervene?" (Tom Zeller Jr., 18 Apr 05)
* Register for free access, or check out other alternative links at the bottom of this post.

Thinking aloud, from reading the article:
1) The article mentioned Niall Kennedy, who works for Technorati (he still does, as of this post!). Hey, I know Niall. He was the guy who replied to my suggestion to Technorati;

2) It reinforced my view that while Blogging Guidelines for employees are important, common sense and respect are more critical;

3) When we blog, we are in effect writing for the Whole Wide World;

4) Freedom of speech does not mean irresponsible speech. Blogging is about personal accountability. Expect to be taken to task if the majority feels you have posted something unacceptable -- as shown by this "Racist post" episode (do check out the excellent compilation of related posts by Huichieh);

5) If you want to keep something secret, don't email it. Certainly don't blog about it. As explained here in the 4th para;

6) Like it or not, as employees, we have to follow the rules set by the organisation. Either we follow those rules, or we leave the organisation. That's today's reality of work;

7) As an employee, the organisation has a right to stop me blogging. I'm obligated to comply, regardless of what I think;

8) In the long run, we're all better off NOT being anonymous when we blog. I stand firm on this, even if it goes against what's espoused here (related article here).

Right... I'm not sure if you agree with the above, particularly points 6 and 7. I did not make them on a whim.

I make no secret that I work for the NLB. I do this because I find blogging a good way to extend the reach of the physical libraries, run by NLB, to the online world. My belief is that public libraries are about connecting people to people, and people to ideas. Not merely connecting people to information. There are good people with excellent ideas in the Blogosphere.

But should my organisation disagree with my blogging activities for whatever reasons, and wants me to stop or modify my blogging activities, then I will respect that decision.

Quote from article:
"As the practice of blogging has spread, employees like Mr. Kennedy are coming to the realization that corporations, which spend millions of dollars protecting their brands, are under no particular obligation to tolerate threats, real or perceived, from the activities of people who become identified with those brands, even if it is on their personal Web sites."
Quite a few of my colleagues know I blog. So does my immediate boss and some bosses a few layers removed. So far, nobody has told me to stop, although some did express concerns about employees blogging in general.

I did ask myself, "What if I was really asked to stop my blogging?"

First, I'd be very disappointed. I believe in librarians blogging. When you believe in something strongly and your views are not accepted, then disappointment follows. Especially when I've experienced first-hand how a librarian blog can engage and interact with people, like this, this, this, and especially this one, this one, and this, this, also this, plus this one. It's also a way to promote NLB libraries and services, like this and this. So far, there have not been any rude or vulgar comments. I've not removed any comments to date.

I'd probably feel sad too. I've met many interesting and intelligent people (some who've become fast friends, even though we've not met face-to-face) in the Blogosphere, like Kevin, Preetam, C. Callosum, Calm One, Roxanne, Idler, Huichieh, GadgetDude, Shel... just some of the bloggers whom I've had protracted conversations (in the blog or off). Through blogging, I've conversed with librarians from the Philippines - Clair, Von, Mal'akh, Marj... lots more other people. I can still stay in touch with all of them if I don't blog (via newsfeeds subscriptions), but it wouldn't be the same.

I may feel angry, but it might be more of an ego issue, i.e. things don't go my way...

So in conclusion, if my organisation insists that I stop blogging, regardless of whether I accept the reason or not, then I have two options: (1) Stop blogging, or (2) Continue to blog.

Obviously, option two will get me dismissed. It's that simple. Do I have a case? Maybe. But to what end? Let's say I fight the dismissal and the court agrees that the organisation was wrong. Would it make me feel better? Totally lose-lose situation. The organisation gets negative publicity, and I won't feel comfortable working for the organisation anymore.

Does that mean I've sold out if I stop blogging? That I've given up my right? Not really. My reasons for blogging is to demonstrate the potential of blogs for advancing librarianship. If the organisation does not agree with that view, then it's the organisation's loss.

I'm not a crusader or evangelist for blogs. I'm a librarian who's passionate about what I do, and wants to provide not just good but great services for users ("Wah! Sure or not?", I hear the skeptics say. Nevermind lah, you take me at face-value).

Apart from knowing more friends, there are other positive benefits for me from past 10 months of blogging:
  • I articulate my thoughts better. I notice this when I speak with staff and colleagues.
  • I've always liked to write. I have an outlet for this hobby on the blog. I would like to think that my writing and communication skills (so important as a librarian and manager) have improved.
  • My self-confidence has increased. When you post your thoughts to the world, you'd better be confident!
  • I've learnt to take myself less seriously. You can get slammed in the Blogosphere. Big deal. If you're wrong, apologise and get on with life (fortunately, I've only been "gently let-down" rather than slammed. People are kind to me).
  • Of course, I've also learnt to be more humble. There's a greater sense of humility. I have to be when there are so many superb bloggers out there. Read them, and it's clear they are much more intelligent than me. So much to learn from them.
The only downside is that my home electrical bills have gone up from using the PC and modem... ah, you win some, you lose some. At least I'm reading (blogs) and writing rather than playing online games.

Last thought for the day: Let's say I'm the boss of my own company, and I know that my employees are blogging. Because I have personally experienced the positive power of blogging, and I also understand better the accompanying risks when employees blog, I'd definitely encourage responsible blogging among employees.

I'd develop guidelines, organise training for staff who are interested (no need to force those who aren't), and then have a strategy to utilise blogs to enhance my business and the bottom line. I'd reward employees who show how they've utilised blogs to create better value to customers.

The other option would be this: Stop my employees from blogging, resulting in some dissentation among some staff (especially the younger ones, who are also usually the more passionate ones who will work wonders if you push the right buttons). And I'll end up driving them to blog underground.

See other related articles/ posts:
IndianExpress 19 Apr 05)
The (18 Apr 05)
jennydavidson (17 Apr 05) (28 Mar 05)

[Tag: singapore, ]

Ngee Ann Polytechnic's Readers' Choice blog

.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 ( 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?

[Tag: , , , ]

Monday, April 18, 2005

The official Rambling Librarian blog logo

Really have to "kowtow" to Roxanne for giving this librarian so much "face". After I read her Incidentally Rambled post, I asked if she could let me have the "Incidentally Rambled" image. She gave me not one but TWELVE! Check them out here Flickr.

I'm adopting them as the official logos of this blog.


You can have your book and eat it too: Edible Books

Here I am, on leave and reading my RSS feeds at home, eating a piece of cake. Then I'm looking at pictures of Edible Books (via

"Edible books can be literal translations or have humorous spins" ~ Albany Institute of History & Art.

What would I make? Let's see, I have Robert Jordan's New Spring on the table (just added an entry to RawNotes). Flip flip flip... Ah, page 150 describes food served to Moiraine, who's famished 'cos she just passed the test to be Aes Sedai:
"... slices of roasted beef, turnips with a cream sauce, broad beans with crumbly white goat cheese, cabbage with pine nuts. There was a round loaf of crusty brown bread, and a huge pot of tea."
Mmm... Edible Books sounds deliciously doable for NLB. Maybe can tie up with the Singapore Food Festival (no official website, but this was what they had for 2002 and this is for 2005).

[Tag:, ]

It's hit the fan, but may turn out to be a good thing: "Scholar under fire for racist blog entries"

Updated 18 Apr 05:
- Compilation of related posts/ conversations at From a Singapore Angle
- Huichieh's a He, not a She. I apologise for the mistake.

I was having a brief IM chat with Preetam earlier, on how blogging is viewed with suspicion and uncertainty by some people. Like him, I've been trying to promote blogging as a legitimate tool to fellow colleagues. Most are receptive, though some are still rather wary.

I asked Preetam if we should start a blog conversation to share experiences on this, and he said OK. As a lead-in to that blog post (coming up soon), I refer you to Huichieh Loy's (From a Singapore Angle) post - The storm over CZ breaks on print media. You might also want to read the comments over at her his post. The views are pretty balanced there.

That case illustrates a few points I've been trying to get my colleagues to see:
  1. The organisation should take the lead to educate staff on blogging Dos and Don'ts, before staff do anything deemed as inappropriate by the organisation.
  2. You cannot stop staff from blogging; some already have, and more will follow.
  3. There are "risks" involved in staff blogging. But those "risks" can be managed, provided the organisation is proactive and forward-looking.
To anyone who feels that their children or employees should not blog because of potential negative fallout, that's akin to saying we ban Singaporeans from accessing the Internet because it cannot be controlled, ad because it has porn and misinformation.

Blogging is just a technology. What's more important is how we make use of it.

In a way, it's good that the PSC scholar case has made mainstream news. It would register Blogging in the consciousness of those who have not heard of blogs. The not-so-good part is that it possibly illustrates a negative aspect of blogging. But I believe rational voices will prevail eventually, i.e. people will see that blogging has more potential for good than otherwise.

BTW, I hardly have time to read the local papers. If it weren't for bloggers like Huichieh Loy blogging about it, I wouldn't have known about the controversy. So that's another example of the positive potential of blogs.

[Tag: singapore, ]

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Kudos to Comfort Cab & Cabbie SH6178P

Comfort Cab has certainly made my day:

My keys were missing: One day, I discovered that my keys were missing. I suspected I left them in the taxi cab, but I wasn't sure. Luckily I had the taxi receipt and was able to provide details to the Comfort Lost & Found staff.

My call was attended to promptly (the wait wasn't long at all). The lady who attended to my call took down the details. Said she would check with the driver immediately. She did, but said the driver could not be contacted at that moment. She gave me the case ID number.

Sidetrack: I was able to use their automated phone service to enquire on the status of my claim. Now that's smart thinking by Comfort Cab. When you lose something, you really feel a bit helpless. Being able to check the status of the claim put back some control to the customer and definitely eases the anxiety a bit.

Back to story: The next day, the staff called me and informed me they spoke to the driver but he did not find the keys in his cab. Although I was disappointed about not finding the keys, nonetheless I was grateful that Comfort Cab followed-up promptly. I then made plans to change lock etc.

Not end of story: A day later, to my pleasant surprise, I received a call from the Lost & Found staff. The driver found my keys afterall (they were wedged at the backseat, so the driver missed it the first time he checked). He had returned it to the comfort office.

Keys collected: I'm most appreciative to the office staff, who were very prompt, professional and friendly. The claim was fast and hassle-free. I'm also grateful to the driver (SH 6178P) for taking the effort to return the keys to the comfort office. He could've easily thrown away the keys and saved himself the trip to the office.

I emailed Comfort Cab to compliment their staff and the driver. I wrote that I'd tell others of the excellent service I've received, and hence this blog post.

Know what? I wonder if they teach students how to write compliment letters/ emails in school. Complaint letters even. The libraries receive far more compliments than complaints nowadays, but I feel the culture of complimenting others for good service isn't quite there yet... it's not just for libraries but for society in general -- but that's for another blog post.

Meantime, feel free to share your own customer-service experiences about taxi services in general here.

[Tag: , , ]

Kudos to

While I'm on the subject of compliments:

Unable to access my feeds in bloglines: I posted that I had a problem logging in to Tried unsuccessfully for hours decided to email helpdesk.

My email message to Bloglines:
Hi, I've been trying to login to my account today (16 Apr, 2005, Singapore time). I'm very sure my email account ( and password is correct. But whenever I submitted my password, I am brought back to the login page. Not sure if it's a problem with my account or with the site. Thanks!
The message was sent via the webpage. I was informed that it would take up to 2 days to get a response (now 2 days is fast already, considering they are on the WWW and serving thousands).

Bloglines replies: Message delivered to my mailbox on 17 Apr, 5:57 am (Singapore time)
Thank you for writing to Bloglines.

We are aware of the sign in problem you reported and hope to have the
issue corrected shortly. We appreciate your patience and regret any
inconvenience this may have caused.
Actually before I read the above reply, I'd already managed to login to Bloglines a few hours earlier. Bloglines acknowledged and explained what the problem was in brief in their RSS news feed. But I appreciate the email reply from Bloglines anyway.

For a while when I couldn't login, I thought I'd be kicked out of Bloglines and I'd lost all my feeds. Some bloggers are saying they'd start exporting their bloglines feeds. Well, that's good. I'd recommend that too.

But for now, it's good enough for me to just keep the bookmarks of the blogs I read as a form of backup. I can live with the occasional outage. I'd still recommend to other people considering using a web-based RSS newsreader.

[Tag: , ]

Libraries & You: Life-altering stories

Roxanne (whom I don't know personally) created an Incidentally Rambled stamp ,or what we say in Singlish as "chop". She is now my favourite SG Blogger to the power of 10. I feel like a Blogstar.

In an earlier post, I made reference to Roxanne a.k.a. Men of Clay's blogpost on "How To Begin A Romance @ The Library". She stopped by to comment, followed by GadgetDude and Kevin. In that post, I wrote that I met my wife in the library. And GadgetDude said he met his wife at Jurong West Community Library. Wow, I thought. There must be lots more examples of "romances" in local libraries. Should I start a blog just for that purpose?

That idea isn't original, as I found out. Discovered, where they're looking for happy and sad romances, requited and unrequited, to go into their book (to be published in 2005).

"Romance" alone is a bit too sappy for me. I remembered a blogpost somewhere about life-altering stories that mentioned "libraries", and I found it here, which made reference to this one.

So let me start this post and see if anyone responds. If you can, please pass the message around.
Please share snippets of any "life-altering" moments you associate with libraries or books. It need not be earth-shaking ones. To blatantly paraphrase from the jeremias post, I'm looking for stories that point to a single experience in your life that you consider having contributed to the person you are today.

"An experience that you can look back on and say, 'That shaped my personality as an adult.'"

And this experience involves libraries or books you found in libraries (the bible and other religious texts don't count, unless you found them in libraries).

If you are posting in your own blog, do leave your URL here.

Uh, I might as well make it clear now (in case Mr. Copyright rears his ugly head later):
In the off-chance (i.e. very big IF) that the stories here could be published into a book, the proceeds shall go to a registered charitable organisation. By commenting here (except those in your own blog) you are deemed to have given permission for the comments to be published (due acknowledgements given of course).

I wonder if this will encourage or discourage people from posting here...

[Tag: , , ]

Criminal or Samurai?: Japan's Privacy Protection Law

I have access to my bloglines account again! (btw, I guess this confirms that I'm a blog/ RSS newsfeed addict).

Ok, I came across an article (in English) from about a public library* in Kanazawa (Japan) that "unwittingly allowing access to a listing of former prison inmates from the Meiji (1868-1912) and Taisho (1912-1926) eras."

Seems that Japan passed a privacy protection law (1 Apr 05) that restricts access to personal information. Found two articles on this, from (28 Mar 05) and (undated).

The public library in question "screened its holdings and struck off membership lists of alumni associations and the like. However, the list of inmates was somehow overlooked."

No wonder the library was taking this seriously. Quote from the article:
A Cabinet Office official in charge of the interpretation of the new law said: "If indeed it is possible to pinpoint the (inmates') descendants, the information becomes live information. If it is disclosed, depending on the circumstances, the library may be subject to punishment."
And quote:
Library official Akio Morishita said: "It was an unfortunate pileup of clerical mistakes. The data hold reference value, and we will hold on to it. But we will not allow perusal, even for research purposes."
Cynics out there may ask, "Why keep it if nobody can use it?". But I think it's a logical and far-sighted move by the library not to destroy the item. The law can get repealed or amended, but you can't recreate a historical document.

One more thing: The list specified "names, birthdates, addresses, specific charges such as murder or robbery, and included descriptions of lineage, such as "warrior class" and "commoner.""
Which means while a Kanazawa resident is protected from potential personal embarassment should it be revealed that his forebear was in the list, it also means that someone researching his family tree would have one less resource. A pity then. No law is perfect I guess.

* The library isn't listed in the Kanazawa City website. If you know the URL, please email me.


Saturday, April 16, 2005

Blog ethics for librarians

Is it just me or is Bloglines having a problem? I just couldn't login to my account to read my feeds. So I resorted to the encoded links on my blog (justifying my reason to leave them encoded, although it's only a small sample of what I subscribe)...

Went over to Joho the Blog and got redirected to Karen Schneider's (a.k.a Freerange Librarian) article in the Library Journal, about "The Ethical Blogger". Here's the outline of her article, including some points worth pondering:

#1 - Being a standard bearer
"Every blog produced by librarians, no matter how casual, represents librarianship to the world."

Well put. I was explaining to my colleagues that a "Liblogarian", i.e. "Library + Blog + Librarian", was not a blogger per se, but a librarian who blogs about library-related stuff (plus or minus some personal stuff). Not that I'm trying to compartmentalise anything. It's more of a gentle reminder to my colleagues who wish to blog as librarians (that is, if they accept my explanation).

#2 - Follow the codes
Karen suggests that librarians who blog should state any bias upfront. Also, she points out that "one of the most subtle but effective forms of fact-based bias is to link only to the sources with which you agree, not to sources with which you disagree." Well, yeah I take her point although I think more often than not, we blog to prove a personal standpoint. Blog posts aren't really academic papers.

#3 - Cite it
Absoutely. That's the most basic principle. It's plain common courtesy to acknowledge where you obtained the information. Besides, if you've read the information from another blog, it's far better to include a link 'cos chances are the other blogger might trackback to your blog. And blogging is about connecting people and ideas.

# 4 - Admit mistakes
"If you do get it wrong, own up to it, with a revision to the post..."
Very sound advice. You improve your credibility by doing so.

And this paragraph from the beginning of her article is something that's been keeping me occupied recently:
"As I watch librarians blog, I hear warning bells in my head similar to the "filtering wars" of the 1990s, when librarians opened their libraries to Internet access without fully understanding this new technology. In some ways, the stakes are even higher, because we're creating highly visible, globally available content."
I wanted to write more on this but I'm mindful about rambling. So maybe some other time...

[Tag: ]

Friday, April 15, 2005

How To Begin A Romance @ The Library - by Men of Clay

This post & the subsequent "conversations" gets funnier by the day - "How To Begin A Romance @ The Library". By one of my favourite Singaporean bloggers, Men of Clay a.k.a Roxanne.

Which reminded me of Library Date, an event organised by the Social Development Unit (SDU) and the NLB in August 2002, held at library@orchard.

Ah, the library changes lives in more ways that one. Another instance of the social role of libraries.

In fact, I met my wife in the library too! (not from Library Date). So I certainly could say with confidence that the library has changed my life for the better. Hey, I'm not saying this to earn brownie points with my wife (she doesn't read my blog anyway).

If you've suggestions for Roxanne on how to begin a Romance@ The Library*, click here.
*Maybe Roxanne should trademark this.

Related "Library Date" article: Library Journal (15 Sept 2002).

[Tag:, , ]

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Online Sound Repositories - Freesound Project & MusicAustralia

Discovered these 2 online resources recently:

1) The Freesound Project - (via Creative Commons Blog)
Here's what the project is about, and individuals and institutions can help.

You can browse by Tags or do a search (I tried to search for "forest" and "rain"). The search capabilities (which I supposed is linked to the way the items are tagged) can be improved, 'cos "rain" returned results like "train passing by". Then I tried "water" and I got sounds of glass or something. I like the Search Filter, where you can add or remove certain words from the results, but it may not retrieve what I want.

Anyway, I'm not complaining. It seems like a great resource to me. Example, inserting the sounds of passing cars (try searching for "street") in your animation clip, or downloading to your laptop for playback at your poetry reading session.

2) MusicAustralia -
"An online information resource for Australian music... provides information on almost 140,000 Australian musical resources covering all formats, styles and genres,
both heritage and contemporary. More than 10, 000 digital resources are available, including scores, audio, pictures and theses. MusicAustralia was developed by the National Library of Australia in collaboration with the National Film and Sound Archive and with contribuitons from all state libraries, the Australian Music Centre, the Australian National University, University of Melbourne and the Australian War Memorial.

Seems very impressive. You can follow a theme, or do a search. I like how they provide (where available) the music score and the sound clip as well. I tried a search for "War" limited to "online only" and "sound" and there were 9 results, dating between 1915 to 1944.

[Tag: , ]

There's also "BookCrossing - Singapore" at yahoogroups

I'm nursing a cold and need sleep desperately, but am so excited that I've just got to post this. No less that 16 people emailed me direct or posted a comment (in my blog or at since my earlier SG Bookcrossing post.


What surprised me was that these are complete strangers and they're writing to express their support. The power of the Internet to connect people...

At least two of them alerted me to this BookCrossing - Singapore at yahoogroups. I've since signed up and asked if they have an organiser. I'll be glad to "step-down" (wonder if they give awards for 'Shortest Meetup Organiser'?) and join their activities.

Ok, my head is spinning. I need to sleep and clear my thoughts. Oh, but this is excellent development! Those interested in "Bookcrossing" please go visit their yahooogroup at

Better yet, join the group. I understand they are planning a meeting this week.

[Tag: , ]

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Meetup being planned for SG Bookcrossing in early May 05

About 4 days ago, I shamelessly appointed myself as the Organiser for the Singapore BookCrossing Group. I was pleasantly surprised (i.e. Relieved!) when a few group members emailed/ commented to say they would be interested in reviving the group.

With renewed confidence, I went in to update the group description, which reads as follows:
Hello & Welcome.

What is BookCrossing?
n. the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.

Really? Leave a book? What if I don't have, or don't want, to leave a book?
Psst... It's still fine by us. We basically need an excuse (a cool one, at that) for people -- who love books & ideas -- to meet up.

Any weirdos? What if I get stalked?
I don't know about that... I suppose we have to use our common sense when we meet people.

But I have no time to meet up
Suggested "guiding principle" for the group:
"There is no required reading
And no obligation to speak.
You may simply listen if you like.

Let us be introduced to books that we might never have discovered on our own;
To authors we may discover we love;
To people we may otherwise not meet."*
* adapted from Burlington PL Bookgroups

Why am I repeating the welcome message here? Because chances are the meetup group will close down after 15th May '05! I learnt that starting May 1st, is charging a fee for the continued use of the service. Read more here and here.

Frankly, I shouldn't be surprised. Someone's got to pay for the service, and it's only fair that the developers want something in return for providing that service. But why now!? This makes me look real bad. I just joined the group, appointed myself as Organiser, and now I start asking money from group members? No way.

Neither will I fork out the $19/month fee ($9/month if I pay now). For one, my wife would nag me no end: "Whaat! You are willing to fork out USD$9 a month for a group of people whom you've never met, but you won't buy me that diamond ring?!!" So, no way.
[*Smack!* Wife smacks me on the head for using her as an excuse for my stinginess]

Ah, maybe this (the fee thingy) is a good thing. It has given me a little sense of urgency to organise something. I shall make an "official" announcement here:

Singapore Bookcrossing Group plans to meet in May '05.
Venue will be at one of the public library.

If anyone is remotely interested to meet up (you don't have to be a member of the group), please email me at Let me know your preferred date, time, library. Don't worry, I'm not asking for a committment. Just getting feedback and ideas.

I've also gotten permission from one of my director to share this -- NLB would be kicking off a nation-wide reading initiative in late May 05. Official announcement is in late May but when we meetup, I can share with you some advanced info. It's going to be quite exciting.

[Tag: , , ]

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Sign up for the NLB Email Reminder Notice

For those who aren't aware that such a service exists:

If you are a NLB library member, you can sign up to receive , via email or fax, reminders to return their borrowed items before the due date. Click on the image to see the larger screen-shot.

If you're like me, who borrow books and leave them lying around in the house, this service is really useful. I've avoided a few overdue fines this way.

The service has been available since 7 or 8 years ago. Apparently there are still many NLB members who aren't aware of this free service... maybe I should mention the word "free" a few more times: FREE FREE FREE.

The sign-up page is over here (you can stop the reminder service from this page as well).

You can choose to receive reminders by email or fax. Other options are to receive the reminders 1 week, or 3 days or 1 day before your item is due. I chose the 1-week option, so that I have time to decide if I want to continue reading, or renew the item (via link in the email), or return the item.

One very important thing that users of this service should note: Absence of a reminder is not a valid reason for a waiver of fines.

Some people tend to be sore about this, but that's the terms of use. There are many reasons for reminders not being received, and the library can't possibly investigate every claim over a 15cents-per-day overdue fine. Or waive every claim.

Anyway, I've been using this service since the day it was offered, and I've always received a reminder.

[Tag: , ]

To be (anonymous) or not to be: that is the question

Two days ago, I commented in GadgetDude's post why I chose not to remain anonymous when blogging. Then technewb (who chose not to reveal his Blogger profile) replied that it's better to be cautious and that "you don't know who's reading your blogs".

I'd still say the answer to the question really depends on (1) our motivations for blogging, and (2) our personality type.

I explained about my experiment with anonymity and found it cramped my style. Besides, I also blog to establish a "voice" for the librarian -- NOT that I speak for librarians in Singapore. But hey, how many librarians you know are blogging? Do you know what librarians do or think about? You get my point... So I don't think I'll achieve credibility beyond a certain point by staying anonymous.

"Who reading your blog?" -- or rather, "Is my boss/ friend/ potential client reading my blog?"

I don't think that's the real question. The question is really, "What should I write, or not write, knowing that anyone can read my blog?"

If the above points don't convince you, then consider this -- look at the better blogs out there, and bloggers who achieve respectability in their fields. How many hide behind anonymity?

Habitatnews: Natural history news for the busy Singaporean

About a week ago, a certain N. Sivasothi emailed me to ask if he could put up the Legend of Bukit Merah pictures (the ones posted in an earlier blog post) in his Habitatnews blog/ e-zine. I checked out his blog and replied "yes" right away.

Siva has a story on why he's using a blog for Habitatnews. He'd "entertained thoughts of abandoning" the newsletter and website before he discovered blogging.

I'm glad he didn't. I found Habitatnews to be a great resource for "busy Singaporeans" for snippets on our natural history and heritage. Give it a try by subscribing via RSS. I'm not just saying this because Siva is helping me promote Bukit Merah Community Library -- honest!

I asked Siva for a short write-up on Habitatnews. Here's the highlights:
Habitatnews features news on nature and the environment in Singapore and covers events, talks, photos, reports, articles, books and issues. It is written and edited by N. Sivasothi, research officer at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore. Content is supported by field and literature research and collaboration with other
volunteer contributors.
For brevity, I've left out other interesting details about Habitatnews and the work they do. Siva, if you're reading this, how about posting a detailed "History of Habitatnews" in your blog? :)

A colleague of mine, Tim, tipped me off that the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research has it's roots from the Raffles Museum (founded in 1849). And did you know that the National Library of Singapore also has it's roots from Raffles Museum? We're like family here :)

[Tag:, ]

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Winnefox Library System

Oh, I should mention this too (via saecker):

Winnefox Library System (comprising of 30 public libraries from 5 counties in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, "a university community of over 56000 people on the shore of Lake Winnebago") also has some public libraries with "New Materials Blogs":
1) New Materials at the Poy Sippi Public Library (started in Sept '04)
2) What's New @ Coloma Public Library (started in Jan '05)
3) New Books at the Caestecker Public Library (started in Sept '04)

Saecker adds: "All of us are directors of small rural libraries who needed a way to replace our previous automation system's automated new item lists with another way of doing things..."

Ah, necessity is the mother of inventions, I alway say :)

Related Posts:
[Tag: , , , ]

Lansing Public Library blogs

Found another public library in the US using blogs as a service (via The Shifted Librarian) -- Lansing Public Library (Illinois). They have not one but four:
1) Lansing Library Adult News
2) Lansing Library Teen News
3) Lansing Library Youth News ("birth to Grade 5", i.e. what we know as "Children Services")
4) Lansing Library - What's New on Our Website (featuring updates on the main library site)

Judging from the archived posts, Lansing PL started their blogs in Feb/ Mar '05. I like how they've included the Instant Messenging icon to indicate if staff is online to answer their questions.

Just dropped a note to their web admin to ask a few questions, like how they promote the blogs and whether they conduct user education sessions on RSS and newsfeeds.

Speaking of which, GadgetDude gave me good suggestions on how to promote RSS as a form of public education to library users. One idea was to create say, a Bloglines account, with sample subscriptions that appeals to certain groups. In fact, Bloglines already allows me to send my subscriptions (I choose what I want to send) via email.

I'll certainly take up this idea. This is really no different from the web resources or pathfinders librarians provide to users, except that this is provided as RSS subscription that they can access as a kind of sample.

I have said this before -- if libraries want to provide blogs, public education on RSS is the other critical success factor. Otherwise, the blogs are really just another webpage to users.

Related Posts:
[Tag: , , , ]