Monday, May 02, 2005

Youth blog site - (or, the case for NLB libraries to get blogging)

For all the talk I've done on libraries and blogging to my colleagues, I was sorely unaware of a youth blog site, eGen, by our Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) -- proof that I don't know everything (so what's new?)

eGen is "Singapore's first local youth blog community with an e counselling component." The site was launched on 29 Jan 2005.
The youth agency under Fei Yue Community Services, Project 180 (Youth Services) recognising this trend, came up with the concept for eGen slightly more than a year ago. Based on their awareness of the popularity of blogs overseas and their interaction with Internet-savvy Singaporean youth, they came up with ideas of using blogs to engage young people and social workers and counsellors providing e counselling services to youth who need guidance.
In his official speech, Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman highlighted 5 observations that impressed him about the site:
  1. Young people need an outlet to write their thoughts and feelings.
  2. Young people can really write their thoughts and feelings. They feel comfortable and see the avenue as a way of ventilating their thoughts.
  3. There is a community of support providers in cyberspace.
  4. Young people stay up late at night.
  5. <>It was an excellent opportunity for parents to understand issues that young people are struggling with.
Points 1 to 3 alone would make a good case for libraries to engage youths/ teens -- and adults -- via blogs. Intuitively, we know writing and expression goes hand-in-hand with reading, books, learning and libraries. But "how to do it" won't be so straight-forward.

The way I see it, the intent behind eGen is to create an environment for teens who blog (or want to start blogging) to congregate and get connected, and in doing so, the counsellors also get involved or at least appear on the teen's radar screen.

A possible issue with this approach is that most teens don't want a "structured environment", i.e. be forced to use blogs as provided by the site, when they have other choices out there (blogger, live journal etc). I randomly picked 10 blogs from the eGen user list and found only 3 with any posts. I think the teens have their own blogs already, and are just signing up to eGen out of curiousity. I could be wrong.

Anyway, unless the library has a budget to support the maintenance costs, I won't suggest the eGen model, where the library provides a blogging platform. I'd assume teens would want to find some other blog tools. Instead, I'd probably have a library-blog that blogs about teens who blog.

My proposed library-blog would be to:
  1. Feature teens who blog
  2. Have librarians-who-blog (liblogarians) engage in conversations with them (if the teens wish to do so)
  3. And where appropriate (but not necessarily always) , the liblogarian's role is to act as an Information Counsellor -- where we point out books or information on the web that's relevant during the conversation. Even upcoming programmes or new arrivals (like comics)
Any other ideas or suggestions?



  1. Perhaps an aggregation site as well that would collate recent posts from all youths signed up but who have their own feed-enabled blogs elsewhere. So it could be like that Project Petaling Street thing, where you'd always see the latest posts from all participants. And then admins could easily add their own posts in the vein of what you suggested.

  2. I like that idea. Thanks!

  3. UPDATE: About 6 months after this post, NLB now has a book blog at High Browse Online! And it's an aggregation site for book-related posts.


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