Sunday, March 10, 2013

Blogs in the library Catalogue? Feedback from conversations

So I showcased my poster on "Blogs in the library catalogue?" at the Technology in Education Symposium at Western University last Friday, March 8, 2012. The poster was the collaborative work of three of us in the Sociodigital research lab of which I am a lab member. The title of the presentation read: Blogs in the library catalogue? An investigation into the informational value of blogs for scholars and students

The abstract of which read:
We argue that blogs can be a valuable information source for library users. Blogs can be used to inform the research and academic work of scholars and students.  Despite their informational value, early views were skeptic towards the informational value of blogs because often librarians are more aware of blogs as tools for marketing their libraries or for promoting library resources and services. Currently some libraries have created what are known as catablogs – using blogs to store bibliographic information about their collection. With the exception of law librarians that have found blogs to be useful sources for accessing legal documentation, the current discourse on the value of blogs as information sources by academic librarians is limited and does not take advantage of the full potential that blogs have to offer as information sources. With the proliferation of blog creation by academic scholars and experts as well as institutions, we argue that there are countless reputable blogs that provide current and relevant information to students and scholars on their topic of interest that libraries could make accessible and promote on the library’s website and even its catalogue. We will discuss examples in our poster. Often blogs that are external to the library are not really considered and made accessible in the library’s general collection of resources. In fact, academic libraries should be able to find, acquire and point its academic users to relevant, reputable and credible blogs for information. After all, blogs are perhaps the most current information sources, continuously being updated with the views and interpretations of experts.

I have not included the full arguments here, but just want to reflect and post on the feedback to the idea as presented via poster at the symposium and based on my conversation with the few that engaged me on the topic.

In general, I only conversed about the poster with a handful of persons, but those who stopped by seemed receptive to the idea of blogs as valuable information sources that the library could direct library users to. In essence, I found I was able to defend the idea very well as persons raised their concerns. However, at least, the persons I conversed with all seem to value blogs as information sources, that they did not question its information value, but rather only wondered about the technical and other feasibilities of including blogs in the library catalogue.

  • One wanted to know if the catalogue is the appropriate place for them, especially given some of the ephemeral nature of some blogs. I suggested that libraries already have in their catalogue links to e-resources, and for blogs such as the APA Style blog, that already has a printed monograph, we could easily add another link to its blog via its monograph's catalogue entry. 
  • Another pondered about the lack of peer review and about quality control. I did discuss with him how librarians could phase in the inclusion of blogs in the catalogue that would take care of that issue. First we could start with the blogs that accompany established publications such as books, magazines and newspapers, and later include those bloggers cited in the literature or recommended by faculty.
  • One librarian stopped by and mentioned that she used a library blog for her students, but would think about the issue of recommending blogs to students.
  • Some persons also felt that blogs are so ephemeral that they perhaps did not belong, but I did talk about the fact that some magazines cease publication as well, and libraries have to deal with such serial publications already that may start up and disappear after a while.
If anything, I left more persuaded that I need to write a journal or magazine article defending the need for academic libraries to include blogs in their library catalogues.

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