Monday, September 15, 2008

Question 4 – Using blogs and wikis to communicate with library clients

While moving with changing technology is important for libraries and information services, certain guidelines need to be adhered in order for libraries to communicate effectively with clients. The article ‘using blogs and wikis to communicate with library clients’ outline six very important lessons for libraries to follow when developing a communication tool.

The article titles the first lesson ‘manage your communication tool’. This basically means that when implementing new technology the library must keep in mind the organisation’s goals and objectives. Within this there needs to exist policies and procedures for this new tool.

‘Control technolust’ is the heading for the second lesson contained in the article. The article advises libraries against technologies that do not suit the organisation’s strategic plan then it is best to look for an alternative communication tool. It also cautions libraries to test new communication tools internally before a public release to ensure that it is suitable for use.

The third lesson that needs to be remembered from the article is to ‘have an agreed upon, honest library voice’. The title of this lesson says it all. The library needs to have someone to speak to library patrons with the communication tool, e.g. a blog or wiki. The most important part of this lesson however, is that this voice needs to be honest. The authors use Mazda as an example of what not to do, “a fake blog was released by the car company to appeal to Generation Y was apparently written by a 22-year-old Mazda M6 enthusiast” (Watson & Harper, 2006). This was removed due to heavy criticism less than a week after it was released. This proves that if a library is going to use a communication tool, they need to be truthful, anything else will lead to distrust from clients and will have adverse affects on the progression of the library in the community.

The key factor of the fourth lesson is to ‘update often’. This is self explanatory in that any information placed on the wiki or blog needs to be current and fresh. Users need to feel that the communication tool is of importance to the library. This is important to remember as, after implementing the blog or wiki and the use of resources, both monetary and staff time, it is important that patrons use this communication tool. Otherwise the library has wasted an excellent opportunity to move with technology and reach users and potential users. Therefore the blog or wiki must be updated regularly so that not only is the information current but also new information is presented as well.

The fifth guideline outlined in the article is ‘enable comments, where appropriate, and respond’. For libraries using communication tools such as blogs and wikis, this means that clients need to be provided with the opportunity to comment. This, however is not enough, library staff need to respond to these comments when appropriate. This is important because, not only does it give library patrons an opportunity to be heard but also give library staff a chance to receive feedback and suggestions to possibly improve library services.

‘Use RSS feeds or other promotional avenues’ is the final lesson the article suggests. The best communication tool can fail if people do not know about it. Consequentially, if a library is going to use a blog or wiki as way to communicate with patrons then it is essential that it is promoted. This could be done via RSS feeds that alert clients when new posts are added.

It can be seen that the article offers valuable guidelines for a library to implement a communication tool. Although blogs and wikis are an excellent way to communicate with patrons, especially with many patrons already competently using the internet, if the lessons outlined in the article are not followed it can be catastrophic for the library, not only in its public image but also in the resources that were spent or implementing the communication tool.

Reference List
Watson, K., Harper, C. (2006). Using blogs and wikis to communicate with library clients. Retrieved September 7, 2008 from

No comments: