Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples–coming soon!

The second Cites & Insights Book will appear Real Soon Now: A survey of current English-language public library blogs, mostly consisting of profiles of the blogs themselves.

Here’s a little of the first of three introductory chapters:

The purpose of this book is to guide you to blogs that you might find useful when thinking about your own library’s case—blogs from nearby libraries, blogs from libraries with similar service populations, or blogs that specialize in topics or work in ways that you’ll find interesting.

Most of this book is examples: 252 blogs from 196 libraries, arranged geographically. It’s not a comprehensive survey (and I did exclude non-English blogs for reasons of practicality), but I did attempt complete coverage within a few basic criteria. I was impressed by the diversity and quality of what’s out there.

Which blogs? Those that were listed in one of the two primary wiki lists of public library blogs as of May 2007 and that met a few basic criteria:

  • In English
  • Started before 2007 (since “young” blogs have a pretty high failure rate, and I’m interested in showing plausible successes)
  • Have at least one blog in two of the three “study months,” March, April and May 2007
  • Appear to be a blog in most key respects, or to be a blog portion of a library home page (in some cases, the blog is the homepage)

That resulted in 209 blogs from 196 libraries. I went back to each library and added other blogs (43 in all, and never more than five blogs from one library) that met the criteria but weren’t listed in the wikis.

I believe the book will help librarians to find “similar” libraries to consider when thinking about doing their own blog or expanding their range of blogs, where “similar” could mean geographic location, service population or special blog interests.

There are a couple of fairly remarkable blogs at libraries serving fewer than 400 people. There are more teen blogs than you can shake a dazzling banner design at, along with some genealogy blogs, a bunch of book review blogs, quite a few blogs for kidlit and children’s events…and lots more.

I was truly impressed and delighted by what I found doing the survey. I believe many public librarians will find inspiration and places to look from its pages–and will be able to find a few blogs to check out a lot more easily than plowing through 358 blog links (not including duplicates) in the wikis.

The book should be out in late August or early September, almost certainly at the same time as Cites & Insights 7:10 (September 2006). Specific timing depends on how long it takes for the final editing pass, selecting a cover photo, and doing the final publishing stages–and how long I need to write the rest of C&I and one other column with an approaching deadline. See below for revised estimate.
Oh, and on whether I’m called for jury duty (I’m still on call this week)…and what other emergencies come up.

More details when it’s available. Right now, it’s right around 300 pages and is likely to cost right around $30 to $35.

Update Saturday, August 11: It’s now likely that C&I 7:10 will come out before the book, and that the book will appear in mid-September. I’ve done the final editing pass and produced a nice clean 302-page book–but:

  • I’ve now been convinced that I should let it sit at least a week, maybe two, while I work on other things–the column mentioned above and remaining essays for C&I, for example–then come back to a printed copy with a fresh eye for typos and other errors. Since it takes around two weeks from the time I’m satisfied (and have created a cover and uploaded the files) until the time the proof book arrives, “early to mid-September” now seems like a better target.
  • A few of the 196 libraries–nine in the U.S., 12 in Canada, one each in Australia, Ireland and New Zealand–don’t have service area population numbers that are as good as I’d like (that is, they don’t have numbers in Worldcat Registry and I couldn’t locate good library reports). See the separate post asking for help; I’ll also check some other sources and try to send email to each of the libraries. The service area population doesn’t affect things all that much, but I think it’s a reasonable factor for other libraries looking for “comparables.”–libraries serving 4,000 people have different resources than those serving 400,000. (I’m guessing the “not as good as I’d like” is never even close to that extreme…I’m usually using census figures for the town or city.)

I could hold C&I, of course, but that seems silly. It’s also looking like this book might be available in more than one place–and that might also be true for Balanced Libraries. More about that when it’s finalized.

5 Responses to “Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples–coming soon!”

  1. Sounds like a good book to use in library school — I’ll be looking at it as a reference for folks to use for how to promote libraries. Can’t wait to see it!

  2. jessamyn says:

    what a great idea, I think Stephanie’s right on both points.

  3. walt says:

    Thanks both (Jessamyn, your comment arrived just as I was modifying the post). Note the delayed timing… It really is an interesting project, if also a bit time-consuming. Part of me says it isn’t a book you’d read from beginning to end…but I may be wrong. I do include most or all of a sample post from almost every blog (exceptions are those that are entirely unannotated new-item lists, entirely time/place events listings, and one that appears to be intended for internal staff use), and the posts say a lot about voice, style, range and the like.

  4. DrWeb says:

    You wrote:
    “That resulted in 209 blogs from 196 libraries. I went back to each library and added other blogs (43 in all, and never more than five blogs from one library) that met the criteria but weren’t listed in the wikis.”

    What wikis are you referring to? I didn’t see a reference to these 2? wikis you used as starting points in the post. Thanks, and good luck on the book project.


  5. walt says:

    Well, that’s what happens when I import an isolated paragraph: It lacks context. The two wikis are the Blogging Libraries wiki and the weblogs pages of LISWiki. They’re both mentioned in the book itself…