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Blogs Are a Natural for Librarians
by
Posted On October 1, 2001
I've been a fan for some time of Gary Price's compilations-first his List of Lists, then his Direct Search, and most recently his Virtual Acquisition Shelf and News Desk (http://resourceshelf.blogspot.com), which is his daily Weblog of interesting resources, or "blog," as this increasingly popular form of Web communication has come to be called. I had seen some fairly eclectic examples of other people's blogs, including personal rants and total hodgepodges, but Price's stays very focused and useful.

Another favorite resource has been Tara Calishain's ResearchBuzz e-mail newsletter, but she also has a Weblog, a miscellaneous section of her Web site that she calls The KnickKnack Drawer. Her current knickknacks include everything from map resources to a new worm alert to a new joint venture by a metasearch engine. Of course, she also provides goodies like fall foliage in Pennsylvania and a site with a searchable subject index of Chinese recipes-but then you never know what might be useful to a librarian, or anyone else. Luckily, the search feature on her site encompasses content in the Weblog, so if you're looking for all mentions of the metasearch engine Vivisimo, for example, you can find a number of interesting pieces of news and commentary.

Some proclaim blogging to be a new form of publishing. Some predict that blogs are the next great information resource. Chris Sherman, associate editor of SearchEngineWatch, has called blogs "the Web's equivalent of a sophisticated early warning system." There are even indexes to blogs and sites that report what topics or sites are most mentioned on popular blogs. One of the most interesting is Blogdex, a project from the MIT Media Lab (http://blogdex.media.mit.edu). The site says: "blogdex is a system built to harness the power of personal news, amalgamating and organizing personal news content into one navigable source, moving democratic media to the masses." Besides showing the most popular sites, Blogdex now offers a URL search capability that I find quite interesting.

Recently I stumbled on a list of blogs just for the library community (actually, thanks to Jill O'Neill of NFAIS) and decided to check into some of them. I was pleased, but not too surprised, by the usefulness of what I found-what else do we expect from librarians but top quality! LibDex (http://www.libdex.com), The Library Index, is a handy Web resource compiled by Peter Scott that provides a worldwide directory of library home pages, Web-based OPACs, and other useful information. He has also now compiled a list of library-related Weblogs (http://www.libdex.com/weblogs.html). Of course, these too run the gamut-everything from "Guide to Problematical Library Use" by Don Saklad to individual libraries' blogs to Charles Bailey's "Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog." It's great to have them gathered together and listed. Thanks, Peter. The following are comments about some of the blogs on his list.

The library at Vanderbilt University (and specifically, Anna Belle Leiserson) offers AcqWeblog (http://acqweb.library.vanderbilt.edu/acqweb/ms_acqs.html) for news of interest to acquisitions and collection-development librarians. Recent blog entries mentioned Bibliopoly (http://www.bibliopoly.com), a multilingual Web search agent that specializes in early and rare books from international dealers, and Bublos.com (http://www.bublos.com), an international book price comparison site. The blog also lists and links to press releases with major announcements from library vendors and very large publishers. The AcqWeblog is part of the larger AcqWeb site, which provides many useful resource lists and directories.

For those techies among us, Matthew Eberle, a librarian at The Forsyth Institute in Boston, has a Library TechLog (http://www.meberle.com/weblog.html). Recent postings discussed library RSS news feeds, virtual reference desks, recommended articles and technology conferences, and behind-the-scenes coding and scripts. Library Stuff (http://librarystuff.net) is an interesting and wide-ranging blog produced by Steven M. Cohen, a law librarian in New York. Another blog that deals with "the quirky to the mundane" is by T. J. Sondermann (http://free.freespeech.org/librarygeek).

The LibDex list also reminded me of the Internet Scout Weblog (http://scout.cs.wisc.edu/weblog), a separate service that complements the popular Internet Scout Reports with additional interesting resources.

Folks who are fans of information architecture and of Louis Rosenfeld, co-author of the best-selling text on the topic, will appreciate his comments and insights on his blog, or bloug, as he calls it (http://www.louisrosenfeld.com). (Rosenfeld is also a librarian, founder of the former consulting firm Argus Associates, and now an independent consultant.) One of his recent bloug entries had an interesting discussion on the presentation of search results and his thoughts on Google; Northern Light; and the newcomer, Teoma.

Peter Scott also does a Library News Daily report (http://www.lights.com/scott), which offers "the latest news on databases, conferences, services, software, vendors, and more." He also has a collaborative Weblog in progress called Peter Scott's Personal Onclave (http://www.onclave.org/people/children/Peter_Scott). Scott, who is the Internet projects manager at the University of Saskatchewan, will be speaking about blogging in a pre-conference workshop at the Internet Librarian conference in November. In his workshop, he will provide examples of outstanding library-related blogs and discuss the process of setting up a blog.

Finally, I understand that Walt Crawford is beginning a three-part series on Library Weblogs in the October 2001 issue of American Libraries. Knowing Walt, I'm sure it will be quality stuff. And, thanks to all the dedicated bloggers out there who are sharing their knowledge with others. Keep up the good work.


Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.


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