Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Library Blog

Monroe County Library System: The teen blog
So, in my last post, I talked about the greatly expanded resources available digitally on the Monroe County Library website. This week, I look a little closer at one feature of the website: the teen section. Now, as previously discussed, teens and libraries don’t often mix. While there are certainly teens that use the library, those that really like going to the library are probably in the minority. This is reflected in the lack of interaction that takes place between libraries, and their potential teen patrons. In Monroe County, they are trying to reverse this trend.
One way in which the Monroe County Library system is trying to change this is by harnessing the (relatively) new popularity of blogs, and using them to their advantage. Unlike the rest of the county website, which consists of articles and resources, the teen site — find it at — is much more interactive. When you get to the Teen page, you encounter a format similar to many of the popular blogs that are popping up all over the web. Blog posts the length of short articles, with spaces for comments, are found in the center of the page, and various toolbars, links, and a calendar line the borders. The blog posts are a mix of items clearly relating to the library and its resources (“Chili Library’s Junior Friends Newsletter), and those that have little to do with libraries, but are supposed to be of interest to teens (“Youngest person to sail around the world”). In fact, most of the posts have very little to do with traditional library fare. “Book Lists,” “Books,” “Events,” “Music¬¬_& Videos,” and “News” are all sections of the page, and there are a lot of polls that bloggers can participate in. Finally, there are several sections at the top of the page that have links to other teen library pages, booklists, and even sites for homework help.
This webpage/blog is clearly a big step forward in trying to make libraries (and their websites) more teen friendly. The creators of the blog obviously realize that they are going to have to change their tactics if they wish to attract more teen interaction. Realizing that you aren’t simply going to “hook” teens by having them wander around the stacks, they have brought the library system into the mainstream and made it more 21st century compatible. This being said, it seems as if the webpage is not used as much as they would like. I didn’t see a single comment posted on the blog. Because blogs are meant to be interactive (notice the exciting banter on our page- (thanks Jonathan!), comments and reader participation is are pretty much essential. This clearly isn’t happening on the library blog, so I think this section of the site is a “work-in-progress” to say the least. It would be interesting to see if (or how) much teen input went into the development of the site. Also, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen any advertising for the site, so I’m not sure how many teens actually know about it. Hopefully the page can get some more activity on it, but I’m not sure the best way for them to achieve this goal. If you can think of anything that might work, post your thoughts in our comment section (slightly more used than the libraries!)…
Tom Andrews

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