Next in our honorable row of LibWorld guest authors is Thomas Ellegaard Langholz. He works in Dalum Bibliotek in Odense, Denmark, for which he blogs at dalumbib.blogspot.com.
Danish Library Blogs
Blogging in the public system is still a very new phenomenon in Denmark. In general the libraries seem to be slow to adopt and accept new internet technologies as e.g. many of the web 2.0-features. One of the blogs I mention later started in 2002 but all the blogs aimed at the public has been created within the last two years.
I was only able to find three Danish libraries with a blog aimed at library users or the public audience. Typically the library blog will be concerned with issues that are related to the library itself – e.g. this could be:
- news from the library itself (primarily new or changed opening hours)
- events at the library (concerts, theatre etc)
- promotion of library materials – books, music, movies, databases etc.
I’m currently blogging for the library when I’m working. The address is dalumbib.blogspot.com. The content is very much like what I described above. I should mention that this blog is an experiment and I’m trying out the media to see what it requires and for what it can be used. I haven’t received any response from the public but I also admit that I haven’t made much PR for the site.
Still, I see the blog as a good way to communicate with our end users. The blog is easy to use both for the “authors” and the user. However it would be wise to consider whether the blog should have its offspring in the library or the subject. As it is now with “my” blog the library is the offspring. This means that I write about a lot of different things making the blog very wide (and maybe less interesting for many users). If I was blogging about a special subject e.g. music, children’s books etc. this might attract user with interest in this subject.
A funny thing that has been going on is the Bookbrother Project in Odense. The essence of this game is that you put a number of books into a “house” and then people vote for the book that they wanted to leave the house. The greatest thing about this promotion project was that people really got into the thing and made comments on the related blog. The winner was “The exception” by Danish author Christian Jungersen.
A bigger number of public libraries has started blogs that are used to share information within the staff. These blogs can be access by the public but are as mentioned only intended to be used as a tool by the staff. These blogs can be used to share information about events in the library, to share knowledge from courses, seminars etc, and to pass on tips and tricks regarding OPACs, internet, books and other items. An example is kkbpaatur.blogspot.com which is a blog from the main library in Copenhagen. In this blog they write about courses, seminars and visits at other libraries and in that way they share their knowledge with colleagues.
Librarians, libraries, librarianship and the library system in Denmark is the subject of a number of private or semi-private blogs. We have three very well visited blogs that are writing about libraries, internet and information technology. One – Bib-log – is written by two members of staff from the main library in Copenhagen while another one – e-klumme – is written by a senior lecturer from the Royal School of Library and Information Science in Denmark. Web 2.0 is one of the main themes of these blogs but they also write about other subjects related to the libraries.
Within this last group we also find the online debate about the libraries and the future of the libraries and librarians. I’ll try to mention some of the subjects that are being discussed:
- OPAC: A group of people have been working on developing a search system which would enable end users to search in different data sources at the same time. The system also uses a interface à la Google and ranks the results. The debate evolves around the question of simple vs. advanced search and ranking results vs. bibliographic ranking.
- Future of the library service: It was argued that what the public is interested in is free information – and this could be achieved by providing the library users with e-books which they could download (for free) and keep.
- In Denmark we have an OPAC that covers all the public library and the educational libraries (e.g. the university libraries) and it is also discussed how this website could be improved – e.g. Google-interface, more personal à la Amazon.
In general I think that the librarians are worried because it seems that the libraries are lagging behind the development. It seems that we need to change the library quite a lot to keep up with the technical changes, the way people use libraries, and the way people find information and knowledge.
It seems that the blogs are an excellent way to run an online debate and share information within the library, but when it comes to libraries and their communication with users the situation seems a bit desolate. Of course I don’t know the statistics from other library blogs but if you look at the responses they are not overwhelming. I’m asking myself if the users really want to communicate with the library in that way or if we should use more energy on the things that we know they use (the OPAC as the most important one). Maybe our communication could be integrated into the OPAC. The blog is popular now but the hype will disappear and then we’ll see the real popularity and utilisation of the blog.