LibWorld – Italy

This is the christmas edition of our LibWorld series. Our guest author today is Bonaria Biancu. She’s working as technologist in the Library of the University of Milano-Bicocca. She’s a widely known as an library 2.0 advocate. Consequently she blogs as The Geek Librarian and lets us participate in her speeches at slideshare. Bonaria Biancu introduces the Italian biblioblogosphere to us, which really looks like a very colorful one.

Italian bloggers

by Bonaria Biancu

The librarianship in Italy could probably be defined a true science, given that it’s more than a century that in our country scientific and professional reflection has been developed on topics regarding libraries and their management. Although there are examples of technology adoption and experimentations, the reaction of Italian librarians to blogs and other tools of Web 2.0 has not been enthusiastic. Still today many librarians are doubtful about the potentials of blogs as a mean of communication and interaction with customers – some of them look at it from an ideological point of view instead of considering the good and the bad realistically. It is worth noting the aim to close the gap made by young librarians who – in particular in 2006 and 2007 – have created many blogs, shortly become living places of debate and discussion. Let’s start to meet some of them with a notice: this post doesn’t cover all the Italian biblioblog(ger)s but only those who have joined the collaborative experiment made in October 2007, when I sent an email to the main mailing list of Italian librarians – Aib-Cur – asking the bibliobloggers for info on their activities for the article to be published on LibWorld; finally I didn’t take in consideration blogs that have not published contents at least for four months.

Among the early biblioblogs that have seen the light in Italy, there are Bibl’aria – Aria nuova in biblioteca (Bibl’aria – Fresh air in the library), founded by a group of librarians that have struck during the years for the renewal of Italian librarianship; Gruppi di lettura (Groups of readers), a blog that collects posts from users and book lovers of the public libraries of Cologno Monzese and Cervia (small towns respectively near Milan and Rimini); and SfogliaWeb, born in 2003 to show off the most interesting resources for reference and support bibliographical searches with suggestions and tips. Out of the need of putting together abilities and experiences of school librarians, CONBS – Coordinamento Nazionale Bibliotecari Scolastici (National Coordination of School Librarians) was born in 2003.

Very interesting are the jobs of two academic librarians from University of Pisa (Tuscany): one writes Il Paesaggista Digitale (the Digital Landscape Architect), that makes an accurate selection of electronic resources about gardens, landscape and ecology, suggests recommendations of events of professional interest and writes short articles inherent the management of the natural heritage in Italy. The other librarian from Pisa holds the blog of the library of Philosophy and History faculties and publishes above all posts on open access resources of historical and philosophical interest. The History Sciences and Documentation Library, at the University Statale of Milan, publishes a rich and wide-ranging blog with the purpose of select history resources on the Web and promote library’s books and journals to students and researchers of the faculty.

To keep their colleagues informed and help the users of Metalib, the librarians of the University of Padova have created Aire-Metalib, a blog that disseminates news about software implementation and interface customisation, shows off new activated resources, spreads the word about activities organized for libraries and librarians and, last but not least, warns the customers of service suspensions. At the University of Padova there is also BiblioNews, an informative tool by the libraries of Biology and Pharmacology, created in order to inform the users about local initiatives (seminaries, conventions, courses, modifications of timetable etc), but above all to showcase new disciplinary resources enabled.

Another important academic institution in Italy is the University of Torino, that opened recently Servizi Bibliografici Digitali (Digital Bibliographical Services – Opinions & emotions on digital information environments) and Sviluppo Collezioni (Collections Development) dedicated in particular to new technologies and open access; in the same region of Italy (Piedmont), also the younger University of Piemonte Orientale has two blogs – one for the Pharmacy library and the other for the Liberal Arts library. Still looking at university but this time in the South of Italy, there is Lab Library, a blog committed to share professional knowledge, expertise, best practices and abilities; it is addressed to librarians, readers and students of librarianship and it also acts as a support to the teaching activities of its blogger, a professor at the University of Catania that also writes on Bisiblog, a sort of virtual showcase of the Cultural Heritage faculty library and a dynamic place of exchange and communication with customers.

If you want to take a tour of Italian biblioblogsphere, don’t miss the public librarians blogs like Non bibliofili (it is really worth translating the title: Not Booklovers!): it is the blog of a librarian who works in a very famous public library, the Sala Borsa, in Bologna. Her blog is born against a conception of the book as a sacred object and in order to support an idea of culture as a vital and urgent needing, necessary to get libraries services to all kind of people in society. An example of strong will and creativity is Bibliogarlasco, the blog of the library of a very small town near Pavia, Garlasco, held by a handy woman librarian that wishes to supply information about the library and to contribute to the love of reading with posts and links on books – from hits to classics.

A major librarians association that has trusted the blog is CNBA – Coordinamento Nazionale Biblioteche di Architettura (National Coordination of the Architecture Libraries), that with Rainbow informs the associates on the innovations in the field of architecture, in the attempt to take advantage of a communication channel easier and nimbler than the normal web. Another association equipped with Web 2.0 tools is the BDS – Bibliotecari e Documentalisti della Sanità (Information Professionals in Health) that has created a blog as a meeting point for Italian biomedical librarians: they collect proposals, comments, news and experiences in the field of medicine. One of the blogs that most has marked the history of the young Italian biblioblogosphere is Biblioatipici (Atipycal librarians), place of atypical workers in the fields of documentation and information (libraries and archives); it offers useful tools and resources, and its posts are categorized with a sort of facet categorization system.

While Bibelot is a blog born from the namesake review about Tuscany libraries, Biblioragazzi is held by a group of women librarians and is focussed on the libraries’ activities for children and youg people. Darwin Italia, not regarding professional topics, takes the name from the famous scientist Charles Darwin and is published by a librarian for scientific passion. Among the blog of information professionals who do not work for libraries the one of Shaitan is useful to follow the trend of new technologies in LIS world; Scuola 3D (School 3D), a blog of teachers passionate of libraries and virtual realities also deserves a visit, and the blog of Francesco Piras, product manager for an Italian ILS vendor.

The journal Biblioteche Oggi (Libraries Today) publishes every two months an article dedicated to the hundreds of LIS blogs in Italy and in the rest of the world with the column Biblioweblog. Finally it is approximately a year that I have created Biblioteca 2.0 (Library 2.0), a social network based on the Ning platform: everyone – also librarians from abroad – can join! If you like to have an idea of the kind of libraries and librarians we have in Italy, you can take a look at the photos of the Flickr group Biblioteche e bibliotecari/e in Italia (Libraries and librarians in Italy).

The Italian biblioblogosphere is not much populated yet, and above all it can not count on big numbers of readers, may be because of the customers’ habit to not to have interactive relationships with librarians and anyway to not to have technological relationships with libraries. Nonetheless there are blogs rich of authoritative information, scientific hints, professional thoughts – blogs maintained by willing librarians, that often write their posts during the night or the weekend. Those librarians have come to consider their blogs like a vital way for giving information and establishing a contact with colleagues and users and they could not give up their night writings for nothing at all.