Internal library staff blogs


We have a pilot project for an internal WordPress blog at our library. It went live as we began ripping up the inside of the building. Staff were told it was there and they were welcome to experiment, but that it was going to be launched officially with training later. I’ve been flicking email stuff that I want archived there, and a couple of people have made a couple of posts…but otherwise staff haven’t had the time to learn something new.

In the next few weeks, we start revamping it as a reference desk blog. The original version tried to cover the whole library and replace a few email lists. We had a separate RSS feed for each category…nice idea but a bit too confusing for most people I think.

Co-incidentally, I’ve had a couple of email conversations with other Australian librarians about implementing internal blogs, so I think ’tis the season for it.

One person was wondering about blogging policies. A good swag are found in the comments on Karen Schneider’s post, Blogging Policies and Procedures. You may also get some useful information from the general discussion of internal communications wikis/blogs happening on the Library 2.0 Ning network.

Another discussion involved getting staff buy in and support of senior management. It’s a hard one as the advantages are long term ones – mainly an easily searchable archive. Most training will focus on the posting side of it and it will be months before there are enough posts there for the searchablility to be a big advantage. I’d keep stressing the final outcomes during training.

We are treating the internal blog as an experiment and a training opportunity. We can get used to the interface and iron out any problems before we implement any other blogs aimed at our community.

If an internal blog is replacing some email communication, there comes a point where buy in becomes less voluntary. It’s just annoying to have two places to check for the same information, so someone is going to have to formulate guidelines about what goes on the blog and what is emailed. Clear guidelines, which are sensible and useable. I think it will take more than just that to make people change their habits. Especially when it is actually easier to send an email than post to a blog.

I’ve concluded that making sure staff understand RSS, and are using an aggregator, comes first with most L2.0 initiatives. With coaxing, people can handle one extra place to go, but having to check two work wikis, three work blogs and a work Flickr account for changes would be really annoying. This is an issue for a password or IP protected internal blog – web-based aggregators like the highly popular bloglines and google reader won’t be let near the feed to harvest it. I don’t have a real solution, but may try using RSS Popper which integrates with Outlook. If Outlook is left logged in on a PC within the allowed IP range, then you can read the RSSPopper feed externally via webmail.

I was pondering this afternoon whether all this Library 2.0 stuff is really useful. If it is, then why do we need to work out ways to sell it? Many of us seem to be getting the skills and playing with the toys outside of work, even when we have workplaces like mine that make time for new technologies. Then I remembered staying up late writing web pages waaaaay, waaaaay back in the early nineties so I could demo to library staff the advantages of the internet. And being a bit worried that I was raving about a techno-hobby-horse that would never be relevant to what we did in libraries.

7 thoughts on “Internal library staff blogs

  1. Bonjour Kathryn, I agree : won’t be so easy to convince co-workers and define the right place for an internal blog between the use of e-mails, the local intranet and the website. I am working on the same type of project in my own archival institution. (Right now we don’t even have a regular external blog). I began to work on this external blog project but as days go by, am thinking that an internal blog would also be a great tool. Your post (and links) are a very valuable contribution for this work in progress. Merci.

  2. Bonjour Pierre-Yves . Yes- the intranet. This is a problem for us because not all casual staff members have access to it, but that is where most of our procedures are stored. I’m hoping that the guidelines about what we put on the blog, email and intranet will actually come from the staff. Glad you liked the post, good luck with the blog(s) project.

  3. Kathryn,

    I’ve been thinking about the IP restricted internal blog issue as well. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. We, as with probably most libraries, run our own EZproxy server. My idea is to treat the blog as a publishers website and use EZproxy to provide off campus access to it.

    I’ve done this once before and it worked really well. The sticking point at the time was that EZproxy didn’t work so well with RSS feeds. With the introduction of the AnonymousURL configuration directive this wouldn’t be the case and you could use any web based RSS reader to aggregate the feed.

    It would be a little less secure than not providing the service, but if you kept the URL a closed secret it could potentially provide outside access to the blog for minimum risk.

    Assuming our project here at work gets off the ground I may be looking into setting this up for real and seeing how it works.

    I’ll blog about it if I do. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Thanks for the link Corey. That does look useful..but as they say “it should be applied with great caution”.

    Are all your staff machines on a separate IP network? Ours kind of are…so we have restricted access to that IP range….which stops the students from seeing our scandalous internal blog :). For machines not in that IP range, we use the .htaccess file to throw up a password screen so they can log in.

    I did think about just installing the plugin that makes the WordPress login screen the first page – but then no RSS readers could grab the feed.

What do you think? Let us know.