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.

Need debugging


…me that is.

I went away to camp for the weekend and came back to find that Mr4 had been throwing up. Mr8 and the Co-Pilot had become very messy by Monday/Tuesday.

Wednesday night during my reference desk shift, I began feeling a bit woozy, but wasn’t sure it was the bug. I tried to talk myself out of it, but gave up at 8pm and went home an hour early. Good thing too. What I did next was not fitting for a library.

Staying home from work this morning, but hope to make it in this afternoon to lead a play session with the new internal blog. The launch has been delayed until library renovations are finished at the end of January.

The Co-Pilot is off on his own camp this weekend, so I need to get perky to look after the kids. I definitely need to be better by Thursday when I help with the Year 3 end-of-year-sleepover-at-school camp.

TODAY’S HIPPIE CARD: Talk to someone

Brewing another blog beast.


I’m setting up an internal communications blog for our academic library using WordPress. Why?

  1. We have too many email lists for internal communications
  2. All of us are saving emails in our own subdirectories on the same server
  3. To create a searchable archive
  4. To introduce staff to RSS feeds
  5. Experimenting so that we know how to create a ridgy-didge one to talk with our users

Image: Hubble bubble. There is no cookbook.

We hope to have it up by Friday. FRIDAY!!!

CW and I huddled around a PC one weekend at her house to set up LINT, so I’ve done a WordPress install before, but I’m finding out about .php, .css, ftp, plugins and the Gimp as I use them. I know I’m just learning – but I still keep beating myself up about not providing the perfect introduction to blogging bliss for the library staff.

Because I’m not Grand Zen Master Coder, I know it won’t look exactly how I want it or do exactly what I want. I still want it to be something that people will “get”, and hopefully enjoy. When you’re asking people to change work methods, fun and enjoyment is not usually the result, so maybe I’m being a bit naive there.

We’re replacing several email lists with the one blog, so I’ve set up categories with RSS feeds to match each list. The idea is that staff will subscribe to the categories that match the lists they already get, plus have access to all the other information whizzing about – all in a searchable archive.

I’m using these plugins:

  • Category LiveBookmarks Plus Allows browsers to autodiscover category feeds, plus inserts an RSS icon next to the category name in the sidebar.
  • Ultimate Tag Warrior so that we can tag posts and create tag clouds.
  • Dagon Design Import Users . If you give it a file with usernames and their emails, it automatically adds them as users, creates a password and emails it to them.
  • WordPress Suicide. So I can blow away the data on the test version and upload templates etc. from the copy I’ve been working on here.
  • I’ve also added a patch, Ticket #1790: category-title-in-category-feeds.patch that inserts the category name after the blog name in the RSS title. (Pretty useless if all the feeds have the same title!)

In another post, I’ll describe some of the decisions we needed to make in setting up the blog, just in case you’re thinking of doing the same.