Thursday, March 30, 2006

Getting People to Buy Into Blogs

So, let's say you work for a library that isn't the most technologically advanced. In fact, let's postulate that your library is a little (a lot?) resistant to new technology. But, all the same, you'd like to introduce a blog to the library's website. For all the right reasons. How do you bring the idea across?

John Jantsch, a man who specializes in helping small businesses market themselves, has an interesting idea. Avoid the 'B' word altogether. In his own words:
I have this new marketing strategy that costs next to nothing and:
Will bring you a substantial increase in search engine traffic
Will greatly enhance your ability to communicate with your market
Will increase your odds of being interviewed by the media
Will allow you (or someone you designate) to instantly post news updates to your web site
Willl guarantee that your web site has fresh reasons for people to come back
Will allow you to be seen as a thought leader in your industry and
Will give you a tool to help cement strategic
Phrasing things this way at least gives people the information and reasons why a blog is important and how it can be used to improve your business/public profile without using a term that people might be afraid of or averse to.

Sure, Jantsch's website is geared for business and increases profits through successful marketing. But really, a library can think of itself as a small business whose profits are providing information and services to our patrons. There are a lot of ideas that Jantsch posts on his blog that can applied to library service.

One thing that I've seen in my short time in the library profession is that librarians (in general) are not very good at marketing themselves. They've never had to be until recent times. There's been no competition for information services until the last five years or so. Now libraries need to get the word out on why going to them for information is a good option to going to Google and typing a few words into the search engine.

Monday, March 13, 2006

And so it begins

I've been posting for years now over at Electric Velocipede. Mostly it's about publishing and science fiction, and some personal things as well. But there's been a fair amount about libraries as well.

Back in 2004 I was working as consultant and I didn't know if work would always be there. On top of this, my wife and I were talking family and homes. And on top of that, we're originally from the Midwest but now live in New Jersey. We wanted to move home and start a family. I didn't know enough technology/programming to shift out of what I was doing into another job. And I didn't know if I liked programming enough to learn more languages and get a different job.

I decided to go back to school and earn a Master's degree in Library and Information Science. I've worked in publishing since 1993. I've worked in bookstores. I've done computer programming work on publisher's fulfillment systems (very similar to an ILS). I love to read. It seemed like everything I was doing was a way to step around and as close to actually doing librarial work without actually doing it.

It was time to go through with it.

Bolstered by reports of an aging field and the wealth of opportunity that afforded me (more on this later), I began my studies. I went to school full-time and worked full-time in Manhattan. It took me almost two hours each way to get to work. On days with school I was gone from before 7 in the morning until 10 at night. I finished the degree in three semesters plus one Summer session.

I have enough now to say about libraries that I think it's high time that I start a second blog to voice my thoughts about them. I have at least a dozen entries from other enhanced librarians that I want to comment on, and another score or so entries from other places that can be related to libraries (or in some cases, ideas that should be brought into libraries).

Many people want to ring the death knell for libraries and books. I'm not here to do that. But I'm not here to maintain the status quo. There are better ways to do the things that libraries are already good at. Libraries are in a state of crisis. People need to be more creative about what a library means and how it's presented to its community.

Let's bring about the death of "We've always done it that way" and do something worthwhile. Let's shake things up.

John Klima