Baruch's reference blog
I am really pleased with the way that our library's reference blog, Reference at Newman Library, has continued to thrive after being launched four years ago. We've now posted over 1300 messages (and hundreds of comments, too); our weekly average is about a dozen posts.
When we started the blog, it was intended to do away with the informal and haphazard systems we had to notify each other at the desk of technical problems and to alert each other to new resources and tools. We had been using:
- notes taped to the desk
- a printed reference manual in a 3-ring binder, which is now replaced by our password-protected reference wiki (screenshots)
- emails on internal listservs
- word-of-mouth (i.e., tell the person coming on after you at the desk what to watch out for)
Since we started our blog in Blogger in the days long ago when the service did not offer categories or tags, I've been relying on a del.icio.us account I created to tag all the posts and give multiple entry points back to the content. Every time there's a new post, I tag it in del.icio.us. A link to the del.icio.us index can be found on right column of the blog, allowing my colleagues to scan the subjects covered already on blog posts. There's also a search box, which I hear gets pounded a lot by the staff trying to track down content they recall having seen.
Over time, the blog has turned into a repository of reference question and answer pairs. We often post stumpers to the blog or notable reference questions tied to assignments, which lately have been leading to more and more comments and suggestions from librarians. It's kinda interesting that if you Google Apple audited financial data the first hit is a post from our blog about what database to use to find this information.
As someone who started working at Baruch's library as an adjunct, I know how out of the loop you can feel when you miss out on staff meetings and informal conversations during the workday. A number of the adjuncts have mentioned to me that the blog (and the wiki) are invaluable to them for finding out about things that they might not have otherwise heard of.
Now if only I could convince my colleagues to use Bloglines or Google Reader to keep up with posts from the reference blog (as well as others they might enjoy)...