ASIST K-Blog Panel

Friday, November 19, 2004

WRT Question: Time spent reading feeds, blogging

A question was asked in our session (and also in other blogging sessions I attended) about how much time should be expected/budgeted to keep up with feeds and to blog. This is actually a somewhat complicated question, because there are quite a few people who sort of crawl into the internet and don't reappear for hours (days?)! Knowing that our audience is mostly composed of busy professionals narrows the answer.

First, there's ample evidence that librarians at all levels (school, public, academic, corporate) must read the newspapers to adequately serve their customers. See, for example: Juris Dilevko and Elizabeth Dolan, "Reference Work and the Value of Reading Newspapers: An Unobtrusive Study of Telephone Reference Service", Reference & User Services Quarterly v39 n1 (Fall 1999): 71-81 (available full text in Wilson OmniFile Full Text Mega and other places). So, assuming we all know this, I also assume that most librarians are spending time every day to read the local and national papers in addition to the time spent reading professional and trade literature.

If instead of flipping through a paper, if you subscribe to targeted feeds (available from Washington Post, New York Times, and other places), you should actually be quicker and more efficient. It really is much quicker to open your aggregator and scan the headlines than it is to flip through print. Also, if you have a few colleagues who have interests similar to yours, you can scan through the feeds generated from their blogs to see what they've seen that's important and why. In general, you'll have a few "must reads", some things you're reading for a specific project but then may abandon, some "if I have time" reads, etc. Based on the time available, you can read the feeds in that order.

When you're doing targeted environmental scanning for your organization, how do you disseminate the results? When you're reading the papers, trade pubs, journals and you see something of interest, what do you do? My suggestion is to go ahead and blog these items with a little comment why you think that item is important, interesting, wrong, relevant, etc.

If you're doing your environmental scanning for a project team in your organization, then start up a blog for them on the intranet where you can post these observations with links to the full text. As Xiaoli Huang and Dagobert Soergel discuss in their paper presented at ASIST '04 (see pp.156-167 in the proceedings), there are many different types of topical relevance. If you select an article for your customer, and it doesn't show the exact words they use in their papers in the title, how do you explain to them that the paper's worth their time? Try blogging and placing the paper in context (as directly relevant, indirectly relevant, contextually relevant, relevant by comparison, a pointer) with indications of the paper's implications to their project.

Build some trust, get some more work, help your customers be more efficient, improve the bottom line...

Yes, this takes time - but less time than it would take using other methods, and less time than it would take all of your customers to scan all these publications themselves.

Updated seconds later to add paragraph breaks, and then seconds after that to add more paragraph breaks... ckp (ok, so now for the third time, sorry if this appears in your aggregator all over the place)


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