Monday, April 14, 2014

Hands On Play - Tumblr

Since I already had a Tumblr account previous to the beginning of this project and have already played around with the basics - liking, reblogging, using the ask functions and setting up the layout of my own blog - I decided to focus my hands on experience in investigating the layouts, features and contents of a various number of public library Tumblr blogs.  I chose to look at a range of blogs, from those focused on general services to those targeted specifically at young adults and children (or, more honestly, the parents of children).

For the most part, what I saw was that the librarians updating these blogs pretty evenly balanced direct promotions for library events with other original content - for example, a lot of the blogs I saw were currently posting poetry for National Poetry Month - and reblogged content.  Most of what I saw tied back to books or literacy in some way, but there was a fair amount of content that was just for fun (for example, many of the youth services blogs had a lot of fandom related content: Doctor Who, anime, current teen TV shows).

One particularly cool thing I saw on the blog for Teen Room/teen services of Cambridge Public Library (MA) was an added widget that allowed patrons to make comments even if they did not Tumblr account.  I thought that was particularly clever of them, since it facilitates easier (and more visible!) discussion.

Something that I noticed when taking a closer look at these blogs was surprising to me:  I expected to see a lot more back and forth social exchange taking place through this medium, although I expected it less when it came to children's/adult services and far more when it came to the blogs where the patrons were teens.  Even with the teen blogs, however, I didn't see many notes on any content that was produced by the library itself.

Another thing I looked at as I perused these blogs was how much extra content was included, and also if it was possible to navigate back to the library's page.  Some blogs had absolutely no additional links, some linked to other social media platforms for the library.  Of the 15-20 blogs that I sampled this time, only one linked back to the library's website.  However, I suppose given that the point of these blogs are to market the library to patrons who presumably already know what the main website is, not having a link back is only mildly frustrating, instead of inhibiting further access to the library's services.

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