No one can deny that technologies greatly impact libraries, the services they provide, and their evolving role in the information age. I am taking a course on information technology, and the assignment for this unit is to discuss four technologies, their description, how they’re used in libraries, and their expected social impact. I will start with an obvious one.
Blogs, short for “web logs,” can be described as online journals in which users write regular posts, usually on some consistent topic. They are essentially just a type of website, but what is interesting about them is that they allow comments for the postings, facilitating conversation between different users. Blogs are very easy to use and create, taking advantage of software such as this, WordPress. Blogs are used for a variety of reasons, but libraries have recently taken advantage of them as a tool to communicate new content to their users. Since blogs are frequently updated, they go well with RSS Feeds so that users can subscribe to them. Libraries are using blogs to share news about the library, such as new services, as well as upcoming events, fundraisers, etc. Interestingly, the Ann Arbor District Library‘s whole website is actually a blog. Some libraries have blogs intended for specific user groups, such as young adults. An example of this is the Framingham Public Library Young Adult Blog.
As a web tool, blogs are possibly the best at enhancing the ability for individuals to self-publish. It is very easy for someone with an internet connection to create one or several blogs, for any purpose that they wish. This theoretically makes it much easier to let your voice be heard. It promotes free speech and democracy. It also allows for greater communication across boundaries; you can communicate with people on the other side of the world through blog posts and comments. As a fast-growing internet tool, blogs have the ability to spread ideas faster and further than in the past and unite people for a common cause. They can be used as a mechanism for Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), allowing multiple users to post and communicate their ideas. An example of this is the former Library Student Organization (LSO) blog which had approximately 35 contributors. While they are still in their youth, I think it’s clear that over time blogs have the potential to bring with them some significant social changes.