Friday, January 31, 2014
There was a bit of hub-bub this month about the news that the YALSAblog was re-booting. First Wendy Stephens, the outgoing blog member manager, posted on her blog that the Editorial Advisory Board had been sent email notices that their terms were ending early. Then the Midwinter Board documents went up last week with item #18 YALSAblog Reboot. The blog is also currently seeking a new member manager, though according to the board doc, there will be an interim manager from now until the position is filled.
I think it’s great that YALSA is re-evaluating the blog, though I wish it had been a bit more transparent to the advisory board and manager than it appears it was handled. As mentioned in the board doc, the blog has been pretty much operating as-is since 2006. A lot has changed in the way YALSA communicates information to members, not to mention the changes in the broader information media landscape. As a YALSA member, here are a few things I would like to see from a new YALSA Blog:
- Have a clear vision about how the blog fits into the YALSA communication structure. How is it different than the eNews, the other blogs (especially the new YALS blog), the print YALS, the website, listservs, and wikis? The blog should fill an information-sharing gap. I’m sure part of the declining numbers is due to the dispersed and growth of communication from other YALSA sources. Realistically, can the average member keep up with all of these sources? It should be clear what need the blog fills for professionals who have limited reading time.
- One clear benefit to a blog, as opposed to a print source or even an email, is the ability to link out to other resources. As noted in the board doc, posts are often lacking in links to existing resources. In an ideal world, there would be a central index of all YALSA material, so one could quickly find print articles, blog posts, Wikis, videos, podcasts, etc. on any topic. I have no idea how that would work, but it would be cool!
- Support the online network of YALSA members. There should be more interaction between the blog and YALSA members who write elsewhere online. An active directory of YALSA member blogs is one possibility, as is a Twitter list. People who already contribute online to their own blogs or to other online sources are a key group upon which to draw for posts.
- Extend the conversations that are happening elsewhere online. A lot of discussion happens on Twitter and the listservs, but both of these formats are very transient and don’t have a great way to archive material. One idea would be to highlight the best conversations each week, similar to the current Tweets of the week, or to compile resources on particular topics that are discussed in either format. Also make it clear where to go for more discussion, that is, actively point people toward blog posts and comment threads.
- Provide more coverage of live events, including Midwinter, Annual, PLA, webinars, etc. Assign bloggers to cover different events, whether in-person or compiling Tweets about the event.
- Experiment more with multimedia, especially video and images from conferences.
- Get more voices involved with the blog. Invite guest posts from other associations or professionals with intersecting interests. I’m not sure if bloggers need to commit to a certain number of posts, but I wouldn’t make that a requirement. One of the reasons I haven’t pursued contributing is not knowing what I would regularly write about! On that note, a wishlist of posts that need authors might help someone fill a niche.
- Make the blog more personal. The author’s names are posted, but I would love to be able to click on a name and see more about the author. A profile of the manager and others involved would also be helpful.
- Support professional development of members with more posts on contributing to the profession (how to submit a conference proposal, how to make a poster, doing research), more reviews of professional resources (and not just library-related books!), developing a personal learning network, etc. Depending on how the new badges work, tie those into professional how-to posts. I would love to see something like “So you want to be a teen librarian?” with resources for those considering entering the field.
- Feature old content that is still relevant. Services like LinkWithin automatically list related content. Or create nice link buttons in the sidebar for particularly useful series.
- Reconsider the new design. Can I just say, I really don’t like it?
Those are just a few of my disjointed thoughts about the YALSA Blog. I have no idea if any of these things have already been considered or are completely outside of the realm of feasibility. I have nothing but respect for all of the work the past member managers, advisory boards, bloggers, and YALSA staff have put into the blog up until now. And yes, I’m considering applying for the open Member Manager position and thinking about ways I can contribute to the blog!