Newspaper columns and blogs
If the people in a library--from the director on down--can commit to producing one worthwhile blog post about the library every week, or even every month, maybe they should try to get double value: see whether a local paper would run a library column, also posted in the blog.
The background for this list appears in this blog post by Walt Crawford (who wrote this page initially). (This page also appears, in slightly different form and with most or all of the background, as "Newspaper columns and blogs" in the PALINET Leadership Network.)
Known examples of newspaper columns, some mirrored elsewhere
Alamance County (North Carolina)
- Column: Heather Holley-Hall writes a monthly "Accent" column for the Burlington Times News--"a combination of book reviews and general ramblings about libraries, books and other related stuff." To find the column go to the newspaper's website and search for "Heather Holley-Hall" or just "Holley-Hall." The column isn't currently archived or provided as a library blog.
Beloit Public Library (Wisconsin)
- Column: Jeni Schomber writes a monthly library column--"book reviews and general library 'ramblings' about our services, programs, collections and such"--for the Beloit Daily News, which also appears on the newspaper's website. The column is archived on the library website.
Douglas County Libraries (Colorado)
Jamie LaRue, director, writes a newspaper column that also appears as a library blog--and writes a separate blog.
- Column and blog: LaRue writes LaRue's Views in the Douglas County News Press and makes the columns available on what is effectively a blog on the Douglas County Libraries website (it may not use blog software, but it offers items in a stream, in reverse chronological order, with support for comments and with an RSS feed).
- Blog: LaRue also, separately, writes Myliblog, a weblog that is not presented as an official library blog but does have links to the library and a link to the blog on the LaRue's Views page.
- Column: Nikki Ehlers writes a weekly column in The Humboldt Independent, but it doesn't currently show up online and isn't mirrored or archived.
Lake Villa (Illinois)
- Column formerly in newspaper: Bob Watson writes a brief weekly column that appears at the top of Lake Villa's home page. He used to have a weekly column (typical 500-750 word newspaper column length), and currently finds that the brief message works better. According to Watson, the library's PR person does a great job of getting library news and events into the local paper.
- Column and archive: Sue Bowser writes a column, "Check it out," in the Lancaster Sunday News listing five books on a related theme. (You'll find the current version in the Books Page section of the paper's website.) The columns are archived on the library's website--but not as a blog.
Northwest Area (Mississippi)
- Column: Maggie Moran, public service and reference librarian, writes a weekly column, Book Talk, for The Southern Reporter (no website), DeSoto Times-Tribune, Tate County Democrat, Tunica Times, and Winona Times. The column is written on Wednesday mornings then e-mailed to the public relations staff at Northwest Mississippi Community College (NWCC) who then forward it to the newspapers in the service area.
- Blog and archive: The column is archived on Maggie’s personal blog, Maggie Reads. To distinguish an article for the newspaper from regular blog posts, look for the word “copy” in parenthesis by the title of the book such as Greasy Rider (copy) and the tag word booktalk.
- Mirrored: The column is mirrored via the NWCC Library webpage on the right sidebar.
Sanbornton (New Hampshire)
- Column and wiki archive: Cab Vinton writes Speaking Volumes in the Winnisquam Echo. The archive appears in what could be a blog--a wiki page that provides the columns in a newest-first stream. (Sanbornton may be unusual among very small public libraries in using a wiki as a primary communications tool.)
- How big do you need to be to have a newspaper column and blog-equivalent? Sanbornton has 2.2FTE and a service area of 2,850 people.
Sidney (New York)
- Column: Robin Sanford writes a weekly column, Off the Shelf, in The Tri-Town News (which doesn't currently post content online.) The column was suggested by the paper. So far, it's not archived or available on the web or the library's website--but that could change.
Townsville (Queensland, Australia)
- Column and RSS feed: Warren Cheetham and others at the library (Citi Libraries Townsville) write Searchlight, a weekly column in the IT/Computer "Switched On" section of the Townsville Bulletin. Recent columns appear in the Switched On section of the newspaper's website, and at least two online databases pick up the column as part of the newspaper's contents. While the column appeared as part of a library blog in 2005-2006, it now has its own feed and email distribution, described here, with archives available once you've signed up. According to Cheetham,
- The aim of Searchlight is: "to help make your internet searching more effective, efficient and fun, by reviewing search tools, providing hints and tips, and helping with tricky search topics." Our aim was to take the search expertise of librarians, and make it available to a wide audience in a medium they regularly use (newspaper), using language that they understand.
- Possibly inspired by my question, it appears that the Searchlight blog has been revived, so this column now counts as a true column-and-blog combination once again.
Unable to clarify
At j. Baumgart's request, members of the News Division of the Special Libraries Association identified three newspaper columns by librarians, but I have not been able to identify the column in any online form or any reference to it from the library website:
- Savannah Morning News, a fortnightly Sunday column
- Columbus Dispatch, a monthly reference column (that may not be by librarians)
- Providence Journal, an as-space-available column.
If anyone can fill in the links or clarify these, please do so (or send me email, waltcrawford at gmail.com)
Additions to the list
Please add appropriate information if you (or your library) writes a newspaper column--including where it's archived, if it is. Or send email to waltcrawford at gmail.com and I'll update this page...