Chiming in on a new service or a review of a hip new book at the Brookfield Public Library has never been easier, or more fun. Library staff have set up two news blogs?”an adult services site and a youth services one?”that supplement what’s on the main library Web page.
The blogs also should help capture the interest of some elusive patrons, Youth Services Librarian Cindy Moriarity said.
“We’re trying to get kids more interested in the library by letting them know what books and videos we have in the collection,” Moriarity said.
“I think a blog is more easily accessible for that group, plus it’s interactive. And it’s very easy to update.”
The library’s latest plunge into cyberspace is apparently working, based on initial responses to a posting on the possibility of hosting network gaming.
“Awsome! (sic),” blogger “modmonkey” said.
Blogs allow dialogue between the Web host and visitor on a range of issues. Libraries are trying to communicate with many Internet users who may spend more time online than in line at the local library.
“It reaches people who are unable to come
into a library, whether it’s because they are handicapped or just don’t have the time,” said Jenny Levine, the strategy guide for Metropolitan Library System, and helps libraries set up blogs.
Nearby libraries that host blogs include Western Springs, LaGrange and LaGrange Park, she said.
Moriarity said the Brookfield library blogs, which were launched in December, are another resource for patrons. Postings on the adult services blog include an update on the online catalog to announcing a new express workstation to reviews of new books on Amazon.com.
“So far, I think the greatest benefit for the library is that it’s easy to update programs and provide current information,” said Rana Hutchinson, head of Reference and Electronic Services at Brookfield library.
Creating the blogs was an in-house project, done at minimal cost.
Moriarity, who is trained in Web page design, set up the youth services site with help from Blogger.com, a site that provides free templates and instruction on creating a blog.
Young people in fifth grade to high school should particularly enjoy the library’s youth services blog, Moriarity said.
“We are trying to take more of an initiative for young adult programming,” she said.
Open the youth services blog and you find links to Sparknotes, a study-guide site, Teenreads.com, which recently reviewed an Oprah book selection and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and information on library programs.
Bloggers also can give feedback on whether the library should host an Xbox network game.
“A lot of libraries are getting into gaming because it’s a great way to get kids into the library,” Moriarity said. “Also, there are a lot of skills involved in gaming.”
One blogger left an enthusiastic response to a posting on “manga,” a Japanese comic book-style series written in English. Another complimented the new site.
“What a great blog! Our library is looking into using blogs but have yet to start one,” blogger “swordsmith” said on the Adult Services blog.
Moriarity monitors the Youth Services blog and reviews comments before she places them on the page for public viewing. To publicize the new site, post cards were sent to youngsters on the library’s mailing list.
One suburban library uses a blog as a kind of Internet town hall, Levine said. People can visit a Flossmoor Public Library blog and offer opinions on issues, such as ways the library can improve.
“That is another thing we encourage member libraries to take on because of their role in the community,” Levine said.
Brookfield Library Director Kim Litland said bloggers can keep tabs on their favorite sites by creating an account on Bloglines.com.
The library has hired a consultant to redesign the main library Web site, a project that should be completed by late August. If you have a suggestion on how to make the site more user-friendly, you can leave a message on the Adult Services blog.
Installation of the SWAN System, the Metropolitan Library System’s interlibrary online catalog, also should be up and running by August, Litland said.
The library is spending about $60,000 to convert to the MLS catalog, she said. When the job is completed, library customers will be able to quickly learn whether a title is available in 78 suburban libraries.
“The huge benefit to our patrons is that they are not limited to what we own,” Litland said.
? Check out the library’s main Web site at www.brookfield.lib.il.us. Bloggers can interact with Adult Services staff at www.brookfieldpubliclibrary.blogspot.com and Youth Services at www.bfyablog.blogspot.com. To learn more, call youth services librarian Cindy Moriarity or Rana Hutchinson, head of references and electronic services, at 485-6917.