This weekend, I’m working on the bordering-on-mythological paper on mpow’s blog pilot. To that end, I’ve been trawling the interwebs looking for blog posts, articles… anything documenting libraries’ and the corporate world’s strategies for evaluating the success or otherwise of blogging projects. I’ve been trawling for a while, but I live in hope that it’s just my search skills letting me down, and I’m going to miraculously find the very article I need at the eleventh hour.
As I’ve lamented earlier, libraries are not publicly documenting their evaluations of blogging projects, which is a problem because it makes benchmarking near impossible. Sure, you can still come up with a bunch of metrics and work out a number for each, but how do you know if the number you’re getting it good or bad?
Luckily, through a serendipitous Twitter experience, I’ve managed to track down a couple of people who were willing to share their data. But I need more. More, I say!
Enter Walt Crawford’s Public Library Blogs: 252 Examples. I have to confess, I’ve been meaning to buy and read this book for ages. I finally did buy and read it today, and I wish I’d read it a while back. If you’re responsible for a blogging project, you need to read this study. Especially useful is the grouping of the examples by population served – this allows you to compare your library’s blog’s performance for key metrics against like-sized libraries. I think it’s also a useful tool in setting realistic expectations, especially when it comes to converstatinal intensity (or the number of comments libraries tend to get per post). I wish I’d bought this and shared it with our staff ahead of the pilot.
While Crawford didn’t have access to usage stats, this is still an incredibly useful book.
I do wish, though, that someone would go begging to the library community at large to supply site visits, page views, links clicked and a few other metrics besides, so that we could have a ginormous study alla Walt Crawford’s that includes the kind of statistics he unfortunately didn’t have access to. PhD thesis, anyone? Even to do it for a grouping of libraries (say, public libraries serving populations between 400,000 and 500,000 – obviously, my reasons are entirely altruistic) would be incredibly useful, and you could extrapolate for libraries of different sizes.
As an aside, I love that I can buy a book online and be reading it within two minutes. I wonder if publishers will ever sort out the DRM debate and get pricing right on eBooks so we can do this with anything we might want to read.
Right, enough procrastinating.