The Evolution of a Chapter Newsletter

I’ve been quite busy over the past few weeks preparing the latest issue of MIDLINE for publication. Your intrepid chapter editor has been at this for a while now. This is my fifth year as editor. And how the production of MIDLINE has changed!
Under the guidance of my predecessor Cathy Perley, MIDLINE made the transition from a print publication to an electronic one with the Spring 2003 issue. The first issue under my editorial guidance was the Winter 2004 issue. Production was labor intensive. I sent a huge text file with the edited text of the issue along with the issue photographs and typesetting suggestions to the webmaster who then drafted the issue as a webpage. After a couple of cycles of review and editing, it was ready to be announced on the chapter website. Talk about an awkward process. Eventually, I tried my hand at drafting the issue myself using FrontPage. Somehow this managed to make it even more “interesting” for the webmaster. I know just enough html to be dangerous!
Moving the chapter’s web presence to a commercial vendor gave us the opportunity to produce the newsletter more efficiently. Using Movable Type as the publication platform for MIDLINE puts all of the article entry and design in the hands of the newsletter editor with a smaller workload burden on the webmaster. The text editor in MT is easy to use even for the html clueless. It is simple to insert the photographs and links. Document files can even be included as part of a story. See this story as an example. The clickable table of contents and the archives are generated automatically. All of the content is keyword searchable. The RSS feed provides an additional means of delivering the newsletter to our readers. The comments and trackback features mean that the newsletter can become more participatory and conversational. But there is some awkwardness that comes with using blogging software for publishing a “static” publication. One must be very aware of the order of story entry, for example. The first issue produced with MT, November 2006, displays in upside down order in the archival view. Oops!
The chapter also has used Movable Type to produce conference blogs for the 2006 and 2007 chapter meetings. And ConnectMidwest is the latest of the chapter’s efforts to foster information sharing and communication in the Midwest Chapter.
I have been asked many times if I think there is still a need for a quarterly publication of chapter news. And my answer is an emphatic “Yes!” Having the opportunity to blog about chapter events and subjects of interest is a great service to offer our members. But there is always going to be a place for a more formal and permanent report of chapter business and activities.
P.S. Remember: You can earn 1 point toward your AHIP membership by writing a feature article for MIDLINE!

Spreading like wildfire

This week your intrepid blog editor has been watching an idea spread like wildfire through the librarian blog world, also known as the biblioblogosphere. On Sunday evening, Marcus Banks (NOT the NBA Marcus Banks) posted Why Professional Librarian Journals Should Evolve into Blogs. Here is his idea:

I became firmly convinced that the traditional journal model is antiquated for sharing research and knowledge among librarians. A better course is to develop and nurture excellent blogs, with multimedia capabilities and guaranteed preservation of the postings.

David Rothman picked it up right away Monday and included the slide show that Marcus used to present his librarian blog survey results. (Yikes, my poor old Gateway takes a long time to load this page with the embedded slide show.)
T. Scott was on it by Tuesday early with Editing and Peer Review. Dean Giustini chimed in later in the day with Blogs Destabilize LIS Publishing – But Research.
Then David Rothman posted about it again later in the day with Troubled Tuesday, commenting on T. Scott and Dean Giustini and noting that LibraryStuff and LIS News had also posted the link for their readers.
Talk about a flurry of activity! Read about it yourself. What do you think?
Your intrepid blog editor thinks that for for some librarians like herself, blogs have already replaced professional journals as the primary means of “keeping up” with developments in the field. “What’s the latest and how can it be useful in my library?” just cannot be answered in peer-reviewed journals. The time to publication is too long. I hate to admit it, but the latest issue of JMLA is sitting back in the office on my desk with a bookmark at the Janet Doe lecture, still waiting to be read.

Getting Noticed

So now that we have a chapter blog, how do we get readers? Karen, our intrepid Communications Committee Chair, asked this question yesterday during our committee meeting via conference call. Well, says your intrepid blog editor, I will be posting this week to ConnectMidwest about this very subject! Because why blog if no one reads!
I snagged two useful posts about this in my feed reader last month:

One tactic that your intrepid blog editor used to increase the visibility of Conference Call 2007 was to shamelessly invite some popular libraryworld bloggers to check out the blog and mention it in their blogs. As I mentioned before, I particularly enjoyed the crossover posts with T. Scott and our MLA Pres.

Web 3.0 and the Search for Meaning

ARGH! Just as I am trying to figure out Web 2.0, I find out that Web 3.0 is on its way!
I’ve been pondering these issues particularly since the upcoming MLA Educational Webcast is entitled Web 2.0 Principles and Best Practices: Discovering the Participatory Web. I like that phrase “participatory web” as a description, even better than the term “social media” used in the tagline for this blog. Here is the Wikipedia definition: “…a perceived second generation of web-based communities and hosted services (such as social-networking sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies) which aim to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing between users.”
During January, there has been considerable discussion about the concept of Web 2.0 and its corollary Library 2.0 in librarian blogs. For a taste of the discussion, sample these posts by David Rothman, John Blyberg, and maybe even try the biting, sarcastic wit of Annoyed Librarian.
Have you seen Dean Giustini’s BMJ editorial Web 3.0 and medicine: Make way for the semantic web? I printed out the PDF and slogged through it this morning. The table contrasting Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 was very useful. If the next big thing will be the semantic web, then I’m all for it. As an ex-cataloger, I have never felt very comfortable with the concept of folksonomies and uncontrolled vocabularies. Just adding more words somehow seems to make things more confusing and searching more difficult. Dean Giustini has linked to a great video explaining the semantic web over at the UBC Academic Search — Google Scholar Blog.