TalkLeft, Boing Boing, and Scrappleface: The Phenomenon of Weblogs and Their Impact on Library Technical Services

By Moeller, Paul; Rupp, Nathan | Library Resources & Technical Services, January 2005 | Go to article overview

TalkLeft, Boing Boing, and Scrappleface: The Phenomenon of Weblogs and Their Impact on Library Technical Services


Moeller, Paul, Rupp, Nathan, Library Resources & Technical Services


In this paper, we discuss weblogs (blogs), their impact on society, whether they should be considered for inclusion in library collections, and their bibliographic nature. We describe using several top blog lists to help select a blog appropriate for cataloging and inclusion in our libraries" political science collections. Lastly, we compare our record with two other blogs that have been cataloged already and whose records are included in a national bibliographic utility.

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Although "TalkLeft," "Boing Boing," and "Scrappleface" sound like they could be characters from a children's television show, they are not. They are three examples of what have come to be known as weblogs, or, more simply, blogs. Since their introduction in the late 1990s, blogs have come to play an important part in how many members of society publish and gather information. Like DVDs, general Internet resources, CD-ROMs, interactive multimedia, and a host of other formats before them, blogs are another type of information resource librarians have had to begin to consider. This paper will define blogs, describe their impact on society, discuss how they might fit into a library's collection development plan, and discuss how they might be cataloged.

Definition

Blogs are Web sites with frequently updated series of essays about topics of importance to the author. Anyone posting a blog can update it as many times as he or she wants, using hypertext links to point to the actual Web sites being discussed. When blogs were first introduced, they were mainly a collection of links to other sites that the author felt were important. As software such as that found at blogger.com has become available, nearly anyone--even those with no experience in creating Web pages--is able to create a blog, and the content of blogs has come to resemble a person's diary instead of a collection of essays with links. (1) Just as in a real diary, these entries are, for the most part, organized by date and are often short snippets of the blog creator's thoughts. Unlike diaries, blogs usually have a subject focus, such as politics, music, religion, or book arts.

Types

Amateurs and hobbyists are not the only ones creating blogs. After all, if the only blogs out there were ones in which the creators talked about their day and linked to sites that were of interest to them, one would have to question the importance of blogs. Blogs also are being used by the mainstream media, in politics, in business, and in many other fields.

Mainstream media outlets such as the New York Times have begun to maintain blogs, which often link to stories in other newspapers--a practice usually an anathema to the news industry. Other media outlets, from the Boulder, Colorado, Daily Camera to CNN, have begun employing blogs as a means of further connecting with their audience. The Daily Camera, a local newspaper, has blogs tracking Boulder's music and nightlife scenes as well as a blog hosted by the editor of the paper. As part of its coverage of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, CNN.com offered CNN's Convention Blog, featuring contributions from CNN correspondents, anchors, analysts, and guests. According to the New York Times, the Democratic Party gave press credentials to about a dozen bloggers for its convention, and the Republican Party planned to issue between ten and twenty for its meeting. (2)

The influence of blogs in the political realm already has been noteworthy. In early 2004, blogs were written in support of both the Howard Dean and John Kerry presidential primary campaigns. Blogs have even been used to bring down politicians. For example, the controversy over Trent Lott's remarks about Strom Thurmond's past segregationist positions was largely ignored by the mainstream media; only when bloggers continued to write about the issue was it picked up by the larger media outlets, forcing Lott to eventually resign his position as Senate majority leader. …

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