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Evaluating Web 2.0: user experiences with public library blogs Michelle McLean - Casey-Cardinia Library Corporation Paul Mercieca – RMIT University
Aims While Libraries, especially public libraries, are heavily involved in develop of Web 2.0 environments, there is a need to understand how these environments are being used Focusing on Blogs as an initial pilot investigation, we attempt to map client use of blog posts developed by CCLC The results from this pilot can be extended to a larger investigation
The need for the investigation CCLC has invested in the development of the blogs, yet there was a need to understand their use and potential impact on the service as a whole Some general trends were identified through current statistics and use logs However there was a need to determine if the blogs
Method Survey administered Monday 24th August to Monday 7th September 2009 Administered electronically and in print Promoted through posts placed on each of CCLC's five blogs highlighted feed on CCLC's homepage Banner added to the top of the homepage printed surveys were administered in the two largest branches and in one of the smaller branches.
Method 99 usable survey results were received 52 online and 47 in print All results were exported (via an Excel file) to SPSS Caveats Pilot survey to identify initial trends of blog use within a single public library organisation. A larger participant sample will determine if the trends are statistically significant Sample was self selected
Multiple blog use Each blog has a specific information focus and is targeted towards different readers An assumption was that blog readers would tend to focus on the blogs that are relevant to their information needs However counts of the use of the blogs suggest that: A total of 40 participants, out of the 99 survey responses (n=99) have used at least one blog on a single occasion Those who have engaged with a blog tend to read more than one blog. Of the 40 participants who have read at least one post, 24 participants (60% of the blog users n=40) have read more than one blog. In considering the promotion of public library blogs While use may be ‘casual’ There may be benefit in cross promotion of blogs
“Hidden” use ‘hidden usage’ of the blog posts was identified While some participants were not directly reading the blogs themselves, they were accessing ‘blog feeds’ Through email / RSS feeds Through posts being fed to the home page of the CCLC website
“Hidden” use ... Email / RSS feeds 26 participants (26% of the respondents n=99) indicated that they had set up either a post feed to their email account or to an RSS reader feeding to an email account was the preferred method as this was established by 21 of the 26 participants who had set up a feed Of the 26 participants, 6 participants indicated that they had not (“never”) used any of the blogs This suggests such participants had not actively visited the individual blogs, yet still benefited from the blogs as an information source to their email accounts.
“Hidden” use ... Feeds to the CCLC homepage ...
“Hidden” use ... 63% of the respondents read the feeds that are displayed on the library home page, even if this was, for some participants, a ‘skim read’ of the content Degree of follow through to the actual blog 46% reading the extended version of the feed 38% reading the blog post on the original blog
Demographic impact The various frequencies of use of the blogs was recoded into ‘use’ and ‘non-use’ Chi-square tests were used to see if there was a difference in use by age and by gender Age and Gender did not make a significant difference in use for most of the blogs local history blog ‘Links to Our Past’ did show a difference for Gender, where males tended to use the blog site more than females
Confirmed expected usage of blogs – use as CMS to disseminate content to users – being read for blog purposes
Unexpected result – amount of use, nearly ½ users had at least scanned content
Unexpected result – number of users who had done so through the library website – importance of our website feeds and dynamic content
Implications Content of the blogs may have relevance to the library users, but the primary access point to this content is through the library homepage Participants were probably not aware that the ‘news items’ were being fed from a blog infrastructure and thus this use is a ‘hidden use’ of the blog content. While the relevant information could simply be posted directly onto the library webpage, the use of blogs allows: Multiple contributors to post content Content to be regularly ‘fed’ from a number of blog sources Constant updating of the library home page. Where there is interest in specific items, the reader can then link through to the original posting for further information.