Scottish Government Library blog

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Thinking of Blogging best practice

Writing blog content can be challenging

Recently on Saltire (the Scottish Government’s Intranet) my attention was drawn to a blogging course organised by Digital Communications. My experience of blogging was really very little and decided it needed improving!  On checking further I saw that the course on offer was full.  So what next?  It sounded too good an opportunity to miss and decided to make contact with the course organiser and ask if I could just turn up on the day. On the basis if you don’t ask?  I am so glad I did as  I was able to attend this structured, informative and practical session and given a great opportunity to discuss any experience (or not as the case may be!)  on blogging with other attendees.  I am now blogging using my notes, plus discussion hints and tips from our get-together. Guess the ‘proof of the pudding is in the eating’ as they say?

Where to start:

First of all we considered the question – “why blog?”, do people really need to know what we have all been up to? Is the content really going to be of any interest or relevance?  You don’t know until you try but it may help us to consider some of the following points before making a start:

  • Focus your blog on a relevant topic, subject or event that you know about and feel you can write confidently on
  • Use a headline that is informative and will capture attention
  • If your blog is too lengthy or wordy – it’s difficult to engage with readers – so keep check
  • At the same time make sure your blog post isn’t so specific that there isn’t enough people looking for that particular information
  • Know your research process – where and how are you sourcing your information
  • To write good content you must set aside the time to do so

Keep Writing relevant and topical content:

  • Consistency is the key to getting readers you’ve already attracted to return to your blog
  • It takes discipline for most of us to write – so stick with it
  • Informative posts can help answer questions & solve a problem – so think of your content and it’s value
  • The blogs that attract the most readers are the ones with frequent updates
  • Having a co-blogger/author can take some of the pressure off, especially if all contribute regularly
  • If you have a ‘comments’ on your blog, be sure to keep an eye on them – it’s an easy way to involve your audience and get valuable feedback

Maintaining your blog:

  • Plan your blogging activities including writing articles in advance – set aside time in the calendar
  • Take time to evaluate and consider what makes posts popular and more likely to be shared?
  • Usability – consider format so readers can quickly scan the content by using – bulleted or numbered lists, line breaks, bold fonts and images
  • Continue to keep your blog clutter free as it grows and develops – do not add too many links or images
  • Get a colleague to proof read your posts
  • When and where possible continue to promote your blog – use social media e.g. post on Twitter or Facebook

Putting in to practice:

Blogs are a great way of reaching users with information but it is also a good way of sourcing information. Working in the Library we often have to source information from online subscription databases and the internet. Generally we are looking for up to date information or anything published within specific time limits. This information can be used to answer enquiries, to help set up alerts or to help gather evidence for a literature search. Blogs can therefore be a useful and relevant tool to include in any search options.

You will find blog search engines out there and definitely worth investigating. May also be worthwhile to note that evaluation of what your source is important. Make sure any information you source via the web is fit for purpose as anyone can put information on the web!

Morag Higgison
August 8, 2017

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Hello and welcome

We’ve had our training materials available online for a while.  Now we’d also like to share some of our thoughts and ideas on the work we do as government librarians – welcome to the Scottish Government Library blog!

Why now exactly?  Well, as a team we talk about the benefits of blogs and blogging to civil servants in our social media training sessions but most of us haven’t actually tried it ourselves so this would be a bit of practice.  Plus we often get asked what we do.  So our blog will be a place where we’ll write about what we’re working on and what we’re professionally interested in.  It’s a bit of an experiment, really.  We’d also be very interested in any comments you may have too, of course.

We’re a small, happy team of six librarians and four support staff who are based in Edinburgh.  Most of us are at Victoria Quay, next to Leith docks. At work, I’m particularly interested in information literacy (media, digital etc), social media, training and elearning.  One of my jobs is to  help promote collaborative working within the Scottish Government, including the Knowledge Hub. More of all that later…

Jenny Foreman
July 27, 2012