At a recent conference, I was having a conversation with one of the luminaries of library and information science education. We were debating a discussion from the library blogosphere. When I asked what his students thought, he replied somewhat glibly, “Students don’t read library blogs.” Ouch. You mean, they’re not hanging on our every word? What about our poignant insights? I felt like a tree that falls in the forest only to be heard by the other trees.
But maybe some vendors can save the biblioblogosphere (are we still calling it that, cuz boy, it’s hard to type, let alone say). Perhaps in an effort to counter complaints about the authority of blogs, or maybe just because blogs are cool, database aggregators are starting to include blog content in their databases. Of course, I don’t even know how many library blogs are in the list, so it might not apply to us at all. The “Information Science” category at Newstex looks sadly sparse.
EBSCO recently announced Full-Text Blog Content with Historical Archive from Newstex. PR superlatives had LexisNexis firing back in one of those fun but relatively inconsequential vendor skirmishes (I like to call these “battle of the press release”). LexisNexis announced a partnership with Newstex almost a year earlier. Whatever. O.K. It’s cool that blogs are being added.
You may recall the discussion on the list starting in February about the Newstex blogs that have been on LexisNexis Academic since late last year. I’m writing now because a somewhat exaggerated press release has been put out on the PR wires regarding EBSCO and Newstex. Specifically, the press release states that the EBSCO arrangement is unique and that EBSCO is the first to bring this content to academic researchers. I would like to reassure you that there has been no change to LexisNexis coverage of Newstex or to the space-time continuum.
—from Alistair Morrison, Product Manager, LexisNexis Academic, in an e-mail on the LNAcademic discussion list
Unlike existing Web-based blog aggregation services, Newstex actually licenses influential blog content directly from independent bloggers and then takes in each carefully selected blog feed in text format and uses its proprietary NewsRouter technology to scan it in real-time. The resulting blog feeds, news feeds, and historical archives are delivered to EBSCO for distribution to customers in applicable databases.
—from the EBSCOhost Press Release
But my issue has a different scope. I can tell the difference between a blog and a magazine or journal article (in format, at least, if not in content). But has anyone noticed that it’s getting a little harder to distinguish between a blog and a website? It’s like back in the old days when we used to call a “portal” a “homepage.”
When I’m looking for information, I suddenly feel like a library patron who is forced to search one silo for books and another for articles. Why do I search “the Web” with one search box and blogs with another? What does that say about blogs? Before people start yelling “user error!”—yes, I know that the “more” link in the Google search results includes Google Blog Search, and I know that I can add Technorati to the dropdown of my Firefox search box. The whole thing just got me thinking about the parallel with the clichéd “library silo” problem.
I don’t mean to throw fuel on the vendor spat. I think vendors and PR departments make more of these sorts of things than customers ever do. And I like the PR folk at EBSCO and LexisNexis. At some point, maybe there will be a study published by the Surgeon General stating that blogs are a proven cause of high blood pressure. Until ego inflation and deflation are recognized as diseases, it is our only hope.
[This post originally appeared as part of American Libraries’ Hectic Pace Blog and is archived here.]