ILA Best Practices

Proper “Voice” for Library Blogging

Posted on: February 28, 2013

Like lots of public library staff, the we at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library like to make book/DVD/CD recommendations as part of a “Staff Choices” blog. We’re on the way to opening that up to quite a few more staff members, so we thought we should try to have some consistency in our entries, while still allowing for posters’ personal perspectives to shine.

Our main concern is that we wanted the posts to be fun and engaging, not merely plot summaries followed by read-alikes, etc. Still, we need to balance that sense of personality and fun with a degree of professionalism. With that in mind, we came up with the following blogging guidelines (which are posted on or staff wiki).

Do you have something similar at your own library? How do you approach shared blogging?

“Staff Choices” Blogging at AHML

The Staff Choices blog is a dynamic virtual destination designed to help customers discover, learn about, and engage around books, movies, TV shows, music, and games. A variety of bloggers will lend their unique voices to describe materials in ways which identify the library as a credible source, invite engagement, and ultimately promote circulation. While there is a focus on popular materials and current topics, bloggers may also introduce lesser known items which may attract community interest.

  1. Focus on books, movies, TV shows, music, games, and other popular materials in our collection. Topics should be of interest to you and your potential audience.
  2. Be positive, friendly, and conversational. Write as if you’re talking with a friend without being too personal. Express honest opinions without bashing a book or author. Humor is always good!
  3. Political and religious viewpoints of your own should not be expressed (no agendas) and posts should be free of any potentially offensive stereotypes (racial, ethnic, sexual). Stay clear of endorsing or taking a stance on controversial topics, but you can state the facts in order to tell people about an item.
  4. Capture the reader’s interest immediately with the title of the post (not necessarily the title of an item) and your first line.
  5. Be as concise as possible. Keep your blog post under 400 words. Bulleted lists help break up long paragraphs and make it easier for readers to see a lot of information at a glance.
  6. Make links meaningful. Do not use “click here” or use an entire URL as your link text. Link to specific items and searches in the catalog.
  7. Add images and videos when appropriate. Include one cover image, even if mentioning several items.
  8. Choose at least one “blog term” to help organize your posts and make them findable by readers.
  9. Use bold and italics sparingly; do not use underlining for emphasis. Do not capitalize “library” unless starting a sentence with it.
  10. Proofread before you publish. Make sure your post is grammatically correct and free of typos.

–Bill Pardue
Arlington Heights Memorial Library
bpardue@ahml.info

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