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Christina's LIS Rant
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
  Evaluating Blogs, again.
I have three main varieties of evaluating library reference service in my mind:
  1. 55% rule -- known question/answer sets, the reference person has to get the answer correct and complete with a full citation

  2. LibQual (tm?) - esque -- comparing expectations with delivery

  3. Durrance's proposed -- would you ask this person for help again? (see (Durrance 1995) and (Durrance 1989-))
(These are in practical terms -- not if you're studying information need, but if you're trying to improve your service)It seems we're somewhat in the same boat with some of the discussion on blog evaluation/ranking. Method 1 above overly simplifies the reference process and pretends that there are correct and complete answers. Wrapped in to that is that the librarian has asked the correct questions to have correctly negotiated what the customer wants. (In fact, that's why it's 55% -- it's really hard to get all that done every time). Similarly, we'd like to pretend that there's an objective (and useful) measure of a blog's popularity, reach or usefulness or whatever. Well that all depends on the user – appropriateness for the task, the mood… other things like writing style, age, part of the country…

I subscribe to more than 200 feeds. Of these, there are probably 10 that are must-reads. Some are “when I have the chance.” Others are “well I feel I have to be loyal and be listed publicly as a subscriber but I really don’t want to waste time reading.” From this, you can see that you can't use my subscriptions to learn anything about a blog. BTW -- my subscriptions in my aggregator generate my blogroll automatically. Also, I can only subscribe to STLQ, EngLib, and Confessions of a Science Librarian in one place – I’ve chosen “science” over “LIS” – but that means they’re not on this blog’s blogroll. They are more important to me than some of the others in the LIS folder.

Ok, how about where I link to? Have I ever linked to EngLib? It’s very important to me, but I’m not sending it traffic (oh dear, well here then).

I could go on and on. Let me just say – we’re doing a lot of looking at the numbers; but we should probably add to that a general survey of the blog-reading, library-interested public to see what they feel is important. Can we do a #3 type of evaluation? (Am I volunteering, uh-oh)

update: um, qualitative evaluation? and can't not can about using my blog ...

Reference List

1. Durrance, Joan C. 15 April 1989-. REFERENCE SUCCESS: Does the 55 Percent Rule Tell the Whole Story? Library Journal: Library Journal 114, no. 7: 31-6.
2. ________. 1995. Factors that influence reference success: What makes questioners willing to return? Reference Librarian: Reference Librarian, no. 49/50: 243.
 
Comments:
Thanks for the traffic Christina! :)

I agree with you that so far, blog evaluation has been too much on the quantitative side. There is definitely room for qualitative components.
 
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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
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