Blogging the Difference Between Academic Medical Librarians and Hospital Librarians
Melissa Rethlefsen has a very interesting and in depth post analyzing the Social Networking Software survey. The Social Networking Survey looked at many types of social networking software and medical librarians opinions and usage. In her post Melissa just focuses on blogs.
After analyzing the data on blogs she found:
- Hospital Librarians are significantly more likely to never use blogs in their professional lives
- Academic Librarians are significantly more likely to use blogs daily in their professional lives
- Hospital Librarians are more likely to think blogs are of little importance to the MLA.
- Academic Librarians are more likely to think blogs are very important to the MLA.
- Respondents with less than 3 years of library experience were twice as likely to use blogs daily in their personal and profession lives
So what does all of this mean? As David Rothman writes, What do hospital librarians have against blogs?
I have some ideas.
Hospital librarians are usually in small one or two person libraries. A big hospital library has more than three employees. Why does this matter? Hospital librarians feel they are always pressed for time. Since there is only one or two of them around to run the library, then they must make the most of their time. Ironic. Since I think reading blogs through a feed reader is a quick and efficient way to stay up to date on library trends, news, and information. Apparently not everyone feels that way. However, I have a question. How often are these same people on email reading their listserv email? That is one valid method for keeping up to date, but that too takes time and it probably takes more than you think. Try going one whole day without checking email and see how much you can accomplish. I am not advocating that busy librarians junk their email lists in favor of RSS feeds. On the contrary, I am just stating that keeping up to date in the profession takes a little bit of time out of your day, I think librarians perceive blog taking more time blogs they are a new thing. Email has been around for a l-o-n-g time and I am sure there were librarians out there who said they didn't have time for it when it first came on to the scene.
Academic medical and hospital librarians also seem to have completely different relationships with their IT departments. I confess, I drool like a little kid looking into a candy store every time I go to conferences or read about academic medical librarians doing really cool things with technology. Academic medical librarians tend to have more flexibility when dealing with IT issues. Because they are a part of a university environment they have a more open system. They are surrounded by young people continually discovering and adapting new technologies. They also are more likely to partner with a programming geek in IT or computer services who can help create cool programs, add ons, and things for the library. Hospital librarians, not so much. Most hospital librarian reports regarding their IT department are often adversarial. Some hospital librarians were unable to even have an OPAC until ASP hosted models eliminated the need for a library or institutionally maintained server. Many hospital librarians cannot use web based email systems, view online medical videos, use or view wikis, listen to or download podcasts, store files on the web server, create flash or Captiva type instructional programs, offer proxy services for off campus access to resources, or even create their own Intranet or Internet library web pages. So it isn't surprising that hospital librarians are probably less likely to use new web tools. Additionally, these restrictions can have a negative impact on a hospital librarian's willingness to learn new technologies. Think about how you would feel if at every opportunity to try and do something new you are told no and barriers were erected to prevent any attempts.
These are just some of my thoughts as to why hospital librarians are less interested in blogs than their academic counterparts.