Child’s Follies @ New Zealand

3 12 2011

New Zealand

The photo above was taken by commonwealthlibraries.

I think it is time we head back to New Zealand for an examination of the National Library of New Zealand’s blogosphere.  How does a national library engage with its users through text?  And, more importantly in this post, how does the National Library of New Zealand address the reading habits of children via social media?

National Library of New Zealand Home Page

The National Library of New Zealand’s home page is currently in a state of transition.  The library is undergoing a process to revitalize its online presence.  Users may chose to view their home page in its original form or select a beta version.

The original home page for the library is premised on a very simple design.  The page contains only one photograph which displays items from their collection, ensuring that their readers are not overcome with a bombardment of images.  The home page provides users with many hyperlinks to other areas of the website, such as the catalogue and digitized records.  However, the home page does lack a catalogue search function.  I think that most users of the library would visit their website in order to locate material in the catalogue – thus, not having a catalogue search function on the home page is unsettling for me.

The beta version of the National Library of New Zealand website is very streamlined and easy to use.  The beta version of the library’s website does address the original site’s lack of a catalogue search feature on the home page.  Users are enabled to search the catalogue directly on the library’s home page.  Furthermore, the library’s Twitter feed has a very large display at the bottom of the home page in order to keep users updated with the library’s and New Zealand’s most current information.

Users must search both of the websites in order to access the National Library of New Zealand’s blogs.  However, search and search as I might, I could not find links to the library’s blogs while on their beta website.  But, if you look hard enough you will find little teeny links for social media at the bottom of the National Library of New Zealand’s home page of the original library’s website.  If you click onto the link that says “Create a Reader” you will be taken to a page that helps parents and teachers assist youth with reading.

Create Readers Blog

Create Readers, hosted by the National Library of New Zealand, works as a readers advisory site for teachers and students assisting the reading habits of youth.

Amy  Porterfield, a writer at Social Media Examiner, states in her article 5 Tips for Creating Shareable Blog Content, that posts should be uploaded consistently.  Furthermore, Derek Halpern at Social Triggers  claims within his post How to Craft Contagious Content that blog posts should contain content that is useful and practical for its audience.  The National Library of New Zealand is able to do just that in their Create Readers blog.

Create Readers is updated frequently throughout the week and provides long descriptions of the library’s material for children and teenagers.  The library discusses the main themes and plots of the books, as seen in Dylan’s post Mihipeka: Call of an elder Karanga a te Kuia.  Furthermore, unique to this blog is its comment on the age appropriateness of each work.  For example, the Mihipeka post is described as a resource for secondary school students.  Posts are written in an active and engaging writing style which causes the library’s social media audience to respond.  This may be seen in the numerous comments related to Dylan’s post Tessa’s Top Title: Week 5.

Create Readers is a user-friendly blog.  The National Library of New Zealand has sought to create a highly organized blog.  The blog utilizes many different categories which would help users who are unfamiliar with social media to navigate throughout its content.  A search feature is located at the top of the right hand corner of the page.  Furthermore, the blog uses categorizes extensively to organize posts by suitable reading ages, materials related to the Maori, books about relationships, read-aloud books, reluctant readers, and many different genres.  The blog’s organization would thus make it simple to locate information on a certain type of book for a particular age group.

This blog targets a specific user group – those with children in their lives.  I will admit that I am a university student who has had little experience with children.  I do think this resource would be useful for parents or teachers who wish to select age appropriate books for children or even just explore what is currently at the library.  If I did have children and lived in New Zealand, I would probably explore this website regularly due to its strong organization and engaging writing style.  However, the blog’s content is inapplicable in my life at the moment.

 

Improvements

I find there are two problems with Create Readers:

1.  The blog is intended to provide information on children’s books… but where are the children’s voices?

I feel that this blog could be more useful if it also incorporated materials which were attractive to children who might read the blog online.  I feel that the blog is purporting a very top-down reading method.  Create Readers seems to be suggesting that adults provide children with ‘suitable’ materials… why can’t children select their own books?  I think that the blog could be made more child-friendly in order to enable both parents and children to sit down at a computer station and read about the library’s materials.

2.  Access

Access is a major problem with Create Readers.  It was very hard to locate the blog on the original National Library of New Zealand’s website and impossible to do so on their beta website.  Social media is a powerful tool that should not be placed at the bottom of a website’s footer.  I think the National Library of New Zealand could place a greater emphasis on their blogs through proudly promoting them on their website.

 

How does it all fit?

The National Library of New Zealand hosts another blog, Libraries and Learning Blog, which is a specific tool for school librarians.  This blog is much more technical than Create Readers which acts as a readers advisory blog.  However, it does provide pertinent information for librarians serving the information needs of children and youth.  The National Library of New Zealand also has a Twitter account, which provides information on events and New Zealand in general, and a Flickr account containing images of books and materials from their collection.  Neither of these resources interact with the Create Readers blog.

The National Library of New Zealand uses blogs in order to provide parents, teachers, and librarians information on the library’s children resources.  Social media is also used by the library in order to promote programming events and their collections.  Thus, the library is able to address the multiple information needs of its users through incorporating many social media tools.

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