What use is a blog?

Spurred by a spate of positive comments about, first, the Chew blog and now Fondly, Pennsylvania, I have been thinking a lot about how readers use the information they gather from following our blog offerings.

I was really pleased to know that Seth Bruggeman has been using our blogs in his Public History and American Studies classes at Temple, and equally excited to have Timothy, one of Seth’s students, blogging with us here.  I know that several other professors have used the Chew blog in their history courses, and I recently heard from Matt Herbison that Susan Davis has also used the Chew blog in her archives courses at Drexel.  All of this leaves me cheering.  I have connected with other archives bloggers about what they’re doing, and it has helped me to shape my ideas about how to use this valuable resource.  This whole digital community idea seems to be unfolding beautifully.  The only part missing is direct feedback from users.

How do we know what will mean something to you, our dear readers?  How can we keep you reading along?  How can we serve up the most interesting, tantalizing behind the scenes views from our shop?


I guess, in many ways, this is always the problem with information management.  We provide many tools to our users, but it is sometimes difficult to know which ones serve them best.  So we do user studies or solicit feedback from our patrons.  Or we just guess.

Up until now, we’ve just been guessing here at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.  We’re putting out the stories of what we’re doing, and people seem to be reading along, but we don’t really know why.  Is it because we have a nice look about us?  Do you appreciate our sometimes serious, sometimes silly approach?  Or is it really the collections that grab you?  What pleases you?

No, really, I’m asking…

I would love to hear from you–any and all of you–about how you use our blogs.  Please leave us a comment to tell us what you love, what you wish there were more of, and even what you could really do without.  Tell us what you do with the information you gather here–is it sheerly for pleasure?  Are you an archivist, conservator, or historian who likes to keep up with the field?  What use is this blog to you?  I would especially encourage those of you who were followers of the Chew blog and have now migrated to Fondly, Pennsylvania to respond.  I really look forward to hearing from some of you.

Thank you for reading, and for your thoughtful feedback.

Fondly,  Cathleen


4 thoughts on “What use is a blog?

  1. Applause, applause for considering the user/customer experience! Blogs have such an ability to share information, build connections and community and supplement the real world experience. I’ve only discovered this site fairly recently and so need to explore more before I respond to your question (if I may). The HSP has such rich archives — I’ve always enjoyed my visits there and am looking forward to you realizing the wonderful potential of sharing those resources via the internet.

    • Thank you for your response. We are fairly new to exploring this medium for sharing our collections, so any feedback–now or in the future–is welcome.
      Thanks for reading!

  2. Your item about the secrets of painless rehousing reminded me that I wanted to respond to your question in this entry. I frequently recommended the Chew blog to fellow/new archivists for its wonderful descriptions of the regular activities in an archives. Of most interest are the description and photos of the work in progress and the workspace. I saved several for future reference when making budget requests. I am glad to see that the new blog will continue to give a view behind the scenes. I also appreciated the entry last month about a controversial event at HSP; such an open and thoughtful account is a credit to the professionalism of your staff.

    When another archivist asks me what blogs I find worth following I used to say ArchivesNext for the big picture in archivy and Chew for the well-run reality. Now I will replace Chew with Fondly. Oh, and a daily skim of ArchivesBlogs, the syndicated blog aggregator, to find those great blogs like Fondly.

    • What a wonderful compliment! Thank you so much for this thoughtful feedback. When I conceived of the Chew blog, it was because I felt like the behind-the-scenes work is such a mystery, not only to the general public but to many historians and other frequent users of archives. I thought it would serve our profession well to have more people see how hard the work we actually do is, and perhaps give them a sense of the weight of the decisions we have to make as we process materials.

      I am so glad to know that this element of the blog is appealing and helpful. I will keep those entries coming!
      Thank you again for your response.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s