About MHSLA Blog

The MHSLA Blog was developed to meet goals and objectives laid out in MHSLA’s Strategic Plan.

TOPICS:

  • MHSLA Board and Committee activities
  • MHSLA Educational Conference
  • MHSLA members and member institutions
  • Resources for the health sciences librarian
    • Finding and using health information, for reference librarians
    • What’s happening in the health care field that may affect us
    • New technologies that we can use, or at least need to know about

About MHSLA’s electronic communications media:

Because this is new to us, I’d like to clarify a couple of points about the blog, and the differences between MHSLA’s electronic communications media: the listserv, the newsletter, the blog and the website.

The way our listserv is set up allows any member to post to it. Non-members can’t post. So any member of the listserv can start a discussion, ask a question, send a notice, post information; and any other member of the listserv can respond to them. This is the most open communication we have, in which any member can communicate with a large part of our membership. It’s a fairly informal communications medium; someone may post a question on the spur of the moment without going through any editorial process or complying with standards such as using formal, impersonal tone. MHSLA’s listserv is not archived or threaded, so it isn’t possible to call up a previous posting unless you, personally, saved the email message that it came to you in.

The newsletter is published 3 times a year. The newsletter editor (Arlene Weismantel) solicits and receives articles, determines which will be published, edits them if necessary, assembles the newsletter and has it posted to the MHSLA website. This is one-way communication, in that there is no mechanism for the readers to post questions or responses to newsletter articles in the newsletter itself; though of course someone could write a letter to the editor or post a comment about an article on the listserv.

A blog is somewhere between those two types of communication. The blog site has an administrator (me) and one or more authors (at the moment, also me). The postings on the blog are like newsletter articles — some thought goes into each posting; it has some structure (title, complete sentences, paragraphs, etc.); it’s about a single concept or idea; it may be a brief notice or a longer article. One difference is, blog articles are published one-at-a-time on a very frequent basis, rather than being assembled into an issue published less often. The blog also offers an opportunity for interaction in that a “comments” feature is included.

The MHSLA blog is set up so that only registered authors can create a posting (article). We have 33 open spots for authors, so any MHSLA member who is interested in joining the Publications committee (soapbox alert) and posting to the blog on a continuing basis is welcome to do so. If someone has a single topic or article that he or she would like to have posted, but doesn’t want to be a continuing author, they are welcome to email their article to me, just as they might email it to Arlene for the newsletter in response to her call for articles shortly before a newsletter is published.

Blog comments relating to any article, on the other hand, may be posted by anyone. Currently, the blog settings do not require that I approve comments before posting , but they do require that the commenter create a WordPress login ID and give a name and an email address. Only the commenter’s name is posted, not their email address; but I can see it. It is also possible to add a photo to one’s WordPress profile; WordPress calls it an avatar, and it is displayed when a person makes a comment. (You will see my photo with my comments, but not my articles.) As administrator, I can delete a comment if it’s inappropriate or is spam – and unfortunately, spam is a possibility. That’s why each comment is emailed to me at the same time it’s posted.

Blog entries, including comments, are automatically archived. The MHSLA blog has several mechanisms for finding a previous post on a topic: a search box, “tag” entries, and categories. This is one feature not currently offered by any of our other communications options.

Finally, the MHSLA website. Our website is the formal face of our Association. It includes information about our organization for members and non-members. The website has a hierarchical structure, with menus and crosslinks for navigation. An announcement on the MHSLA website stays there until taken off; it doesn’t drop out of sight when newer materials are posted, the way a blog entry would. The website also has an administrator/author (Mike Simmons) who is responsible for creating and posting materials to the site. The website changes as the organization changes; for example, contact information for the new officers and committee chairs is already posted on the Leadership page. However, we would not expect daily or weekly updates the way we would on a blog; it’s just not that easy to change a web page. There is no publicly-available archive of previous information posted on the MHSLA site, though that information might be available through the MHSLA archivist or webmaster.
Please feel free to email me with any questions!

Sandy Swanson

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3 Responses

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