14 Jun 2016

CONUL ANLTC Library Assistant Award 2016: A Captive Audience

*Joint Second Prize, won by Bernie Gardiner, Maynooth University*

A Captive Audience

Capturing an audience is probably something every blogger aspires to, holding on to the audience is the key to a successful blog, but what happens if you have a short time frame in which to engage your readers?  The depth of information you wish to impart to your audience is vast.  The window of success or failure hangs heavy when you have a tight deadline and you have what appears to be an insurmountable task.  Did I mention you have to create the blog from scratch?

Creating from scratch is such an unusual expression; it prompted me to look at synonyms for the word scratch.  These include cut, graze, score, nick and mark.  If you put a capital letter on the words Nick and Mark you have two potential names for your next born, trusting that your next born is a boy of course.  Still we are living in a time of great enlightenment so why restrict yourself?  It is perfectly acceptable to call your child whatever you please, well within reason perhaps.  Plank may not serve in your child’s best interest when he’s sixteen and applying for a part-time job in the local hardware store.

In my marvelling at the English language and my subsequent ramblings, I’ve probably lost your attention; as your mind has likely wandered toward the many unusual names people call their babies. If you have a burning need to investigate baby names further why not listen to the soothing tones of the late Frank McCourt as he pronounces two hundred Irish names and their meanings.
Oh but maybe wait until after you have finished reading this post.

So back to describing the dilemma in which I found myself.  Such a happening occurred when I was approached by our Deputy Librarian with the very novel idea of creating a blog for the purpose of Quality Review.  In 2015 Maynooth University were about to commence a review under the third cycle of reviews. The library agreed to be the first university department to undertake a review.
The proposed blog would complement the internal Self-Assessment Report to be produced as part of the quality review process. The blog would potentially offer the reviewer a snapshot of library activity and an essence of the level of library engagement with the university and wider community.  It would be necessary to capture and condense the undertaking of the library for the review period 2010-2015 and present this to the reviews in a lively engaging format.

I was very fortunate in that I was not alone in this mammoth task.  I would collaborate with my colleague Emma on the project.  It was a unique opportunity for us to work together and little did we know at the time that it would lead to many other challenges and undertakings.  Fortunately we worked very well together each bringing their own skills and talents to the process.  Emma is a wonderful skilled artist and this is evident in our Quality Review blog.  We discovered early on that I worked using HTML code while Emma worked with the visual in Wordpress, our chosen online publishing platform for producing the blog.

I would highly recommend Wordpress to any aspiring bloggers as it can be used for creating websites, blogs and apps. There is a wide variety of free themes (looks) to choose from, with several more available in their premium range at a cost. You can link the blog site to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to draw in the crowds. WordPress software is user friendly and lends itself well to learning as you go.

So back to creating a blog from scratch; did we make our Mark?  Dreadful and shameless pun intended, we did and in the Nick of time! The blog went live with the link given to the internal and external reviews prior to the visit to the library. The feedback we received about the blog is testament to its usefulness.  As part of the process we created videos to help make the reviewers experience be more immediate and personal.  We wanted the reviewers to have a lasting impression of Maynooth, a good impression that is and thankfully we achieved our goal.

Screenshot of the Collections page of the Maynooth University Library QR Blog 2015 

So you may be wondering, well that is, if you are still reading this post, why mention Mark and Nick and unusual baby names in this post?  It is simply to point out that you can blog about anything, it’s capturing your audience that really helps you get your message out there.  People will always be on the alert for new possibilities for communication.  Ten years from now we are unlikely to be using blogs but then again we can’t see the future that’s what makes this exciting and interesting, which is why I really like what I do.


TED Talk Takeaways: 8 Ways to Hook Your Audience – tips for helping you capture an audience; the presentation is best viewed using Google Chrome


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