Creating and Assessing a Subject-Based Blog for Current Awareness within a Cancer Care Environment

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Introduction The Health Information Network Calgary (HINC) is comprised of a group of libraries providing information services and resources to urban and rural sites in the Calgary Zone of Alberta Health Services. Establishing a current awareness service is a necessity in any discipline, especially in health care. Web 2.0 and social networks have transformed how health care professionals and researchers create knowledge, access information, collaborate, and disseminate research. One of the earliest forms of social media, blogging has taken the world by storm (1) . Although there is a wealth of literature on the use of blogs in providing current awareness services for libraries, there is a pronounced gap on how blogs are assessed or evaluated, especially for information alert purposes (2) . Background Clients within the HINC subscribe to e-mail alerts and RSS feeds, a trend particularly evident within the Cancer Care environment where a number of researchers have already implemented feed readers to remain aware of current 2 literature. However, they often comment on challenges associated not only with maintaining alerts and managing RSS feeds, but also in selecting and creating alerts for unpublished materials. The need for a librarian-facilitated current awareness strategy became more and more apparent. The literature reviewed addressed the value of an alert, namely to indicate a gap in the participant‘s knowledge, rather than to deliver content the librarians may have perceived as useful (3). The authors saw the creation of a subject-based blog as an opportunity to disseminate current awareness “grey” information to this specific research community. Method/Anticipated Results The Grey Horizon Blog was created in April 2012 using Blogger. The selection and re-aggregation of information involves ongoing assessment of user needs and continuous work on the Blog. A weekly global email-digest listing of the postings will be distributed two months after the launch. Several metrics will be employed in October 2012 to evaluate the Blog. Blogger itself tracks the number of pageviews over time. Google Analytics was set up as it tracks additional information on access and use of the Blog. As clients may be using feed readers to read Blog entries and may thus not visit the Blog at all, Feedburner has also been incorporated to track the number of times that the Blog RSS is accessed, as well as calculating the number of subscribers. A post-survey will be conducted in six months to complement the web statistics data. The additional feedback and comments will help us determine whether the Blog has successfully created an easy platform for users to keep current with unpublished literature, the type of resources found most important, and whether the amount of time spent maintaining the Blog met expectations. Discussion It is anticipated that this case study will portray how to successfully plan a subject-based blog to meet users’ current awareness information needs in grey literature. Further efforts will focus on targeting the Blog to the topic areas in grey literature where users feel more information is needed. The findings from this assessment will direct us to potential marketing opportunities and changing technology that haven’t been fully utilized in our Grey Horizon Blog.
Presented at 14th International Conference on Grey Literature, National Research Council, Rome, November 29-30, 2012
current awareness, cancer care