Friday, August 30, 2013

PL 21/13: Ten ways of improving ProfSpeak

Filed under: #ifladial, #wlic2013, #wlic2014 — Tags: — plinius @ 6:57 am

IFLA is run by volunteers.

Since it is a big and complicated organization, good internal communications is a must. Last year, in Helsinki, I was part of a new group – the IFLAdial – that asked for more transparency, more dialogue and better use of social media within IFLA .

The picture, by Mark Soh, is included in the IFLA Express Team photo set.

The chair of the Professional Committee – Ann Okerson – started an open blog to improve communication between the Committee and the IFLA sections. The initiative was welcomed by IFLAdial. The blog ProfSpeak (Professionally Speaking) in itself was a good – and also symbolic – step forward.

But to engage its intended audience, it needs to be improved . Below I list ten suggestions for doing so.

The proposals reflect my personal experience with blogging and other social media dring the last decade – and also my understanding of the consensus among experienced bloggers in librarianship, education and research.

  1. The first and most important point is dialogue: the editor or the PC must respond, in the comment field, to the questions and suggestions raised in the comments. Without conversation and personal feedback, people quickly loose interest.
  2. In social media we are accustomed to immediate publication of comments. It should, at least, not be necessary to moderate comments by people who have had earlier comments approved. WordPress has a mechanism for doing that.
  3. At the moment, section officers and members can not use this blog to raise issues. We can only respond to issues that the editors bring up. To encourage dialogue, that policy should be changed.
  4. In 2013, social media people tend to follow Twitter streams rather than blog post aggregators. To promote ProfSpeak, you could use an existing Twitter account ( or set up a new one) and program ProfSpeak to create a tweet (with link) every time a new blog post is published.
  5. Use standard WordPress widgets to show the (initial) text of new comments in a separate column to the right of the main text. That makes the blog more lively.
  6. Contributors need to know whether the blog is being read. Therefore, show traffic statistics as well on the front page (there is a widget for that)
  7. Make the blog more attractive by adding pictures to (at least most of) the new blog posts. There are lots of suitable CC pictures available
  8. IFLA is multilingual. Invite comments and entries in IFLA languages other than English
  9. IFLA is multilingual. Try to write posts in clear and simple language.
  10. Bloggers compete for attention. Write like a journalist!  Put information in the back rather than in front. Try to discuss issues rather than conveying loads of information. A blog will only attract readers if it is relatively personal, informal and issue-oriented.

I believe a well-edited ProfSpeak can strengthen both the personal and professional contact between the sections. It will also improve the flow of ideas, suggestions, proposals and arguments between the sections, on the one hand, and the PC – and hence the Board – on the other.

French version

Spanish version


  • IFLA Professional Committee (until Singapore).
  • PC and Division Chairs (after Singapore)
    • PC Chair: Lynne Rudasill (United States)
    • Division I: Andrew McDonald (United Kingdom)
    • Division II: Russell Lynch (United States)
    • Division III: Maria-Carme Torras-Calvo (Norway)
    • Division IV: Clara M. Chu (United States)
    • Division V: Dan Dorner (New Zealand)

The purpose of ProfSpeak, says the masthead, is:

  • Exchange of ideas and information connected to IFLA’s professional programme and units

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