Saturday, December 29, 2012

Article on storytelling for entrepreneurs and [possibly] for libraries

I came across another good read on storytelling for companies and those who want to tell non-fiction stories.
Storytelling: Why Stories Attract More Customers by Social Media Examiner writer, Michael Stelzner. Hence, in keeping with my interest in library and information science considering storytelling as a method of conveying information, I review some of the points made by Stelzner and make a wider commentary on its application. In addition to my interest in storytelling for library and information science, I also have an interest in entrepreneur storytelling, especially as a librarian interested in entrepreneur/small business library services. As such, in this article, my comments and review will raise points relevant to both intersecting areas of interest.

In the article, Stelzner interviews Dave Kerpen, author of  Likeable Social Media and also the co-founder of Likeable, an INC 500 social media marketing firm. Kerpen is also the author of a new book entitled Likeable Business: Why Today’s Consumers Demand More and How Leaders Can Deliver. Kerpen therefore becomes the major source of the information in Stelzner's article, sharing his experience and practical advice on storytelling.

In the article it is stated that 'people love going to the movies and reading books...because we love to be engaged by stories.' In specifically talking about entrepreneur storytelling, the article states that 'everyone in business has a story to tell about how they started.' 'Wherever a company is started, no matter how big it is, it has a humble start'  and telling the story about how a company started can aid in making the company more 'likable'.

Stelzner's article also discusses how storytelling can be used convey non-fiction information. According to Kerpen, ones 'ability to take a piece of history and turn it into a story has to do with applying...traditional elements of storytelling with what really happens. Kerpen in Stelzner admonishes us to 'be truthful, but...embellish a little bit'. This I assume would be in conflict with my librarian's ethics of objectivity and telling the truth and nothing but the truth. Nevertheless, I also feel that librarians have a responsibility to convey people's ideas whether they be truthful, fictional or a blend of myth, legend and folklore.

Kerpen also advises that for our storytelling we must 'Make the characters come alive...set the stage and build a story that resonates with people.' He also advocates that with today's technology, storytelling is easier, cheaper and less risky, and that if it doesn't resonate with people, we can make changes and keep practicing and experimenting with storytelling until we get it right.

Kerpen also in final aspects of the article shares how social media has 'changed the barrier to entry to tell stories at scale.'
"It used to be that if you wanted to tell your story at scale, you had to buy your way in through media; for example, television or radio. You used to have to spend a significant amount of money on storytelling."
Today, this is no problem with the use of social media.

The article is useful to me both as an example of how business is using storytelling to convey information and continues to buttress my theories that libraries in order to keep up, will also need to explore this method in conveying information as well as in our offering of new and old services, especially via the Web. Currently, customers respond to stories, and libraries need to tell good stories in order to engage their customers. At the same time, as information providers and professionals responsible for information dissemination, we need to also consider whether or not using storytelling principles may be relevant for us to adopt in conveying non-fiction information. Can our profession begin a conversation on whether or not it is ethical for information professionals to use myths, folklore and even embellishments of the truth to convey important non-fiction information? Can our profession also ethically use storytelling which engages and takes advantage of people's emotions to lead them to truth?


Stelzner, M. (2012, December 28). Storytelling: Why stories attract more customers. Social Media Examiner Retrieved from:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Use of social media for information purposes by Government agencies in developing countries

Just reporting based on readings of two different articles about how state agencies in developing countries are beginning to take note of the useful informational purposes of social media sites such as Facebook. While these stories have been reported are not quite fresh, they do represent important trends that are relevant evidences to my viewpoint about how social media today needs to be regarded as not only a social space, but also as information sources.

In one article, the head of the Jamaican police has encouraged his officers to make use of Facebook to check out those reporting crimes, as well as those implicated in such reports ("Commish suggests", 2012). It seems as if the Jamaican police is just catching on to the intelligence gathering using social networks. However, it fundamentally points to the issue that professionals in some industries, such as security, are also utilising information from social media for work purposes.

In another part of the world, the electoral commission for Ghana, faced with a downed website, decided to turn to Facebook to disseminate Ghana's election results (Vota, 2012). Apparently it was a first for such an critical government document/decision or official document to be released solely via the social media before its official website. Put into context,  it is reported that 70% of the online population of Ghana on Facebook (, 2012), which means that 7 out of 10 of the online Ghanaian population would be able to access such results online, making it indeed a good venue to post the results.

This event continues to show that social media now becoming place to disseminate government information. Those interested in e-governance and e-government information will therefore now need to consider social media as a place to access and provide access to such information. It is also possible though that those who are not members of popular social media sites may find themselves excluded from publicly available knowledge, which may be of major concern if government agencies choose to only disseminate information via popular social media sites and not through other channels.

Both stories indicate that social media is fast becoming not only spaces where social interaction takes place, but also spaces providing information for officials as well as spaces for disseminating information. In short, social media are in fact functioning as information sources. This now presents library and information science with the challenge of now defining and accounting for social media as information sources, and including them within their official categories. This, I have presented on an earlier occasion is problematic, as social media possess several characteristics that pose challenges for our current information source categorizations (see post on Categorizing blogs as information sources).


Commish suggests cops use social networks in criminal probes (2012, October 12). Jamaica Gleaner Retrieved from … (2012). Ghana Facebook Statistics Retrieved from

Vota, Wayan (2012, December 11). Did you know the Facebook tipping point happened in Ghana on Sunday? Retrieved from …

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Jamaica's contribution to LIS scholarship: A distant memory

Last week when I browsed the Annual Reviews of Information Science and Technology, I realised that in the  index/indices of the early volumes, I could find Jamaica. As I moved to the more current volumes, Jamaica disappeared from the indices/indexes. Our glory days in LIS have faded and are now a distant memory.

I remember the story told to me by a retired librarian that in the early days of librarianship in Jamaica, Jamaican librarians were well respected in the international LIS community. We were the first nation to host and plan the International Association of School Librarian conference, as well as supplied one of its President and founding officer, Amy Robertson. In addition, when we went to international conferences, the retired librarian told me, and persons heard Jamaica, all Jamaican librarians could stand tall, as everyone greeted us with respect and admiration.

I further remember a Jamaican student on the exchange program with a Canadian university, telling me that her professors asked her what has happened to Jamaica's scholarship in the field of LIS. The student told me that they had high expectations for the nation's LIS scholarship and has been wondering what has taken place to slow our productivity and influence to date.

Also of mention is Jamaican-born librarian, Dorothy Collings, who contributed to the development of the field of comparative librarianship. Collins suggested that North American librarianship training is not sufficient for tackling the problems and situations of global librarianship (Jackson, 2001). As a result of her own experiences and background, Collings drafted and developed courses on Comparative Librarianship and later became an authority on the matter (Jackson, 2001). Collings’ contribution to the development of the concept of comparative librarianship is cited in a number of studies (Jackson 2001, Bliss, 1993; Lor, 2008).

I ponder now that there is great work to be done in the Caribbean region, but am mindful about how governments are cutting funding to libraries and other information institutions. In short, I see need for a renaissance in LIS.


Bliss, N. J. (1993). The emergence of international librarianship as a field. Libri, 43(1), 39–52. DOI: 10.1515/libr.1993.43.1.39, //1993 Published Online: 19/10/2009

Jackson, W. V. (2001). “The Pioneers: Dorothy G. Collings (1911-1991).” World Libraries, 11(1 & 2), Retrieved from

Lor, P. J. (2008). Critical reflections on international librarianship. Mousaion, 26(1), 1-15.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Searching for entrepreneur blogs: Online Techniques

As comprehensive examination preparations are now on my agenda, one of the area that I contemplate is the area of methods for locating entrepreneur blogs. While using Google Blog Search or Technorati is a no brainer to me, (as these already have developed obvious tools to locate blogs), it is essential for me at the PhD level to look into the academic theories involved in justifying the use of these tools. For this task, I have contemplated looking at the theories of Bibliometrics. One such paper that influences my thoughts about the possibility of using bibliometric techniques and methods to locate blogs of interest for my study is the paper by Vaughan, Tang, & Du (2010). Alternately, there is the paper on selective blog mining by Rubin, Burkell and Quan-Haase (2011), which does not purport to use bibliometric methods, but dubs the study as a grounded theory analysis. 

However, using some techniques for searching the Google search engine from  Vaughan, Tang, & Du (2010), I ran the following experiment. I wanted to compare Google blog search with a site search using the domains of two well known blogging platforms, Wordpress and Blogspot. I did this in order to compare the results with the Google blog search. The results (collected as of the date of this post) are as follows:

Google blog search "entrepreneur" -About 26,400,000 results (0.18 seconds) entrepreneur- About 1,590,000 results (0.19 seconds) entrepreneur - About 2,740,000 results (0.31 seconds)

Quantitatively the results differ. Blogspot domain search has more than Wordpress. Yet combined, both produce less than 5,000, 000 results, which is not even a fifth of the blogs retrieved using the Google Blog search. This raises the question as to what are the other domain names that Google indexes as blogs. It also raises question about how do these results differ qualitatively. These are questions that I do not intend to answer just now, but do wish to explore in the future.


Rubin, V.L., Burkell, J. & Quan-Haase, A. (2011). Facets of serendipity in everyday chance encounters: A grounded theory approach to blog analysis. Information Research 16(3) paper 488. [Available at] 

Vaughan, L., Tang, J., & Du, J. (2010). Constructing business profiles based on keyword patterns on web sites. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 61(6), 1120-1129. doi: 10.1002/asi.21321 

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Library Catalogue as Online Service

Through my Twitter feed (an excellent place for stumbling across useful and relevant resources), I stumbled upon this article by Dempsey (2012) on the library catalog. The article extends on some of my thoughts about the library's online public access catalogue. I have long thought of the library's online catalogue as being the library’s flagship online product/service. To now read Dempsey (2012) encapsulating my view in his brief sub-heading of 'The Catalog as an Identifiable Service', now gives me reason to post some of my thoughts on this subject.

While I do not care much for the discussion on how the online catalogue of libraries is changing and how people are becoming interested in making catalogue data open, I find more intriguing the idea that in the world  of online resources and the Web, the library's premier service is its online catalogue. Wells (2007) makes the statement that ‘ [e]ven though the online public access catalogue (OPAC) now functions against a background of alternative information-gathering technologies it is likely to remain at the centre of library operations for the foreseeable future as the primary automated point of connection between library users and those information resources which the library owns or otherwise wishes to promote’ (p. 386). In fact, so crucial is the online catalogue as a library service, that I feel that a library's website should be organised around it. Just like Google, the OPAC's interface should be the landing page of the library's website.

Currently, I am contemplating a paper (even while I should be preparing for my comprehensive examinations) on 'Extending the online public access catalogue (OPAC) through storytelling principles: How can storytelling inform the design of online information retrieval systems for libraries?' In this paper, I hope to focus on the centrality of the OPAC and how to improve its communication using storytelling principles. It is my hope that the paper, which is both a conceptual as well as practical look at applying theoretical research on storytelling and narrative from organisational storytelling, digital storytelling, web-based storytelling, knowledge sharing and computer interface design, to reworking and extending the OPAC, be accepted for presentation at a conference that I intend to attend in the summer. So I will save my under-developed and premature ideas about this topic for later iterations on this blog.


Dempsey, L. (2012, December 10).  Thirteen ways of looking at libraries, discovery, and the catalog: Scale, workflow, attention EDUCAUSE Review Retrieved from

Wells, D. (2007).What is a library OPAC? The Electronic Library, 25(4): pp. 386 – 394.