weblogs, they work

When I talk to people about using weblog software for library projects I always mention that the clean code it’ll spit out is advantageous. This clean code, along with dynamic content makes it easy for search engines to index, increasing the chances of your stuff getting noticed.

As of yesterday, I have a really great example of this that also servers as a reminder of the positive impact that libraries can have on the web. In the TFML inbox yesterday:

Dear Madam, Dear Sir,

I am trying to trace an old friend of mine, [XXXX], that I lost contact with over the past 8 years. In the search engine I found the link below and would be grateful to receive a copy of this article, so I can check whether the deceased is the person I am looking for.
I live in Frankfurt/Germany.
Thank you for your attention.
Best regards

[gives link to an entry in the TFML obit index]

We no longer had the newspaper so I had the obit faxed over from a nearby library and emailed the text to Germany. Today, a response was waiting for me.

Dear Aaron,

Thank you very much for your prompt reply. Unfortunately, [XXXXX]
is the person I was looking for. I am stunned that he died more than 3 years
ago, while he was still quite young and had so many plans.

The patron went on to give the story of how they knew each other, then ended with this:

In the past few years I “googled” him unsuccessfully, but only now traced
him on Amazon’s search-engine A9.com, in case you are interested how I
discovered your website. What would we do without the internet!

Again, thank you very much, and although I feel quite sad now, with your
information I can close a chapter in my life.

Sincerely, [XXXX]

Wow, just wow. Let’s not underestimate the impact libraries can have by putting quality content on the web through our own websites and in other receptacles. Our dispersed digital branches go far beyond the boundaries of our communities. Even small libraries secondarily serve people around the world.

5 thoughts on “weblogs, they work”

  1. Yes, it is a great story! Have you considered sending it to your senators – who will in the near future be debating DOPA – as an example of not just the Web’s, but of social software’s power for good?

  2. Awesome story!

    We’ve gotten some international blog comments in response to author Thomas Crane’s visit, which we podcast. It was great to be a part of something that really reached out to people. Just goes to show, once it’s on the internet, there’s no telling who will benefit!

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