Feb. 9, 2005
Diaries of the 21st century: U-M offers free blogs for students, employees
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—"Dear Blog: After biology class today, I raced to the Union for a latte with Josie and Ruth. But Ruth was the only one who showed up. Never did find Josie. So the two of us splurged on a white chocolate, raspberry mocha with whipped cream. Oh, well, an hour on the track at the Rec Center will take care of that."
The University of Michigan, recognizing the growing popularity of Web logs, is offering free blogs to students, faculty and staff so they can record their life's events. The service, called mBlog, will not only allow easy access to personal, online journals, it will also give the University an opportunity to preserve campus life stories by archiving some blogs at Michigan's Bentley Historical Library.
The program is a collaboration of U-M's University Library, U-M's Information Technology Central Services (ITCS) and the Bentley. While not the first institution to offer free blogs—the University of Minnesota also offers free blogs—U-M's service may be the only one so far to offer the choice of having contents considered for archiving.
For those who choose to have material archived, the University archives staff will appraise the content and choose blogs with the greatest potential for historical value. Content selected for the archive will be maintained in digital form, though it probably won't have the same functionality, said Nancy Deromedi, an assistant archivist at the Bentley. The blog will be described and stored in a manner that takes into consideration issues of long-term preservation and access.
"It's our job to make electronic expressions available for the future," Deromedi said. "If a blog author chooses the archival option, then U-M bloggers will be contributing to the raw material by which future researchers will seek to understand issues and attitudes of the U-M community during the early 21st century."
Susan Hollar, the curriculum integration coordinator for the U-M Library, says the project has been incubating for about a year and is the result of requests from students and faculty who want to use blogs and the Library's interest in exploring new modes of publishing.
"The Library is providing a platform for interactive publishing and discourse," Hollar said. "Now, faculty and students don't have to use public services for which there could be a fee."
The University Library purchased off-the-shelf software and U-M's ITCS modified it to fit U-M's system.
"The license covers all current faculty, staff and students," said Patrick McNeal, a software developer for ITCS, which supplies the technical support for the program.
Users of mBlog are subject to the University's Proper Use Policy and Guidelines for Responsible Use and U.S. Copyright Law and U-M policies.
Bentley Historical Library
Contact: Joanne Nesbit
Phone: (734) 647-4418