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Assessing old libraries–where’s the content audit?

Does this look a little familiar? This is the Jedi Academy Library. Taking from the old to the new, for sure.

One of the first places that I went to during my holiday in Ireland was to University of Dublin, Trinity College. Why would I visit there? Trinity College is a world-famous university the likes of my “hometown” of Princeton or more close by, Oxford or Cambridge. The renowned Book of Kells exhibit is at the college, and part of the tour is the university’s Old Library. When people see photos of the Old Library, they recognize it instantly, and it’s a book lover’s fantasy room with books stacked from floor to ceiling on two floors. Rumor has it that the library of the Jedi Academy in the Star Wars films was based on the look of this library. To see the room in person is truly a sight to see.

This is just before the entrance of the library.

At the entrance of the library, there were several shelves of dusty books stacked in bookcases that reached to the ceiling, with a sign in front (as seen in the photos) that restoration work was still being done to preserve the library and its contents. To put this photo in perspective, I’m guessing that the door well, which you can barely see from the right corner, is a normal-to-tall door well of about 8 feet tall, and the rope blocking these shelves barely seen on the bottom right is the normal hip height, so the ceiling has to be at least a good 13-14 feet to the top! As you can see, there are even a lot of books here!

Inside the Old Library, looking towards the entrance.

Once in the Old Library itself, I looked at all the old books, marvelling at the sheer enormity of so many books in one place. I wondered how old some of these books were! The historian in me wanted to find cool books to see perspectives from another day and age, and lovingly leaf through pages of an old book. Then the technical communicator in me stepped in and took over my brain. I wondered if anyone could still access and read these books at all. I wondered if any of it had been digitized for current use, because all of the books looked like decorations now. How do we know what books are still in here? Had anyone done an audit? How relevant is any of the information? What is worth keeping in some form, and which items are, as I said before, purely decoration or kept in perpetuity? The historian in my returned in my head, wishing I could head up a restoration project of this kind to digitize every last book in that room. Why, if most likely 99% it is outdated? It’s because in auditing the content, sometimes you find a gem of information or data that has gotten lost in the shuffle, and ends up being a great piece of information that provides the missing piece to a puzzle.

TechCommGeekMom selfie in the Old Library.

In this modern age, this is something I think we need to keep in mind. Content audits are important in a content strategy. You don’t want to include information that isn’t relevant anymore, naturally. That’s a waste of space and the end-reader’s user of time. That’s logical. However, should you throw away all the information once you have deemed it non-usable at this time? I don’t think so. There will come a day when the manual of an old product will be needed to service that item–as an antique, and the manual will be helpful. Understanding our content past, just like any other piece of literature or antique artifact, is a connection to understanding how we have progressed, how we can improve, and where we have made mistakes. It can also provide clues to why we have the content we have now–did someone leave something out in more recent versions that might have been thought to be irrelevant during that edition, but older editions are relevant now? You never know unless you get the entire picture, and see what treasures you may have at your fingertips. They could be the key to success.

What do you think? Is keeping old content–at least, archiving it–a worthy endeavour? Post your comments below.

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Weight Loss is all about content strategy. No, really.

IMG_0178.JPGFear not, TechCommGeekMom readers, I am still here!

I have had an incredibly busy summer. While some places might have a slow-down during the summer, my summer cranked up instead! I’ve been so mentally exhausted by the end of the day that writing or even curating content has been just out of the question. The good news about that work-related mental exhaustion is that most of what I’ve had to do this summer was truly dig into some content strategy with several clients at work, so at least it’s been productive. I’ve now found a free moment while on vacation to see if I can catch up a little bit here.

One of the things I’ve been working on this summer is myself. I’ve been really unhappy with my health, more specifically, my weight. Anyone who has met me knows that I’m a “fluffy mama”, as my son says. It’s been finally time to do something about it, so I’ve been really concentrating on that. I’m fortunate that among those who support my weight loss efforts of eating better and exercising are several of my STC/tech comm friends, which makes it that much easier to bear. At this writing, I’ve lost over twenty pounds this summer (although it doesn’t look like I’ve lost an ounce), and I’m eating very differently (a lot less!) and exercising by walking long distances and by using my stair-elliptical machine like a crazy woman.

One of the things I figured out early on in this change in my lifestyle was that it really is all about content strategy. Yes, weight loss and getting healthy really is all about content strategy. No, really, it is. Let me explain.

The first thing that makes me align weight loss with content strategy is counting calories. Counting calories is like doing an inventory assessment of your content. You have to look at how much food you are eating, and see if you are eating too much, or eating too little. In my case, I was eating too much. I had to learn to cut back, and start doing word counts–I mean, count calories. Part of that assessment also involves figuring out what content can stay, and what needs to go. I figured out that having Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy Ice Cream had to go, but small amounts of chocolate frozen yogurt could stay. Choosing the right content is part of the process. Yes, I can still have chocolate, but I have to make different choices of which food items would fit into my eating plan. Counting calories is also like keeping within a budget. One is allotted a certain number of calories, and if you go over the allotment, then you have to answer for it. You can balance that budget with cost-cutting measures like exercise, which gives you an opportunity to show what works with your content and what doesn’t work. What foods are providing energy and which ones aren’t? Which ones enhance your calories counts, and which ones don’t? What is providing positive results or negative results? Which tactics are helping you reach your weight loss goal, and which ones are making the process more difficult?

Every single day for the last few months has been a daily task of doing an inventory assessment, keeping within a budget, figuring out the right content that should go into my body, and what would be the best content to make my weight loss work. Managing this content will need to be done on a continual basis until I reach my weight goal (about 65 pounds from now) and proper maintenance of this balance content will always have to be adjusted even once I reach my weight goal, to make sure that the content will help support whatever status my system needs in the future.

Doesn’t it all sound familiar?

Even if you aren’t watching your weight, look at your own health as a content strategy project. You’ll find the similarities in the process amazingly similar. You’ll also find that the content you put in and edit will improve, just like it does when you are writing and editing content.

(For those who are curious, I’m using FitBit and the My Fitness Pal apps to help me assess my daily stats. Call them my personal Google Analytics. If you want to follow my progress or support each other in health goals, let me now and we can connect!)

What do you think?