What does Reading Level have to do with Racism and Equity?

As the Web Services Librarian, I play an important role in determining the standards for content on the Boston Public Library website. The blogs are some of the most important content I oversee. They’re important because they let library workers talk about things they and their patrons care about. I think that connection to the public is special and needs to be protected.

As a part of the annual training bloggers go through, I remind them to keep their posts to a 10th grade reading level or below (ideally 8th grade). The few exceptions are on a case-by-case basis. However, staff members come back to me and say that the requirement is too restrictive, and what’s the big deal anyway?

When you don’t consider the reading level of your content, you are shutting out people who don’t read at the same level as you. Those people will most likely include, but are not limited to:

  • People of color
  • People who are poor
  • People with learning disabilities
  • People who don’t speak English as their first language

TL;DR: The reading level of your content is a racism and equity issue. If you’re not thinking about the reading levels of your content, you are preventing large groups of disadvantaged people from reading it. About half of adults in the U.S. do not read above an eighth grade reading level, and you are excluding them. Use hemingwayapp.com to help you reduce the reading level of your content.

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Blog Post Best Practices: A Literature Review

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Welcome back everyone, and happy new year! I took a break from writing posts during the holidays, as things just got too busy for me. This month’s post was inspired by a conversation with a friend. My friend was looking for guidelines on writing blog posts. She knew I had created guidelines for the blogs we have at the Boston Public Library, but she had trouble finding articles online with this information. The trouble is that most of the information I used, I gathered from sources about writing for the web. So, when she searched for blog guidelines, she didn’t find what I used.
The purpose of this post is to aggregate information on how to write blog posts, as an informal literature review. I will also include my own suggestions in here as well. I’ve broken things down by category, and included these three broad categories: Word Count, Readability, and Accessibility.

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What I’ve been working on: A new bpl.org

Homepage for the soon-to-be new bpl.orgSo today, I can finally show you what I’ve been working on at my new job, that I started a little less than six months ago.

The Boston Public Library unveiled today its new website, now available for public preview.

The website can be viewed here: https://bpl.bibliocms.com/, and we’re really excited about a few features:

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