King of Pop’s passing sparks library blog explosion

July 5, 2009

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


Columbus-Lowndes Public Library Archivist Mona Vance had quite a shock Tuesday morning when she checked the library''s Local History Announcements blog. The historian has lately been accustomed to seeing between three to 10 blog hits per day on average. Imagine her surprise at discovering what amounts to a 2,026 percent increase in weekly statistics.  


"Last week several well-known celebrities passed away, including Michael Jackson," Vance noted. "You may wonder what this has to do with the Local History Announcements blog, and my answer would usually be ''not much.'' But when I arrived at work, I checked the blog as I usually do every other day or so. What I found was a blog explosion! ... I almost fell out of my chair." 


Vance first thought something was amiss with the system, but research unearthed clues to solve the mystery. What triggered this tremendous surge?  


"The more I looked at it, the more I figured out it was because of search terms used when accessing the blog," she explained. "Terms included ''jackson family members,'' ''the jackson family,'' ''the jackson family then and now,'' ''jackson family photos,'' and ''pics of the jackson family.''  


All the terms caused the search engines to pick up on one blog Vance posted in 2008 regarding the Henry Armstrong Dedication celebrated in Columbus in October. World boxing champion Henry Armstrong (1912-1988) was actually born Henry Jackson Jr., in Columbus. As a result, many of his family members, the "Jacksons," still live in this area and attended the ceremonies.  


"We''ve had 230 hits just today," the archivist said Tuesday afternoon. "I never thought those words would come out of my mouth."  


While Vance isn''t sure the sudden and massive avalanche of hits on the library blog will ever be replicated, she considers this "a wonderful lesson in how search engines operate" and how specific words used while conducting a search are critical in locating desired information. 


To access the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library Local History Announcements blog, follow local history links at 


Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.