Wednesday, 18 August 2010

These are a few of my 23 things

Finally I have finished my take on the Sound of Music's "My favourite things" although I couldn't quite manage to get all the 23 things in (and gave up on rhyming google!)
Put on your DVD of The Sound of Music (you know you have it) and singalong with the following words (nun costume optional): 

Meetings on doodle and chatting on twitter,
some igoogle pages and  blogs where we witter,
bright flickr  images fit for a king,
these are a few of my twenty-three things

Fun coloured podcasts and LibraryThing records,
Pick feeds and read feeds and obtain the rewards,
Try out Zotero and see what it brings,
These are a few of my
twenty-three things

Wikis for sharing with no other hurdles,
Bookmarks that are delicious and wordle,
Facebook has pages for some marketing,
These are a few of my
twenty-three things

When the blog calls, when the work clings,
When I feel I should,
I simply remember my
twenty-three things,
And then I feel so good.

23 things gained

The final one is here and my head is now full of precious things. Some of them I have a continuing love affair with, others are on-off and some I am definitely on my final fl(th)ing with.

I am going to say goodbye to igoogle but I am very happy with my google calendar and the fact (after a few mishaps) that I have managed to merge my home and work calendars - at least I hope the rest of my colleagues can't see that I have my crime book club tonight!

I was surprised at how many of the things I had actually used before in some capacity.  But then I found that with nearly all of them I had not explored much or abandoned them quite quickly.  I think that is one of the major benefits I have got from this programme.  The excellent blogs by the organising team had informative links to further reading, explanations and uses for the things that gave you great ideas and an easy way to explore further.  That was also my downfall at the start - I wanted to read it all, spend time investigating, applying it in the library and then realised that the things were building up and my blog posts weren't.  I needed to be more selective and bookmarked some things for later.

Image by vainsang, flickr
As for twitter, I am still not sure - past the first few dates but am I in it for the long haul?  It won't be my final fling but I am not yet fully in love with it.  Our faculty does have a twitter feed  picking up from our news items and I probably should try to push out a few library updates that way.  As a start anyway. 

In library terms we already had facebook but I would like to try and develop some delicious lists and also investigate new books on Librarything.  Most of the other things I will probably use more for my own use, for example sharing information on projects via Google docs and following discussions on LinkedIn.  Interesting one at the moment on the fragmentation of the profession which has similarities to the talks on communication on the cam23 blogs about how you can get all parties involved in something and the triggers needed. 

I would say that Web 2.0 and social media are changing libraries as they are offering new forms of communication and the delivery of services.  In many ways they make it simpler to transmit the information and keep it up-to-date although there are barriers from organisations who don't allow the use of certain sites.  But I would also argue that libraries are changing, adapting to and directing their users all the time.  Social media is one change, the personal computer and internet were others.  It is important for librarians to keep developing themselves and their services. As Arthur C. Clarke said:

"The dinosaurs disappeared because they could not adapt to their changing environment. We shall disappear if we cannot adapt to an environment that now contains spaceships, computers" [and you could add in Social Media!]

Finally I would like to thank the organising team and all the bloggers. I have really enjoyed the whole programme and exploring and using the things and reading other people's views. I hope to use the things much more for the library, even now we are using google doc forms as we have had problems with our book suggestion form on our webpage and while we wait for the coding to be sorted we put in a google doc one.

About to sign off and then remembered the Wordle.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

My library roots-routes

The Library Routes project is encouraging information professionals/librarians to share their history and thoughts on how they got to where they are today.  I read a few and was a bit put off by comments about how surely everyone just fell into the role and only oddballs would want to be librarians from childhood.   While I agree I didn't know that I wanted to be a librarian from childhood, or what it involved, certainly from a young age I wanted to work in libraries and then, when I discovered them, in archives. 

Grimsby Central Library
I even did one week of my school work experience in Grimsby Central Library and one week in the archives.  Although it doesn't look the nicest of places I loved my experience there (except the day I was on the tourist information desk - at 15 I knew nothing about anything outside the town centre!)  I assumed librarians shelved and issued books, as they were my main tasks, cataloguing and classifying were unknowns, as were automated library systems.  Even my school careers cascaid form (anyone else remember those - you answered questions about whether you wanted to work outside, with people, wearing shoes, swinging from chandeliers - or what seemed like equally pointless questions - and then you got a print out of your future career options) came out on top with LIBRARIAN, followed by cartographer (!!).

I did not bow to the inevitable though as I had a greater love for ancient history and classical literature.  So I set off to University to study Classical Studies at Lampeter, the place is relevant to my career development, honestly, and not just a plug for a university where I had a great time and learnt alot.  At the end of 3 years, and armed with a humanities degree, I was told by the careers service that the best option was teaching.  As both my parents were teachers there was no way I was going in that direction. 

So now started the idea of a career as an archivist.  I had my place, just needed 1 year of experience.  I failed to get a traineeship (even after 3 interviews in Oxford) and could only find volunteer work, which I couldn't afford to take.  So I switched to librarianship, had the experience already and chose Aberystwyth for a number of good and bad reasons.  Lampeter was not an easy place to get out of and Aber was just up the road for looking around.  I had got my archive place there and they didn't make you go for an interview.  I liked the variety of the set modules and the historical/rare book optional course.  I suppose what clinched it, apart from being back by the sea, was the full bursary I received.

A year on, I was now armed with a Masters in Librarianship and the job hunting started.  I was not really very systematic and applied for anything going that said it was suitable for newly qualified librarians.  After what felt like hundreds of applications, but only 3 interviews, I got my first professional position at Nene College of Higher Education, now University of Northampton.  I was the Assistant Systems librarian it was a steep learning curve as I was faced with the Talis library management system, cd-rom networks (the future of electronic resources!!) and then the start of web pages.  I was only there just over a year but thanks to their excellent training programme I obtained my Library Association chartership.  The IT stuff I learnt has been a benefit for the rest of my career although I have never gone back into direct systems support.

Next I moved to Cambridge (where I still am but not in the same post) as Assistant Librarian: Reader Services at Gonville & Caius College Library.  This job asked for someone preferably with a science degree. I did not have one but it did not put me off.  I was asked why I applied at the interview without a science degree and replied that it was listed as desirable not essential.  So look carefully at the criteria in job specs and if it is not essential then go for the job.  I was asked at the interview about resources for astronomy but could apply my reference interview technique to any subject and it worked, I had the job.   Working in a smaller library gave me the opportunity to do a bit of everything and this is when I started cataloguing and classifying. It was not my main role but it was something to add to the cv.

When my boss left, I applied for and got the Sub-Librarian role but not for long as I then moved on to Selwyn College library and for the first time the title of Librarian.  It has to be said that once you are on the Cambridge scene it is much easier to move around within it.  This has the advantage of you being able to move to very different jobs without having to move house but the disadvantage that less new blood enters the system.   Then onto my current job as Librarian at the Faculty of Classics, Cambridge.  Not only has this completed a circle round to my first interest in ancient history but I have also just finished a diploma in archive studies fulfilling my early career dream. 

I will now finish my ramble by saying that I never really had a career plan (if I had it might all have been different).  After Northampton I decided that I enjoyed working in the academic sector and I have been lucky enough to continue in that sector althoughCILIP and play an active role on a number of committees, which have helped me in my work. 

If all else fails, I can always fall back on a second career as a cartographer!

Wiki wiki wild wild west

Nearly at the final frontier with Thing 22 and wikis.  This brought back memories of the wikiwikiweb (showing my age now) and, of course, the now all encompassing part of our culture "wikipedia".  When I registered to attend the (lib)Teachmeet Cambridge, I also realised that I had a PBworks login. 

pass the baked beans, please
Back in 2008, following the monthly networking lunches for librarians in Cambridge, a couple of us explored setting up blogs or wikis for librarians to contribute to, as the wiki says:

"This is meant for Cambridge librarians to put useful ’stuff’ on - things that we might be doing in our libraries that you think others might want to know about. Have you changed your webpage recently, are you doing interesting things like blogs, teaching about social networking or ……. or …….. Add them up here so that we all can see them!"

We abandoned  both blogs and wikis and reverted to camtools   as everyone working in Cambridge University should have a raven login and access to camtools.  Using the other sites meant that although people could view the information, in order to add stuff they would have to register.  This did not seem ideal but then the camtools solution isn't either.  Again it is useful for group working and collaborative projects.  For library users not sure how I would use it. 

To finish on wikis, I will now write an entry for the Library routes  page as suggested in the 23 things Cambridge, thing 22 blog.

(As an aside, can't believe it has taken me 22 things before I found the spellchecker on blogger - should have looked at the toolbar more!!)

Invasion of the podcasts

A much more mellow pod
Thing 21 brings me to podcasting and youtube.  I haven't really listened to many podcasts before (or rather I have via my computer but not after downloading them onto portable equipment).  As others have said the audio podcasts of radio programmes are useful but what about for libraries. 

I love an audio tour around an English Heritage site (except when they introduce Mrs Mopp the housekeeper from 1560 preparing for the visit by the Queen, who always seems, from the strong accent, to be from Cornwall or Yorkshire even when you are standing in a castle in Kent) and the descriptions of the rooms and the instructions on which door to go through.  But not sure it would have the same appeal through a library - "go through the door on the left and when you reach the first bookcase press 1" and "now look to your right to see dewey numbers 300-310, standing on a bookcase of mdf from the late 20th century".    It would, and is, useful for lecturers that students may miss, or talks by visiting lecturers which do not have to be visual necessarily.

On the whole, for library inductions or tutorials I think a visual element is desirable.  I looked around at some video tutorials and Arizona State University had their own "library channel" and a selection of tutorials in a variety of forms, some with people and others screen shots and virtual environments.  A visual demo of how to use a resource is very helpful and something I would like to investigate further.

Finally I looked at YouTube and while I found some of the library introductions amusing I wasn't sure if students would.  Were they just amusing from a librarian's point of view?  Humour is a tricky balance in a video - it can end up just being embarrassing.   My main reaction to alot of the stuff was similar to Donald Sutherland's towards the pod people.

Invasion of the body snatchers (1978)
So to sum up I suppose I think there is a use for creating podcasts for tutorials and possibly promotion of library services (but I will not be launching into lady gaga).  I prefer some sort of  visual element and not just talking.

To end, I do like the Sesame Street sketch with the cookie monster in the library, even if he is not the easiest of customers.

Friday, 13 August 2010

We are not hedgehog lovers

For Thing 20, Google docs, I thought I would create a form as something new to try.

In order to try the different options I had to come up with a variety of questions and now I have the results.

It turned out that we were equal dog and cat lovers but hedgehogs did not fare so well with only one vote.

Changing your mind?

Favourite town, Cambridge came out on top.  Really???   Only a few people ventured out of the country with Prague and Sydney, and Bellagio (hadn't heard of it but presume it is a  town in Italy and not the hotel in Vegas?). 

Bellagio - or maybe not

The colour was a tie between purple and blue, closely followed by green. 

Excuse to show holiday pic - can't see purple!

Everyone knew Jupiter was the largest.

Or should that be ...   

  As for music mp3s were the most common listening device (and someone had a mp4).  Others were using pcs or radio, one ipod.    Musical tastes were varied (linked to age??) from Queen, Bowie, Van Morrison and Police to children's nursery rhymes, Sleeper, Unthanks, Oysterband, Arcade Fire and Randy Newman.  Certainly a wide selection there.

Thanks for filling in the form and helping me complete Thing 20.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Share and share alike

We are told that cloud computing is the future and you can see the pros of being able to access your documents whenever or wherever you are.  But of course there are negatives as well to do with security and permanence (and interestingly reading one of the help guides on Google docs it did say that a document may have a private setting but be visible on the web and you have to change a different setting to prevent that). 

One of the big advantages to the Google docs type site is the ability to share documents and work in colloboration.  I have not used google docs much but I have used the equivalent on Yahoo (is it safe to mention that?) about 4 years ago.  I was doing a course and we had to do a group project creating a booking system for a hotel.  Our tutor set up a group for us on Yahoo which is still there!

This was great as we were doing the course by evening class and only met once a week.  This site enabled us to upload documents for others to view and edit.  It also allowed our tutor to make sure we were working!  There were chat and forum options as well if we had issues to iron out.  Having taken a look at Google docs I can see that it has the same advantages for group work.  It also has the benefit of being able to create items within it rather than just uploading.  This seems very useful and I have tried creating a form to collect completely useless information from anyone who wants to give it a go here.

I would definitely use Google docs (or equivalents) when working on group projects but, of course, only if all the team is willing to sign up to Google!  I am on a committee where this was not possible and so then you are back to emails and attachments. 

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Opportunity knocks

Image by whyswomen, flickr
Marketing is a tricky thing, especially as most people link it with advertising.  You have to get your message across to a diverse group of users who all have different needs.  The social media business card article by Illinois Libraries made a good point when they said that one of the strengths of librarians is their personal relationship with their readers - added value to the service, if you like.   Social media allows you to "build" up this relationship with those people making use of your services but not actually entering the physical space.  It is also informal in many ways which may suit sections of your customers more than others.

Libraries definitely need to promote their services more - even core ones that seem obvious to us but not the users.  I think social media may help here as it is quick to distribute updates and links to anything from a new book to a training event.   When your message is not getting across you need to try a different method and with the rapid changes in social media it is an opportunity to try something new.  If it doesn't work you haven't invested alot of money just some time (always precious though).

I know this is about marketing and not advertising but I think more of that should go on in the libraryworld.  I remember when 118 118 started advertising a service where you could call (for money) and get the answer to anything.  Great you might think and then I thought but what about the Peope's network Enquire which doesn't cost anything and is available 24 hours a day as when the UK libraries are closed other libraries round the world are on call - someone is always in the daytime.  This is a free service but how many people know about it or can find it. 

As for a strategy in my library.  I would like to create some delicious groups and make further use of the facebook page.  I am not sure that we have enough activity for a twitter feed but then reading some of the articles on marketing and I realised you can put out any daily stuff going on - doesn't always have to be a major event.  Our faculty has a twitter account and it may be possible to start by feeding some library related information via that route and see what takes off.

image by drhenkenstein, flickr

Friday, 6 August 2010

A to Zotero

Zooks, a new thing I hadn't met before and I was missing out. Zotero is great and has inspired me with all things Z!  Zorastrianism seemed to be a good place to start and once Zotero was installed it was easy to add Newton results, Jstor articles and web links for Zoraster.

Zonked out by compiling lots of references, then this is a good solution (and much simpler than endnote) as I created a fake paragraph and put in some references and a bibliography in minutes rather than the hours it seemed to take me to try Endnote.

My zodiac horoscope for today said "In your profession, you will get some new ideas that could well be of help to you"and zotero could be the answer (although it also said "Secrets could come to light in a rather unpleasant manner" so I will have to look out for that and "You're a little too easy to distract right now, and that could mean that you're losing productivity at work" - surely nothing to do with 23 things!).

Zizzy it may not be, but zotero is, I think, easy to use (once I had read the start guide) and it allows you to enhance the references with tags and notes. Zero messing around when you have a list of references to consult as you can annotate an item if the title is not explanatory and also search by tags.

Zooming onto groups, this function allows you to share references and I set up one for "23 things programmes" just listing a number of different libraries who have or are undertaking the programme, called cam23things (although you will need to login to Zotero to view the group or add to it).

image from flickr by welshwitch36

A zealous supporter of zotero, I plan to use it more but in the words of Zebedee it is now "time for bed" (well really lunch but didn't have the same ring to it).

Monday, 2 August 2010

Join the links

I have been on linkedIn for over a year now.  I was invited on and thought I would give it a go.  I don't use it alot but do follow some discussions via the CILIP group. My page:

Obviously compared to facebook there are less people on it but it is more business/work orientated.  I probably ought to use it more but do find the connections part annoying - it doesn't seem to allow for the fact that you might have a colleague not directly in your workplace and not just working on a project.  It asks you where you worked together and if it is not your current place the dates you worked together.  If you have nothing to put there you have to drop down to "friend" and then you are entering facebook territory.

I find myself a bit ambivalent about it to be honest.  I get email updates on discussions from the CILIP group and sometimes I connect to follow it further but not hugely engaged.

In your facebook

I have had a facebook account for a number of years - did nothing with it, then had a frantic 6 months on it regularly, then lapsed again.  As with a lot of the web tools I find that if you are not on it alot you get behind and then, in my case, you panic when you go back on and are faced with 76 messages.

But having said that last year we did create a library facebook page:

This started as a way to update our users on the building work in the Faculty affecting the library.  It was a quick way to get out information when we had to suddenly close the library or if it was particularly noisy on one day or when there was no heating in November!  Unlike the web page or the email lists (which lots of students don't read but which we used as well) we could get the information out quickly. We could also reach our regular visitors (not on the email lists) so that if they were planning to visit they would know if we were going to be closed.

It worked well.  Since then we have kept the page and used it to advertise when new journals are in and we are going to extend this to books.  We don't have alot of followers in relation to members of the library (139 fans - 400 members) and many are former members. 

I would not rely on it as the only means of communicating with our users but it is a fairly quick way to send updates and a good additional method that suits some people.

Murder in the librarything

Librarything I first heard about a few years ago and thought what an excellent way to load up my book collection and then never be stuck in that secondhand shop wondering if I already had a book.  I looked at it but never did anything so Thing 14 gave me the impetus. Or did it?

I created my page and decided to add the crime fiction books I have on my shelves.

I have a number of series by authors so decided I would search by author and then add all their books rather than getting each book off the shelf.  This was my first problem - I retrieved the titles but only seemed to be able to add one book then research and add another book etc.  Time consuming.  I added about 20 titles and then decided I would go on and add a review and keywords.  Again, probably missing something but I started with Dorothy L Sayers and wanted to add Lord Peter Wimsey to all the titles.  I could only see a way to go in individually but probably missing something.  

So I started with Gaudy Night and edited the entry, filled in keywords, wrote a brief review.  Then I made a mistake.  The book jacket I had loaded was different to the one I owned but there was an option to search other book jackets.  So I did this and found the right one so felt pleased.  After accepting it I was returned to the edit screen to find I had lost all my keywords and reviews which I had not saved - back to square one, not impressed.

I can see the advantage of librarything if you have a bunch of books by you and are scanning in the isbns.  If you are doing author searches the options are too many really to be practical.  Also too time consuming to retrospectively add your collection especially if your day job also involves cataloguing books you don't really want to do it at home as well!

I would like to investigate further the linking to opacs and new book lists now I am back in work as I think this would be useful.

Mirror, mirror on the wall ...

Time for reflection - more time than I expected as stockchecking at work and then on holiday.  I tried the Vark Questionnaire to see what type of learner I was.  No real surprises that my learning preferences were read/write closely followed by visual.  It was a bit disconcerting that my study stragegy ended by saying "You are heading for the library" - looks like I am in the right place.
I wanted to be kinesthetic as I had no clue what that was but it wasn't to be.

Reflecting on the 12 things so far, I have enjoyed the chance to try out or revisit various tools.  The biggest change was Delicious. I registered awhile back and it was fairly limited, now it looks really useful for myself and for the library users.  Twitter I feel is only really beneficial if you are on it almost all the time, otherwise you miss the flow of information - perhaps time for me to get a smart phone and become connected.  Also not convinced about blogging although much easier than I thought to do.  Doodle, calendar, slideshare and flikr are all useful for getting organised and sharing.  Definitely will continue to use to some extent.

I am looking forward to exploring some new tools in the future things.  And continuing beyond the things into the future where I am sure there are many changes ahead - a shame I didn't get any vibes from Nostradamus!