Friday, 11 May 2012

A new adventure: cpd23

It's been a while since I last did any blogging. My previous flurry of activity was due to my participation in Cam23, a 23 Things programme which encouraged the investigation and evaluation of various online and social media technologies. I got a lot out of that experience and feel that taking part in cpd23 will be another valuable opportunity to try out some new tools. I am also attracted however by the Things that are less "technology-focussed", things that should prove really useful in thinking about career development. In particular, Online presence, Getting involved, Careers, and Promoting yourself really stand out. I hope through the course of the programme to develop my (currently low-key) online professional presence. I was rather timid about my online voice during Cam23 and now feel that I would really like to raise my profile. I would like to get more actively involved in online library discussions and activities as they provide a great opportunity for sharing ideas and knowledge and are a great arena for learning and meeting new people. I hope that cpd23 will spur me on to achieve this. Am looking forward to the challenge!      

Thursday, 12 August 2010


The Final Thing!

So this is it, the very last Thing. For a while I didn't think I'd make it, but here I am! It's been fun, and I now feel much more knowledgable about all things web 2.0. I'll be able to impress all my less web 2.0-aware friends with recommendations and advice for the many tools I have explored!

What Things have I found most useful?
I have really taken to using Google Calendar, just because it makes me feel extra-organised, and I have synced it to my new phone, which means it's always going to be easy to refer to, so I'm a convert on that one. And I can see its potential for internal library staff organisation.
Doodle I was already using, and think it's fantastic for organising get-togethers with several people (it makes arranging an event so much easier), I'll continue recommening it to others. And again I think it can be useful for scheduling meetings between staff, especially when its between staff from different libraries.
I'd never actually looked at Flickr before, but now whenever I need a picture, I'll know where to look. I think the creative commons is a brilliant resource: I really like that the copyright restrictions are written so clearly, so I can feel confident about what I can and can't do with the images. And so many of the photos are of an unbelieveable quality, I could spend hours and hours just browsing and admiring the gorgeous images. Definitely going to be useful for my next library poster, and I do see the potential for some libraries to create albums and add a photostream to their library website.
Delicious I will definitely use: it'll probably be a pretty big job initially duplicating all the Favourites saved in my browser, but I sure it'll be worth it (did I read somewhere that this can somehow be done automatically?) Anyway, the flexibility in access and safety of my bookmarks from any pc disasters are massive positives! Again, incorporating the tag and link roll features of Delicious on to a library website might be useful for making relevant resources easily available to users.
Zotero and Google Docs are also tools with great potential. With the start of my MA fast-approaching, these Things could well become firm favourites for providing aid with referencing and collaborative work. Very happy to have learnt about them now!

LibraryThing: well, my account's all set up, and I do like the idea of it. But I probably won't exert a lot of effort into it right now (I don't have a lot of time for reading at the moment, and feel this would have more benefit when I'm in a position to take up some of those recommended books). I really like the idea of having a LibraryThing widget on a library webpage. Incorporating LibraryThing tags and recommendations into the library OPAC I'm not so sure about.
My iGoogle page: well, I don't really have a reason to use it particularly (I find I'd rather go straight to the sites I need rather than through the start page), but I do like the page I created so I do visit it from time to time to admire it, and I do have some interesting RSS feeds on it so I don't plan to completely desert it.
I have to say I'm still not convinced by Twitter, but I'll stick with it because it is a way to hear about library-related happenings and news. I apologise to my followers that still no Tweets have materialised, I will try harder. I do recognise its potential as a means of communication for libraries, to inform users of new resources and library news, but I don't think it's particularly suited to a College library, firstly because there wouldn't be enough to tweet about regularly, and secondly I don't think Twitter is widely used by students.
Slideshare and wikis are useful things to have learnt about, and will consider them when a need arises (i.e. creating a powerpoint and working collaboratively).
LinkedIn I will consider in the future.

RSS, Facebook and YouTube I was already familiar with and love. Podcasting is something I will explore further (in particular whether I can listen to them via my phone or mp3 player because I think they could make my train journeys much more productive). I'm finding RSS extremely helpful for keeping informed about developments and news in the library world, and I love the YouTube library videos, I will keep looking out for new ones (not something I would recommend doing in my library though). A library Facebook page has the greatest potential I feel for communicating with my library's users, for promoting services and notifying them of library news. This is the tool I would suggest if my library is to try out marketing through social media.

I suppose the Thing I have found most thought-provoking has been Tagging: its pros and cons are both fairly weighty. As librarians we value the controlled-vocabulary that facilitates retrieval and ensures a standard organisation of material. However, the web is all about the democratisation of information, and it makes sense to tag content that is personal to you with terms that have personal value and meaning. I like the freedom and the flexibility this provides. I'm still not sure about tagging's place in a library OPAC!

As for blogging, I've definitely gained in confidence, and actually begun to enjoy it. It's nice to write down my thoughts, but while at first I was extremely paranoid about who might be reading (being completely open to the world was a rather terrifying prospect initially), I guess I've realised that not many people are actually going to look at it, which in a way makes it far less daunting and pressured. So yes, I'd say I've come to quite enjoy it, and maybe I will be inspired to write the occasional post now and again when this programme has finished. I very much doubt it will continue to be a regular thing without having a given topic to discuss. If I'm ever asked to write a professional library blog in the future, I'll be much less phased by the prospect because of this experience.

I can see that all the Things we have been exploring have their merits, but some are definitely more useful to libraries than others. It's been really insightful to examine libraries' experience with the different tools, ways that they have been used effectively, and the positive benefits they've had. I think a lot depends on the size and type of library-the bigger the library and the bigger the number of users, the more useful these tools could be for reaching out to them and communicating. In a smaller library, I think maybe one tool would be sufficient for 'marketing', if after evaluation that proved to be effective. The time input required, and the potential outreach needs to be considered for evaluating the overall usefulness and value of the tool. A lot could be achieved with these tools, and the amazing thing is that they are free, and require little technical knowledge to use.

The greatest impact web 2.0 and social media seem to be having on libraries is that they make them far more accessible and open. They help to present an image of a library as modern, friendly and approachable. It opens up channels for communication, interaction and participation with and by users, making library services much more accessible, and in a way extends services beyond the library's walls. I'm sure they are helping to overcome stereotypical ideas about libraries, because by participating in a social space new connections are possible in an enviroment that has the potential to be fun and engaging. They are providing an opportunity to go outside the library to promote services and resources, and have a part in online communities which surely has the effect of raising the profile of a library and alerting users to the full range of services that are provided.

The main thing I have learnt from this programme is that we shouldn't be scared to explore new technology, and consider its potential for professional purposes. A lot of issues do need to be considered: security and privacy in particular. But by taking the time to investigate what other libraries are doing with web 2.0, and the positive things that can be achieved, we can gain ideas and inspiration for ourselves. I have discovered a whole world of web 2.0 through this programme (before I started I'd hardly scratched the surface of all the things that are out there), and there are some pretty amazing tools available. Libraries should consider seriously the benefits and exciting opportunities these offer.

A BIG thank you to the Cam23 Team for organising and putting together the programme, for all the direction and instructions that you provided, and for the enthusiasm and motivation that was expressed in the posts! It's been great to explore the different tools with others, to talk and share ideas, and to provide support for one another. It's been a great experience and very enjoyable!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010


I haven't used a wiki in library work specifically, but as a graduate trainee I contribute to the Cambridge Trainee Librarians website, CaTaLOG. This involves working collaboratively with the other trainess, so we use a wiki on CamTools where we write a website updates to-do-list, put our names down on the webmaster rota, and make a note of the updates we have made. It is useful for keeping on top of what needs to be done and who's doing what. Like Google Docs, wikis seem to provide a much less messy way to collaborate with others rather than sending multiple emails backwards and forwards. It seems that wikis have greater utility for collaboration between library staff than as a tool for communication with users: would we want to make resource guides available through something that users can edit, or would it just be best to make them viewable on a library website? The main advantages of a wiki seem to be that it is faster to update, can be fully-text searchable, and is easier to navigate. If it is possible to limit editing rights of certain material to only library staff, maybe this would be a good tool for sharing information more widely with users.

I can see that a wiki would be useful for internal library project management in order to coordinate activities. The Library Routes Project sounds great, and as an aspiring librarian I'll have to check it out. I think it's really exciting to see what can be achieved when people are given the opportunity to contribute to and participate in something. Though there are issues with this open participation, I really like the notion behind the idea that by working together people can create some really incredible things.

Podcasting and YouTube

I found the information on podcasting very interesting, particularly because it has given me a clearer understanding of the various channels through which they can be listened to. I have listened to a couple of JISC podcasts on my computer before, and will definitely have a listen to some of their Libraries of the Future podcasts, and perhaps also CILIP communities podcasts. I would be interested to disover whether my mp3 player (a little dated now) will play podcasts-something for me to investigate!

I can see that podcasting has potential as a way to reach out and inform students. I particularly enjoyed reading the podcasting activities and future plans at the University of Georgia. I agree that the most beneficial use of podcasts would be for distance education students who are unlikely to be able to utilise the library for guidance and support in information literacy. I also agree that it could not be used as a substitute for face-to-face contact with students, but might be a useful supplement because it is something students could refer to when they actually need help, as a kind of on demand service. I also like the flexibility of podcasting: it can be listened to when, where and how a student wants (I particularly like the way they can be used to add value to 'dead time' such as during a commute). It would be essential that the podcasts be kept short and focused on a single topic so as not to deter students from listening, and that they be entertaining at the same time as being instructional.

As for the content, the examples I found being used by libraries include help on using library facilities, help on using library resources, using the self-issue machines, and discussions of notable items within the library's collection. This type of tutorial-style content sounds great, but I wonder how much they are actually used? They seem very geared towards first-time users of a library: would a student utilise this form of learning over face-to-face contact? Equally I'm not convinced about their use for induction tours. Though they may work well for larger libraries, within my library they could not be used as a replacement because we place great emphasis on inductions and do not allow students access to the library until we have given them a tour. I think we would always prefer to do this in person.

I love the library YouTube videos, and in particular the fact that so many are choosing humour in order to convey their message-this is definitely the right way to go. Some are very ambitious, and I personally think to do a great job, but I don't know what sort of reception they are getting among students/users. Hopefully a positive one! I don't think I'd suggest making a video for my library any time soon, but maybe if I got a lightening bolt of inspiration and creative energy I'd be motivated to make one and get it out there.

Overall, I do like the idea of using the audio-visual medium to reach out to library users. It's a bit different, and works well as an entertaining, interesting way of communicating information. I do like the potential, but right now, for a College library I don't see much scope for using it. But once again, I'll keep an open mind!

Google Docs

So Google Docs. Wow, what a great idea. It was extremely easy to use (for writing a basic document anyway), and I think will be enormously useful. I would probably tend to upload documents, presentations and spreadsheets from my pc rather than creating them from scratch within Google Docs itself, just because I like using Word etc., although I might try it out and see what it's like. As I will soon be starting my MA, I can see that this will be extremely helpful for any collaborative work I need to do, and can also appreciate that group projects within the library world would benefit from this tool. It also appeals because it provides a backup for my documents (I always worry that something might happen to my pc, and fear my work would be lost). While I've never been completely swamped with email attachments, it does seem a much less messy way to deal with documents that several people need to work on, and prevents the need of having to save multiple copies of the same thing on to your pc, which can get incredibly confusing. Definitely a tool I will recommend to others the next time I need to work collaboratively, hooray!

Marketing with social media

How do I feel about the marketing opportunities that social media now offers? Well, as I have been discovering throughout this programme, there are a vast range of Things that provide an opportunity for making connections and communicating, for sharing information and interacting. And the thing I find most incredible about the various tools I have explored is that they are free! So without a doubt, libraries should make use of social media to ensure a presence within online communities, because if they don't they are missing out on an important way of reaching out to users.

As far as marketing with social media is concerned, I think the main aim should be to promote the image of the library as a modern, friendly, approachable place, and to publicise services that are available. I agree with Stewart Bain that libraries' use of social media should be fun and engaging, and that the content provided would need to be kept up-t0-date and posted relatively frequently. I understand that the point of social media is to encourage conversations and participation, and should not be used merely as a means to broadcast information. I'm not sure how easy this is to achieve, but it's certainly worth a try, and a process of regular evaluation would be needed to identify what is working and what is not.

The tool that I consider most suitable to promote my library's sevices to its users is Facebook. As I mentioned before, the best chance of connecting with users is by utilising a space that they are familiar with and spend a lot of time in. Now I realise there is no guarantee that users will fully embrace the library's efforts in this area, but I believe the format offered by Facebook Fan Pages is ideal for communicating information about new resources, news about the library, publicising services and the collection, and promoting a friendly and accessible image of the library. Maybe including features that encourage direct participation by users (asking directly what they think about a particular service, or maybe something more fun like captions for photos) could help to measure the effectiveness of the page (but do students have the time/interest to spend on these kind of things?). Maybe having the Library's Facebook page displayed on a pc within the library would help in promoting awareness and visibility. Though interacting and communicating with students through social media may be a little beyond my expectation right now, utilising it to at least promote the library's services and resources, I feel, would be a step in a positive direction.