Wednesday 30 June 2010


Credit to valeriev for the presentation

I have used something similar to Slideshare in my studies. Being a distance learning student I found it really useful as a tool for delivering a lecture via distance. The first thing that strikes me about using the application in the UL is the reader education programme. I am not sure what the average attendance is like but whenever I help a reader using the catalogue and mention that there are training courses available they all say that they "don't have the time for that"/ I wonder though if it because they don't want to risk looking 'stupid'. Not that I am suggesting for a moment that they are (U have worked in the UL for eight years now and I still feel like I am just getting a grip on things!) but I have found from personal experience that it is hard to show weakness and ask for help. Maybe having something like a Slideshare presentation would help users to overcome this? They still get the training and they can be anonymous at the same time.
I think it could also be useful for delivering training sessions or presentations to staff since it can be difficult to find a time for everyone to get together (as I found out in Doodle week). I can appreciate though that there are some presentations that people would not want to share with the whole universe. It is the same with any Web 2.0 application - you have to be selective in what you share.

Monday 28 June 2010


Credit to Florrievassingbourne for the image
I have used Flickr in the past mainly to look at other peoples pictures but always liked the principle behind it. It seems like the ideal way to see your friends photos without waiting for everyone else to look at them first.
I have seen some of the photos of the UL on Flickr before and have been quite impressed with the quality of some. I am not sure that I agree with anyone being able to take photos in the UL but with cameras on phones etc, I am not sure how much we can do to stop it. I know I have had to ask people not to take pictures before but it's a matter of catching them in the act.
I think that the virtual tour is a great idea, especially for places like the UL. There are places that the students do not get to see but even more that the general public never get to see. I also think that showing students around the library in a virtual way helps to make it less intimidating when then actually turn up!
I have to wonder about the tags used in Flickr though. The above image was tagged "Pigeons" which I had to squint to see on the tower!

Friday 18 June 2010


I actually find the whole subject of tagging really interesting (don't know what that says about me!). There seem to be two main schools of thought, one encouraging the use of tagging to index items and the other claiming that it will cause chaos.

On the one hand, allowing users to index items in a catalogue could open up new interpretations of the subject that a single cataloguer may not have thought of. Actual users of the item are also more likely to have a better idea of what the item is about that a cataloguer is somewhat disassociated from the material. It is cheaper than using trained cataloguers and is probably the only way to cover the vast and ever growing amount of information on the Internet. There has also been argument that controlled vocabulary index languages are hard to understand and follow, especially for users who are not used to them. To some extent, tagging solves this problem since it allows people to use the vocabulary that is familiar to them and it can better keep up with changing trends in terms.

This is also the major downfall of tagging. With no imposed control on the tagging system it runs the risk of having no order to it. There is no control over which terms are used for subjects meaning that users must search for multiple terms which could be exhausting! There are those who claim that some sort of order is created by a consensus between taggers but further research is needed. To impose control would be to destroy some of the main advantages of tagging. It has been suggested that tags could be monitored and the most popular used to create a new controlled vocabulary. I think that this is a very exciting idea with potential.

I would like to see a system which has the best of both worlds and I think that this will happen in the near future. I don't think that we cataloguers should worry about our jobs just yet, since to be effective in information retrieval some sort of mediation will be needed.
(Image credit: justinph)

Twittering tweeple

I have had a Twitter account since attending a training session a few weeks ago but I am finding it very hard to get into. I really hate the slightly stalker-ish way I keep getting emails telling me people are following me, although I suppose it is good that they want to hear what I have to say. It seems like it is written in a foreign language but I suppose as I come to be more comfortable with it I will be able to better understand it.

I think that the main benefit for me will be as a professional development tool. Being able to keep up to date through the use of the hash tags is really useful and I like how you can get access to all of the tweets tagged with a hash tag just by clicking on it.

As for use in the library, it would be useful for keeping users updated in short bursts. Something that they could hopefully keep up with and useful for providing access to short pieces of information that might not otherwise be worth publishing.

One extra feature I have discovered is the ability to follow different publishers. As someone who is studying and writing essays etc, this is a very useful feature as it keeps me up to date on books that could be of interest. Now if only Twitter would cooperate and stop showing me that whale!

Edited to add: Since this post seems to be proving so popular (?!) I'd better add that this was written a long time ago, when I had just started using Twitter. Since I wrote this post Twitter has become one of my most used professional tools. I have made many contacts via Twitter and always find something useful to read or discuss. Hopefully this serves as a reminder that even if you don't like Twitter (or any other social media site) at first it's worth going back to have a second look. You never know how useful it might end up being!

Sunday 13 June 2010

Google Calendar

This has great potential for a library. I would guess that users are far more likely to look at an online calendar than read lengthy newsletters or notices on a board. It is a great way of keeping users up to date with the happenings (?) in a library.
It is easy to use and add to iGoogle but I am not sure that I would want to share it with many people. There must be a way of "unsharing" it again otherwise things might get messy.
Both Google calendar and Doodle seem like things that could and have been done in the 'real' world for a long time now with few problems. Is there really any need to put them online? The answer is yes, since that seems to be the way that the world is moving these days (for better or worse, but that is too much to get into on a Sunday morning!)


To date I use Google, Moodle and now Doodle and I have to wonder who keeps coming up with these silly names?

I wasn't really keen on Doodle. I can see the appeal when organising a meeting for a large number of people when trying to keep times and dates straight would be complicated. If I ever needed to organise something like this at work then I would possible use it but not for anything in my personal life. Maybe the problem is that I don't organise anything like this at work so the meaning is lost on me? One day I may think that it is the best thing ever invented!

Friday 4 June 2010

Blogging about blogging

I have been visiting a number of Cam23 blogs and see that most people have managed to come up with a more creative user name than me!

I think that the hardest thing about blogging is the getting started. It's a bit like writing the first paragraph of an essay - you don't really know what to write. I am not sure that this will be my favourite element of Web 2.0. I find it quite hard to know what to write since I don't always feel that I have something interesting to say. I'm not sure that I will keep it up after the program ends (all try to hide your disappointment now!)

I can definitely see the benefits for a library though. I am sure that no one actually reads printed newsletters any more so this is a good way of getting information out to the masses. Combining blogging with RSS feeds seems like an effective replacement for these newsletters.

Comments on blogs are an excellent way to get feedback. Would users have bothered to send an email to ask about something seen in a newsletter? Maybe, but I think that they will be far more likely to comment on a blog. They can also get feedback from the library this way. Whilst this could lead to interesting discussion it could also lead to spamming. Just a necessary risk that has to be taken maybe?

Wednesday 2 June 2010

iGoogle and RSS feeds

Set up the iGoogle page - check! I'll admit that I spent most of the set up time playing with colour schemes but once I got the grips with it is seems like a pretty useful gadget.

I especially like the tab feature where you can add different tabs for different areas of your life. The lay out reminds me of the BBC webpage, where you can drag and drop the sections that interest you. You can have it as simple or complex as suits you. The layout of webpages and how cluttered they can look sometimes puts me off using them so this is a welcome feature.

I have seen references to RSS feeds on all sorts of webpages over the years but have never really taken the time to look into them and understand what they mean. Now that I know I can see the huge potential that they could have for libraries. Students tend to have the attention span of the average goldfish so allowing them information in an easy portal like this seems like a great idea. I also take on board the point that it is much easier to have all the headlines in one place rather than having to check multiple websites, multiple times to get the latest updates. This one has definite potential...