Tuesday 14 September 2010

Shameless plugging

For anyone still reading this (or who has forgotten to update their RSS feeds) I am currently at the CILIP CIG conference in Exeter. As part of the conditions of my free student place I have to make guest posts on their blog. If you would like to know what's hip in the world of cataloguing and indexing(!) please read on:


Sunday 15 August 2010

Wordle - I have been waiting for this one!

I have been waiting for this one, and not just because it is the end of 23 Things! I have been dying to play with Wordle and I hope that the finished image looks good!
I have liked and disliked some of the Things in equal measure. I will be using Zotero in the again since I am already finding it very useful for keeping track of my references. Other favourites were SlideShare and YouTube. I think that these could be the way of delivering presentations in the future since they enable people to see/hear the content without having to organise a time and place where they can all get together.
Things that I was not so keen on include Doodle and LinkedIn. This is more down to personal preference than there being anything wrong with them. I think that there are better ways of scheduling meetings and LinkedIn just doesn't seem appropriate for me right now.
I think that Web 2.0 could certainly be a way for libraries to maintain contact with their users. In fact those that don't use at least some of the tools run the risk of being left behind. Users will have grown up with this technology and they will expect libraries to use it. I think that it should become a major part of ongoing professional development and that none of us should give into the temptation of 'leaving it to someone else'.
I have really enjoyed 23 Things overall and I feel like I have learned a lot. I am now more confident with using Web 2.0 techonology and would at least know what a user was talking about if I was asked a question. Although I am not really in a position to be implimenting any of them in my current job I will continue to monitor changes and in the future, who knows!


I start this week with a confession: I use Wikipedia all the time! I know that makes me a bad librarian but sometimes it can provide a very useful starting point.
I always thought of Wikis as just something like Wikipedia which was for mass usage rather than something that could be used for a library. However, this weeks Thing has shown me that it does have its uses. I take the point that email can be a slow way of organising things and Wikis could be a way of speeding up collaborations. When librarians have a project to organise it could save a lot of time and duplicated effort. I suspect that some librarians who are just getting used to email will take some persuasion before using wikis though!
I especially liked the idea of the online book club mentioned in the SlideShare presentation. I think that this would work well for public libraries that offer this kind of service to their users, especially for users who might find it hard to make the meetings such as mothers of small children.
I am not so sold on the idea of using wikis for user guides as I think that they could be open to abuse. I am sure that some students would think that it was hilarious to send new users on a wild goose chase around the building looking for the photocopiers or something. Until security has been improved I am not sure that this would be the best use for wikis. As the picture shows, ANYONE can edit them!
(Image credit: slava)

Sunday 8 August 2010

Podcasting and YouTube

I really like the idea of podcasting. I think that the library could use them as introductions to the different departments or even the library as a whole. This would be especially useful for somewhere like the UL which has many departments of interest to different users. I have said before that I don't think users take much notice of newsletters or leaflets and podcasting would be another way of introducing them to the services. Maybe an introduction to the Reference Department or the Official Publications Department showing who they are and what they do. So many MP3 players are equipped with video now so a short video introduction could be made to each department for users to download when they needed. They could then take this with them when they visited the department. I think that users don't ask the obvious questions because they don't want to look stupid so this could be used as an alternative. This could also work for non-video podcasts. I would also like to see the library newsletter turned into a podcast format so that users can listen on the go.
Linking podcasts and YouTube videos to events at the library would be a good publicity move. This would give users who cannot physically get to the library a chance to see things such as the recent Sassoon exhibition at the UL. Maybe in the form of a virtual tour? This would certainly raise the library's profile.
I listened to the Goldsmiths podcasting tour which is similar to what I had in mind. I think it could be quite entertaining to watch all these new students walking around listening intently on their ipods! Hopefully this would encourage users who seem to have an aversion to asking for help/taking library tours to actually use the library during the year rather than just the two weeks before their exams!
(Image credit: D'Arcy Norman)

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Google Docs

Google Docs seems like a really great idea. Users can share documents and access them from anywhere with Internet access. I have often had the same problem mentioned in the video - keeping track of multiple attachments can be hard. It does make me wonder whether the author can see the edits that are made to the document or whether they just appear? I am sure the answer will become obvious after a little play.
I think that I will be making use of this one in the future. It seems a little too good to be true though so I am wondering if it will show its bad side eventually! It could be a good way to get documents like how-to-guides out to users. It could even be used to send such a document out to a selected group of readers and get feedback before the official release. I am sure that more uses will spring out at me the more I use it but for now I am really liking this one!
(Image credit: ifindkarma)

Sunday 1 August 2010

Marketing with 2.0

Using Web 2.0 in your library is a marketing feature in itself. By using modern technology we are helping to dispel the image of dusty librarians and even dustier books. Students want to use the latest technology and if we can use it to then we must be doing something right. It also helps to reach out to the users on a platform that they are familiar and comfortable with. If they won't come to us then we have to go to them!
I agree with the main blog post that these new technologies should be seen as opportunities and not threats. Although they can be scary things to get to grips with I think the end results will be worth it.
I am not really in a position to actually implement any changes at the library so I will play fantasy librarian for a moment. If I was in charge, in addition to a bigger office, I would take the opportunity to get the library out there in as many ways as possible. Setting up a Facebook page would be a priority as would adding a LibraryThing page. I like the idea of the social media cards. Users seem to latch onto one or two particular librarians and this would be a good way to stay in contact, if the librarian is happy with it of course! I would start small and build up to using more social sites but I think that establishing am online presence is important.
(Image credit: Lawrence OP)


I am not completely in love with this tool but I am well on my way to a lasting relationship!

Being a student I am finding it hard to keep track of my references (I know, terrible!). I can be at work cataloguing a book and find something really interesting that might be relevant for an essay or just browsing on the internet. I tend to save my links to whichever computer I am on at the time or write them down on scraps of paper for later use. Of course, this means that I spend a fair bit of time running around after the references at a later stage. Needless to say, anything which helps with this problem seems like a good thing. I am disappointed that it can't be run with Internet Explorer which is the browser which I normally use but that is easy to fix. I will be playing about with this one in the next few weeks.
I think that this would a good application to make users aware of since it has the potential to save so much time (and late nights trying to locate that missing piece of paper). I also really like the idea of creating a list for users where you can add notes about the material. It seems like an excellent way to get users using sources which they might not otherwise consider. It can also be adpated to reading lists for specific courses (which people no doubt already do).
At last, a reason to REALLY love this Web 2.0 thing!
(Image credit: Chocolate Geek)

Sunday 25 July 2010


Not sure I like this one. Maybe I don't have a personal use for it and that's why I haven't taken to it. It may be useful to know about in the future though (when I have one of those high flying library jobs!)
It could be useful for making contacts or looking for jobs but I prefer these things to be done in the real world. Like I say, maybe I am just not at the stage of really needing these things yet!
One feature that I do really like though is the link to an Amazon book list. Being a student I am always on the lookout for books that could be of use so this is a welcome feature.
(Image credit: rubybgold)


It seems quite appropriate to be discussing Facebook in the same week that it hit 500 million users. Apparently if Facebook was a country it would be the third largest in the world!
Facebook seems to be here to stay where other similar sites have come and gone. It seems the ideal tool for libraries to use to promote their services and collections. I know that the UL has various apps that can be added to a Facebook page to renew library books etc. Adding things like this to a service that people actually use seems to be a good idea.
As events are added to the library's home page they appear on the news feed of the individuals Facebook page. It seems to be one way to get the message across without relying on the user to check for updates all the time. Although this is an advantage, it shouldn't be relied on as the only way to get information out. I know from personal experience that the news feed can move very fast and it can be easy to miss things - especially if you are subscribed to a lot of sites!
Creating a group for a library is an interesting idea but I would worry about how to manage a large user base. It also relies on users asking to join your group which might not always get the best response.
Given the popularity of Facebook and the way that it seems to have invaded everyday culture I think it would be shortsighted of libraries to ignore its potential!
(Image credit: daveynin)

Sunday 18 July 2010


At last - something that I have used before. Maybe I am not so far behind in this Web 2.0 thing as I was staring to think!
I have mostly used LibraryThing to see others reviews of books that I have read or am thinking about reading. I always find it more reliable for reviews than commercial sites since it doesn't try to sell me anything. It can be very reassuring to see that others have hated the best selling paperback that everyone swore that you would love!
I like the idea of using it for libraries, although I do see that it would only work for smaller libraries. I dread to think what it would take to put the ULs collection on there! I like anything interactive where the users can tag the books and give recommendations. I sometimes feel that there is only so much we can do when we never actually read the books. The at a glance availability feature comes in handy to. I enjoyed reading the "Social networking for bookworms" article and would recommend it to anyone who has skipped it.
The alerts feature is really useful. Not quite sure how I managed it (I think I just put in my postcode) but my LibraryThing page gives me updates on local book related events such as signings. This could be really useful for promoting the library.
Overall, I think that this is my favour tie "Thing" so far and I look forward to further developments.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Reflection week

The thing that worries me most about my blog posts is that they are too short. Sometimes I find that I can go on and on about something and sometimes I can genuinely say everything I want to say in a paragraph. I try not to look at what others have written until after I have posted my entry for the week, otherwise I would get too bogged down in the he/she has already said that nightmare! It is sometimes comforting to read them afterwards and find out that others think the same as you!
My favourite Things so far have been Slideshare and Flickr. I can really see the applications for a library, especially Slideshare for user training. I am looking forward to some of the Things yet to come, especially Wordle. I am having a hard time not playing with that one!
I think that most of the activities have suited my learning style. I find it easier to play around with something than just read about it and I have plenty of opportunity to have a play.
I feel more confident of some of the Things than others but that is probably a result of how much time I have had that week to play around with them. Once the Things are over I will probably revisit them and explore them more fully in my own time.
I am looking forward to the rest of the Things and am glad to have made it this far!
(Image credit: in da mood!)

Sunday 4 July 2010


Delicious is another one of those websites that I have heard about but not really looked at. As a student I have visited a couple of my lecturers recommended reading lists on Delicious but not a lot else.
For someone who has two computers at work like me, plus another one at home, I can see the obvious advantages of having bookmarks stored online so I always have access. I am forever having to duplicate bookmarks which does seem like a lot of wasted effort.
For libraries it is useful to have web links in one place like this, since it is usually what students today expect. I think that it would be better suited to subject libraries than a general library like the UL since it can have a narrower focus and avoid it getting too complicated.
It does seem to me like quite a complicated resource to master and one that I am going to explore in a bit more detail. I am not quite convinced so far but I may be in the future.
(Image credit: .craig)

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...

Monday 31 May 2010

First things first

I will admit it: most of my experience of Web 2.0 involves playing Farmville on Facebook! I do understand that there must be more to it than this so I signed up for 23 things to learn about what it can do for me and my library. It is slightly embarrassing to not know what things like an RSS feed are!

I am interested in how to use these new technologies to interact with users and dispel the image of the little grey haired librarian who pushes her trolley around shushing everybody.

Here goes nothing ...