12 August 2010

Farewell Cam23

23 things in three months - how time has flown. It has been great to have an excuse (and a gentle prod) to explore new applications, and become better acquainted with old ones. Some were old friends well used and familiar, but Cam23 still cajoled us into looking at them in a different light, asking such pertinent questions as "would you use them in your library". Others were new and exciting. Some 'things' one instantly saw the point of, and how to use them. Doodle will now be used whenever the need arises. Other 'things' were slow burners. I was unsure about Delicious, but now find myself constantly adding  my "items to read later" to it.  Some I need yet more time to get to know ... Zotero, Wikis and Google Docs are definitely works in progress.

Which has been most useful? - a hard question - so many to choose from. Doodle for ease of use but of course only used in very specific circumstances. Twitter is brilliant for networking and CPD, and many of the posts themselves can be thought provoking. (Google docs caused much provocation of my thoughts as I attempted to achieve what I wanted, but that's another story). Least useful has been LinkedIn, but I think in fairness that has been because I have not paid it enough attention and need to investigate it further. I have persisted with most - RSS feeds, Doodle, iGoogle, Google Calendar, Twitter, Flickr, Slideshare, Delicious Facebook and Google documents, with a brief sortie into Wikis. The rest will be revisited later.

Web 2.0 and social media, are part of the world we (and our users) live in. To fully support our students, we need to embrace them (Web 2.0 and social media that is!). That is not to say that we have to accept them wholesale - like any other tools, we need to pick the right ones for the job, ones of sufficient quality and pedigree, and almost as importantly, not be afraid to move on as the web develops. Libraries and users WILL change - to best serve our customers (and to enjoy our role) we need to change with them.

Cam23 as expected has led us all to try things we would perhaps have put off or avoided. However it has had other benefits as well. The camaraderie and the support from our fellow travellers has been terrific. Not only have people given helping hands, and pointed us in the right direction when lost, but they've also introduced us to yet more applications, and gadgets to try, which I am itching to explore. I hope that this can continue and we can keep encouraging each other to carry on learning, not losing the impetus now that we have reached the 'finish line'. The sprint is over - long live the marathon! Now just off to play with "thing" 24, and 25 and...

11 August 2010


Until recently my experience of wikis was limited to the use of Wikipedia (only ever as a consumer rather than as a contributor). Then a few weeks ago (after exchanged comments on Cam23 blogs), I became involved in the Cambridge TeachMeet. The TeachMeet Wiki has been a useful site for giving out information  - and receiving information from interested parties - at a time that suits those interested, without having to wait for replies from e-mails etc. It also means less duplication of effort - as the contributors put their details directly onto the site - complete with live links to their blogs. I have heard of the Library Routes Wiki before, but had not considered contributing - perhaps after Cam23 is completed would be a good time to give it a go (My career to-date will make it more of a scenic tour rather than a motorway journey... but watch this space!!)

I like the thought of using a wiki in the workplace; it would be very useful to have one at work to form a readily accessible repository in which to put all the procedures information. The one thing that has made me hesitate however is the issue of security. I would not wish to go down the public route chosen by Antioch University:- "This Wiki is public on the Web. Never put personal or security-sensitive information here ... All sensitive information resides in the library in private places."  - as this seems to negate the advantages of having all the information in one place. However it concerns me that even having a wiki that is nominally private, but hosted by a third party, in itself could be considered a security risk.

In conclusion I love the idea of wikis but I would want to look at them in much greater depth before using one for anything I was worried about others reading.

Podcasting and YouTube - a little light relief

And so to "Thing 21". This was great fun - I've not had much previous experience of podcasts, but fear I may become hooked!

First stop - looking at the BBC's offerings...listening to Cumbrian Ospreys  and Mike Harding talking about the Cambridge Folk Fest on his Folk and Acoustic podcast. Next - onto more library related podcasts. These seemed to be variable in quality, and one felt that they had not always thought through how to present them, or listened to them with the ear of a novice library user. The first library tour podcast I listened to was confusing - the layout of the webpage was not obvious, and the podcast I felt went into too much detail so that I quickly found myself "switching off" Goldsmith's tour on the other hand was clear and to the point, the webpage was easily navigable, and yes I could imagine walking round the library listening to it (although preferably when it was fairly empty ;) I listened briefly to the JISC and CILIP podcasts. These were not really ones to dip into, but I could imagine listening to them when I needed the information.

Some of the podcasts were easier to listen to than others - one discussion I listened to didn't work for me because the second person was not adding anything, and it would have worked just as well as a monologue. Another seemed much more like a genuine discussion and was therefore much easier to listen to. I also found myself getting irritated when someone introduced another speaker, and then the second speaker also introduced himself! At least one benefit of listening to a variety of library related podcasts is that I will know what to avoid if I ever make one myself.

More light relief followed when looking at the suggested YouTube videos, The Ninja Librarian and A Plagiarism Adventure were particularly good fun (perhaps we should include the Ninja librarian in our induction sessions?!) It became apparent that one did not need to make them over complicated to be effective. I particularly liked the "silent movies" style used in the Goggle Vision and Social Science Library Oxford Library Tour videos.

Would we consider making podcasts or YouTube videos for the library? Making a podcast seems feasible, but one should bear in mind that they need to be well planned and presented. To make a successful video I think requires fairly outgoing personalities, (as well as technical expertise). To make a bad video would be worse than not having one at all. Would it be worth it? I can see that for some people (myself included), being shown how to do something would have more impact than just being told. Therefore I can see their place, as a teaching tool or as an addition to a library tour for example. However, given these requirements I think it will be a while yet before we attempt either.

Now if you'll excuse me... I'm just off for a spot of Croquet... (Thanks for the link "Girl in the Moon")

10 August 2010

Documents in the Ether

Google docs is another Cam23 'thing' that I think would benefit from more in-depth exploration. Getting started was quite easy, but I got frustrated by the limited range of formatting available. As the idea of Google docs is to use it instead of the ubiquitous 'Word', I started off by trying to create the sort of documents I would normally create at work. Although these would seldom need sharing it seemed a reasonable test of the software. Straightforward typing was fine. Creating a table was alright, although I failed to turn off the gridlines despite following the instructions in the help section. My attempts at creating columns however failed completely. Looking in the help section it suggested creating a table with one row and the required number of columns. In 'Word' when column one is full the next column on the same page is used - a quick experiment with Google Docs showed it using column 1 on page one then column 1 on page 2 etc.(see the screenshot of print preview). This is obviously going to take more work to master. I next had a look at Zoho to see how it compared. This felt more like 'Word' to use, however again I failed  to create columns.

Next to sharing documents. Having already received a couple from other Cam23 colleagues organising the TeachMeet, I was aware of some of the potential pitfalls (I made sure I used their Google enabled e-mail addresses). At first I couldn't work out how to differentiate who added what - I have since discovered that highlighting the relevant text and selecting insert then comment creates a box on the right of the document with your comment and your Google id. (I wonder if there is a more obvious way of differentiation within the document other than each choosing a different coloured text?) That done, sharing a document was easy, and a good way to add material to a shared document in a  fairly painless way.

So what are my thoughts on Google docs? A great idea that is worthy of further exploration (as is Zoho, and probably CamTools). I feel it would be even better (and get used by more people), if it was more compatible with 'Word'. Most people are so used to using 'Word' as a word-processer, that any alternative, really needs to match, if not exceed it in usability. I also am slightly wary of handing over my documents to a third party - although in reality for most of the documents I produce this would not be a major problem.

All in all - a good application for sharing documents with colleagues - despite my reservations. One I am sure I will return to.

8 August 2010

Marketing thoughts

The Cam23 programme had been great for introducing us to a wide range of Web 2.0 applications. The question is how will we use them in the future in our libraries, especially with reference to marketing? I think the critical points are addressed in the Slideshare presentation on marketing library services. Plan what you intend to do. Find the particular needs of your users. Decide what you are hoping to achieve, and then choose the application that best fits those needs. I also think it is important not to think of social media in isolation, but as part of a wider marketing strategy.

I loved the social media card idea in theory - though I confess I would feel a little wary of mixing work with
personal account information - I feel there is a danger of blurring the line between being friendly, and potentially being seen as unprofessional. The other examples seemed more practical. To me the critical factor that has attracted me to the Twitter accounts/ blogs/ Facebook pages set up by various libraries has been that they are informal, friendly and informative. Each application has a place in marketing our libraries.

Twitter is great for short sharp, immediate communication - maybe the best for opening up a channel of communication? Assuming someone already has a Twitter account, having a "Join us on Twitter" button on your website (as well as details on printed literature), requires little effort on their part. Added to this they don't have to actively decide to look for you, click on your page, or visit your blog. I think this would be ideal for more sporadic information. With the ability to use Twitpic and links, one can plug events, show new acquisitions and so forth. In this way one can still get a fair amount of information across (and there is something irresistible to having a small amount of information, with the promise of more if you just click here....!!!)

Blogs and Facebook pages are also good marketing tools IF they are well maintained. It could have a negative effect however if you have a Facebook page, or blog that is never updated. Having said that, a well maintained Facebook page can be a useful addition to a library - as long as one remembers that it is their choice to go to it (or not), so it has to be enticing enough, and/or informative enough for them to want to come back. Blogs perhaps work better in bigger libraries, as they rely on having enough material to make it worthwhile for a user to come and look at it. If it is little more than the basic information already on the website then why would they use that instead? (One can however imbed a blog in a website fairly easily )

The source code for putting this blog into a website!!

As to what we would do in our library, I am not in a position to make that decision. Whatever route we take, the first priority has to be to consider in greater depth what we are intending to achieve, and how we will do so. After that talking to other libraries who have used Twitter, Facebook and Blogs  would a good next step. Personally I would think that Twitter might be the gentlest introduction to using social media for marketing…but I am open to ideas… and advice :)

3 August 2010

Zotero - not a 'Thing' to rush

I was really looking forward to this, having found EndNote so useful for keeping track of what I had read, and what I thought about articles when studying - so I approached Zotero with enthusiasm. First obstacle was "Download Zotero". I need to ask permission and get the IT Department to download anything. As my boss was away, the easiest way was to download it at home. That achieved - next I 'just' needed to discover how Zotero works. I've had a go capturing references from Newton, and to archive web-pages and pdfs, had a quick go at "dragging and dropping a citation, and created a quick bibliography.

 First impression is that it is an efficient bibliographic referencing system - which has a large range of features. I like the fact that it stores the pdfs etc., which are searchable, and one can therefore use the quotes etc later - but I can see that this could cause storage problems after a while. However I've not found it as intuitive as EndNote to use, and really feel I have only scratched the surface of it. I think this is an application that one can really only discover the full capabilities of with extensive use (using it for a purpose, rather than just 'having a go'), as only then will one really fully appreciate what it can do for you. I would be even happier with it if it were web-based, so one could easily use it wherever you want to access it from - in the course of a week I could easily be on 6 different computers!

Personally I can't see us using it in our library, although I can see its place in a departmental library. It will however be useful to have an understanding of it, to be able to answer student's queries, and as an alternative to EndNote for personal use. Setting up a group could also be useful for collaborative ventures.

  Still must get on - more to explore....now I wonder what Mendeley is like?

28 July 2010

Cambridge Teachmeet

If you have been following Isla, Niamh, Katie or Celine, on blog or twitter you will by now have heard of our meeting to arrange a teachmeet on the 27th September, and have some idea of what this entails. What more can I add? Well here goes - just a few thoughts.

-Come along whether as a participant or an observer - who knows, you might be inspired to join in next time.

-The slots are deliberatly short (and open to flexibility timewise - just an indication of what to aim for).

-It is a great way to dabble your toes in the water - short and sweet - maybe it will encourage/inspire you to consider a longer presentation at other library events?

-Feel free to approach the topic from any angle - it could be an event/idea/application you have tried that worked brilliantly that you wish to share - or equally something that didn't quite hit the mark, and that you would do differently next time.

-'Cambridge Librarians' is just a rough indication of whom we expect will want to attend, however we are open to librarians/library assistants from all types of libraries - academic, public, commercial etc etc... and I am sure you wouldn't be turned away for being just over the border ;)

So be brave - join the fun - if someone as tongue-tied as myself is prepared to give it a go, I am sure anyone can!!!

21 July 2010

Linked but undecided

Photo - flickr - by gmajsicmtc
I must admit this is the first Thing that has left me completely cold. Most new applications I try  I want to play with, experiment, explore. With LinkedIn, I just felt completely non-plussed. Having said this - I suppose it is no surprise that since being invited to join I have done little to my account - despite the encouragement of the invitee, who waxed lyrical about how good it was for professional networking.

With this in mind I discussed LinkedIn with my husband who has been on LinkedIn for a number of years, and asked his views on the value of LinkedIn, and it's potential use for the library world.

Plus points for him included-

-good for maintaining the network of work colleagues you have built up at various places of employment - a certain amount of proof for potential employers that you have actually worked where you say you have if you have them in you LinkedIn network.

-network can mean that the people you are networked with may, when a job vacancy comes up, both remember what your particular skills are and have a way of finding you again, or passing on the details to the potential employer of a way of contacting you.

-some job agencies keep a network set up of people who are interested in jobs, having it set-up to alert them to changes to your profile. This can be useful to them to keep up to date with your skills, and useful to the job-seekers who keep reminding the agencies of their presence!

Personally, I still feel a little wary of how much I want to display to how many, and I still need to consider in that case how useful the above points would be (my husband had much more of his profile visible when job-hunting - now much is private again). As for current awareness -  I feel Twitter is much more user-friendly.

He did make an interesting point on the nature of Cambridge's libraries however... saying we seemed to have a very good active actual network of librarians. Many of us know each other personally and professionally, so in this kind of environment perhaps we have less need of a network such as LinkedIn... whereas in the generally more spread out world of work LinkedIn comes into its own (which is perhaps why my friend was so enthusiastic about it, working for a commercial rather than a library within the university). Perhaps he suggested it would be useful to link our close-knit network with one at Oxford?

I can now see some of its possible advantages as a career development tool, - as yet I am less sure of its use to the library itself. I can see this is a 'Thing' I need to explore some more, and perhaps visit again later in this blog!

19 July 2010

Facebook - friend or foe?

I have been on Facebook for a number of years. I have friends spread out across the globe, and Facebook seems to be the perfect way to keep in touch. I have never been the greatest letter writer, and I like the chatty regular comments people write, things that one wouldn't necessarily put in a letter, but which one would say at the pub, or over coffee. This makes me feel much more connected with friends who unfortunately I am unable to meet as regularly as I would like. Privacy can be an issue - mainly if you don't take the time to check your settings regularly when things change on Facebook. I would say that if you take care there is little that others can find - my children both decline to be my friends (they like to keep their social life private which I understand), but it can be a useful check for us to see what we can find about them, and vice-versa - as a 'safe' way to find out what the rest of the world could find ;)

The article Libraries and Facebook made interesting (if dated) reading - considering how quickly Web 2.0 applications develop. This speed in itself can be a problem for institutions - there is always the danger of either getting left behind, or of having others set up an unofficial presence for you instead. For example - do a quick search for Christy Moore (a singer) - this brings up one highlighted page, and a link underneath saying "see more results"....which would you assume was the official page? - in fact it is not the highlighted page, or the one with the most fans (presumably as these were set up first and come higher up in the list.) In this example, I am sure that all support Christy as a singer...but for some organisations these unofficial sites have been set up by those with a grouse against an organisation, and are not portraying the image that the organisation would like the world to see.

My personal view for libraries - is it can be worthwhile having a presence. As is rightly pointed out - having a page, does not necessarily mean people will use it regularly, but it is a means of communication, and if people want the information the more ways of connecting the better. The Facebook page has the advantage that it can be more informal and chatty, in a way that the 'regular' library homepage often fails to be. Having a more chatty presence, can connect with different people, and may encourage more 'real-life' interaction if they perceive you as friendly. This of course all assumes that one makes the Facebook page relatively light. Looking at the local examples given - for me the Jerwood Library hits just the right note - informative but friendly, with plenty of images to draw one in.

One other factor that can be important for some libraries is the feeling of being in control with a Facebook page, whereas the "official" library page can be strictly controlled by the institution or the IT department (and could explain some of the resistance to libraries etc setting up Facebook pages in some quarters)

So for me a thumbs up - a useful addition for libraries trying to connect with their users... and potential users.

16 July 2010

Another Day - Another Thing

Library Thing was an application I was aware of, but I really didn't see a lot of point in cataloguing my own books. To me the main point of a catalogue has always been to find the book you want, and although my family has an extensive collection, we can usually find the ones we want (and even if we can't put our hand on them immediately it is always a good excuse to browse the shelves).I admit that until I had a play with it, I was unaware of the other features it contained, such as clicking on other's review of the books, or that one could download records from such a variety of sources. I can see the attraction of having recommendations and seeing other similar books that are around whether in, or out of print.

With great trepidation I uploaded details of a few of my books - including the book my father wrote on the Overseas Rugby Club - well it has to be the star of my collection :) Once my records were loaded it was interesting to see how many other members had read the various books - and their comments. Obviously it was no surprise that mine was the sole entry for my Dad's book ... however I was surprised that the most read of the small selection I had chosen to input was "The Medieval Tailor's Assistant", a book on making clothes for re-enactment.

Which brings me to one of the perceived benefits of inputting Library Thing data into your OPAC mentioned by John Wensler in his article Library Thing and the Library Catalog - that with Library Thing's large membership more tags will be available for each book than will be available if only your patrons input tags ...it depends on the book. For a specialist book, or a specialist library your own patrons may put in more relevant tags to help their co-user find the book.

I was also wary of the comment that the recommendations for what you would like to read would be more accurate than the famous online bookseller, not being based just on what you had bought (Social Networking for Bookworms). However unless you input all your books onto Library Thing I suspect that this will be similarly biased... I am sure I am not the only one that carefully selected the books that I wanted to show to the world as books on my bookshelves - no cheap and 'cheery' whodunnits here :)

In conclusion - an interesting tool to play with - possibly useful in a library situation, but definitely as an 'added extra', not in place of traditional records.

12 July 2010

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

Well half way there and time for reflection. Has Cam23 been worth it? Definitely - I've tried new applications that I'd just viewed from afar before. Some such as Delicious, personally I could take or leave. Others such as Doodle, I will use from now on. It has also encouraged me to look in more depth at applications I already use. My Google Calendar has been modified to be more useful to me (now why had I never considered making the "month view" the default before?!)

I've also taken the time to look at other ways of viewing Twitter (thanks to the person at the UC&R conference who showed me her Seesmic account). I can now look at several different feed at the same time!... well you know what I mean. I have organised the people I follow into several lists. I made the 'mistake' of subscribing to the British Librarians on Twitter TweepML list wholesale rather than being selective on whom to follow. This was far too many people to follow sensibly, and the people I had originally chosen to follow were lost in a mass of tweets. Now I have a list for my 'regulars' (which I look at most days), another general library list (which I skim when I have time), and a couple of other lists I can dip into. You can also follow hashtags such as #Cam23, or other searches. I am sure I would have hesitated on trying out a reader such as Seesmic had it not been for the impetus of Cam23.

I have really enjoyed trying out the various applications suggested, and look forward to trying out the rest of the applications. My knowledge and skills level in several of them has definitely improved and I can see great potential for some of them (now just to persuade my boss to revise her luke-warm view of Google Calendar...).

I hope my increased knowledge and confidence will stand me in good stead as I progress towards the next step in my career. Hopefully I will be a little less hesitant in trying new applications, and will remember how much I enjoy learning something new. As to what I would recommend - that is hard, as there is so much that would be useful in the right situation - but I suppose Google Calendar and Doodle, closely followed by Twitter, have to be worthy of recommendation.

Reflection over ... roll on the rest of Cam23.

9 July 2010

Quite Tasty

Before getting to this 'Thing', I had come across Delicious, but never actually played with it. Looking around the various examples, I was quite impressed with it. As a personal tool, I can see the advantages of it, as one who has access to a number of different computers at home and at work. Equally I can see that if one has a job where one moves around - for example demonstrating information skills to groups of students - having your links at your fingertips could be very useful. In a static library setting I am less sure - the ability to be able to tag webpages with one's own tags is good, but unless your users can also tag them, I am not sure that they would necessarily find them any quicker using Delicious as opposed to a 'static' website.

Next step was to try and set up a Delicious account. This entailed setting up a Yahoo account (I am sure I had one years ago, but the details escaped me)...I am afraid that as they virtually wanted one's life history, I felt uncomfortable going any further. Here I had a bit of luck - my husband has a Yahoo account, so we set up a Delicious account on that. My view was that Delicious was very easy to use - once we spotted that tags were just separated by spaces not commas. Setting up Tag bundles enables one to sort into 'folders', which looks useful.

I also had a go at a search - I like the idea that one can then filter the search terms.

All in all - a useful tool, but not one to rave about.

30 June 2010


I do like the idea of slideshare. Having been on courses and to conferences it is always useful to be able to revisit the presentations ( somehow there is always some point of the presentation one wishes to refer back to, however carefully one tries to write notes). In general I have found that those presenters who use slideshare for their presentations, have them up on slideshare quicker than those who rely on the conference/course organisers to put them on the website (possibly because slideshare enables one to put them up with restricted viewing and then change permissions later...making it easy to load them at the time of creation).

In the past I have only looked at presentations by people who have given courses I have been on - and I have found it interesting to see their other presentations. I can see that searching for topics; can provide a goldmine of information. I can also see that it could be a hit and miss affair (and one would need to check the quality of the presentations). I struggled to find presentations from Cambridge Libraries, but I suspect that was due to impatience on my part, and not taking sufficient time to refine my search - on the other hand, how many users would spend the time to do so if  their first attempt fails?. Searching for other topics, I came across a variety of potentially useful presentations.  I have an interest in Open Source software and its potential in libraries. However I have always found it hard to describe in detail - for those who are interested, I am including a slideshare presentation at the bottom of this post.

In a library setting I could see the benefit of putting some of the induction and library information on slideshare and embedding it in the library website enabling students to revisit the information as and when they need it (but probably waiting until after the tours before making it available!). I can also see its use for CPD (quality reservations allowing).

From the publishing point of view, when sharing it so publicly it could be harder to keep control over one's own work (I wonder how many people actually read the terms and conditions before publishing?)...although I suspect in the majority of cases this would not be a problem for the type of material that is published. On the flipside it could raise your profile, and if it became known that you create interesting presentations it could encourage course/conference organisers to use you.

In short I think it is a useful tool, which I currently use to access the slides of presentations I have attended. In the short term I will be looking at more of the presentations that are available...however it may be some time before I publish anything myself.

26 June 2010

Flickr - photos, fun, and Creative Commons

This was a much more enjoyable 'Thing'. Flickr seems very intuitive, and it is interesting to see others photographic attempts. Trying a few quick searches was interesting. I chose my daughter's hobby of re-enactment for a search, and it was no surprise that this brought up a plethora of images. More surprising was the quantity of images of Saorge (this photo was taken by Kapri http://www.flickr.com/photos/kapri/2471796476/  ) - a small village on the French/Italy border. Finally doing a quick search for my library retrieved the usual architecturally interesting views of course - but quite why one of the students wanted to take a picture of one of our notices advertising jigsaw puzzles for stress relief is a mystery. (As for the pictures taken of his friends, eyes closed with a red bar over their eyes from the barcode reader - well that was just bizarre!!)

Regarding the use of Flickr for one's own photos - I can see the advantages of using images for virtual library tours, publicity etc. However I am less convinced that it necessarily needs an online storage system to keep them in. I can however see how it can be useful when a diverse group of people are all contributing to an album (for example participants in an event). Being able to use other people's photos under creative commons licenses seems to be where Flickr comes into its own (although one is taking the photographer on trust that they have the relevant permission). Hence the photo I am including is not one of the inside my workplace, although these can be found even when the search is limited to only Creative Commons-licensed content.

Regarding the taking of photos in restricted circumstances -  my workplace states that all photos for commercial purposes must be cleared by the relevant person. One of the photographers who has taken pictures of my workplace appears to be a professional, and states that permission must be given before his photos are used - what it does not state is whether he has been given permission to take and 'publish' these photos.

25 June 2010

Labels Tags, and Friday afternoons!

It perhaps was a mistake to try and cover Thing 8 on a Friday afternoon. I've quickly read Clay Shirky's essay, ontology is overrated but I was struggling to keep going! (more coffee is needed I think).

I can see some of the problems of a static system, whereby one person, or a group of people decide how to classify, or categorise an item (and I agree that with the web one can have a multiplicity of links to the same item), but I still feel that at some stage whichever system you use, it has to come down to "best guess" on the part of the searcher. An organic system whereby others can add tags may increase the success rate, but does not guarantee that the searcher will choose a label someone has given it. Similarly a system which searches all the words in an article, could cover a greater range of possible search terms, but cannot help if that term is not contained within the article...even though the reader could tell that that was what it was about.

Time I think to try and put some more tags on my previous entries...and  refill my mug before I re-read the article.

18 June 2010

To tweet or not to tweet...

I have been using Twitter for a few months now...and am still learning. My first exploration of Twitter began after a workshop (on open source management systems) where a number of participants were tweeting and using the hash tag suggested. Although I refrained on the day - looking at the entries on that hash tag later encouraged me to dip my toe in the water.

To start with I followed some of the people who had been at the workshop - and looked at  who they were following - and so on. A hint I was given - which has made all the difference to how much I use Twitter, is to be ruthless with who you follow. A couple of the people I followed early on, tweeted many times a day about personal trivia that one had to wade through to get to the gems. Now I no longer scroll through pages to find what I want.

I confess it is only in the last few weeks that I have discovered that clicking on the @libchris on the sidepanel brings up all those tweets where people have mentioned me in their tweets! Wanting to explore Twitter further for this 'thing', I have now personalised my page as well :) (and of course chatted to other Cam23 participants)

So what do I use Twitter for?
Largely for information gathering - If you choose who you follow with libraries and information in mind, you can find a wealth of material.
From the other side - it can be useful for disseminating information - one can reach a wider audience because of the links of someone who follows someone, and the facility to retweet.

In a work setting - I can see that it very useful for information gathering - for keeping oneself abreast of developments. Also for general 'advertising' it has a place. However it's very fluid ever-changing nature means one could not rely on it on its own to get information across to one's followers, as I suspect few would scroll down all the posts since they last logged in. (unless of course they constantly have a Twitter window open). This is also assuming that the library's users choose to follow it in the first place.

So - as a personal tool for CPD and keeping in touch - I think it's great. As a means of keeping users abreast of developments in their library - it has possibilities, but only in conjunction with a website, e-mails etc.

12 June 2010

Google Calendar

This 'Thing' was easy, in that I already use Google Calendar.  (You can see from the sea of colour on the screenshot how heavily it is used!) However as I played with, following through the instructions, and tried to find out "how to..." for a fellow Cam23 participant I did make some discoveries. Thanks to Cam23 therefore I have an even better set-up than before.

First discovery when playing with the settings was that I could put the default to a month view - brilliant - much more useful to me. I could also have the week starting on Monday not Sunday. Again this is more how I view the world. I've also played around with the colours, so that now 'my' events and interests are in shades of blue and green, and the rest of the family, outside events are in oranges and reds. I have also discovered the 'agenda' setting, interesting but I think I prefer the calendar view. Putting the calendar into iGoogle seems a good idea, although again I would prefer this to be in a calendar view rather than as a list.

For me the ability to share calendars is where Google Calendars comes into its own. My family seem to lead busy lives - and it makes it so much easier when planning to be able to see all events at a glance. I can see that in a library setting this would also come into its own - though i suspect there might be a period of 'playing' before all had sorted out exactly what went on the calendar and how to share (i.e. which events in one's calendar are personal and therefore of no interest to those you share with and those you need them to know)

10 June 2010

Doodle... it's a doddle

I have come across Doodle before as a participant, but never tried setting one up before. I was surprised by how easy this was. I decided to use it to arrange a meeting with two of my fellow Cam23 participants, who I already needed to organise a meeting with on another matter. I had been putting off doing this because of the usual plethora of e-mails that need to be sent before all find a date that is free. This seems a much easier way of doing it.

Any disadvantages? I would prefer not to have all the adverts. However if this is the payoff for getting the application for free, I can put up with them.
Also a potential problem is the ability to edit the survey after it has already started. However on the whole a very useful application, which I can see myself using in the future, and encouraging others to use too.

8 June 2010

RSS Feeds, Screenshots, Blogging and Getting Social!

RSS Feeds
Today I have suffered a digital identity crisis!
As stated in my first blog, I knew I had set up RSS feeds as part of a workshop exercise. This was a couple of years ago, and I had totally forgotten about them since - today I found them amid much confusion.

I have two Google identities (don't ask, it's a long story). Last night while looking at the 'Cam23 blog', I decided to add the 'Cambridge 23 things' bundle kindly supplied by 'Girl in the Moon'. So far so good. I'd been editing my blog so Google used that identity when I saved to Google Reader as directed. Today after using iGoogle (using my other identity), I went to look at the blogs on Google Reader only to find no sign of them. However I did find all those RSS feeds I had set up before - quite a few unread needless to say!

All of which brings me back to my original view of RSS. It can be a great tool for keeping abreast of one's field of work and interests - but choose them with care, don't rush into subscribing to everything...it can be very easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume. Also be equally ruthless at deleting those that are no longer of interest.

With this in mind I've decided just to stick with the Cambridge 23 blogs to start off with, and build up others naturally as I come across others that are meaningful to me, so as not to become overwhelmed again (I'd sooner follow a few things in depth than skim many - part of me always feels I must be missing the best bits if I do that!)
Thankfully no such problems with Screenshots. I've always found this facility so useful - from use in a presentation when trying to describe how to set-up an online questionnaire, to explaining to the IT Dept. exactly what the error message said. Definitely a skill worth picking up (Also worth knowing that if you hold alt as well as print screen, then just the active window is pasted in - I had several windows open when I took this screenshot).
The hardest part of blogging has been thinking of what to say and how to say it - it is certainly an interesting experience. I must admit I am enjoying the technical side of the 23 things rather than finding the right words to explain the experience (this most definitely won't be the wittiest of the group!!). I suppose it says it all that the delay in starting the blog was the time taken to choose a name. I am hoping it will become easier with experience, but I think I can safely say that I am not a natural blogger.

Getting Social
So far I have only "dipped my toe in the water". I've commented on a couple of blogs (one under each of my pseudonyms- courtesy of  the Google Reader confusion). I know I will enjoy this part of the exercise - I am an avid commenter on Facebook, and a forum I subscribe to. Somehow it is always easier to respond that create... I look forward to making more connections in the next few weeks.


I have considered using igoogle before - but not really seen a need to. This was a good chance to play with it and see whether I would use in in earnest.

Having now had it set up for a couple of weeks, I am still in two minds about igoogle. I love the ease of adding new applications (and equally deleting them), but I still feel a little uncomfortable about using it in a work setting. Somehow it still feels more like 'playing' rather than work related. I realise that this is in part due to the lack of specifically library related items on my page, but in all honesty at the moment there are few applications (that I know of yet), that I would use on a day to day basis.

For personal use I think it is great (although as often as not I forget to log in and just go for the standard search when I am looking for something). I also love having everything all together, and changing it around at will.

The page is still very much work in progress - I know for it to have any chance to be used long term, it needs to be filled with items relevant to me, so I can see this will need careful consideration over time. I also want to put my own picture rather than a standard one at the top of the page...something to work on I think.

6 June 2010

Ramblings of a Novice Blogger

Welcome to my blog. For those of you who are wondering - the name comes from my website Loopylizard. This is a recent 'challenge' - I knew enough about HTML to edit a page, but wanted to take this one step further and create one. For those of you who are curious, the web page got its name when I was discussing possible domain names with my family - who responded "well you like lizards". After that Loopy Lizard and The Lizard Lounge just seemed natural! With any luck this blog should appear in an abbreviated form in the website.

I'm a librarian (why does that sound like the opening line of a "Librarians Anonymous" meeting!)
as you will probably guess from the content to follow, I work in Cambridge and am taking part in Cam23. I was interested in taking part in this to expand my knowledge of Web 2.0, and as an incentive to have a go at those things I have not tried before. Coming from a 'techie' household, trying out new computer applications does not fill me with any great dread - rather a sense of adventure... once I get going.

I've played with various Web 2.0 applications over the years - some with more enthusiasm than others. Almost all has been for personal satisfaction, rather than in a work context. Facebook is used to keep in touch with far-flung family and friends, and for entertainment. I have 'dabbled' in Twitter for a while - mainly to glean interesting facts, rather than to disseminate much useful information myself. Delicious has been looked at fleetingly - set up in a training session, but then promptly forgotten about - as were RSS feeds (mainly because they were set up to a new e-mail account, not the one I normally use, and also because they were chosen fairly randomly as an exercise, and therefore were not of sufficient interest for me to follow). Google Calendar I find an essential tool, for keeping tabs on our busy family - and working out when we actually have a weekend free. Other applications have used as a consumer but not contributed too. I look forward to trying out the other challenges.