Thursday, 30 December 2010

Story time

Recently read David J Brier and Vicky Kaye Lebbin (2004) 'Teaching information literacy using the short story', Reference Services Review, 32/4 pp 383-387.

I like the idea of stories helping us to retain information. I know that in this instance the article is referring to the imagined story or tale, but the point still fits well with one of my many theories of teaching - that a true 'story' or - yes if you want a more technical term - a case study - is better at making the point, and importantly allowing that point to have been retained to become effectively learnt, than I ever could with bullet points on a powerpoint (or just my voice droning on).

Personally I like a visual clue as well as the story. So well-illustrated children's story books were made for me.

Cue the start to an article that might make it beyond my computer:

Communities in the past were built on narrative, or stories. Children were taught about life, about skills, about who they were and how to behave through stories. Narrative engaged the mind, and fuelled the imagination. A story that one person tells one audience, and a different person to the same audience, might be presented differently but can still have the same impact and the same truths contained. Community Learning is all about using different people to tell the same story, to teach the same principles but from different viewpoints...........

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

More on space

Prompted by the discussion lunch today at MML (and a need to get a presentation on the go...) I went back to my survey results from a number of academics who have recently used our new IT training suite in the Library.

Key comment:

It seems important that the room, and what goes on in it, is part of the well-established learning environment that is the faculty library. By placing electronic resources alongside material texts, the former gain a kind of visibility and status. The proximity between electronic and print resources is not only very convenient for students and class leaders - it reflects a fact of 21c. research.

If I have academics promoting our space like this - then I'm happy.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Transformative? or merely informative?

An excellent topic for the journal discussion lunch tomorrow - Is the physical library redundant in the 21st Century?

From a related blog posting I enjoyed the following
"It is not the quantity of information available nor the ease at which it can be got that libraries should focus on, but rather the quality of the educational experience offered"

On a day when I debated the pitfalls of having too much to do and think about (and just how debilitating that was!) with a colleague in the queue at Marks and Spencers at lunchtime I wonder whether 'quality' is what we as librarians all too often fail at. We talk about, plan for, and in general aim to improve our stats - whether they are circulation or footfall or website/VLE/facebook/ebook hits. The SCONUL HE annual return encourages exactly this. But are we TRANSFORMING lives? Perhaps this sounds a bit over the top? Martin Lewis is keen to point out that numbers using the Sheffield Information Commons are increasing. I've been heard to say - oh great, footfall, book borrowing etc is up. But - I don't think that this is quite the point! The point is that the service we offer should be transformative, it should be all about impact. If the physical space of the library IS important then we should be seeing comments from students that say exactly that; we should be able to correlate degree results with use of the services - and so on. Perhaps....

I am in complete agreement with Mary Beard - on the need for time to slow down, to allow the thought processes to operate in another space with the resulting serendipitous spark of illumination on a particular matter. I shan't advocate that libraries work for me in the way they do for Mary, but I can vouch for the bike ride, the walk into town and back at lunchtime, the downtime effect of shelving a trolley load of books. Anything really that removes me from my desk and my normal place of work and gets me out into fresh air or just doing something that allows my brain to quietly jog along in the background. These are frequently my own eureka moments - and the only problem that I have is the inability to recall what they were when I get back to the desk! I'm still working on a solution......

Looking forward to the discussion.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Teaching Librarian

Having completed 4 hours of teaching to groups of varying sizes on Friday, of which only two of the sessions were repeat sessions, I thought a little reflection would not go amiss. This last week I have personally taught 3 grad sessions, given a lecture, and taught a guesstimate of 4 or 5 fresher sessions. Three other members of staff have, between them, done another 10-15 hours of teaching time, let alone the 30 odd induction tours of the Faculty Library in the previous week. This next week I am contemplating a mere 3 hours of teaching with 5 in the following week.

This year we have had fresher students going to their DoSs 'clamouring' for practical sessions. It could be that they were intrigued by the new IT Training suite with the computers that emerge out of the woodwork (so to speak) and then quietly disappear at the end of a session. It could be that our Induction Tours were so good that they were desperate to come back for more! We've had Part II's asking at the desk for more 'Quickstart for dissertation' sessions. I've had somewhere in the region of 40 grads signing up for Endnote courses. We've also had three academics booking our IT training suite for training their MPhil courses - no teaching for us but good ol' library promotion going on! It's fun. It's tiring. It's fascinating.

I'm looking forward to the evaluation results to see what we can change and tweak and do better next time. I'm looking forward to the Teaching for Librarians session in January run by Chris Powis so that we can think of different ways of communicating information to our users. I'm looking forward to our patrons becoming used to the fact that we are always offering options for helping them make better use of the resources and services that we have on offer.

If we can create a climate where students in Cambridge actively ask for and want to attend training from library staff.................then I will be a happy person.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

oops - nearly forgot the wordle

.....................and we're done

Saturday, 21 August 2010

The good, the bad or the ugly?

Thing 23

Conclu'sion n. 1. termination; final result; decision; in ~, lastly, to conclude. 2. judgement reached by reasoning.........

Whilst concluding, or reaching final thoughts means the end of 23 Things, I fully expect that this is not the end of interest in Web 2.0. for myself or for others around the University. Two summers ago, following a June Library staff development day when Phil Bradley gave a presentation to library staff, a number of us met together a few weeks later (at the English Faculty because that is where a lot of good things happen!) for an afternoon of playing with Web 2.0 tools to see what might work in our libraries and what might not. You could say that was the beginning........, 23 Things another stage......, and I am sure that in a year or two's time there will be other collaborative ventures in Cambridge exploring these tools and others. We should collectively pat ourselves on the back - I think that overall we are more collaboratively minded, we are successful at grass-roots initiatives, and we are generally a pro-active bunch of librarians! Combine that with our wonderful 'boutique' , user-focused libraries and, even better, students who are filmed saying they love the libraries, and I think that should sell the Cambridge model nicely.

Taking part in 23 Things has been something of a roller coaster ride. A sense of being over-whelmed with work and 'other things' at certain points nearly scuppered the whole programme as far as I was concerned. It all took more hours than envisaged and I spent a lot of 'home time' as opposed to 'work time' for doing the Things. Some people might not liked to have done this; but although this is a slight red herring, I wonder whether we can now afford not to think about some element of professional development taking place outside the workplace in this day and age? In any case, I'm delighted that I persevered to the end, and feel pleased that I'm at this final point of evaluation. I liked the style of learning - bite-sized for the most part - and mostly easy to work through with options for doing more. There are some things that I would definitely like a 'proper' training session on especially when I think that they might be useful, but haven't got the time to figure out how to apply them. (Group libraries and Zotero spring to mind!)

So.....addressing the questions:

Which Things did you find most useful, or thought-provoking, or good? What do I say 'yes!' to?
  1. By definition anything that I currently use regularly is good (kinda figures!) - Facebook, Google Calendar, Doodle, Zotero, Flickr, Slideshare, RSS feeds, youtube
  2. I like Google docs, especially the registration form tool. SO easy to use and it amazed my Computer Officer with its simplicity.
  3. Am still keen to make use of LibraryThing for new accessions like CSL are doing but I just haven't the time to spend on it now.
  4. I am a convert to blogs - I started out with my blog called Head above the Parapet because it felt exactly like that. I'm not sure that I will continue blogging personally although I would like to think I would, partly because I am thinking of doing Chartership revalidation and this tool seems to be good for reflection. Along the way however, a blog - which we use for Library News - seemed the way forward for some parts of our website. I was especially inspired by the History Faculty Library in Oxford. So, the 'Learning Hub' has been born.
  5. Reflection - in general. It's good for the soul.....

Which didn't you find useful at all and is downright ugly? What do I say 'no' to?
  1. Podcasting. - see my blog on that to explain this one.
Which might I look at again, not bad enough to relinquish altogether? What do I say 'maybe' to?
  1. LinkedIn,
  2. Delicious
  3. Dare I say Twitter? I fell into and out of Twitter in the course of 23 Things and have actually stopped checking it now - though I suspect I will be back there in time if only because I am essentially a pretty nosy person and I want to see what is going on. But I really do wonder how people have time to distract themselves all day with Twitter. Maybe they don't get the number of emails that I do, which are distracting enough - or maybe their jobs are more monotonous than mine! I rarely do anything like the same type of job every day and suspect that I would find it difficult to process any more information than I currently do. Having said all that I do use facebook for distraction!!
Which have you persisted with?

I persisted with Google docs - to the extent that I used them as part of the Committee preparation but not again until I was able to apply the registration form for the film launch - and then all of a sudden I have found myself using more of the docs. Especially useful when working between home and the library and remote access to the work server is rather painful.

I played a lot with ppts in slideshare until I discovered that I couldn't get animations and transitions to work in ppts loaded to slideshare. I've discovered iSpring though and it's very simple and effective.

What about Web 2.0 and social media?

There are clear distinctions about how Web 2.0 tools get used. There are those that have been put to use in developing services to libraries and for the benefits of users, and there are those that are for the benefit of our personal skills improvement or for workflow improvement in our libraries. I am drawing some of them to our users' attention this October and as usual I will run Zotero/Endnote sessions to introduce students to this information management tool.

How do you think they are shaping library services?

Library services should be shaped by the users of that service and not by the tools. If the tools dictate what we do, then shame on us.

Thing 22 nearly there - it must be wikis

I haven't got anything against wikis in general. I find Wikipedia is great - all sorts of wonderful information - and of course we know that it might not be true as we are librarians and we know that sort of stuff. We tend to think that the 'yoof' don't. But, I'm not so sure. I think they know they are not 'supposed' to use it/reference it and still use it knowing full well that they need to verify their information. Child no. 2 has just finished her degree and confesses to countless times where she started her work with Wikipedia. I'm fine with that. After all I use Google a lot.

In the bumff about wikis it says that 'Librarians are currently using wikis for a variety of purposes: to produce staff manuals and subject guides, to manage projects, and as Intranets'. I thought that I honestly did not think that a wiki would add anything really extraordinarily good to our work flows for this type of activy. The only thing that struck me was that I could have used it for brainstorming for the current IT Training room project where those involved were rarely able to physically get together - myself, Computer Officer, EMBS electrical, EMBS maintenance, AV people, Furniture people, IT people. Most of the rest of the time we have a shared drive for documents, manuals, subject guides etc etc.

I have an account with PBwiki and have added information on to the TeachMeet wiki. Apart from that 'I'm good' - as they say over the pond.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Thing 21 Sense preference

I can honestly say that I have very rarely listened to a podcast! So I made myself do it and went to the JISC podcasts. I have nothing against audio in principle but I tend to end up doing other things at the same time and, whatever my official stance on multi-tasking is, I do not absorb information well when the primary method of information delivery is audio. Fine if it's music and potentially just background noise, or if I'm driving and Radio 4 is always on but these are exceptions to the rule. I will also confess that I have a paranoia about earplugs and don't own any of those player things so will not be downloading a podcast to listen to at the gym or while walking/cycling any time soon. I am well aware that this all makes me seem a tad old fashioned but I have now reached that age where I don't care too much.

BUT - take me to the visual and I'm all yours (so to speak). Given that I understand/learn best with visual stimuli I thought that the podcasting video was brilliant.

Youtube is loads of fun and I looked at all the suggested links and chortled my way through Andy's top 3. Can't say that I pushed the boat out and found any others but I have seen some great ones in the past.

The Cambridge Libraries film - 'The Perfect Desk' - will shortly be launched - a special meet for those who can make it on 7th Sept means that you can see it then, enjoy a drink and enter a prize draw for a £25 voucher. The film will be posted on the University's youtube site and available for the public to see!

As for using podcasting and youtube in the Library - well, we tried a film last year and just used the streaming media service which is part of the University to load it on, and that worked fine. Podcasts - well I won't say no if one of the staff are keen to do them, but bearing in mind the above, they are unlikely to be something that I will jump to do quickly myself.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Thing 20 Google docs

Done it.......

Enjoyed playing with the drawing doc though find Microsoft Publisher/Word easier to manipulate just because I'm more used to the package.
Good being able to share doc though and very much like the ability to edit and keep track of the editing with all saving to the same space. Am unlikely to use it much at work as we have a shared work drive that everything gets stored on and it works pretty well at the moment. BUT useful to know about this in case things change!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Little niggle about slideshare

Discovered that loading a ppt on slideshare with animations/slide transitions etc won't work. Bit peeved about this until I discovered iSpring which converts ppt with animations into flash video. It's free or you can download similar products for a trial, and inevitably there is a paid version available too. For a ppt lover this is a very easy solution....

Though now I just have the challenge of deciphering the html to embed in the blog...........................

Thing 19 This little pig went to market....

Good point about the difference between marketing and advertising. Advertising raises awareness of what you are and what you do but marketing is so much more that this. Understanding our users and their needs is essential in libraries.

Thinking about the services we offer in our library - different types of space, facilities, training programmes, website & Library blog, vle resources, resource fairs, circulation policies, self-issue, copiers/printers, and so on. All that we do should be based on knowledge of our customers and therefore meeting their needs but then also anticipating new things that they need and providing them almost before they are aware of it.

Creating content via social media has interesting associated problems. As is described in the 4Cs, content that is published via a context such as a blog can make connections which lead to conversations. BUT better take care that the throw-away comments made so easily on a blog are accurate and carefully researched! In the 'old' days publishing information about a display through normal printed methods would probably have meant a lot of care taken over content and accuracy of information and grammar etc. After all it cost money to print information. Blogs cost nothing to put together, apart from time. In all the 'easiness' of using social media we need to have at the back of our minds the potential for slips and mistakes, much more easily made.

Take the Library's blog post on Sir Wilson Harris. The display was a great idea and has attracted a great deal of attention, and was very ably put together by a work experience pupil. However, being made so public so quickly there were some issues that had to be resolved after the event which happily are all sorted out now. A small error on a facebook announcement, although encouraging comment, was something that shouldn't have happened (all my fault, I'll confess now). It's just too quickly done.

Still it's the speed of using social media that in itself is so appealing!
It's an interesting tension.

To comply with the 'to do' of this Thing we are going to make more use of a blog in our library, linked to our current website, in order to produce bite-sized online learning tasks. The context of the blog seems ideal for this - after all 23 Things has made use of blog technology extremely well for this very purpose - so we're going to give it a bash. I would also like to explore LibraryThing for new acquisitions.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Thing 18 Zoh-tair-oh

Mr Priestner is definitely wrong about how to pronounce Zotero.

The saga of' Zotero - promoting a tool to students to help them manage their information.
My Endnote and Endnote Web training sessions have faltered at the point where my own experience with referencing differed to that of an Arts student. I'm a social scientist and had never taught students who needed to use footnotes - which is what Arts students use in Cambridge. Imagine the frustration that the only way to use Endnote and footnotes satisfactorily together meant that a specially designed 'style' was required - I eventually discovered that UCS had created one; one which allowed a footnote to be edited as much as one pleased. I had been promoting Endnote Web but realised that this was even more frustrating for Arts students as they have minute, but essential changes to make to ANY style. Endnote Web does not allow self-editing of bibliographic styles. Students were not happy with making the changes to their footnotes/bibliographies at a later stage.

I had looked at Zotero before this but an English PhD student who was using Zotero enthused about it and I looked at it again and decided that it could be promoted alongside Endnote and give students an option. This tactic has gone down quite well and there seem to be those who will veer towards one or the other quite naturally. I have now taken to facilitating a session and, after putting the use of software into context, ask current enthusiasts to come and demonstrate what they do.

The distinct advantage of Zotero is that if you use it to cite-while-you-write you can edit footnotes as you go along! It is not so easy to edit the bibliographic style - at least you need a little bit of technie-ness to do this. It seems to be hard to find the ideal solution.

I am creating a Learning Hub for online 'help' for the Library and will include Zotero:

The Zotero guides at Georgia State University are excellent.

As for the other idea that I had - that of setting up a Group Library for Faculty reading lists - well, not sorted yet but I have 8 more days of Library closure and it's on the list to play with..............

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Are we nearly there yet?

The other day I was asking:

Yep - we ARE nearly there!

Thing 17 Chains

Well - here we are at Linkedin. Weird - set up my account a long time ago, have a profile of sorts and following a few groups, but clearly it's not something I spend lots of time with. Remarkably I remembered my login. Will play with the 'add applications' when I have a bit more time.

Am wondering why I feel rather ambivalent about this tool.......hmmm. Maybe it's information overload, maybe it's just that I have too many fingers in too many pies.......... ........and just can't manage another deluge of information?

ho hum

Thing 16 To fb or not to fb

My opinions on facebook for libraries are already out there in the ether - see UKOLN Guest blog - though 'Tilley' has been translated as 'Taylor'; nicer but less memorable and less findable perhaps??

I have read Jane Secker's article before as her work at LSE in general interests me. I was struck by the phrase in the article 'unfamiliarity with Facebook' as an issue with not engaging with the tool as a use for teaching and learning. Thinks that this is really the problem with any of the tools we're looking at. The more you do play with them, the more applications seem to be there. But also been thinking about time again, as this all does take time and there is a very real need for an ability to be able to scan something and make fairly quick judgements on whether this is might be useful or not and then to discard swiftly if you think it is not. As several of us discussed yesterday it is indeed all about time management.

Suffice it to say our Library has a Facebook site - we use it for fairly casual information - nothing so important that we need all our users to see it, but casual enough to attract a wide variety of people on to the site - from observers, to alumni, to prospective students, to current students and staff. It's fine by us. BUT this is really why we have an information delivery policy (see UKOLN blog).

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Thing 14 & Thing 15 A solution to the new books page

LibraryThing is something that I've looked at before and tried out. Liked it, easy enough to set up and get going with it :)

Unable to apply it satisfactorily a few years ago, I liked the use CSL is making of their site and that, combined with current discussion on changes we envisage on our website, am thinking that this is the answer to the 'new books' page.
Just thinking about whether to create new catalogues for each new batch of new accessions? Hmmm.

Thanks guys


Learning Hub

Discovered Picasa today - I am sure that someone has posted a link to it somewhere on the 23 Things blog posts but I fell upon it by accident and found that it did some of the editing I was looking for! So some attempts at playing with text and image....

Monday, 26 July 2010

Thing 13 Reflection

Light dawning.....

One of the exciting things about 23 Things is that the ‘and so what’ question that I rashly asked people to think about has actually produced some very interesting thoughts and conversations. We veer from complete enthusiast, to ‘good for collaboration’ to yes I’ll do this, or that or the next thing but not others. I think this is encouraging!

For me, the journey (to use a rather over-used term these days) has been quite mixed. Some of the Things I have already ‘done’/played with and actively use, others I just got cross with and wondered what the point of them were. I suspect that this reaction does me no credit whatsoever as it is probably the ‘things’ that I am least familiar with that make me react in this way. Mea culpa.

However, one thing that I have become quite excited about is the simple act of blogging and making use of blogs for library pages and for other purposes such as online tutorials. After all the committee will have written 23 mini tutorials for the library community over the course of this programme, which many people have managed to do – so why not use this friendly, free tool for library tutorials? Several conversations with our Computer Officer about our library website have all pointed in this direction as well. Blogs are easily edited by anyone really and with our Library News already based on a blog we are half way there.

So –somewhat to my surprise I have a real goal for shaping what we do next in the Library, and I don’t feel all that bad about ignoring such things as twitter and delicious – for the moment at any rate! So there is good stuff out there.......

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Thing 12 Yummy stuff making me grumpy

Well, 'Delicious'

I can see the point of being able to access my bookmarks from any computer etc etc but truth to tell I rarely move computers and if I do I don't generally need that particular set of bookmarks. But I fear that this makes me sounds like the proverbial 'grumpy old woman'. my defense........I clicked the link through to the Casimir Lewy Delicious page and was suitably awed and depressed, and went through one of those 'oh my goodness - we MUST DO THIS/head in hand scenarios' . But then I thought that I would pretend to be a Philosopher going to their website and be entranced by the information available to me via this tool. I was incredibly frustrated at how unobvious it seemed to be on the website and wondered idly how well-used it was. (Apologies I truly am becoming more and more grumpy - could be that I'm just hungry). Even the Green Library delicious page looks lovely -but again going from the front end of the website - absolutely NOTHING tells you where this wretched page is hiding! Either that or else i am just starving and should go and eat. So once again i ask myself - is it useful? is it helpful?

In summary:
Yes I do have a personal account, yes I have created a Library account, no I don't use it actively yet but am trying really hard to decide whether to pursue on behalf of the Library. I need to resolve access, promotion, location, resource searching, quality control, and buy-in from those who would maintain and use it.

Thing 11 Slideshare

Well I've used slideshare quite a lot before but to re-visit using the suggested questions:

* Thoughts about the tool
Helpful, inspirational, reminding, provoking, irritating (I would so like to have BEEN there!)
* What particular benefits to your Library are there from using Slideshare?
No need to keep on re-inventing the wheel - others have been there and done it already
* Did you find any interesting presentations that you would like to share?
Yep - sure - see one below from Chris Powis and Jo Webb

I'm highly likely to use Slideshare in the future - especially for ideas. I need to work on my powerpoints (see previous post) before I am likely to want the world to see them on slideshare!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Thing 10 sunflower images

Photos by Ian Jones& Aki Jinn, from Flickr under Creative Commons-license

Attended a really excellent LTS lunch a week or so ago now which featured innovative teaching with several Pilkington prize winners presenting their 'how we do things'. One was an excellent account of how to use powerpoint really well and it will come as no great surprise to discover that the use of images as opposed to bullet points was a key point to come out of this. Learning is actually impeded by poor use of powerpoint. Marian Holness from Earth Sciences used images to great effect in her presentation. So I shall use Flickr more and more to grab interesting pics for presentations and we'll see how we go!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Thing 9 Lovely lovely Flickr

Really impressed with website with all the different options for using Flickr in libraries. I've often used Flickr photos (with permissions) for presentations. People are so creative with their cameras and it's great to have a good resource. I need to explore more things that we can do with library tours and such like I think.....

My current fav picture (below) was taken by John Naughton at the Faculty's 'Food for Thought' event on June 17 - it's title is 'freedom glimpsed' :

Thing 8 Tags

The Ann Arbor District Library site is great with the tags - lots of fun playing until I decided to search more constructively and with a specific item in mind. Interesting to see how Yahoo has added the concept of 'the shelf' into its classification. But in all fairness to them, humans generally like pattern and putting things in pigeon holes and like to know where something fits. We spend time with our babies getting them into a 'routine', possibly taken aback when they throw over one routine for another. So - I'm kinda with them on this.

Am I allowed to say that I got bored reading the Shirky article? Sorry!

I have been adding extra tags to my blogs already but will add a few more to today's one..

Friday, 25 June 2010

More on twitter - other 'things' to follow

It's a good blog post:

Finally someone demonstrating something that is really useful about twitter! I shall give it a go.....

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Thing 7 Twittering

I remain unconvinced about Twitter. I have tried quite hard to like it. I went on the course put on at the UL by Sarah and Emma and enjoyed it. I have a respectable number of followers and follow quite a few people and organisations. I was surrounded by people using twitter at the UC&R conference in Exeter this week and that was fine.

I understand that it is useful for gathering information, that it provides a layer of communication that is quite simple and quite effective, that it can be used for marketing, and that it is great for networking and peer support. I even suggested that someone I mentor for chartership considered using twitter for reflection and evaluation and with use of appropriate hash tags could gather all his reflective comments together for his portfolio at the end.

I can see that librarians have embedded it in their websites, blogs, facebook sites etc although I understand that this is with varying levels of success. However all this presupposes that one’s users want information in this way. It certainly presupposes that users regularly use library websites, blogs or facebook etc. Recent conversations with academics where I work has brought up two issues; 1) they don’t want twitter links on their website (full stop) 2) following the recent load of exam marking they are tearing their hair out about the inability of students to critically compare and contrast, of not understanding what serious sustained study and reading is all about . Twitter is ALL about bite-sized bits of info – yes – it can often be useful but are we not losing the ability to focus and concentrate on anything for very long? You might wonder whether this matters? Students are there already and you could argue that we just need to accept that this is the way things are and we should just jump in and join them.........I don’t think that I know the answer. All I know is that my work life is fragmented enough, that I could actually do with more concentrated work time rather than constantly dotting in and out of things, that to achieve more and to, I assume make sure that I am demonstrating categorically that the library is making an impact and is indispensable, I need more ‘uncluttered’ time. And so I try really hard NOT to have my twitter account open at work, I try really hard to monitor who I do follow so that I feel that it is useful rather than dross.

Actually having just read the CILIP Gazette I think that possibly tweeting at conferences is probably a ‘good’ thing though it certainly is distracting for the speaker to see lots of heads looking down at their phones tweeting rather than looking up and showing whether they are engaged or not. Smacks of running training sessions for students with computers and finding that they are all checking their email rather than searching diligently as you supposed......

Well that’s about it for this Thing.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Futureproof: making libraries indispensable to learning, teaching and research

We really DO want to think that we are indispensable. Sometimes we are, a lot of the time we are not. Taffy, Student Education Officer for Exeter spoke at the UC&R/CoFHE conference plenary this morning here in gorgeously sunny Exeter and from his advanced age of 22 gave a good insight into how students operate:

1. Students think that they use electronic resources for their studies about 85% of the time - and yet a good 30% of them can never find the e-resource that they need. Perception issues, jargon problems, something somewhere not adding up?

2. Ejournals are a 'catchall' name for all electronic resources - referencing issues here?

3. It is perfectly possible to get a good 2.1 at University without ever using online resources, and in any case, if they are not easily available via Google then I might not ever bother trying to look any further.

4. Eresources do not = Wikipedia but Wikipedia is very useful.

5. There is a real problem in that students do not know who to contact in the library, that they wish they had more help from the Library and yet when all of this is on offer to them (ie contact details and training) they fail to take it up.

How many of us chat with our students often enough that we know what it is that they don't know or they do know? What are the hooks that we are not using that will get them to us? I am not at all convinced that expanding our repertoire of ways and means of contacting students using Web 2.0 ie facebook, twitter, chat room facilities, texting, etc etc is the right way around all of this. Based on a conversation from a librarian at Warwick today I think that we haven't done enough research into what students do in terms of their regular student journeys. I still maintain that face-to-face contact is important and for all the potential ease of Web 2.0 tools to interact with people, it is often the chance face-to-face encounter and help that results in the 'best' comments about how helpful we might have been in a student's life. Our comments book at the Library has a number of comments from 3rd years in it - and yet if you analyse them they are usually to do with how we physically did something for them that made a difference. Warwick do masses of work now on analysing statistics so for example they know that on Tuesdays there are loads of Chemistry students in the Library - a fantastic bit of information that they could base their skills training times on. So for me - the challenge is how to find out, not just how the students are studying that we can help with, but how to maximise what we do offer in order to encourage the best face-to-face interactions.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Thing 6 This is why I have a blackberry

So what did I ask at the shop when I bought my blackberry? What apps has it got? Can I get GPS? Can I phone for free? Can I download this that or the other? What's the camera like? How much music will it store? What games has it got? Nope - none of the above. All I wanted was email and - yes wait for it - the internet so that I could access my Google calendar! Oh yes - I did want the pink one to start with but had too many comments from staff and family so was persuaded to the (very much duller) but more professional looking black Bold Blackberry.

Ah - supposed to be talking about Google calendar. It's got to be the way to go, resolves time management issues, allows access wherever you are (with the blackberry in tow at least it does), and doesn't depend on other colleagues having Outlook which seems to be the other competitor for Google calendars out there that I have seen mentioned. The whole thing is about work flows really isn't it! I use google calendars with the task lists and for an overview of what's going on in the Library - and my life in general. It's reassuring to be told that I have a haircut booked or Child no 2's uni rent to pay by my calendar - granted I wish that someone could remember to put all the things in it that I seem to have forgotten :) - but at least I have it with me where ever I go in the form of my BLACKBERRY so can always pop something in it when I do remember. Dead useful for work - I scurry around arranging this meeting and that and popping it in the calendar and one of the wonderful Library staff makes sure that anything that creeps into the desk diary in the staff office doesn't conflict. Yes we do still have a desk diary at work - I'm working on this!

A glimpse of our google calendar - EFL, invigilators, me and my task list:

Monday, 7 June 2010

Doodling or poodling

Doodle rhymes with poodle and so I instantly feel a sort of fondness for it. But then you would need to know that for 13 years we had a gorgeous black standard poodle at home until he sadly died about 2 years ago. Children were heartbroken, we were heartbroken, as a dog is truly man's best friend.

So - as I say - there is a certain something about the name - doodle. I also spend masses of time in meetings doodling or on the phone doodling. I go through stacks (literally) of post-it notes that end up with important phone numbers and strategic keywords all sinking under heavy-handed doodling.

As for - it's jolly useful, especially for setting up meetings (with or without coffee) with lots of people. I must confess that an email or phone call suffices for a coffee meeting with just one person. It's simple to use and saves lots of time. Have been intrigued to discover that lots and lots of librarians everywhere use it, but that it has only just been 'discovered' by academics. Most think it's wonderful! Some still revert to the good old-fashioned 'bird-cage'. Where do all these terms come from??

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Thing 4 I'm on a roll

Well! Blogged about Things 1 & 2, now on to Thing 4 - all in the last half-hour. Phew, almost caught up.

There is a definite feeling that it would be easy just to say - oh well never mind, it seemed like a good idea to do this but I'm not so sure........ Is there anything to say to change our minds and get us all up and running and on to the next. Well Thing 5 is not so far away and it's all about organising a cup of coffee for yourself and your study buddies or just anyone really, so maybe that will boost us all beyond the parapet?

I love the other 23 Things blogs - such inventive people around. Wish I could find time and energy and techie-ness to do it too! Ah well - and see now I need to stop and go and man the issue desk.

Am I still just peeping over the parapet - yes probably.

Thing 2 Really Super Stuff (RSS)

I love RSS feeds and it was dead simple to add the 23 Things RSS to my iGoogle page and I do quite like it there - at least I get a daily reminder of what has been posted and whether I'm up to where I should be.

I prefer my feed reader at work though. I just put all the feeds in this and then little pop-ups alert me to the fact that feeds have been added. So here is a screen shot of my feed reader - looks like I haven't read any of the 23 Things feeds but then I do get them through the RSS feed into iGoogle!!

Thing 1 iGoogle

Ok so I already use iGoogle - not regularly at work but always at home. But I learnt a few things by playing again with it. I learnt that I like penguins that move at random around the screen. I learnt that being permanently logged into the twitter gadget is 'not bad'. I learnt something about tabs and about some new gadgets that I hadn't used before.

I LOVE the beachy-theme I've chosen. Helps me think that my hols are not too far away.

And most of all I learnt that I will choose to play (no! - surely this is work?!) on iGoogle as a preference to cataloguing.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Thing 3 Just visible above the parapet

It’s a tricky thing to take the first steps and raise a head above the parapet. Words like exposure, vulnerability, and anxiety battle against confidence and self-esteem. Judging by how many times I’m deleting a half-constructed sentence I’m clearly worrying about what to say, wondering whether I have anything to say, and yet needing to say something! The challenge is how to say nothing in an engaging and stimulating way!

It doesn’t help at all when you see some blog posts that are witty and engaging and making extremely useful and challenging points. If you’re in that place, rest assured that you’ll not get much of that here. Just a few random musings – now and again. It’s possible I’ll get carried away once in awhile and even say something that is worthwhile but that’s hopefully forgivable and easily ignored.

Cam23 - what do I think so far? Well, I already use iGoogle quite a lot, not at work , but at home. It's too distracting at work even with all the 'important' feeds that I have there like the English Subject Centre and the English Faculty Library News (I am often the one that adds the news so not sure why I have that there). However I did give in today and put the penguins up...which means that I will either have to remove them or tell myslef that it really IS just for home and not work! I find the facebook gadget irritating, but the Google calendar gadget absolutely essential as my whole working and home life is mapped out through 4 shared calendars and a task list there (see another Thing for google calendars but rest assured my life could not happen without it)

My very worst problem on this will be time despite the fact that I thought this style of learning brilliant. It still requires some discipline.........