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.