Thursday, 26 August 2010

The last post ...

This is my last officially scheduled blog entry for the "23 Things Cambridge" workshop and I will work through the questions of the main blog as the answers will make a nice summary of my reflections.

Which Things did you find most useful, or thought-provoking?
The most useful Thing was certainly blogging, and I don't mean my own blogs but rather blogs of other librarians. It was (and still is) great to see other's opinion about the Things but also to read about their work and libraries. I hope that all librarians will keep on blogging - I would love to read more from them.

Which didn't you find useful at all?
In my opinion, the least useful Thing we looked at was iGoogle. I set the account up but don't make use of it at all anymore. It is not only slow but also much less user friendly than providers of similar services (such as Protopage).

Which have you persisted with?
Well, I hope to continue blogging about more archive and library related adventures in the future. I continue to use many of the Things, such as facebook, twitter, slideshare, Google-docs and LinkedIn, but I have used these before the 23 Things workshop. I will look at some of the Things in more detail (for example Library Thing) as this wasn't possible during the 23 Thing rush through Things.

What about Web 2.0 and social media? How do you think they are shaping library services?
As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, the main influence of Web 2.0 and social media on library services is that they give librarians a powerful tool and platform to shape library servies and the way they are perceived by readers and the community. This means that I don't think that Web 2.0 and social media shape library servies but rather that librarians will be better able to shape their services when they use them. I think that these developments will change the way librarians are perceived quite dramatically in the future - if we make use of them.

(Click image to enlarge)

Wordle: Archive-Live

wiki wiki

So far, my experience of something 'wiki' in libraries was related to students looking for short cuts while approaching essay deadlines or - far more sensible - to get a quick summary of a topic before diving into more specific literature. Following some of the links on the main "23 Things Cambridge" blog, I found the wiki of the
Serial Acquisitions Unit at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. This wiki is a file repository for general procedures and monthly reports, at the same time it is used for updates and apparently also for collaborations within the library team (possibly across shifts). All these applications are potentially very useful in a library. It allows access for all staff and it can even be made public.

My previous experience of wikis outside libraries relates to the MCR website of my college. This website is used to update the MCR community on upcoming events, it provides a list of useful college contacts, possible funding sources and a wealth of other information for current and future students which can be updated by community members.

Another application of wikis (and more specifically Wikipedia) was and is during my other life as a linguist. Ever since the Wikiproject was promoted through the Linguist List, articles related to linguistics on Wikipedia have become increasingly more reliable and better in quality. How about a Wikiproject related to libraries? There are many aspects of libraries that every user faces (e.g. classification systems - some more widely used than others, general ground rules, Ninja Librarians etc.) and that every librarian faces (e.g. library management, liaising with readers/Directors of Study, new projects). More than enough reasons and material to justify a Wikiproject.

How I became a Ninja Librarian

Who would have thought that there are so many library related podcasts and YouTube videos out there. It seems very obvious though, now that I think of it. How else would you reach current and future readers in a fun and easy way? I especially like the idea of library induction tours on YouTube as it not only familiarises future readers with the layout of the library but also with the librarians. This, I think, will most certainly help future users to contact librarians.

The Centre for South Asian Studies has a great collection of podcasts of their archive for an international audience. See Polar Adventurer's excellent post on this.

One aspect which hasn't been mentioned so far on 23 Things (please correct me if I'm wrong) is that use of social media and the Web 2.0 will create a great change in how librarians will be (and are) perceived by readers. A great resource is the website "You don't look like a librarian". Especially librarians' involvement in podcasts and most importantly YouTube will greatly influence the public image of librarians in the future. And it is up to us who work in libraries to influence it the way we would like ourselves to be seen. Basically, we need to create our own public image.

What I see is a move away from this:
To something like this:

Now this may seem exaggerated and is more of a tribute to the fabulous Ninja Librarian videos on YouTube, but you get my point.

One of the video clips that puts librarians in a rather negative light (but which I still like - the clip, not the negative perception of librarians) is here, enjoy:

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Google Docs - the 20th 'Thing'

It all started with an invitation by my 23 Things-buddy via Google, asking me to add to a document she created online. This email was sent to my hermes account and when I tried to acces Google docs it

(1) would not let me access Google when I used my hermes account details,

(2) would not let me access the document when I logged in using my Google account details.

The problem was solved when my buddy sent the invitation to my Google email address. Apparently, the service is difficult (if not impossible) to use for those without Google accounts.

Once this problem was overcome everything went rather smoothly. The document contained a list of suggestions for moving houses - highly relevant given that I have just moved houses and am still in the process of unpacking boxes. Accordingly, I added a list of suggestions for the unpacking process to the document and even adding a picture was no problem at all.

In fact, Google docs is very useful for sharing documents. I used it before with colleagues when we were organising a conference. We saved and updated documents and spreadsheets on Google docs for all of us to work with and in the end, saved all important documents, feedback and suggestions on the conference-Google-account for those who organised the conference the following year. Friends have also used spreadsheets on Google docs as an alternative to Doodle as users can add some more information and it is easier to edit. So overall, a very useful 'Thing' indeed.

Monday, 23 August 2010


So far, I have mostly been on the receiving end of library marketing and maybe this is what I should write about, given Dominique's excellent post about Jerwood Library's marketing strategies.

In an earlier blog I mentioned that for students it is very important to know the librarians and to find them approachable. This is exactly, where I see the strength of social media. Especially facebook (and to some extent possibly also twitter) accounts give a sense of approachability and involvement. They also show the library as an active place - if the library updates are posted accordingly. This all is very important, certainly for bigger libraries where it is too easy to loose touch with readers but also for smaller ones.

However, I would like to conclude with a quote from Dominique's blog, to which I fully agree:
"What can be more 'social' than a chat in person?"


The next thing on the list is Zotero. It sounds great and I was very keen on installing and trying it until I found out that it actually makes my Firefox browser even slower than it already is. Now, I should explain that I have a rather small netbook which is a very trusty companion - but there is only so much it can do. Firefox is incredibly slow already and adding Zotero didn't help. Now, instead of trying it myself I'm going to have a look at what my colleagues have to say and write an evaluation based on this 'literature review'.

Overall, reviews point out various positive aspects of Zotero, Rachel (Polar adventurer) states that '[i]t soon became apparent that the most useful feature of Zotero to me was its ability to synce files. [...]
Zotero will syncronize my collections/Library on any PCs I use". I believe that this is certainly one of its most important assets as it means that you can work on several PCs without loosing your precious Zotero information. Apparently, it is even visually appealing (according to Adventures of a Librarian).

However, there are some critical voices. Quite a few users reported problems with finding the Zotero bookmark in their brower once it was installed. Once these initial problems were overcome, users were very happy with it (e.g. Dominique on News from Nowhere). Although, Balfour's 23 Things, for example, found serious limitations to downloadable records at Web of Science. Another issue is certainly that Zotero only works with Firefox and no other browers, posing serious limitations on internet explorer and chrome users (Balfour's 23 Things, Library Wanderer). In addition, the 'intuitive interface' does not seem to be very intuitive after all (according to Insert whitty title here) and several sources mentioned that there was not enough time to explore it in detail during the 23 Things rush through web 2.0 (e.g. News from Nowhere, Thing blogging). In all, Zotero definitely seems worth a try under the following conditions:
- You have a reasonably fast computer
- You use the Firefox brower

- You have a bit of patience

- You have a lot of time to get used to it
- And you actually need a bibliographic tool like this.

More networks: LinkedIn

I have to admit that I do have a LinkedIn account and that I set it up yeeeaaars ago but never really used it much. I guess the main reason is that it appears to be rather professional and every entry feels like writing a CV to me. Now, writing CVs is never much fun and therefore, it always takes ages.

Having said that, LinkedIn provides me with updates on connections and groups, no matter how much I neglect my own profile. It certainly is useful, especially for job hunting - which is exactly why I should update my profile now! So without further ado: LinkedIn - good for the more professional side of networking, for which we probably should not use facebook.