Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Oooh the iPod touch.

Thing 14 and this week we got to play with our library iPod touch and have a good hard think about how mobile technology works. Well...we all had great fun playing with all the applications and I think we agreed a lot of them would be very useful (in particular maps and access to the internet on the go). In our inevitable fast moving world where everyone is so much more go-go-go, the applications have the potential for students, researchers and the like to look things up quickly, watch videos, renew their books and do a whole manner of other things (nearly anything you could think of I think...) much more speedily than before...and it fits in your pocket and you can do this anywhere! Still not convinced if I'd prefer an iPad over an iPhone or Touch to be honest for this very reason (isn't it just a giant version of the small, cute, iPhone?)

The general concensus in the team was the Touch was a handy little thing indeed...although it did take a while to get used to the touch screen but we all seemed to get the knack of it in the end. What will Apple come up with next, I wonder?


Monday, 28 June 2010


thank you kalandrakas
Flickr. Not something I've really used before, apart from randomly and always when I want to find what I would term an 'artistic' sort of image. Or a completely silly one (as you can see above with the dogs chilling in the sunshine) I tend to have always opted for googling images when needed. Whilst I still view Flickr as a more creative option and google images more like bang! what I want straight away, it was still handy to explore the 'creative commons' option in the advanced search. Perhaps I should do a Flickr v. Google images over the next week or so and see which one scores up the highest when it comes to practicality.

Google docs and PB Wiki

Two useful tools explored this past week for the Medical Library's 23 Things...one which I have never used before (Google Docs) and one which I've used already in the past (PBWiki)

Here's my try at creating a 'picture' on google docs. Saving and sharing a document was really easy - I liked this option and another bonus was your work saved automatically..great for forgetful types or if you have to rush away from your computer screen! So all in all, another great one for collaborative working and also when working on the go!

I've used PBWiki for group work before and it's great for uploading files and sharing ideas. It's also really easy to see what changes have been made, by who, and when they changed them...and this was always a perk when doing 'group work' tasks at uni and making sure people had pulled their weight! ;-)

We used a wiki in the last library I worked in and it was met with a bit of scepticism. But after a while, everyone found it to be a really good 'jargon buster' for all those terms and acronyms you sometimes weren't sure of.

It often went a bit like this: You've received an email from someone with a phrase and you don't know what it means and there's nobody to ask? (I remember not having a clue what 'kick it in the long grass' meant but maybe that's just my naievity...) Look it up on the wiki! You're not sure on what 'official' line to take is when responding to someones elaborate reasoning as to why they can't pay their library fine? Look it up on the wiki!

We've already used it for staff meeting agenda contributions over here..and I think being able to share other colleagues wealth of experience and knowledge of certain subjects is really valuable. When people move on, their knowledge will still be documented and of use those left behind..and I should imagine it would also make the hand over of a job role not quite so nightmare-ish. It seems a shame that often when people leave a workplace they take all their know-how and skills with them...but with something like a wiki they can easily leave some of it behind!

Friday, 25 June 2010

The Big Conversation in Cambridge...a few random thoughts

Here are my two cents on the conversation I attended earlier this week about the future of the information profession and about how we see CILIP's current and future role. As mostly a quiet observer, it certainly gave me food for thought and a lot to mull over. Other notes can be found here here here here here and here (phew!)

Firstly, it got me thinking about the wide diverse role of the information professional and about the stigma attached. I know from personal experience that not a lot of people actually know what we do. "What do you need to do an MA for when all you do is stamp books?" We've all heard it. So, are you proud to say you're a librarian? Furthermore, does it even matter how we're labelled? Could CILIP do more to promote our profession, or more specifically, what we actually do? I think that this is also the responsbility of the library team itself and also the organisation you're working within. It was clear from those that attended and their wide range of experiences, that we all do a variety of different things, not neccesarily just in a traditional library setting. Does CILIP successfully represent this? In job adverts we're information specialists, information officers, information architects, librarians, foi officers, records management leaders, knowlege management managers and a whole range of others...we certainly do seem to have a lot of hats. Does that matter? I think it does. Understandably, I should imagine it's probably quite a complex job, but it was felt that CILIP didn't always quite cover the bases for everyone and could improve upon this. Can we justify paying the money for membership, if we're not actually getting anything professionally out of it?

In reference to the 'Where will be in 10 years time' question then, I think the only thing I can be sure of is that it seems to me like in some workplaces it's a constant battle to justify the library's existence and one that we'll probably have to keep fighting. From my research for my dissertation, I found that librarians were real value-adders and moreover interpreters for the workplace studied (the Civil Service) as a whole. However, there was an over-riding impression that senior members of staff failed to recognise this. Remarkably, one of my interviewee's told me that the only time a senior member of staff would be interested in the library would be if it was making actions to shut it down to save money. Ho-hum! It always seemed ironic to me that those senior to me sometimes failed to recognise the value of librarian’s transferable skills when such an effort was being made to enhance professional skills for the organisation in the first place. But anyway...

Another interesting point was why do we need recognition? How important is chartering? The overall majority felt that chartership was a worthwhile process and that the 'status' gained quite possibly helped to secure future roles, especially in certain sectors in this competitive job market. I have been thinking about starting to charter this year as I can see the benefits. But again, it comes back to that niggly value and money thing...thing with CILIP is, what do we actually get for our money and is it worth it? For example, some of the courses that come up in my emails do look like they would probably help me to develop certain skills I'd really love to get a chance to have a stab at. As a student, I could say that CILIP was great value for money. But as someone who went to university in London for 3 years, then worked there for 1, then went to university again to gain my MA (CILIP accredited ;-), once I've paid up for my CILIP membership fee's, I certainly don't have a spare 370 quid knocking about to spend on a course rated 'good to excellent' by 90% of those attending (I should hope so!) I understand these are my own life choices (nobody forced me to go to university, infact I was quite willing to...) but for me (and for the majority in the group I think) it was felt that events held by special interest groups were of much more value for money. I will certainly be looking out for more of them to attend in the future. Other things like my job swap with Emma have really been valuable and things organised within Cambridge, such as the brown bag lunches, are also great. Maybe in the future I might be able to attend a CILIP course (and of course, I can't really comment on the content as I've never been) but at the moment, my other options will do nicely for me.

So, I agree that it would be great if events by special interest groups/regional branches could be promoted more effectively and that emails could easily be sent back and forth etc (this seemed to be a problem). I think the importance of talking to others in the profession, networking and generally keeping on top of things adds great value to what we do, so it seems a shame that CILIP seem to fall short. We also talked a lot about the magazines and their value and the general concensus was that there was no need for two of them. Some other comments were the maze of the CILIP website and that this could be improved drastically.

Friday, 18 June 2010

The art of tagging (Thing 8 Cam 23)

I mentioned a little bit about tagging when blogging about the Med Lib Thing 10.

I've now tagged all of my posts - my most vital and useful tags being MedLib 23 things and Cam 23 things.

A click of a button and I can now see all of my posts for each one...maybe this will help to keep the crossover confusion at bay!

After reading the suggested article, I found a nice little table that somebody else has created (their full post here) whilst browsing the Delicious shared bookmarks on the matter. It's taxonomy in the red corner v folksonomy in the blue - who will win! The overall glaringly obvious seems to be that tagging within a blog can be more personal and easier than cataloging a book (less rules to adhere to!) Anyway, the table seemed to sum it all up quite nicely compared to my frazzled blogging brain. See below!


Accurate (if done well)
Compliance must be forced
Hard to add to
Centrally controlled


Less reliable
Rewards but doesn't force compliance
Easy to add to
Democratically controlled

To tweet or not to tweet...(Thing 7 Cam 23)

Twitter. It seems to be like marmite amongst the Cam23 bloggers - you either love it or you hate it. I resisted joining up to it for a long time for several reasons, which I'll list below. I was mildly curious about it but didn't really feel the need to join up or see the point. But about a month or so ago I decided to join up and see what all the fuss is about and I discovered it can be a really useful tool for keeping up with what's going on in the profession.

Why I didn't join Twitter for aggeees.

I thought it was going to be another Facebook.

I already have a facebook account and for a while joining Twitter to me seemed as if it would be much the same thing. Did I really want to join another site where I'd become mildly addicted to scrolling down a list of people's statuses about the things I don't neccesarily need to know? ("I'm just out the shower and I'm now walking to my car." "Down with the vuvuzelas facebook group - please join!" "I'm in a complicated relationship with XYZ")

But as Library Wanderer points out in her blog post

"If you go onto facebook, the status box asks you the loaded, personal, subjective question: ‘What’s on your mind?’, and the response could feasibly and honestly be anything from itchy nose to the allegory of Plato’s Cave. But Twitter, in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Nessa in Gavin and Stacey, asks you ‘What’s happening?’. The difference is nuanced, and I may be being a bit overly semantic, but it’s still there. Twitter isn’t necessarily about me. Thank goodness!—I had a very boring breakfast this morning." (please follow this link to read in full)

Twitter is really not like Facebook at all. I'm sure it has the potential to be and if I wanted it to be it could be. What I've found is that first and foremost, Twitter has been most useful when keeping up with those "in the know" within the information profession, not just your mates from school. It's also great to keep up with and follow conferences and various events/debates (on the spot as it happens!) that I wouldn't actually have any idea about otherwise.

I didn't get the craze or fully understand why everyone was so obsessed with tweeting. It goes back to the Facebook misconception. It was only through joining Twitter that I realised what it was all about and that's why I'm glad I signed up and actually tried it. I still only tweet here and there but Cam23 seems to have prompted a flurry of communicating with other participants - surely this can only be a good thing.

You can read a great post about the other reasons why Twitter is valuable at Isla's blog here. As Isla so rightly points out, Twitter isn't going to go anywhere anytime soon. Google Replay sounds like it'll be sticking around and you'll be able to virtually time travel and read the first ever tweets created. So be careful what you say! :-)

A few things I've done in order to improve my short Twitter life.

1. A Twitter cull. At first I was a bit mad and followed anyone who looked vaguely interesting. After a while though, I realised it's really not possible to follow a million people and still get something from it, unless you are constantly reading down the list of updates, something which with all the running about I do in my job I can't always manage to do. This also applies to following celebrities... I do have the odd person I find interesting added onto my twitter (who can resist the odd bit of celebrity drivel?) but for me overall, I like to keep my twitter for professional and networky purposes. This is just my personal preference.

2. Explored other ways of using Twitter. For some reason after I came back from my week's holiday, the Twitter interface was driving me mad all of a sudden. I felt like I couldn't follow anything properly. After reading Niamh's post on how to use Twitter without using the Twitter interface, I thought I'd give JournoTwit a try and so far so good. Everything is now organised in columns (my private messages, mentions, news, statuses and retweets) and it's made it so much easier to keep up with what actually is going on!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

A bit of doodling and google-calendaring...(Things 5 and 6 Cam 23)

I've used Doodle twice before (both times since going to the Cam23 launch)..I'd never heard of it before. The main plus I've observed with Doodle is that it gives you the ability to organise any kind of meeting (be it for professional purposes or a friendly gathering) all without the "so when are you free?" cycle that unavoidably crops up sometimes when organising over email or the telephone. It's simple. You create a list of possible dates and a list of possible times and then email them to the participants where they then fill out which dates and times they can/cannot do. You're then left with a really clear list of who can do what and the best time which would suit all (or the majority). While in the past I've used Outlook to schedule meetings within a team, Doodle seems to be a great idea for organising meeting up with those not using Outlook and/or you have a range of dates to play with. It beats a lot of 'umming' and 'ahhing' anyhow! I also took a brief look at Meet-O-Matic but it didn't seem to perform so swishly so I think if I do use this kind of tool in the future, I'll definately stick with Doodle...I think I should start making a poll everytime I go to dinner with friends (we're all incredibly indecisive when it comes to choosing a restaurant).

I'd never used Google Calendar before as in both my current and prior workplace, I've used the calendar on Outlook and that always seemed to work pretty well. Again though - the major plus of Google Calendar seems to be that you can access it easily on the go, from your phone or from home. Like Gmail and all other Googley things, the calendar is well set out and easy to navigate. I especially like how you can make a task list and add other calendars. Also, a theme which seems to be occuring with me, it looks pretty! Much prettier than Outlook. I'm still a bit of a fan of the paper diary to be honest, but that's just me. I can see how Google Calendar could have the potential to be effectively used and I'd happily use it at work if we weren't already using something else.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Bookmarking the Delicious way (Med Lib 23 Things)

Delicious (adjective) - 1. Highly pleasing or agreeable to the senses, especially of taste or smell.
2. Very pleasant; delightful: a delicious revenge (ooh!)

Thing 10

So after trying out Delicious a few times now and from using it in our starter session, I think I quite like it, I am pleased and it's definately my favourite of all the options we've tried. I think I may even continue to use it to bookmark if I can remember to. Not only does it appeal to the nosy person within ("how many other people have found what I find interesting and oooh what else do they find interesting...etc etc") I can see it being really handy for work purposes and for easy access when using another computer from the one your browser favourites are saved to (frequently possible in a library, what with enquiry desk duties) It's also useful but not in a distracting 'arghh where is the personal/work boundary' way that I found iGoogle slightly to be.

I don't think my bookmarks are the tastiest bookmarks on the web at all but I can see how social bookmarking can (in the words of the site itself) lead to the best websites 'bubbling up.' Also, how great would it been to have discovered this as a student?! I'm asking myself why did I never use anything like this?! It would be such a good place to save links for essays or project work...and look at other resources which others have found useful at the same time.

Bonus round! I found that reading around what other people had tagged on Delicious about tagging and folksonomies to be quite an efficient way of getting a general gist of the whole thing and some interesting articles cropped up. I have to admit that taxonomies and the like had me slightly running for the non existent Loughborough hills at first whilst I was studying (although having to construct a thesaurus on fungi was much much worse) but in the end the whole thing does have its er...useful uses! I will now stay quiet on the subject as I think there's a Cam23 crossover somewhere...and I also have a journal article I need to find before home time. Oh and of course, there's the plotting of my delicious revenge...

Catching up....Things 8 & 9 (Med Lib 23 Things)

Welcome to the world of bookmarking, our theme for MedLib 23 Things week 5. Presenting thing 8 and 9...onwards and upwards!

Thing 8

Here's a screenshot of my saved bookmarks.

Thing 9

Bookmarking at the NHS MyLibrary proved to be very useful and again, I could see how if I was a NHS employee this particular function of the site could really benefit the way I interact with the site and carry out my work. Especially in regards to saving time and keeping myself organised (things we all want, right?) I particularly liked how you could put summaries next to the links...useful little reminding tool indeed.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Back to le blog!

Argh. I'm back after a week away on my hols and I've come back to find there is a lot of catching up to do. As I'm participating in both MedCam23 and Cam23, the list of 'things' seems to be piling up! However, I must pass on my virtual thanks to Girl in the Moon who created a feed where you can follow all the Cam23 bloggers. My Google reader is now much more efficient and I'll be logging in there from now on to try and keep updated with everyone's blogs and leave a few comments here and there. Great idea!

First things first, I had a little play with the design of my blog, added the Cam23 banner made by this clever person and drooled a bit at the photo of Isla's cake on Emma's blog. It's safe to say that the cakes are going down very well over here!

Now onto blogging things 8-9-10 for http://23things-cammedlib.blogspot.com/ and things 5-6-7-8-9 for 23 Things Cambridge....let the blogging commence!