Saturday, 31 July 2010

Inspiration at dawn

There's nothing like waking up early to get the creativity flowing!  Not only did I (finally) come up with something to present at the Cambridge (lib)Teachmeet on Monday 27th September, this morning I thought of a teaching approach to use for it.

I'm going to present the new network for Librarians as Teacher (thanks Jo!) using a simple training approach used a few years ago during team-building sessions for Rangers and young Guide leaders (aged 16-26) in preparation for sailing Asgard II from Inverness to Dublin.

Curious?  Come along to the wiki to sign up to speak or lurk.  I'll also be looking for feedback on what you'd like to see on the LAT Network site, so don't forget to bring your thinking caps!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


One more assignment submitted and I'm well on my way to the MSc, all without using referencing software at all.  Never underestimate the power of word processing software!  And yet, so often along the way I've thought "there was an article for one of the other modules that might be useful for this one... didn't need it for that essay so have no citation to check... which one was it again?"  followed by more trawling through folders for that elusive article.  I had a glance at Mendeley a few months ago but was mid-assignment at the time, I tried out EndNote when doing a different course (music? education? can't remember when it was!) and didn't find it to be worth the effort, I then resorted to creating my own Access database to manage references - I completely empathise with Miss Crail latest rant.  I am now about to start another assignment so this is the perfect time to explore Zotero - properly!

Big plusses with this one - it's browser based so all I have to do is click an icon to save references.  It was really easy to install and works with OpenOffice (a deal-breaker for me).  I love that it opens up just below your browser window so you can see it all properly, including the different folders you've set up to manage different pieces of research.  I suspect this would be even better on a "proper" computer rather than my little 9" laptop.

So far, so good!  And with that, I'm off to do some searching for an article on information retrieval.  I'll report back after the practical experience of using Zotero for an entire project.

TeachMeet for Cambridge Librarians

Following on from the post over on thingblogging, we've allocated a hashtag (#camlibtm) and delicious tag (camlibtm) and have a wiki page on the way for a TeachMeet for librarians.  What we need next is a venue - any suggestions?

It's happening on Monday 27th September in Cambridge and we're planning to focus this first one on tools and techniques we use for user education in our libraries - whether they worked for us or not!

We're going to be calling for people to present short (2 or 7 minute) items, using whatever format they like - presentation, poster, off the cuff, demonstration, anything at all!  The idea is that it's all very informal, a bit of fun and chance for us to learn from what other librarians are doing.  We think everyone will have some piece of experience to share, so get thinking and watch this space!

Related posts:

    Friday, 23 July 2010

    Social Networks for Librarians

    Facebook and LinkedIn - I have profiles on both of these sites but I can't say I've found either of them particularly useful professionally.

    Facebook is good for keeping in touch with family and friends and occasionally I'll share an event, rsvp, 'Like' a page, or add myself as a friend of a library/group/university but I can't imagine using my personal profile here for work or study purposes.  I do think it's worth having a library presence here because some people do like to use it as their starting point for study as well as leisure, provided it's kept up to date and represents the sociable face of the library.  Here's one of the frustrating things about it though - is it possible to see the pages you've 'Liked'?  How useful is it if the user can't find your page again easily?  Am I missing something obvious here?

    LinkedIn is more useful professionally, but I think it really depends on the sector.  If you are looking for a job work in business or computing and live near London it's useful to be there because recruitment agencies will find you.  It may be useful for corporate information workers too, but I'm not convinced it will ever work for me in this way.  I have joined some library-related groups such as CILIP, LIBER, New Academic Librarians, YEP! and Irish Public Libraries and sometimes an interesting discussion crops up on one or other of these, but nothing worth writing home about.

    Two new networks aimed at UK librarians have been set up, both of which I think will be more useful to me professionally than LinkedIn or Facebook.  The LIS New Professionals Network was set up to support, well, new professionals in the library and information sector (what gave it away?).  There are already some interesting discussions, useful resources and a blog to follow on this site.

    The second network (as mentioned previously) is the Librarians as Teachers Network, set up literally this week by Johanna Anderson to support librarians in their teaching role.  This site is very much in development, so come along and help us to decide what should be on it!

    Edited to add: I've just heard of via Magister et Mater's blog and am off to explore.  It seems to be closely linked to Facebook though...

    Maps and Mapping

    Of the online map tools mentioned on the Medical Library's 23 Things programme, I'm most familiar with Google Maps.  I regularly print out a map and directions to bring with me when going somewhere new.

    Distances from my house to the medical library:
    • GoogleMaps: 14.8 miles
    • Bing: 14.6 miles
    • - if this allows you to get directions and distances I didn't stay long enough to find them.  The moving ads in the background are very distracting!
    • Mapquest: 14.5 miles
    • Navteq: 14.41 miles - more annoying ads, but not as bad as the Streetmap ones
    So I'm surprisingly not the furthest away from work here.

    The image here is of some random houses, not mine, but I got it from Google Street View.  It's actually quite shocking how clear they images are, especially since I'm living in a relatively small town, but at least it's not showing live information.  Imagine how much fun burglars would have with it if it was!

    I've glanced at OpenStreetMap before but not used it much.  I think the main advantage here is that walking routes and shortcuts are marked in on the map as well.  I had never heard of OpenCycleMap before but this could be very useful if I wanted to check out possible cycling routes.

    Instead of using the suggested optional task, I thought I'd show you something we worked on in the Library Council (I hope you don't mind Isla!)  Scans and data from Griffith's 19th century valuation of tenements was being added to the AskAboutIreland website, so we arranged to have the Ordnance Survey maps of the time, including plot markings, digitised to accompany this information.

    We then had the 19th century maps overlaid onto Google Maps, and it is now possible to slide between the old maps and the new.
    You can also zoom in and out to see the area in more detail.  Don't take my word for it though, it's much more fun to play with it yourselves! (You'll need to do a search by family name or placename first though.)

    For all the teaching librarians out there...

    I'm very excited about the new network that Johanna Anderson has established for teaching librarians.  It was established really as a support for librarians that are working on the PG Cert education courses but I think it will be a useful resource for librarians at all stages, with or without the qualification.

    Escaping the echo chamber

    There was a very interesting talk in Leeds yesterday on the issue of the library echo chamber.  Ned Potter and Laura Woods talked about the problems we have with people's perceptions of us and what we do, and with most of the rebuttals coming in the form of blog posts and tweets that are only read by other librarians and do nothing to change the wider picture.  They did also point out some examples of people that have managed to break out of the echo chamber, including fellow Aber student Ian Clark and his recent Guardian article.

    I really liked the presentation itself.  I've seen Prezi used very well once before, but this one was excellent.  I wish I could have been have been there, but Leeds is a bit of a trek from Cambridge. 

    The most interesting thing for me (apart from the importance of the issue itself) was how easily I could follow the presentation remotely.  Ned and Laura both blogged in the morning about the event and linking to the presentation. They used future tweets so that they could send out their talk in real time for those of us that couldn't make it (including a bit of the back-and-forth nature of the presentation) and called for our participation in feeding ideas back to the room.  Now, admittedly there was  a bit of a time zone mix-up that meant I got to read the presentation an hour before it actually happened, but in a way I think that's a good thing.  Often there isn't enough time for remote followers to get their input into the discussion - having a bit of a head start meant that we had more opportunity to join in.  The tweets have been archived using TwapperKeeper.

    I think we all have a lot to learn from the way this presentation was organised.  I'm definitely going to try their approach in future - although I believe Prezi is supposed to be very difficult to do well.  No different from Powerpoint then.  Oh, and I mustn't forget to tell the world what we actually do and try to become another echo chamber escapee!

    Monday, 19 July 2010


    Another one of those sites that I thought sounded great, signed up for, and then forgot all about.  I think the whole idea behind LibraryThing is great, and surely every book club should be on it.

    I have never looked at it from the point of view of libraries themselves.  I can see how valuable it would be for cataloguing a small library collection, but I wonder how easy it is to export the records - anybody know?  You wouldn't want to spend all that time cataloguing your holdings only for LibraryThing to change/merge/fold altogether!

    Wenzeler's article was very interesting and I really like the idea of enhancing existing library catalogues with user-generated content from LibraryThing.  I believe AquaBrowser, when it comes to Cambridge, will create a shinier, happier user experience anyway though, so do we need LibraryThing?

    Friday, 16 July 2010

    Slideshare and Delicious

    I was so organised until about a week ago, keeping up with both 23 Things programmes - how did I end up with four Things to do for Cam23?  Catch-up time!

    I alluded to Slideshare already in my reflective post. I'm not a visual person at all, I'm not likely to click through presentations or videos in blogposts and would much prefer to read a summary.  I do know that that's just because I'm a strange, strange person and obviously try to cater to other more normal people in my own posts.  I do see the benefits of Slideshare for providing access to delegates after a course or conference and for sharing your ideas more widely.  I would put presentations up there, but I'm not likely to spend hours looking through presentations I haven't seen first-hand.

    Here is one of the presentations from the New Professionals Conference I attended a couple of weeks ago:
    Proving the value of peer networks
    The nice thing about this one is that you can get it even if you weren't there on the day.  Bethan put the whole presentation together using quotes she received from her peer network.  I was going to provide bonus points for anyone who correctly identified the quote from me, but it doesn't seem to be on this version.  Maybe it was just one she read out, or maybe I was just imagining that feeling of fame and glory.  Hmmm....

    Here's the prize-winning work of another of the presenters:

    Delicious - here I'll cheat a bit and refer you to my previous post for 23 Medical Things instead.

    Wednesday, 14 July 2010

    Youtube and music libraries

    I've been thinking a lot about my first library job recently.  I worked at the Contemporary Music Centre for four years, first as a library assistant and then as Music Information Officer, and have followed their news feeds ever since.  I was very sorry to hear that their Director, Eve O'Kelly is stepping down, but I am sure know she will be very successful in her 'freelance career in cultural management and research'.  Evonne Ferguson has been appointed Director and I would like to wish her all the best in this position.

    What does all of this have to do with YouTube, I hear you ask?  Well, one of the most interesting things about CMC, for me, is how forward-thinking they are and how well they use social media to promote themselves and the music of Irish composers.  They have an active presence on Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, MySpace and flickr, and provide RSS feeds of news, features and opportunities.  They were one of the first arts organisations in Ireland to create monthly podcasts [feel free to correct me if I'm getting any of this wrong, Jonathan!]  I strongly recommend checking them out if you're looking for good ideas.

    Here is their latest feature, based on their recent conference The Future of Music in the Digital World.

    Tuesday, 13 July 2010

    Follow that........ reader!

    I had had a slight problem doing this one because I wasn't working last week.  Luckily, I have had experience of some of these tasks before.  My very first library position was as a music library assistant at the Contemporary Music Centre in Dublin.  In this position I photocopied and bound scores of music by Irish composer for use in the library and for sale.  Photocopying and binding are therefore second nature to me.

    Wireless access in the library, as mentioned before, is something I avail of nearly every Friday.  I have also had the pleasure of helping Medical Library users to add printing credit to their library accounts and to scan documents.  The scanner was easy to use, but I think it's a pity that there's no option to scan the image as a pdf.  I would recommend installing Irfanview or similar software on the computers to address this problem.

    For extra credit (as Ange Fitzpatrick is fond of calling it), the Medical Library does have the following books, recently requested by a user:
    1. Imaging picture tests for the MRCPCH / A.P. Winrow. WN 18.51.1
    2. 250 questions for the MRCPCH part 2 / J.L. Robertson, A.P. Hughes. WS 18.115.1
    3. Get through MRCPCH part I : BOFs and EMQs / Nagi Giumma Barakat. WS 18.117
    4. Data questions for the MRCPCH Part 2 / J.L. Robertson, A.P. Hughes. WS 18.76
    5. MRCPCH part 2 paediatric : practice exams / P. Gringras, D.K. Pal, M. Greenberg. WS 18.92
    6. Paediatric grey cases for the MRCPCH / Alan C. Fenton ... [et al.]. WS 18.86
    7. MRCPCH part 2 : questions and answers for the new format exam / Kate H. Creese, Colin V.E. Powell and Patrick H.T. Cartlidge. WS 18.125.1
    We do not appear to have the following:
    1. Towards MRCPCH Part II theory examination / Tapabrata Chatterjee M.D. (Author), Suraj Gupte M.D. (Editor)
    2. Questions for the MRCPCH Part 2 Written Examination / Nick barnes & Julian Forton
    3. MRCPCH Part 2 Practice Exams / Giles Kendall & Ian Pollock

    Friday, 9 July 2010

    Pause for thought

    Well, I have been working my way through the 23 Things Programmes at the Medical Library and the University Library and have so far been able to (pretty much) keep up the pace.  Some of the Things were already familiar to me, but most were new or had more to them than I had realised.  These programmes have been great for thinking about the various tools and how they might be applied in a library context.  There are, of course, far more tools to be explored than can be covered in 23 Things, but it's good to get a structured start on them.

    [Image found on flickr, with thanks to visualage]
    The VARK questionnaire showed that I'm not a particularly visual person but pretty much any other approach suits me and I have a "mild read/write preference".  This doesn't surprise me at all - I have to consciously think about including images in my blog posts and I confess that I skipped some of the embedded videos and presentations (oops...)  I much prefer if people would write out the key points of the presentation instead!  The programme has used a combination of text, images, presentations, videos and opportunities to meet in person, so I think it has catered to most learning styles. 

    Tools that I am likely to keep using:
    1. This blog: I've never kept a blog before, but am finding it a very useful tool for reflecting on events attended and have now set up a private blog for tracking my thoughts on articles for my masters as well.
    2. RSS feeds: I was already a convert for this one and love scanning headlines for interesting articles/posts rather than visiting the websites themselves.
    3. Doodle: We've used this already to plan a discussion on Defining our professional future and are now using it to discuss organising a TeachMeet in Cambridge.
    4. Google Calendar: Another one that I use personally, but I can see that it could be very useful in a library context.
    5. Twitter: A new convert, I'm finding this really useful for keeping up with what's happening and especially for networking.
    6. Flickr: with a very big pinch of salt
    7. Delicious: Although when will I ever have time to go through my "to read" pile?
    Things I am less likely to continue to use
    1. iGoogle: I prefer to track RSS feeds using Google Reader and am happy to use tabs to open other pages I need.
    2. Slideshare: I would put a presentation up there for the benefit of others, but it doesn't suit my style for catching up on events I haven't been able to attend. Please keep blogging, everyone!
    Do I feel more competent and confident?  Perhaps not in terms of the skills themselves, because I was already using quite a lot of the tools and am comfortable with picking up new ones.  I am certainly more confident about putting myself out there by blogging and tweeting and am already experiencing the benefits of that.  Every day I discover a new resource, make a new contact or explore something I have been meaning to look at for a long time.  I think the programme has also helped me to establish myself a bit more in the UK library world - very useful since I moved so recently!

    I think that perhaps the most important part of the programme for me is the sense of community I've been getting.  I have only been working in Cambridge since March, and only one evening each week (with the occasional extra session) so it was hard to understand how I fit into the system in Cambridge.  Through 23 Things I have had an opportunity to get to know more of the staff in the other libraries.  Through some of their blogs I have been able to get a hint of personalities, of interests beyond librarianship and of how things work in the other libraries.  I'm looking forward to the rest of the Things, but I'm looking forward to all the "extracurricular" posts even more.

    Tuesday, 6 July 2010

    What sites do you search?

    I often need to use a search engine on a different site, to check the library catalogue or to find more information about that news I just heard.  If there are any searches that you find you use regularly, read on!

    This is a problem that has already been considered in Cambridge, and they have addressed it in two ways.  You can add a search toolbar to your browser window:

    The image above has been borrowed from the toolbar instructions on the Cambridge website.  Unfortunately since I'm working on a 9" laptop it doesn't work so well for me.  They've thought of that too and given us an option to add a Newton search to that handy search box in our browsers:

    It's actually possible to add most other searches engines to the browser as long as they use a single search box.  I've added the Essex public library catalogue search to mine using Mycroft (click on the image to see it more closely).

    First, do a search in the catalogue / search engine you want to use. Make sure to use a search term you'll be able to find in the url.

    Copy the resulting url and paste it into the Search URL field.
    (Pick something you'll be able to recognise in the url.)

    Find the search term you used and replace it with {searchTerm}

    Fill in whatever other fields you want to and then click 'Generate Plugin'.

    Copy the code that appears in the box, paste it into Notepad or other text editor, and save it as an .xml file.

    Upload this file to the internet.  The file for my Essex library search is at

    Then use this code (edited to use your file link instead):

    and paste it into header of your website.  If you're not sure how to do this, I'll refer you to Step 3 from this previous post.

    Some sites have it included in the headers of their own code, allowing people to add their search by visiting any page of their website.  It would be really great if the one for the Cambridge catalogue could be added this way.  Here's how it looks in Facebook:

    Added advantage: certain people have no more excuses for buying books on Amazon rather than checking the library catalogue [I'm looking at you, Andrew!]

    Proving your worth in challenging times

    Another great event from the Career Development Group, this time aimed at "new professionals" and taking place in Sheffield.  I got talking to lots of interesting people, some who went straight from college into library school, some who came from different careers and moved into librarianship, some (like me) who found themselves working in a library and realised that this was the job for them, and one (incredibly brave) person who dropped everything and moved to restart their library career in a different country.

    Some points that stood out for me from the day:
    • Blurring boundaries between professions:  we need to gain some of the competencies of other professions we work with (for example, teaching competencies if working in academic libraries) in order to work more effectively with them - Sheila Corrall
    • Make sense (of the sector), provide evidence (of what you can do), be visible, and maintain enthusiasm - Eleni Zazini
    • Consider using voluntary work to fill gaps in your CV and escape the "Experience Catch-22" - Bronagh McCrudden
    • If we don't keep up with changes in our field we can't claim expertise - Laura Woods
    • Building peer networks is definitely worth the effort - Bethan Ruddock (Presentation on slideshare and thanks for quoting me, I'm famous now!)
    • Build your elevator pitch - Lucy Marris and Andrew Cox (personally I can't see myself using it in conversation but it's definitely worth having firmly in your mind at least)
    • Professional generosity: sharing experience when networking makes it all worthwhile (Biddy Fisher)

    I really value the fact that most of the events I attend have a good mix of people at all stages of their library careers, but this one was marked by a particular enthusiasm and excitement that comes from being with others new to the area, full of ideas, energy and potential.  I knew exactly what Biddy Fisher meant when she said that the future leaders were in that room - there were some that certainly stood out as ones to watch!

    Things I want to look into following this conference:
    LIS New Professionals Network: Aims to be a one-stop shop for new information professionals, with news, course information and jobs.  Other membership groups will feed into this as well as CILIP.

    VIA Survey of character strenths: Identify your strengths and then play to them (requires registration)

    Professional doctorates starting from 2011 in Sheffield: 4 years part-time, very structured and specifically aimed at practitioners. (Better finish this masters first though...)

    Other posts about the day
    ...and some photos...
    ...and much more will, I'm sure, be added on #npc2010