Friday, 27 August 2010

What are hashtags?

I was going to tweet this, but realised that people who follow tweets probably already know what a hashtag is.  So for any #cam23ers or others reading this blog that looked at Twitter but couldn't figure out what the #s were all about, Phil Bradley has posted a great explanation of what hashtags are and what they're used for over on his blog.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Communication in Cambridge University libraries

In case anyone's missed this, there's a discussion starting at 11am in Selwyn college  and Lyn Bailey has kindly volunteered to report live using the chat functionality in the Cambridge_Librarians CamTools site.  Looking forward to it!

Friday, 20 August 2010


My first experience of using an e-book was as part of my librarianship studies at Aberystwyth.  As a distant learner, based (at the time) in a different country, in a small specialist library and with very limited access to university collections, it was great to be able to access at least one of my books easily whenever I liked.  At the Library Council, we digitised more than 300 books ranging from art and music to education, industry and trade, and this digital collection can now be freely accessed on the Ask About Ireland website.

For this Thing, I started by using the Cambridge e-books CrossSearch option to find ebooks with the word 'surgery' in their titles.  This was a useful task because although I knew that there were ebooks available here I had never tried accessing them from this angle.  I think the other route suggested, via the main library catalogue, is the one that will be used more by students because it's really the content they need and the format would be secondary to that.
I hadn't looked at MyiLibrary before, but (at a quick glance) like the way the search and browse options work.  I was already familiar with Project Gutenberg and also - a very 'busy' site, but I like the range of options it provides for viewing the books.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Notes on using Zotero

I'm now using Zotero to write an article and a few interesting points have arisen.

The JAVA uno error came up again when I tried to insert my first reference.  I fixed this as before and citations have been working properly ever since.

You have to have Firefox open while inserting citations.  This makes perfect sense since the citations are stored in the browser. 

If you're unfortunate enough to have to cite using one of the many different Harvard styles, it's very difficult to see which one you should be using.  For example, for my masters I need to use Harvard APA and for the article I'm writing I need to use Sage Harvard.  These styles are not clearly listed in either the pre-installed list or the Zotero Style Repository.  This means librarians may need to track down the correct house style or edit styles to get it right, ensure that their students know which one to install and use and that, for example, Harvard APA means the American Psychological Association style as opposed to the styles that actually have Harvard in their name.

Bookmarks and Reference Marks
Because I was working with OpenOffice, the default was to save references as ReferenceMarks.  It seems that this format works only with OpenOffice - a bit pointless since most people I'm likely to send it to would be working with MS Word.  In order to minimise the chances of the references disappearing, I had to save as .doc and select the Bookmarks option instead.

Other potential issues
I suspect that there could be a problem with the browser taking longer and longer to load if there are a lot of citations stored on it, but this problem has not yet arisen for me.

Once I sorted out these problems, I found it very easy to insert references and create a bibliography - it really is worth the effort.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Lost in translation

Inspired by Vanessa's wonderful Greek Wordle, I decided to run my blog through Google Translate. (Apologies to the non-Irish speakers out there!)

The result was hilarious, including attempts at direct translation

"so here you go" = "agus mar sin théann tú anseo" = "and so you go here"

...and some incomprehensible attempts at sentences:

"Off I went to see if I could find a clear and simple explanation of how to do this using free software and do you think I could find any?"
"Off Chuaigh mé a fheiceáil má raibh mé in ann a fháil míniú soiléir agus simplí ar conas é seo a dhéanamh ag baint úsáide as bogearraí saor in aisce agus is dóigh leat raibh mé in ann teacht ar bith?

Some surprisingly nice-sounding phrases too though, it has to be said:

"As my faithful readers know" = "Mar is eol do mo léitheoirí dílse")

This reminded me of a wonderful email my husband received last month to his old (Irish) university account:

Tá Bunachar Sonraí Cothabháil Ríomhaire atá ar siúl faoi láthair ar ár Ríomhphost gréasáin Message Center. Ár Teachtaireacht Center is gá a ath-shocrú mar gheall ar an méid ard de phoist a fhaighimid spam laethúil. Beidh Cothabháil a leagan síos agus cabhrú linn cosc a chur ar an aincheist seo go laethúil. Hanover nua ríomhphost Gréasáin Software a sholáthar pop - uaire le bloc de roinnt focal teoranta ó thaobh spam,.

*Chun revalidate do bhosca ríomhphoist do thoil:
Cliceáil anseo: [LINK DELETED]

Is é an Bogearraí Hanover Ríomhphost Gréasáin go tapa agus cur i  bhfeidhm meáchan éadrom go tapa agus go héasca le rochtain do r-phost. Má theipeann ar revalidate do bhosca ríomhphoist a bheidh do r-phost a fhágáil i-ghníomhach ó ár mbunachar sonraí.

Go raibh maith agat
Riarthóir Córas

Now it was far too much work to figure out what this was meant to be about so I stuck it through Google Translate and got the following:

Computer Database Maintenance is currently underway in our Webmail Message Center. Our Communication Center is required re-arrangement because of the high volume of spam mail we receive daily. Maintenance will be laid down and help prevent on this dilemma daily. Hanover new Web mail Provide Software pop - off several blocks of limited word spam terms.

To revalidate your email box please:
Click here: [LINK DELETED]

The Hanover Email Software Web quickly into light weight application to quickly and easily access your email. Failure to revalidate your mailbox to be your e-mail left in-active from our database.

System Administrator

A remarkably comprehensible translation, don't you think?  Some spammer out there has gone to a huge amount of effort to translate their messages for the benefit of their Irish targets.  I wonder if I keep translating into Irish and back again would it end up saying what it was originally supposed to say?

I've removed the links because, while I don't know where they led, I don't want to be responsible for forwarding them to others.  Just in case.

*P.S. I particularly love the sentences where English words were left in alongside the Irish translation attempt:
Chun revalidate do bhosca ríomhphoist do thoil...

**P.P.S. Oh, ok, so the translation isn't all that bad, considering it was done by a computer!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

23 Things Wordle

Looking at other completion posts, I've just realised that I never did my Wordle, so here you go:

Zotero Success!

As some of you know, I've been having trouble with Zotero recently.  I added it to my browser, no problem, and synced to my online account, but was getting two error messages every time I opened OpenOffice no matter what document format I opened and with new and existing documents (Error loading BASIC of document...).  Closing the error messages allowed me to work with documents as normal, but I couldn't use the citation software with it.

I searched the Zotero support section and couldn't find any useful answers.  Taking a second look at the Word Processor Plugin Installation page, I noticed some advice for when the Zotero options weren't displaying at all.  This wasn't my problem, but I tried their suggestion for that issue and it worked.

In Firefox, go to Tools→Add-ons→Extensions→Zotero OpenOffice Integration→Preferences and click “Reinstall OpenOffice components”.

Now I had a new error message though:

Zotero OpenOffice Integration could not communicate with because the Java UNO runtime directory specified in the Zotero OpenOffice Integration preferences does not contain a “ridl.jar” file.
I couldn't find a solution on the suggested troubleshooting page, so back I went to the Zotero forum to see if there was an answer for me.  I had better luck this time, using the advice from the last post on this page.  I installed the package using synaptic package manager. Then I went back into Tools→Add-ons→Extensions→Zotero OpenOffice Integration→Preferences and clicked 'Detect paths'.
This fully solved my problem.  I've now been playing with Zotero citations within OpenOffice and I love it!  I will once again try to use this the whole way through the article I'm working on and see how it goes.

A coordinated and strategic approach to LIS Research

As my faithful readers know, I am about to start the dissertation part of my MSc at Aberystwyth.  I was very interested to hear about the LIS Research Coalition, and particularly like the sound of this "coordinated and strategic" approach that they're facilitating.  I would have loved to go to their recent conference, but unfortunately the student opportunities seemed targetted at PhD students only - fair enough, but that ruled me out.  I'm following the Twitter feed and I think it's great that they pull together information about funding and research results.

Here's my question: I'd like to contribute usefully to LIS Research, so went looking to see if they have come up with research priorities.  I don't see any on the site - are there any?  I think what they're doing is really valuable, I'm just not sure how I can fit my research into this strategic approach.  What am I missing?  Any help would be wonderful!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Curvy text using Gimp Image Editor

I was recently asked how to put curved text on a logo.  Off I went to see if I could find a clear and simple explanation of how to do this using free software and do you think I could find any? Lots of complicated explanations or ones that expect that you already know about paths, lots that left bits out so you were left scratching your head and wondering why it didn't work for you, but nothing clear, simple and taking you the whole way through.  So here we go, especially for The Lizard Lounge, curvy text using Gimp - and so I don't have to figure it out a second third time!  I'll assume you've downloaded the software and go from there.

Step 1: Draw a path
Select the Path tool (left).  Click on two different spots to make a line.

Step 2: Shape the path
Click and drag the line to create a curve.  You can change the degree of the curve by clicking and dragging the little squares that now appear.

Step 3: Write the text
Select the text tool (left).  Write the required text and click 'Text along Path'.  You can clear the text box once the text has appeared on the curved line.

Step 4: Select the text path
At the top of the image window, select Dialogs, then Paths. Right-click on the text path and click 'Path to Selection'.

Step 5: Create a new layer
In the image window, select Layers, then New Layer.  Select the Bucket fill tool (left) and click on the image window.  Your text should now look something like this:

Step 6: Rearrange the layers
Open the Layers dialog box (Dialogs>Layers) and drag the layers into the correct order.  Alternatively, you could right click on the image, select Layer, then Stack, and rearrange using the options there.

Step 7: Flatten image
Before saving the image as a .jpg or .png, you need to 'flatten' it.  In the image window, select Image, then Flatten Image.

Step 8: Save the file
So far we've been working in Gimp's own image format, .xcf.  At this stage you'll probably want to save it in a different format for web or print use.

The finished product!

Don't ask me why it's so complicated, it's one of my pet hates of image editing, but I hope that works!

Monday, 9 August 2010

This is the end...

... of the main 23 Things Programme, although we're still working through the medical one.  There were times when I thought I was crazy to be trying to do both, thinking we'd never get to the end, but now it seems to have flown by.

Looking back at the half-way mark, I still agree with what I said then.  The most valuable part of the programme actually had nothing to do with the tools - it was the community spirit that came out if it, and now also opportunities such as my involvement in the first Cambridge Librarian TeachMeet, (27th September, St John's College).  I think it's been valuable personally for raising my profile and helping me to dive into the Cambridge library world.

In terms of things, I'll build on my previous list:
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?
  8. Youtube and podcasting: I'll have to think some more about how to approach this in real life though.
  9. Social networking sites: Facebook (in library context, but not as a librarian, if you get what I mean), but also LinkedIn, LISNPN and the LAT Network for my professional development and making more contacts.
  10. Zotero: we're still having a bit of a tiff, but I'll get around to sorting that problem any day now.
  11. Google Docs: Very useful for sharing raw thoughts with others - not so much for the formatted finished products though.
  12. Wikis: Already useful for #camlibtm but I'm sure they will prove useful for other projects in future too.
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!
  3. LibraryThing: Sorry Tim! Although maybe this will be useful for specific promotional purposes, we'll see.

And so I'm done - luckily we have the TeachMeet to look forward to in September, catering to all who are suffering withdrawal symptoms!

Wikis Mark II

This will be another short one because I've already covered it in CamMed23.  since that post I've been using wikis as part of planning the (lib)TeachMeet (have you signed up yet?) and at the medical library for putting together the answers for a quiz.  I still think the most obvious use for wikis in a library context is internally for staff manuals and shared information.

And again, if you haven't visited it yet check out the #camlibtm wiki!


I used to listen to podcasts on a daily basis on my way to and from work - until I mislaid my ipod (it's got to be in that house somewhere!)  It was great for following programmes that were on at awkward times, such as the arts and Irish language programmes on "mainstream" channels.  As mentioned previously, my first library job was at the Contemporary Music Centre which was one of the first arts organisations in Ireland to use podcasts to promote what they did.  I've mentioned podcasting and Youtube at CMC already as part of the medical library programme.  I think podcasts are most useful if they provide regular features from the library, such as a series of talks, rather than as library tours.  I am open to that idea though, has anyone used them and found that they've worked for this purpose?

Friday, 6 August 2010

Google Docs and Waves

Here's one I've done earlier for the medical library's 23 Things programme (don't you just love when they overlap?)  We've also been using Google Docs in planning (lib)TeachMeet, as Katie and Celine have already mentioned.  I find it handy for keeping a back-up of work-in-progress documents such as essays or for sharing content with others, but the formatting problems mean that I wouldn't bother working with it all the time.

Since I'm here, I might as well mention the demise of Google Wave.  I did post a comment about this on Ange Fitzpatrick's post but it's not appearing yet.  There, I agreed with those who say Wave's problem was the lack of purpose - it was fun to play with but it never made sense as a standalone product.

There is definitely scope for its functionality to be incorporated into Google Docs and also into GMail though, and I think this would make collaborative working online much easier for all of us. 

[This image of a kayaker catching a wave comes courtesy of Tommy P World. Another blast from the past, not that I was ever the best paddler in the world...]

Marketing with social media

I'm going to keep this short since others have discussed it so well already.  I think a social media strategy needs to be included in the marketing strategy of every library - in fact, I think it would help if every library had a coherent marketing strategy in the first place!  It can't replace traditional marketing and advertising approaches, but it certainly can enhance them.

Image courtesy of
So, which social media tools I would use?  It all depends on your users, which makes it difficult for me to answer right now - I'm not currently working in a library full-time and only know the few library users that come in on a Friday night.

Of the tools covered so far in #cam23, I think a library blog is possibly the most valuable, but Twitter, Facebook and Flickr could all play an important role in marketing the library.

Other Things (Netvibes, Google Calendar, Doodle, Delicious, Zotero, LibraryThing, Slideshare) would, I think, be more useful to us in delivering services than in marketing them, although it does all add up so it's important to consider how these are presented too.

I think this is a question I'll have to come back to when I'm in a better position to talk about marketing a specific library.  In the meantime, (this bit's for thewikiman) you may find more to think about in my previous post about the use of social media at the Contemporary Music Centre or in this post on UKOLN about a user survey at the English Faculty Library.

(Hmmm, so much for keeping it short then...)