Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The last post

"Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to investigate 23 things. This blog will self-destruct in five seconds."

13 weeks ago Cam23 felt like a mission impossible. I had never written a blog before and had almost no experience of the Things we were asked to evaluate. The blog itself has been the hardest part of all from choosing a name and still ending up with something fairly unoriginal (my first idea of "23 Things from Downing Street" I rejected for fear of being mistaken for a political manifesto) to trying to think of interesting, different and sometimes witty things to write. Some posts have been more successful than others in that respect. As the only blog I followed religiously all the way through was Miss Crail's Ruminations, I feel she has a lot to answer for in setting such a high standard. I have to admit there were days when I would try to find anything else to do other than write another blog post. It's amazing how appealing the thought of doing the annual stock check can become.

However, despite all of that I have enjoyed Cam23. I liked being able to work at my own pace and the Plain English videos provided for many of the Things have been an excellent introduction to the topics. I will go back to some of the Things later on when I have more time.

I will finish with a summary of the Things we have covered.

iGoogle - Lots of fun but can be distracting. Works less well as a homepage as you have to log in with your Google id.

RSS feeds - Had big problem with these to begin with until I realised I was trying to import them from the wrong place. Have to remember to look at them regularly or it defeats the object of having them. I prefer email updates.

Doodle - Loved this. Easy to use and a great way to set up meetings. Will be using Doodle to organise the rota for Saturday invigilation this year.

Google calendar - Loved this. Very simple format, easy to add, delete or change events and can be shared with other people. The only drawback is in having to access it via your Google id so am less likely to remember to use it. A paper calendar seems so much more convenient day-to-day.

Twitter - Full of irrelevancies. I like the brevity of the posts, some people may be more likely to read a few sentences that get straight to the point than an email or blog. We have a Library Twitter account that we should try to publicise and keep more up-to-date.

Flickr - Loved this but can be distracting. Gave me much more choice of photos to illustrate my blog with. Felt like a kid in a sweet shop. Could search for only those with Creative Commons and had clear guidance on what you could do with the photos copyright-wise.

Slideshare - Rather unsure about this. Wouldn't be the first place I would look for presentations, the company/institution/personal website seems a more obvious place.

Delicious - Very useful. Like a massive electronic personal desktop. Like the fact you add your own tags which are searchable. Everything is added in chronological order so no need to organise and sort things yourself. Will think about creating one for the Library.

LibraryThing - Good for personal collections of books. Easy to search for books and add them to your own private library. Can share collections and recommendations with other users. Less relevant to a library as you woudn't want to create a retrospective of your stock.

Facebook - May be an effective form of communication as I suspect most of the students have an account but on the other hand would they want a Library prescence on there? From our point of view it would be yet another thing to keep updated but we will ask the students in the next satisfaction survey if they would look at a Library page.

LinkedIn - A professional social networking site with CVs as opposed to personal profiles like Facebook. More relevant to the business world than the library community.

Zotero - Fairly simple once I had downloaded Mozilla Firefox and worked out how to drop things into my reference list. Will experiment further with this and also try Endnote and Mendeley for comparison so that if I'm asked about citation managers I can make a confident recommendation.

Googledocs - Good way of producing a document that requires input from others. Can be sent to selected people with the option to allow edits or just view. Had difficulty opening a document sent to me. May be useful when producing our library committee minutes.

Podcasts and Youtube - Listened to some interesting podcasts. Liked the library tours which could be downloaded to an ipod etc. Can download talks and radio programmes that you've missed the first time. Enjoyed Ninja Librarian on Youtube. Lots of fun and can distract you from work.

Wikis - Similar to Googledocs but on a much larger scale. Anyone can edit the content on a wiki which can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on the accuracy of the information. Wikipedia is the most famous but some of the infomation needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

I think that more and more people are using Web 2.0 technologies to share information and communicate with others in different ways and libraries are becoming a part of that. The trick is to find which ones are the best for your library and the audience you are trying to reach.


Tuesday, 24 August 2010


Remember these? by nathanborror

Well, we're nearly finished. After being sucked in by Youtube last time watching frivolous videos (all in the name of research!), I felt it was time I did some proper work. To ease my guilt I donned the hair shirt and decided to attack the stockcheck single-handed. Not in quite the same league as Ellen MacArthur sailing solo around the world but still a big undertaking. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised when I managed to complete it in three days although I only did the open shelf books and not the journals or the rare book collection. So after checking through over 5,000 books I found two missing, despite the prescence of security gates designed to emit death rays to anyone trying to steal our stock (o.k. so it only has a loud alarm and flashing lights - the budget wouldn't stretch to death rays).

Penance paid, I took a look at some wikis. As time is slipping away before we must complete Cam23 I am going to take the easy option and blog about Wikipedia. A free online encyclopaedia is a wonderful tool and unlike a paper version can be updated instantly. Entries are easy to find and there is probably one for almost anything. There are links to other entries creating a vast network. For example on the entry for Queen Elizabeth II there are links in the text to family members, countries in the Commonwealth, and historical events from her lifetime. The point of a wiki is that it can be edited by anyone which is the major drawback to Wikipedia. Misinformation can be posted either in error or deliberately and as Wikipedia is so vast it is difficult to check the veracity of all the information on it. Unless you know the information to be true, you should check other sources before taking it as fact.

I think that wikis resemble Google docs with the principle of creating something that can be edited by other people. The difference is in scale as wikis can be changed by almost anyone and Google docs only by selected people. The Library runs a small field course library and we need to change the way the list of books is arranged. I would like to produce an updated list and get input from other people on its construction but I think this would be a job better suited to Google docs as I would restrict it to a handful of people.

And so, the end is nigh ...

Friday, 13 August 2010

Podcasting and Youtube

Angelina Jolie by Gage Skidmore

An even easier task this time, requiring only that you sit at your desk, plug headphones into the computer (we should set a silent example to the students - even when they're not here to see it) and watch/listen. This was easier said than done as I had a picture but no sound. I was given a new computer recently and am still trying to find my way around it. After consulting our computer personnel I was given a cable to plug in which gave me sound at last.

The Plain English video about podcasting was easy to understand and informative. I clicked on the link to British Library podcasts but it came up with University of Aberdeen, the next one on the list, instead. I viewed a vodcast about searching the Library catalogues. It was a step-by-step guide to finding a book and it showed all of the clicks and searches used as the narrative progressed. There were also vodcasts on finding books and journals and using electronic databases. I thought these were a really good idea for students who are away from the Library, rather like having a member of library staff available whenever and wherever. The Goldsmith library tour was also interesting and I have been to tourist attractions that use the same principle of an audio tour with numbered points to match the commentary. These work well in larger libraries like the University Library but we are fairly small and besides, I would miss doing my air hostess impression every year when giving our library tours (the computers are located here, here and here).

Youtube is an amateur actor's/director's paradise. You can upload a video which will potentially be seen by millions of people. Susan Boyle found national fame on Britain's Got Talent but when the video of her audition was uploaded to Youtube and mentioned on Twitter by Demi Moore that fame became global and the video has now had over 95,000,000 views. My favourites among the library videos were The romance of the living book because it was a fun demonstration of classification, Librarians do Gaga as it tries to dispel the image of stuffy librarians and Ninja Librarian because it should be shown to all students at the beginning of term as a deterrent to noisy mobile phone users. I would be nervous about appearing in a video myself but I could be portrayed by an actress resembling me. Only someone less like Angelina Jolie and more like Olive from On the Buses should apply.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Google docs

Sharing by ryancr

A return to something easier. As I already had a Google account I could just go straight in and create something new. I chose to do a document as it would be quick to produce but then couldn't decide what it should be about. I finally thought of a list of books missing from the Library with the information displayed in a table. Once I had produced the document I went to 'File' but the save option was blanked out. There is an icon in the top right-hand corner, next to the 'Share' button which says 'Saved' and this seems to have worked. I shared the document with two other people on a view only basis but after responses from both of them about it I decided to change the sharing settings to "can edit".

I have also received documents from two people. I couldn't open the first one as I kept getting a message saying I had entered the wrong password despite trying my Google, Raven and Hermes passwords. This may have been because I didn't have anything in Google docs myself but when I had produced something I was able to open the one I had been sent and add a note to it. Now I can't open the second document either and can't remember what I did to open the first one. Senility must be creeping in.

Google docs is a great way of sharing documents when multiple input is required in their production. It can be sent to as many other people as you like and you can restrict those who you don't want interfering with it to a view only basis whilst still getting the opinions of those who matter. This tool would be useful in our library when writing the minutes of the library committee meeting. A draft version can be produced and sent out to the committee members for their thoughts and additional items which have been forgotten or need correction.


market day by sunstarrr

This is a tricky one. For the first time I felt I needed some inspiration from fellow Cam23 bloggers before I started. Having looked at some of the other blogs I found not only ideas but also that I am not so far behind with my blogging as others.

I think that social media offers lots of new ways to reach library users but it can be difficult to decide on the best ones to use. Facebook and Twitter are two of the most popular forms of social communication at the moment but it wasn't so long ago that Friends Reunited was the one people talked about. There will always be something new which is both the good and bad side of progress. How many people change mobile phones regularly because the technology that was new and exciting a year ago is now out-of-date and obsolete.

Okay, now I've got that off my chest, I would just like to state for the record that I am not opposed to social media, just it's overuse for trivialities. Anything that gets the library out there must be a good thing. The Librarian recently posted a survey to our undergraduates on the relevant Camtools sites asking them what they thought of the library service and some of them replied that they couldn't possibly comment as they'd never heard of us. Part of the problem may have been that the survey referred to us by our library name and not by the Department name but it was still disappointing. The Librarian has decided to include a question next year asking people how we can best communicate with them. This may lead in the future to the creation of a library Facebook page.

As for the adoption of a tool or strategy to promote the Library, I would choose Twitter, which we already have. It's very popular and needs only short notices so it's very quick and easy to maintain.

Thursday, 5 August 2010


love hearts by duncan

Having read Miss Crail's post entitled "I think I'm in love", I ran towards Zotero with open arms expecting a similar feeling. Unfortunately, we got off to a rockier start than the England football team in the World Cup. Firstly, I had to download Mozilla Firefox in order to be able to download Zotero. I think I must be one of the few troglodytes who only uses Internet Explorer for their web browsing. I have duplicated all of my bookmarks and my homepage to Firefox but now every time I open it I get an annoying message saying "Firefox is not currently set as your default browser. Would you like to make it your default browser?" No, I wouldn't, thank you very much! Once I had downloaded Zotero I wanted to add some items but I made the classic mistake of not reading the manual first. Overexcitement + overconfidence = failure.

I could find records for books in Copac and then add them as items via clicking on the handy little instruction entitled "Export this record as: Endnote, Zotero". Simples! But when I tried looking for papers on Web of Science, I hit a wall. I just couldn't figure out how to get the bibliographic details of the chosen paper into Zotero. It was then I decided the time had come to bite the bullet and look at the Quick Start Guide. I quickly found that you need to look for the icon at the end of the web address on the tool bar, one click and the item is sent to Zotero. However, not all of the papers on Web of Science seem to show this icon. Is this right or am I just being thick?

Once I had got into my stride, I tried adding articles from electronic journals and finding books on Newton, all of which worked perfectly. I also added a link to a website to one of the items and attached a PDF copy of an article to another item. The books I downloaded from Copac came with a large choice of tags which you could choose to keep or delete or add some of your own. Searching within Zotero is easy, a simple search for one keyword or phrase and a more advanced search to narrow things down.

All in all I think Zotero is an excellent way of managing a reference list. I had heard of Endnote and Mendeley but I hadn't tried them out. I will do now to see how they compare with Zotero. So it isn't love but maybe the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


LinkedIn smurfs by 99zeros

I have had a week's break from blogging for two reasons: the first being that the Librarian and I embarked on a major stock check of the rare book collection, trying to discover how much of it is catalogued online. We made the wild and totally unfounded assumption that it was all on there somewhere. The first hour quickly disabused us of that hope. We finished the basic checking of over 6000 books in a week but the queries and adding of missing records will keep me busy for much longer. The second reason is that after Facebook I needed a lie down in a darkened room with a damp cloth on my forehead before I felt able to tackle the next Thing. Last Wednesday, faced with a choice of more blogging or poking about among old and dusty tomes, I'm afraid that age and dust proved to be the greater temptation.

OK, finished with digression. Must concentrate. I looked at all of the suggested profiles on Linkedin. Some had more on than others, like Facebook you can reveal as little or as much about yourself as you like. The big difference is that Facebook is more of a personal networking site whereas Linkedin is solely professional. You can put your CV up there and find other people in the same areas of business. All users wanting to see the whole of your profile have to ask first so you can reject any undesirable suitors. Twitter feeds can also be added to a profile but this would depend on the kind of tweets you receive. Should a profile be completely professional or does it matter if some of the personal sneaks in?

I can see how this would be a useful tool in the business world (and popular with Smurfs as well!) but less so in the library community.