Saturday, 28 August 2010

This is the end...

I can't quite believe I reached the final thoughts stage - I didn't think I would for a while there! I feel 23 things has been really useful for me, as I have had to properly reflect on how technologies could be used for library work. I think this is something that will I try to continue - partly because thinking about how and why things are done is a good way to possibly see how things could be improved, and also because I imagine the world of Web 2.0 will keep expanding and I'd like to keep up-to-date as much as possible. I did find the weekly pace quite hard to keep up with (I've only just properly caught up in the last few days!) and I think seeing people's reflections as you go along rather than before I'd even got to that thing would have been good. If I had to go back and do it again I would make sure I kept up initially to take advantage of the many interesting opinions and reflections weekly rather than in big chunks!

So having explored all the lovely shiny things that have been introduced - my final summary:

Getting the worst out of the way first: the thing I really didn't like
There was actually only one thing that I did not get on with at all and really couldn't see the point of, and that's iGoogle. I know many people do use it regularly but I have never looked at my iGoogle page since the first few weeks of Cam 23 and it actively annoyed me when I was using it. I much prefer Google to be the clean and un-distracting search box it now is on my homepage. I like being able to decide what I want to look at when I log onto the internet, rather than passively viewing whatever pops up on iGoogle.

Things I will keep an eye on and possibly use again, 'but':
Google calendar: Does exactly what it says on the tin, but I currently have no need to use it. I will file it away into 'things I might need one day'.
(Ditto Slideshare, LinkedIn and Google docs).

Blogging: I've loved having the opportunity to read the other Cam23 blogs, and will continue to read some, but now the programme is over I don't think I will be blogging anymore. I like the reflective writing side, but I don't like the sharing my thoughts so publicly. It doesn't fit in with the sharing/ communicating/ linking side of Web 2.0 but I would consider writing reflectively blog style posts for myself in the future, but won't be posting them to the internet!

Things I liked and would use again:
RSS feeds: useful to keep up with sites I'm interested in as well as having a lot of potential for library users to use as a way of keeping up-to-date with their subject area.

Doodle: Simple way of organising meetings/making group decisions. Love the fact it doesn't need a password as well.

Tagging: Although I used sites where tagging was an option, I'd never really used them myself before. I find them helpful when trying to find information though so will continue using them.

Flickr/Creative Commons: I had used Flickr before starting 23 things, but the Creative Commons section was new to me and is a fantastic source of free images.

Delicious: I have already started saving my links in Delicious, and there are lots of ways links could be organised by librarians using the site to provide useful resources for users.

LibraryThing: Not sure whether I will actually manage to find a helpful or relevant way to use this, but I like the community aspect of discussing books, and being able to nose around people's reading habits. Also I think the catalogue display is rather good!

Podcasting/YouTube: Trying to get information across in an entertaining way is always a good idea!

Wikis: Brilliant way to create and edit shared resources. And I think more useful as a distinct internet resource than Google Docs - which is more like traditional computer programmes with some features for collaboration tagged on.

The top three
Twitter and Facebook: OK I admit it I liked these before I started 23 things, but doing the programme has allowed me to think about their use in libraries more. The marketing possibilities of Facebook were interesting to explore. Facebook's popularity means a lot of people want to exploit this online user base, but how you do that is trickier than just setting up a page to 'like'. I have also started using Twitter a lot more for library related news than when I initially started Tweeting, which is mainly thanks to #cam23 hash tag. I now follow lots of librarians which is fantastic for keeping me up-to-date with news stories about libraries, different conferences that are going on as well as seeing what people are doing in their working lives.

Zotero: Useful for me both as I start my LIS Masters and also as an excellent tool librarians can tell students about.

So all that's left to do is to wave goodbye!

With thanks to striatic

Friday, 27 August 2010

Wiki world

I have to confess I think Wikipedia is amazing. I am aware of the problems, I know it is unreliable or at worst downright inaccurate; it will never replace proper research. But it is also gives a list of past Neighbours characters, with biographies, which in my book means it can't be all bad. It is also so ubiquitous that I have to say I've ignored the possibilities of other types of wikis, although I have used them successfully for work. The graduate trainees have a wiki on CamTools to manage the Catalog website, this works well: we keep an up-to-date rota and list of changes that need to be made, and a list of who's done what each week.

I was excited to read about the Library Routes Project on this week's Cam23 blog as I hadn't heard about it before. Reading about other librarians' career histories is really interesting for me as someone about to start working towards my library school qualification. I will definitely be exploring this in more detail! Also the wiki format seems part of its success; people provide their own information, hearing the many different voices is what makes it so interesting.

Also the different things wikis could be used for had never really occurred to me before. I really like intranets: I think it is often useful for staff to be able to access more detailed information that wouldn't be put on a library's main site, and a wiki could so easily be set up for this purpose and could be kept up to date easily. I can see a lot of potential for using wikis when you want to create long running, constantly changing and collaborative resources and projects.

Trying not to get distracted on YouTube

I have been so looking forward to these things as I am a big fan of both podcasts and  YouTube - although strictly in the distraction/time wasting/laughing until I have a stitch sense. rather than with my 'might be useful for libraries' hat on!

I used to have a long commute and the podcasts of various comedians - Jon Richardson, Adam and Joe and David Mitchell - which were a brilliant distraction as well as an excellent way to see the strange looks you get on trains if you giggle randomly in public places.

I have also been interested in the potential of pre-downloadable podcast guides to museums or places - although I have to say I've never actually been organised enough to download one to my ipod before visiting! The British Library has something like this for their collections. I can see how a podcast guide to a library could be useful - say if someone misses a tour they could walk round the library whilst listening to the audio guide. Although I'm not sure how organised users would be about actually downloading them. It is just another way of getting information across which might appeal to people more than other methods, and as such is worth experimenting with.

I think YouTube could have more potential for libraries simply because it is more engaging than podcasts - also YouTube is more thoroughly web-based, whereas I think podcasts are often downloaded (although of course you can listen online too) - this means a library guide video, for example, could be accessed anywhere with an internet connection - in the library on joining, in a user education session, or from home. And when done well library videos can be both entertaining and informative. Like this one:

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Googling docs

I was quite interested in the potential of Google Docs as friends have been finishing dissertations in the last few months that I've read through, so I was interested in something to make the sending/ editing/ resaving/ resending process via Word and email easier. Overall I was fairly impressed with the functions provided - especially in tracking the changes made to a document. There is also the advantage that the files are stored remotely so in the event of a hard drive explosion your documents are safe. I can only see the collaborative aspects working better than Microsoft Office when there are more than two people working on a document. So, in a similar way to Doodle, Google Docs is a brilliant way of solving a very specific problem - that of allowing a large number of librarians to work together. I don't think the software is as good as Microsoft Office to use though, so for working with just one other person (proof reading a friend's dissertation) I'll be sticking to Word!

Marketing men

When people think of marketing they associate it with advertising more than as an essential part of the work of the a librarian. Which is a good excuse for a picture of Don Draper from Mad Men.

Now I've got that out of my system I can talk about libraries! For me the modern librarian has to 'market' the service in the broadest possible sense - if marketing is providing the right services and making people aware that we are providing these services - which is surely part of what librarians should be doing every day.

Web 2.0 can help with marketing simply because it provides so many new outlets for contact with users, or potential users. A significant number of the things we've looked at so far can be used in this way. Facebook and Twitter are brilliant ways to keep in contact with people and tell them about new services, or remind them or services they may have forgotten about - surely marketing by another name.

The opportunities to connect with other librarians that Twitter and professional social networking like LinkedIn are also useful to see what other people are doing: sharing ideas and getting inspiration.

Also the possibilities of things like Delicious, RSS feeds and Zotero to help students are - in the right situation - an excellent opportunity to show how good library services are. Someone who is struggling with referencing, for example could be pointed in the direction of Zotero (or, in an ideal world, given training) by a librarian, and given a positive experience of the support librarians can provide.

Finally the Creative Commons on Flickr seem to me to offer a brilliant way to improve more traditional forms of marketing (posters etc.) as wonderful images can be found and used easily and for free. This is more interesting and professional looking which again hopefully gives a better impression of the library.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Referencing made easy!

Oh my word - I fear I'm a little bit in love with Zotero! I haven't had much experience of referencing software in the past. I had a play with Endnote towards the end of uni, but as I had already made reference notes for my dissertation by the time I'd discovered it, I never did more than having a quick look and think 'what a good idea' and then promptly went off and graduated and left the world of essay writing behind me.

I do, though, remember the sometimes feverishly last minute referencing sessions (it always seemed to take longer than I thought it would) at essay deadline time - something I hope not to repeat at library school. So basically, Zotero to the rescue! I did have to download Firefox specifically so I could run Zotero which is frustrating - as many people have pointed out, plug-ins for other browsers would be handy. The fact that I can see immediate applications for Zotero in my own studies suggests it could be useful for other students and therefore is useful for librarians to be aware of when supporting students.

Browsing and then saving references on the one screen is brilliant - no need to flick from window to window. Obviously it means you have to have Zotero installed on the computer you are using. This is the only really annoying feature of Zotero - you can't log into the website and then manually add a reference to your list. I can see this being frustrating if working from a computer elsewhere - you have to make notes of the reference to add to Zotero later. Delicious could be used for links in the meantime though.

Transferring references to Word works well, although you do have to check the referencing, but simply copying the references still saves so much time in comparison with entering them manually. I also looked at Mendeley in comparison to Zotero and in many ways it works in similar ways although trying to link it to Word created a few problems. It felt a lot less straightforward than Zotero because of this, Zotero was download and go, which is all part of the reason I'm slightly in love!