Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Thing 11: Slideshare

I'll structure this post around the questions Kirsty gives us in her instructions.

* What are your thoughts about the tool?

Useful for sharing slideshows, if they are something you want to share. See Max Atkinson and others for reasons why slideshows need caution. The library presentations that Kirsty refers us to are good, and I wondered if there was any factor in Slideshare that worked to filter out the bad. No such factor, notoriously, is at work for the web as a whole. I set about looking for bad
presentations that had made it to Slideshare. I did so in two separate searches, one for the phrase "chattering class" and one for the phrase "political correctness". I found some incompetent presentations thereby, and did not pursue that part of the experiment any further.

* What particular benefits to your Library would there be from using Slideshare?

For outreach, we might adapt some of our Alumni Weekend presentations, especially those that have involved the display of a sequence of books or pictures. Once or twice, indeed, we have used PowerPoint for that purpose, and I can think of one where the PowerPoint might, with some alterations, be worth putting online.

* Did you find any interesting presentations that you would like to share?

Not found on this search, but check out one by Tony Hirst and its pendant. The presentation is one I saw Tony give at the event "
A cut above the rest: justifying information services in a tough economic climate" which CILIP's Information Services Group put on at Swaffham in April. It lists the skills that librarians are coming to need, with links to blog pages; the pendant is a blog post by Richard Nurse at the Open University, who was at a later event that Tony led after reflection and feedback on the Swaffham presentation.

I have taken refuge in 23things for now; perhaps, at the end of it, I shall be closer to acquiring those other skills. I can see that the need to do so is unlikely to go away.

* Will you use Slideshare in the future?

I might do, especially for the purpose I described, of taking the Haddon's Alumni Weekend presentations to a wider audience. In terms of practicability, Slideshare has a thick edge over the fantasy I once entertained of recycling Alumni Weekend shows at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Things 9 & 10: Flickr & the use of images

Exploring Flickr and its images has been fun. I have seen photos of the village where I grew up, and even ventured a couple of comments on one of them. I have looked a little closer at Idlethink's 'bookporn' photo of the library where I now work, and added a note about how people can hear more of its doings. Do people account such a gesture imaginative or desperate?

I have added Idlethink and Sir Cam to the things I follow with Google Reader.

I dabbled a little in the exploration of photos tagged URBEX (urban exploration, especially of derelict buildings) and, I'm afraid, ventured from there into pictures, and even videos, of demolition.

Then it struck me that the best way to focus my exploration of Creative Commons licences would be to seek images that could be incorporated into electronic greetings cards. The images I have saved to disk are of my sister's church and a landmark on the National Cycle Network. But I see myself contacting the photographers before I embark on any attempt to use them in ecards. It would undoubtedly count as making derivative works, rather than simply reproducing; besides, I'm not sure where, in an ecard, I would put the CC licence.

My own presence on Flickr is minimal. I take very few photos. I expect my future dealings with Flickr to be, as in this exploration, a matter of using the resources it offers rather than adding to them.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Thing 8: Tagging

Have followed all the links and updated the tags in my blog. I can see I had better read The cult of the amateur; from the review, I suspect I would have more to say about it under Thing 22, Wikis, than at the present point in the agenda.

The Haddon Library uses the Bliss Classification Scheme. If you are familiar with Bliss, you will know that it builds classmarks by combination, which can make them inordinately long. At the Haddon, our way round that is to limit the specificity of any given book's classmark, and/or the number of facets of the book's subject that the classmark may cover. If necessary, we include additional classmarks in the catalogue record; and the English-language translations of those main and added classmarks are in the catalogue record as well, functioning like Library of Congress Subject Headings.

It is quite a job to keep these translations consistent with one another and with current usage, both specialist and non-specialist, and I can see a lot of point, the more so in a subject library, in letting readers augment the catalogue record with tags of their own.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Thing 7: Twitter

I have been using Twitter enthusiastically, with a personal account, for over a year now. For cam23, I've created a new account for the Haddon Library and compressed a photograph to fit it.

I have three main uses for Twitter.

Firstly, I respond to other people's tweets, if only to thank them for longer messages that their 140-character tweets have led me to. Many of the articles I have saved to my Delicious account, or noted in my CILIP revalidation log, are things I first heard of via Twitter. With a lot of these things, of course, even the URL is too long to fit into a tweet, and the tweeter's had to use a shortener such as . Some people claim that that by itself shows that Twitter doesn't work. I'm afraid I don't agree. For me, part of the beauty of Twitter is that it points outside itself, and doesn't say it provides everything.

I admit that responding to tweets may afford opportunities for showing off, e.g. with quotations that seem apt, and at times this will misfire. But those around me are used to that by now.

Secondly, I tweet announcements about things that are inherently public: concerts my choir is singing in, Haddon Library closing times, &c. I think the biggest buzz I ever had from Twitter was of this kind. Shortly before the closing date of the 2009 Haddon Library poetry competition, I heard a poem read on Radio 3 and recognised it as one that had been commended in, and quite possibly written for, the Haddon's previous competition, three years earlier.

It seemed to me good to announce the poem's accession to the airwaves, by way of encouraging potential entrants in the 2009 contest. This was a Saturday morning, and I hadn't had breakfast. I raced into work by bike, opened the files from the older competition to check details, and put out the news on the Haddon's blog, in an email to the list of people interested in the competition, and in a tweet. Actually the information needed a couple of tweets; I don't know if the buzz was doubled.

Having got that out of the way, I went & had breakfast at Eat, and -- yes, we need to keep swatting a persistent misconception about Twitter -- not one word about that breakfast ever appeared in a tweet.

My third use of Twitter is to keep a constant advanced search, with an RSS feed tied to it, of local tweets that might be relevant. My inital hope was that this might give me some idea of what people were saying about the Haddon Library. Be it admitted, the reader feedback I've had that way has been very small; but this search has shown me a steady number of archaeologists and anthropologists to add to the people I follow.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Communication amongst librarians

How serious is the problem of non-communication amongst Cambridge librarians? The means of communication are there — a whole heap of them, in varying degrees of activity, including CULIB, the Cambridge Library Group, the Camtools Cambridge Librarians site, the Facebook Cambridge Liibrarians group, the ucam-lib-discuss email list, the brownbag lunches, the Arcadia seminars, the libraries@cambridge annual conference. So if we don’t communicate it’s not for lack of opportunity.

I raised this question in the early days of the Facebook Cambridge Liibrarians group. I sought people’s favourite instances of things within the Cambridge library landscape that

  • should have been communicated & hadn’t been, & the consequences
  • had been communicated particularly badly, & the consequences
  • needed to be communicated now, & weren’t being, & the actual or potential consequences
  • had ever been communicated particularly well

I’m trying to remember what examples of any of the above have been cited in the course of the communications arising from recent Cam23 activity.

Perhaps what’s needed is not new channels of communication, just bolder use of the existing ones. As Cam23 is showing, when we’ve something to communicate about, we do communicate.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Thing 6: Google Calendar

I've been using a calendar, set up by my brother, on Google Calendar since the autumn of 2008, and Google became my main calendar site earlier this year. I have five different calendars on it, colour-coded to avoid confusion. (Yes, what you put on Google Calendar is calendars, so this blog post will be marked by worse-than-usual inelegance and ambiguity. Death loss of eyes/limbs.) Users may share their calendars; one of the calendars shared with me was in a colour I had used for one of my calendars, so I've had to change the colour of mine. There are 42 colours to choose from; if you ever run out of colours, it's likely that you are already trying to juggle too much.

Before Google, I used Mosuki, until Mosuki was taken down a couple of months ago. I praised Mosuki at every opportunity, as one of the most useful applications I had ever found. (Not that I found it for myself; it was another Phil Bradley recommendation, in his Update column.) Mosuki did what Google does: both have let me see my work schedule and my personal schedule all together, so there's less risk that I'll double-book myself; both have let me read and update my calendar from any web connection in the world; and both have been free!

And Mosuki had the further advantage, which I haven't yet found a way of replicating in Google: much more choice in the sharing of calendars. In Google Calendar, any calendar may be shared with other people, and different levels of sharing are available. For any individual event in the calendar, Google offers the following choice:

  • default (ie details of event have the same level of sharing as the calendar as a whole)
  • public (ie details are shared with the world)
  • private (ie details are shared only with people designated as 'owners' of the calendar)

Mosuki allowed individual choices about the sharing of each event.

Oh, I can think of one thing Google does slightly better than Mosuki. If you opted to view an entire month in Mosuki, you lost any indication of the timing of events -- tiresome if you wanted to print a month of your schedule for view on a noticeboard. In Google Calendar's month view, the timings remain visible.

But then, in Google, the events themselves don't necessarily remain visible. Some might be occluded behind such a statement as "+5 more".

I'm getting nerdish. Even the white bits were black.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Thing 5: Doodle

Screenshot shows evidence for my use of Doodle. I think I first came across this device when Rowland Thomas at the Marshall used it to schedule a meeting, and I have been using it myself, probably, for a couple of years now.

I have looked briefly at the other meeting schedulers referred to in the Cam23 blog: Meet-O-Matic and Tungle. I once took part in a Meet-O-Matic poll, and was struck by how very 1950s it seemed, in its name and in the font for its name. Unlike Doodle, Meet-O-Matic seems to offer no option for letting participants see one another's choices, and that is a drawback.

I might come to look at Tungle more closely, and I dare say I will soon be taking part in polls organised by people for whom it is their Doodle.

I admit that, on my first or perhaps second encounter with Doodle, I experienced some disappointment at its simplicity. It lets you take people's votes, as to a date, or a policy, or some other decision. It doesn't, as I'd started to imagine, let you key in factors or criteria & offer suggestions towards the decision. Is that a fantasy of mine, or have I heard of web sites that do as I describe? Phil Bradley's list of Web 2 sites doesn't appear to include anything quite like that. Do you know of any?

But what Doodle does is indispensable, and Doodle does it better than the other means that are available. I remember trying to organise meetings by means of birdcages.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

23 things banner

What's the best way to credit Ange Fitzpatrick for the banner? Not sure if a caption is how to do it. I was one of the last to adopt the banner, so maybe the credit is well enough known from what other Cam23 people said when adding it to their blogs.

If not, then this post.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Brown-bag 2 June 2010

The brown-bag discussion was lively. It's not in the nature of brown-bags to produce structured minutes, with resolutions and actions, and this one didn't. But the discussion never flagged, and I didn't have to throw in any of the prepared questions -- either to restart things or to get them back on track.

  • an amazing cadenza from a school librarian, frustrated at the poverty of provision in school libraries and the effect she saw this having on youngsters' literacy
  • speculations about what provision for online voting might do to re-invigorate CILIP's democracy
  • disclosures about the number of backchannels of communication, within CILIP and within the Cambridge library world
  • frankness about the need for librarians to learn new skills, especially programming skills
  • pleasure in the progress of Cam23, one organiser and several participants being of the party
Ten people were present. I had perhaps placed too much faith in Twitter -- indeed, I can be said to have fantasised about the likely effect that announcing the event there might have on attendance. I had not ignored other channels, but I suppose what I had put out through them was either too early or too late. A fruit of Cam23 is a burgeoning of individual blogs by Cambridge librarians, including this one; it'll be interesting to see how far we come to communicate as a result.

Next brown-bag will be at 13:00 on Wednesday 7 July, hosted by Libby Tilley in the English Faculty Library. See you there!

Brown-bag on Phil Bradley's CILIP 2020 post

Today's brown-bag lunch for Cambridge librarians will be at 13:00 in the Archaeology Department's South Lecture Room. Note that that's not where librarians' brown-bags have been held before. Enter building by Museum door in NW corner of courtyard, & get up to first floor, & you'll see South Lecture Room by the top of the stairs. See map.

Grist will be a blog post from internet guru Phil Bradley.

Phil Bradley is a regular in Update, and this particular post is on what the librarians' professional body CILIP might be like in the year 2020. He is daring CILIP to be something very different from what it is today. Here's a typical paragraph:

"I want to see CILIP get it wrong. I want them to make mistakes, and try things that fail. I want this for several reasons -- if they fail, and I can see how they have failed, it means that the rest of us can learn from them, and hopefully won't fail ourselves. If they fail, it means that CILIP is exploring and experimenting. Failure comes out of attempting something, and without failure you don't get success. I want CILIP to throw caution to the wind and to realise that getting it wrong isn't a bad thing, and that 'getting it right' isn't always the best result."

So -- whether you're in CILIP, or not in CILIP, or even if you haven't heard of CILIP -- come at 13:00 with your thoughts about that way of doing things, and that way of being a professional body, and what you would look for, or what you shun, in a professional body.

And the bonus of Betty's Tiffin from the CLG recipe book, recipe by Patricia Ward, cooking by Clare Baker.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Things 2 and 4

I have done a whistle-stop tour of most of the blogs listed on the 23things blog. I was looking for opinions on Thing 2 -- RSS feeds -- the one that I've always found less use for than I've felt was expected. I admit that I haven't done a systematic trawl of the blogs for references to RSS feeds. Perhaps, if I were to do so, I'd find more reason to explore that way of keeping track of things; perhaps I'll find it necessary in order to keep up with everybody's cam23 blogging. I haven't found any facility for putting an RSS feed on to this blog. Anyone know where to look?

Thing 1: iGoogle

I made iGoogle my home page, both on the home computer and at work. I can't report quite the degree of physical pain that Sarah found from carrying out the same operation, but perhaps that reflects lesser experience and lower expectations on my part. I was unable to add the Uni's front page or the log-in page for my bank. So far as I could tell, I was following the same procedure for those resources as for the ones I did succeed in adding, but maybe I was being hasty or had ignored some important difference between resource and resource.

It's fair to say that iGoogle has not yet given me the sense of liberation, of "Why didn't I do this earlier?", that I've had from other applications. I remember when I first took to using email and MS Word, back in 1991-1992. A couple of years earlier, I had struggled with learning to drive (a renewed attempt this year reminded me how completely I lack any aptitude in that direction); my driving instructor, 8 years my senior, had been amazed to find that I was younger than he was; the experience had left me fearing that premature middle age was making me unteachable. But when the Haddon joined the Union Catalogue, and all the other applications came sweeping in, I found I took to these new skills as a duck to water. The spinning of disks was associated in my mind with the spinning of the wheels on the larger, lighter pushbike I graduated to at the same time.

And I have had other computer liberations since then, such as the discovery of TransportDirect and the late lamented Mosuki calendar in 2006 (thanks to Phil Bradley for those), and last year's discovery of Twitter. iGoogle hasn't done that for me yet. But I was on Twitter for a couple of months before it came to life for me. How was it for you?