Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Thing 19: Marketing

Or, in another word, everything. As Andy puts it in his instructions, marketing is "about how we position ourselves and what we do for our customers". That reminds me of the recent brown-bag lunch around Emma Woods' suggestions for how subject librarians could raise their profile. One of the comments, over the baguettes and fruit, was that these techniques for raising the subject librarian's profile were essentially techniques for being a good subject librarian. The steps, presented by Lori Reed, for devising a library marketing plan look almost like those for devising a wholesale library strategy. One imagines them as grist for several stakeholder meetings, rather than a single blog post.

Mercifully, the brief for this assignment pulls back from such an undertaking -- asks us to write "specifically about one tool or strategy you are going to adopt to promote your service". Mine would be Doodle, or some more elaborate surveying tool such as SurveyMonkey. They were not Cam23 discoveries for me -- SurveyMonkey surveys have informed discussions about Haddon Library funding and plans for a makeover -- but Cam23 has confirmed and enriched my view of them.

Finding out where people are, metaphorically speaking, and what they need, is not something that happens by magic. Assuming or pretending that one is of their company is an approach that has a way of turning squirmaceous. Survey tools enable one to ask the questions straight out.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Thing 18: Zotero

I used Zotero in 2008 for the Haddon Library's Alumni Weekend presentation about the maverick anthropologist William Blandowski. My hope was that Zotero would be a kind of cross between LibraryThing and Delicious, enabling me to access the material from anywhere. In 2008, the discovery that I had to download Zotero machine by machine, and could use it only with Firefox, was enough to deter me from exploring it further, and I didn't use it for the next presentation we laid on.

Two years on, returning to Zotero as an exercise for 23things, I'm interested, on the one hand, to read how The Passion and the Fury chose Zotero over Delicious for precisely the reasons that led me to the opposite choice; and, on the other hand, to read of Zotero File Storage ("a cloud-based storage solution for PDFs, images, web snapshots, and any other files"), which sounds like what I was looking for in 2008. I have downloaded the citation plugin, with mixed success. The attempt to do so for Open Office Writer, my preferred word-processor, led to a cycle of error messages and restarts for both Open Office and Firefox. Explanations and advice will be welcome! I succeeded in installing the plugin for Word 2007, but I don't much use Word 2007, and I'd prefer not to have to reopen documents in it simply for the purpose of using Zotero.

I will think about adding Zotero to Firefox in the Haddon's public computers. I have, if not exactly recommended it, then emailed a colleague in the following terms:

"The full menu for the 23things course is at . You will see that the referencing tools Zotero and Mendeley, which I've not used much but which seem to touch on the needs you mentioned yesterday, are up for next week!"

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Thing 17: LinkedIn

Sarah's instructions wisely gauge the likelihood of account fatigue at this stage of the game. But I can report having looked at the prescribed LinkedIn profiles, and also at Phil Bradley's, what I could see of it without an account of my own, and at the two that wife Clare has got up at various times. Only two; one of those in the screenshot is for another lady altogether.

Clare's experience of LinkedIn is that of one pursuing a portfolio career in science. She holds down two part-time lectureships and engages in much science journalism. She has noticed this difference between the Twitter and LinkedIn communities, that the scientists (mainly biotechnologists) tend to favour LinkedIn while the journalists tend to favour Twitter.

I don't know if there's any significance in that. But it is probably symptomatic of the fact that LinkedIn fits some communities better than others. Andy's (of all people's) lack of enthusiasm for this business resource has much to do with the fact that "LinkedIn isn’t really being pitched at someone like me". I have a similar sense of it, and, with my account fatigue, I don't see a compelling reason for joining. Not just yet, anyway.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Thing 16: Facebook

I have been using Facebook since early 2008, have read several people's articles about it and logged them, with view to MCLIP revalidation, and have, for 23things, added the COPAC widget to my Facebook page. I made a guarded attempt to use Facebook as a blog in the autumn of 2009, but I have never had the same enthusiasm for it that I have for some other Web 2 applications.

Reasons include the site's terminology that makes 'friends', or not, of people whose relationship could be better described in other ways, the invitations to games offering minimal interest in return for account details, the sense that Facebook brings together play versions of lots of things that thrive better in a full-size version elsewhere. Facebook does photos, but without Flickr's ready searchability from outside and innovative approach to rights. Facebook notes are like a blog, but with a smaller typeface than Blogger. So far as I can see, anyway. I have done what I can to confirm this general perception by uploading a few photos; you will obviously be in your rights to correct me if you know better.

I don't hate Facebook with the level of aversion that Miss Crail reserved for Twitter. But, in pursuit of 23things, I find that Facebook is for me neither a new thing to explore, nor a hobby that I'm eager to expound.

Hence I am not drawn to getting up a library Facebook page in addition to the library blog. Ready though I am to see that others have made a go of it....

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Things 14 & 15: LibraryThing

I have been using Librarything in earnest since the spring of 2009. Part of the stimulus was when Clare & I joined the CamLETS local exchange token system, and had the idea that one of the services we might offer was the loan of music scores. I have listed all our individual scores, and a few of the anthologies. A random selection from that catalogue is now embedded as a widget in this Blurtmetry blog.

My long-term intention is to catalogue the rest of the music anthologies, and the poetry books and magazines.

As in more than one other case, I have found that 23things has rekindled my interest and led me to explore the resource further. I am delighted, in going through Librarything, to find the reviews that Librarythingers have added to their catalogue entries. A similar service is offered by Amazon, I know; I am not going to ignore the links between Librarything and Amazon, but I felt that Librarything was inflicting less pressure to buy.

I have toyed with the idea of creating an additional Librarything account for the Haddon Library. My thinking was that this would enable the kind of book-tagging by readers that seemed good when I was discussing Thing 8. However, any such project, if it was to grow and prosper, would require a properly-thought-through plan rather than a hasty implementation as part of my 23things homework. The Haddon has enough plans on the go at the moment.

I have heard rumours that the Aquabrowser project may come to enable tagging across the University's collections. I have added the Cambridge Library Widgets blog to my Google reader, and will keep an eye open for these developments.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Thing 13: Reflection

I have been keeping a diary since 1969, but always giving the sketchiest of accounts in it. Studying Corneille's Le Cid for A-level, I imagined that the hero might have recorded the events of the play, which by dramatic convention were supposed to have taken place within a single day, in the words "Killed Chimene's fr but can wed her in 1 yr. Had battle." I've often found that reflection comes easier, for me, in letters, or memos, that I address to specific readers other than myself.

* How have your skills/knowledge improved?

Knowledge has improved in the course of the cam23 experience, in that this has led me to explore facilities more fully than I would otherwise have done. If skill has improved, this has been, so far, at the level of knowing the correct mouse-clicks for operations such as inserting a link or a picture. I would not like to claim that I was always making the best links, or putting them in the best places, or choosing the best pictures. Or, come to that, making the best choices about whether things should be conveyed via email, blog, Twitter, Facebook, phone, face to face or not at all. But my work on the website for a campaign group in which I'm involved has drawn encouraging noises from others in the group.

* Have the 'Things' covered everything that you need to know, or think it relevant to know?

I was given a major fright by a presentation by Tony Hirst that pointed out the gaps in my professional knowledge. Since the links in the presentation were to blog posts that I could not understand without more knowledge in advance, I took refuge in cam23, or took to cam23, in hopes this might serve as a laying of groundwork. I don't know whether the skills listed in the presentation have at any point been considered as potential things, for this year or any future cycle.

* Do you feel more competent and confident?

In that it seemed perfectly natural to put myself forward as web person for the campaign group, and to cite cam23 as a reason for that offer, yes. But I have not forgotten the knowledge gaps already referred to.

* Is there one (or more) Thing that you would be happy to recommend to a colleague? Why?

Does this question refer to the web resources themselves, or to the exposition of them in the cam23 programme?

If the former, then Google Calendar, Doodle, and Delicious have proved indispensable for work, for reasons stated in the blog posts for them. Their use is often done in communication with colleagues, and can be said in those circumstances to amount by itself to a mode of recommendation. I have tried to interest people in Twitter, again for reasons stated elsewhere, and in my blog, for reasons mainly of showing off. I haven't had many takers for these last two.

As to the programme itself, I can say that I have promoted it to all who will listen. I think the expositions have been very clearly written, the background reading illuminating, and the general approach -- "Look at these things, have a go with them, tell us what you found, some of them may be of use to you" -- feels from here like exactly the right combination of instruction and laissez-faire.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Thing 12: Delicious

I've been using Delicious since March. It was, I suppose, a consequence of my Twitter enthusiasm -- I heard about so many new things worth reading, and needed to put them somewhere, and was not sure where I'd be when I got the opportunity to read them. Delicious was the obvious next step.

Why Delicious rather than Digg or reddit, I can't say. Perhaps Delicious was at the top of my mind for no better reason than its cupcake logo. I keep my consumption of those things under control by means of a diet and a chocolate protocol (details on request) but I can still think about them. And, icing or no icing, Delicious turned out to be fit for purpose.

The Delicious pages from libraries are daunting examples to follow. The Haddon has a page of links, with no Delicious involvement, in its existing web presence, and I sometimes promote new discoveries by email & Twitter. I will think about what a Haddon Delicious page would do in or to that scheme of things.