Thursday, 25 August 2011

Thing13 – Google docs, wikis and dropbox

Thing13 – Google docs, wikis and dropbox

Well, I knew this one was going to be fun!

Yes, I have a Google account, but when I login to it it goes straight to my iGoogle page, so looking for Google docs was the first action! Having found it, I was amazed that there was something in there; I’m sure I didn’t put it there, but then, maybe I did, unwittingly! There seems to be a lot of this unwittingly-ness about! However, I have discovered since I posted about thing9 that I did actually create an Evernote account on 4th Feb 2011, so that explains why it was so easy to log in to it!

And it gets even more weird! When I click on the Share link as suggested in thing13, I get a list of people I don’t know (but maybe I should?) Of course, the other contacts it suggests are people I have emailed using my Google email account (which isn’t my professional email!), so I get that bit!

Question is, why would I want to share things with people I don’t know? From a work point of view, I can get at my work files using netstorage so I don’t need to carry them home on Google docs, or I can email them to myself, or I can bring them home on a stick. I suppose, in reality, I don’t really share much of this type of work with colleagues, and when I do we usually email each other, or work on a document via our shared drive. So, I haven’t really got to grips with Google docs, but I can see how it could be useful for sharing documents across institutions.

Wikis? Well, that’s more up my street as I am quite familiar with using wikis. When I first started the cataloguers’ wiki in July 2007, I looked at and tried lots of wiki software that was around at the time and plumped for wikispaces because it seemed to me to be the easiest to use. Since then I have created a wiki imaginatively called the 67things wiki (to help our library staff update their IT skills) and one called tromboneknowhow which simply links to youtube performances of trombone exam pieces.

Dropbox is new to me – well, I think it is, but you know how forgetful I am, it’s quite possible that I have looked at it before but forgotten about it in the meantime! Oh dear, my Norton security did not like dropbox and I couldn’t get past the administrator login on the home pc!

Ah well, back to the drawing board!

Thing 12 - Putting the social into social media

Thing 12 suggests we add another contact to our social media circle, but I'm not going to do that without careful consideration. I've blogged about my use of social media before, especially Twitter, and the difficulties of following hundreds or thousands of folk, like some people do. I just haven't got the time. Ok, I know there are ways of organising followers, like creating lists etc. but again, I'd have to find tiem to allocate people to lists, and then remember which lists they were in and which lists to check regularly etc.. It's all too overwhelming!

I do agree, however, that social networks have connected me to people I would otherwise have had no contact with, and this has proved most useful from a professioanl point of view. One of the other advantages was mentioned in an earlier thing, that if you find face-to-face difficult, social networking can be a godsend! Also, it is sometimes easier to give a considered response on a social networking site as although these things are set up to be immediate communication, it is quite possible to spend a couple of minutes thinking before replying, after all, it's not always appropriate to post your imeediate, emotional response to something!

Enough on social networking!

Thing 11 - mentoring

Thing 11 - mentoring

This is a really difficult one for me to write about. Have I ever had a mentor? What exactly is the difference between a mentor and a role-model? Is a mentor a necessity? A professional mentor? An informal mentor? A life mentor?

One of the definitions of a mentor that I like is: "a wise and trusted counselor or teacher", and now, having also looked up the meaning of role model "a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people", I can see that I had an informal mentor, but a number of professional role models.

It appears that my informal mentor was also my life coach: "a person who advises clients on how to solve their problems and reach their goals in life", although I was a personal friend, not a client! This was the person who advised me to read "I'm ok, you're ok" and "Games people play" amongst other books, talked to me about any problems I was having, whether they were work or personal, offered advice when needed and was generally always at the end of the 'phone, for the good times and the bad! Sadly, this friend died young in 1998; like the writer of thing 11, I often find myself thinking "what would this person have done or advised me to do" when I have issues and decisions to make.

Role models in the world of librarianship really came from the early days of my career. I mentioned the Site Librarian at Gwent College of Higher Education in my earlier post on thing 10; she was such a wonderful lady, and a good librarian too. Another role model was the District Librarian at Kettering district public libraries. Again, a lovely person and a great librarian. When you are setting out on a career, these early role models can be quite influential, and I hope I have somehow absorbed at least some of the qualities that made them worthy as role models.

As for being a mentor myself; I have never knowingly been one, and can't imagine that I have much to offer someone who is just starting out on a career in librarianship. At my stage of life I am probably a bit too jaded, a bit too set in my ways, and maybe a bit too cynical to be of much use to anyone!

Hmm, this has been a sad blog to write, so I am moving swiftly on to thing 12!

Thing 10 - Routes to librarianship

I've previously blogged about my routes to librarianship for the library routes project so I won't repeat myself here. I will expand a little though.

I did the undergratuate course in Library Studies way back in 1978. In those days you didn't need practical experience to do the course, but two periods of work experience were a compulsory part of the summer holidays! I spent a wonderful 6 weeks working at Harrogate Public Library, with some very nice folk, and was able to put into practise a lot side of things which I had learned about at uni. I was fortunate enough to be taken to the headquarters at Northallerton, spent some time in a branch library, went on the mobile and spent a couple of days in York library.

During the second summer vacation I spent 6 weeks working at what was then South Gwent College of Education. 5 of the weeks were based at what was the teacher training college in Caerleon and I was involved in classifying the collection of posters, drawings and other teaching material they had. I also spent one week at the Newport (Allt-yr-yn) where I worked closely with an inspiration librarian (whose husband was the County Librarian for Gwent) who had had 4 children and then when they were grown up had done the two year librarianship course.

Each period of work experience was a vital part of my education, and I was lucky enough to work in different sectors, which gave me a broad range of experience, and I'm sure helped me to achieve the university result I ended up with.

As for CILIP, well, I joined the Library Association as it was then, in my first year at university and have been a member ever since. I am a strong believer in the value of chartership, so I am a bit worried that in thing 10 we are told that only "Some professional posts require their applicants to be chartered". In our place, chartership is essential to all our professional posts ata certain level - and I believe that is the way it should be.

About 18 months ago I looked into the possibility of pursuing re-validation. I would still really love to do this, but am finding the demands on my time are so great at the moment that I haven't got enough time to do it properly. Maybe in the next 18 months. In the meantime ...

on to thing 11!

Thing 9 - Evernote

Thing 9 - Evernote

Scary, scary, scary! I didn’t think I’d be able to download Evernote; at work it’s very difficult, and at home I don’t have administrator priviledges, but, it did download!! What was more spooky was that the username I wanted to have was already taken, so I tried logging in using it and a specific password and it let me in!! Am I using someone else’s account, or have I played with Evernote before, that’s the question??!!

Well, I’m in and raring to go! Golly, this looks soooo complicated! Gosh, have added a link to a BBC news page – just to try it out. Tried sharing the link via facebook, but I don’t think that worked! Ah, now trying something else, and Evernote has crashed on me! Hmm, managed to get Evernote back (and my links are still there) but it looks a bit different. Really don’t like the typeface.

Now trying to add a picture from my flickr account, but not having any luck. Given up on that. Now, where do I find out how to send myself an email? Back to the main Evernote page, clicking on learn more, found knowledge base, clicked on find answers, then on email. No help there! Tried clicking on account settings. Ah, there it tells me what my Evernote email address is! Hey, I’ve just forwarded an email from my work account to Evernote! Ok, that’s quite good!

Can’t quite work out how to get back to my notes page, so clicked on the login, and it took me directly there. Now clicking on help which takes me to various options including the knowledge base, where topics are laid out much better in the previous help pages I found.

I have now been sitting here for about an hour, but am not yet convinced that using Evernote is going to help me in my work. True, I use one computer at work, and a computer and a laptop at home, but if I want to share interesting websites with myself there are other services that do this. If I want to update documents at home that I’ve created at work, I can use the software that work use specifically for this purpose. If I want to remember emails, I can just look at my email. And as for photos, well, I’ve not managed to put those into Evernote so I’m not sure that is useful either.

Is there someone out there who can convince me to preserve?

No? Then it’s on to thing10!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Thing 8 - Google calendar

Thing 8 – Google calendar

I have a little pink refillable diary that I carry around in my handbag. At home I have a little diary that I keep handy in the kitchen (we don’t party in the kitchen but lots of our conversations take place in there!) I have a wall calendar next to the phone in my hall.

At work I have an A5 diary in which I keep a note of various things. I have a small spiral bound pictorial fold out calendar on my desk (always Cornwall!). I have a pink A4 card calendar of dates stuck on the wall above my desk. We have an A4 team diary in which we record annual leave, courses, training sessions etc.. I have my boss’s work calendar on my Outlook email.

In February 2008 I felt overwhelmed with the number of dates I was trying to remember from all my different diaries, so I registered with an online calendar – airset. In the early days I was really organised and had different coloured highlighting for different types of activities and for the children’s activities, but lately that has slipped a bit. I can share my airset calendar with anyone I wish; I can create a shared login, I can email a day, a month, a year or the whole thing to any email address, and I can export it to anywhere (and, equally, I can import to it from anywhere).

I am obsessed with not forgetting anything!

I don’t think I need to investigate yet another calendar!

Moving swiftly on to Thing 9!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

cpd23 - things6 and 7!

Cpd23 – Thing 6 – Online networks

For a very long time I made a point of avoiding using social networking sites! Ok, so I joined friendsreunited in the very early days, and used it to contact school friends with whom I had lost touch, and later joined other sites for specific reasons. For example, I reluctantly joined facebook when my son’s school was under threat of being closed, with a view to joining the group, but when I investigated the group, I didn’t quite get the “like” idea, so never really took part. What I have used facebook for is keeping in touch with relatives who live far away, and friends I don’t see very often. Only in more recent months have I “liked” professional groups, preferring to keep facebook for the personal!

Before joining Twitter I was used to using Yammer, a microblogging site that was devoted to a specific institution, and I found this quite helpful in my work life. I then joined Twitter because I ran a “new technologies day” for my team members at which I and a few other staff talked about what was happening out there on the internet that might be of use to us as professionals. A colleague was very keen on Twitter, extolling its virtues for answering queries, so I joined to see what it was all about. I admit to having blown hot and cold about it, but now that I have “new” Twitter I can now see Tweets from people I don’t follow etc. without having to subscribe to some other service, so I’m feeling a bit more confident about its use.

I joined LinkedIn for similar reasons as I joined Twitter – to see what all the fuss was about! I am always afraid of having too many contacts on these types of websites, afraid that I will spend all my time on them rather than on meeting up with people in real life, or doing some real life work! In reality my LinkedIn activity is centred around friends! Lately, I have joined some of the groups (again, keeping them to a minimum) and found some of the discussions taking place within those groups quite useful – and I’ve even contributed to some!

Thing6 has alerted me to other networks that I have been vaguely aware of, but I am reluctant to join any more; I only work part-time and I have found myself doing more and more at home in order to keep up with all the information I’ve been extracting from Twitter etc., so I am in danger of collapsing under the weight of it all. I must keep a sense of perspective though; I’ve managed to do my job perfectly well over the last 24 years without much recourse to online networks, but I appreciate that the world is changing and I have to keep up - somehow!

Cpd23 – Thing 7 – face-to-face networks and professional organisations

I have been a member of CILIP (formerly the Library Association) since 1979. The reason I joined (when I was a student) was because without being a member it was not possible to get a professional job in a library! Over the years I have been a member of various CILIP special interest groups, but have not really made the most of my subscription, not having been to many events. Lots of reasons for this, mainly based on the fact that I work part-time and have difficulty enough fitting in all my work. I’ve never been on a committee, nor contributed anything to the groups really. This is partly because of my lack of confidence; this is something that I find difficult to deal with. I have always paid the subscription to CILIP myself and have never claimed the tax back.

When I worked for a pharmaceutical company, I was a member of AIOPI (Association of Information Officers in the Pharmaceutical Industry). This was a great association that cost very little to join and held some really useful training sessions.

Thing7 refers to Jo Alcock’s blog post on networking for introverts. I had already found and read this post with great interest, being an introvert myself (although I did puzzle over the idea that introverts think to talk (yes, I do a lot of that) and that extroverts talk to think (yes, I do a lot of this too, but it’s usually to myself or to someone I would describe as a “safe person” so does this count?!)).

Another thing that resonated with me was the idea that as an introvert I am much happier to lead a discussion in my team than I am to participate in one! I also don’t have a problem standing in front of a group presenting on something I know about (not that I have had occasion to do that much lately!)

A few years ago I read a very helpful book, “How to talk to anyone: 92 little tricks for big success in relationships” by Leil Lowndes. A bit of fun really but some interesting techniques for making socialising a bit easier and a more positive experience. I’ve never read Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people”, but this appears to have influenced Leil; perhaps I should.

Right! That's things 6 and 7 tackled: Thing 8 - here I come!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Thing 5 – reflective practice

Thing 5 – reflective practice

It’s at this time of year that I always have to indulge in a period of reflection: I’ve recently had my annual staff development review, so reflection is on my mind at the moment. I’ve discovered that although what I write is almost entirely dependent upon my mood at the time, the only sure thing is it will be always be negative! That’s just me! Lacking in confidence, a pessimist, whilst at the same time being ambitious and a perfectionist!

Over the last year there have been a number of catalysts to me arriving at a point where I thought I could undertake the cpd23. Going to the CIG conference in September 2010 made me realise there were other people out there who were experiencing the same problems, issues and successes as I was, was one of them. Linking with other cataloguers on Twitter was another. The CILIP Executive Briefing on RDA was another confidence-boosting session, as well as being an avenue for discovering more about RDA. All this whilst in the background our new VC was encouraging us to be a little more vocal about our achievements; ok so he was really talking about the academics, but why not the service areas too? After all, our library achieved high results in the student experience survey so we must have been doing something right, and we needed to recognise what these things were so we could expand on them.

And then there’s my blog. Originally I started a professional blog but really felt I had nothing to say that would be of any interest to anyone else, but having networked with cataloguers and seen what people were grappling with, I thought I had one or two areas of experience that might be useful to other cataloguers, so I started to blog more regularly. I also contributed a couple of articles to the high visibility blog, started up by Celine and Venessa.

My reasons for taking part in the cpd23 programme were really to see if there were other things out there on the web, or other practices that I could use to help me with my day-to-day work. So far, this has proved to be true and I’ve incorporated RSS feeds into my iGoogle page, considered my online identity, found loads of cataloguers out there to network with – and decided that I need to devote at least 2 hours a week to the process in order to do it justice and get as much as possible from it!!

I've also looked into just what exactly reflective practice is and found a brilliant site (amongst the many) which explains it to me really well. Hopefully, I shall continue to refect upon my learning and apply it to my "day" job for a long time to come.

Ok, now to Thing 6 – bring it on!

Thing 4 – Twitter, RSS feeds, Pushnote

Thing 4 – Twitter, RSS feeds, Pushnote

I know, I’m miles behind on my cpd23!

Luckily for me I’ve been registered on Twitter, and have used it for about a year now, so I can put my hand on my heart and say I’ve reflected on that one (see my earlier blog post).

I can also put my hand on my heart and say that I’ve previously tried RSS feeds, but not found them easy to use! Reading through thing4 made the use of RSS feeds sound easy, and more useful than I had previously realised, so I gave it a go! I’m not sure how I did it, but initially I managed to get the cpd23 feed onto my browser bar, so it’s there permanently, although unintentionally! So far so good, now to follow the actual instructions and get it onto my Google account. Oh, seems like I have somehow managed to get other feeds onto my Google Reader page – which is a bit odd as I have never knowingly used Google Reader! Ah, now, on closer inspection they seem to be blogs that I have subscribed to, probably blogger ones, and certainly ones from other cpd23 participants! So that’s what happened when I subscribed; it actually turned them into an RSS feed and put them on my Google Reader, not send me an email like I thought it would!

Well, that’s something unfamiliar, so let’s try something I do use regularly – putting them into iGoogle! Yeah! It worked! I now have a page of RSS feeds in my iGoogle which I will find useful!! Now I’m off to see if blogs from other blogging software can also be RSS fed into iGoogle.

In the meantime, I’m reading about pushnote. Hmmm, no, this is too tricky. I wouldn’t say my work computer is completely locked down, but it is really rather difficult to download stuff, without asking for help from an IT colleague – and that just isn’t on at the moment. Things are no easier at home either; I don’t have administrator rights, so I have to weigh up whether it’s more important that I encourage the OH to decorate the kitchen or download new bits of software for me! No contest really. If anyone out there thinks I’m really missing out on a trick by not having access to pushnote, do let me know and I’ll revise my thinking!

All in all, I am keen to get to grips with new technology and whizzy web developments, but I like to understand how these things will benefit me before I go through all the hassle of getting stuff onto my pc.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Cataloguers and wikipedia

Cataloguers and wikipedia? What is their relationship?

A colleague has just alerted me to a report from the Primary Research Group entitled: "Libraries and the Mega Internet Sites". An abstract of the report is available, but the report is essentially about how and why librarians use some of the big internet sites, like wikipedia, Google, YouTube, etc..

Personally, I haven’t got $89.50 to spare to buy a copy of this report, but in the Primary Research Group newsletter of 2 August 2011, there are a few juicy extracts from the report itself. Naturally, I gravitated to this one:

"Wikipedia was most popular among librarians working in technical services and cataloging; 71.43% of these librarians found it highly useful."

And found myself wondering why this should be the case! I came to the following conclusions, and I admit there are probably a hundred more reasons that I haven’t even considered:

1. Cataloguers who are classifying new bookstock often deal with subjects of which they may have little or no knowledge, and what better starting point than wikipedia, after all, it’s not as if we are writing essays to gain qualifications or that people are marking our work! The “facts” presented by wikipedia, if used in conjunction with the text in hand probably represent a fair interpretation of what the book is about and therefore leads to a relevant classification number being assigned. Usually. And besides, it'll always be found on OPAC, wherever we classify it!

2. One of the other reasons cataloguers are using wikipedia is in an attempt to provide users with greater and easier access to useful resources. Here, think using wikipedia for creating/controlling authority data . Here’s an example of a link to wikipedia in a German authority record (very bottom left of the screen). Have a look at allthingscatalogued for a more in-depth discussion on the German/Austrian approach. Mining the information held in wikipedia is also within the remit of a Tech Services department; have a look at the wikipedia miner site to see just what is possible, and then take a look at a blog post from a cataloguer who has just seen the light - do read the comments too, as they are most interesting! OCLC has also been doing work with wikipedia to include OCLC name authorities in wikipedia articles, see the wikipedia entry for Abraham Lincoln: Right at the bottom of the entry, the LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number) links to the LC authority heading for Abraham Lincoln. (dare I say this looks a little more aesthetically pleasing than the LC authority search results page?)

3. Cataloguers are also talking about mapping wikipedia articles to LCSH

Of course, one has to be careful when presented with isolated statistics:

Ok, wikipedia was most popular with Tech Services librarians and cataloguers at 71.43% , but maybe there was another group of librarians with whom its popularity was 71%? And how many other groups of librarians were there? Oh, one could go on and on, but at least it proves that Tech Services librarians and cataloguers are not the dinosaurs that they are often imagined to be! We do use the internet, the “big” sites, and are interested in mashups and providing our users with access to all sorts of useful resources.