Monday, 5 December 2011

Ready to share

There I am, finally: Thing 13 - Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox. In that order!
Warning: my examples might not be especially work-related because I do not often have the chance to actually use these tools in my current post. I try to apply them to things I do in my personal time instead, so at least I can test and use them. Oh, and in case you are wondering why I am talking about holidays so much, it is only because I am actually on holiday next week and I am getting excited about it!

I have used Google Docs in my last year at university. We were doing a group project for which we had to write a report. Our problem was: we needed to think about it together and see what the others had written, but since we lived quite far apart from each other, it wasn't easy to meet. So we started putting our ideas in a Google document, each person using a different colour. We then met to put some order into it and share the tasks out. We ended up writing most of our report in Google Docs.
More recently, I have used Google Docs to, err, organise a holiday! Again, it was because we lived too far away from each other to meet. Using Google meant we had a kind of notepad where we could jot down ideas of visits whenever they came up or add more details to our journey whenever one of us had a bit of time to do it.

To me wikis are like a more elaborate Google document: one that's turned into a website. I have read some stuff off wikis before (mostly Wikipedia, of course) but I believe the first time I actually participated in one is when I shared my cake recipe on the wiki for Library Camp UK 2011!

I have registered with and downloaded Dropbox, but I haven't really been able to test it yet. The idea looks great: it's like a private network, accessible anywhere over the Internet, with parts that can be shared if necessary. It's easy to see how it can be used in one's job, if people work in different locations (including at home) on different devices.
In mine at the moment, I have put some documents I might need when I am away on holiday... "just in case". Also, I might ask my friends to share their photographs with me in this way: copying the original files from Dropbox onto my computer would be much easier than downloading smaller versions from Facebook or Picasa and much quicker than waiting to have them on a USB stick!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Going back before moving forward

I am motivated, I have the time now, so I am going to finish the 23 Things for Professional Development programme! Before moving on to Thing 13, however, I decided to actually do everyThing properly. Therefore, I am going back to the one Thing I skipped: Thing 8 - Google Calendar.

As I mentioned in my post on Thing 9, I have no need for a Google Calendar. As a humble Library and Information Assistant, I do not need something to organise my time at work: I can be found on whichever floor my managers have decided to put me on, and this can be viewed by anyone on the library's daily timetable. I am rarely invited to meetings, and when I am my attendance is decided less by myself than by the timetablers, depending on the level of staffing at that time. As a result, no one will purposefully look up my calendar, if I had one! And if no one wants to see it, no need to share it...
If, however, I was in that position that requires me to use a calendar for others to see, I would be using the one linked to Outlook, as it is the one everybody uses at my workplace. As far as I could judge, it is similar to Google Calendar. The only Google Calendar in use at the Library is the one on our blog, which shows our customers upcoming events across the library service.

Just to give it a go, I have created myself a Google Calendar which I have filled with details of my social life over the next three weeks. This period includes my holidays, and I have shared my calendar with friends I am planning to see during those holidays. The results are... mixed. Yes it seems easy to use and I agree it must be great when you actually need to share your calendar with others. Also, since I use an Android smartphone, I can see the appeal of going all-Google to have everything at the ready on my phone. But apart from that, I'd still rather use my paper diary... My diary may be old-fashioned, but it does its job, it doesn't need its battery charged and I can even hold several pages open at the same time and still see each of them properly! Maybe for me - a girl who does like a bit of nice stationery - Google Calendar's great downside is that it will never have a cover sporting a witty phrase by Ben or a beautiful illustration by Gaëlle Boissonnard!!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

NE CILIP Mini Umbrella, 23rd November 2011

I wasn't going to write a blog post about the Mini Umbrella. I didn't take that many notes and I knew others there (with more followers!) would be writing about it anyway. Instead, my plan for tonight was to get on with Thing 13 of the 23 Things for Professional Development programme and try out Dropbox. But something happened: I was inspired - by reading louiselib's own blog post about the event. So here we go!

The Mini Umbrella was organised - for the 3rd year running - by the North-East England branch of CILIP and Northumbria University, at Northumbria University in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It is called "Mini Umbrella" after the biennial CILIP Umbrella conference, which is THE conference for library and information professionals in the UK. This year, it was a half-day conference, running from 12-5pm. It started with a buffet lunch and time to look at the stalls at the back of the room representing some local library services and CILIP groups.

  • Keynote by Isabel Hood, CILIP Trustee
Isabel gave us an update on CILIP: its mission, as set out by its members in a recent big survey, its organisation and the changes it is undergoing. [Also in my notes: "Check eHustings + sort out ballot paper." Gloups. I guess it's too late now... In my defense, CILIP and I have had a slight misunderstanding as to what is my current address; in their defense, I should have sorted it earlier. Erm, let's move on...]
  • Rachel Steele : NHS Clinical Librarian project
 I do not know very much about working for a firm or in the health sector. Therefore, I am always curious to hear about librarians in those areas. Rachel described the role of the Clinical Librarian as keeping up-to-date with research in the particular medical fields of health professionals she works with, and in this way facilitating their access to the latest breakthroughs. She also undertakes literature searches, evaluates information and is involved in user education and training. To me, it sounded a lot like being what we'd called in French a "documentaliste" applied to the health sector.
  • Mark Freeman (now Stockton Libraries) and Kathryn Armstrong (South Tyneside) : Tyne2Seine2 
Tyne2Seine2 is a programme between schools and libraries in North and South Tyneside and in Epinay-sur-Seine, in the suburb of Paris. It all started with Epinay-sur-Seine, which is twinned with South Tyneside. There was a school project in the French town which involved pupils in creating stories that were then made into books that were then made into... gardens! This project was then shared with a school in South Tyneside and, thanks to a Comenius (European) grant, a link between schools and libraries, on both sides of the Tyne and across the sea, was established. For the children, the project included discovering the others' culture, activities based around reading, storytelling in a different language, author visits, ... Since the children themselves could not travel, it was the British and French librarians and authors who made several trips!
I have to admit, I was very interested - not least because I'm French. A couple of years ago, Newcastle City Library had a visit from representatives from twin city Nancy (in North-East France - where I have been to university!) Already at the time, I thought how great it would be to set up something in collaboration with the libraries there - even something as simple as gifts of books chosen by readers; something that would really link the residents of the two towns, open their minds to a different people, a different culture, a different language and share their own. I thought Tyne2Seine2 was a brilliant project - it's something the kids involved will always remember! - but unfortunately, it demands a lot of resources, and I guess it would not have been possible without the grant. 
  • Dilys Young and Christine Willoughby : Rising expectations - using customer feedback to deliver strategic objectives
Both from Northumbria University Library, the speakers shared their experience of using statistics to prove the service's value and set out objectives for improvement.
  • Sharon Reeve : Services for visually impaired users
Sharon talked about the North East Accessible Library and Information Services (NEALIS) project and presented the wide range of services available to visually impaired persons at Newcastle Libraries. [No notes for this presentation; I know all about it!]
An outline of the project, which was a finalist in the CILIP Libraries Change Lives award, can be viewed here.
  • Middlesbrough College LRC team : The new curiosity shop - what's on offer today?
The team from the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) at Middlesbrough College told us about their use of new technologies. This includes using free online resources for promotion (such as Prezi, Twitter, Inforgraphics) but also getting teachers to know about them via a newsletter. [They had some newsletters to give out... I was eager to grab one of course, but the angle is different from I write for our internal newsletter, so I won't be able to borrow/steal their ideas... Haha] They also admitted to resorting to the "wow" factor to engage pupils: part of the induction is a 3D film tour of the library (with 3D glasses and big screen), a quiz and a QR code tour. The QR code tour uses only coded text so it's quicker and it keeps pupils focused on following the trail: the text is a clue to the location of the next QR code, and leads them to all the different sections of the LRC.

Colin Raistrick, the chair of North-East CILIP, concluded the conference with, among other things, some funny anecdotes on good old-fashioned information users meeting new technology ones - and the suggestion that the Mini Umbrella's name should be changed to "Party under the Parasol"! Hehehe!
For my part, as always, I enjoyed meeting and talking with colleagues from other organisations and sectors, learning about what everyone is up to and going away with a couple of ideas...

    Saturday, 20 August 2011

    2 for 1 catch-up

    Two Things, from two different weeks and therefore from two different themes, all in one blog article! How is that for an offer?!

    Thing 11 is about mentoring.
    I could say I have had two informal mentors so far. The first person I have ever considered and affectionately called my "mentor" (though not in her presence!) was my manager when I first started working at Newcastle Libraries. She's the one I would ask about libraries in the UK, the profession, the organisations, etc., as well as being the one with whom I would spend time poring over the AACR2! Unfortunately, I now very rarely see her as we have moved on to working in different teams, with different work patterns. But whenever I do see her, she still kindly asks me how I am doing and whether I have applied to any jobs recently!
    The professional librarians in my current team (i.e. my managers) are very nice and supportive and do not seem too bothered by me asking questions!
    I have not asked anyone formally to be my mentor yet (though I might... I don't know, I don't dare - what if they say no, they don't have time, they already have more interesting mentees, they can't be bothered? Argh) My part as a mentee, I am afraid, consists of asking a lot of questions about my mentor's job - as in: "Oh, you're working on that? What's the plan? How much does it cost the library? You've decided to do it like this? Why? What are the options? How is it going to integrate with that? What happens next?" - and also about my own professional development - e.g. "Should I go to Umbrella?"...

    Thing 12 is entitled "Putting the social into social media" - wait, wasn't this supposed to be catch-up week? Oh, never mind...
    I was already using Twitter for professional purposes before starting CPD23. Through the programme, I joined LinkedIn and LISNPN. On LinkedIn, I have connected with people I knew in the profession, and found it great to be able to send them a message that's longer than 140 characters! However, I have not participated in the discussions in either network, and I only skim through the LinkedIn digest e-mails... I just cannot keep up with the social side of those two networks, considering I already use Facebook and Twitter regularly, and err, I have a job, and a life!
    I have been thinking about the last question listed in the Thing 12 article: "In your opinion does social networking really help to foster a sense of community?" All I can say is that, personally, being on Twitter has helped me a lot to be aware of the UK library community, who was who, who was active in what field(s). Has it made me feel part of it? I do not feel completely integrated yet, but at least a little bit, yes, by connecting with persons met at Umbrella, or individuals influential in the CILIP groups I am a member of. But what about those who are part of the community and yet do not use social networking?

    Sunday, 14 August 2011

    Story of my life

    Thing 10 is about "routes into librarianship". Is this where I tell you the story of my life? Oh dear... I hope you're sitting comfortably!!

    I am French, and did my degree in France. The education system is obviously slightly different than the UK one: as far as I am aware, there is no straight 3-years librarianship degree. But there are ways to get there! So, right after my "A levels", I did a Diplôme Universitaire Technologique (DUT) [lots more words in French in exact degree title] specialising in libraries. This is a 2-year degree, which included modules on communication, management, classification, cataloguing, event organisation, etc. and work placements, that made me a qualified librarian. I then did a 1-year degree, called licence professionnelle, to get the 3-years equivalent to a bachelor's degree in the UK.
    In France, each village or town or city has (or not, if it is really tiny) its own library service. The smaller ones are supported by the Bibliothèques Départementales de Prêt (BDP) which have a département-wide (equivalent to a British county) remit. Unless they work in a firm, librarians in France are fonctionnaires, which can be compared to the civil servant status. A fonctionnaire has a greater security of employment and usually good work conditions compared to someone working in the private sector. However, to become a fonctionnaire, one has to sit a sort of exam called concours. The problem is, especially for library positions, there are far too many applicants for too few posts, and therefore few people succeed (e.g. latest ones my French friends attended had a ratio of 200 applicants for less than 8 posts) - this is partly due to the fact that the library concours are usually open to anyone who is degree-educated, even if they have never worked in a library before. Once one has passed this test, they will work either for a local authority or for the state, depending on which concours they got. If a librarian does not have the concours, their contract in a public library, a university library or at the National Library can only be short-term. Only the fonctionnaires working in these organisations are permanent.
    I hope that makes sense... and that you can see why I am glad I moved to the UK!

    As part of my licence professionnelle, I had the opportunity to spend a semester at Northumbria University as an exchange student and to do my work placement with Newcastle Libraries. I got a job as a Library and Information Assistant at Newcastle Libraries right after I finished my degree, and I am still there! I was lucky to arrive a year before the new City Library opened, and therefore saw and participated in many different things. However, I feel that my library assistant shoes are getting a bit tight: I would like to do more! I have a library degree, I can do more than what I am currently doing, and I would love to have more responsibilities and learn about new things... That's why I joined CILIP: to progress in my career. And as soon as I have been a member for a year, I will be looking into registering for Chartership.

    An elephant in the corner

    After a few weeks break, I am now trying to catch up and get back into library things... So, where were we up to ? Ah, Thing 8: Google Calendar. Actually, I'm going to skip that! I already know how to use an online calendar, and I have no use of Google's... Which brings us to Thing 9: Evernote, and its little elephant logo.

    I had never heard of Evernote before, but I am really impressed! It is a great tool... I already use an RSS feed reader, but it is not worth adding a whole blog if you are really only interested in one page or article. I used to add single pages or online PDFs to my "favourite bookmarks" in my browser, but I do not like doing that too much: it makes my favourites look messy (!) and I usually forget the pages are in there and end up never reading them... Evernote seems a great solution to this: I can keep all webpages and PDFs together, neatly organised in folders, along with my little comments as well. Just to have a go, I started gathering notes about search engines: a little list of ones I had found interesting but am afraid to forget about, Phil Bradley's selection straight from his blog, etc.
    I connected my Evernote and Twitter accounts to be able to save tweets. I think this is going to be useful, as I tend to retweet things I found interesting more than tweet myself, and by sending these tweets to Evernote at the same time, I will be able to keep a trace of them. I haven't tried logging into my Evernote account from my mobile or a different computer, but being able to access documents anywhere is definitely an interesting functionality. Maybe one I'll be using in the future?

    Monday, 25 July 2011

    Connecting librarians

    Things 6 and 7 are mainly about networking, online and offline.

    I am already on Facebook and Twitter, and for Thing 6 I joined LISNPN and LinkedIn.
    As I have said before, I use Facebook for personal purposes and Twitter for professional ones – and I intend to keep it that way.
    I was attracted by the “new professional” emphasis in LISNPN. At the moment, I have only registered and introduced myself in the “Just joined LISNPN?” forum, but I have spotted some downloadable resources and a couple of comment threads I would like to have a closer look at. Apart from that, I guess I would really use it when I need some help or advice! But it’s great to know it’s there.
    I joined LinkedIn because, in view of future career developments, I think it could be useful to have a public CV. I tried connecting with a few friends and colleagues, some people met at Umbrella 2011 and a couple of former lecturers. For Umbrella people, it was actually brilliant to have a non-length restricted and less public way than Twitter to communicate, in the form of LinkedIn messages! However, when I was adding them to my connections, I was surprised not to have the choice of a “met at conference” option to tick… The same goes for former lecturers: what am I supposed to add them under? Do those original categories appear publicly or are they just there for me to organise my contacts? I have joined two groups on LinkedIn: 23 Things for Professional Development and CILIP. Though I got a bit intimidated by the latter’s welcome e-mail asking me to share my thoughts on a few questions regarding the professional future of our profession… Originally, I thought the look of LinkedIn was a bit complex but I am now getting used to it (thanks must go to @schammond for her support and advice!)

    Now moving straight on to Thing 7, which is about professional organisations.
    Back when I was a student, in a faraway country called France, I used to think of professional organisations as a bit of a clique. Obviously, I have grown up (a bit) since then… In this year 2011, I decided to do something with my career – or at least try harder to have one. First action taken: in February, I joined CILIP as an associate member. Later, in May, I attended the North-East CILIP branch AGM. In July, I attended the CILIP Umbrella conference. I also wanted to register to Charter, but I discovered I had to first be a member of CILIP for at least a year… Anyway, I joined CILIP in the first place because I expected from my membership opportunities for continuing professional development and for networking. And I got them. At Umbrella particularly, I heard and learnt about stuff other libraries or librarians were doing that I didn’t know about, and met some great people. Learn and talk – could be an idea for a motto… Similarly, I would be happy to become involved in my local CILIP branch or a special interest group: this is something I will definitely be looking into, maybe for 2012?!

    I’ve got only one worry about those networks: will I be able to keep up? If we look only at the online ones: I am already active on Facebook and Twitter; how am I supposed to find time to engage on LISNPN and LinkedIn as well? I am afraid I might not be participating as much in the last two…

    Saturday, 23 July 2011

    Time to think

    Thing 5 is reflective practice, and it actually comes at a perfect time for me.

    Indeed, reflective practice is exactly what I wanted to do - though I did not know the name for it, nor the theory behind it - about my attendance to the Umbrella conference 2011: I wanted to re-read my notes, make sure I understood what I had heard, and think about what it means for me and in which way it can relate or apply to my work. Something I will definitely do as well as write about and post here... when I have time! Time is unquestionably an issue...
    More generally, I do think reflective practice is something I should do more. For example, reflecting on what I have learnt - sometimes starting by realising I have learnt something! - and what I have done, and how this contribute to my skills. I have difficulty putting what my strengths and capacities are into words, and I believe reflective writing would help.

    And now? The only thing that's left is to... get on with it. Oh.

    Saturday, 9 July 2011

    If RSS did not exist, someone should invent it

    Thing 4 was about current awareness, with the examples of Twitter, RSS feeds and Pushnote.

    A few months ago, my esteemed - and now former - manager managed (!) to convince me to create a Twitter account for professional purposes. And I have to say, it's a great help in knowing what is going on in the library and information and technology (and all three mixed together) worlds! I started by following the aforementioned manager, found another colleague and a friend, and by looking at what they were following and retweeting I started making my own list of people and organisations to follow (currently 32). As an example of how useful I now find it, it is via Twitter that I heard about CPD23!

    Talking about usefulness, let's move on to RSS feeds... I think they're brilliant! I can't imagine still having to regularly visit every blog and website I am interested in to check for updates...
    I have had an RSS feed reader for years, thanks to my friend Nomé. I use Netvibes, which is an online RSS aggregator. All you need is an e-mail address to register, and then you can personalise it and add as many threads as you like. On my Netvibes dashboard, I have a tab for news, with the weather forecast and headlines from French and British newspaper; a tab for hobbies, with my friends' blogs, cinema-related news and some graphic novel blogs; and a tab for library blogs, for example 23 Things for professional development or High Visibility Cataloguing!

    I thought Thing 4 was very good at helping us with current professional awareness, especially by providing lists of interesting Twitter accounts and blogs. The only thing I was not so impressed with was Pushnote...
    The idea behind Pushnote has potential: a way to recommend or advise against websites you have visited when other Pushnote users visit them. Or in more metaphorical terms : the light of user recommandation to guide you through the maze that is the web. But... in my short experience, it doesn't really work. Maybe it is because it is not widely used in Europe yet, and therefore websites I visit haven't been rated? Maybe I have been on the wrong websites... There is also the problem of, paradoxically, user comments and ratings. I mean, have you ever looked at websites which have comments on books or films? You can have proper reviews, or people just saying "This is rubbish/brilliant". It is just the same on Pushnote. For something I thought might be a little bit topical, I had a look at what Pushnote users said about the Guardian website. There isn't any bad ratings, and only a couple of "elsewhere is better"-type of comments. Only one comment mentioned the design of the website. What use is this to me? Is it the content or the web usability that is being rated? Which authority do these people have anyway?
    Suddenly Pushnote's potential does not seem fulfilled. You might say I haven't used the social media side of it, which would allow me to see comments from people I do know... I'll wait for you to convince me!
    A few years ago, libraries shared lists of useful websites with their users, via their own websites, a public RSS aggregator or Delicious profile. That's what information professionals do: recommend resources to users who need or might be interested in them. Is this still used? Is Pushnote aiming to be the Wikipedia of website recommendation or just another social media tool?

    Saturday, 2 July 2011

    Variations on Aude

    Thing 3 is about branding, and names, and being consistent across platforms. But it is also about online presence, and how much to share on the World Wide Web.

    Let's start with the name: on Twitter and on my blog I use variations of my first name, which is Aude. I like my name: it's important, it's who I am, it's what I'm called. And let me tell you: I have read too many fantasy or legend-type of stories not to know that in other times, a name was almost magical... Anyway, I also like puns, so I try to play on English words sounding a bit like my name, for example ode or awed. As a result, I am @Audesome on Twitter and this blog is "Did you say ode? The meeting of new information technologies and librarianship, it is quite something [or literally translated from the French: it is all a poem]" On Twitter my full name appears, here it is just my first name (but the link to my Twitter account is at the bottom!)
    Now for the visual brand: I have my little sheep on both Twitter and my blog. For the background, here I have tree leaves on green and I just realised there are leaves on my Twitter background as well! Along with blue sky and a little cloud.
    Conclusion: I do not have a strictly consistent online presence, but there are connections. And at the moment, that suits me fine!
    But beware, we have come to audience participation time. These questions are for you, reader:  what do you think my blog says about my personal brand? If you know me, would you say it reflects who I am?

    After all this branding thinking, it was time for some fun: I typed my full name in Google. What came up first was, still, after all those years, the blog I did for Université Paris Descartes about my Erasmus experience! And then were my tweets in French... That's when I thought: "Hang on, is this because I am on" So next I tried Google UK. The search results were only slightly different: first came my Twitter account, then Lanyard (the social conference directory) and finally my university blog.
    So what have I learnt from this? On one hand, my Facebook account does not appear easily: I must have set the privacy settings well, because my use of Facebook is personal and I want to keep it that way. On the other hand, I wanted to use Twitter for professional purposes and if someone out there is looking for me, they will (hehe).

    What Thing 3 also made me think about, though, is privacy. How much do I want people to find me online? How much can they learn about me using this blog, Twitter or other traces I have left? Is this a good thing?

    Monday, 27 June 2011

    Am I late? Things 1 & 2

    Thing 1: completed. It just took me ages to decide which website to create my blog with. I follow blogs hosted by Wordpress and Blogger, so I first thought I’d try something else, and set my sights on Tumblr. I created my blog on Tumblr, wrote the first article, but then could not figure out whether non- registered-Tumblr-users could comment! I did not see the point of people having to register on Tumblr just to comment on my humble creation, so I deleted my Tumblr blog and decided to go somewhere else… Next step was Posterous: I did not like the design. Then Blogger: did you know you need a Google account to use Blogger? Google is already the search engine I use most, and my smartphone operates with Android… I didn’t want to go all-Google! So next I had a look at Wordpress. But Wordpress has you downloading their software… I thought: “Is there no dead simple, no-strings-attached platforms to create blogs out there, just like old times?” I have a friend whose blog is hosted by OverBlog, so I started creating mine with them. But I gave up because it looked too technical for me… Finally, I went back to Blogger. And I have to say, I am very happy with it!!!

    Thing 2: in progress. I started with my colleague Anne’s blog: Information musings. It was easy to comment on, because I know her and she’s so nice!
    Then I read a blog I had noticed a few weeks ago, because I know the author works in Newcastle too: louiselib. A quick look at random at some other blogs: Nouveau librarian and Adventures of a Welsh Librarian, on which I did not comment either. I did comment on Digressions of a Sponge for Knowledge, the blog of an American library student who was discussing the “information professional” title for librarians and on Snippets. That is all so far, but I do intend to have a look and comment on more! (especially if it is raining at the week-end!!)

    Sunday, 26 June 2011


    I am a curious librarian: sometimes curious as in "odd", but mostly curious as in "keen to learn about things". Learning things motivates me: it can be fun, it can be boring, it can be interesting or passable, sometimes useful, sometimes less, but it always makes my brain feel like it is there for a purpose. And that feels good!!
    More seriously, I am at a point in my young career where I feel a professional development course is most welcome to make me go forward, help me evolve and find my place in the world of British libraries.

    So I am doing cpd23 to learn, literally, about Things. And no less than 23! I have heard of other "23 things" courses before, so the big question is: why 23?!

    I have had a blog before: when I arrived in the UK, it was the best way to share my experiences with my friends and family in France. I have a Facebook account, a Twitter account, I use an RSS feed reader... I am curious to see what else is in store for us and to read about other people's thoughts and progress!