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?