Saturday, 15 September 2012

Marketing Libraries event

The CILIP Career Development Group North Eastern Division - whose committee I am member of - organised a training event on 5th September 2012 at Durham University Library entitled: 
Marketing Libraries
strategic and creative communications for information professionals
The event was coordinated by Rachel Smith from Durham University, who had asked me to come and help on the day. I was delighted as that meant I would get to hear all the presentations!
Rachel did a very nice Storify of the day, but here is a more detailed recollection to complement it.

For practical reasons, I chose a seat at the table by the door - so I could greet delegates as they came in and tick them off my list. Also at this table were Kerry, librarian at the Scottish National Gallery, Jackie from Northumbria University, Karina from Newcastle University Library and Becky from Newcastle Libraries. (Note the number of people working in Newcastle upon Tyne; this is important for later)

The morning session, "How do you like your eggs in the morning?", was delivered by Kay Grieves, Michelle Halpin and Heather Campbell from the University of Sunderland Library. It was based on Kay's 7 step toolkit for creating strategic marketing plans. Here are the 7 steps:
  • Step 1: Establish where you want to go - your strategic direction and priorities
  • Step 2: Identify your overall service offers
  • Step 3: Identify, segment and describe your customers
  • Step 4: Define a targeted service offer for each customer segment (to meet their identified needs)
  • Step 5: Transform your service offer into benefits for each customer segment
  • Step 6: Translate these benefits into targeted messages or conversations for each segment
  • Step 7: Communicate your key messages through customer conversations
It was a very practical session, interspersed with hands-on activities. First, we were asked to segment our customers - my table segmented customers of a public library. It was complicated as these can be divided into so many categories, that intersect themselves! Age is an obvious one, but also employment/education status or personal life (whether they have a family, live on their own, etc.) For the second activity we looked more closely at one of these segments - we chose students, as they can also be found in museum and university libraries, focusing on non-UK students and why they come to a public library, what they need from it and what challenges they may face. This is when Becky and I realised Karina and her colleagues were sending us customers! Apparently, foreign students often ask for audiobooks to help them improve their English language skills, which the university library doesn't stock - but the public library does. From this came the idea of offering to these students, and to any person arriving to the city from outside of the North-East of England, a "learn Geordie" audiobook to help them adapt to the local dialect! We got very excited by this idea and used it in the next activity when defining a range of service offers for our segment and articulating the benefits of each service to our recently-adopted Newcastle residents. Lastly, we started thinking about a campaign to promote our "borrow an audiobook to learn Geordie" service to our customer segment.
Unfortunately, neither the universities nor Newcastle Libraries would have the resources to actually create this audiobook, but contacts were made to maybe set up a joint university/public libraries social media campaign which would contribute to enhance international students' experience in Newcastle and could involve a "Geordie Word of the Week" on Twitter. I can't wait to see this happen!

During the lunch break we had a quick tour of Durham University's main library and its new East Wing. (picture below)

In the first session of the afternoon, Luke Burton talked to us about social media marketing for libraries. No offence to Luke, but that's the topic I was already most comfortable with, so I am not going to write about it here.

Next was Helen Thornber, who used to work at Durham University Library but is now part of the private company Mariposa Development. Helen made us focus on branding: what does it entail? It is linked to an organisation's image, its shared values - we had to think, with the help of a list of examples, about which brand values are used by our organisations. These values, which represent the organisation, are translated into its visual identity: logo, strapline, but also colours, visual style...
Helen gave us some tips on creativity but also warned us to be aware of what our organisations' branding guidelines are!

Antonio Jimenez-Milian closed the day with his session on marketing for small and specialist libraries, where he used his experience from his days at York Minster Library - and a lot of humour when comparing the library to famous big brands.
Historic libraries are important because they represent knowledge, going from one generation to the other. But how do they communicate this? How do they get the visitor to become a member, to become involved in their preservation and development? Antonio guided us through the journey from the physical visit to the library ("Don't let your visitors leave without any written information! Otherwise they'll easily forget about you"), to the visit to the website, then the library's Facebook page ("Out of four posts, three should be not about your library but about things you want to be associated with. Talk about local things, things your visitors might be interested in"), the subscription to the newsletter and finally (the nirvana): Membership! You have to make being a member attractive to your visitors; you need to give them more than the right to borrow. For big commercial brands' customers that means gifts, exclusivities and discounts; for the library members it can be an invitation to exclusive behind-the-scenes tours or to see a new exhibition before it opens to the general public, and include incentives such as: "renew your membership and get a dedicated bookplate in one of the Library's books"!
Bookplate from CDG NE's Summer visit to York Minster Library - we do feel special!!!

It was a very enjoyable day, and I feel a lot more confident about marketing plans - it is something I had learned about at university but the refresher felt welcome, and the workshop activities made me realise I could actually do it, if needed. I also feel I understand branding better and gained some good tips on using social media on behalf of a library. Finally, being able to hear and see what others in the profession were doing (the stunning marketing campaigns of the University of Sunderland Library or Antonio's tips on making members feel special), talking with people working in different sectors such as academic or museum libraries, generally stealing each other's ideas sharing best practice, making plans to collaborate - all this was fantastic!

Friday, 6 July 2012

ABF 2012, part 4/4: digital resources survey

From 7th to 9th June 2012, the ABF (Association des Bibliothécaires de France - the French library association) held its 58th annual congress in Montreuil, near Paris. And I was there! I had been invited by a friend on the ABF regional branch committee for the wider-Paris area to help out during the three days. This gave me the opportunity to attend several sessions, most of them directly linked to the conference theme: 

The last session I would like to share with you is a presentation by the company Vodeclic of their first ever annual digital resources survey.
Vodeclic is an e-learning firm, selling IT tutorials to different kind of organisations, from businesses to libraries. It has recently undertaken a survey of digital resources in French libraries, the results of which were published in February 2012. The survey was sent to the 1000 biggest public library services in France and got 235 responses. Note to non-French readers: in France, public libraries are under the authority of the town, an administrative entity that can be much smaller and therefore with less financial resources than the British counties and cities.
I thought it would be interesting to compare the results with a UK library I am familiar with; for this purpose, I was kindly allowed to use figures from Newcastle Libraries.

28% of the libraries responding to the survey declared they did not have any digital resources available to customers. However, half of these were planning on launching a digital offer in 2012.

Of the remaining library services, 75% declared having at least 3 digital resources - meaning, for the most part, online databases - and 58% had at least 5. Unfortunately, more detailed data was not available; the Vodeclic speakers did admit they needed to refine this part of the survey for next year's. In comparison, Newcastle Libraries offer at least 20 resources!
Most of the libraries surveyed had launched their digital offer more than two years ago, which is also the case for Newcastle. Unlike in Newcastle, however, 62% of French libraries said they did not reduce their budget for paper resources when moving to digital resources.
32% of libraries have a budget of less than 5,000€ (about £4,000) for digital resources and 52% of less than 10,000€. Only some of the bigger cities (22% of the respondents) have a budget reaching over 20,000€ (about £16,000); Newcastle is also in this group, with a budget about £70,000.

The most popular types of digital resources offered by French libraries are, in descending order: self-directed learning, press, encyclopedias. In Newcastle Libraries, resources are mainly encyclopedias and dictionaries or related to business and law.
In more than half of the French libraries resources are only available on-site, whereas Newcastle Libraries customers have access to 15 online resources anywhere at any time, via the 24 Hour Library.

Vodeclic also asked the libraries how the resources were promoted: 80% used their website as well as leaflets and posters. Only 40% declared that library staff had received training, and 20% had workshops for customers.
In Newcastle, the resources are also promoted using both paper materials and the library's website. There is training available for staff on some of the resources (classes, presentation of the resource in internal newsletter) and regular classes or one-to-one sessions for customers on family history and business resources.

In France, over 75% of libraries esteem that less than 10% of their customers use their online resources. This is similar to Newcastle, where the number of visits to digital resources and active borrower figures for the month of February 2012 show a usage of 9%.
The feedback received by the French libraries seemed satisfying, though 25% of them admitted not knowing what their customers thought. I had access to feedback collected by Newcastle Libraries from customers attending business resources workshops - most comments mentioned these being "interesting" and "useful". For other types of digital resources, unfortunately, the library tends to hear about them only when there is a problem.

In the conclusion to the results of their survey, Vodeclic pointed out two main issues: budget and training. Libraries and local authorities consider digital resources are too expensive for them to acquire and offer for use in a way that is convenient to users (i.e. with a sufficient number of simultaneous connections and off-site access). More training should be provided in order to increase awareness and usage of the resources: training for staff so that they can promote the resources and training for customers to help them get started.
In comparison to the French libraries surveyed, Newcastle Libraries seem to be doing very well! Though again, it should be mentioned there is a difference in size and therefore budget between library authorities in France and in the UK. It would be interesting to get more comments from Newcastle Libraries customers on several types of digital resources: which ones they use and what they think of them, which ones they don't use and why, which ones they would like the library to offer. More ways of raising awareness - and eventually, usage - of the resources could be developed: perhaps by offering more workshops on different subjects or being able to work more closely with schools regarding information literacy classes; all of which are I believe already being looked into.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

ABF 2012, part 3/4: examples from abroad

From 7th to 9th June 2012, the ABF (Association des Bibliothécaires de France - the French library association) held its 58th annual congress in Montreuil, near Paris. And I was there! I had been invited by a friend on the ABF regional branch committee for the wider-Paris area to help out during the three days. This gave me the opportunity to attend several sessions, most of them directly linked to the conference theme: 

The Friday afternoon session was entitled: "Do we still need libraries? Examples from abroad". It echoed the morning one - which unfortunately I could not attend - on the difficulties encountered by French libraries, with an overview of the situation for library services in Belgium, the UK, Lebanon and the Middle-East as well as Quebec.

Chantal Stanescu, deputy head of the Brussels Area library service, explained the new policy set up by the Belgian minister for libraries. This policy is inscribed in a law which, despite referring to libraries as "local operators", has the particularity of guaranteeing funding, not for the library services, but to pay for library staff. This law states that libraries contribute to the development of the citizens by offering access to knowledge and education and that by doing so they also facilitate participation in the democracy.
In Belgium, library services devote themselves to helping people in practical aspects of their lives. Users often come to the library accompanied by partners such as after-school associations or employment agencies, on a regular basis. Therefore, these customers keep coming back...

Tony Durcan, head of Culture, Libraries and Lifelong Learning at Newcastle City Council, talked about the UK political agenda and used examples from Newcastle Libraries to demonstrate how libraries still had "real value, and real potential" in this current environment.
You can watch his presentation here; it starts at about 9 minutes 30 after the beginning of the video. Tony's presentation is in English, interspersed with the translation in French by Annick Guinery, session moderator, and myself (!)
Tony Durcan, head of Culture, Libraries and Lifelong Learning at Newcastle City Council; and myself, unofficial translator
Next was Maud Stephan-Hachem's presentation: "Will there be a season for Arabic libraries?"
She emphasized the fact that reading was not very developed in Arabic countries. There are only about 20,000 to 30,000 titles published every year in the 22 Arabic-speaking countries, for a population of 300 million people. As much as 30% of the population is illiterate, and access to reading materials is reduced by issues of distribution (censorship, tariff barriers) and price of books. Reading is mainly either of religious texts or of academic content, related to study.
The existing public libraries are often old libraries focused on preserving heritage collections, though in Lebanon the success of new libraries meant as lively event venues is gaining momentum.

In contrast, French-Canadian libraries seem to be doing especially well! Suzanne Payette, from the city of Brossard in Quebec, gave an inspiring talk, telling us what she thinks library services should be doing. Here's a summary of the points she mentioned:
  • Key roles of libraries = literacy, education, culture, information;
  • The librarian is a mediator: we are there to help customers make information theirs, not just to store it. Library staff should get out from behind the desk: they should be mobile, IT-literate and interact with people;
  • 24/7 access: in Quebec, Sundays are the busiest day, therefore libraries should be open. Self-service helps supplement opening hours, and digital resources make some services available 24 hours a day;
  • Attractive buildings;
  • Choose the books and collections according to the users;
  • Have a social media presence, develop communication with any organisation that can have a link to the library service and push the information towards people. For example: have an agreement with a theatre - any individual buying a theatre ticket, and having authorized the use of their email address, will receive an email informing them of library resources relating to this particular play;
  • Work as a network, in a consortium and/or with any kind of organisation that can enrich practical knowledge of the local environment.

Friday, 22 June 2012

ABF 2012, part 2/4: public participation

From 7th to 9th June 2012, the ABF (Association des Bibliothécaires de France - the French library association) held its 58th annual congress in Montreuil, near Paris. And I was there! I had been invited by a friend on the ABF regional branch committee for the wider-Paris area to help out during the three days. This gave me the opportunity to attend several sessions, most of them directly linked to the conference theme: 
The library, a public matter

The last session of the first day and the first workshop of the second day both focused on how to engage with the public in implementing policies and defining services, with numerous examples.

Dominique Tabah opened the second Thursday afternoon session by talking about her experience at Montreuil libraries. She explained that requests from the public must be collected, identified and analysed with attention, be they from library users or non-users. Those requests can be difficult to satisfy but always deserve an answer on what the library service can and can't do.
How do we collect these customer opinions? Dominique Tabah gave several examples of the work Montreuil does with teenagers. Montreuil libraries have a teenage reading committee that meets once a month to select new books for the teenage collection. This is useful to understand what these readers think and expect of the collection. Occasionally, the young people involved also defend their choices in a public debate in front of other customers. Montreuil also asks of middle school pupils doing their work placement in the libraries to survey their classmates on their perception of the service. On top of this, the work placement pupils are also expected to give to their class a tour of the library.

Next, Anita Beldiman-Moore, from Sciences-Po Paris, talked about collecting data on the use of the service and the opinion of customers in a university library.
Sciences-Po have had "test weeks" when staff record the number of enquiries they get by topic as well as depending on the time and the location. This system showed when were the busiest times for each location, and whether the questions asked actually matched the purpose of the designated enquiry desks. For feedback on the quality of the service, Sciences-Po Library uses focus groups and home-made online surveys. It has also started taking part in the international LibQUAL+ survey, which measures the gap between the minimal and maximal level of service customers hope for with the level they are observing.

Xavier Galaup, from the Haut-Rhin regional library service, focused on the importance for libraries to co-create services and contents with their users. Among the examples he mentioned were Helsinki's Library 10 and its music recording studio, more and more libraries putting historical pictures on Flickr for customers to identify or share related stories, a series of "Our customers have got talent" evenings in a town library in Northern France, Brest's local history wiki, a Belgian library streaming website with music from local bands (whom listeners can vote for), ... and many others. You can view his presentation below - in French, but, erm, with pictures!

The Friday morning workshop offered the opportunity for delegates to share thoughts and practice on whether and how to involve customers in some traditionally "librarian-only" tasks. I am going to set out the questions and some of the comments voiced, and then leave you to think about your own answers, and maybe to share and discuss them! Here are the topics:
  • Weeding: what legitimacy has the librarian to act on a public collection? This can be a problem especially in university libraries. Solutions discussed included informing users before the items are discarded, for example by marking items beforehand so that researchers using them can indicate their disagreement, or making lecturers take part in the weeding process.
  • Delegation of acquisitions: who has the right to decide what to buy for the library collection, and to what extent? This conversation actually ranged from the pressure of public policies/the local authority to the system of packages imposed by some providers of digital resources (only a few resources the library is interested in, but no choice to get them other than pay for the lot). I was surprised no one mentioned supplier selection (I almost did) - maybe it doesn't exist in France?
  • Is classification the last bastion of the librarians, where they are the only ones to decide and they can do whatever they want?
  • The customer as a source of knowledge: should there be a public policy on human knowledge to implement? Example: a living library where actual people are added to the library's catalogue.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

ABF 2012, part 1/4: public policies

From 7th to 9th June 2012, the ABF (Association des Bibliothécaires de France - the French library association) held its 58th annual congress in Montreuil, near Paris. And I was there! I had been invited by a friend on the ABF regional branch committee for the wider-Paris area to help out during the three days. This gave me the opportunity to attend several sessions, most of them directly linked to the conference theme: 

In the opening session, the representative from Montreuil town council declared that "the library [as] a public matter" was indeed an issue on every librarian's mind nowadays, both in the sense of "the library focused on its public" and "the library as a partner of public services, i.e. of the public authority".
The councillor for Culture from the département (French equivalent to a county) of Seine-Saint-Denis reminded us that the budget reductions decided by the central government was an attack on the autonomy of the local authorities. He went on to add that unfortunately, investing in culture was not mandatory for local authorities, which results in projects in that sector being postponed. However, elected members support reading development, he insisted.
The president of the ABF pointed out that reading - not only of texts, but also of music, films, art - development was a major issue, especially as the gap in access to culture in our society is widening.

The following session, on what is a public policy, felt very much like a university lecture. The speaker defined a public policy as a complex set of social issues pushing various stakeholders from different sectors, including public services, associations and other partners, to pass a number of instruments expected to have an effect on society via a process, a sequence of stages that regulate the actions of the state.

Main conference hall during the opening session
The libraries in public policies session gave the opportunity to elected members from different local levels and to an inspector for libraries from the ministry to share their point of view.
Dominique Voynet, mayor of Montreuil, said that community libraries are places full of life, and sometimes they are the only public facility in a given area. Libraries are first a space dedicated to books, but they are also used for other means: they can be a haven, especially to teenagers, somewhere to work and discover new things.
Jacques Marsaud, director of the conurbation committee of Plaine Commune, explained that the conurbation has authority for reading development. Plaine Commune decided to invest in its libraries and modernise the facilities, which immediately resulted in an increase in the number of members, of items issued and in general use. In his opinion, libraries are places where several public policies come together: those relating to education, culture and integration into society. Indeed, considering the number of nationalities represented by the residents of Plaine Commune, libraries play an important role in social cohesion.
Isabelle This-Saint-Jean is in charge of research and higher education at the regional council of Ile-de-France. For her, libraries, on top of being a living space, are essential to student achievement. Libraries are the research facilities for subjects such as literature, social and human sciences, to be compared to the experimental labs used in scientific research. This is the reason why the Ile-de-France region is supporting university libraries by participating in projects to build new facilities and modernise and equip existing ones. They have also introduced a "student essay award".

To compare with these examples in different local areas, Dominique Arot, from the General Inspection Office for Libraries, gave an overview of libraries in public policies from a national perspective.
In the general opinion, the existence of libraries is threatened by digital resources, budget cuts and, more specifically in France, by the delegation of authority from central to local government and the problem of a large variety of libraries under a variety of authorities.
Public policies for libraries come with several issues:
  • They are either implied or absent: libraries are rarely mentioned even though they exist and fulfil a role. There is a consensus on the usefulness of libraries among the authorities but despite that, libraries are not a priority when it comes to the budget and policies.
  • There is a loss of consistency and resources as too many stakeholders lead their own separate policies which end up competing with each other.
  • The state does not have the monopoly for policies anymore: authority has been delegated to regional councils, European Union policies have to be taken into account and the globalisation of information (for example with the Internet) does not help.
  • Library professionals express themselves strongly [just like CILIP in the last parliamentary election year, the ABF produced in 2012 a manifesto], but we hear less from library customers, even though there is a greater number of them.
What are the objectives of the public policies involving libraries?
  • to contribute to learning and to develop literacy, to help young people falling behind in school;
  • to support research;
  • to promote local heritage;
  • to allow everyone access to culture;
  • to develop civic rights and the sense of being part of the community.
Dominique Arot said that there was a need to prove the efficiency of these policies, as evaluation is currently insufficient. For him, the state bears the responsibility for laws and regulations, interdepartmental cooperation, evaluation, shared tools for all libraries to use, technical control (such as the Inspection Office) and the training of library professionals in order to provide a quality public service.

In my next article, I will tell you about two sessions on engaging the public in implementing policies and defining services. But before that, a little bit of comparison between the situation in the UK and in France.
From what I heard at the conference, I am under the impression that French politicians generally have a good opinion of libraries (though obviously, those invited to speak wouldn't say the opposite in front of a room full of librarians, would they?) which isn't necessarily the case in the UK. But still, libraries in France aren't seen as a priority when defining policies and regulations (copyright exceptions and digital rights, anyone?) nor in planning for the budget - though in that regard it is not as bad as in the UK (yet?) ... What do YOU think?

Monday, 9 April 2012

Integrating Things

I have not forgotten about the 23 Things for professional development programme; Thing 19 is actually about integrating "things": things I've learnt or used or tried while going through the Things and how I do or would integrate them in my professional development...

It actually reminds me of Thing 5 on reflective practice! So let's do some reflective practice on Reflective Practice. Before this post, I still have not done some serious reflective practice. Well, of course I do little bits of it all the time, probably without realising that's what I am doing. But let's take the example of talks I have been to: having gone through Thing 5 did encourage me to write up my notes, but they are mostly retellings of what was said. I haven't dared compare what I heard with what happens at the Library and share my opinions of it on this blog.
This blog - created in Thing 1 - is actually something I am really enjoying. I enjoy learning and writing, and since it's "out there", online, there is even the possibility that someone might read my ravings! How exciting. Joking apart, I would like to keep this blog alive when I am finished with the 23 Things. I have started using it to tell about talks I have attended. I have also used it to be able to share on Twitter information in English that I could only find elsewhere in French: I wanted to spread the news about the French Copy party but I could not find any articles in English to point others to, so I just created (translated) one myself!
Among the other new tools I have tried, I am still using LinkedIn, Evernote and Dropbox a little. If I was in a different post, I am sure I would use more of these tools in my working routine. For example, I found Prezi and Slideshare particularly useful, but I am not required to create presentations in my current job.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Social media talk at NE CILIP AGM

Tuesday 13th March 2012 was a busy day for British libraries. In London, the libraries lobby was taking place, with a rally at Westminster and a call for constituents to come and talk to their MPs.
Up in Newcastle, we had the North-East Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) AGM and a committee meeting of the CILIP Career Development Group (CDG) North-Eastern division.

The NE CILIP AGM took place in the beautiful old lecture theatre of the Mining Institute. To the best of my recollection, Colin Raistrick, chair of NE CILIP, put it this way: "I know you didn't come to hear me addressing the group, but to hear Phil Bradley tell you about social media afterwards"! So I have to be honest: I didn't take any notes during the AGM... but I did fill a few pages during Phil Bradley's talk!
For those of you who have never heard of him, Phil Bradley works as an Internet consultant and is the current president of CILIP. And I have no idea how many ties he owns, but from where I was sitting, the one he was wearing that Tuesday looked a lot like it had both PCs AND books drawn on it... Hehe.

Phil Bradley started by explaining his role as CILIP president. Running for the presidency of CILIP is a 3-years commitment: the first year you are vice-president, the second year president and the last immediate past president. The president is a non-voting member of the CILIP Council. He chairs different committees, works with the CILIP team, represents CILIP at some conferences, talks to the media, etc. Phil Bradley stressed that he was keen to talk to and listen to members. The move of this year's national AGM to the North-East is also part of an effort to be more in contact with members and to have a less London-centered CILIP.
Phil Bradley is focusing his presidency on the following themes:
  • Ensure that CILIP as an organisation and individual staff use social media resources to enhance and leverage its position;
  • Articulate the importance of social media to individual members and groups;
  • Discover and broadcast good library practice and innovation to the membership as a whole.
His goal for the end of the year is to come up with a set of CILIP social media guidelines which would help members use social media and gain access to it as part of their professional lives.
The third theme would also help him give arguments in favour of libraries and librarians in the media and in political debates.

But back to social media. What is it then? Phil Bradley admitted not being keen on definitions but still explained that social media was linked to the notion of user-generated content, which was the focus of what we had come to call "Web 2.0" - or more simply, the way the internet is developing. Nowadays, you do not need an in-depth knowledge of HTML or FTP to make something available on the internet: everything is more simple to create than pre-social media, which also results in easier access to information as more and more things are "cloud-based". As an aside, it is actually something governments are trying to regulate: for example, the American SOPA was designed to control what users can do.
Phil Bradley said that the tool (the PC) is not important anymore: it is the activity that matters. Our society is moving away from the artefact to a frictionless environment, where things are browser-based and the user is not tied to one particular device anymore.

Before social media, everything was on websites. Now, everything is crowd-based and easy to share (via Twitter, blogs, etc.) with many ways available to communicate.
Go to to view the full image

Institutions restrict access to social media because they are concerned that staff are going to be consumers rather than creators, and also because they are afraid of what their own staff might say about them online! It is important to have access to social media in the workplace because there is now information on it that is not available anywhere else. As an example, news tend to appear on Twitter first: it is almost instantaneous, whereas it would take time for news websites to create articles and then for search engines to index them.
Press departments no longer have control over the message, as people can easily blog, tweet, comment, etc. Where Web 1.0 was about control over the information, social media is about free access to it.

In practice, what does it mean? For a start, there are changes relating to internet search. A lot of search engines are now incorporating Web 2.0 in their results (blogs, wikis, tweets, presentations on websites such as slideshare, etc.) - hence the need to have access to it. The ranking of results on Google is also moving from "the most linked to website at the top" to "the most recommended [via social media] or talked about".
Social media is indeed about people recommending things to other people. Instead of searching for the information on our own, we like to ask people we know or see what they recommend, and we are now used to participation. Having a social media presence is therefore a way of getting involved into people's conversations.
There are several websites or apps helping us pull data back for our use, based on topics pre-set by the user and on recommendations. For example, Zite or Flipboard create your own personalised magazine downloaded straight onto your iPad. Similar things are also possible with websites such as XYDO, or even Netvibes. These tools, as well as other RSS aggregators, wikis, etc., demonstrate an evolution of the Internet away from websites that are too still, too fixed.
At this point, Phil Bradley also recommended Quora, where you can ask questions of people who are experts in their field, and social bookmarking websites Trailfire and Pearltree.

To conclude, social media results are becoming more and more important. Librarians need to go where the conversations are to find the information. Therefore, we need access to social media to allow us to do our job more quickly, cheaply and effectively.
"It's all just information!"

And just to put a bit of drama into this post: thus the presentation ended. Well, not quite; there were a few questions and comments!

Later on that same day, I attended the committee meeting of CDG North-East at Newcastle University Library. And I am proud to announce I am now an ordinary member of this committee!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Copy Party press release

Intellectual property law is slightly different in France and in the UK, but here is an interesting event designed as an awareness campaign for copyright.
The text below is my own quick translation of the press release - please be indulgent! The original text, and more information and links, can be found at: (in French)

"WHAT IS A COPY-PARTY? It is an event allowing users equipped with scanners, phones or laptops to bring these devices and copy books, CDs and DVDs from library collections!

 - These copies must be for private use only;
 - each person must make their own copies using their own replication devices (camera, mobile phone, etc.);
 - the copies must be made from original documents viewed in a library;
 - the act of copying must not break any technical protection (DRM).

WHAT IS THE AIM OF A COPY-PARTY? Via an act that is symbolic, militant and festive, the aim is to:
 - make users aware of copyright law and the right to a private copy as well as of today's issues related to sharing works;
 - attract attention to the interest and the role of libraries in the diffusion, joint use and access to knowledge in the 21st century;
 - question local and national authorities on the development of criminalization policies of digital practices and on the urgent matter of maintaining a free movement of information within a lawful offer.

A bit of equipment. Your choice of a smartphone equipped with a camera and/or an app allowing you to scan documents, and/or a laptop with a scanner and/or a digital camera, some blank DVDs if you wish to copy DVDs.
And a bit of commitment: when you arrive, you will have to sign a document stating that you are committed to only reuse the product of this copy-party in accordance with copyright law, for your strict personal use.

 - The contracts between libraries and copyright holders, which allow works to be put on public display on the libraries' shelves;
 - the exception for performance within the family circle, set out in paragraph 1 of article L122-5 of the CPI [Intellectual Property law];
 - the new rewrite of paragraph 2 of the same article L122-5 of the CPI on the exception for private copy;
 - the rules and regulations of the library.

WHEN IS THE 1ST COPY-PARTY? On 7th March 2012. At 6pm. At the University Library of La Roche sur Yon (France). A world first, quite simply."

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Presentation time

Things 17 and 18 are on presenting information, using slides or screen/audio capture.

I had never used Prezi or Slideshare - not even to view a presentation! I am glad to say: I have fixed that now, though it was obviously the easy bit!
The harder bit was creating my own Prezi. I decided to do an overview of Newcastle Libraries' online presence... It is only a test, so you might find it rather plain and wordy, but here it is below. (Best viewed in full screen: click on the player, then on "More" when this button appears and select "Full screen")

I was rather surprised with the use of Slideshare for visual résumés. It is not something I would consider doing (yet?) though I have to admit the example shown at the bottom of the blog post for Thing 17 is quite good!

For Thing 18 I tried Jing, and I was amazed at how easy it is to use. I made a short video for a French friend who was having trouble accessing a Google Document I had shared with her, and I also had fun annotating a group photo... I hope my colleagues will forgive me! (Screen capture of the Newcastle Libraries blog, article posted on 6th October 2011)

I have never created a podcast, but I have "tampered with" an audio file before, though I cannot remember if it was with Audacity or with a different software... I am however familiar with listening to podcasts and podcatching.

Newcastle Libraries use podcasts mainly to interview visiting authors, which I think is great to share with people who could not attend the event and also to keep a record of it. The potential of Prezi and Jing are obvious for tutorials: we could create entertaining online user guides in this way.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Librarians of the world, meet up and speak

Things 15 and 16 are about events and advocacy respectively.

2011 has been a great conference year for me. I have attended the CILIP Umbrella conference for the first time in my young life, as well as making the trip to Library Camp UK and paying a visit to the North East CILIP Mini Umbrella. I decided to go to Umbrella by my own means: I knew it was going to cost a lot, but I wanted to go, I wanted to learn, I wanted something to happen in my professional life, I wanted to see what it was like and I wanted to meet other members of the library and information world. I am only a humble library assistant: I do not get to go to trainings or conferences - however, my institution was kind enough to let me go on my work time. Apart from the learning objective, going to Umbrella was also a way to challenge myself: I was going somewhere I didn't know anyone and where everyone would most likely be more experienced than me! Well, I survived, and I did not regret going at all: I did hear some inspiring talks, I did learn about what colleagues in other fields were doing and I met some great people.
Library Camp UK, in Birmingham, was a different experience: it was smaller, less formal, and I probably enjoyed it more. I especially liked the "discussion" rather than "presentation" format and how good-natured the atmosphere was. I have to admit, all those cakes made it easier to socialise!
Finally, I went to the NE CILIP Mini Umbrella for the second year in a row, and I am already planning to attend again next year...

I have thoroughly enjoyed all the conferences I have been to, but I am not considering speaking at such events just yet. I have nothing against presenting, but I feel I have not done enough (yet!?) in my professional career that would be worth formally speaking about.
I have never organised a conference, but I might contribute a little in organising one in France. My friend Aude (what a coincidence!) is on the committee of the Ile de France (wider Paris) group of the ABF (Association des Bibliothécaires de France, i.e. the French Library Association) which is organising the association's national conference this year. I did offer my services for this if needed, and also more specifically to help organise the Groupe Ile de France's study trip in case they choose to come to England!
Oh, and on my "conference wish list" this year is, obviously, the Congrès ABF 2012... It will focus on showing the authorities how useful libraries are to society - a theme that, incidentally, makes a good transition to Thing 16 and advocacy!

I firmly believe that it is essential - but not always easy - for libraries to show or prove their value, to society in general but more specifically to the authorities, be they local, national or institutional. I am amazed at what is currently happening in the UK: public libraries user groups taking local authorities to court, CILIP's involvement, the support of the WI and of high-profile authors and celebrities, the creation of the Libraries All Party Parliamentary Group, National Libraries Day, etc. I am not aware of as many things happening in France, for example - but maybe it is because the situation is not as bad? The ABF is however working on a manifesto in view of the coming presidential and parliamentary elections, similar to what CILIP did last year. I hope they will be looking to this side of the Channel for ideas, and that we will be able to get support from them too...

Monday, 2 January 2012

New year, new reference management system

After the festive season, it is time to get back to work - and to take a quick look at the reference management systems presented in Thing 14.

I read the Thing 14 blog post and decided I would be trying out Zotero rather than Mendeley or CiteULike: I am a Firefox user and I liked the fact that Zotero is integrated in my browser. I should specify straight away that I do not currently need a reference management system, but I was curious to try one! So... well, to me it looks a lot like Evernote (which I have been trying to use regularly since Thing 9) except that instead of storing content, it stores references (duh!) I have not actually tried creating a bibliography with it and integrate it in a Word document, but I do think it is a very useful tool for people writing essays and papers. So much so that I have already recommended using a reference management system to my flatmate who will be writing a dissertation for university this year!