Thing 8 – Curation Tools

Pinterest, Flipboard and Storify – I’ve used all three. Pinterest and Flipboard on a personal level. A Pinterest board for my friend’s wedding was so much fun. However, for work purposes I love Storify. Any organisation with a Twitter account should consider how they can use Storify to collate and curate tweets of interest to them. I’ve used Storify to create stories about conferences or events, and when I was part of an LAI group we used it to exhibit a twitter chat we had so that people who couldn’t participate at the time could still feel part of the conversation.

Unfortunately I missed the Rudai twitter chat (very disappointing) but I can’t wait to see how they use the Storify tool to put it all together!

We also use Storify in work. I think it’s a great idea for projects – create a hashtag and then collate all the tweets. It’s a quick win as it is very easy to set up but is visually appealing and accessible for stakeholders to see not only the work that is being done but also the interest the audience has in the work you are doing as it shows RTs and favourites.

If you’re using Twitter then I definitely recommend giving Storify a go!

I also love the idea of using Flipboard to create a magazine for young adults or children, I’m certainly willing to spend more time thinking how it could be useful in my domain.


Thing 4 – Google

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with my Google account. It wished me a happy birthday this year with a special Google doodle! But, just like when it does other nice and helpful things like remind me ‘it’s time to leave for the airport’ or create a slideshow of my photos there’s a slight sense of discomfort that my Google account knows more about, and takes more interest in, the daily occurrences in my life than some of my best friends.

Despite my slight discomfort I like the fact that Google adds things from my email to my calendar and makes life easy for me where it can. I’ve used a lot of different Google tools, especially Gmail and Drive. Drive has been invaluable for some of the collaborative work I’ve been involved in.

I joined Google+ a few years ago because it is used by members of my family to share pictures in a more secure way than Facebook. (Although there are now more options on Facebook that allow you to do this.) I don’t really make much use of it and it kinda just sits there until there’s a conversation going or something being shared that I’m interested in.

The same goes for Google Hangouts – I’ve used it in a personal capacity rather than for work but I enjoy how it lets you group call and find that for more than two people it can be a better option than Skype. It also has some really fun features if you’re chatting to little people. Hangouts-on-air sounds amazing, even if its just to troubleshoot IT problems for my parents now that I am that bit farther away.

I think the main thing with all the available online tools out there is that there is no harm in giving them a go. In my experience the organisations I have worked for have certain ways of doing things and specific tools but the more experience you have with using different ones, the more likely you’ll be better equipped to troubleshoot if (or more likely when) there are technical issues.

Since moving I have realised that online access to my friends, family and networks is very important to me and so my Google account as well as other tools used to keep an online presence mean I don’t feel isolated in any way. Although I don’t really have the need to use these things for work at the moment, the fact is that someday I might and the more I know how to do, the easier it is to learn something similar or the next big thing.


Thing 3 – My Professional Brand

While I enjoy social media in a personal/social capacity I am slightly less comfortable with professionally ‘branding’ myself. I guess this is because as I am early in my career I’m still not really sure what my brand is. I guess for something like LinkedIn I’m happy to showcase my work both in college and as a information professional since graduating but I always find the Summary section a bit more difficult. How do I summarize myself in a short and concise paragraph?

I think I could make a lot more use of my LinkedIn profile and use it more effectively by sharing posts I write or articles and links I find interesting. Perhaps this would give people that I am connected with a bit more insight into who I am as a person and as a professional. Right now I think my LinkedIn is the CV without the cover letter – a list of my education and practical experience and very little else – it lacks any personality.

I hadn’t really thought much about this until I had to really think about why I even have a LinkedIn page for this course. I think when it comes to online presence it is a really good idea to think about why you have certain profiles and what the benefits are. For me Facebook and Instagram are for friends and family, Twitter is mainly for networking with other information professionals and LinkedIn was an extra I rarely checked or thought about. I also had an page at one point but felt that it wasn’t necessary and so deleted it. I have also deleted other social networking profiles – I want to make sure that profiles I do have are useful and used so that my online presence is manageable and is a true reflection of who I am and what I’m about.

As far as who I am professionally – I hope I come across as a friendly and nice person as well as an enthusiastic and engaged early career professional who has good experience in various aspects of librarianship. I am aware that I don’t know it all but my attitude is all about learning more and putting what I have been learning into practice. social media

Social Media: A blessing or curse for librarians and libraries?

Last week I tweeted a link to an infographic which looked at the role of social media in the recruitment process, particularly employer’s use of social media to screen potential candidates.

The tweet got a fairly big response with various attitudes towards the subject matter expressed.

Some felt that social media would take over from CVs, others felt that social media should be outside the realm of the professional and that it was intrusive of employers to ‘google’ employees. However, despite the infographic claiming that 43% of employer’s used social media as a reason NOT to hire versus 19% using as a reason to hire, the majority felt that social media offered opportunities rather than problems as long as people take the right approach.

I suppose the biggest issue in terms of social media is that you might say something inappropriate or offensive or post pictures of yourself that aren’t seen as being professional. Social media is something which has huge potential in terms of showing different sides of yourself to the rest of the world. I think the biggest piece of advice I could give is to decide the audience for each of your social platforms and then consider the implications.

The reasons employers gave for not hiring candidates were:

Inappropriate content posted online

Information about the candidate drinking or doing drugs

Bad mouthing a previous employer

Poor communication skills

Discriminatory comments

Lied about qualifications

Although you might hope that people would be aware enough not to post this kind of content (or lie in the first place) I understand there could be slip-ups when you might say something about a bad day at the office that might FBbe taken the wrong way.  Or, take for example, you are of the opinion that your Facebook is social and for friends and family only, you post pictures and make jokes that taken out of context could be off-putting to a potential employer. Or, perhaps your friends have a tendency to write silly comments or tag you in images. Employers realise people have a life outside of work but if they are looking for reasons NOT to hire then it is probably best that you keep you private life just that, private. There is an easy solution to ensure this does not happen and that is to make your Facebook private. There are plenty of how to guides on doing just that and there is even a feature that lets you see how your Facebook looks to the general public.

Twitter is a tfacebook.twitter button (1)rickier one as people may want to use it as a way to bring their opinions to a bigger audience using hashtags etc. Some keep their Twitter private but change settings in order to get involved in chats and for conferences etc. However, a good rule for Twitter if you don’t want to use privacy settings all the time would be this – if you wouldn’t shout it out in a crowded room filled with a mix of friends, family, employers and strangers, then don’t shout it out on Twitter. Essentially without privacy on Twitter you are talking to the approximately 241 million monthly active users. Any one of those users could be your boss, your colleague, the person you are about to meet at interview. Be smart!

There is the option of using a more anonymous handle and avatar but this means that all the great things you say won’t be attributed to you.

Facebook and Twitter are just two examples I have used because they are the most well known. These and other social media platforms have amazing potential to showcase why you are the perfect candidate. You can highlight your ability and your interest by the things you share and the discussions you are involved in. Being involved on social media also means you know how social media works; more and more libraries and other organisations are using social media for public engagement and engagement with their users, being able to use it well means that you have another skill employers will be able to utilise. On a personal note I have found social media to be extremely beneficial in terms of getting to know other librarians and in keeping up to date with hot topics and trends. I know many solo librarians who feel that it has really enhanced their job by allowing them to be a solo librarian but still have a sense of community and a network to engage with and pose questions to.

Libraries, including my current place of work, have been able to market their services to a wider audience and communicate in a quicker and easier way since they have started using social media. Yes, there has to be policies in place and procedures about how to use the platforms but as far as I can tell the benefits far outweigh any negatives.

Personally I think that libraries have a great opportunity to engage with users about social media. A lot of librarians use social media to network and keep on top of trends and have good knowledge about the area. Libraries could assist researchers in finding and sharing information through social media, perhaps look at the copyright issues that are becoming more of an issue because there is such ease in sharing information, help soon-to-be graduates to make the best of their social media profiles in order to impress potential employers and generally help students to be a little bit smarter when it comes to the big wide world of social media. There has been study after study in recent years about how digital natives aren’t necessarily as digitally savvy as you might think and you just have to have a quick look online to figure that out.

Some libraries have already gotten in on the action:

University of Leicester has information on keeping up to date using social media

University of York has a section on how to become a networked researcher

The LAI HSLG group have a link to a great guide to using Twitter for academics on their website. Created by the LSE Public Policy group but definitely adaptable for libraries.

Queen’s Library, New York have put together a Slideshare for those using social media as part of their job hunt – very relevant to students nearing graduation.

There is huge potential for libraries to get involved. Libraries have already taken the step of using social media to communicate and market so there is every reason they can get involved and help users use social media to its full potential both socially and professionally.

social media

I know a great deal more could be said about social media and its effects on our lives but I hope my thoughts are in some way useful and show how librarians can use social media effectively and without fear that the social will get mixed up with the professional parts of life.

A&SL Annual Seminar 2013

Firstly apologies for the length of this post, I did try to keep it as short as I could.

Today I attended my first conference, the Academic and Special Libraries Annual Seminar. I am so busy with college work at the moment that I have to admit I had to talk myself into going this morning but I don’t regret it for a minute. The talks today were 481193_4075959862231_955646740_n
insightful, interesting and inspiring. I would love to write about every minute of today but for the purposes of effective time management, and to illustrate that writing literature reviews has taught me something, I am hoping to synthesize the information in a way that gives you a good overall view of the main topics on the day. The Annual Seminar was entitled “Content Creators: The Digital Frontier” and there was a wide range of speakers.

Simon Tanner – Deputy Head of the Department of Digital Humanities and its Director of Digital Consultancy at King’s College London.

Julia Barrett – Manager of UCD Library’s Research Services and heavily involved with UCD Library’s Digital Library and Institutional Repository.

Commandant Padraic Kennedy – Officer in charge of Military Archives.

Niamh O’Sullivan – Research Officer/Librarian with the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS)

John Duffy – Sub-Librarian at the Bar Council Law Library, Dublin

Ailish Farragher – Managing the legal imformation centre in Eugene F. Collins Solicitors.

Karen Skelly – Information and Resource Officer with the Irish Cancer Society.

Michelle Dalton – Librarian in University Hospital Limerick.

Major Topics:

Engaging the community/users: Simon Tanner started the day by bringing us on a journey to Krakow where we visited a church and visualized a way in which we could visit that church and find a myriad of information about it on our phone or tablet without having to go to 9/10 different sites. This illustrated to us the power and possibilities of digital media. He showed us how providing people with access to Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts Digital Edition could inspire them to write by illustrating that she wasn’t the perfect writer. I know that was great for me to hear! He made the point that people are interested in information about themselves; stories, families, histories and they are interested in engaging with the information. Crowd-sourcing was a hot topic of the day. It helps the community feel involved and it helps the library or archive to identify people, items, places. Com. Padraic Kennedy also spoke about this in relation to the images in the Military Archives and Niamh O’Sullivan spoke about how she would like to find a way to allow tagging but without putting their images into a fully public domain. That leads very nicely into another issue of the day which was the challenges that surround allowing the community to be involved. Data protection and privacy issues with digital items. There is also the issues that crop up in relation to “trolls” although the general consensus was that when the community become involved they feel responsibility and monitor the incoming content.

Impact: Simon went on to speak about impact. Visibility is obviously something which can be increased exponentially by going digital. Audience bases increase, more people become aware not only of what is available online but as Padraic illustrated they become more aware of the other records that the library or archive may contain. Niamh has imagined a novel way to engage the community and create visibility by involving employee’s children in an art competition and including the images in the digital archive. As she so rightly states, “history starts today, what you do today becomes part of history tomorrow.” However, we cannot just look at the positive impacts, we must also consider the negatives. For many I’m sure increased visibility is a mixed blessing, increased awareness means the library or archive is seen as more important but it also means that there is an increased workload for librarians and archivists already burdened by the problem of having too little time in the day.

User expectations: Problems are faced by many digital repositories and collections in relation to this. People expect to be able to keyword search, they expect full-text search capabilities and they expect everything to be quick and interfaces to be simple to use. All of these things can be issues and when people spend their money on these aspects (which are clearly the more important) it means that the end product user interfaces and websites may not be the most attractive in the world. It is very difficult to find balance with limited budget.

Policies: Something that came across in quite a few of the talks was the need for Collection Development Policies and policies in relation to data protection and social media. It seems policies are essential so as to ensure that libraries know their priorities and so that work can actually get done. As Ailish Farragher mentioned, “you have to realise you can only do so much.” Policies help to take the muddling over decision-making out of the mix and create an opportunity to make things happen. There is so much information and data available already and more being created every second, there has to be a point where you can say enough is enough. This is especially relevant when you think that although we are going through an information explosion so to speak, budgets are being cut, funding isn’t easy to find and staff levels are dropping. You have to consider priorities and weeding needs to occur in the digital world just as it does in the physical. Preservation of digital material is becoming a huge issue and although, storage is becoming increasingly cheaper, the amount of data is impossible to even comprehend as far as I’m concerned.

Social Media: Karen Skelly and Michelle Dalton both took on the topic of social media but in very different contexts. Karen spoke of the Irish Cancer Society’s use of Facebook and Twitter to get information to the general public, to cancer patients and to friends and family of those dealing with cancer. It was fantastic to see social media being used in this way and the seeing comments which showed the impact of this kind of outreach was very touching and those in the Irish Cancer Society should be very proud of their work. I won’t pretend that they do not have issues. As Karen says, “You can’t please all the people all the time,” and you’ll find that out pretty quickly on social media. Michelle extolled the virtues of Twitter for us information enthusiasts and I have to say from personal experience I have to agree that it is a great tool for sharing knowledge and for current awareness. I will definitely be following #irelibchat and contributing if I can pluck up the courage.

Other things I took from today were some of the skills that will be important: Julia Barrett mentioned relationship building and opportunities for collaboration. Problem-solving (and letting go) were important messages from the law libraries. Researching what metadata standards, software etc. to use for your organisation. Communication with the community, whether with old or young (loved the midnight run/stroll idea) and re-appropriation of library space to stay relevant were issues Simon touched on. Advocacy in a logical way from Niamh who spoke about using the Harvard Business Review’s “Your Company History as a Leadership tool” to promote what she’s undertaking with the archive.

And there was so much more but this post is far too long as it is. Thank you to A&SL for such a great day and to all the speakers for being so fascinating. I hope for those reading this you get some sense of what an amazing day we enjoyed. Check out #asl2013 on Twitter for more from the day! And see the website where there will be more information about the presentation soon.

Personal/Professional Learning Networks

As part of my module, Contemporary Issues in Professional Practice, we are required to work on our Personal Learning Networks. I’m actually going to refer to mine as a Professional Learning Network because writing my blogs, keeping up with recent events in the Library World via Twitter and Facebook and going to events are all things I hope will continue far beyond my college days. I think these outlets allow us access to so many more people and so much more information than we could have even dreamed about a decade ago and who knows what will happen in the future. Personally, I don’t believe that PLNs are a new phenomenon; people have always had networks, just not to the same level that is available to us since the advent of Web 2.0. Now, instead of just teachers, lecturers and other students in our class, we can speak to people the world over and we can see their thoughts and read their opinions in many different forms. We can interact and learn from each other in really exciting and innovative ways, for example, the YouTube video I have embedded or the Prezi I have created.

In the last couple of weeks I have been really lucky to have met some lovely librarians that have read and forwarded my blog and I have gotten a great response. I have new followers on Twitter and my views have grown exponentially in the space of a few days. It has been exciting and completely overwhelming. The world can be a very small place when you have  the magic of social media working with you. You can connect with people, you can share ideas and news, create and inform about events and you can market to a far bigger community than you may have dreamed possible. Social media is an extremely powerful tool, especially for organisations like libraries that may not have huge budgets but need to market, that hope to connect with new users and (let’s be honest) want to appear (and actually be) tech savvy and therefore NOT old-fashioned. Its about communication and collaboration!

The world is changing and we are changing with it!

Unfortunately, it is not all sunshine and flowers; there are issues in relation to being able to connect with a larger network. Firstly, you have to be careful about what you say. You don’t want to appear in a negative light to your new (and large) network if you ever hope to secure a job. You have to be careful not to use someone else’s content as your own. I can embed the YouTube video but it contains information so you know it wasn’t made by me. You have to be aware that other people may put content online but there are still rules about what you can do with it. You have to have respect for people. I am including this because if you choose to put your ideas out there then you have to respect the fact that people may disagree and instead of being upset by this you can, and should, use it as a learning experience. However, there are also Trolls! My advice about these kinds of people is to just ignore them. Engaging in an argument with a troll is a pointless and frustrating exercise. These are issues that will also continue into the professional world. Respect for people’s property and people’s differences will be important in any walk of life; the information professional or librarian will know this better than anyone.

Be considerate of others. Maintain your own integrity. Be honest. Learn and grow.

Basically, having a network is about connecting with people and we should all be getting good at this with the amount of group work involved in our MLIS. I find it interesting and frankly, quite fun, to engage with others and learn from the experience. By going to the LAI’s HSLG and A&SL event I basically threw myself in the deep-end but it has been so worthwhile because it has forced me to learn how to swim in the pool that is networking and I have to say I’m loving every minute of it!