A couple of weeks ago I attended my first CILIP Branch and Groups (BNG) event on behalf of CILIP West Midlands branch. The events are held throughout the year by Kathy Ennis and Lindsay Rees-Jones from CILIP Membership Support Unit. This event was titled “Marketing: getting your message out”; many of the delegates were responsible for marketing within their branch/group.

It was my second visit to CILIP HQ, although I still needed my Google Maps app to navigate London and find my way from Euston station! There were around 15 delegates, and it was good to have the opportunity to discuss activities within their branches and groups as well as in their day jobs, which represented a wide range of sectors and roles.

After a quick drink and opportunity to network, we moved upstairs for a brief introduction to the day from Kathy and Lindsay. The day began with a keynote speaker, Elizabeth Elford, who currently works at the British Library. She presented an overview of marketing essentials and shared some innovative marketing campaigns, and is happy for her presentation to be shared – I will update this post when I get a copy. UPDATE: Elizabeth’s presentation is now available online.

Elizabeth presented us with a useful acronym when planning marketing activities – RSVP (Relationship, Strategy, Value, Professional). The main points to bear in mind are to get key people on board in developing the marketing strategy to focus marketing efforts to specific audiences, use powerful, simple messages, and give a professional edge by using designers, writers and photographers where possible. She also recommended Robin Williams’ The Non-Designers Design Book when budget or time doesn’t allow for this!

We then had the opportunity to work in small groups to think about the branches and groups we represented and what our main marketing message is. This was a really useful exercise – a lot of ideas emerged through talking to others and it helped refine our marketing strategies.

Elizabeth also discussed online social marketing and shared some examples of successful online marketing campaigns such as Obama’s presidential campaign which utilised social media, combining marketing, PR, branding, customer service and the web. She discussed the benefits and risks of online social marketing, and demonstrated how library services and related organisations are currently utilising social media.

The presentation sparked discussion on marketing methods and we moved on to share our experiences, both good and bad. It was a really interesting discussion and was evident that there is no right way to market something – it depends on what you are marketing and who to.

We broke for lunch along with the opportunity to network and discuss the day so far, and then it was time for some practical work. The afternoon activity involved us working in groups to market an event such as those held by CILIP branches and groups. After choosing our key markets, we needed to decide on a main message, key points to convey, and which methods to use to achieve this. We were given magazines and carrier bags to inspire us, and it was great to do some creative work! The activity reinforced the importance of group brainstorming to develop marketing strategy, messages and methods.

Throughout the day Lindsay and Kathy were actively involved and shared some great ideas as well as keeping us informed of CILIP developments and the support available to branches and groups, including some of the features of the new website. It was an excellent day – a great opportunity to share experiences, meet other CILIP activists and learn about how to support the work of your branch or group.

Just a brief post to highlight a new(ish) feature on WordPress.com blogs which you can use to link your blog posts to your Twitter account.

I talked about the importance of linking your online accounts at my talks at the New Professional’s Conference and the CILIP Open Graduate Day earlier this year, and at the time recommended using Twitterfeed to help you link your blog posts into Twitter. This is still a great service and works well with all RSS feeds, but if you just want to link your WordPress.com blog(s) to your Twitter account(s), you can now do it directly from your WordPress dashboard.

I was going to run through the process of doing this, but I found a great page on the WordPress support pages which includes screenshots for each stage, so rather than re-invent the wheel, here’s the link.

I’ve tested it out on one of my work blogs with our Twitter account and it works really well – you can edit the Twitter post from within the dashboard on your new post (in the Publish box on the right sidebar) and it posts almost immediately to your Twitter account after publishing the blog post. You can also use it with blogs with multiple authors and have just their authored posts going to their individual Twitter account which could be great for shared blogs.

Thought it was worth a blog post anyway, as it’s a somewhat hidden feature (well, I didn’t know how advanced it was anyway so thought others might not either!). At the moment this feature is just on WordPress.com blogs, but the developers have said they are working on a plugin to achieve the same thing on WordPress.org (self-hosted) blogs too.

Students in Library

There are many things I enjoy about being a librarian. As I’ve mentioned before, I find it particularly rewarding helping people utilise our resources to find the information they need. But a lot of the work we do as librarians isn’t really seen. Much of a librarian’s time is spent in an office sat in front of a computer screen – producing training material, managing web pages, communicating online with users, liaising with staff, reading list checking, finding out about new publications, researching and writing reports for projects, keeping up-to-date with developments in the profession.. etc. etc. So sometimes it’s nice to get out there in the shelves and do something that you can immediately see the effect of.

Weeding often seems to be a job that is put to one side, but it’s an important part of collection development. As well as keeping the collection current and relevant, it can also make life easier for users (and also keep costs down by reducing overheads required to heat/light extra shelving).

At my workplace, we have been doing a fair bit of weeding recently, and I have been doing a lot in one of my main areas of responsibility, the Teaching Practice Collection (materials for trainee teachers to use in lesson planning and whilst out on teaching practice). The collection contained some out-of-date teaching material, and this was my main reason for weeding. However, I soon realised that by weeding the collection it also made the relevant material much easier to find (not so cramped and easier to spot what you were looking for). Following a heavy weed, I was also able to remove some shelving and rearrange the area to create a room more conducive to study – room to prepare materials, work in groups, and spread resources out on tables. It’s a much better environment to work in now (not just a dark dingy room crammed full of books), and it seems that both the room and the collection is being used more as a result. I’m currently doing some research to see if usage has increased (and if so, by how much?), but I’m pretty sure it has and anecdotal evidence has shown that it’s easier to find things now – I certainly find it easier to use when I’m helping students find materials to use in their teaching.

From a personal point of view, it’s been a very worthwhile task, and although at times it has been a grotty job (some of the older material was way past its best and there was lots of sneezing!), it’s very rewarding to see such a physical difference to the shelves – I can certainly see the appeal of a physical job where you can see the fruits of your labour more easily!

How about you? Do you enjoy weeding or am I just odd?!

Last week I did something a bit different – I was asked a few weeks ago if I could be interviewed for a podcast about social media, and was pleased to accept. It was actually for a social media module at University of Aberystwyth, so I was especially pleased to be involved as I had provided feedback from my course that it had been a shame this had not been covered during my Diploma.

Nicole Schultz (who also has an interest in social media) is responsible for developing the module and she came up with the great idea that it would be good to include podcasts from a number of different angles of social media. She has already interviewed companies who are using social media, a web designer, and other aspects of social media, but she wanted to interview me about my use of social media – how I got into it, what I use it for, and tips to pass onto other students.

It was great to meet Nicole (I also picked her brains about my dissertation, will post about that soon), and I really enjoyed the relaxed nature of the interview. It will be made available as a podcast for students studying the module and I think it’s a good way to practice what you preach and actually get students using social media during the module. The recording device was great too – really small and includes USB connection on device to download straight to PC. If I do some interviews for my dissertation I’ll definitely be looking into getting (or borrowing!) something like that.