What a brilliant start to the conference! After a full breakfast at the hotel, we wandered over to The Strand for conference registration where we were met by hoards of librarians everywhere! Thankfully it was all very well organised and we were able to get registered before heading to the pre-conference sessions. I had chosen a session on RefWorks (reference management tool), where I learnt more about the Telstar project integrating RefWorks functionality into Moodle (contact Owen Stephens, who managed the project, if you are interested to know more about this). I also attended the session on assessment which Amanda Poulton (@rangtang) took (originally planned to be taken by Jo Webb (@webbery) and Chris Powis), and it was particularly useful to discuss assessment ideas in small groups, and hear about some of the innovative assessment ideas from DMU. The final pre-conference session I attended was one I’d been looking forward to and it certainly didn’t disappoint – I can see why the speakers won an award for best paper at a previous conference! Sarah Faye Cohen (@thesheck), Janet Cottrell and Michelle G. Miller spoke about the information literacy support at Champlain College, and measuring the impact. It was really interesting to hear a group presentation from such different perspectives – an information literacy librarian, a library director, and a provost. The main themes I took from the presentation was the need to consider all data when measuring impact and guiding future developments – “data is not always easy to understand, but it doesn’t mean it’s not important”; to find allies amongst faculty/academic staff, celebrate small successes and express gratitude; and to learn to tolerate uncertainty and accept a culture where it is OK for things to not work – I loved the quote “failing often is OK if you can succeed sooner”. You can view the presentation (strongly recommended) on Slideshare.

Lunch followed, and there was a first-timers section to network with others who hadn’t been to LILAC before. The committee were also around at this point to introduce themselves and answer any questions. The conference was then officially opened by Sean Haughey, Minister for State for Lifelong Learning, followed by the first keynote of the conference from Tony Durcan, Head of Culture, Libraries and Lifelong Learning for Newcastle City Council. Tony’s keynote was very interesting – he discussed some of the new developments at Newcastle’s flagship library in the city centre, including some “soft triangular” (plectrum shaped according to Sarah!)  enquiry desks to reduce some of the barriers people face at traditional altar-like enquiry desks. It was interesting to hear that there has initially been a number of concerns and fears from staff about the changes to enquiries, but that now staff preferred the new style of roving support and more informal enquiry desks. Tony also discussed the implications of recent developments such as the Digital Britain report and the DCMS public library review, and how important it is for public libraries to enable access to computing facilities, internet access, and training to support these. He opened with a fantastic quote from The Aspen Institute (2009);

Read the rest of this entry »

Not long to go now, LILAC2010 starts on Monday and I’ll be travelling to Ireland tomorrow. Unusually for me, I am pretty well organised and most of my stuff is packed ready to go. I had a minor dilemma with clothing yesterday, but I think I’m sorted now, it’s so difficult to know what to take!

This will be the largest scale multi-day conference I’ve been to, so I’ve been following the advice from others such as Vicki Owens (who attended LILAC last year and shared some great tips) and Erin Dorney. I’ve got some comfy flat shoes, got loads of business cards ready to exchange, lots of mints and breath fresheners, and am expecting to have very little, if any, time to breathe during the conference! I’d like to say that I’ll blog, but I think it’s probably more likely that I’ll write posts once I return. There is free wifi though, so I’ll hopefully be tweeting from the conference (feel free to follow me (@joeyanne), the Twitter list of LILAC 2010 delegates I made, or just follow the #lilac2010 hashtag which has already had lots of tweets).

I’m getting really excited now, it’s the first time I’ve been to an event having met hardly anyone face to face beforehand, but with so many people I’m looking forward to meeting who I “know” through Twitter. I’ve tried to spread the message round that there will be an informal tweetup on Sunday evening at the conference hotel for people to meet before the conference (and also give an opportunity for those of us not lucky enough to be staying there to figure out where the conference venue is!). Hopefully there will be a few of us there, although I know some won’t be arriving until Monday. Of course, this isn’t exclusive to people on Twitter – I’m only referring to it as a tweetup as that’s the main way it’s been discussed and the message passed on to people).

Time to enjoy my evening now anyway, and maximise my cat cuddling time before I leave (both Cookie and Java are being extremely cuddly at the moment!). Hope to see some of you at LILAC! 🙂

A little while ago, I read an article about oMbiel‘s mobile app for universities, CampusM. I’d hear about it on Twitter, and the University of Sheffield’s recent implementation, but the article in Talis’ Panlibus magazine gave more context into just how much information was available in the app.

I thought I’d find out more, and was able to get a copy of the app from the App Store on my iPhone. Of course, I’m not a member of the University of Sheffield so many of the features I cannot use, but a brief overview of the features are shown on the homescreen:

University of Sheffield campusM startup screen

University of Sheffield campusM startup screen

The Directory, Course Details, and Library sections require a login (understandably!), but I’ve been able to access the Locations section (useful if you are visiting a University – can see potential here for use on Open Days), and I was really impressed by the functionality. Not only can you view a zoomable map within the app, you can also view each building on the campus map, on a Google Map or even get specific directions (again using Google Maps). You can also add a building as a favourite, which could be particularly useful if you are on campus a lot and need to use computers, as one of the killer features for me was being able to tell how many free PCs are available at any one time directly from the app (see screenshot – earlier this afternoon there were 37 PCs free in the Library!). You can also check printing facilities and again find where they are located either on the map within CampusM, or on Google Maps.

Location page incl. free PCs

Location page incl. number of free PCs

Most of this data was already available from the University of Sheffield, and is not difficult to implement, but what’s really great about CampusM is that it brings all that data together in one neat, easy to use application. I’ve watched the YouTube video demoing the key features of CampusM, and I wish I was a member of the University of Sheffield so I could give it a go! The library section looks particularly easy to use, which is promising for future app development.

There seems to be a lot of interest in developing mobile apps for Universities, MIT recently released an iPhone app which includes GPS tracking of campus buses, something I’d be particularly interested in as I use the campus shuttle buses to get to and from work every day! I believe oMbiel are currently talking to a number of Universities about developing a CampusM app for them (I noticed mention of a further event earlier today), so I hope to see more in the future, I do love mobile apps!

Taking Notes

So, as I may have mentioned (I think it’s taking over my life at the moment!), I’m currently writing my dissertation for my MSc Information and Library Studies course. I’ll be doing my research over summer, but in the meantime I’m actually writing it in the correct order rather than leaving the literature review until the end, which I may have been guilty of when writing my undergraduate dissertation (on gender stereotyping in sport, bit of a change of subject!). I’ve noticed during this process though, that it’s incredibly easy to get out of the habit of writing in a more academic style.

I initially set up this blog to record my studying progress, although it developed into something more reflective and practical. Most of my blog posts either report on events I’ve attended, discussions I’ve had, books/articles I’ve read, my experiences… etc. There is usually some reason to my blog posts (although I appreciate at times it may not seem like there is!), and I usually refer to these reasons throughout the post. Most of my posts refer to background information, although these are primarily other websites or blogs to allow ease of follow up for anyone reading the post. I do think that most of my thoughts emerge through consideration of research and evidence, and although in a practical sense my blog posts might not be as detailed as my assignments and I don’t always seek out the opposite point of view, I do generally try to consider other points of view to help develop my own.

As an academic librarian, I spend quite a lot of my time working on an enquiry desk (almost half of my working week!) helping others find research. I’ve learnt to use different databases and use different techniques when searching specific research databases or search engines. I’ve become pretty good at tracking down research, and knowing the best places to start researching different topics (although there’s always more to learn!). So once I’d finalised my dissertation topic (strategic marketing in academic libraries), I was able to go off and find loads of really useful research relating to lots of different aspects of my topic.

Now that’s it’s actually time to write all this research and knowledge I’ve learnt from it up as a literature review, I have to confess I’m struggling a little. It’s not that I find it particularly difficult (although there are times I struggle to get my head around some of the more complicated research analysis despite having a Statistics A Level!), but moreso that the style of writing just doesn’t come naturally to me anymore. I think my time blogging, writing reports at work, and short articles for journals had changed my writing style to be more practical in nature and less formal (I guess more like conversational English). I’m now having to pad out my writing with extra points which I probably wouldn’t usually if they don’t add a lot to the purpose of the article/report/blog post.

I know which I’d rather write, and I know which I’d rather read (give me practical, experienced based advice any day over purely theoretical information), but for academic purposes I have to adapt my writing to prove that yes, I do always research my sources and try to discover alternative points of view, and yes I can critically evaluate research.

I can see the importance of demonstrating these skills, but I’m really beginning to appreciate why I find it easier to blog than to write assignments – of course there is also the fact that I can blog about whatever I choose to, but mainly the issue for me is adapting my writing style to use language I wouldn’t ordinarily use and include more of the theoretical rather than a focus on practical and experience-based information. Don’t get me wrong, I do actually love researching and am really looking forward to starting my data collection for my dissertation, but I’d be a whole lot more enthusiastic if I could write it in a more informal, reflective way.

What do you think? Do you think we may see a shift in the future to more assessed work being written in a similar way to blogs, or is it important to ensure academic writing standards remain the same? Do you struggle to adapt your writing style or is it just me? Am I just lazy and need to kick myself into shape?! I do recognise the irony of procrastinating by writing a blog post about how I’m struggling to write my literature review – almost 800 words added to my blog, zero to my literature review! I’d appreciate other people’s thoughts on my ponderings though.

Exciting news – I’m going to the Librarian’s Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC) 2010! I’ve always really wanted to go – providing information literacy support is one of my favourite parts of being an academic librarian. A colleague attended LILAC last year and said it was fantastic, so I applied for the sponsored student award this year and am absolutely over the moon to have been successful. 🙂

This year it’s being held in Limerick, Ireland – I’ve never been to Ireland so I’m really looking forward to it (shockingly, I’ve never actually used a Euro either as I haven’t been anywhere in Europe since the currency change!). It’s been a bit tricky trying to organise travel and accommodation within budget and at relatively short notice, but I’ve now booked my flight (another first – never flown on my own before!) and my hotel, and they’re even able to offer me a gluten free breakfast!

There are loads of really good parallel sessions and it was difficult to choose which to attend. Some were already fully booked when I took a look at them, but I’ve now managed to book my sessions and have an exc’iting looking programme! I’m going to the newcomer’s lunch to get conference advice and meet other newcomers, and will hopefully also get the opportunity to meet committee members, organisers, and the keynote speakers – as well as fellow librarians and information professionals from UK and abroad.

I’m particularly looking forward to meeting other tweeters I’ve had conversations with but not yet met face to face, including @katie_fraser who won last year’s sponsored student place and will hopefully have some conference tips! I’ve been creating a public Twitter list of LILAC 2010 delegates from those I have found who have been using the hashtag #lilac2010 and others who I know are attending, if you are a tweeter attending LILAC this year and would like to be added to the public list, please let me know by either leaving a blog comment here, emailing me, or contacting me on Twitter. A suggestion was made by @jwebbery about maybe arranging a tweet up too, which I think would be great – please let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions of how to organise this, or where/when might be suitable.

If you’re going to LILAC, I’ll hopefully see you there! 🙂

Just a quick post in case you didn’t see the announcement on Jennie’s blog – the UK Library Blogs wiki is now open for any registered user to edit.

Time has flown by, but it’s been two whole years now since Jennie initially starting looking for UK library blogs. What initially began as an individual (Jennie!) searching out for other UK bloggers, was turned into a directory of both individual blogs written by librarians and library blogs written for users, and supplier or other information professional’s blogs. With a little bit of assistance from Phil Bradley, Christine Rooney-Browne, and myself, it has been kept up-to-date and developed further to incorporate additional entries to newly discovered blogs, relevant descriptions for each entry, dates last checked to ensure currency, and links to Twitter accounts where applicable.

The time has now come to open it up to enable anyone to register if they wish to add a new entry, edit their own entry, add new functionality, or just register to receive e-mail updates. We are also keen for anyone to use the data as they wish, such as Yahoo Pipes! to aggregate feeds, or the custom search engine I recently had a play with (although I’m sure there are plenty other more impressive things that can be done with the data!).

Many thanks again to Jennie for getting such a useful resource set up, and I hope it continues to develop 🙂

I recently wrote a short article about OCLC QuestionPoint’s new mobile widget for Fumsi, and thought I’d also post it here for anyone interested.

As an avid iPhone user, I’m always keen to test out new mobile technologies – especially those relating to libraries. I was really pleased when I heard that OCLC were planning to release a mobile version of their QuestionPoint chat widget to enable users to access the service from their phone. It’s currently available for iPhone, Android and Palm phones and I tested it on my iPhone recently.

The Qwidget looks exactly the same when you access it via a PC/Mac, but when accessed on a supported mobile you see the following logo prompt to open a mobile version instead:

Chat widget launch

Chat widget launch

When you click on it, a new window opens with a chat screen for you to ask your question and start a new chat:

Start New Session

Start New Session

Response time was really good, and I was soon chatting with a colleague who was staffing the service that day. When a URL link from the chat is selected, it opens in a new window so that the chat is not interrupted. You can add a bookmark to the page or add it to your homescreen so that you can get directly back to it in future.

My only slight gripe was that during the chat I couldn’t scroll through the conversation to see earlier comments, which I think is something users may sometimes need to do. If you want to receive a copy of the chat transcript you can enter your email address, although this option is a little hidden.

Overall, I was really impressed with how straight forward it was to use, it’s definitely something I would use to get help on the go.

UK Library Blog wiki

For a while now, I’ve been helping Jennie (and Phil and Christine) administer the UK Library Blogs wiki with up-to-date details of blogs from the UK biblioblogosphere (i.e. library related blogs). It includes institutional blogs as well as personal blogs from all sectors in the information profession. The number of blogging (and microblogging) librarians in the UK seems to keep increasing, although there are some blogs that are now defunct, and a number that have chosen to change blogging platforms or converge multiple blogs into one. The wiki is a really useful resource (so please spread the word!), but there’s more that can be done now with the gathered blogs.

Yahoo Pipes to aggregate RSS

Last year Jennie copiously checked all the entries again, updated them, and produced a Yahoo Pipe for all the institutional blogs. This outputs as an RSS feed so that you can subscribe to which will pull in all the blog posts from institutional library blogs in the UK. Thanks to a conversation last week on Twitter, Gary Green volunteered to produce a pipe for the librarian blogs, although due to the large number of blogs this is currently running a little slowly.

Google Custom Search Engine

I still felt there was more which could be done with this list of blogs to utilise all the useful information within them. For example, wouldn’t it be great if you could see what UK librarians are saying about a certain topic (perhaps what they have written about CILIP, or what they think of the new iPad)? Or search across all the library blogs to see the sorts of things being discussed in library blogs for a specific subject or topic (e.g. to see what their vacation opening hours are like at a glance, or to see what libraries are doing with QR codes)?

After feeling inspired by a chapter in Nicole Engard’s Library Mashups book, I decided a Google Custom Search Engine (CSE) might be a useful tool to use. There are a lot of blogs on the wiki so it took a day or so of playing, but I have now added all the blogs (both current and abandoned if they are still live) to create a UK Library/Librarian blogs Google CSE (accessed from this link or by searching below).

I’ve tagged the blogs with different categories (this is done by adding different categories in the Refinements section of the CSE control panel), so that you can refine the search to only include Librarian blogs (usually individual, although there are some group blogs), Library blogs (usually institutional), or Supplier/Industry blogs. As you can see in the screenshot below, it’s just a case of performing the search, and then using the refinements to narrow the search down further.

Google CSE - Refinements

Google CSE - Refinements

I’d appreciate feedback at this stage, so please try it out and let me know what you think – is this something worth developing further? Would you find it useful? I’m not sure how Google manages the algorithms for the search, so I don’t know how reliable or useful the search results will be, but I’d appreciate it if people could test it out and letting me know if this sort of thing might be useful.

The future?

I’m happy to include the search box on Joeyanne Libraryanne blog, but am also considering using the Blogroll to Google CSE WordPress plugin which was developed for Libraries Interact to list australian library blogs and can be used as both a custom search engine and also to list and link to all the included blogs. This is relatively easy to administer, especially when compared to the Google CSE which seems a little flaky once a large number of sites are added. I might experiment with this plugin anyway, but would appreciate feedback in the comments, or by email on whether people think this would be useful?

By the way – if you are a UK library/librarian blogger and your blog is not included, please let me know and I’ll add it to both the wiki and the search engine.