Sunday, 28 August 2011

Wiki ideas


I've used wikis for quite a while within our university VLE (using Blackboard) and our students have been using them within their module areas. One way we've used them amongst library staff was to keep a list of subject guides that we produce and to update the wiki whenever a document was revised. This way we could easily keep track of who was working on each document and when the docs were last updated. I also introduced a wiki for book suggestions at the request of a lecturer who wanted to know if anyone could recommend books on a particular topic.

A few years ago I looked at various Free Wiki programmes such as PB Wiki and Wetpaint. I decided on Wetpaint in the end as it was easier to use and more visually attractive although you do get annoying adverts with the free version.

My first experiment was to create a tourist information wiki for my home town in which I created several different pages for info on places to visit, restaurants etc. You're welcome to have a look at this although I never finished it and the info may be out of date by now.
My next attempt was to create a wiki for the subject area that I was supporting at the university. Again this was never finished but is something I hope to revive now.
I think wikis are a great idea as you can be as creative as you want with them and they could be used in a multitude of ways. As subject guides they are ideal as you can invite others to contribute recommendations for resources and websites and you are usually able to control whether viewers have read only or read and write access. They're also a good way of keeping track of document or project updates. Thanks to cpd23 for reminding me of their usefulness - I can feel lots of new ideas brewing for using them at work and for my own use as a way of bringing together all the links to interesting new resources that my growing network has provided to interesting new resources.

Google Docs and Dropbox

I use Google Docs occasionally when working on joint projects with colleagues. I've got a bit of a love/hate relationship with it as I find it rather slow and clumsy to use and less flexible than Office programmes. It is a good way of sharing docs though especially as I work at a multi campus University and often need to work collaboratively on projects with colleagues miles away. We recently created a document which 3 of us were working on and were able to view and edit the doc as we worked while Skyping. It worked brilliantly!

I've only just installed DropBox and  so haven't had much of a chance to use it but as I work from several different computers it looks like it might be a good way of storing docs that I'm currently working on without having to convert them to Google Docs and with the bonus that it also allows you to share your docs with others.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Catch up time

OK. I haven't added to my blog for a couple of weeks so it's catch up time now as I see we're up to Thing 14 now on cpd23.

Thing 12 - Social Media
I guess that just by joining in with 23 things has made me more aware of how involved I already am with using social media and how I could  benefit professionally from joining online communities and expanding my online contacts.
I had been on Facebook for a while but used it mostly to keep in touch with family and friends so I only have a few work contacts on there and don't use it to talk about work. I'd been resisting Twitter for ages, telling myself I had no use for it, but since trying it out for Thing 4 I have to admit reluctantly to getting more and more hooked. Apart from the odd "curiosity choice" of people to follow I've found it really good for keeping up with what's new in the library community and have already been picking up tips and discovering useful websites recommended by people. 
I was already a member of a couple of CILIP community groups but have now joined a few more communities such as LinkedIn and Google+.  I like the way that Google+ allows you to create separate groups of friends, family and work contacts for example as you don't necessarily want to share the same information with work colleagues as you would with friends. LinkedIn is different again in that it has a more formal, professional side to it allowing you to connect with people who share the same work or research interests and to contribute to shared topics of interest.
I can see a lot of advantages to social media for connecting with people you might never have met but with whom you share common interests. It also provides forum opportunities to discuss hot topics, share useful info or get advice. I've already "met" some really interesting people from these online communities and have learned a lot of new things. It's also made me more aware of issues affecting the wider information community.
The problem for me is the proliferation of networking sites. There's just too many sites for me to visit regularly and the more people you choose to follow or connect with the more updates, tweets, feeds etc you have to keep up with. Some days I really feel bogged down with info overload and have to keep telling myself that it really won't matter and the world won't end if I don't check my computer or phone for updates!
 I think the only answer is to be ruthless in who I follow and not connect with thousands of people just for the sake of it. Already there are far too many people for me to check out on cpd23 unfortunately so I rarely look at other blogs unless something catches my eye. This is a shame as I'm sure there are loads of really interesting blogs there as well as lots of lovely people that I'd like to connect with.....

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

"I am proud of what I am!"

My favourite librarian film clip from The Mummy:

How did I get here?

Well this week it's all about how I came to be a librarian so here goes....

I spent the first part of my career as a civil servant but after having children decided on a career change and trained to teach EFL. I then spent 8 years teaching EFL and French and running La Jolie Ronde classes for children which fitted in well with looking after my children.

Lewes Tourist Information Centre For various reasons, mostly political, I decided to leave teaching and by chance took a job as a Tourist Information Assistant. Loved the touristy side of it and become quite knowledgable about the local area but then council cuts meant that the Tourist Information Centre was combined with local council and CAB offices as a one-stop-shop and housed in of all places a police station! Not so good.

 It was then that I saw a job advertised for a university subject librarian and looked into what qualifications were needed. It seemed to me that this combined what I enjoyed most  - information seeking, teaching, helping people. This prompted me to do an MA in Information Studies at Brighton with my dissertation based on tourist information in libraries. While doing the research I was successful in gaining a job as Assistant Information Adviser and qualified in 2007. My library career is quite short but loving it so far.

I applied for CILIP Chartership last year and am working hard at expanding my skills and knowledge as well as enjoying meeting up with other info specialists at events around the country. Having a mentor is a good idea as it helps keep you on track and it's reassuring to have someone to encourage you and look at what you've done from a different perspective.

I don't think we always realise the vast range of skills we use as librarians and getting some kind of recognition for it through something like Chartership somehow makes it all worthwhile in an otherwise undervalued, underpaid profession. (excuse the minor rant!)

Monday, 1 August 2011

iGoogle, calendars and getting organised

I've added Google Calendar to my iGoogle which I use as my home page.
I’m not sure I’ll use Google calendar much as we use Outlook calendars at work and I have my diary and calendar on the wall at home for any personal stuff but it may have its uses for non-work reminders I guess if it’s on my homepage.
I use iGoogle to try and keep as much as I can in one place though it does limit you to what you can add. At the moment it has:
to do list                                
BBC news feeds       
Google reader                       
Google maps
BBC iPlayer

Evernote looks interesting initially - as a way of making notes as I think of things and see things and then being able to retrieve the notes from any computer. As I’m constantly using different computers this might be useful instead of having to save things to usb sticks and copy from one to another. Anything that helps me get better organised !