Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Putting the 'me' into social media

Snappy title, eh? It seems like I start most posts on here with an apology for not updating very often, but I feel that it might be necessary again. It's been almost two months since I decided that I was definitely definitely going to blog more often, which is a lot longer than I would have liked. Soz! I actually have something to blog about now though, you lucky people.

Last week I attended a training session called 'Enhancing Customer Experience Using Social Media'. The excellent Lisa Jeskins, who I think is going to be doing a similar session for CILIP North West, gave us a very useful introduction to social media tools and how, as an organisation, we could be using them to improve the services we offer.

The session gave me a lot to think about, and it inspired me to write a little something about my organisation's current social media policy. Although, having read the social media policy, I'm not going to say anywhere near as much as I'd like to for fear of getting a severe telling off.

If I had to use one word to describe it, the word I would choose would definitely be 'defensive'. On the organisation's intranet, before you even open the social media policy, three 'useful links' have been provided in the sidebar. There are links to three online news articles and the headlines read:

And possibly my favourite...

So you'll forgive me for not fully dissecting our social media policy! Within the organisation, access to social media is blocked for all but a handful of staff and our existing social media channels are locked down and controlled by a select few. I can see why this is the case. We're a large (charitable) organisation. If a member of staff says something naughty on the internet it could be extremely costly for us. I think this fear of social media, however, is stopping us from achieving great things. Maybe sometimes it's worth the risk?

I read a report recently about visually impaired people's use of social media tools (link here) in Norway. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to suggest that the results would be reasonably similar if the study was repeated in the UK. They found that 85% of the visually impaired 15-24 year olds they spoke to accessed Facebook at least once a week. This being the case, we need to make sure that we have a presence on social media websites, as more and more potential users of our service are accessing them regularly.

This is something that Lisa stressed on a number of occasions throughout the day. Facebook and Twitter are not a replacement for more traditional channels of communicating with service users, they are an extra. Some people feel more comfortable using social media to communicate in a more informal manner with organisations and this is something we need to facilitate. If our customers feel happier contacting us via Facebook rather than phoning us, then we should be making steps to provide this service for them.

The library currently has a Twitter account, but it is not accessed by customer services/reader advice staff. The library doesn't have its own Facebook page, but occasionally has news items and other bits and bobs published on the organisation's main page. Maybe changes are in the pipeline, but at the moment it would be difficult for a customer to get any help or guidance using our social media channels.

At the beginning of next year (hopefully!) we'll be implementing a new library management system (or Reading Business System, as we've been calling it). I'm still not completely sure about all the added functionality we'll be able to offer our users. I know that, for the first time, you'll be able to choose books for yourself using the OPAC, which will be brilliant. I don't know if there's any provision for utilising user generated content or anything like that though. It would be great if the new online catalogue allowed our customers to share the books they've read on social media sites which would provoke discussions about the services we provide. The more people know about what we do, the better!

In the training session, concerns were raised about how complaints are dealt with on social media, in full view of everyone. Isn't it a little bit like airing your dirty laundry in public? Well, no. Providing good customer service and resolving any issues is just good public relations, isn't it? In a typical phone call, only the customer is aware that they have received a good service and their problem has been solved. On Twitter or Facebook, the customer's friends or followers can also see that we've been able to help them as best we can. Of course some things aren't appropriate for discussing in an open forum, but these can be discussed via private messages or we can say 'I can't help you on Facebook, but I can phone you to discuss the matter further'.

It will be interesting to see if anything happens as a result of the training sessions that Lisa has presented here. There's a whole load of opportunities for us to improve the service we offer using social media sites, and I hope we can start to do more in the future. Here's a couple of things that I reckon we could do with social media:

- Have a library specific Facebook page, allowing us to create groups for children and young people and online reading groups
- Encourage service users to use social media to contact us with enquiries
- Encourage service users to discuss the services we provide. Facilitate discussions on what people like to read, which books they've borrowed from us that they don't like, the things they like about the service (AND the things they don't like)
- The thing I said earlier about sharing things from our OPAC on social media sites

I'm sure there's plenty more we could do beyond that, but I'm rushing towards the end now. I might add more stuff later, which is cheating, I know.

In other news, I have a new header for the blog! Liz from Young Explorer (link here) drew it for me. It's what the 245 MARC21 field might look like for this blog, except I've omitted the 245 04 bit because it made the whole thing look ugly. Soz.

Comments welcome (On the post, I mean, but you can comment on the header too if you like).


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

cilip new professionals day 2012

it's been almost two months since i declared that this blog was back in business. it's also been almost two months since i last posted anything. well done, me. anyway, i decided that i would blog about the cilip new professionals day that i went to in that london and this is me eventually getting round to writing up the notes i made.

i am rubbish at networking. really rubbish. when i went to last year's umbrella conference i spent much of the time sat on my own, staring at the floor or reading the programme repeatedly until i'd memorised the entire thing word for word. so with this in mind, i'd like to apologise to anyone i spoke to at the new professional's day. i managed to speak to some very nice people, but i suspect that i probably bored them all into submission.

what struck me was that everyone attending the event seemed to be absolutely brilliant. they all knew lots of things and had the ability to talk coherently about what they knew. incredible! i spoke to people who were on the ucl course, which is apparently a billion times better than the mmu one, and they all seemed dead clever! i think i need to talk to people about library stuff more as it'll give me a chance to practice actually voicing my thoughts and opinions and that.

anyway, on to the sessions:

firstly, annie mauger did her usual thing. it was a pretty good way to start the day, with a kind of rousing 'you can be anything you want to be' type speech. she told us that the best way to develop leadership skills was to engage with our professional organisation and get involved with committees and things.

annie introduced superstar celebrity librarian ned potter, who talked to us about our personal brands. i always feel a bit weird thinking about myself as a brand, but he offered some interesting advice on how to shape the way that colleagues/other professionals/people see us. he also told us that we don't need to be superstars, we just need to be a resource and part of the community. which is re-assuring. sometimes i feel like i should do more, but sometimes having a personal life is preferable to thinking about library stuff all the time!

ned also told us that, if we have ideas, we should go ahead and get them done. i've been thinking for a while that it'd be nice to have a platform for new professionals to write stuff and get published in a less formal cilip update style thing. i've made zines before, and i quite like the idea of doing one around library issues. new professionals could contribute articles about things they're interested in, it could be illustrated nicely, and it could be sold at a cheap price (just enough to cover costs). if anyone reading this also thinks this isn't a stupid idea and would like to help, let me know!

other highlights from the day include the session about cataloguing led by deborah lee and jennie-claire perry, which involved lego and a giant snakes and ladders board. they encouraged us to think about cataloguing and classification whilst having fun! my team won the snakes and ladders game, although i'm not really sure how.

i enjoyed listening to cilip president phil bradley's talk on social media in the afternoon, too. he's a very good speaker! he encouraged those of us who do not have access to social media at work to confront our it departments and make them give us access. somehow i don't think the organisation i work for would be very happy if i did that!

so yes, all in all, it was an excellent day. i'd very much recommend going to next year's event. the sessions gave me ideas and encouraged me to actually do something about them. and i actually did some networking, albeit not particularly confident networking. i spoke to people though, which is a start. next time i'll be a mingling king, chatting to anyone and everyone. cool.

so yes, if you've reached the bottom of this and you want to kill yourself, i apologise. if you want to help me with the zine idea, then get in touch! otherwise, thanks and goodbye.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

resuscitating the blog

hello! it's been quite a while since i abandoned the 23 things and gave up on this blog. real life got in the way for a bit, but i'm going to make a concerted effort to post more/at all from now on. let me give you an update on what i'm up to!

- my contract at the rnib national library service has been extended, thankfully. i still enjoy it very much and i still feel like i'm learning, which is the most important thing.

- i've been accepted on to a distance learning masters degree at the university of borås. the course is called 'digital library services' and i start at the end of august (i think). i already have an undergraduate degree in librarianship and many of the masters degrees at uk universities look as if they go over similar ground. and they're expensive!

the borås course looks really interesting and a bit technical too! i am usually a bit rubbish at that kind of thing, so i'm looking forward to filling large gaps in my knowledge. and also the course is free. and also also, the once a year trips to sweden will really help me improve my swedish. hopefully.

- i'm planning on doing some cataloguing volunteering with the north of england mining institute in newcastle. they have a lot of marc records that need cleaning up and you're able to do it remotely, so i'm going to use it as an opportunity to get more practice.

- i recently bought anne welsh's excellent 'practical cataloguing' and was very excited to see that something i wrote had been referenced! amazing. it was a terrible article i wrote for catalogue and index, cilip cataloguing and indexing group's journal. i'm still pleased though, as long as nobody looks up the article. i'd definitely like to try and write more stuff and do a bit of presenting, but i just need to think of something to write/present about first. i don't feel as if i'm enough of an expert yet!

- i'm on the committee for cilip north west branch. i'm currently assisting with events and we have a couple of things in the pipeline that i'd like to get involved with, so that's something to look forward to as well.

so all in all, i should have loads to blog about. it'll be interesting to see how much time the masters course takes up. i'm both excited and nervous about it! i managed to do a full time undergraduate degree while working an almost full time job at the same time, but it was extremely hairy at times. this is only a part time course so it should be a doddle! time will tell.

anyway, hopefully i'll have lots to say on here from now on!


Sunday, 30 October 2011

thing 8: google calendar

my attempts at catching up proved to be less than successful. in fact i've neglected to post at all on here for about a month now and the cpd23 programme has completely finished. hopefully i will get the next 15 posts done some time before the end of the year! at the rate i'm going at it seems unlikely though.

this thing is about google calendar, so it should be a fairly quick read for anyone who's unfortunate enough to stumble across this blog.

google calendar

i have a google calendar, right, i just don't really use it. i don't think i really have anything that needs to be organised. at work i have a very limited number of tasks, so i don't really need a calendar to keep myself organised. at home we have a giant wallchart which we record social engagements on, birthdays and things like that on. i'd like to think that at some point i'll need to use an online calendar to keep myself organised at work, but at the moment i'm too unimportant for that kind of thing.

actually, while we're talking about calendars, we use the calendar feature on outlook at work for various things. my colleagues invite each other to meetings and things, but as i say, i'm not important enough to get invited to meetings and things so this isn't that useful to me either!

so in conclusion, because i'm not going to read through this post and edit it to make it more understandable, i don't use google calendar (or any online calendar) to organise my workload. i will in the future though, i promise.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

thing seven: face to face networks and professional organisations

so much for catching up. i now appear to be more behind than ever. well done, me! before i do the seventh thing, i'll just give both of my readers a little update about my career and that. i had my job interview at the university of leeds a couple of weeks ago and completely crumbled and made a fool of myself. i was reasonably confident when i went in. well, i didn't think i'd get the job, but i didn't expect to make a complete idiot of myself in the interview either.

i'm trying to make myself write a blog post about the interview experience so i can reflect on where i went wrong (it's going to be a long post), but until then you'll just have to imagine how bad it was.

i think i'm getting a six month contract extension here anyway, which is good. that'll be full time too. but i don't really know very much about what i'll be doing and things seem to be taking a long time so i'm not going to count my chickens.

thing seven, then! this is actually a topic i can talk about a bit: face to face networks and professional organisations.


let's start with the basics. i have been a member of cilip for a couple of years now. it was encouraged when i was at university and, at least while i'm not earning very much money, it's still just about affordable. i'm not sure how i'd feel about paying more for my membership though.

i often wonder whether i gain anything from being a member of cilip. i think it looks good when applying for jobs that i'm able to say 'i'm a member of the chartered institute of library and information professionals, therefore i am kept up to date with what is happening in my profession'. theoretically this is true, but i'm not sure cilip offer much more than this. they no longer provide training events of any kind and even before the training department was more or less axed, the courses were ridiculously expensive anyway. i could never afford to pay several hundred pound to attend a one day event.

the main thing i use cilip for is for the lisjobnet site, which, to be fair, is excellent. you don't have to be a member to use that though. i also quite enjoy reading update every month, but i'm still unsure as to whether that's enough. maybe if i ever get to the stage of doing chartership i'll find cilip more useful, but at the moment they're not doing that much for me to justify the membership fees.

as i've mentioned elsewhere on this blog, i went to cilip's umbrella conference this year. it cost my employers a lot of money and, while it was very interesting, i don't feel that i got as much out of it as i should have done. i didn't network for a start. this was before i really started thinking about myself as part of a wider profession and, as a lowly cataloguing assistant, didn't feel important enough to bother more experienced people with my thoughts and opinions. i probably still feel that way but if umbrella was next week i think i'd try and make myself talk to people.


i became a member of the special libraries association a month or two ago. i haven't really engaged with them at all, so far. i plan on watching some of their online seminars, but a lot of what they do seems very america-centric. i think i need to make more of an effort to try and use some of the resources that they have on offer, but at the moment i'm not really getting very much out of my membership.


i think i spoke about linspn in an earlier post, and yes, i do use it. it's a very handy resource for a new professional like myself and i'm always thinking of things that i'd like to ask people on there. but not that many people use it and i don't want to be the person who clogs up all the boards asking for people to make decisions for me! i'll continue to use it anyway.

the end bit

i'm going to try and get more involved with cilip, especially my local branch and the cataloguing and indexing group. i recently emailed the cilip north west branch to ask about getting involved with committee work but didn't receive a reply. rejection! i'll try again though. my email was probably completely moronic. i'm also going to look into what i can gain from my sla membership too.

i've also been looking at the ifla, especially their section for libraries serving persons with print disabilities, which is relevant to my current job. this is an area that i'm getting more and more interested in and it's generally neglected when people are advocating library services. maybe i'll post about that later on, but i've signed up to the section's mailing list and i'll think about joining the ifla when i have a bit more money.

many thanks,

Thursday, 1 September 2011

the sixth thing: online networks

the extra post i promised last week never materialised, did it? i could make some excuse about being very busy but i don't think i was. the truth is that i'm finding this blogging business quite difficult. it takes me ages to write one of these posts, believe it or not. once i get started it's okay, but it feels like a bit of a chore at times. anyhow, there's definitely going to be a bit of extra blog post action going on this week. you lucky person/people.

online networks, then. i'm going to come straight out and declare which ones i use and which ones i don't. i use: facebook, lisnpn and linkedin (barely). i don't use cilip communities or librarians as teachers network. the former is something that i intend to start using in the future while the latter looks a bit irrelevant for me at the moment. it's useful to know about though! i'm going to analyse my use of online networks now (analyse is probably a bit strong). here we go:


i use facebook primarily for personal stuff. i don't really check it all that regularly as it's blocked at work, but occasionally people send me messages or i use it to communicate with people about stuff. i don't really know why i don't just email people instead. i suppose it feels a bit more informal, which is, i imagine, why lots of libraries are using it to communicate with their users nowadays. i don't use any library related resources on facebook currently, but if i was in a position to use facebook more regularly this is something i might look into further. as it is it's just a way for me to contact people without having to be all 'dear sir/madam' about it.


lisnpn is great! i always get the name wrong though. lisnpn doesn't really roll off the tongue, does it? anyway, as i was saying, lisnpn is a great site, although it could do with being a bit busier. i asked for some advice on there the other day and got some really helpful responses. it gave me the confidence to apply for a job that i wasn't going to bother applying for and now i've got an interview, which is exciting. and nerve-racking, but exciting too. i probably won't get the job, but i have more chance of getting it now that i actually applied. thanks lisnpn!


i left this to the end because i didn't want to talk about it. i have set up a linkedin account. in fact i set up my account months ago. i haven't actually gone beyond that stage though. a couple of people i know have added me but i haven't even accepted their requests yet. my profile is completely blank and i need to psyche myself into putting something on there. i can't imagine how it could be of any use to me, but lots of people who know what they're talking about have them. i am definitely going to sort my linkedin profile out soon. if more people add me i might feel more obliged to get things done. so add me, yeah?


despite the fact that, according to this post, i don't use online networks that much, i am a fan of using online networks. i used to post on message boards a lot and i've met some of my closest friends online. i think i just need to get used to the idea that i can use online networks to speak to likeminded information professionals as well as people who like the same music as me or support the same football team i do. if there are any ambient/drone fans that support lower league football clubs and have an interest in cataloguing, get in touch! or like, if you want to get in touch about anything you're more than welcome. i can talk to you about the work that the rnib library does and things like that. cool.

so that's it for another thing. maybe tomorrow i'll do another one? what's the topic for thing 7? ooh, this looks like a good one. see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

thing 5: reflective practice

so, we're up to thing 5 which means that i'm only about 5 things behind now. i'm going to try and get a couple more done this week as well but i wouldn't hold your breath. i haven't made a decision as of yet, but i predict that by the time i've finished writing this i'll be too fed up to find an image for the post that isn't a mirror.

reflective practice then. i'm not sure i'm able to reflect on things that are well in the past. i think i would need to begin the process during, or even before, the event in order to reflect adequately on what i learn from it. does that make sense? i've read a couple of things about reflective practice and i think it could come in handy in the future, but when attempting to reflect on things i've done in the past i seem to be drawing a blank.

as a result, rather than reflecting on stuff that i've done previously, i'm going to use this post to set out a kind of reflective practice strategy for the future. that sounds good, dunnit? okay, here's how it's going to work. bullet point time:

  • i will keep a fortnightly log (or weekly, if and when i get a full time job) to keep track of the things that i do at work. at the moment i'm mostly doing the same thing all day every day, but i am starting something new soon. keeping a diary of the things that i do will help me when i'm writing job applications and things in the future. often when i'm talking about past work experience i tend to forget a lot, so having a written reminder of it should help.
  • when i attend training events or conferences, or basically any activity that could be classed as continuing professional development, i will blog about it within a week of it happening. this should help me process what i learn or what i didn't learn from the activity and identify other potential cpd stuff that i might like to do in the future.
  • i'm going to keep an eye out for the cdg's reflective writing workshops and, if possible, go to one of them. come to manchester please!

that's it for this thing, i reckon. is this a bit of a cop out? i'm very sorry if you were hoping this would be a little longer. maybe tomorrow i'll write a reflective statement about where this blog post has failed to meet its objectives. until then, see yer!