Using Technology in Libraries Study Day

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get around to writing this up!

On the 28th April I attended the ‘Libraries for Nursing’ study day on Using Technology in Libraries. It was held at the Create Centre in Bristol which is a brilliant conference facility in a converted factory. I also bumped into two people I know from the NHS Midlands Regional Trainer’s Forum which was nice because we had a chance to chat and catch up, which also breaks the ice for others to jump in and join the conversation!

The first session was from Ben Skinner, Head of Library and Knowledge Services for Brighton and Sussex LKS. Ben was talking about the web-based tool he has helped develop called KnowledgeShare which is replacing the Library’s current awareness Access spreadsheet, but will eventually incorporate their Literature Searching facilities and ILL requests and log training and will include the ability for Library users to login online (using OpenAthens to save having even more passwords) to request these services and edit current awareness alerts directly. Because all of these services are centralised it means Librarians will have greater access to statistics, not just for time spent literature searching and training, but also for the number of current awareness emails sent – and hopefully in the future to be able to see how many of these were opened and which links were followed.

It was very interesting, particularly how they are branching out to include other library services, partly to recover costs of development, but also to help spread out the workload of uploading new articles for the current awareness features (in a ‘do once and share’ way). However I have to confess a little part of me wants to know how his current awareness Access Database worked!

Ben’s presentations can be found at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1w6YvtD3fNm8jQsEi3YKKvdYovMxe01A1_Xs83iaLonM/edit?usp=drive_web

Patricia Santos, Research Assistant at UWE, then talked about their involvement with  the ‘Learning Layers’ research project, trying to find out more about Healthcare staff research and learning network needs (Such as how people move from their personal learning network to asking within their shared learning networks). It was very interesting, but of no direct interest to me: The focus groups have already been selected so we can’t participate and add to their knowledge and the results seem to be directed to developing a social network for personal development; which is still some years away (they are 18 months into a 4 year project) although a trial version is available at mydigitalself.org

Patricia’s Presentation can be found at http://www.slideshare.net/patisantos/networked-scaffolding-seeking-support-in-workplace-learning-contexts

After a delicious lunch Georgina Parsons, Systems Librarian at Brunel University, then talked about how her library service has embraced web technology to benefit staff and students. This is not just limited to Social media marketing, but also to the staff’s use of iPads and related apps to assist in enquiries when roving and at the enquiry desk. Georgina took us through all of the apps and websites that they have used some of which I already use in work, such as Twitter and Facebook, where it was nice to see other suggestions for use, and others which I might consider such as Pinterest for sharing new books stock and general online promotion of the library and Chilli Fresh which Georgina uses to add reviews and ratings to the library catalogue. Some were tools she had used to develop their mobile friendly website – which wouldn’t be applicable to my Library Service as we recently transferred our website to a WordPress CMS which includes a mobile friendly version – or for Room Bookings etc which again isn’t relevant to my library service, but it was still good to see what is available for libraries.

Georgina’s presentation is available from https://docs.google.com/document/d/1x0OQaQY33t3xTa71d60PP_03CgxtpujgrjJgMCoAK4s/edit?usp=drive_web

Nick Gregory from Apache Solutions came to demo their Augmented Reality projects – which was of definite interest to me as a technophile! They showed us some 3d explorable models used for selling yachts at a trade fair and one that was used by Sony to sell televisions – and twos medical one used for discussing infection and for exploring a 3d anatomy model.

It would have been nice to see some library/ library applicable examples of these – I used the break to show some people the one I’d done with our Library cards to show users how to login online and renew books and talked about my plans to create a video to show users how to use our new self service machine – which was of far more interest to the library staff as it was something they could see a use for and it was something they could potentially do themselves.

Nick’s presentation is available from https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Tu1OF6Pm1d-5gQIYMtdj4Of0tmLFhsIlum5RV_j-XTo/edit?usp=drive_web

Following this we had a discussion Workshop so that we could discuss and troubleshoot each other’s experiences and problems with using technology in our library services. I didn’t take any notes from the discussion so I can’t remember which topics we touched, but it was a good way to end the day, especially how we were all still brimming with ideas!

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Creating Google Maps from Postcode Data

Following the recent merger of the Career Development Divisions with local CILIP Branches I am now the Communications Officer for the West Midlands Members Network. In our first committee meeting it was suggested that instead of a big summer social, which was a long-standing tradition of the CDG WM group, we could hold smaller socials across the region to help us promote the new Regional Member’s Network. We asked CILIP for a list of our member’s postcodes which they very helpfully provided, however this left me with a list over 700 postcodes with no other way to determine where these members might be living (the rest of the address data had been removed).

I used the starting letters of the postcodes to give us a rough breakdown, but this wasn’t very specific and in some cases a bit misleading (some postcodes are to the nearest major town, even if it’s across the county border). Obviously a map would be the easiest way to see, at a glance, where our members are all located – and therefore help us pick which towns to focus our social events in.

Having previously played with – I mean done some web development work with – Google Maps as part of my Masters course I knew it was possible to plot multiple points on a Google map, but it had been several years since I studied and decided that a quick Google search would be more helpful than hunting out my old notes! I very quickly found this article: http://www.ictcool.com/2011/09/19/how-to-plot-multiple-uk-addresses-by-postcode-on-a-google-map/ which makes use of a Google Docs feature called Fusion Tables. This feature is, very helpfully, still available in the new look Google Drive, but as some of the buttons have moved a little I thought it might be worth a blog post to help others who are trying to do this!

1. Open http://drive.google.com and select ‘Create’ on the red button on the left

2. Select ‘Connect more apps’ and select Fusion Tables from the (many) options (I used the search feature!) If you have used Fusion Tables before they will appear in the shortlist under ‘Create’ in future.

3. If your data is currently in a spreadsheet you can import it from this initial screen:

Image 3

Or you can build your table from a Google Spreadsheet or from an empty table.

4. You will be taken through a setup process to convert the Excel spreadsheet into a Fusion Table. One to confirm if the column titles are in the spreadsheet and another to name the Table.

5. You will then see this:

Image 6

Which is your Table! I’m using the postcodes of some local public libraries for this example – but you could use any postcode or address data.

7. On the column showing the data you want to map (either Postcodes or Long./Lat. data) click the drop down option and select ‘Change':

Image 7

8. Change the data type to Location (as opposed to Text or Number):

Image 8

9. Then select File > Geocode for the Fusion Table to process the data:

Image 9 Image 11

This will obviously take a while if you have a lot of data! I can’t remember how long it took to process the 700+ records I mapped for WMMN, but it didn’t take a massive amount of time!

10. Then open a new tab. Select the ‘+’ tab and then ‘Add Map':

Image 12

(I’m not sure why it’s highlighted my data – it’s certainly not a necessary step!)

11. Select which Location Data column you want to use for your map:

Image 13

12. There’s your map!

Image 14

As with any Google map you can zoom and move around the map – and you can share the document with other people the same way you can any Google Drive document.

If you want to embed the map on a webpage you can publish the map using the drop down on the ‘Map 1′ tab:

Image 15 Image 16

Which will give you embed codes to add to your website:

The Content Management System that CILIP uses currently prevents me from embedding the WMMN Member’s Map on our webpages, although it’s hoped an upcoming software upgrade will allow this. I have temporarily uploaded a screenshot of the map as an image, but for the WMMN Committee to use it’s fine to just share the document for now!

I hope you have found the article interesting, if not useful. It seems like a lot of steps, but it’s actually very easy – I did the above example a few weeks after reading the instructions and without looking at the original article for prompts!

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Why I’ve started using a third party app for Facebook

I’ve recently noticed that posts I’m writing on Facebook for pages I administer aren’t then popping up in my feed. At first I thought maybe it was just random, or related to the fact that I am the author of the post, but after talking to someone I’m on the West Midlands Members Network with I realised it wasn’t just me, as the author, who couldn’t see the posts – it was our users too.

This is obviously problematic, if my users can’t see my post they can’t engage in it. So I did a little digging online to try to solve the problem and found this article: http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/03/the-filtered-feed-problem/ Essentially, it is not a problem or a fault at all, but caused by Facebook filtering what it’s users see in their timeline.

The article talks you through a simplified version of the actual equation, but the most powerful determinants of whether a post is shown in the feed include:

  • How popular (Liked, commented on, shared, clicked) are the post creator’s past posts with everyone
  • How popular is this post with everyone who has already seen it
  • How popular have the post creator’s past posts been with the viewer
  • Does the type of post (status update, photo, video, link) match what types have been popular with the viewer in the past
  • How recently was the post published

though there are many more factors that impact visibility. This does not make me happy, either as a Page administrator, or as a user.

Take the CILIP West Midlands Facebook page as an example. The committee, for a variety of reasons, was fairly inactive last year and that included all of their social media, including Facebook. This means that our engagement with our followers is low and has been low for some time. I thought that by starting to post regularly it would help signify to our users that the new Regional Members Network (CILIP Branches merged with the local CDG and PTEG groups on April 1st) was up and running and active. But this won’t work if our users cannot see our posts.

As a user I want to be able to filter my news feed myself. I have friends on there that I’ve blocked from my feed, (and Farmville and Candy Crush Saga!) the friends and pages that I want to hear from, I want to see everything, not just posts from people I’ve interacted with recently, particularly because I use it for staying in touch with old uni friends. I don’t contact them regularly, but I still want to see updates! It shouldn’t matter how recently I’ve interacted with them up until that point!

When I got an Android tablet last year I wanted an app that would list my Twitter feed on my homepage, instead of just a link to the app. I tried a few, but Plume offered me the feature I wanted. It also gives you the ability to link more than one Twitter account so I’ve found it quite useful for browsing my personal and work/CILIP WM Twitter accounts as well. When I realised that Facebook was essentially hiding some of my news feed from me I linked my Facebook account to it as well. It doesn’t display third party images very well, but it means I don’t miss things coming into my feed, and I’ve been able to like posts from people whose posts I haven’t seen due to the filtering, which means their posts are now showing in my feed in the Facebook app!

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100 Happy Days!

I stumbled upon this article this evening: ‘A Beautiful Mess: 100 Happy Days!’ (http://google.com/newsstand/s/CBIwtszzlxo) which suggests listing one thing each day that made you happy. I’ve decided, on a whim, to give it a try! I generally consider myself to be an optimistic person, but I think we all get a bit stuck in routines and forget to appreciate things, and people, around us.

Today’s thing that made me happy was having Sunday Dinner with my parents and sister, we don’t do it very often, but I always enjoy it!

I’ll post my Things on Twitter each day, but I’ll do a round up periodically on the blog.

 

Update: the official 100 Happy Days website is http://100happydays.com/

 

 

 

 

 

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Cake, Glorious Cake!

Ooops! I thought I’d posted this early last week! In my defence I’ve been really busy the last few weeks, but maybe I’ll get a chance to tell you all about it when I have some time off next week!


As mentioned in my previous post, last week (edit: read late November, early December!) had a bit of a cake theme! First a cake stall at the church Christmas Fayre to raise money for the Brownies, then a charity cake sale in my library to raise money for Wallace and Gromit’s Children’s Foundation (which is coincidentally a great way to get various hospital staff  into the Health Library!) and then much more cake on Saturday (30th November) at LibraryCamp. I’ve also learnt a few things along this theme and I thought I’d share some of them.

First, when doing a charity cake sale always have a back up chocolate sponge tucked away! Previous experience has already taught me that gooey chocolate cake sells well and usually  first, but this week I sold two cakes (almost whole) in the first 15 minutes. Admittedly this person was bringing it to their department to share, but it meant I didn’t have any for the rest of the day!

That my sister’s lemon drizzle cake will really impress the neighbours who bought it in the church fayre – and they will tell your mother that!

You should target the cake to your audience – the brightly coloured cupcakes sold best to the Brownies, the whole cakes to the little old ladies at church and gooey chocolate cake to hospital staff! (And everyone loves tea loaf!)

Spend extra time decorating your cake! The iced cupcakes sold quicker than the uniced ones – and we decided that Mark’s ‘Gromit’ cake was too good to cut up so we raffled it whole, and ended up making more money for charity than we would have selling it per slice!

Wallace and Gromit Cake

Gromit Cake

Even if you don’t feel like baking you can still contribute. After baking all week I decided to take the ‘easy’ route and made Fridge Cake for LibraryCamp, I even threw in the little marshmallows I had left over from my attempt at making Shaun the Sheep cupcakes. My Fridge Cake came second in the cake competition and I won a lovely bottle of wine!

Speaking of LibraryCamp, next year I will be bringing something savoury with me. There was lots of delicious cake available, but by mid afternoon I just wanted something salty to break up the sweetness. Thankfully some other people had thought of this, but there wasn’t quite enough by the end of the day.

If you’ve got any tips of your own I would love to hear them!

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Looking forward to LibraryCamp!

I’ve had a busy few weeks between work and Brownies commitments (and a bit of a cake theme across the lot!) so it’s only today I’ve been able to say that the final countdown to LibraryCamp has started – it’s on Saturday!

There’s a list of proposed sessions available on the wiki and for this blog post I thought it might be nice to make a note of the ones I was thinking of attending – but there’s far more than I thought so the ones I end up going to will probably depend on my mood on the day!

  • Encouraging Innovation – My Library Service has actually won some  awards for innovation, so this might be interesting to see what everyone else is doing and share our experiences
  • Dramatic Confidence… – Doing presentations always makes me nervous so this could be useful to pick up some tips!
  • Learning to Teach – again I have some experience in this area having recently done my PTLLS qualification, so I might drop in and share my experiences of this
  • For Future Reference – this session is about modern library services and I think this is particularly relevant to Health Libraries as we try to encourage Evidence Based Practice and using up to date references – a clichéd view of ‘dusty old books in the library’ is not what we want!
  • Create a National Public Libraries Website – while I don’t work in a Public Library I do have experience of web development, so I might offer to lend some of my knowledge to this project!
  • Advance Social Media in Libraries – this looks like a useful one, especially for me with our Library working to promote our presence of Twitter and Facebook – and I’ll be bringing along my copy of ‘Building Communities…’ that I recently reviewed if anyone wants to have a look at this useful book!
  • Tips to Librarians of the Future – the idea here is everyone adds to a book with their tips on Librarianship – and as a budding Librarian I am very interested to see what tips I can pick up from the other LibraryCampers!
  • Open Source Toolkit for Librarians – again, web tools and techniques are right up my alley so this could be a very interesting session and hopefully I’ll come away with lots of ideas!

There’s over 30 session proposals at the moment, and I imagine there will be some last minute additions too so this list is by no means final! Other session suggestions include ‘How to engage reluctant readers’, ‘Copyright Ninjas – Rebels with a Cause’ and a game of ‘Mafia’!

It is also traditional to bring cake:

… bring enthusiasm. Bring ideas. Bring cakes.

but having recently baked cakes for the Brownies Christmas Fayre (last Saturday) and the Library’s charity cake sale (yesterday) I’m seriously considering no-bake cake as my contribution!

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Facebook and general Social Media ramblings!

Social media, specifically their use by libraries, has been a bit of a theme for my work life for the last week or so.

Last week I submitted a book review to the Health Libraries Group newsletter on ‘Building Communities: Social networking for academic libraries‘ which focussed mainly on Facebook and Twitter. While the book is aimed at academic libraries, I think the ideas can be implemented in all types of libraries.

I administer the Facebook Page for my Library service, and while our number of followers is low, it is (very) slowly growing. Garofalo suggests sending out posts twice a week – enough to keep you popping up in the followers feed, but not enough to bombard them – and in all honesty I haven’t sent out many posts recently. Facebook is blocked on the work network so I have to use the one computer in the IT suite that is on the University network or do it at home (which isn’t really in my job description, but happens occasionally anyway!) The only problem with using the university computer is that if a student wants it I can’t have it, and typically when I make time to post something there’s a student sat there!

So I decided this week, with my post-book-review renewed enthusiasm for all things social media, that I was going to have a play with scheduled posts – I’ve known about it for some time, but never thought much about experimenting with it. I sat down yesterday and went through my diary for a few things to post about – I’ve picked a good few weeks to trial this with, we have a cake sale, two roadshows and three drop-in training sessions over the next five weeks so I’ve scheduled posts advertising all of them. The first scheduled post is due to go out tomorrow, which should be interesting!

Another piece of advice that Garofalo gave was to link your Library’s Facebook, Twitter and blog – which is something I did when we set up the Facebook and Twitter about two years ago – so as well as my scheduled posts users will be seeing anything that comes in from our blog – which we post to quite regularly – and our Tweets. Our Facebook doesn’t post to Twitter, I recall some logic to the decision when I made it two years ago, but can’t for the life of me recall it now, so I’m planning to set that up soon which will help populate our Twitter a little. We have managed to get our Twitter unblocked for a small number of library staff so that we can send messages from our desks, but we don’t always make time for it – maybe I should schedule some tweets too?!

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NHS Midlands Regional Trainer’s Forum

I haven’t had much time to blog recently, so I’m only now getting round to writing up my notes from this year’s annual Regional Trainer’s Forum (RTF) conference in October. During the year we mostly communicate by email – sharing anything relevant, but our annual conference is a chance to get together and actually talk to each other face to face!

We started as always with the Chair’s Annual Report which summarized the year, including our merger early in the year between the West Midlands RTF and the East Midlands – and our subsequent rebrand as the NHS Midlands Regional Trainer’s Forum. We then had an overview of how changes within the NHS organisation had impacted the group – more indirectly, but it’s nice to have it summarized for us!

We then had an overview of progress from the various project groups we have running. Some are making excellent progress, one group has even won a innovation award for their project*, and some have unfortunately stalled for one reason or another, either because of group members moving out of the area or like the project group I’m working with from technical issues in the implementation!

Then we had a half an hour presentation from Blackwell’s about their eBook platform – it was very interesting to see what they offer, but I don’t have any say in purchasing for my library so it wasn’t really relevant to me, but I know that in the room I was an exception in this regard. After lunch, provided by Blackwell’s, and some networking (read: had a nice chat and a look round the health library!) we then split up for the afternoon sessions.

I attended a session on using Open Source software – which was really interesting. the Softaculous software we were shown looks really easy to use and provided the Stafford PGMC library with lots of options, including a blog and FAQ section, which had previously been almost impossible to implement. I have to say, that if my library service hadn’t recently made the switch from our Trust’s software to the WordPress interface I would be passing this information to my boss – as it stands we can do everything we want with WordPress, but I’ll be keeping my notes handy in case we ever want to look at other options, or want more features on our website!

Overall, it was a really good day – I got to talk to a few colleagues I don’t see regularly; learnt about some new software (the techy in me loves this!) and I got to have a nosey around someone else’s library! Not a lot you can against that really is there!

*I distinctly remember this being on someone’s slides, but apparently didn’t make a note of whose in order to cite it, sorry!

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Critical Appraisal Training

In my years as a Health Librarian no subject has struck fear into the hearts of colleagues and library users alike than Critical Appraisal! (For those of you who don’t know Critical Appraisal is reading a Journal article critically to decide whether the article, or more particularly the research it describes, are of value both generally to the relevant field of medicine and to you in particular).

Last week (it’s been a busy few weeks it’s taken me until now to get around to writing about it!) I went on a Librarian’s Training Day on the subject of Critical Appraisal. Because I’m relatively new to my training role I have no previous experience of Critical Appraisal, either teaching it or using it. For my Masters dissertation I was looking for Case Studies and Editorials so ‘academic’ value wasn’t something I appraised articles for! My colleagues who attended with me were all rather nervous of the subject, but most admit they don’t use their Critical Appraisal skills very often and are therefore out of practice. So I was a bit nervous about what to expect!

The tutor, Michelle Maden from Edge Hill University, was fantastic! She knew that most of us were a bit nervous so she started us with the scary bit first – the dreaded statistics! When the article authors are talking about trials they present lots of figures to back up there findings, so in order to appraise an article (or trial) you need to be able to understand the principles of what these figures are saying. There were a few figures which Michelle pointed out we don’t have to know how it’s calculated, we just have to know how to read it (and they are typically compared to something so you just have to know what you’re comparing it to!)

Michelle took us through it all in very easy steps (if anyone is interested in me writing a summary article of Critical Appraisal, let me know and I will!) The main thing I took out from the session though is that the session was repeatable. If someone were to ask me for Critical Appraisal Training I wouldn’t be afraid to have a go or to try and answer a question. Don’t get me wrong the first time I teach a Critical Appraisal session I’ll want my Line Manager there as back up, but I’m no longer scared to give it a go, because now I know what I’m talking about!!

The day also gave me a chance to have a nosey round someone else’s library (Stafford Hospital) which I love doing and although I didn’t get a chance to take pictures this time, I did get a great idea for bookmarks with QR Codes on them to direct people to the NICE and BNF smartphone apps!

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Twitter and QR Codes

Ooops! I wrote this a month ago and never actually pressed ‘Publish’!


Earlier this week I ran an in-house training session on Twitter and QR codes as part of our Library Assistant’s Training Day – I was kind of excited; this was the first time I’ve attended as a presenter, not trainee!

We ran the sessions as short 15 minutes taster sessions on a variety of topics, which also included augmented reality – using Aurasma – Prezi, LibraryThing, Pinterest and Flickr.  I only really covered the basics, but for most of the library assistants this was ideal; many had never used Twitter before and most were only vaguely familiar with QR codes, some that had seen them in the library didn’t know how easy they are to create!

Twitter

We planned some practical demonstrations of Twitter on the day – using the #shelibmobile hashtag. This has the added benefit that I could use it to demonstrate the search function – it helped that two of the librarians who weren’t attending (covering the libraries) were tweeting (despite one trying to claim he was rushed off his feet within minutes of me spotting a tweet from him!). I would have liked to have demonstrated a  Twitter Wall like the one I saw at the CILIP WM day in Feb, but for the number of Tweets we sent it wasn’t necessary – maybe that’s something to build on for a future training event?

We mostly use Twitter for marketing/promotion – I’m curious as to how other Libraries (particularly Health Libraries) use Twitter although I know potential uses include:

  • Marketing/Promotion
  • conversations with users – not just problem-solving/troubleshooting!
  • conversations with stakeholders and other local libraries

QR Codes

I wanted to show off the versatility of QR Codes, so I put together some examples of different uses:

  • Contact details on library bookmarks – inspired by embedded vCard information on business cards
  • Links to a feedback page on our website – inspired by a card I picked up in a Burton Menswear shop!
  • Links to library website on posters, particularly shortcuts to searches on the catalogue
  • I’ve seen articles online about using QR Codes for treasure trails in libraries which I mentioned, but wasn’t able to provide a demonstration for
  • I’ve seen them used in the Herbert Museum, Coventry to provide more information about a piece of artwork

Is there any other way you or your library is using Twitter and/or QR Codes? I would love to hear about it, either in the comments below or on Twitter @LBasini

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