Project Management and Time Management Tips!

We had our annual Team Away Day today, a day away from our normal libraries/offices to get together and have a training session, and some group discussions (probably not coincidentally just before we decide the Delivery Plan for the next financial year!)

The main topic of discussion today was Project Management – the Library Manager is hoping to equip everyone with the skills to lead on a Delivery Plan project next year, not just the Librarians! We had a very interesting training session from a member of the IM&T Project Team, and we used some of our current projects as worked examples, which was particularly helpful as one of the projects was mine! Working in small groups we put together a list of tasks that were needed for the project, and it gave my colleagues a chance to ask questions about the process that I hadn’t thought ahead to yet (I have to have done a big bit of it by 31st March so I’ve been focussing on that rather than the whole picture, which meant I hadn’t planned certain parts of it yet!) I now have a plan of action for the whole project, and while my group didn’t get around to setting timescales for the tasks yet, it’s certainly been a big boost to the project for me, and it won’t take long to throw together a timeline/Gantt Chart for the project.

After lunch, we had a session by the Associate Director of IM&T about the Trusts proposed Digital Strategy which is something he’s been working on (and the library has done some literature searches for him toward it!) He also talked us through a SWOT analysis for the library service, but tied it back by saying ‘how can the digital strategy help this?’ because he would like to see us respond to the proposed strategy as a team, not just as individuals as he believes that the library could be central to some of what he wants to achieve with the policy (which he summed up with the phrase “digital by default”)

The technique for the SWOT analysis was interesting. We split into two groups (we had four people in each group, but it could be done in bigger groups too) and each group sat in a circle with our backs to each other. We had a pile of post-it’s each and spent ten minutes on each section of the SWOT analysis. What you do is you write an idea ie a strength on your post-it in five words or less and then pass it to the person on your right (we attached them, unsuccessfully,  to the chairs, but if you’re comfortable with each other you could place them on the next person’s leg!) The next person then adds to it in some way (again in five words or less) and then passes it along. If it triggers a new idea you start another post-it for it, so each post-it has a unique idea on it. You should end up with a few post-its going around! At the end of the ten minutes you get up and go to a bit of wall or desk and work to group the ideas together in themes. The theme phrases then go on the SWOT analysis, we used a flip chart. It was certainly interesting to see what themes emerged, and how often they came back to the same principle.

For the last few minutes we did an ideas exchange for time management tips. There were some very useful ones, which I’ll list below, but I would be interested to know what other tips people have (comments welcome!)
1) Breaking big To Do tasks into smaller tasks which are easier to cross off
2) We have  large shared folder for all of our documents, and one of the staff members has a folder on their desktop with shortcuts to their often used one (it saves trying to remember where it’s filed!)
3) Turning off email alerts to avoid distractions and tangents
4) Creating a To Finish list at the end of the day, so you haven’t got to try and remember the half finished stuff tomorrow morning
5) One staff member plans to undertake a Time Audit to find out where her time is going (which I might investigate!)
6) 1:3:5 To Do lists. Each day you do One big task, Three medium ones and Five small tasks.  For me as a Health Librarian that might be a Literature Search as a big/time consuming task. Three smaller, but not simple tasks such as a training session, some admin work or the spreadsheet I’m working on, and then five small tasks like sending a quick email enquiry,  or making a phone call.


Edited 24/02/2015 to correct some typos I would have spotted if I’d proof read the post before publishing!

Leave a comment

Filed under Training

Changes, lots of changes!

Somehow I doubt three months is the longest my blog has gone without a post, but so much has changed since my last one!

I’ve started a new job: I’m now officially a Librarian (where previously I was a Senior Library Assistant). This means I can no longer put off my CILIP Chartership, but of course I have lots of things to learn for my new role, which I can include in my portfolio, so it’s a bonus really!

I’ve been busy with the CILIP West Midlands Member Network, most recently in organising our Annual Member’s Day (and CILIP Debate) which is on Monday and is currently filling my head with silly questions and niggles, but it’ll all be fine on the day! We’re already in the midst of planning our next big (should that say bigger?) event in June when we’re planning to host a Librarians as Teacher’s Conference to up to 90 odd participants.

I’ve also logged into my blog after a break to find that the stats of people viewing the site has boomed! Previously if I didn’t post anything in a while the stats eventually dropped to zero views/visitors, but at present I seem to have had a steady stream of visits since September, apparently mostly to view the post I wrote about creating Google Maps, but a few people seem to linger while they’re here! Unfortunately they seem to be mostly arriving here via search engines and WordPress is unable to see what search terms have led them to this site. This is disappointing in two ways: first as a blogger I want to see what topics people are interested in so I can write on those topics, and second is simply as an information professional: what are they searching for, and more importantly, are they finding it?

Leave a comment

Filed under Misc

My thoughts on Augmented Reality

I read with interest Liz McGettigan’s CILIP Guest Blog about Augmented Reality.

It’s something I’ve dabbled in a little – I’ve been running a series of drop-in training sessions on things like Twitter, LinkedIn, Prezi and other online tools and services for the staff at the hospital. One of the sessions I ran was on Augmented Reality (AR). It wasn’t the most popular session – I’ve found that the ones with the best turn out were the ones that the staff could see an immediate use for (like the three listed above) but as a part of the AR session I ‘augmented’ our Library cards.

If you scan the card with the correct app (in this case Aurasma, but others are available!) you can see a screenshot of the Library Catalogue with annotations showing you how to log in and renew/reserve books online. It looks like this:

Screenshot of a Library Card when scanned with and Augmented Reality app

A screenshot of what you see when scanning a Shropshire Health Libraries Card with the Aurasma app

One I would like to do would be to ‘augment’ the Self Issue Machine with a video demonstration of how to use it. Being a hospital library we allow our users to access the library while it is unstaffed – and while our self issue machine does offer instructions, I think a video would be very useful. I haven’t had the time to invest in doing this unfortunately, and it’s not exactly a priority on my ‘To Do’ list!

I think the potential is limitless – especially in libraries. Liz’s example of the ‘Mythical Maze’ app as part of the summer reading program is well chosen: it made the library interactive and fun beyond just the traditional books and reading aspect. AR could even be fun for older library users, I’m sure my limited ideas are just the tip of the iceberg, and librarians are, amongst other things, a creative bunch!

The only downside I find with Augmented Reality is that you – and your users – are tied to a specific app. Unlike QR codes which have an ISO standard – which means that codes created by any program can be read by any scanner – scanning my augmented library cards with a different app won’t find anything. It means that if I did make an instruction video for our self issue machine I can’t just put a sticker on it saying ‘Scan me for a video tutorial'; it would have to read ‘Download and install the Aurasma app to scan me for a video tutorial’. Let’s face it: how many users are going to bother?

Of course with something like ‘Mythical Maze’ downloading the specific app is part of the fun, and to a certain extent part of the branding. Maybe all we need to do is use the same app – or maybe develop one ourselves and name it appropriately?

Leave a comment

Filed under Misc, Training

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

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

Patricia’s Presentation can be found at

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

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

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Training

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: 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 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!


Filed under Misc

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: 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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Misc

100 Happy Days!

I stumbled upon this article this evening: ‘A Beautiful Mess: 100 Happy Days!’ ( 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






Leave a comment

Filed under Misc

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Humour

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Events

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?!

1 Comment

Filed under Misc