Category Archives: Events

The Importance of Blogging

I recently attended the CILIP West Midlands Member Network Annual Member’s Day. The day’s speakers had a focus of marketing and promotion for Libraries, and it was actually really interesting, because the speakers kept repeating each other, especially about how blogging is the future of Social Media – if only because as a platform it will outlive everything else!

Because my notes for the day get a bit repetitive, I’m trying something new with my write up, so please bare with me! As a member of the organising committee for the event I didn’t take my notes during the day, but rather wrote a list of ‘takeaways’ that had stuck with me afterwards, which I have written up below. Both Neil Infield and Adam Koszary spoke on the subject of Social Media, Neil from a Small Business point of view and Adam from a Library Promotion point of view. Their sessions were generally very different from each other but I think this made it all the more interesting when they were stressing the same good practices. We also heard from Andy Ryan, who directs CityRead London who spoke about promotion from an events planning point of view, but again she repeated something Adam said about not being afraid to take risks, which again emphasised the importance of their point.

There was also a session from Nick Poole, Chief Executive at CILIP, but I want to write about this separately and will post a link here when I have published it.

Takeaways:

Blogging is key – both Social Media speakers agreed on this point – it creates new and updated content for your website, as well as populating your various Social Media streams with regular content, which in turn helps drive traffic back to your website (and therefore to your business/service). Blogging platforms are also more secure long term than Social Media, Social Media platforms will come and go, but your website will remain (even if you end up changing service provider/blog platform etc)

Blog post titles should fully explain the article content (no mysterious riddles!) and all important points should be summarised in the first paragraph, for two reasons: 1) Google will include some of this in the search results so it will help inform readers why they should open your site, as well as meaning Google finds the relevant key words from the search term 2) skim readers won’t necessarily make it to the bottom of the page, make you point early and then back it up, rather than only making your point at the end of the page.

Good blog posts include images and are a suitable length for the audience (as a general rule, no longer than 500 words, but there are examples of longer posts working well, particularly in academia).

You need to clearly define your target audience and define what you want to achieve out of your social media channels.

Make use of Twitter’s trending topics to know what people are talking about – even if you use the subject on a different platform! Signing up for a Google+ page will also make your service more findable online, as Google includes these in search results! (Often worth having simply for this purpose, even if you don’t then populate it regularly)

Most Social Media platforms are image centric, as they are attention grabbing as users go through their feeds.

When using Twitter, make a point of engaging with your followers (the point of the platform is to have conversations!)

Two speakers both said “Don’t be afraid of taking risks!” (Adam and Andy) Marketing is iterative, you need to constantly evaluate what works and what doesn’t (and keep going/stop as appropriate) but you need to try new things as well as sticking with what has worked in the past. Don’t let fear of mistakes stop you – and it’s only a mistake if you don’t learn something from it!

For Andy, who spoke a lot about event promotion, a programme of events and marketing are intertwined: you can’t have one without the other.

Leave a comment

Filed under Events, Training

Librarians as Teachers 2015: Organising #LATAston

On the 10th June I attended the third West Midlands Librarians as Teachers conference. Once again the CILIP West Midlands Member Network committee I sit on worked together with the CILIP Academic and Research Libraries Group (West Midlands) committee (ARLG) to organise the event. This is the second time I have personally been involved in organising the conference (see my post from LAT 2013) and it felt like a very different experience from last time. This is possibly to do with the fact I had previously been involved in organising an event like this, so I knew what to expect and what I could offer as my contribution to the organising team.

We decided early on against having a separate event website this time and posted all of our promotional information to the CILIP Event page, as the page template meant we could include all of the information we wanted to, including Speaker information and an incorporated booking form. The main downside for this was all of the information was on one long page, but it meant we had the CILIP Branding etc on the page. The URL for it was long, so I used a URL Shortener which I edited to be easier to remember (bit.ly/lat2015). I think this was important when advertising the event as easy to remember URLs make things easier on potential attendees. This will also make things a little harder to make post event information such as slides and photos easily available, but we would be hosting these on sites such as Slideshare and Flickr anyway as they are available to a wider audience that way. I think a few blog/social media posts to the ARLG and CILIP West Midlands Member Network members as well as an email to our delegates should be sufficient to kick start the promotion of these resources. [During the run up to the event CILIP’s web team were doing a survey about the website – I have suggested the ability to create event micro-sites for big events, and apparently I wasn’t the only one!]

The live tweeting went well. LAT2013 was my first attempt at doing this and I think I struggled a bit with it, but I am more experienced now and a few people commented that I seemed to do it really well! These two people both said it was their first attempt at live tweeting, so maybe it looked more impressive to them than it was! The Hashtag for the event was #LATAston – due to hosting the conference at Conference Aston – we’d intended to use LAT2015 but this was used in America a few months before our conference! (I think this would probably be the same people that used LAT2013 a week or so after our last conference – it caused me some confusion doing the Storify, but thankfully didn’t confuse any other people! For the LATAston Storify visit Jess Haigh’s – she beat me to it!

This year the main difference we had was the decision very early on to pay for a conference room, rather than hunt around for free venues in Libraries. We used the biggest room we could find in 2013 and felt a bit squeezed in. This time we booked Conference Aston, in Birmingham. We felt it was easy to get to, being in Central Birmingham, and while the room costs weren’t cheap we knew we wanted to try and at least match the 65 delegates we had in 2013, if not get it a bit higher! I feel like paying for a room was worth it: The Conference centre itself was very impressive, with all the mod-cons (like coffee machines!) and top notch help from all of the staff, including Bill who helped us with all the AV set up at the start and end of the day. The food was fantastic as well – no dry/soggy sandwiches in sight! We had two ‘light’ options: soup and Jacket potatoes (with a choice of two fillings!) and three main course options, as well as two options for dessert – I went with the Lemon and Polenta cake! Yum!

We optimistically booked a room for 75-120 people, thinking if we had 75 then at least we would have some elbow space! We briefly discussed aiming for 100 attendees – I don’t know about the other organisers but to me this felt like a hard target to reach. When we hit the 65 delegates mark the bookings slowed down a little so I thought I had hit the mark. However we decided we had time before we had to confirm the number of attendees with conference centre so we kept accepting bookings – by the time we closed the bookings we had over 100 people booked in. We did accept a few after the closing date, as it was only a couple, but all in all I feel that this worked very well for us, and I’m certainly happy to have been proven wrong regarding the number of attendees we would get!

The official feedback is still being processed, but speaking to people at the conference yesterday and looking at the tweets I saw yesterday evening it looks like everyone enjoyed it and had a good time! I’ll write a separate post about my reflections of the content, but I can say for certain that I will be doing this again in the future, and I can’t think of anything at the moment that I would do differently.

 

Sorry for not posting this sooner – I’ve had a busy few weeks and didn’t get around to proof-reading the post!

Leave a comment

Filed under Events

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

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Events, Training

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Events, Training

Librarians as Teachers 2013

This event was actually last week – but it’s taken me this long to catch up, what with posting photos and presentations to the event website (http://lat2013.wordpress.com), writing an article for the Career Development Group’s Newsletter (the national one, not the West Midlands’ Central Issues) as well as normal working stuff and a few extra meetings thrown in this week too!

The event well really well – I’ve seen a few posts on Twitter describing it as ‘fabulous’ and ‘inspiring’ – as well as an International attendee describing it as ‘worth travelling from Australia for!’ (Although I should point out she didn’t travel to the UK just for this event!) All of the feedback that we’ve received so far has been very positive, all of the aspects of the day that we asked people to rate have been rated as excellent or good.

LAT2013 was also my first go at using Storify – It was really easy, although a few Tweets of mine didn’t show up for some reason and I had to add them manually (but again this was easy to do, and I’d spotted the problem in Twitter so I don’t think Storify was to blame!). I’m very happy with the result, although I would have liked to be able to add some photos from my camera. I could have imported pictures from Flickr, but I don’t have an account, and making an account just to upload photos into Storify seemed too complicated. If I was going to use Storify regularly though I absolutely would sign up for Flickr as I feel that it needed a few more images to help break up the tweets and other text.

I was also a little disappointed to find out that I couldn’t embed the event Storify into the WordPress website – not without upgrading to WordPress.org and installing a widget, so I’ve had to link to it instead. It’s not a problem, it just means that the site page doesn’t look like how I wanted it to!

You can see the presentations and photos from the day on the website: lat2013.wordpress.com and I’ll add a link to my Impact article when it gets published!

1 Comment

Filed under Events

Organising Events

Sorry for the long break between posts – but recently I have been so busy I honestly haven’t had time! I’m doing my PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) course at a local college as I’m hoping it will help improve my Training skills At the very least it’s a qualification, as well as being something I identified on my ACLIP PDP. Staying late at college on Wednesdays combined with my latest attempt to actually use my gym membership as well as all of my other usual commitments hasn’t left me with a lot of time lately, but I feel like I’m finally settling into a routine!

One of the commitments that’s taking up most of my thoughts, if not the hours in my day, is organising various events. For over two years now, I’ve been a member of the West Midlands Health Libraries Network’s  Para-Professionals group which organises training events for Library and Information Assistants. Last October I attended our event on High Impact Displays, which was very useful and we’re planning to running it again, although it looks like this will be next year now, so this year we’re planning to run a session on Information Search Skills in May.

I also sit on the Committee for the West Midlands Division of the CILIP Career Development Group and we are working with the Academic and Research Libraries Group (ARLG) to run a ‘Librarians as Teachers Event’ in June. I’m in charge of the publicity for this one, which includes the event’s website as well as posting to the CILIP WM Facebook page and promoting the event on Twitter  and co-ordinating sending messages to various mailing lists. I’m gaining invaluable experience doing this – even in my role with the Para-Professional Group our courses don’t get advertised this widely so I tend not to have the range of opportunities that the LAT event has opened up.

Moving forward I think that one day I’d like to get involved with organising larger, even national, events – although I might practise with local ones for a bit longer!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Events

Information and Networking Day 2013

Thursday 7th February was my local CILIP Branch’s AGM – and to make it a bit more interesting they usually have a few speakers and a chance to network over lunch. According to the Branch chair, tickets were sold out in two days, so they’re obviously doing something right! (Just to clarify, by ‘sold out’ I mean the allocation of places was filled, it is a free day and lunch is bring/buy your own!)

This year we went to Birmingham City University’s Mary Seacole Library in the Faculty of Health. It is the biggest specialist Health Library in the Country, and was naturally of particular interest to myself as a Health Librarian!

The theme of the day was promoting our selves, and our service – we heard some very interesting Case Studies from BCU Libraries and Warwickshire Library Service and how they are currently promoting themselves. BCU’s talk was particularly interesting; the University is split across 6 faculties and they don’t have one main library, but 8 specialist libraries, spread across the campuses. Past efforts to promote the library as a whole service have fallen flat as they have been too generic to appeal to each specific student group. Each library now deals with it’s own promotion, lead by a Library Marketing Steering Group, and each does there own bit to promote services and products to their own students i.e. Health databases to Faculty of Health students etc, but coming together for things like Freshers’ Fairs. They’re also getting out of the Library itself to promote the library’s services – the Liasion Librarians have been taking laptops to cafes to promote eBooks and can show the students how they can use the library from these places, and from home.

Gill Colbourne from Warwickshire Libraries Service had some useful tips too. The council’s marketing department is used to having people approach them – people know what their County Council offers and know where to go when they have questions. This approach doesn’t work for the library, so they’ve had to learn to be pro-active in advertising their services. You have to tell people why they need the library, and promote the services they want, but don’t know the library offers.

The library tries to advertise in as many places as possible, included notice boards in sports centres, supermarkets (library staff always know good places to put posters) and on the sides of buses. She even replied to an internal staff email from a woman in the council who wanted Driving Test books for her daughter – even other Council staff didn’t know that the Library offers these books as well as access to an online example test. Gill said it was about using every opportunity you could find and believing in your product.

The Keynote was from Barbara Band, the Vice President of CILIP. She said she still sometimes sees herself as ‘just a school librarian’, but she had some very interesting points about how, and why, we should be promoting our profession. Barbara pointed out that the old stereotypes about librarians are still very prominent, but while we are happy to talk amongst ourselves as to how out of date this was, we didn’t do this outside of the profession which meant that it continues. We have to tell people that this is wrong and that libraries (and librarians) have changed; if we won’t do it, no-one else is going to do it for us.

This promotion of our profession is another form of advocacy, and shouldn’t jut be limited to outside of the profession. Barbara said we should be telling other librarians about our work too – when people in different sectors have a better understanding of these other sectors we can work together for a common aim (she gave the example of teachers – when they strike or speak out, they do so as a profession, not just as a group of people with the same job – and this gives them a louder ‘voice’.

Barbara said we need to be proactive – sometimes things as small as commenting on websites, re-tweeting, and passing relevant web links to colleagues all works towards a better understanding of the profession; ‘Every little helps!’ Barbara challenged us to think of one idea or action that we could take away to do our bit to promote the profession.

Simon Edwards, the Director of Professional Services at CILIP, came to give a round up of national projects at CILIP, before Roger Fairman, the incoming Chair for CILIP West Midlands gave a local round up. Simon covered a large range of topics, from an update on the PKSB (Professional Knowledge and Skills Base) which officially launched in September 2012, the Branch and Group review, to the changes coming to the CILIP website and proposed Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The changes to the Framework of Qualifications are due to be implemented from July this year and they are working to remove barriers, such as minimum experience, and broaden the appeal of the qualifications. They are also making the guidance clearer, as it has been confusing candidates, Mentors and Candidate Support Officers, as well as making the difference between Certification and Chartership clearer.

The presentations from the day are available at http://www.slideshare.net/cilipwm and photos are available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cilipwm. My photos are available in my Photo Gallery

Leave a comment

Filed under Events