Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Thing 17 - Prezi and Slideshare

I have tried on and off over the last few months to get to grips with Prezi.  It's been picked up by management at work and use encouraged.  However, I still feel I've not seen anything which has really made me think 'wow!' over using Powerpoint.
Whilst I do run training sessions, most of my training is either one-to-one or based around active use of internet resources, so I don't really even use Powerpoint a lot now.

I can see the advantage of Slideshare, sadly my only experience of it being used in college was to find it was blocked!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Spreading the word

I left work half an hour late recently, although I think it was worthwhile:
A lady wearing a visitor badge (she was attending an ESOL course interview) seemed offended when I said that she could use the library facilities if she enrolled on a course, but not otherwise.  I spent some time explaining that being an educational institution library we can allow access to our students only, but public libraries could provide her with books, computer use etc. if required.  Once she understood, it transpired that she was unaware of the local public libraries - and that she lived just up the road from one.
After this, she produced some papers with the college logo on, and it appeared that she was enrolled on a course already - although as a work-based learning course this had been done offsite.  She'd therefore received no ID nor had the college facilities explained to her.  I got her sorted with a student ID and showed her the books she was interested in.  She was very grateful and apologised for taking up so much time.  I felt frustrated that she felt the need to apologise and that it was only through the coincidence of attending another interview in the library that she'd ended up with the ID she was entitled to and knowledge of the services we provide.  Books aside, she can now take advantage of a new place to study and computer use (with some free print credit).  I did stress she must still visit the public library to learn what it could offer!

On reflection, it would appear that we need to check what students enrolled offsite are told about the college and has made me rethink producing some small leaflets to explain our services.  We currently deliver most information through induction sessions and our VLE (Moodle) pages, but students such as this will neither have attended an induction nor have an understanding of what Moodle is.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Thing 16 - Advocacy, speaking up for the profession and getting published

As a child I was a regular visitor to both static and mobile libraries in the three counties I grew up nearest to. Certain childhood interests of mine (Tin Tin and BBC Basic programming being examples) were fantastically catered for by these services.  It took me a long time to realise that not every child has similar experiences - and I still find it difficult to remember that the 16 year olds in front of me each September may have no idea about what a library is or does.  That's sad, and in a world where far too many libraries are closing I think we all need to make sure people understand what they might lose before they lose it.
I loved Annie's jigsaw and Katie's pattern as oh-so-subtle ways of making people think about libraries.  They remind me that advocacy doesn't have to be about marching down the street or lecturing people.
I do feel the whole thing can be a bit of a challenge - I work with a captive audience of teachers and students, but know that a lot of them are ignorant of the services the library can offer.  With that in mind, I work quite hard to publicise what we do and how we can help (I am only too willing to help, really, please, let me help you!).  Whilst the internet has made access to information much easier, there is still a place for librarians in helping users to find that information, even if it's no longer by looking in the back of a book.
I previously worked in a public library, just before the enormous publicity surrounding library cuts.  The county I worked for was not the county I lived in, and the service was under severe threat of complete decimation.  Whilst the situation now is more positive than it looked like it might be, I have felt bad that I didn't do more to show my support to a service that I knew from experience benefited so many people in so many ways.
Our local public library is coming into college in January to promote their services, and I will make sure to try and retain those links and publicise the service as another useful place for students to visit.

Thing 15 - Attending, presenting at and organising seminars, conferences and other events

What?  Present at a conference? Me?
Or at least my reaction was something like that!  Basically, I don't feel I'm anywhere near being able to do such a thing.  Whilst I'm not about to speak at a conference, I do still run training sessions at work and the presentation tips are as useful for that.  I can definitely relate to Katie's advice about learning to embed fonts in a presentation since I've learnt the hard way that there's no point in making a presentation look nice only to find it doesn't load the same on the computer you are presenting on!

I have attended relatively few work-related events in my years in this job, mainly down to a lack of motivation, confidence, funding and/or anyone at work who would understand why I'd want to.  However, when I have attended I have felt it was worthwhile.  The only advice I can give to those in a similar situation is that coming out of a professional event having met even one person who agreed with one thing you said can give you such a boost!

As for organising events - I hate even ordering lunch for meetings we host!, although I hope that as I start to make new contacts within the library world I might one day get to the point of helping organise some sort of informal meet!

Thing 14 - Zotero/Mendeley/CiteULike

Having not looked at any of the three sites mentioned in this Thing I had a try with Zotero using the Chrome plugin and Mendeley and after a brief comparison would choose Mendeley to investigate further, despite it being a separately installed program.  I felt the organisation options when adding articles were better.

However, I have a RefWorks account provided through our university, so that is what I've had more training on and that is what I can teach our students to use (although they are given the option of using any other tool that they choose instead).  For this reason (and the fact that I don't personally have a need for a reference manager at the moment) I'm not keen on spending too much time looking at other tools since I will just get confused!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Thing 13 - Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox

For years, I have stored some documents with my web-based email provider if I thought I might need quick access to them. The new breed of cloud services is an extension of this, and the sharing options allow obvious advantages. The university my college is part of positively promotes the use of Google Docs/Drive for online storage and collaboration. Within the library we use a shared Google account to share resources such as poster templates since we lost our shared drive. I've also filled in a lot of registration forms/questionnaires which have been powered by a Google form.

I have Dropbox installed on my home and work computers and iPad. I don't use it routinely, but have found it useful for sharing photos between devices, and it does work. I don't like that others have to have an account to share some things though.

Of course the problem with these services is reliance on the Internet, and I can't always guarantee getting a connection when needed. If I go to meetings with my iPad, I'll make sure I've got the documents I need before I go, rather than assuming I can sync/download them when there. With the number of lost memory sticks we have at work - and the upset students who've lost them- I'm all for using online services as an extra backup, but I'd never (yet) rely on such a service constantly.

My only real experience of wikis is Wikipedia and various sites for computer games :-). I think I've spent so much time warning students about the downside of Wikipedia having anyone contribute, that I've lost sight of how they can be useful! Whilst I can't see any obvious reason to use one at work, I might pay a bit more attention to how others use them.

Things 12 - Putting the social into social media

Whilst trying not to repeat things I've said previously, I'm all for social media within limits. Even in the last few months I've noticed Facebook has become more and more integrated e.g. it's almost expected that a phone app will link to Facebook in some way. Whilst I still only use it on a personal level to interact with people I have actually met, it has allowed contact with past friends that I might not otherwise have had.

Recently by following the threads on a new community forum, I've discovered a possible book group to attend - something I've previously searched in vain for.

I still haven't managed to be a regular poster on Twitter, but am definitely now positive about its ability to spread the word having learnt about a lot of things I would otherwise have remained ignorant of. We've also been setting ourselves reminders at work to tweet as the library- which I've been partly successful at, although it tends to be a lot or nothing.

I have always been a lurker (!) and will probably remain so for some time, as much as I psyche myself up occasionally to post a comment or response. But I think as myself as proof that even thought you might not realise it, people are watching/listening - which is both an encouragement and warning!