Social media: collaboration, communities and cpd

I was delighted to be invited to speak at the ELISA (Edinburgh Library and Information Services Agency) Open Forum 2014, which had the general theme of  the rewards and risks of social media, especially as ELISA had been one of the sparks for the initiatives I covered in my talk. We had no similar cross-sectoral organisation in the West of Scotland at the time, and I was attempting to rectify that in a small way.
The slides are mainly pictorial and don’t make much sense on their own, so here are some brief notes:
Slide 1 My talk was about using online networks to create real-life communities and cpd opportunities.
Slide 2 My first step into social media was a work-related Children’s Literature blog in 2007. I used Blogger because it seemed easier than WordPress – the only other platform I’d heard of. The blog is still going (just) and gets read, but it never grew into a community.
Slide 3 Since then, I’ve set up several other blogs (including for my octogenarian parents!) I’ve moved to WordPress because it’s:
  • more flexible and has better image display
  • more of a community – likes, better comment handling to encourage conversation
  • not Google! Google has a track-record of failing to support tools it grows tired of.

Slides 4-7 My next step (2009) was Twitter (@AnabelMarsh). It takes a while to go from talking to yourself to building a community.

Slide 8 I built up a good collection of library contacts in and around Glasgow – why not meet up in real life? The first Glasgow Library Tweetup took place in January 2012 and there have now been 13 (despite the name, they are open to anyone – you don’t have to work in a library, be from Glasgow or on Twitter). The theme is Socialise, Network, Learn (and have fun) and many connections have been made, e.g. arranging chartership visits, though the GLTU blog has been less collaborative than I originally hoped.

Slides 9-11 A few examples – visiting the Mitchell, the Piping Centre, a Library Crawl via Subway, the Travelling Librarians event organised jointly with CILIPS West, and food – always food!

Slide 12 At an early stage of GLTU, someone said “What about a Library Camp Scotland?” We’ve now had Library Camps Glasgow 1 and 2.

Slide 13 What is a Library Camp? Very informal, no agenda, no speakers, no hierarchy. When people fill in course feedback, they often say the best bits were sharing experience and discussing ideas with other participants – well, Library Camp is all like that.

Slides 14-16 Anyone can pitch a session at the beginning of Camp, then we split into smaller groups to discuss the ideas raised. At Library Camp Glasgow there were also competitions for the best name badges, the best rant on a library theme and for Human Bingo.

Slides 17-18 The 23 Librarians blog grew out of discussions online and in real-life about how chartership candidates could find out what it was like to work in other sectors. Every week, a different library / information worker describes their life – it’s now in its second series and has been joined by blogs for England, Wales and N. Ireland. It’s a good databank of example of what librarians actually do – useful for advocacy outside the profession, as well as within it. Again, my disappointment is that there has been less interaction than I had hoped, either discussion on the blog or via Twitter.

Slide 19 Everything I’ve discussed has its own hashtag – there are many more useful tags out there e.g. #chartership and #uklibchat.

Slide 20 Storify is a good way of storing and curating tweets and other social media, which can then be shared with non-social media users.

Slide 21 Where next? I’m always looking for more volunteers for 23 Librarians, so please get in touch. Library Camp Scotland 3 – should that be elsewhere, e.g. Edinburgh? The quote is from a non-librarian attendee at Library Camp Glasgow 2 – how can what he suggests be achieved? My previous post Library Camp Glasgow 2 – where next? goes into more detail about feedback from Library Camp.

Slide 22 I use to keep track of my social media presence – quite a few sites, as you can see. Social media has enhanced my life by keeping me in contact with the library world and allowing me to put something back in. It’s fair to say I probably wouldn’t have started all of these things if I hadn’t retired, but I was working the first year of GLTU, so it can be done – I like the quote from Ka-Ming Pang, one of the co-founders of #uklibchat: “I started something – so can you.”


Library Camp Glasgow 2 – where next?

Listening to pitches. Photo: Lynn Corrigan
Listening to pitches. Photo: Lynn Corrigan

Library Camp Glasgow 2 took place at the Mitchell Library on Saturday, 8th November. Last year, I wrote a comprehensive post on running a Camp so I’m not going into that sort of detail this time. In any case, there wouldn’t be much to add – I have to confess that, although I thought about trying out new things, inertia led me to follow the same pattern. Also, I have written a summary of the day, with loads of pictures, on the Glasgow Library Tweetups blog, and it and several other write-ups are listed on the Library Camp wiki which is the best place to go if you want to know what happened. What I intend to reflect on here is where to go next.

Library Camp in full swing. Photo: Lynn Corrigan
Library Camp in full swing. Photo: Lynn Corrigan

Everyone seems to have enjoyed themselves and lots of people said “See you next year!” However, I’m not sure I want to run a Library Camp Glasgow 3. I felt that before the event, and I said so on the day. Why? Numbers were down – 36 this year, as opposed to 55 last year. Any lower, and it wouldn’t be workable. Pitches for sessions were also slow to come in, though we had just enough in the end. Maybe the appetite for Library Camps is declining? Or maybe it needs fresh insight and new ideas from someone else? The Mitchell is great and everything runs like clockwork, thanks to the excellent library and catering teams, but maybe Camp should move to a different city? Not everyone was from Glasgow by any means, but there might be people elsewhere who would go if it was held nearer to them. I emailed these points to attendees and got the following feedback:

  • Start later. This is a good point – starting half an hour later could allow people to travel further and would help those with child care to arrange.
  • Add workplace details to attendance list to aid post-camp contacts. That wasn’t possible because many people use personal email addresses to book so it’s not obvious where they are from. However, I now discover you can customise Eventbrite to collect this information on ordering. I think I’d leave it as an optional question though.
  • Involve more people in organising the event, possibly CILIPS branches. Although I am the main organiser, I have a great team to work with at the Mitchell, plus Lynn Corrigan and (last year) Lesley Thomson, but anyone else who wants to help / take over is welcome. I don’t agree about involving CILIPS branches – although, of course, it’s lovely to have support from CILIPS and other library bodies. To me, Library Camp is an informal, independent event, in common with other Camps throughout the country, and should remain so. It’s also open to all with an interest in libraries, and being more closely tied to a CILIPS branch might seem to exclude those who are not members of CILIP.
  • From a non-librarian: “The event, almost by default, was a good showcase for the sheer economic value and civic worth of what librarians and libraries can offer the various publics of lay, civic and business. IMO there is scope here for more broadcasting to other audiences of these attributes.” Should Camps be extended to include other groups? This fits in with some of the discussions on the day about advocacy and moving outside the echo chamber. I wouldn’t be the person to organise this, but it’s a good idea. Anyone?
  • Try one more, maybe in a different city? Or look at a smaller event or re-format, e.g., as a Teachmeet? My worry again is that we wouldn’t get sufficient volunteers to pitch ideas – but maybe people would feel more comfortable if they had a prepared presentation to work with rather than being expected to stimulate discussion. (Teachmeets usually ask for 2-minute or 7-minute presentations, taken in a random order.)

So, it was a fun day – but as I asked in the title of this post, where next? No decisions have to be made until well into 2015 and I’ll continue to mull things over. Let me know what you think in the comments!


18/11/14 Update from Twitter: Try a different time of year? Possible appetite for school and / or student library camps in Aberdeen?

03/12/14 Floated idea of Library Camp Edinburgh at ELISA Forum.

Adventures of a retired librarian: 2013

What a year that was! 2013 was my first full year away from work and I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed life more, with any worries about being bored or lonely swiftly despatched. The start of a new year is a good time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t and to plan for the future.

The most joyous discovery has been volunteering at Glasgow Women’s Library.  I started as a tour guide for their Women’s Heritage Walks but soon got involved in the library side of things. I’d never really been interested in cataloguing before, but I now find I enjoy it and have recently been training new volunteers. I’ve also done social media training for them, written book reviews, helped with a Scottish Women on Wikipedia day, staffed stalls and pop-up libraries at events and packed and cleaned when they moved premises. Never a dull moment! I’ve written about some of these things, but I always meant to do a more general post about the Library itself and what it did – a library, archive and museum collection which holds and celebrates the cultural, historical, political and social achievements of women across the UK. I was going to call the post Would you like a cup of tea? because that’s the first question you are usually asked when you walk in the door – it’s such a friendly place. As with many other posts, I’ve now accepted that this is one which is never going to make it outside my head, so you’ll just have to check their website instead, and see the montage of photos below.

Less successful was the other regular volunteering I took on, with the Scottish Refugee Council where I spent three months with the Media and Communications Team. Again, I meant to write a full post about the organisation and the wonderful work it does and, again, I never got round to it. I certainly learned a lot – I went in thinking I had some idea of how hard life was for refugees and came out knowing it was far worse than I had thought. I also learned things about myself – I agreed to work a day and a half per week , but found it too much and I now steer clear of anything that requires such a formal commitment. I also discovered that you can take the girl out of the library, but you can’t take the library out of the girl. I work best in places where information is ordered and structured, and was frustrated when that wasn’t always the case. Finally, I banished any notion that I might be interested in going back to study because I was also not very keen on doing the research necessary to write blog posts on issues that I didn’t know very much about. This maybe makes me sound very shallow, and maybe my views will change and I’ll start wanting different things after I’ve been retired for a couple of years, but for now I’m happy with the flexibility of working with GWL. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy working at SRC – everyone was lovely and the fact that it didn’t work out as expected was entirely my own fault. Here’s a shot of a very happy day – the press launch for Refugee Week Scotland which I live tweeted and Storified for them.

Lajee Dancers from Aida Refugee Camp in Palestine perform in Glasgow
Lajee Dancers from Aida Refugee Camp in Palestine

But that’s not all! I’d already started Glasgow Library Tweetups while I was working and continue to organise them. This year we had Library Camp Glasgow which was a huge success and, I think, the greatest single achievement of my year, although the greatest honour was being made an honorary member of CILIPS. If you look at the About page of this blog you’ll see a list of talks, training sessions, book reviews and guest posts that I’ve done and I’m also still involved with SALCTG (Scottish Academic Libraries Cooperative Training Group) which counts as real work because they are actually paying me! I’ve gone from knowing mainly academic librarians to knowing people in all sorts of libraries throughout Scotland. I feel liberated, I think that’s the only word for it.

What next? More of the same – my calendar is starting to fill up pleasingly – and I also have several new plans afoot for providing informal library CPD. If I’m going to keep this blog up as a sort of diary I need to post more regularly, so I’ve changed its name from A New Library World to Adventures of a Retired Librarian in the hope of prompting a fresh start. Watch this space!

Library Camp Glasgow

Happy Campers - all photos courtesy of Lynn Corrigan
Happy Campers – all photos courtesy of Lynn Corrigan

Where did it all begin? I think way back in March 2012 someone mentioned the possibility of a Scottish Library Camp at one of the early Glasgow Library Tweetups, then the idea reappeared in a Twitter conversation towards the end of that year. At the beginning of 2013 I thought, well I might as well go for it, and it finally happened on October 26th. I won’t write much here about the day itself, though it was a great success – there’s plenty of information on the Event Writeups page of the Camp wiki about that. I’ll concentrate on how it was organised in case this might be helpful to anyone thinking of staging a similar event. So here are my top tips:

  • Don’t re-invent the wheel. I read probably everything that came out of other Library Camps and copied as much as I could. I’ve appended a list of good posts at the end.
  • Find a good team and specify roles. One of the first Twitter conversations was with Lesley Thomson (@lelil) who had experience of Govcamps so an early meeting with her set things in motion and made sure I had at least a vague idea of what I was doing. We thought about a few venues and decided on the Mitchell Library as offered by Myra Paterson (@MyraCPaterson). She was very enthusiastic and made sure everything ran smoothly at the library end. Finally, Lynn Corrigan (@lynncorrigan) came on board, looked after the online stuff and was “official photographer” on the day.
  • Find a good venue. We chose the Mitchell because, apart from Myra’s energetic support, we had the flexibility of a suite of three rooms, two of which opened out into one larger room, although the overall scope was modest – for this type of event we thought 50 people would fill it. It was also opposite the café which could have been useful had we not raised enough money to feed everyone.
  • Find sponsorship. I approached various library organisations and suppliers, looking for money and / or items for goody bags and prizes. Those who obliged are listed on our Sponsors page: particular mention should be made of Swets, SLIC and SALCTG who provided between them morning and afternoon refreshments and lunch.
  • Decide how to manage bookings / create an online presence. Early in the summer, I created an Expressions of Interest page on Eventbrite to check that we would get enough people willing to come. We easily reached the target of 50, so in September I made the proper bookings page live. Eventbrite allows you to password-protect a page when you’re setting up your event (see Additional settings which is part 3 of the Edit page) so I did that for the first couple of weeks, using the email facility on the Expressions of Interest page to alert those who had signed up there. That way they got the first chance of Early Bird places. There is also a Library Camp Glasgow page on this blog, and at a later stage Lynn created a wiki bringing together all the information about the Camp, which now acts as a record of it with write-ups and photos added after the event.
  • Publicise. I’m not sure I got this right. I circulated various lists (and tweeted of course) near the beginning, but once Camp filled up and a waiting list was started I let things take their course. Then, towards the end, people started to drop out in larger numbers than before and the waiting list got used up, so I had to do a bit more frantic publicity. It seemed silly to keep plugging a full Camp with a waiting list though, so I’m note sure what I would do differently, if anything, next time. (See also the comments below about numbers.)
  • Keep people informed and engaged. I made a conscious decision to email attendees every couple of weeks with a bit more news about what was going to happen on the day. I hoped this would mean that Library Camp was kept in the forefront of their minds and they would be less likely to be no-shows on the day. This seemed to work – people were very conscientious about letting me know if they could no longer come and there were only two or three people who signed up and didn’t turn up on the day. Or maybe they were just all lovely, polite people anyway!
  • Have fun features with prizes. This also helped to keep people involved. Two competitions were announced as part of the email series mentioned above – a Soapbox feature which filled the time between pitches and the timetable being produced. Four brave souls ranted for one minute each on a library related topic. The best (decided by secret ballot) received a prize. The competition for best home-made name badge really took off on Twitter where it became known as the #GreatBritishBadgeOff. The organisers felt they couldn’t possibly judge this, so two neutral staff from the Mitchell were drafted in to help. You can see a gallery of badges, including the two worthy winners, on the wiki. The icebreaker also had a prize and this I shamelessly stole from Cambridge Librarian Teachmeet – their Human Bingo sheet needed only a little adjustment for local circumstances!
  • Don’t worry too much about numbers. One of the principles of open space events is that “whoever comes is the right people” so bear that in mind. Not that I took my own advice of course; I did worry. We decided to allocate 60 places on the grounds that about 20% would drop out. When we got to 60 and the numbers stuck for weeks I began to wonder what would happen if everyone turned up and we were overcrowded. Then, as mentioned above, there was a sharp drop and I worried that we wouldn’t have enough people to make a successful event, but just at the right time, this lovely post by Lisa Hutchins about Library Camp East came out. She had had the same, unfounded, fears as I was having, and was also kind enough to give me further reassurance via Twitter (@myweeklybook). Her post is a must-read to understand the spirit of Library Camps.

Was there anything I would change? The numbers were right overall (with attendees and helpers we peaked at about 55 – I never stood still long enough to count everyone properly) but the sessions were too big in some cases, which meant that not everyone could contribute. We needed more pitches, but perhaps now that people have seen how a Library Camp works they will be more comfortable about proposing sessions next time. I wouldn’t bother with the expressions of interest stage again, but would probably still use Eventbrite’s password facility to give previous attendees the first chance of tickets. Eventbrite overall was great, but I made a mistake running two types of ticket on the same bookings page – we offered tours of the Mitchell which had limited spaces and so had to be booked in advance. This was fine until we sold out and I discovered that you couldn’t create a waiting list for each event, or prevent someone booking on both when only one had spaces, so things got a little muddled.  However, these are minor quibbles.

Was it worth it? I can honestly say I have never been to an event with more buzz. And just look at the concentration on those faces!

In addition to the links in the text above, I found the following particularly useful:

Library Camp UK site, especially its list of Past LibraryCamps. Invaluable for ideas for everything. The post Library Assistants! Why go to a librarycamp gives good reasons why anyone should go.

Andrew Preater wrote a couple of good posts on running LibraryCamp London: What I learned from organising an unconference and Practical suggestions for running your own Library Camp.

Aude wrote about Organising Library Camp North East.

Keira Parrott wrote Hosting an unconference in a few easy steps.

If you feel moved to organise your own Camp, that lot should keep you right! It’s also worth noting there’s now a School Library Camp Wiki which has been set up with the aim of organising a network of regional events happening on the same day and linked up by social media. That sounds like a great idea and there are no entries for Scotland yet, if any school librarians are reading this…..

MmITS AGM 09/05/13

Contains the announcement of Library Camp Glasgow! 26 October.

PS I have no idea why the Book Week Scotland picture has attached itself to this post – it doesn’t show up in editing and I can’t delete it!

Glasgow Library Tweetups

I was delighted to be invited to speak about GLTU at the MmITS (Multimedia and Information Technology Scotland) AGM last week. It took place in the beautiful Royal Faculty of Procurators’ building in Glasgow, and there was an opportunity to look at their library afterwards. There’s an account of the meeting, including my talk, on the excellent MmITS blog so I refer you to that for details. An exciting extra was that I was able to announce the very first Scottish Library Camp (Saturday 26th October, Mitchell Library) because we’d just firmed up the date the day before. Watch this space and see #LibCampGla on Twitter. Below are some pictures of the afternoon – thanks to Louise Morrison of MMITS and Cathy Kearney of CILIPS for additions to my own photographs.

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