Thing 12: Putting the social into social media

I’ve read back over my posts on Twitter and online networking and I think I pretty much covered the spirit of Thing 12 in them, i.e. emphasisng the importance of the social aspect and discussing the balance between what you put in and what you get out. However, circumstances have changed since then so there is scope for an update.

When I wrote about Twitter before, I had two accounts – one of my own and one for Jordanhill Library. The Library is now closed and I have left the university. After a bit of lobbying on my part, @JordanhillLib morphed into @StrathLibHaSS (Humanities and Social Sciences) and continues with another tweeter. I’ve found my own use of Twitter has changed as a result. At the end of Thing 4 I resolved to share more, but I now scan Twitter less and tweet less too – probably because I’m no longer looking for links to share with the students and haven’t yet found a new role. Conversely, my use of Facebook has gone up, admittedly from almost zero. This was one of my resolutions at the end of Thing 6, because most of my (now-ex) colleagues use it and I thought it would be one good way of keeping in contact. So far it’s working, and you can’t get more social than staying in touch with your friends.

However, “social” doesn’t just apply to individuals. Here’s an anecdote from the weekend which illustrates (I think) the benefits of social media to organisations – if they use them well by being responsive and not just using them as bulletin boards. We visited the National Galleries of Scotland’s new exhibition, Van Gogh to Kandinsky: symbolist landscape in Europe 1880-1910. On Saturday evening, I tweeted about how much we’d enjoyed it, but wondered why you had to pay more to gift aid your ticket money. When I looked at Twitter again on Sunday morning, there was a reply and a short discussion took place – it’s something to do with HMRC’s requirements for charity apparently, but that’s not the point. Whoever tweets for the National Galleries was on the ball enough to monitor Twitter over the weekend and reply to queries. (This might sound an obvious thing to do but, believe me, there are other organisations I have tweeted and never got an acknowledgement at all.) As a result, I feel very well disposed towards the galleries and tweeted again:

This they then retweeted – good publicity or not? I think it is, and if you are ever in Edinburgh I urge you to visit the exhibition. Finally, it also proves that I can still remember how to embed a tweet as learned in Thing 4!

Thing 7: Real-life networks

Real-life networking is not something I’ve always been that good at. Not that I’m some kind of recluse who doesn’t get on with people you understand, but for much of my career I was happy to get on with my own job and attend training courses organised by some of these networks, but not really put much back. I’ve been a member of CILIP since my graduate trainee days, but even now I have never been active in any of its groups. However, in the last dozen years I feel I have certainly redeemed myself in the work I have put into SALCTG.

The Scottish Academic Libraries Training Group does more or less what it says on the tin. Representatives of each academic library in Scotland meet two or three times a year to plan courses which will be of benefit to their staff. I hadn’t been part of the group for very long when the Secretary resigned at short notice and, with a bit of arm twisting over lunch, I volunteered to replace her. I thought I might do it for two or three years, and ended up doing it for over ten. It was a lot of work – not just taking the minutes at meetings, but organising most of the courses which could sometimes be 5 or 6 a year. However, I really enjoyed it. I met a great bunch of people and honed my organisational skills which could only be good for my “real” job. The only reason I gave up last year was that, as the closure of my library approached, I felt I should be putting all my energies into ensuring that went smoothly.

One of the agenda items at each SALCTG meeting was Regional Reports, where we would tell each other about training developments in our own areas. I always found it frustrating that other areas had cross-sectoral organisations such as TAFLIN (Tayside & Fife), ELISA (Edinburgh) and Grampian Information, whereas the west of Scotland had no equivalent. Eventually, I realised that moaning about it was pointless and maybe I should do something myself to fill the gap, even if in a very small way. Out of this was born the series of Glasgow Library Tweetups (GLTU) which I have been organising since the beginning of the year. Obviously I have been missing my role in SALCTG! I have another blog which chronicles what GLTU has done – and if you are local, you still have time to join us at our next event on 21st June. The details are all in the latest post.

So what have I learned?

  • Being an active member is better than being a passive one and I should have been more involved years ago. It’s good to give something back.
  • I’m good at organising. I knew that anyway, but SALCTG, and now GLTU, have given my skills an extra boost.
  • You meet lovely people and sometimes they can help you (and vice versa of course). This has recently had positive results for me – after my job comes to an end in a few weeks, SALCTG members have asked me to go back and organise courses again. They might even pay me a little bit! And one of my SALCTG contacts has recently suggested another opportunity which I might very well take further.

Watch this space…

Thing 6: Online networks (with added cake)


Now, excuse the gratuitous cake shot. I know librarians love cake, but I also know that cake has nothing to do with online networking. However, it does explain why my mind has been on other things recently with little room for even the one network that I do use regularly, Twitter. My library closed on Friday, but I’ll come back to that at the end.

I find it hard to imagine the effort involved in belonging to a variety of networks and actually keeping up. I understand that people use them for different things but I’ve always found Twitter enough. This might have to change though. I did sign up to Facebook a while back because, I think, of something you had to like to enter a competition. So I have this sparse little page without a picture and no friends! When I leave my job I will have time to tart it up and use it properly – many of my soon-to-be former colleagues use it a lot and it will be a good way to keep up with them. I’ve often thought of signing up to LinkedIn too, but somehow never got round to that either. Again, if I want to keep up my library contacts it might be a good idea to do that soon. So those are my resolutions for Thing 6: sort myself out with Facebook and LinkedIn.

Of the other networks mentioned in the cpd23 blog, I don’t have any need for LISNPN or LATN and the only thing I’ve used CILIP Communities for is to fill out my mentor profile. I can’t see that there’s much going on there. Google seems like the new kid trying too hard to be liked – they’ve had Buzz and Wave and now Google+, and I’m still not sure that one is going to turn into the next big thing as I think they’d like. I love Pinterest, but I don’t really see that as a social network, although I am interested in what other people pin. It’s great for storing recipes which I can then take into the kitchen on my iPad. (Who am I kidding? I’ve never actually made one of them but they look nice!)

And that brings me back full circle to the library and the cake. I had the brilliant idea of making a commemorative Pinterest board: Farewell Jordanhill Library. And harking back to Thing 4, I also Storified our last day. Sad times!