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 flavors.me 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.”

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Volunteering with Glasgow Women’s Library: a presentation

As part of a presentation to Garnethill Women’s Rural Institute last night (must be the most urban “Rural” ever!) I talked about these slides based on my year or so volunteering with Glasgow Women’s Library. The idea was to show the variety of activities and to emphasise the friendliness of the place – the presentation starts and ends with the question you are always asked within about 30 seconds of walking through the door: “Would you like a cup of tea?” My part came in between staff members Gabrielle, who talked about the history and development of the Library, and Donna who talked about the Scottish Suffragettes and the related archival material the Library holds. Judging by the buzz in the room ( and the enthusiasm of one of the attendees who got on the same Subway train home as I did) we might have recruited a few more members.

CILIPS Autumn Gathering: my presentation on CPD23

I was honoured and excited to be asked not only to speak at the CILIPS Autumn Gathering this month, but also to be presented with an honorary membership. At the CILIPS Conference in June, I travelled to Dundee with Wendy Kirk to chair her session on Glasgow Women’s Library (above) so it was great to repeat the double act with Wendy chairing my session on my experience of CPD23. We had another wonderful day. The slides from all the sessions are now on the CILIPS webpage (as are the citations and pictures of the honorary membership presentations) and I have put mine on Slideshare too. I’m not sure they make a lot of sense without my commentary, but my main conclusion was that the CPD23 scheme was a great way to a) brush up my skills b) plug into a new network and c) reflect on my career at a critical point in my life (early retirement) and start thinking about where to go next. Everyone’s experience will be different – the last few slides suggest ways in which you can still access CPD23 or similar schemes, including an interesting article from Leigh Bunton comparing two programmes, one external and one in-house. It’s a model of learning in bite-sized, achievable chunks which could be applied to any subject. For more pictures of the event, see CILIPS’ Flickr set.

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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Thing 15: Events

Or to give it it’s full title: “Attending, presenting at and organising seminars, conferences and other events.”

Launching into speech

I’ve lost count of the number of library events I’ve attended over the last thirty years – I’ve been lucky in having employers with reasonable training budgets. Some events have been better than others, but I’ve always paid close attention, if only because I would be expected to present a report to colleagues on what I had learned that could be useful to the library. There’s always been something. When I was an officer with SALCTG, I also had the added bonus of participating in events I wouldn’t normally have gone to because I was there as an organiser. In terms of the future, what I attend will depend on what direction my “retirement” takes (I start a temporary job on Monday) and what contacts, skills and interests I need to develop.

I’ve never run a big conference, but after 10 years of running events for SALCTG I feel I am something of an expert. Only once have I had a sleepless night over it, when someone who was organising the catering unexpectedly became incommunicado a few days beforehand – but we got fed, it was all under control and I should  have been more trusting. Recently, I’ve also been organising informal events under the GLTU banner for Glasgow’s library tweeters, which is great fun and I’ve met a lot of new people through it. When I finished my last job, I applied for a part-time post administering courses for another library group and, although I was unsuccessful, this is definitely an area where I feel I have skills to offer.

As far as presenting goes, well you can’t be an academic librarian without having to speak in public. User education sessions, from a handful of students to a few hundred in a lecture theatre, library training sessions and addressing staff in other parts of the university are all par for the course. However, presenting at events, beyond introducing speakers and votes of thanks, is not something I’ve done much of. I’m filled with admiration for the younger professionals I follow on Twitter who seem to do it regularly. When I first started out, I think there were far fewer conferences and seminars, and it tended more to be the great and the good who spoke at them, so it never occured to me that it might be something I might do. Later, I suppose I never felt I had anything distinctive enough to say. However, this June I had two opportunities to speak from which I learned a few things.

I wrote in Thing 11 about the talk on being a mentor that I gave to a Chartership Workshop. I prepared my material well, and tried to have a balance between covering the facts and conveying the spirit of the mentorship relationship, mixed in with a little humour (and a picture of a cute baby near the beginning to break the ice. There was a point to that, honest.) I was confident in my subject matter, but less confident about my delivery. When I rehearsed, I could hardly get the words out. This was at the time when the Library had closed and I was about to leave so, emotionally, I was all over the place. In the end, I just had to hope for the best – and it worked. I still stumbled a bit, but people seemed appreciative, they laughed in the right places and two of the audience later asked me to mentor them, so I must have said something right. My conclusion is that if you prepare well enough, adrenalin will help you through.

In the picture above, I am making a speech after my leaving presentation in Jordanhill Library. This doesn’t really fall within the scope of this post, but it does have a bearing on how I think of myself as a speaker. I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve – to say thank you, obviously, but also to reminisce about my time in the library and celebrate what we had achieved as a team. Most staff were transferring to the main library, and I knew some had anxieties, so I wanted to boost their confidence and make the point that, although the team was breaking up, they would take those achievements and experiences with them and use them to enhance their new teams. In this case, I had very few notes and hadn’t rehearsed: I had been working through it in my head for days and wanted to be as spontaneous as possible. This is easy, of course, when you are talking about a subject you know so well – yourself! What I didn’t know till later was that one friend had videoed me, so I was able to see how I did: I hoped to be inspiring and I think it worked. I sounded confident, didn’t look at my notes much, apart from once when I was reading a direct quote,  there were murmurs of appreciation, laughter and, I’m told, not a dry eye in the house at the end. I’m obviously a better speaker than I think.

Overall, events are an important way of learning and making connections with people, whether you are an organiser, a speaker or simply part of the audience. On a personal level, I hope to continue attending library events, but at the moment my life is going through such a period of change that it is difficult to know which ones, and in which capacity, but I’m confident about my ability to do all three.