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.”

Love, loss and libraries: a Scottish Roundup

Scottish_Roundup_square_logo_large_normalMy second attempt at editing Scottish Roundup, a weekly summary of the Scottish blogging scene, came out yesterday: Love, loss and libraries. I choose the dates carefully so that I can include something about libraries – last time it was Book Week Scotland, this time National Libraries Day. It’s quite hard work bashing the submissions into a coherent narrative, but I think I got away with it! It’s something I enjoy doing, and if I can thereby bring a little extra attention to libraries that’s a bonus.

National Libraries Day in Scotland

Instead of having an event for National Libraries Day this year, GLTU (Glasgow Library Tweetups) decided to create a Twitter snapshot of Scottish libraries – what people use them for and why they value them. After much tweeting and retweeting, we got a great response. It’s obviously not comprehensive, but there’s a geographical spread from Orkney down to Dumfries and Galloway and representatives of public, academic, school and special libraries, so there’s pretty broad coverage. There are cute kids, a dog, a cat (cheated a bit on that one) and cake – what’s not to love? Head off to the Storify to see the full results – it’s too long to embed, but here’s Strathclyde’s NLD cake as a taster. (Too late to taste literally, I fear). And if you just have time to look at one part of the Storify (it’s quite long), scroll down to Dundee Libraries and check what they did. It is truly awesome.

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A couple of lessons I’ve learned which might be useful to anyone else doing this sort of thing – Storify is not as easy to use as I thought for something on this scale. I started with the app which seemed to “eat” tweets, I think because it kept crashing. The PC version kept freezing too, so that I would have to come out and start again. Also, services such as Twitpic transferred seamlessly to Storify but Hootsuite’s ow.ly links did not. Adding the tweet does not display the picture so, in most cases, I have ditched the tweet and included the picture. If I did this again, I might look for something different – but on the other hand, Storify IS free!

Finally, the idea behind the project was that it might be a springboard from which to launch some in-depth case studies of the role libraries play in people’s lives. If anyone has any ideas about how to do that, please let me know.

Tweeting for National Libraries Day

If you are in Scotland, please join in with this project for National Libraries Day.

Glasgow Library Tweetups

NLD_FBplusStrap-98x100National Libraries Day, Saturday 09/02/13

What do you use your library for? What does your library mean to you? Help GLTU to create an online snapshot of what goes on in Scotland’s libraries by tweeting the answers to these questions on National Libraries Day, or in the week running up to it. All sorts of libraries count (e.g. public, academic, special) and, if you are at work in a library on the day, or are self-employed, join in by tweeting about what you have done to help your users.

Please use the hashtag #nldScot so that we can gather the tweets together (in full or, if too many, as edited highlights) in an online document, probably Storify, which we hope will be the start of a larger project celebrating Scottish libraries. The official hashtag for the day is #nld13 so it would be useful to include this as well –…

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Glasgow tweeps prepare for National Libraries Day

NLD_FBplusStrap-98x100We had our first GLTU (Glasgow Library Tweetup) of 2013 last week. It was largely taken up by discussions about what we could do for National Libraries Day – in keeping with our name, we’re going to tweet a lot about Scottish Libraries making a difference. It’s not just as simple as that though, as we hope this will be the beginning of a bigger online resource advocating for libraries – the full report of what we are planning is on the GLTU blog. Opinions and ideas are welcome, whether or not you are from Scotland. For example, at the moment we’re debating our hashtag. Do we go with something like #NLDScot to be compatible with #NLD13, or do we try to get library into the title? Does everyone agonise over hashtags or is it just me? For those who are from Scotland, we’d be very happy for you to join in with the tweeting. More information as soon as we decide on it!

Book Week Scotland: editing Scottish Roundup

A few months ago, Twitter alerted me to Scottish Roundup. Published every Sunday around 10am, the sort of time when people are likely to be relaxing with a cup of tea and the papers, it’s a summary of Scottish blogging in the previous week – or at least, posts which have been submitted, or have caught the editor’s eye in some other way. I was pleased to see that occasionally they featured books and libraries – and then one Sunday I spotted myself in it (via my children’s literature blog). I was really chuffed and tweeted to thank them. Back came the reply – perhaps I would like to be the editor myself some week? Then I had my brilliant idea – I could volunteer for the Sunday at the end of Book Week Scotland and use it as a really good opportunity to promote books and reading.

It wasn’t actually as easy as I thought. I had expected the blogosphere to be full of bookish writings, but it wasn’t – maybe everyone was so busy attending events that they didn’t have time to write about them. There were plenty of “official” library posts but the Roundup is meant to be “Citizen Media” so I couldn’t include too many of them. There were also a few submitted posts which had nothing to do with books at all, most of which were extremely sad, but I think I managed to fit them in without being too clunky. Anyway, the result was my very first Scottish Roundup: Book Week Scotland and other stories. Now that I’m no longer working, this is the sort of small opportunity I need to look out for. It’s good for me to keep connected, and it’s good to be able to promote the things I believe in – in terms of cpd23 it obviously ties in with Thing 16 on advocacy. I also enjoyed passing on to others the pleased little thrill of surprise that I got when I was unexpectedly mentioned myself. I’ll certainly volunteer to do this again.

PS Another aspect of BWS was the Reader Portraits competition. I was going to submit the picture below, then looked at the opposition and decided against it. Too many cute kids. This is me, glass in hand, reading the free BWS book. A good book and a gin. What more could any self-respecting librarian wish for?

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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 6: Online networks (with added cake)

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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!

Thing 4: (1) The joys of Twitter

Thing 4 is enormous, and I have something to say about all three components so I’m giving each its own entry. First, Twitter. I’ve looked at a few Thing 4 posts and Twitter is not universally appreciated. If it’s not for you, fair enough, but please don’t dismiss it as silly. If you think that, then you haven’t yet learned to use it properly. It can be trivial, but remember its tagline is “Join the conversation”. I talk seriously to my real life friends sometimes, and at other times I talk a load of rubbish. Twitter is just the same, but virtual. If you don’t like one conversation, drop in to another, or start your own. It can feel at first as if you are talking to yourself, but eventually people will respond and what you make of it then is up to you. Here’s what Twitter’s done for me.

I’m a veteran user of nearly three years. I have my own, personal account @AnabelMarsh and I look after the library account @JordanhillLib. I find HootSuite really useful because it allows me to run both accounts at once, retweet from one to the other and schedule tweets, which is particularly handy for work. Even if you only have one account, it is worth using it, or a similar service such as Tweetdeck, because you can organise everything into columns rather than having to jump between screens as in Twitter’s own pages.

I try to make the work feed interesting and useful, and not just a rehash of information available elsewhere, such as the library web pages. In the beginning, I tried to cover all subjects that we teach, but it has become very much biased towards the Education students because a) I am effectively their subject librarian so I know more about their interests (and although I ask, other staff hardly ever suggest things I could tweet) and b) those students have engaged with Twitter far more than other groups. A few got really keen and set up a CPD session for their peers at which I spoke about @JordanhillLib and prepared a webpage, Twitter for Teachers. A couple of lecturers have also been very supportive and the overall result is that I have got to know them and the students much better and have put the library at the forefront of their professional development. For example, in anti-bullying week the students ran a CPD session for which I provided a reading list and I also targeted all my tweets that week to relevant topics. I got a letter of thanks from the Course Director at the end and the library’s profile was raised considerably. The immediacy and ease of use of Twitter has also been invaluable in emergencies, such as bad weather closures, when I can keep students updated from wherever I am and, because the feed is embedded there, visitors to the library’s home page will see the messages too.

I don’t have any problems with using my full name for my own feed, and I don’t regard it as being specifically professional. I do follow lots of librarians and organisations connected with my work, but I also follow local people to share restaurant tips and so on,  and other accounts which reflect my personal interests. Sometimes quite random connections can be made when you just happen to be tweeting about the same thing at the same time as someone else and one of you picks it up through a hashtag or search. I must say, I certainly get a lot more out of Twitter than I put in, collecting great links for my own use as well as to pass on to students via the library account. My cpd23 resolution is therefore to try to put more value in myself.

So what have I learnt from this part of Thing 4? As I said above, I should try to share more on my own account. I’ve shared lots for work, but the future of @JordanhillLib after the campus closes is still under discussion and it won’t be my responsibility any more. However, I could offer the experience I’ve gained running it to other organisations I am involved with which have yet to try Twitter, or have only done so in a small way. Finally – I have learned how to embed tweets in my posts. Not sure when I will need to do that again, but, hey, I’m showing it off now!