Tag Archives: networking

Blogging in June

The past few years I have participated in an activity known as ‘Blog every day in June’. It’s a collection of (mostly) librarian types taking on the challenge to blog every day for a month. In 2013 I’m taking a year off this project, although I’m going to keenly follow the list of participants on Flexnib’s blog. My aim this year is to read and make meaningful comments – sprinkling my reading liberally across as wide a range of blogs as I can manage.

Good luck everyone! If you’re a first time #blogjune participant, hang in there. It doesn’t really matter if you miss a day or two here or there, it’s just a great excuse to challenge yourself to write something every day.

Conference support from afar

On Monday this week, I had the opportunity to be involved in a presentation to NLS6 in Brisbane. While staying in Sydney.

Using twitter, @alysondalby and I sat in a room in Sydney providing links and information while our colleague @katecbyrne did the standing-up-in-front-of-a-crowd-thing in Brisbane to present on the benefits of international librarianship and launch the International Librarians Network pilot project. How did we know where she was up to? A muted telephone call (that was declared up front) and lasted through the presentation so that we could hear what Kate was saying and follow along on our own copy of the powerpoint presentation. Keep it simple!

I have captured the whole thing on Storify – both our tweets from a room in Sydney and the participation of the audience in Brisbane. There’s even a few hellos from the international librarians who kindly agreed to take part in our presentation via video.

It was a great example of the collaboration and participation from afar that social media – and twitter in particular- makes possible at conferences. We felt part of it here in Sydney even though we were unable to make the trip to Brisbane and I hope our participation helped to spread the message about the pilot far and wide as our tweeting was designed to include links and shout-outs to our international connections.

The pilot is about to close but there will be another round later in the year that will also incorporate any feedback we get from the pilot.

Creating international connections

globe in hands by noticelj via flickr CC

After a trip to IFLA last year, a colleague at MPOW dreamed up a project to facilitate online peer-mentoring relationships between librarians from around the world and as sometimes happens with this particular colleague, got a few others (including me) involved.

The International Librarians Network invites librarians to participate in a 6 month facilitated program where the co-ordinators will match you up with someone you don’t know, based on a few details you give about your professional interests. Relationships are then supported over the 6 month period with discussion topics and suggestions about ways to communicate and professionally connect.

For the first 6 months in 2013 the program will run as a pilot and there is still time to join up – go and sign up today! The program is keen to attract librarians from as many different parts of the world as possible to give it a true international flavour and ensure a widespread sharing of ideas.

Much more information about the program can be obtained from looking at the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on the program website.

I’m pleased and proud to be associated with this project and just sorry I can’t be at NLS6 in person next week to help launch the pilot.

Hierarchies of presence

Through the archway - the fabulous Shine Dome at ANU

Last week I attended the inaugural conference of the Australasian Association of the Digital Humanities, held at the Academy of Science’s Shine Dome at ANU in Canberra. I was there because of the interest at MPOW in our library supporting academic research and e-research in particular is becoming increasingly important to our role as Outreach librarians as we start to have conversations with academics about data management and access.

In an attempt to make some sense of the sometimes highly technical papers I went to over the three days, I will be blogging about a few recurring themes and also a number of individual papers, such as the one I’m talking about here.

On Day 3 I attended a paper by Dr Alice Gorman of Flinders University called ‘The personal is political: communicating archaeology and heritage through online platforms‘.  Dr Gorman is also known as @DrSpaceJunk and blogs about space archaeology at Space Age Archaeology.

There was a really good twitter back channel running throughout the conference, so while I was tweeting madly (my personal form of notetaking), I was also able to follow the comments of others – this was particularly helpful during some of the more technical sessions that were hard to follow. This from some of the twitter stream during the space archaeology presentation:
Now hearing from @drspacejunk about misperception of what archaeology and getting people interested in what it really is #DHA2012 (from @ellenforsyth)
Space archeology – who knew?! #dha2012 (from @LizzieM79)
@drspacejunk has divided audience – is space archeologist, crosses archaeology & space scientists, talking about bridging links #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)
Really interesting discussion from @drspacejunk about the importance of identity to help explain her field of interest #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)
Alice talked about the different roles her different public identities can take to help her reach a wider audience. As she said, @DrSpaceJunk can say and do things that Dr Alice Gorman can’t. Using what Alice called ‘heirarchies of presence’ her audience can be filtered up and down depending on their entry point to her work and their level of interest.

Hierarchies of presence: SM both passive & active backed up byacademia.edu & inst presence, supporting cred & authenticity #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)

I spoke with Alice after her presentation and a concrete example she gave me was an invitation she received (seemingly out of the blue) to speak to a group involved with something fairly obscure to do with plastic. It turned out, the event organisers found her because of a blog post she had written on cable ties. Because her various profiles and identities are linked back to her serious researcher profile, she was contacted as someone who had a valuable and serious contribution to make.

I have a strong personal interest in the area of social media and professional networks so this session was particularly appealing to me. I think it provided a useful take home message to start some discussions at MPOW about how we talk about some of this to our academics, particularly early career researchers (ECR’s) who do not have long and established publishing profiles and need to use a variety of ways to promote themselves and their work.

Thinking time

Unshelved 31 January 2012

I love this. I’m lucky enough to be ‘allowed’ to have thinking time at MPOW – it’s part of our job and often leads to new and interesting things. It’s not necessarily sitting-still-thinking, it might be an informal discussion over coffee with a colleague gathering ideas, or reading a blog post, or talking about twitter, or bouncing an idea for a research project.

All of this ‘thinking’ time means I am better prepared when I talk with academics, I know more about library services and options and I’m a more informed library professional. This is good.

Information silos: or where choosing twitter has let me down

News waves by kevin dooley via flickr CC

I’m going to be bold (and controversial?) and say that I think I am generally less informed as a result of my involvement with twitter.

Don’t get me wrong. I love twitter. I love the connection to a professional community of like minded others and the speed and ease of communicating with those folks. I love the constant, never ending flow of information past my door – and the fact that I can dip in and out of that flow to pick out the things that catch my eye. I would find it both difficult and isolating to be without twitter and my personal learning network.

However, as I’ve mentioned before – I miss browsing and now I’ve found that I’m missing out on a range of information because of the way I have chosen to have that information fed to me. I rely increasingly on twitter for that data flow – but of course the people I follow on twitter are folk with similar interests to mine. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t be following them. On Facebook, I not only limit myself to family and friends (and the occasional page about one of my personal interests) but now the Facebook news feed changes limits that even further by deciding for me which updates I will see.

What all of this means is that increasingly I am less and less likely to come across information, material or news from outside my silo. Yes, I follow some news and journalists on twitter – but I don’t have twitter open on my desktop all the time and in the vast flood of information it’s easy to miss stuff. I can’t physically spend the time scrolling back through the hours and hours of tweets I missed – it’s just not practical. Examples of things I missed? I didn’t know there’d been a nursing home fire in Quakers Hill this week. I didn’t know about the ‘formals scam’ that meant hundreds of Sydney school kids lost money on booking formals and after parties. I didn’t know there are bushfires happening in WA. Did I need to know these things? Probably not, but I don’t like feeling uninformed about issues that are out there being talked about. Would these things have come across my twitter feed? Undoubtably, but as I said, I’m not connected to twitter 24/7.

The way around this of course, is to add yet more ways of getting information. For example, I could go back to reading the paper (either online or in print, I don’t have a preference), or listening to radio news (I love radio as a medium and it’s my biggest regret about using public transport to work, that I miss out on radio news and current affairs time). At least by browsing the paper, or listening to the whole news broadcast things come across my radar that are otherwise outside my ‘bubble’ and I am forced to at least be aware of the political, social and economic environment that continues to exist around me in spite of my seeming best efforts to pretend that it’s not. My twitter feed is the equivalent of only listening to the news stories that already resonate with or interest me.

Time wise this additional information scan would probably be at the expense of time on twitter. However, if I give up time on twitter I am also giving up the community building and social interaction that comes with the medium – and I don’t really want to give that up.

In addition, there’s the silo-ing that’s being done to me by others – mostly companies that collect my data, my browsing history or my favourite search terms and use that information to package up yet more links, suggestions or results in a similar area. Have a look at this post about personal data life-logging, or this one about giving up Google if you want to explore that further. This is an extension of my self-imposed silos but more importantly and perhaps more dangerous in the longer term, it means increasingly I am given/fed/exposed to information and news feeds that I am comfortable with, from people and organisations I generally agree with or am aligned with. There’s not much in my news feed that is confronting, challenging or makes me sit up and think – it’s a ‘yes men’ situation waiting to happen. Not recommended in business and I would argue similarly dangerous personally.

For heavens sake, twitter even once suggested that I follow @newgradlib because we are similar. Of course we’re similar. It’s me.

 

 

Reflection and evaluation

reflections by flickPrince via flickr CC

This post is my final entry for the Social Media subject for my Masters and is designed to both evaluate and reflect on my learning throughout the semester.

As library and information professionals there is no doubt that web 2.0 technologies and social media tools are useful professional development tools and allow us to find new ways of presenting information and communicating and engaging with our customers, including our internal customers. However, as with the introduction of any new library service, there is a danger in providing that service without identification and analysis of user needs first and a strategic planning approach is essential (Choy 2010).

The three study exercises that have most informed my thinking on this are represented in the posts Mapping my PLN, Our online identity  and Information policy. The first two bring together many benefits of social media, particularly in the sense of collaboration and engagement between professionals. The third post looks briefly at how good policy can ensure the tools are used in a way that benefits both organisation and individuals.

Collaboration and engagement are key elements of web 2.0 technologies. In the library and information profession we can use these tools to connect with other professionals as well as with our customers. We know from Li and Bernoff’s Groundswell (2011) that in social media it is important to engage and have a conversation, not just use the tools as a marketing platform for our own causes. This holds true for PLN development, regardless of the tools used. A ‘water cooler’ conversation in the physical office relies on at least two people, talking, listening and commenting, otherwise it is just broadcasting, not conversation.

Social media blurs the line between personal and professional and our online identities are often a blend between the two. Hutton (2008) points out that by participating in online communities we are putting our identities out there for all to see. In this situation it is difficult to keep our place of work from becoming connected with that online identity so careful management of that is required. The Victorian Department of Justice released a video to staff outlining the key points of its social media policy, including that they recognise staff are probably active users of social media and would like them to specify that any views in their personal online space are their own and not those of the department. This aspect of the policy protects both staff and employer from any unforseen consequences of reasonable online behaviour.

Information policy can also clear the way for staff within an organisation to use collaborative and innovative web 2.0 tools to work with each other and experiment with new ideas –in other words, to work in a Library 2.0 space. Support from management is essential if staff are to be allowed to try new things and take advantage of the benefits social media brings in the professional context. For example, an enterprise network such as yammer would provide an informal way for staff to communicate ideas, links, interesting readings and other things of professional interest to other staff, without further cluttering up the email inboxes of colleagues. However, setting up such a network requires support from management and parent organisations – again highlighting the need for good information policy that anticipates and allows for new services.

Personal reflections

To be honest, I started this subject unsure what there was to learn about the use of social media, given the already wide extent of my involvement. I am a heavy user of social media in both my private and professional life.

One of the reasons I participate in so much social media is because I feel that as an information professional I have a responsibility to experience and understand some of the information seeking tools that are being used. This is partly as a way of evaluating their usefulness to both my employer and me and partly as a way of attempting a connection or engagement with my client group (in this case university students).

However, as I started to do more reading about the subject and approach it from a learning perspective I found myself being more rigorous in my evaluation of various web 2.0 tools – to the extent where I even began to question the automatic adoption of them in academic libraries.  This shift from automatically assuming all social media is good and useful to critical evaluation of its application in my particular work environment has been significant.

A particularly significant moment for me during this semester came when I realised that my post questioning the automatic assumption that social media must be good for our customers was being referred to from a link inside a course management system at Monash University. This link started driving traffic to my blog a week or 2 after I wrote the post about ASU library minute videos – it is coming from a Library Science subject called Professional Practice. The implications of this for me are that I need to continue to think carefully about the views and opinions I publish online – they are highly visible and clearly linked to my online identity.

I have looked at Second Life as part of this subject but did not find it useful – I never seemed to be ‘in there’ at the same time as anyone else and found that it wasn’t intuitive to use and the viewer was resource intensive on my computer. Because I never met anyone else in Second Life, I can’t comment on its usefulness as a meeting place, but with so many other web based social media spaces available I can’t see that it offers any significant value given the difficulty in using it. There are, apparently, many benefits to using Second Life in the education/higher education sector but I was not able to engage with any of these benefits in the time I spent reviewing the space.

Similarly I did not really use delicious as part of this exercise. I looked at the collection of links tagged for our study group and added a few links to it but as I already have an extensive personal library set up within diigo I did not find it to be of much use (except as a way of looking at things highlighted by others in the study group).  However, it was a good introduction to using a bookmarking service collaboratively, as I use diigo as a personal tool rather than a way of sharing information.

And so we have come to the end of the semester. Drawing together some of the things that have interested me most in this subject has been an interesting exercise. I think my focus has been on the community development and engagement that web 2.0 and social media technologies allow – I think that Library 2.0 comes from this engagement rather than from a deliberate attempt to ‘2.0 the library’.

I also potentially now have a work related research project to explore further as a result of completing this subject.

As an information professional in an academic library, engagement with individuals is a large part of my role. My job is to build relationships and networks and leverage those to provide support and assistance to the research and teaching community at my university. Social media helps me do that – by helping me build and develop my networks and professional knowledge through engagement with others and their thoughts and opinions.

Building networks extends beyond my actual job – development and maintenance of my personal learning network (PLN) is a vital part of my ongoing professional development. Utecht’s 5 stages of PLN adoption is a useful measuring stick for understanding the process of PLN engagement but the true measure is whether it is a valuable personal resource or not.

References

Choy, F.C. 2010, From library stacks to library-in-a-pocket: will users be around? Library Management Vol. 32, No. 1 / 2 pp.62-72

Hutton, G. 2008, Privacy & online social networks: a proposed approach for academic librarians in university libraries, Dalhousie Journal of Interdisciplinary Management, Vol. 4 http://ocs.library.dal.ca/ojs/index.php/djim/article/view/2008vol4Hutton/67
Li, C. & Bernoff, J. 2011, Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Harvard Business Review Press

Mapping my PLN

image created using Popplet for iPad

Alisa Howlett, blogging at Flight Path recently wrote a post based on Jeff Utecht’s 5 stages of PLN adoption.  I would echo much of what Alisa has written, so pop over and read it rather than have me repeat it all here.

Essentially, the 5 stages are identified as immersion, evaluation, know it all, perspective and balance.

It’s hard to identify at which stage I find myself – I have been through intense periods of involvement with my PLN and am certainly no longer at immersion. However, neither am I entirely happy with my current involvement with my PLN so I wouldn’t call it balanced.

Possibly ‘perspective’ is where I am at.  I know I can’t possibly see or take in everything my PLN puts out on twitter and I have stopped trying to follow all of it. Sometimes I find myself feeling left out when there appears to be an interesting conversation going on – and it’s apparent I’ve missed the good bits – but mostly I acknowledge that I can’t possibly see, understand, comment on and participate in every conversation. Or even most of them.

Meredith Farkas wrote a great post over at Information wants to be free about the problems associated with keeping up with the news flow on twitter and her preference for blogging as a medium for keeping all the big ideas in one place.  Adopting this philosophy, I still follow a lot of blogs – an RSS feed (I use Google reader) collects them for me and they sit and wait until I’m ready to read them, rather than rush by me in a busy twitter stream.

Between my RSS reader and my diigo bookmarks, I feel like I’ve got some measure of control over the information flow – and hopefully some balance (or at the very least, perspective).

(The image of my PLN and it’s connectivity is from a great little iPad app called Popplet, I found out about that via a blog post from Kathryn Greenhill over at Librarians matter).

The value of social networking

Taking off - Canberra 2009

I have blogged about the value of my personal learning network before and my use of social media to build this network, but I rarely think about what I consider social networking to be.

Social networking is the process of using social media tools to build a network of friends, colleagues, professionals, or business contacts, depending on the context of the social network.

Social media tools allow us to engage in conversation with others in a timely and active manner. They allow the one-to-many engagement that delivers quick results for informal learning and discovery.  This one-to-many enables multiple answers to a question or idea and delivers a range of perspectives.

Professionally, I use twitter as my main social networking tool – I have a good network of LIS folk that I engage with on a daily basis. Often this engagement is not on professional topics, but incorporates ‘water cooler’  conversations that encourage deepening of ties and connections over time.

Where else can you find me in the social network? I have an online presence:

I’ve recently started studying again and my subject this semester is Social networking for information professionals.  What do I hope to get from that? A deeper understanding of the structure and theoretical ‘why’ of social networking. I know how to do it, I know what I get from it but hope to formalise that in some way.

A day in the life…

I know it’s not a designated Library Day in the Life date, but frankly, by the 23rd of June, I’m running out of puff for #blogjune posts (in spite of the crowdsourcing I did the other day – thank you, they are all firmly tucked away as ideas to be developed).

So, what did I do today in my still #newjob?

8am: arrived at my desk with coffee & toasted banana bread (believe me, to get here at 8am from my place I can’t have breakfast at home, I’d have to get up at 5.30am…). Did a bit of ‘how was your evening’ with some colleagues while waiting nearly 10 minutes for the work PC to boot up and labour to the point where I could actually use it.

8.15am: sorted through a few emails that had arrived after I left yesterday, mostly FYI, not much action required

8.30am: I’m reviewing the Libguides for one of my Outreach areas, so spent some time looking at what other Universities do in this subject area.

9.45am: Coffee with some team members – possibly my favourite part of the day 🙂

10:00am: More libguides, plus wrangling the University Handbook to try and work out what subjects are taught in this area and who teaches them, so I can make more informed choices about the Libguides review

11:00am: Quick scan of Google Reader led to some reading of interesting articles

12:00pm: Attended a University seminar The iPad in tertiary education with some colleagues.

1.30pm: Lunch – maybe my second favourite part of the day? Beautiful sunshine today, with semester break nearly upon us the Library Lawn is fairly quiet and there’s plenty of places to sit and enjoy the day.

2.00pm: Preparation for a meeting with an academic – well that was the plan. In reality? This is where my day departed from the planned. Instead of preparing during this time, I ended up meeting with the academic earlier than the original meeting time as she had some other issues to discuss and we needed more than the half hour previously allocated. My preparation therefore consisted of a 10 minute conversation with another of my team members enroute to the earlier iPad presentation…

2.30pm: Scheduled meeting (over coffee) with an academic to try and improve my understanding of what is taught in her area and find out what her personal research interests are. Of course, this meeting actually started at 2pm instead.

3:00pm: Evacuation procedures training (refresher?) from the new Help Zone on the main floor of the library – what we have to do if we are rostered onto the Help Zone when an evacuation takes place.  I ended up missing this – see earlier entry about prolonged meeting, which ran over time, didn’t get back to the library until 3.20, by which time the evacuation run-through was finished and I arrived just in time to walk back up the stairs with the rest of the team (thereby possibly managing to look like I had been at the run-through?)

4.00pm: Home! The very good thing about arriving at 8am is I can leave at 4pm and still accrue some flextime.

Actually, it was a pretty good day 🙂