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Posts Tagged ‘libraries’

The second Keynote Speaker at last week’s Edge 2010 conference was Ewan McIntosh.  From the very start Ewan’s energy and passion for social media was infectious.  He spoke enthusiastically about Twitter, Facebook, Bebo and running his own blog.  He discussed the “illiterate professional class“, highlighting a couple of high profile news stories about users of social media being unaware of the reach of the platform that they were using and an inability to understand that when you post something online, it’s never truly private.   There really is no delete button – it will always exist, somewhere, out there! Worth bearing in mind if you’re considering slagging off your boss – which is pretty much what this Facebook user did last year.

© Blogging Librarian on Flickr

Ewan also talked about the power of the blog in today’s society.  It used to be that once something appeared in print it was rarely ever challenged. I think, to to a certain extent, the system in place for challenging the journalists and national newspapers was too complex and time consuming for many of us to pursue. ..not to mention that the Press Complaints Commission is a self regulating body… Today, however, it’s much easier to correct factual inaccuracies, as Ewan pointed out when he talked about his own experience of being misrepresented in the press. He used his own blog to put into context a quote used in an article published in The Herald about GLOW – “the the world’s first national intranet for education.  In his own blog post Ewan was able to put across his own point of view, thus challenging the journalist’s interpretation of their correspondence.

This is not the first time we’ve seen social media act as a platform to correct factual inaccuracies in the press.  Ben Goldacre regularly takes to his blog to challenge sensationalism and ‘bad science’ in the press.  For example, he was one of the first bloggers to post about the suspicious nature of the bullying allegations against Gordon Brown.

There was so much food for thought in Ewan’s presentation…he also touched upon the pros and cons of the hyperlink; the importance of visual literacy when communicating; open data opportunities for Councils; Mapumental; and net neutrality.  Just sitting there I could tell that Ewan’s presentation had stimulated lots of thoughts and ideas and at the coffee break afterwards I overheard delegates talking about how they really should be upgrading their intranets and exploring social media as a serious tool for communicating with citizens.

I hope that Ewan uploads his presentation soon so that I can post a link to it as there’s lots more that I don’t have space to cover in this blog post.  All in all, an excellent keynote speech! 🙂

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© Blogging Librarian on Flickr

© Blogging Librarian on Flickr

A few months ago Peter Chapman, editor of Refer approached me and Jo Alcock (after fellow blogger Jennie Law recommended us) to co-author an article on librarians and blogging for the Autumn edition of Refer: The Journal of the Information Services Group. Our article is now available online if you want to check it out.

Not only was this a really interesting article to research, but it was also a completely new experience for me in terms of collaboration.  Although I’ve never met Jo I’ve known her for a few years now via social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.  We made full advantage of a range of web 2.0 tools, such as wikis, blogs, microblogs and social bookmarking  to write our article and it was an absolute pleasure to work with Jo on this project. 🙂  Jo has also blogged about the process of co-authoing an article with somebody you’ve never met before!

Hope you enjoy the article! 🙂


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Public Libraries in the 21st Century (C) Christine Rooney-Browne

Public Libraries in the 21st Century (C) Christine Rooney-Browne

Just thought I’d share a couple of presentations that I delivered at two different conferences last week.

First up is my keynote presentation from the SINTO lecture in Sheffield;  “A Look at the Role of Public Libraries in Times of Recession

And secondly, a joint presentation between myself and Liz McGettigan from Edinburgh City Libraries at the annual Internet Librarian International Conference in London; “A Joined Up Approach to Social Media”.

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One of my favourite parts of any conference is always the poster sessions.  This is the time when you get an opportunity to experience (all in one place) the wide variety of library projects and research initiatives happening all over the world.

Poster sessions are always very busy so I made sure that I arrived early in order to speak to as many presenters as possible.  There were some stunning posters on display, but it’s not until you get a chance to speak to the presenter about their project that you get a proper feel for their research or the work that they’ve carried out over the last year.

The three posters highlighted below really caught my attention:

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Marvel Maring, USA

Casting a Net from Nebraska to Nicaragua – highlighting the impact of a project between the University of Nebraska library school and a library school in Nicaragua.  This project is an excellent example of the role libraries can play in building social capital; and their potential in delivering value through partnership working. Presenter: Marvel Maring (USA).

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Máximo Moreno Grez, Chile

Chileans Networking towards the Bicentennial – an inspirational project about citizens from small communities in Chile creating their own websites by uploading user generated content via PCs provided by the local library. Presenter: Máximo Moreno Grez (Chile).

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Tina Mortensen, Denmark

Read it, Show it, Promote it – provided some quirky ideas for public libraries to reach non-users, increase visitor numbers, and make the library a fun and interactive, rather than passive experience. Presenters: Michael Larsen and Tina Mortensen (Denmark).

Please note that it was quite noisy and very busy during the poster session, so apologies if I’ve misinterpreted any of these posters. Apologies also for the quality of the photos, which were taken on my iPhone3G.

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© Christine Rooney-Browne

© Christine Rooney-Browne

Instead of talking about the presentations,  the hot topic at the start of the IFLA conference seemed to be the WIFI access at the conference centre. Many were discussing the fact that they would have to pay €10 for 4 hours WIFI access.  The alternative was to either queue for 10 minutes complimentary access in the hallway, or at the library bus just outside of the conference centre.

And so began the confused and somewhat bemused updates on Twitter, with a number of #fail tweets from disgruntled tweeps and bloggers who had expected the WIFI to be free; it seems to be free at most of the other conferences we’ve all attended recently…

Some dismissed the issue, stating that we were there to listen and learn from the presenters and to network in real life, rather than to check our e-mail.  I think they were missing the point a bit.

There are various reasons why one would expect and rely upon free access at an international library conference; and these reasons extend well beyond being able to check our e-mail!   For example, during sessions it can be beneficial to be able to check out the speaker’s online biography; or to look up a specific library website; or even to bookmark some of the resources that the speaker has highlighted on their slides to our Del.icio.us accounts…

Also, I know that I am incredibly lucky to be able to attend this conference and I’m well aware that there are many more library and information professionals back home in Scotland who would have loved the chance to attend, but are unable to because of financial constraints, lack of time, etc… Many of these people follow my updates on Twitter; some specifically to be kept informed about news and ideas filtering through from the sessions I attend.   A fellow IFLA blogger referred to this as citizen journalism.  And I guess it is… 🙂

In addition, as a few of the sessions I wanted to attend were on at the same time, it would have been beneficial to be able to conduct a quick search using the IFLA hashtag on Twitter (#ifla2009 or #ifla09) to see updates from other delegates tweeting from these sessions…

So, on the second day I succumbed and purchased the €10 card…thinking that if I only logged on occasionally I could make my 4 hours stretch the duration of the conference.   However, on Wednesday came the announcement that WIFI would be free for the remainder of the conference – yay! The power of Twitter, again?  🙂

Surely, at an international conference where we all come together to discuss hot topics in librarianship and the information society, such as; freedom of information; democratic access to the world’s knowledge; the future of library service provision etc… delegates should be provided with free and democratic access to the internet?!  Plinius, a fellow blogger referred to access to online resources at this year’s conference as IFLA1.5, rather than 2.0 😀

Apparently, free WIFI at future IFLA conferences will be discussed in more depth at a later stage.  Word on the street is that it’s a budget issue…but I hope that at IFLA 2010 in Gothenburg the issue will be resolved and that all delegates are given a username and password as part of their IFLA welcome packs!

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One of my favourite things to do on holiday is to visit public libraries; some people might think that’s a bit sad but I look at it as keeping up to date with everything that’s going on internationally.

On this trip I visited Toronto Public Library’s Central Branch, which  occupies a very convenient space on York Street, not far from the main shopping district in Toronto.  It boasts a style of architecture and interior design that I think (and I’m no expert!) was very popular in the late 1970s.  If I’m honest, it was actually really nice to visit a library that hadn’t been completely re-designed to look like a bookshop – it looked and felt like a library ought to and I loved it!

Toronto Public Library - Central Branch

Toronto Public Library - Central Branch

We visited on a weekday morning and were surprised by how busy it was.  And not just on the ground floor where the café was situated, but on every floor.

I was visiting with somebody who didn’t have the first clue about Dewey Decimal Classification and this really made me re-think how we catalogue books in our libraries.  Sure, my friend was able to stand in line to find out from a very helpful librarian the location of the book he was looking for…but this highlighted to me just how unfriendly Dewey is to users with no concept of how the system works.

I’ve had several discussions / arguments since then with other librarians about whether or not we should be organising book stock to make it easier for staff or for users to locate books.  It seems some people feel quite strongly about maintaining systems such as Dewey but I’m just not sure anymore, especially after experiencing first hand the many obstacles my friend had to overcome just to locate one book…

…maybe we should just hand out compact versions of RFIDs to each user as they enter our libraries?

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I’ve been lucky enough to spend the last three weeks in Canada, visiting Toronto, Québec City and Montreal.  The main reason for my trip was to attend IFLA’s World Library & Information Congress in Québec City.  It was such a brilliant experience; meeting librarians from Japan, Canada, USA, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia…I think just about every country / continent was represented and it made for a wonderfully diverse and inspiring conference.

I also got to co-present one of my papers on ‘public libraries and web 2.0 technologies’ and sit proudly in the audience as David McMenemy presented another paper that I’d co-authored on ‘measuring the performance of public libraries’.   Such a brilliant experience!  And I’ve made lots of contacts too…which was a bit surreal at times…to actually meet the people that I’ve spent the last couple of years citing in papers;  I think I might even have come across as a bit star struck with some of them! 😀

Feels like I’ve achieved so much in just one week of ‘conferencing’ and I’d recommend to any new researchers out there trying to build up a reputation in the sector to sign up for future conferences as the experience has proven invaluable for me!

I’ve uploaded the Powerpoint presentation on public libraries and web 2.0 onto Slideshare.  Click here if you want to check it out.

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