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Posts Tagged ‘web 2’

Opportunities in Difficult Times: UKOLN social networking event

Posted by gazjjohnson on 23 February, 2011

On Tuesday I went down to the Museum Studies dept to speak at a UKOLN event, aimed mostly at the museums and curation sector – so it was nice to go and talk with a different group of folks for a change.  It was also nice to finally make it into one of the few depts where I’ve not done a personal appearance in the past three years at Leicester (think there are still a few more left though).

The day opened by Ross Parry from Leicester giving a welcome and overview of the work and research of the Dept of Museum Studies, which was interesting background material.  Following that we went around the room to gauge the level of experience with social networking which was from a few folks dipping their toes in through to some wanting to do a whole lot more with it.

Ann Chapman then opened up with her first talk – What Web 2 can do for you, which gave a clear overview of Web 2 environment; which for a fair number of people in the room seemed to be right up their street.  While a lot of the material was familiar to me, it was interesting to see them presented in the span of children to OAPs; rather than my usual focus on like-minded professional engagers.  She spent a bit of time talking about character based tweeting as a way of engaging new groups, a serious aim or a more fun option.

We moved on a group exercise looking at generating a business case for a Web 2 resource.  The group I worked with discussed using LibraryThing as a way to get around catalogue software restrictions…I’m sorry, I mean enhance the  accessibility of reading list resources.  A lot of our conversation circled around the idea of how to overcome the barriers that might stop us stone cold dead in the water, but not letting them be the major driver.  We also discussed how important it was to have an aim and objective and an exit strategy, and how to deal with feature creep (as senior managers add new objects to a project in progress).

Next up Ann came back to talk about some tips for getting Web 2 right.  Following on from the business case she talked about the planning you need to do to convince senior management and IT about what you want to do, how you’re going to achieve it and whom will be doing the work, let alone where this fits into your policy.  Some good advice on using the resources followed – obvious if you’ve been working with these for a bit, but much needed for new folks – thinking about spam, thinking about regularity of posts etc.

After lunch Ross Parry came back to talk about distance learning courses in the Museum Studies dept and their use of social networking,  He started off giving an overview of the school and how they have developed over the 50 years of the school, culminating with the Digital Heritage course.  He talked about keeping the print resources that they have developed over the years with the DL reader in mind, whom will likely be time poor and want everything to engage with right there at the point of need.

He talked about technologies and wanting to find an area of co-currated space for the students and staff to use and interact with.  At the same time they were thinking about building relationships with individuals, groups and the sector as a whole through this interaction.  They mounted a blog (Common Room) that was accessed via BlackBoard to give the students a feeling of trust and security, as well as a University feel.  He makes use of Skype video chat for interaction, that really helps the interaction with student.  The DL Curriculum Shell is the way they think about the whole set of environments and student interaction.

Next up I gave a talk expanding on some of the professional experiences I’ve had over the years using social networking environments within Higher Education libraries.  after this there was chance in groups to have a look at some of these social tools, although in my group we spent most of the time having an extended Q&A and demonstration of resources from me than working through the worksheet (sorry Ann, but I think my lot found that useful!).

Finally Ann capped off the day drawing together the various themes – making a case, taking those first steps, ideas for practical experimentation and overcoming obstacles.  A brief discussion followed and then we closed for the day.  I really enjoyed the discussion I had with the various delegates, and as always it’s a sheer pleasure to help out UKOLN whom do offer such an excellent range of expertise and training events across the sectors.

The event programme and presentations can be found here.

Posted in Staff training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

CILIP Umbrella 2009 (Part 2 of 2)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 17 July, 2009

After a good breakfast the final day of the conference began with more breakout sessions.

Maltesers mean answers: a sweeter service for students based on user feedback: Angela Horrocks & Davina Omar, Kingston University.
Kingston University talked about their annual survey run every March for many years by the library with a chance to win Wii or Ipod, but maltesers for everyone. The incentive was small but drew in a good number of students. This survey is in addition to national student survey, but helps gets them in the answering frame of mind to complete the major one. The library survey fills a very important need that the NSS doesn’t cover, for both students and library services. Having a clear purpose for the survey is very important, as otherwise the risk of the students getting survey fatigue could be high. Kingston focus on how students learn and this is the U.S.P. of the survey. Knowing the paths students use to access (e.g. mboile/vle etc) is very important in shaping how and what they teach to students, something I thought was especially interesting.

In terms of resources Kingston use software bought in from Priority Research, allowing their customisation, to handle the survey online along with the analysis. There are some issues

  1. The silent majority (10% return on population) and so worries over accurate representation.
  2. Contacting non-users → how to approach them
  3. Setting the questions → to be open and not drive students down a particular route.

In terms of staffing, need to give the staff the time and the top down support to do the user survey. Have to be prepared to trust the outcome – if students make a demand clear, need to respond appropriately. Kingston suggested you might need to think about quotas – departments, levels, ages or other demographic factors that you want to achieve in returns for appropriate representation. Thinking about how/why you might want to include as many of these as you can. Early surveys (1993) very much targeted at specific user groups, thought to be especially disadvantaged or in need. Yearly surveys since early 90s allow trends and rising (and reducing) priorities for student bodies to be clearly demonstrated.

In 2008 reintroduced 1-2-1 interviews on top of focus groups and surveys. A dozen done to test the waters, as an approach to non-users. Also now do additional focus groups at start of academic year to test early responses to changes put in place. Worry survey is contributing to sample already engaging users rather than non-users. 100 1-2-1s done in 2009 – gave a good snap shot of individual user experiences, rather than anonymised, average student point of vein. Survey moved to online this last year (partly environmental) but also reinvent survey (at least look and feel) – still offer maltesers to those that come to bank of computers. Comments and response from previous year’s survey included in next year’s, so the students can see how library has reacted. Drawbacks include lack of benchmarking with external entities, survey fatigue

The changing landscape of libraries: Tim Leach, BDP
This session was about buildings and architectural considerations. Tim said that library user needs strictly speaking haven’t changed in centuries, light and study space for example, just the ways in which we use technologies and building designs to accommodate them. As technology allows users to work in other places than our library spaces, we have to ensure that our spaces continue to meet their needs and make a welcoming environment they want to visit. The UCL masterplan takes the inherent problems with their historic building and tries to provide as many solutions within a limited rebuild. The key issue was space – due to earlier renovations over the years the original building space is not what it was. There is a need for positive first impression from the first moment walking through door. The building must be legible and accessible, the use signage as a sign of failure (not a point I agree with 100%).

Architectural furniture and fixtures define use of areas, and are not flexible but are suitable for certain environments (e.g. where levels of privacy is desirable). However, they can be a block to interaction between different spaces. Natural light and ventilation provide an environment that can be comfortable for most people. Use technology to change way materials stored and accessed, not just treating shelving as the only answer. Even get people on roofs of buildings by building structures into the environment that surrounds them.

The great good place Andrew Cranfield, IFLA Library Buildings and Equipment Section
Library as the third place (between home and work) was the theme of Andrew’s talk. Library environment and impact of the building resign on staff functions – the two are not independent and need to be considered together. Commented that many libraries today remain too conservative in their redesigns. Monopoly of information provision from libraries is now gone, and must address other approaches to provide services to users. Ambitious libraries (buildings) today seem to reflect new ways of thinking – no longer temple of knowledge to stand for generations but a right here/right now environment with more akin to the retail experience. Non-compartmentalisation of environments – books and café culture should be intertwined (e.g. like the idea stores).

Cerritos Public Library has a books entrance way and 1.2 million visitors/year for tiny local population. Andrew talked of his distaste for elitist colour schemes (black and white starkness) much better to have welcoming colours. Very, very white buildings in 6 months need repainting (e.g. Amsterdam central library). Cultural Black Diamond in Copenhagen – no feeling coming into library, almost too far the other way as a cultural centre, but not a library at all.

Libraries Change Lives Awards
The most interesting part of the awards was that the news of the winners (Leeds Central Libraries) was out on twitter 30 minutes before the start of the ceremony.  Andrew Motion spoke briefly too.

Building a successful library Web 2 service James Smith (Sunderland Libraries) and Nick Stopforth (Newcastle Libraries)

The session was based on things they have done and have learned through trial and error. They shared with us their 7 lessons (well 5 as they over ran and the session ended before they could finish) they have learned through using Web 2 resources such as twitter, wikis, podcasting etc. They did demonstrate a very interesting mashup with Google maps, World War II bombing maps of Sunderland and eye witness accounts of the bombing. The session was mostly full of public librarians, who are it seems less clued up than HE libraries on this sort of technology and how/where it can fit into their working lives (3/4 of the audience had not even heard of twitter for example).

That brought the conference to an end. It had been a packed two days, and I would have loved an extra day either before or after to more fully digest everything that had been discussed. The highs would have to include my session, the networking and the updating of information and skills in general. The lows, well the “gala” conference dinner, lack of hands on sessions and only two days for a very intensive conference. All the same I hope to be back for 2011!

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