Blog resurrection and Twitterfall

Hello! After nearly 3 years, I’ve decided to resurrect this blog.  There are various reasons for choosing to do this now.  I’m overseeing the setting up of a new library and information service, and am therefore thinking about lots of new things.  I’ve just properly started on CILIP chartership – I registered in February, but haven’t really got very far up until the past week or so.  Finally, in the past few weeks I’ve registered for 2 conferences, having not attended one for a couple of years, and am feeling a renewed enthusiasm for my CPD.

This evening I attended my first #chartership twitter chat.  I’ve previously used Hootesuite for twitter chats, but decided to try out another tool I’d heard of for this evening – Twitterfall.  Tweets fall into the Twitterfall screen a bit like a slow waterfall.

waterfall

Photo by Tom Hall via Flickr http://bit.ly/1LAq3qx

You can choose which tweets you see with a list, search or location and you can exclude searches too.  There’s also tick boxes to add tweets from your timeline, that you’re mentioned in or your direct messages.  I just used a search for #chartership and missed some replies to my tweets that were missing the hashtag.  Now I’ve found the mentions tickbox I’ll use that as well for chats so I don’t miss helpful replies!

I like how tweets fall slowly onto the page slowly.  If lots of people are tweeting at once you don’t get overwhelmed.  I’m quite a slow reader and the default speed worked for me, but you can speed it up if you want. Once I’d worked out symbol that looks a bit like a refresh button was a ‘View conversation’ button, that was useful too.

Twitterfall

I also realised partway through the chat that if you’re hovering over one of the tweets in the fall, the fall is paused so you don’t get any new messages.  This is a really useful feature if you’re taking a bit longer to read a tweet, trying to catch up with them or contemplating a response.  However, if you find yourself wondering why no one is tweeting, check you haven’t left your cursor hovering over the fall.

When you hover over a tweet an arrow appears at the right hand side giving you various options – DM, Follow, Favourite, Reply, Retweet, Report and View.  You can follow, favourite, reply and retweet satisfactorily from within Twitterfall, but when I tried View it took me to Twitter and when I returned to Twitterfall it started the fall all over again.  So, if you want to view someone’s Twitter page, I’d open the View link in a new tab/window.  One thing I found quite frustrating was that you don’t get a normal mini profile when you hover over someone like you do in Twitter – the pop up you get is missing their picture and blurb.

Twitterfall2

Overall, Twitterfall worked really rather well for following a twitter chat and I’ll be using it again.

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Thing 12: Putting the social into social media

This post was written for 23 Things for Professional Development, Thing 12.

Am I a social media lurker or a social media socialite?  Well, I think I am somewhere in between, but closer to the lurker end of the spectrum.  It varies between social media sites and twitter is where I’m most social.  I always respond to thank someone if they tweet a link that makes me think “Wow, that’s brilliant”, I’ve attended a few uklibchats where although I’m not particularly vocal I do participate in the conversation and I do occasionally respond to or ask questions on twitter.  Blogs I comment on occasionally but not as often as I would like and elsewhere I’m pretty much a lurker.  Sometimes my lurking is because when I come across somewhere I want to contribute I think “Oh I’ll think of a good way of writing what I want to say on that later” and either never finding time to do it or finding that someone else gets there first with what I wanted to say.  I like to follow and read posts by people from different sectors and different stages of their career, but find it easier and less daunting responding to people in a similar situation to me.  I think this is a combination of it being less likely that I have completely missed the point if they’re writing about something I do too, often having met them face-to-face as well as online, worrying that people won’t be interested in the thoughts of mere graduate trainee and, if the person I am responding too works at a certain level, that maybe one day they might interview me for a job and so anything I say now is effectively part of a job application.

However, sometimes my lurking is out of choice.  I have different reasons for using social media sites and not all of them are about being social.  For example I’ve chosen not to use the social side of LinkedIn for now – it’s just somewhere to (hopefully) direct people googling me to information I would like them to see and for me to store contact information for people I would like to keep in contact with.  My main use of twitter is as a current awareness service – when I have less time due to other stuff happening in life the interacting is the first to go.  This is because although I get something out of interacting with people on twitter I feel that reading articles other people very kindly tweet is a more valuable use of my time.  So really, the only way I would like to become more social at the moment is by commenting on blog posts more – just need a little more confidence.

Things 6 and 7: Professional networking – better known, better connected, better equipped

This post was written for 23 Things for Professional Development, Thing 6: Online networks and Thing 7: Real-life networks.

Professional networking is all about building relationships with people, sharing information with them and helping each other.  I often find the initial connecting stage of networking daunting, particularly in a large room/online network full of people I don’t know, but it’s something I’m definitely getting better at.  Once I’ve got past that first stage though, I find networking really fun.  I love talking to people and finding out what they do, I really enjoy helping other people – that’s one of the main reasons I joined the profession – and having people I can turn to when I need help makes life much easier and less stressful.

On the cpd23 Thing 6 post Helen suggests all the advantages of online professional networking fall under the headings of becoming:

  1. Better known
  2. Better connected
  3. Better equipped

I like this way of thinking about networking and I think it applies to real-life networking as well as online networking.  If you want more information on the What, How, Who, Where, When and Why of networking I would recommend the recorded webinar on this blog post.  I’ll now go on to discuss some networks I already use and some I have investigated for things 6 and 7.

Colleagues

My workplace is where I do most of my real-life professional networking.  I work for a large library and get a chance to work alongside, or at least chat during tea breaks with, a fairly large number of library professionals at various stages in their careers and with various areas of expertise.  I also have a ready made network in the other Oxford University library trainees, who meet regularly for training sessions.

Twitter

Twitter is currently my main online networking tool.  As I said in my Thing 4 post, I find my twitter network really useful for keeping up to date with news and trends in the profession.  One of the best things about twitter as a professional network is that there are so many different people there – it’s not limited to one sector or one career stage like some of my other networks are.  Even though I’ve only been on twitter a few months I already have 99 followers on twitter (almost all library and information professionals), most of whom would probably never have heard of me if it weren’t for twitter, and I’ve had tweets retweeted so even more people will have seen my name in connection with something library-related.  Twitter has also helped me keep in contact with people who I’ve met at real-life networking events such as the CILIP New Professionals Day.

CILIP

CILIP, and other professional associations, have great potential as a source of networking opportunities.  So far the only one I’ve really taken advantage of was the New Professionals Day, but I’m planning to attend my first regional branch meeting on the 4th of July in Reading (on updates in copyright) and hope to be able to make it to more events in London once I’m studying there.  I really enjoyed the New Professionals Day not just because of what I learnt at the sessions, but also because I got to meet lots of other new library and information professionals.  Talking to other attendees between the sessions, at lunch and afterwards at the pub I got to find out more about where other people were in their career, what they do, where they were going and their opinions on the talks and workshops.  My only regret was not getting contact details for some of the interesting people I met.

Even though I’ve been a member of CILIP for about eight months I didn’t know about the existence CILIP communities, a collection of forums, blogs and people, until I started Thing 6.  It’s interesting to know it’s there, but looking through recent threads on the forums there weren’t any conversations I felt I immediately wanted to join in with and I seem to follow most of the blogs that I find interesting already.

LISNPN

LISNPN was the first online professional network I joined and it really made me feel part of something bigger.  I enjoyed finding out about other graduate trainees on the forum, which resulted in my first real-life networking event outside my workplace when I went to London to meet other trainees and LIS students.  I’ve also found the downloadable resources section with anonymous reviews of LIS degrees and how to guides for tasks such as using twitter, getting published and interviewing well (as the interviewee).

LinkedIn

The Oxford trainees had a session at the Oxford University Careers Service a couple of weeks ago which was amazingly useful and covered, among other things, LinkedIn.  Some of the top tips I came away with were:

  •  The headline, summary and your name are the bits that are searchable from a search engine, so make sure keywords are there. (The headline is the bit below your name, e.g. ‘Radcliffe Science Library Graduate Trainee at Bodleian Libraries’, and you can change it by going to Edit profile and clicking on the edit link next to your name)
  • Recommendations! You can get recommendations from anyone your connected with, which means you can basically have references from people you’ve worked with or for, but who aren’t your line manager.  I think this is brilliant, but it does have the rather large downside that you can only get recommendations from people who are on LinkedIn.
  • There are lots of sections you can add if you think they’re relevant, such as courses, projects and volunteer experience.  Find the link to add them just under the big grey box on the Edit profile page.
  • You can change your public profile url so that it’s your name rather than a string of numbers, for example mine is http://uk.linkedin.com/in/lizzieatkinson
  • A good LinkedIn profile can back up what you’ve put on a job application.  According to a 2011 US survey by Reppler 48% of hirers use LinkedIn to screen candidates and although (I strongly hope) you won’t be rejected for not having a LinkedIn profile, 68% of hirers had hired someone because of what they saw on a social networking site (not necessarily LinkedIn).  I’ve no idea what those stats would be like for library and information jobs in the UK, but if it might help me get a job it sounds like a good idea.

I came away from the session feeling very positive about LinkedIn and determined to vamp up my rather bare and neglected LinkedIn profile.  I wanted to include details about all the jobs I’ve had and all the volunteering I’ve done as they’ve all developed skills that would be useful for jobs I might want to apply for and I didn’t want to miss anything out.  Then I sat down and had a bit of a rethink.  I’m fairly open and happy for people to find me online, but I felt like I was putting my life history out there online and wasn’t really comfortable with that.  So, for now, I’ve stuck to my library work experience, with a description of my current post, and my degree with a bit of an explanation of what it was because the title doesn’t make it obvious, the projects I did and a list of the societies I was on the committee for and some of the outreach volunteering I did.

LIKE

LIKE is the London Information & Knowledge Exchange.  I’ve not been to any of their events before but had heard of them and some of their meetings sound really interesting.  I’m hoping to make it to some of their meetings once I’m studying in London.

Organise your own event

Finally, if you think it would be good if there was an event to share ideas about a particular topic or for a particular group of people to meet then make it happen.  It might involve a lot of work or it might not.  I organised a cpd23 meet up in Oxford last week.  All I had to do was suggest a time and place via this blog and twitter and I got to meet some interesting library and information professionals who I’d not met before (as well as some who I had).

Thing 4 (part 1): Using twitter and google reader for current awareness

This post was written for 23 Things for Professional Development, Thing 4: Current awareness – Twitter, RSS and Storify.

This week for cpd23 we’re looking at current awareness and how to keep up with what’s going on in the world of libraries.  I’ve been using twitter and google reader for this for a little while now and find them really useful.  In this post I’ll be sharing what I’ve learnt about using twitter and google reader effectively as current awareness tools.  I’ll be covering storify, scoop.it and paper.li, which are all new to me, in another post.

So, what this is really about is getting the information you want to come to you without being swamped by too much of it or lots of stuff your just not interested in.  The most important thing I’ve learnt is don’t try to read everything.  If something is really important it will be tweeted again, or someone else will link to the blog post and if your not finding something interesting, stop reading it!

Twitter

I signed up to twitter a few months ago so that I could join in UKLibChat and at the time wasn’t really sure what other use I could get out of it.  I then started following some of the people I met on UKLibChat and found that people were tweeting interesting information and links to interesting articles.  As I started following more people twitter soon joined google reader and CILIP newsletters as one of my key current awareness tools.  If you’re just starting and looking for who to follow @CILIPinfo, @liz_jolly and @girlinthe spring to mind a tweeters of interesting/useful links.

When I first joined twitter one of the problems I found was that some organisations were tweeting lots of interesting stuff, but  they were tweeting far to often and were drowning out everyone else.  The solution I found to this was to arrange these organisations into categories and put them into lists.  You don’t have to be following someone to put them in a list, so this way they don’t swamp my home page, but I can easily see what they have been saying.  I’ve recently found out about Listorious, a useful tool which lets you search for twitter lists created by other people, courtesy of a tweet by @meg_librarian.  List searching is something I don’t think  you can do from twitter itself.

Another use I’ve found for lists is my library jobs list.  I’m not actively job hunting at the moment, but I like to keep an eye on what’s out there so I’ve created a list of people/organisations who tweet UK library jobs.  This is one place where I do try to read everything.  So far I’ve got @UKLibraryJobs, @LISNPN, @LISJOBNET, @tfpl_Ltd, @jobsforinfopros and @sarahcchilds.  Anyone know of any good ones I’m missing?

So how can I make better use of twitter?  One of the things I’d like to work on with twitter is remembering to tweet and retweet links to articles and blog posts I find interesting/useful/entertaining.  If I’ve enjoyed it, chances are someone else will too and it really doens’t take much time to post something to twitter.  If something doesn’t have a ‘post this to twitter’  button I use HootSuite’s Hootlet, which sits in my bookmark toolbar and creates an editable tweet with a shortened URL with one click.

Google Reader

Almost as soon as I discovered the biblioblogosphere, when I started my graduate traineeship last autumn, I also discovered google reader. It really does make following blogs much easier.  I subscribe to over 100 blogs with google reader, most library-related but some by friends and about other interests too, which is something I could never keep up with without a feed reader, such as google reader.  So far I’ve only used it to follow blogs, but you can follow much more with it – anything with an RSS feed.

I organise the blogs I subscribe to into different folders which helps me decide whether I want to read a post and what it might be about if the title is a bit vague.  For example I’ve got a graduate trainees folder, as I like to know what other trainees are doing, and a must read folder, which is people who I find particularly interesting and want to make sure I don’t miss any of their posts.  Although even with posts in my must read folder if I get to the end of the second sentence and I’m not interested I’ll stop reading.

When I go to google reader the first thing I do is have a quick skim through the titles using list view (button in the top right) and start by reading anything that sounds particularly interesting.  If the title doesn’t catch my interest it probably won’t get read.  Whenever the number of unread items gets too high for my liking I mark everything older than a week as read.

If you’re looking for some blogs to follow, some of my favourites are the Undergraduate Science Librarian, Laura’s Dark Archive, Dymvue, Organising Chaos and Clare’s Aber Antics.

Into the web 2.0 jungle

Over the past month I’ve started using a number of web 2.0 technologies as tools professional development and networking.  They have varied in ease of use and how useful I have found them, though I can’t say I am using any to their full potential yet.  Here is a summary of my findings of this journey into the web 2.0 jungle (at times it has definitely felt like a jungle).

LIS New Professionals Network (LISNPN)

This was the quickest and easiest tool to set up.  The forums are great for getting information and connecting people, I’ve found the how-to-guides (in the downloadable resources section) extremely useful and it was through LISNPN that I found myself in London last Monday evening meeting up with other graduate trainees and library school students.  It was a brilliant evening and one that really made me really feel I am part of a community.  So a big thumbs up to LISNPN!

LinkedIn

I set up a LinkedIn account back in (I think) September, but wasn’t really sure about it and had very little information on there and no connections.  An invitation from another trainee to connect on LinkedIn prompted me to have another go with LinkedIn.  I’ve added some more information, made a few connections and joined a couple of groups, but it’s not something I’ve managed to integrate into my routine and I’m not using it well yet.  Definitely one to come back to, but I’ll probably put it on hold until I feel I’ve settled in to blogging and twitter.  I think I’ve probably tried to start too many things at once and would be better focussing on fewer things for now.

Twitter

I started using twitter because I wanted to participate in #uklibchat and initially I thought that might be all I’d use twitter for.  I’ve really enjoyed the two #uklibchats I’ve attended and have got some useful information from them.  However, the main use I have got out of twitter has ended up being the new source of information opened up to me through the frequent tweets of links to news items and blog posts.  So twitter has ended up being more of a success than I expected, though I feel I could still be getting more out of it if I used it more for its original purpose – conversation.

Getting started with twitter took more time than LISNPN, but not as long as I thought it might before I started.  An hour or so setting up the account, reading the twitter help pages and playing around searching for people and hashtags, and experimentally following a couple of interesting looking organisations and I was away.

Blogging

Blogging, as expected, has been by far the most time consuming exercise.  Blogging for the Library Day in the Life project this week on the Oxford Libraries trainees’ blog has been particularly intensive.  I’m trying to blog both on this blog and the trainees’ blog because I see the two blogs as having very different main purposes:

  • I use the Oxford Libraries trainee’s blog to inform people who are interested about my traineeship – what I’m doing and what I’m learning through what I’m doing.
  • I use this blog to reflect on what I’m doing and thinking about and as somewhere for me to write down my thoughts.  I’d like other people to read it and find it interesting, but that’s really a bonus.

So far I’m struggling to get as many posts written as I’d like.  I’ve now got several half written posts but they all need more research or investigation to be ready to post and I’m not managing to find enough time for that at the moment.  This is probably another consequence of taking on too many new things at once on top of a full time job and my ongoing efforts to learn more about the profession I’m entering via more traditional methods (CILIP Update, journal articles and books).  Hopefully I’ll get quicker at the writing stage at least with practice.

Facebook

I have made the decision to keep facebook as my personal social networking space and not using it in a professional capacity.  Although web 2.0 tools now blur the divide our between professional and personal lives, I still want to keep some distinction between the two.  Though saying that, I have always been careful to make sure there is nothing on my facebook profile I wouldn’t be happy with a (potential) employer or colleague seeing.  As much as I try to keep on top of my privacy settings I don’t feel that I can trust facebook to keep private what I want private.

So, in conclusion, I’m glad I made the leap and initiated my library self into the web 2.0 world.  I’m thoroughly enjoying the experience and finding value in these tools.  However, I do sometimes feel a little like I’m drowning in everything and it may have been better to start one new thing at a time.  On the other hand, everything is so interconnected now maybe doing several things at once is useful?

#UKLibChat

My second (professional) new year’s resolution was to start attending and contributing to #UKlibchat – a fortnightly twitter discussion group about library issue.  Last Thursday I attended the first #UKLibChat of the year.  The topic was Libraries and Librarians in 2012.  I particularly enjoyed the first question: “What was your biggest achievement of 2011?”  I think it’s important to focus on what we have already achieved sometimes, rather than always concentrating on what we’ve still got left to do.   I found it interesting to hear views from participants with wide-ranging library backgrounds and think this is a great way to bounce ideas off other people.

Before attending #UKLibChat my first task was to properly set up a twitter account and work out how to use twitter.  Last year I tried to follow the chat on Library School, but as I only got round to signing up for twitter about five minutes before it started, I got rather lost and confused, so didn’t contribute anything.  This time I was more prepared.  I spent some time a couple of days before going through the twitter help centre – wonderful for demystifying twitter terminology – and signed up for HootSuite which I found made it much easier to keep track of the conversation.  Although I am still getting used to twitter, I really enjoyed the experience and I’ll definitely be back for another #UKLibChat.