Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Thing 23 - Worldle and blogging about my Cam 23 experience

Well, what an adventure 23 Things has been! Definitely feeling exhausted but exhilarated too, just like the lions of Zimbabwe!


This has not been the smooth ride that I was hoping for, as I've bumped a few times across personal hurdles mostly to do with blogging, hence a delayed start and a few personal demons to slay en route. In all honesty though I can see many advantages to blogging, not least the professional community it builds and the exchanges that spring from comments and posts. I guess you could describe me as a reluctant convert. I'll try to stick with it though, let's see how it goes.

However I've also hugely enjoyed discovering various tools I was more of less familiar with and taking the time to assess them for my personal use, a potential professional use, and from our library users' point of view. I was surprised to discover that I had strong opinions on some of these.

Some of the Things have become firm personal favourites, like iGoogle and LibraryThing. Some were already old friends, and Google Calendar, Doodle, Facebook and Twitter are definitely here to stay and be explored to the limits of what they have to offer (for me or for the library).

My colleagues and I also took this opportunity to start our Library Facebook page and start Tweeting for the Library, although this will really take off when we reopen on Monday 6 September.

Other Things I have (re)discovered and will be using enthusiastically from now on: Flickr and SlideShare are firmly on the radar, Creative Commons and Podcasts and wikis I'll have to get to grips with, but will carry on exploring those. Zotero I need more time with but it's too good not to continue with, from a personal standpoint but it's also a fantastic tool to promote to our students.

Some on the other hand I didn't get on that well with: I'll give LinkedIn another go but probably won't persevere with it, Delicious I'll give another go and see how I get on with it. There are definitely advantages to these tools, but my heart's just not in it.

There's so much potential there, and to me there's no doubt that Web 2.0 technologies are the way of the future for libraries. It's up to us to embrace these and turn them to our, and our users', advantage.

In conclusion, 23 Things has given us plenty to look at, evaluate, offering new ideas and new strategies, and hopefully we'll implement some of them within our library. To paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes, '(wo)man's mind, once streched by a new idea, cannot return to its original shape' and that has been a true gift from the six leaders who set up the programme. My grateful thanks to every one of you!

And last but not least, here's my 23 Things Wordle:

Thing 22 - wikis

Well, I haven't as yet got much experience of wikis, I've only come across them a few times so far. I appreciated the info posted on the 23 Things website, they suddenly make a lot more sense!

Like several others I'm sure, my main experience with wikis is actually Wikipedia, a good source for a first point of contact to get a quick idea on a topic. I'll echo Trainee Mermaid Dives In 's musings on Wikipedia, I've never had a problem with it, but have nevertheless taken the information there with a pinch of salt and to be double-checked - especially since Gary Delaney, a stand-up comedian we went to see at the Edinburgh Fringe last week, freely admitted with a dirty chuckle to spam Wikipedia for the fun of it. The librarian in me definitely bristled at that!

As for other wikis, I wasn't aware of the Library Success wiki about best practices in libraries, but got quite excited when I came across it reading up on the subject. I've been dipping in and out of it and have made it a favourite, watching out in particular to see which areas get updated.

Thing 21 - Podcasting (YouTube, Audacity and iTunes)

I'll be totally honest, to my great shame I knew very little about podcasts until a few months ago. Yes, I knew they existed out there and that various people (but who?...) used them, but more than that I hadn't got a clue. Didn't know exactly what they were not what they were for, and to my shame I never really took the time to investigate further.

... until I started singing lessons and my singing teacher was aghast that I didn't use YouTube to compare singers and performances. She pointed me in the direction of Sarah Connolly's incredible performance as Julius Caesar in Handel's Giulio Cesare in Egitto at Glyndebourne in 2005. It was love at first hearing! Sarah Connolly is indeed extraordinary, just see and listen to Va tacito e nascosto and Non è si vago e bello - oh, and Aure, deh, per pietà, it's heart-renderingly good! Danielle de Niese as Cleopatra is also well worth having a listen to, in V'adoro, pupille for example. And I can't not mention one of my absolute favourite arias, Sesto's Cara speme, by the fantastic Austrian mezzo Angelika Kirschlager. Truly superb! Goosebumps stuff! Oh, and one last one: the duet between Sesto and Cornelia, Son nata a lagrimar, 'I was born to cry'... Will it surprise you to hear that I went to Heffers Sound to buy the DVD that very lunchtime?

Anyway. Enough of all that. You may have guessed that since this YouTube revelation, I'd become a huge fan of podcasts in general, although since it's honesty hour I was extremely relieved to hear that we weren't required to create a podcast in order to "pass" Thing 21, just comment on them. Phew! I also realised while working on Thing 21 that I had at various times been sent links to podcasts and thoroughly enjoyed a lot of them... without even realising that that's what they were. Gnargh!

Since we were required to look at podcasts from the point of view of marketing libraries, I did of course look at (nearly) all of the ones recommended and in true 23 Things spirit have now subscribed to a few podcasts and started working my way through them all. I've explored podcasts as yet another current awareness tool that I'll be using long after the Cambridge 23 Things programme is over - and have a look at Audacity at that point. iTunes I do use already but to upload music I already own onto my mp3 player rather than to purchase, download or subscribe to anything new.

As for whether or not we'll create our own podcasts for our Faculty Library, I personally think it's way too early to tell. The medium clearly has a lot of potential for quick audio-guides for example, perhaps to complement existing print ones, or give virtual tours of the library. We however are not quite there yet. I'd rather be cautious about it at this point, since I am very aware that library podcasts, if not carefully crafted, all too easily fall into the "dad at the disco syndrome" that LottieMSmith mentioned in her post about Facebook: trying too hard to be trendy but in truth just awkward and cheesy and plain embarrassing. This will require a lot of work to get right, much more so than print resources or a new website, so podcasting is a Thing we'll bear in mind for the long-term future but not necessarily for the short to medium term.