Monday, 10 June 2013

Thing 10 : Social Reading

Coincidentally I helped a colleague with a current awareness workshop before looking at Thing 10, so it was very well-timed! I already use RSS feeds and have been using Google Reader for a few years. I started when I was studying for my MA as it helped me keep up to date with current information in topics I was interested in. However as Google Reader is closing in July I’ve been looking at alternatives. There has been a lot written on Twitter and elsewhere about other RSS aggregators, and initially I only looked at Feedly and The Old Reader. Although they both look similar to GR, I think Feedly has an advantage at the moment as is has an app, so I can have all my feeds on my smartphone as well as my desktop. Plus it’s visually attractive! However while exploring this thing I also looked at Pulse, Flipboard and Newsblur. I discounted the later immediately as you have to pay for extra sites. Pulse and Flipboard are both visually appealing. However because I don’t like the desk top version of Pulse and Flipboard doesn’t have one, I think Feedly will be the app I use. It's very easy to import existing feeds from GR and add new ones. The only problem I found was that some Twitter feeds I was following don't seem to be updating. If anyone knows how to remedy this I'd like to know!

I last wrote about RSS in 2011 for 23 Things for Professional Development. At the time I said I was more likely to use Twitter for current information and although I do try and remember to check GR/Feedly this hasn’t really changed. However now I have Feedly on my smartphone I will try to make an effort to use that more.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Thing 9 : QR codes

We’ve been using OR codes in the library for a few years. Here are some examples of how we’ve used them:


For Library tours...


On the end of shelves where they link to our subject Library Guides...





On posters for events in the library...


On plasma screens...

For competitions...

I think it would be great if we could have QR codes on shelves next to popular books which link to the e-book. The list of uses seems endless.



Personally I think they’re great; smartphones are so ubiquitous now it’s so much easier for a student to scan a code instead of writing down a shelfmark or URL (especially as students don’t seem to being pens with them to the library anymore!).  

Thing 8 :Calendar

I’ve decided to skip Thing 7 and come back to it later, so here’s Thing 8.


I wrote about using Google Calendar for 23 Things for Professional Development in 2010. Back then I didn’t have a smartphone so my use was restricted to my desktop. I've just added Google Calendar to my smartphone but at the moment it doesn't seem to sync with my desktop (Outlook) calendar.  At work we use Google calendar to add events to the library website. Unfortunately it doesn't display well on smartphones as we don't have a mobile website at the moment. (However the website is being redesigned this year so hopefully that'll be something they incorporate then). We also add this calendar to our Library Guides.

Another useful app is Eventbrite which is being used a lot now for event bookings. This is useful as it allows users to add the event into their calendars so there’s excuse to forget!

Personally I tend to use my calendar just for work and related stuff, but I can definitely see how having your calendar on a smartphone could help a student to be more organised. Or is that wishful thinking?

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Thing 6 : Video


I like a lot of the ideas for using video which are mentioned in Thing 6; there are some we already do here at the Robinson Library and some which I think would be good to try. Although I’ve not had any opportunity to make any videos myself, we do use them. We have a YouTube channel which consists of a few ‘How to’ videos.  A lot of my colleagues recently attended Camatasia training so I’m sure in the future there’ll be a lot more.

We’ve been brainstorming ideas for Welcome Week this year and have been experimenting with apps such as Animoto and Viddy.  A colleague of mine produced a short video with Animoto promoting a recent event. To be honest I’m not sure how much I like it; I think I would need to have a proper look myself before deciding. The idea of producing a video for induction has been proposed and I think this may be in the works. We’ve had library videos in the past which were professionally made by our now defunct AV department.  Hopefully with all the video making apps available it’ll be quicker and easier to make our own videos.

I like the idea of digital signage. At the moment we have plasma screens around the library highlighting events and resources. We use PowerPoint to produce these but I think incorporating videos and animation would be a good way to capture students’ attention.  I’m not sure how easy this would be though.

As with all of these new tools, I find myself not having enough time to play with them to see what I like best, but I’m sure I’ll come back to them in the future.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Thing 4: Maps and checking in

Foursquare is probably the one social media tool I haven’t really gotten to grips with yet. However at the Robinson Library we've had a Foursquare page for a while now and it seems to be popular with students.
Initially when my colleagues set it up, they added useful tips and created lists. This information highlights the best cultural venues, shopping areas, parks and Libraries in the city. A Campus tour list has tips and information about various locations around campus. All this information is handy for prospective and current students.

We’ve also had few Specials and competitions.  I think this is a good way to encourage readers into the Library, especially if there is a prize!  The prize is usually a Library bag and photocopying credit or a selection of library goodies such pens, pencils, postcards, pads, bookmarks and chocolate! I think Foursquare is fun for students as they can compete against friends to become ‘Mayor, but also it’s a good way of getting feedback and letting staff engage with readers in an informal environment.  

I had a quick play with Google maps and was a little bit frustrated that there were no public transport directions from my home to work, but that could be down to where I live rather than a fault with the app. I love the examples of indoor maps and as we have been considering doing a video guide to the library, maybe this is something we could incorporate in the future.

I think the geocaching idea is interesting, although I wonder how time consuming it would be to set up. We are planning to do a scavenger hunt for induction, so this perhaps something we could do in the future. However I think some colleagues are concerned about excluding library users who don’t have access to a mobile device. Nevertheless I think I would still like to investigate all these tools further, it's just a case of having the time!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Thing 3: Email on the move

I’ve not used an email app on my smartphone as to be honest I’m happy with the email feature which is built into the phone. However I do find it useful to have the facility to email on my phone; I can email links to myself to read later at my PC.

We use email in several ways at the Robinson Library: databases allow users to email citations; students can email catalogue records from the mobile library catalogue; email reminders notify users when a book is due back or a reservation is available and publicity emails are sent to both staff and students in order to gain the widest audience for library events. Now that smartphones are so common, students come to the desk asking for a book and have the details on their smartphone instead of printing it out.

Personally I think a disadvantage of having access to email on a smartphone is that you might never switch off; even if you’re on holiday there is always the temptation to check your work email. Of course this may not be such a bad thing for students!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Thing 2: Taking a photo with a mobile device

A few words on Thing 2…

At the Robinson Library we use photos in lots of ways to promote the library and its resources. We take lots of photos of library events and displays and add them to our various social media platforms, as well as our Library Guides, http://bit.ly/14vj12o

The app we’ve used most is Instagram. This was particularly useful during the library refurbishment last year as we could tweet photos to show some of the changes that were happening. Many of the photos on this Pinterest board were taken during the refurbishment http://pinterest.com/newcastleunilib/the-robinson-library/. Some of my more artistic colleagues have also taken some lovely shots around campus and in Newcastle which we’ve added to our Pinterest and Flickr sites http://pinterest.com/newcastleunilib/on-campus/. It’s a good way of showing current and prospective students what they can expect from their new home. As well as this, we often run competitions on Twitter or Foursquare and take photos of the winners for promotional use. We have a consent form that they sign to allow us to use the images across our social media sites. All of these things help to engage users with what’s going on in the library and hopefully show that there’s more to the library than just books!



The advantage of using a mobile device to take photos is that it’s quicker and easier to shoot, edit and upload images to most social networks, instead of having to hook a camera up to a PC. I haven’t had much chance to play with the other apps suggested for Thing 2, but I think this post by  Ellyssa Kroski sums up some other useful ways to use Instagram http://oedb.org/blogs/ilibrarian/2012/10-interesting-ways-to-use-instagram-for-your-library/.