Facebook in libraries… day 2

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A very brief post following up on yesterday’s post, just to document a few ups and downs in the process of developing a facebook page for my library…

Ups:

  • Lots of good UK and North American examples of library facebook pages to take inspiration from
  • Plenty of freely available widgets to turn to the library’s advantage such as a virtual bookshelf (showing new acquisitions – this is even RSS fed), RSS feed display tools, as well as COPAC, WorldCat and JSTOR search widgets
  • The potential to adapt functions that will be familiar to most facebook users in novel ways (e.g. using a photo album with annotated comments as a virtual library tour and guide to resources)

Downs:

  • The inability to use some widgets on developer pages – this is very annoying!
  • The fact that I have to develop the page through my own personal account
  • My general paranoia about security and sharing my own details with widget developers… but that’s my problem not facebook’s 😉

I’m looking forward to carrying on working on this tomorrow 🙂

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Libraries on Facebook

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I’m a fan of the social networking site Facebook, I can’t deny it.  It has helped me to get in tough with loads of people who, for one reason or another, I had grown apart from.  It lets me keep track of what my friends are up to, and even reminded me of the delights of playing Scrabble…

…and yet, despite lots of talk of social networking and libraries I have yet to build a Facebook page for my  own library.  Reasons for this are plentiful:

  • Time – as a solo librarian I have lots of other responsibilities, and additional “projects” such as this are always at risk of being put on the back-burner
  • User demographics – the profession I work for has a predominant make-up of middle-aged and over… would a Facebook group get any use?
  • Added value? – would a Facebook page really provide extra value for library users?  Would it be a valuable use of my time on their behalf?

I could go on…

However, that’s all about to change.  I’ve bitten the bullet and started to build a library page.  So, why the change of heart?   Well, the biggest factor is library users.  Whilst digging around on Facebook I found that some members of my organisation had started their own social group, and it had a reasonable number of (young) members.  This got me thinking about librarianship and the importance of horizon scanning and early adoption of new technologies.

Despite the current makeup of my organisation’s membership, the future will inevitably bring new blood, wanting new services and diversity of information provision.  The new generation will expect their organisation to move with them, and to deliver information in the ways they expect, not just sticking with the “tried and tested” methods because that is what has always been done.

A facebook page will allow the promotion of the Library and events that I am running (even offeringthe possibility of booking management made easy),  will allow me to provide regular updates of new resources available to members in real time (rather than just through the bi-monthly organisational publication) and will also allow new lines of communication to be opened between the Library and the organisation’s members – perhaps even members who would not be reached by more traditional methods.

I don’t expect this to be an instant success – it will take plenty of promotion, persistence and [crucially] sticking power before it comes to fruition.  However, the minor investment of time and effort now promises to provide a wave of benefits in the future.

Should it prove unpopular or unsuccessful what has been lost?  A few hours here and there… no more, no less… and I think I can just about justify that 😉

Cute librarian?

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According to my blog viewing stats, the most popular search terms that have been used to find my ramblings are “librarian” and “cute”…

You guys know me too well 😉

OpenLearn – Open Educational Resources from the Open University

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OpenLearn is the Open University’ (OU) educational resources (OER) website, which offers free access to a wide variety of educational content and learning materials. Initially inspired by MIT’s OpenCourseWare, the OU now provides over 900 learning hours of materials covering a range of different topics – from science and IT, through to the arts and languages.

Apparently this was launched in 2006, but the first I heard of it was when a leaflet arrived at my workplace this morning advertising this as a resource (very remiss of me!). Thank crunchy for good old-fashioned advertising though, because this really is a resource worth investigating!

I’ve not had chance to try any of the course materials yet [I dare say I’ll post something once I’ve given it a test-drive], but the fundamentals as I see them are as follows:

  • Anyone can use the resources and study materials provided – just turn up to the website, register, then get cracking
  • Once inside you are presented with what is effectively a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that offers you a number of different options. You can browse through courses on offer by following topic links (e.g. “Technology” or “Study Skills”), or by more specific terminology in the form of a tag cloud.  Additional support modules include forums where you can discuss ideas with other participants, video conferencing software and instant messaging (allowing contact with learners from around the globe).
  • There’s also a “learning journal” module, allowing you to make notes on courses.  These can either be made private, opened up to other participants, or made public to anyone who visits the site.  Effectively they are learning logs or blogs, and so come with similar benefits such as tagging and RSS, and thus you can track the public posts of other people and make use of their observations.

This all falls within a module called LearningSpace.  Interestingly though, there is also an additional module called LabSpace, which contains all the resources from the LearningSpace, along with additional material from obsolete OU courses.  The LabSpace section aims to encourage learners and, more specifically, educators, to manipulate and reuse course material (the online resources fall under a creative commons license), as well as to create and upload new learning material to share with other practitioners.  So, when combined with courses on education and pedagogical practice within the LearningSpace section, this makes this a very appealing resource for both learners and educators.

For anyone involved in teaching or instruction within the workplace this could well prove to be both a useful (and very cheap!) source of CPD activities, whilst also providing interaction with/support from other educators, and inspiration for new teaching methods/resources.

On first impressions, this is definitely worth further investigation.  More from me on this later.  For more information on OpenLearn check out the details of their story so far.

Cake or Death? I’ll have those fiddly bits of red lego please…

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Some people have far too much time on their hands… but in this case that’s most definitely a good thing! I don’t know who came up with the idea of animating Eddie Izzard’s famous forray into the world of pre-finality selection rituals, but it’s genius!! And it’s lego too!!

Thank you for flying CofE airways – cake or death? 😉

One rule for one…

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According to reports from MoneyMarketing and the Telegraph the UK government plan to make troubled bank Northern Rock exempt from the Freedom of Information Act once they’ve steam-rollered its “temporary” nationalisation through parliament. Apparently the legislation states that “Article 18 deems Northern Rock not to be a publicly-owned company for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.”

Broon defended the decision at PMQs today, saying that “The only reason that the Freedom of Information Act comes into this is that it would be unfair on Northern Rock if other companies knew everything about its business plan”. [Read a full transcript of the exchange here] However, FOI advocate Maurice Frankel, quoted in the Torygraph article above, reckons there are plenty of other mechanisms in place to stop the breach of commercial confidentiality, without resorting to such measures.

So, what’s the beef? With tax payers set to be saddled with somewhere in the region of £110 bn of liabilities they didn’t ask for, is there yet more bad news on the horizon? This apparent effort to restrict the flow of information from the stricken company would suggest we might not yet know everything.

However, beyond the minutiae of this particular case, isn’t it reassuring to know that important legislation that makes public bodies more accountable can be bypassed with a quick flick of the legislator’s pen?! Selective application of the law doesn’t exactly fill one with confidence in the system.

Huckabeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

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More videos, this time found by Guido Fawkes at Guy TV News.  Interesting to see that some people across the pond are happy to have a go at the NeoCons!

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