Friday, 30 September 2011

Dickens Journals Online - the online text correction project

I would like to interrupt my regular 23 Things blogging to talk about something else I’ve been involved in recently. Not long ago I found out about Dickens Journals Online, a project which aims to make Charles Dickens’ journals including Household Words and All the Year Round publicly accessible online. The site is due to be launched in March 2012 as part of the Dickens Bicentenary celebrations. This Guardian article explains more.

In order to make the journals available online, the journal pages have been scanned as image files, and optical character recognition software has been used to convert these pages into text files. However, this software isn’t 100% accurate and paper smudges, tears and unclear text mean that the text files do contain errors.

The team at DJO requested that members of the public offer their help to make these magazines accessible. I can’t remember where I originally heard about the project, but I thought it was a great idea and signed up. You simply select an uncorrected magazine and, using the scanned page as a guide, edit the text file to remove all errors. The work would suit someone with a pedantic nature and an eye for detail, as well as anyone with an interest in the Victorian era.

If it sounds like something you’d be interested in, you can find out more and sign up on the website. You can also follow DJO on Twitter or Facebook.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Thing 20 – The Library Routes Project

A nice straightforward Thing this time. I’ve already blogged my Library Roots/Routes and added it to the wiki, so I had a look at some of the other entries and came to the conclusion that my route into the profession was fairly typical. I didn’t know I wanted to be a librarian when I was younger, in fact I didn’t know what I wanted to do at all; I studied a humanities degree, panicked when it ended, and ended up choosing librarianship after doing a bit of research and realising it was perfect for me.

I don’t really have any advice as such, but I would like to say that I’m glad I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was younger. Because I didn’t know, I ended up trying out a lot of different things, such as writing for the uni paper, marketing, EFL teaching and general customer service work, not to mention the skills and knowledge I developed during my History degree. I believe that all these skills and experiences have made me a better information professional, and I’ve gained a more rounded outlook than I might have done if I’d gone straight to university to study a BA in Librarianship when I was eighteen.

I’ve taken part in the Library Day in the Life project in the past, and posted the entry on my blog. I couldn’t take part last time as I was on holiday, but would like to next time if I can, particularly as I haven’t taken part yet while in my current job.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Thing 19 – Catch up week on integrating ‘Things’

I can’t believe how quickly 23 Things is going. It only seems two minutes ago that I was reflecting as part of the last catch up week. Inspired by what some other bloggers have done, I would like to choose a Top 5 Things that I think have been, or will be, most useful to me.

Ulsoor Lake reflections
Image courtesy of Swami Stream on Flickr

1.      Thing 9 – Evernote

As I mentioned in my original post, I had tried Evernote previously and hadn’t figured out a way to use it effectively. I’m so glad it was covered in 23 Things because I use it constantly now and wouldn’t be without it. I use it for professional things, such as writing my cpd23 posts and saving a copy of each Thing’s page for future reference. I also use it for personal things: recipes, quick notes, To Do lists, books to read, films to watch, my Christmas list (yes, I know it’s still September!)… I love it!

2.      Thing 18 – Jing / screen capture / podcasts

Many of the tools covered in 23 Things have been useful for my professional life in general, but Thing 18 looks as though it would be incredibly useful for my actual job. In particular, Jing and other forms of screen capture would be so handy for directing students to the right place on the VLE without actually being there in person.

3.      Thing 13 – Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox

Though I had used Google Docs before, I feel I am much more aware of what this tool offers in the way of collaboration. I had never used Dropbox at all, but now I make use of it constantly. Looking at Wikis in a bit more detail has given me the confidence to examine them more closely should I need to in the future.

4.      Thing 16 – Advocacy

In the past, the concept of advocacy has sometimes made me a bit nervous. However, this Thing has made me feel more positive about the idea. After the programme has finished I’d like to have a think about how I can advocate for libraries in a way that fits in with my personality and my life.

5.      Thing 2 – Exploring other blogs

I decided when the programme started that I was going to make a real effort to keep up to date with other blogs, rather than just writing my own posts and ignoring what everyone else was doing. By and large I’ve been successful, and I’ve enjoyed the chance to see what other people think.

In addition to the above, 23 Things has helped me to clarify the way I use and feel about some of the tools I already use, such as Twitter, RSS feeds, reflective practice and online networks, which has been useful.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Thing 18 - Jing/screen capture/podcasts

I didn't have any previous experience with screen capture or podcast tools so it was interesting to explore them for this Thing.

1. Jing
 I got very excited trying out Jing because I can see that it would be really useful in my job. We get a lot of requests from users, particularly at this time of year, asking how to access particular documents, and it's often easier to send a screenshot rather than rely on a written explanation (we only deal with queries via email). Normally we make screenshots by using the Print Screen button, pasting the resulting image into Word and cropping it, but Jing would be so much more straightforward to use. I found it simple to download and incredibly easy to use. Here's a screenshot I created showing how to get to the Theatre Royal Haymarket from Piccadilly Circus Station, in preparation for my visit this Thursday to see The Tempest (starring Ralph Fiennes!).

The wonders of Google Maps

I also made a brief video, showing how I used Google to search for the map and find directions, which was also incredibly easy. I can see lots of potential in Jing - videos on our VLE homepage explaining how to access particular things could be really useful.

I can see myself using Jing for personal purposes too. The download sits unobtrusively on my computer and I can get rid of it if I need to.

I also had a quick look at Camtasia and saved the link for future reference.

2. Podcasting
Podcasting also seems like a really useful tool, especially to appeal to those students who prefer to learn through listening. My workplace makes podcasts available on the VLE for students to use but I am not involved in their creation. They are created by the Media department who record the i-Tutorials (used instead of lectures at the college) and convert the sound files from these into podcasts. They are ideal as many students here are part-time or distance learners and podcasts offer a lot of flexibility. I bookmarked the Podwhating? link for future reference in case I ever need to make a podcast.

I don't listen to podcasts myself - I'm a very visual person and much prefer to read or watch something. If I'm only listening to something I tend to forget that it's there and end up concentrating on something else instead (this happens a lot when I'm listening to music too!). However it's important to remember that everyone learns differently and some people will respond well to this kind of learning.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Thing 17 - Prezi and Slideshare


I’d heard of Prezi, but I hadn’t explored it for myself, so I was interested to see what it was all about. I watched the presentations suggested in the Thing 17 blog post, and I can see that it could be very useful for presenting ideas in a non-linear fashion. However, I have some reservations. All the zooming in and out and moving around made me feel a bit sick, and I would worry that the bright colours and snazzy graphics of the presentation might overshadow any actual content. Also, just because Prezi looks impressive, it doesn’t mean it is the best medium for all content. Some information might be better presented this way, but some might still work best when displayed in a linear fashion. I won’t abandon PowerPoint just yet.

I had a look around some other cpd23 blogs and saw that several participants have had a go at making their own Prezis. I was particularly impressed by Infopromom's Prezi resume and Annie Johnson's adventures in Dublin. I was temporarily inspired to create my own presentation based on a recent holiday to Iceland, but I actually found Prezi quite difficult to use and didn’t want to spend hours on it for no real purpose. I don’t create presentations as part of my job, so this software isn’t necessary to me just yet. If I ever do need to create a presentation for whatever reason, I might go back to it and give it another try.

Again, I’d heard of Slideshare and in the past I’ve used it to view presentations from conferences. I’ll continue to do this as it’s very handy to be able to view these all in one place. I’ve never uploaded anything to Slideshare, and I don’t suppose I will until I am called on to create a presentation for work or some other career-related reason, but it’s good to know I have the option.

I’m not keen on the idea of posting a CV up here. I’d rather stick to the standard Word format in all honesty, and only send it to the people I want to see it – not stick it on Slideshare for all to see!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Thing 16 – Advocacy, speaking up for the profession and getting published

As far as advocacy goes, I agree that it’s very important for those in the profession to be able to explain, promote and publicise what they do. It certainly seems to be more common these days, with organisations like Voices for the Library taking the lead, and CILIP demonstrating a more proactive advocacy role than it has in the past.
Library advocacy comes in all forms

I’m glad a distinction has been drawn between advocacy and activism. I’m not an outgoing person, and wouldn’t be comfortable with public speaking and many of the other demands that being an activist makes. I really enjoyed Johanna Anderson’s blog post about the differences between the two, and it made me feel more comfortable with the idea of advocacy. I also gained a lot from Alice Halsey and Simon Barron’s workshop at the New Professionals Conference 2011 about activism for new professionals. It helped me realise that some of the things I do without really thinking about them, such as talking about libraries to friends and family and occasionally linking to library-related content on Facebook, could count as advocacy.

When I was a graduate trainee in Cambridge, the library did a fantastic job of promoting the college’s special collections to outside users, such as schools as part of an outreach programme and the general public as part of Cambridge Open Days. Katie Birkwood and Naomi Herbert talked about this in more detail as part of their NPC 2011 presentation. In a wider academic context, I would say that academic libraries are under less of an immediate threat than public libraries, but there are still issues with services being cut, and at a time when increased tuition fees mean students will likely expect an even better service without any extra money going to the library. Students may not even be aware of the services academic librarians offer – I know I wasn’t as an undergraduate.

As far as being published is concerned, I have already had an article published in Relay (the journal of the CILIP University, College and Research Group) on digital asset management. This was adapted from a Masters assignment and is largely thanks to the help and encouragement given to me by one of my tutors – it would never have occurred to me to try this by myself. I certainly feel much more comfortable writing than speaking or anything else, so I might try to pursue this further in the future.