Friday, 9 August 2013

Productivity for Academic Librarians and Researchers: Session 16 - Mindmapping Revisited

I'm not really a fan of mind maps; I'm not sure my brain works that way. However, I enjoyed reading this week's piece, and loved looking at the beautiful artistic mind maps on Mind Map Art. I also bookmarked the Five Best Mind Mapping Tools site for future reference.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

London Blackboard User Group Meeting 26/07/2013

On the afternoon of Friday 26th July I attended the London Blackboard User Group meeting (with the brilliant hashtag #LondonBUG) at Regent’s University London. Though I’ve been in my current role, which is primarily concerned with the use of Blackboard, for over two years, this was the first User Group meeting I had attended, and I was looking forward to it.

The theme of the meeting was Using Video in Blackboard. I wasn’t sure if it would be directly relevant to me or my job, as where I work there is a multimedia department responsible for creating and hosting videos. However, I hoped that I would pick up some tips and get to know other Blackboard users in London and around. After an introduction and welcome by Bryony Bramer of Regent’s University, the course proper began. The lectures covered different topics, including the integration of a streaming video server with Blackboard, the rollout of lecture capture, and flipped classrooms. The most interesting to me was the presentation on training videos, which looked at the use of Twitter’s new Vine app for creating short videos telling users how to do particular things on Blackboard. This looks like a brilliant use of the service and it’s definitely something I’d like to take a closer look at.

Thanks to everyone at the BUG for a great session – not to mention the amazing cake!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Productivity for Academic Librarians and Researchers: Session 15 - Feed Readers

This Productivity session looks at feed readers - ironically appropriate given the recent demise of Google Reader. I can't be the only one who panicked when I found out it was going to be shut down, and I migrated my feed first to the Old Reader, then, when I found out that it too was going to be shut for public users, to Feedly. I haven't had a chance to investigate its functionality properly, but the fact that there is a mobile app available and it is compatible with IFTTT is promising.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

ALISS Visit to the Library, Archives and Museum of the Order of St. John

Gate, Museum of the Order of St John

Last week I took part in an ALISS (Association of Librarians and Information Professionals in the Social Sciences) visit to the Library, Archives and Museum of the Order of St John. The Order is best known for its work on first aid (St John's Ambulance) but has a long and rich history. It began nearly a thousand years ago as a group of monks caring for sick pilgrims in Jerusalem, and was given the name 'Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem' when its members began to take on more of a military role. After moving to Cyprus, followed by Rhodes, the Order ended up in Malta for over two hundred years.

In England, the headquarters of the Order was set up on this site in Clerkenwell in the 1140s. After the Dissolution, its lands and wealth were seized and despite a brief revival by Queen Mary, the buildings were put to different uses - in the sixteenth century Elizabeth I's Master of the Revels had an office here and later on Richard Hogarth, father of the artist William, ran a coffee house. Later, the Gate was used as a pub where writers such as Charles Dickens used to meet, until the Order was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria in 1888. The Order has been known for public First Aid ever since.

Our visit began with a trip to the Priory Church of the Order across the road. This was originally part of the same complex, but the site was bisected by a main road last century. The church was bombed during World War II and rebuilt afterwards; the modern complex includes a quiet garden for contemplation. Underneath, the 12th-century crypt is a beautiful example of Norman and, later, Gothic architecture; it contains several impressive tombs.

Following this we were shown the Library and Archive. This has a wide selection of books, journals and other documentation relating to the Order, and suffers from the common problem of too little space. Many of the archives are boxed and numbered, but not fully catalogued. Maps and prints are also part of the archive, as are some beautiful models of the church in Jerusalem, ornate furniture from Malta, and papier mache models - some of the more unusual items I have come across in special collections. We were shown some particularly interesting and unusual rare books, many with impressive woodcuts.

Afterwards we were given some time to look around the museum, which focuses on the history of the Order. I found the visit really interesting, and enjoyed gaining an insight into such a unique library.