Andrew Eynon’s Library Blog

A blog about librarianship in Further Education

Posts Tagged ‘Blogs’

What’s he blogging about?

Posted by andrewey on September 9, 2008

I thought I would clarify the purpose of this blog after reflecting on my first couple of months or so of posts. According to my blog statistics the ‘About’ page is the second most viewed post on this blog – on it I state that I will be posting my findings on the Library/Web 2.0 CyMAL Inspiring Learning project I’m engaged in. This probably needs some expansion as in fact my blog is being used to evaluate different types of blog post and how those posts are received. I would group my posts so far into the following types:

1. News items – originally regarded as one of the primary functions of a blog but I’ve only used this blog to pass on information I have come across (or I’m privy to) which may be of interest to other (FE) librarians.

2. Reflective journal – the original function of this blog was as a reflective account of the Library Web 2.0 Quest that the Coleg Llandrillo staff are currently engaged in. 

3. Book reviews – the college library staff are keen to promote virtual reading groups and to post book reviews (and have discussions) on the books read. My book reviews have been more specifically aimed at being a literature review of Library/Web 2.0.

4. Testing Web 2.0 tools – ‘playing’ with web 2.0 tools is I think one of the key learning experiences in terms of developing Library 2.0 (or specifically Librarian 2.0). It was commented externally that my screencast post was simply ‘look here’s what I can do with a Web 2.0 tool’ – in fact that was partly its purpose but it was meant to be ‘look here’s what anyone can do with this Web 2.0 tool’.

5. Applying Web 2.0 tools – at the end of the day it is what you do with the Web 2.0 tool that matters, so I hope to blog about practical application of Web 2.0 tools such as my ‘Ten uses for a FE library service blog‘ post.

6. Reviewing best practice – I’ve tried to refer to and comment on best practice in Library 2.0. However, as a source of information on best practice I’ve preferred the use of wikis (see the Library 2.0 in FE and Library 2.0 in Wales wikis I’ve started).

7. Staff development – I would like to promote staff development in the area of Web 2.0 by blogging about events and training issues/skills in relation to Librarian 2.0. This has been supplemented by the Library Web Quest created by a colleague at Coleg Llandrillo.

8. Scholarly activity – another key aim of the blog was to engage with current thinking on Library 2.0 by commenting on various theories of Library/Librarian 2.0. Within FE there is a difficulty with engaging with scholarly activity in its more traditional forms in terms of published academic research. Instead scholarly activity in FE has been more loosely defined – see Rob Jones (2006) ‘Scholarly activity on the context of HE in FE‘ and John Widdows (2003) ‘HE in FE and scholarly activity: a discussion paper, which makes blogs a good way for FE teaching staff to engage in such activities.

9. To blog on contentious issues – this is more challenging in that I wanted the blog to remain relatively impartial although I’m keen to develop a coherent stand on what Library 2.0 is. I will steer clear of genuinely controversial issues (whilst doing the project) but I did put in the post about library fines to test the water in terms of trying to find out which contentious issues librarians will comment upon.

10. Professional activity – by this I mean how Web 2.0 can support traditional library activities such as Reader Development or Information Literacy. This also ties in neatly with the Applications of ICT in Libraries course that I deliver.

11. Reviewing and promoting events – the blog seemed an ideal way of commenting on and widening the discussion in relation to ideas that I pick up from events/conferences that I attend.

12. Share research findings – the primary aim of this blog, although as yet other than the survey of teaching staff post the project has only generated anecdotal evidence, although the great advantage of the ILFA framework, that we are using to evaluate the project, is that it is very good at capturing and coding this anecdotal evidence.


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Ten uses for a FE library service blog

Posted by andrewey on August 1, 2008

Blogs are one of the most versatile Web 2.0 tools that you can deploy in your library service. Here are ten simple uses for a blog that any FE library service could utilise. Not only are these functions simple to set up but they are also free!

1 Marketing – blogs are a great way to promote the library service and raise awareness of what you are doing. Blogs are particularly useful in that they make good RSS feeds in to other applications such as your College VLE, Athens homepage etc which further raises the profile of the service.

2 Virtual suggestion box – blogs are an excellent way to generate feedback on the library service and it enables you to publicise what you are doing about any issues raised.

3 Current awareness services/ Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) services – this is a popular use of blogs in HE where a faculty/subject librarian sets up a blog to raise awareness of resources in a particular subject area. Examples of subject blogs from HE include the Open University, University College London and Birbeck, University of London. In FE you can just do this on the one blog with categories for each subject area (as we have done at Coleg Llandrillo).

4 Reader Development activities – this could include virtual reading groups, book reviews and links to national promotions.

5 Book requests – blogs offer a simple means for staff and, particularly, learners to make stock requests to the library.

6 As a discussion forum – particularly with staff/learners at other institutions. On our blog there was a discussion about whether or not wikis are legitimate sources for students to cite in references – the debate was started by a librarian from another college.

7 Promote/host staff or student work – our blog has featured photographs taken by teaching staff (and library staff)

8 Reflective journal – a good educational use but also a useful way for library staff to feedback on training they have undertaken (see my Web Quest posts)

9 Reference service – many libraries are using Instant Messaging for this, but where this software is restricted, as is often the case in FE, blogs make a good alternative. We have added an ‘Ask a librarian’ page to our blog.

10 News items – (the main function of a blog) a way of keeping library users up to date. Blogs are very useful for posting ad hoc arrangements eg vacation opening hours and the like. These can be posted quickly and are readily accessible off campus (and via RSS feeds).

As part of our Inspiring Learning Web 2.0 project I will evaluate how effective each of these uses has been in the case of our library blog. I will post my findings (on this blog) towards the end of the 2008/9 academic year.

If you are using library blogs in other ways please leave a comment.

Posted in FE Libraries, Library 2.0 | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

How to make the transition to Library 2.0

Posted by andrewey on July 14, 2008

Of course this presuposes that the service and staff adopt the Library 2.0 ‘state of mind’ described in Academic Library 2.0.

Michael Stephens has identified 5 initial steps to becoming library 2.0:

Start a library blog
Create an Emerging Technology Committee
Train staff to use an RSS aggregator
Experiment and use 2.0 Tools
Implement IM reference

These are certainly very achievable aims even for a modest sized FE college – we will have achieved all of the above well inside 12 months.

Our library blog LibeRaCe has been running for almost 12 months and has generated far more interest and usage than hoped for – we are currently at over 12,000 visits in approximately 10 months of operation. Blogs can be set up quickly – the real work involved is maintaining it by adding a regular stream of posts (we aim to add a post every working day).

We have not set up an Emerging Technology Committee – because a formal library committee of this nature is unnecessary, and probably impractical, in FE. However, we do have informal meetings of the library staff interested in Web 2.0 – often with our ILT Champion. We also have a Library Committee where Web 2.0 developments can be discussed with teaching staff. Web 2.0 will be a standing item at library team meetings from September.

Setting up RSS agregators is part of our current Web Quest programme so that by September all library staff will be trained to do this – some are already using them (we have one using Pageflakes for all the library staff blogs so that staff can see at a glance if there are any new posts).

We are experimenting with a number of Web 2.0 tools – the most successful so far has been which we are using to create virtual reading lists for individual subject areas. Currently we have a general one for all subject areas and my library specific one. Other tools we are experimenting with include Flickr, Facebook, blogs, wikis and Youtube.

Finally, with regard to Instant Messaging, we will be using the Pronto tool which will be available within our Moodle VLE. We aim to use this as a general helpdesk facility – mainly for IT support rather than for reference enquiries (although that will be included too). The plan is to have this service in place for September.

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