Tuesday, November 29, 2011

CPD 23 Thing 3: Personal Branding

This post is part of the  CPD 23 Things Programme.

Developing a personal brand or identity has always been extremely difficult for me. I tend to want to hide in the background, rather than putting myself forward. I also have a broad range of eclectic interests, and find it hard to narrow my focus. Personal branding is all about identity. This is especially important when developing an on-line presence through which you can be recognised and summarised, as it were. How do you sum up a librarian-in-training/biologist/interested in art and philosophy/cyclist/hiker/bibliophile/classical music afficionado-but also likes jazz and punk/occasional bellydancer? Probably as quirky!

A Google search for my name will bring up many results, including a glamour model and an astrophysicist, so extra search terms are necessary, such as "algae" (which brings up my biological research, Masters thesis on the elusive and wonderful Batrachospermum pseudogelatinosum and former lab web page at Ohio University) and "librarian" which actually brings up a childrens book about libraries written by another Sarah Stewart (I will have to look for this one - it looks interesting!). Luckily, it also seems to bring up the Theology Faculty Library website and my articles that I wrote for the Oxford Graduate Library Trainee blog whilst still a trainee last year. I will have to tweak my search engine optimisation in the meantime, and also gear my LinkedIn profile towards my library work now that I have gained more professional experience as a Library Assistant.

I realise that having a consistent personal brand is very important, and will certainly bring more brand recognition  in terms of maintaining a professional image on-line. Certainly, Ned Potter (AKA: the Real Wikiman) has done this with his fabulous and insightful blog. His images and even his website layout provide a consistent and recognizable framework which link all of his social media into a unified whole, providing a strong professional image on-line.

I will probably have to do a lot of tweaking in the near future, once I have a better idea where I will go in terms of my own career path. I have a bit of discrepancy at present, as I originally set up my Twitter account to tweet science-related news items whilst a trainee at the Radcliffe Science Library, but now that I work in the Theology Faculty Library, this seems irrelevant (although I am still very much interested in science and science subject librarianship, my tweets have generally fallen off, and I am using my twitter feed primarily to follow news in science and libraries). My name and photo on Twitter provide a good reference to my profile as a librarian, however, but I am currently tweaking my "apps" so that they are better "intertwingled" and therefore able to provide a stronger on-line presence. One of the problems that I have with social media like Twitter is that it is very easy to mix both the "professional" and "social" worlds. Of course, neither is mutually exclusive. Much professional activity involves networking, which, by its very nature, must be social.

Hence, the need for a strong, unified and professional on-line presence, created through a personal brand. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

CPD 23 Things 1 & 2: Blogs and Blogging

This post is part of the CPD23 Things Programme.

Following the completion of the Oxford 23 Things programme, and after hearing much ado on Twitter (#cpd23) and Helen Murphy's presentation at the CILIP New Professionals Conference in Manchester, I thought that I might give the CPD 23 Things a go. It is becoming increasingly important for information professionals to become tech-savvy, and having an on-line presence is also invaluable, both for prospective employers and as a record of professional development.

For Thing 1, I thought that I would be a bit lazy and continue to use this current blog, L-Space Lab Bench. I also blog on the Oxford Graduate Trainee blog, but now that my traineeship has ended, I hope to make my own way in the blogosphere. I have also set up another Blogger blog, Librarian Leap of Faith, on which I have yet to post, but hope to make a forum for my work in the Theology Faculty Library at Oxford University. 

Blogging has always been something which I find both interesting and also somewhat nerve-wracking. While I like writing, I feel that I need to do more of it, and I also worry that my blog posts are not very profound or merely state the obvious. I hope that the CPD23 Programme will not only enable me to "improve" my blogging, but also help me to develop and hone my current professional skill set whilst learning some new skills. Finally, I hope that the CPD23 programme will also enable me to connect with other LIS professionals and further both my commitment to librarianship and becoming an "information professional" in both the real and virtual worlds.

So, now that I have completed CPD 23 Thing 1 with this initial blogpost, I will list some of the blogs that I have explored for Thing 2. I really enjoy reading the posts by Simon Barron (@SimonXIX), as I find them both inspiring and insightful. His blog, Undaimonia, is well-written and thought-provoking. Likewise, Helen Murphy's blog, Library Wanderer is entertaining as well as "practical" in its structure. I regularly follow my colleague, Ollie Bridle (RSLBiochem) at the Radcliffe Science Library, as his ideas for uses of technology in the libraries is quite interesting, and often link to thought-provoking material of interest to a subject librarian in the biosciences (one of my career aspirations). I have also been followng the blogs of Sarah Maule (Sarah Said Library) and Laura's Dark Archive. Finally, as I have a great interest in natural history, museums and the sciences, I have been following the blogs of the Royal Society Library and the Library and Archives at Kew, among many others. These blogs provide a great glimpse into other types of librarianship, and are very useful resources. I'm looking forward to my next forrays into the blogosphere...

Thing 23: Until the Next Thing Comes Along...

This last post has brought me to the end of the Oxford 23 Things Programme. I was very glad to participate and have learned many new tricks and handy tips for uses of various social media and web 2.0 in a library environment. While it took me some time to finish the programme (as I marathon post until the end), I felt that this programme will be highly important to my own IT literacy and has provided me with some useful tools for future library work.

Some of the things I found more to be more useful than others. Delicious has been wonderful for setting up a list of useful links for research and databases in the plant sciences for the Sherardian Library, and I am now using Twitter almost daily for keeping up-to-date on various library, science and art happenings.

As mentioned in previous posts, it would be useful to learn about SlideShare (or even Prezi, which looks very impressive) for producing presentations and podcasts. Also, LibraryThing has been used quite extensively and successfully by some libraries in Oxford, and it would be useful to examine LibraryThing as part of the 23 Things. As new social media types emerge, I think that the library will be a good testing ground for these, as a source of information and a centre for research of various kinds, it is important to examine new ways with which this information can be conveyed to library users: both staff and readers. One recent example of this has been the use of QR codes at the Radcliffe Science Library, where readers could access more information through web-linked "Q-Points".

At a recent library and information science conference that I attended in Manchester, one speaker introduced another set of 23 Things, the CPD23 for Continuing Professional Development. Maybe after completing the Oxford 23 Things, I will now attempt this!

To echo Ruth in her post, I also feel that learning about blogs and blogging has been an important part of 23 Things. Thinking reflectively about your progress and learning is an important step for professional development, and I am glad to have been able to share some of my thoughts through this media.

Things 21 & 22: Gadgets and Widgets

In agreement with Claire, I feel that adding Gadgets and Widgets for Flickr and Delicious feel like a step backwards (should these have been included with Things 7 - 10?). Adding the gadgets and widgets to my Google account was very easy, and, particularly for the Delicious links, very useful as well. I agree with Claire in that I probably would not use the Flickr widget frequently, unless it were something related to my library work.

Things 19 & 20: GoogleDocs, ThinkFree Office and Social Editing

I have used Google Documents in a research setting, where I had to send an article between colleagues and supervisors for editing. Google Documents is very useful in this sense, as it allows for comments and alterrations. Claire had a really great idea of using GoogleDocs to create a form which we could then fill in. Read her investigations of GoogleDocs here.

I have also signed in with my Google ID to use ThinkFree, which is similar to MS Office in function and format. It reminds me of OpenOffice, which is also uses Java and, like GoogleDocs and ThinkFree, can be used as an "Office in the Clouds" (Cloud Computing, that is) for sharing and editing documents between colleagues.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Things 17 & 18: Contributing to a Wiki and Wikipedia

I have made a brief Wiki for the Sherardian Library on Wikispaces.com, a wikisite which uses a WYSIWYG editor that is similar to the editor on Blogger. The Sherardian Library wiki can be read here, and includes links to the Sherardian Library Twitter and Delicious accounts.

Wikipedia is often a "first stop" resource for researchers (undergraduates and graduates alike!) who find it a useful quick resource. That being said, though, Wikipedia is not authored by experts, so researchers should use it with caution! Wikipedia does "police" its entries, however, through peer-review, and often  provides cautionary warnings on articles which lack appropriate referencing, are incomplete, debated or have poor writing quality.

Net Neutrality, Open Access and the Freedom of Information

There is a lot of discussion about Open Access in research, particularly in the sciences. Sir Mark Walport gave a lecture recently on the impact of Open Access in biomedical research. His lecture can be found here:

Net neutrality is also a hotly-contested issue that may have a great impact on access to information, and is of certain interest to libraries. This blogpost on net neutrality and public libraries may be of interest.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yet Another Thing: LibGuides

LibGuides are an excellent resource for library information. I took a LibGuides course in March, and found the WYSIWYG web-editing format clear and straight-forward to use. Some excellent LibGuides have been prepared for the Oxford Libraries, including those by Angela Carritt and Ollie Bridle at the Radcliffe Science Library. Mine was rather silly (it was rather too close to teatime by the time I finished), so it remains unpublished, but it was still a good exercise in the how-tos of using this software.

Things 15 & 16: Exploring Twitter

I have had a Twitter for almost a year now, and really enjoy using it to receive quick news updates and also to connect with friends and colleagues. All Twitter updates must be written in a maximum of 140 characters, which makes it quite concise. It is possible to "follow" people or institutions and organisations of interest, and to make "lists" of regularly-followed users. I have made several lists that I follow, with regular news updates for science news, librarians and libraries, the arts and philosophy.

Searchable terms can be indicated with a hashtag ("#"). To send tweets directly to another Twitter user, one simply adds their Twitter name with "@" in front of it. It is also possible to send Direct Messages using the Direct Message feature, then, these tweets are not visible to other followers.

One problem that I have with Twitter is that it is quite easy to confuse social and work tweets, so I always try to keep my tweets professional whenever possible.

If you would like to read some of my latest Tweets, or follow me on Twitter, you can find me here:

Things 13 & 14: Social networking: Facebook in libraries and linkedin

I have had a linkedin account for sometime now, and have recently updated it to reflect my current position and career interests. I have also been able to link with some colleagues and friends using this service.

Although I no longer have a Facebook account (I am a very shy library trainee, and prefer to use  the quick newsflashes provided by Twitter to the often overwhelming newsfeeds generated by Facebook), many libraries do. Lauren and Ruth set up and maintain a Facebook account for the Social Science Library at Oxford, and many other libraries at Oxford also use Facebook, including the LawBod, the RSL and Nuffield College Library.

Ruth, in her 23 Things blog, discusses some of the pros and cons about Facebook in libraries.

Things 11 & 12: Podcasting and YouTube

My trainee project will involve making an induction podcast for the RSL, presenting new readers with general information about the library including how to search for, and borrow books, in addition to highlighting research resources available at the RSL such as the RSL Research Skills training courses. I will be using Captivate software to essentially convert a PowerPoint presentation into a podcast which will also be uploadable to YouTube. Unfortunately, though, unlike the wonderful induction "silent film" for the Social Science Library (see video below), I am not allowed to include anything remotely silly. It all has to be *very serious*. Perhaps this is because I will be highlighting research resources at the RSL, and everyone knows that scientists are all *very serious*...

Ah! YouTube! Source of much entertainment whilst waiting for the PCR experiments to finish in the lab, or (occaisionally) while working late rota on the circulation desk at the RSL (although not too often!). YouTube is also a useful resource for educational videos, and a great way to disseminate library information, as this induction video about the SSL at Oxford shows:

More Things: An Aside about LibraryThing and SlideShare

With so many web 2.0 applications in use by librarians and libraries, it was probably not a great leap of the imagination to create an application like LibraryThing, which is a social networking programme for cataloging and sharing books. I recently gave a presentation on LibraryThing as part of the graduate trainee explorations into web 2.0 and social media applications. I find LibraryThing to be very useful, and also a source of much inspiration, as I am able to browse my friends' libraries in search of further reading material!
It has also successfully been implemented by libraries around Oxford such as the Vere Harmsworth and Nuffield College Libraries, where it is used for showcasing new accessions. My LibraryThing presentation can be found here on my SlideShare page:


I have also recently "discovered" SlideShare, a platform for sharing presentations. I have uploaded my LibraryThing presentation and a recent presentation that I did for a Philosophy of Mind course through the Continuing Education Department at Oxford University. SlideShare is often used by librarians to present information. Here are some examples of SlideShare from various librarians, including the biochemistry subject librarian (RSLBioChem) at the Radcliffe Science Library. Here is a "meta" presentation on presentations by Ned Potter, (AKA: the Real Wikiman) from his SlideShare page.

Things 9 & 10: Social Bookmarking and Tagging with Delicious

Delicious is a social tagging and bookmarking site which can be used to share websites and links of interest.
I have used Delicious to set up a list of useful web resources in botany and plant biology for the Sherardian Library. The account for the Sherardian Library can be found here (Plant biologists, please take note!):


I first heard about tagging from a friend who used a university-based website to tag his photos in order to share them with friends. You can see some of his photos here: http://www.tagisu.com/user/2392
including some of one of my favourite cities, Paris!

Tagging is a non-hierarchical method of adding metadata to files. It creates folksonomic tag clouds which can be used to find further information. Although tagging is very helpful, it can also pose problems, as there might be inconsistencies in the keywords used and a lot of variation is present.

I have added numerous contacts to my network for my Delicious account with the Sherardian Library, including several librarians from the RSL (RSLBioChem and RSLForestry), some college libraries such as Nuffield and VHLib and also the LawBod.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Things 5 & 6: Exploring RSS Feeds

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) are web feed formats used to send updates on frequently updated web sources.

Thing 5: Subscribe to an RSS reader, such as Google Reader.

The Google Reader was one of the items that I added to my iGoogle account following a course that I took on RSS readers through the WISER sessions at Oxford University. It has proven to be very useful. I use the Google Reader to track various scientific news sources, in addition to the Oxford Graduate Trainees Blog, the Oxford 23 Things blog, etc.

Thing 6: Add some RSS feeds to the feed reader.

Recently added: English National Opera news and the Oxford 23 Things blog!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Things 1-4: iGoogle and Gmail

Thing 1: Set up a Google ID:

I have been using Gmail (Google mail) and iGoogle for several years now, ever since I first started to use GoogleDocuments to share and collaborate with my labmates and classmates at Ohio University back in my white-coated laboratory days in the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology...My Gmail account gets little use these days, although I occaisionally use it to chat with friends and family back in Canada. GoogleDocuments is a wonderful opensource method of sharing documents, particularly useful for collaborative editing and writing.

The major difference between "http://" and  "https://" in URL web addresses is in the security of the item. HTTP pages are not secure and therefore subject to eavesdropping, whilst HTTPS use a secure protocol which restricts access by potential eavesdroppers.

Thing 2: Set up an iGoogle homepage with at least 5 gadgets on it:

My iGoogle page has several gadgets on it, including the weather, time, BBC iPlayer and NPR (brilliant American radio shows!), RSS feeds of some other blogs and news sources that I am following, including many Oxford blogs such as the Oxford Graduate Trainee Blog and the Oxford Science Blog. There is even a surf report, in case I ever make it down to Cornwall with my board...

Thing 3: Set up a blog on Blogger and make a first post:

I have already started a blog on Blogger. Pleaes look at my earlier posts for some interesting quips about information science and some photos of the fabulous libraries in Sheffield!

Thing 4: Register your 23 Things blog and explore others!

And now for something completely different...23 Things!

Part of the Oxford Graduate Library Trainee Programme will involve an introduction to web 2.0 applications in librarianship through a programme called "23 Things". Although this blog has up till now been mostly about library tours, with some "serious discussion" about information science, it will now change focus to incorporate this programme.

So now, on to 23 Things...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

S.R. Ranganathan: A Bit of Inspiration

Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan (1892-1972) was a mathematician and librarian who devised the Five Laws of Library Science in addition to Colon Classification (in which books are classified by facets rather than a hierarchical taxonomy). His Five Laws (which every librarian should aspire to) are as follows:

  1. Books are for use.
  2. For Every Book its Reader.
  3. For Every Reader its Book.
  4. Save the Time of the Reader.
  5. The Library is a growing organism
I have been reading the original volume of the Five Laws of Library Science, and have found it to be a fascinating and profound take on libraries, information structures, scientific enquiry (for instance, Ranganathan discusses the Scientific method as being like a spiral process, rather than a Kuhn-esque paradigm shift or Popper-ish falsificatory deflation) and even very inspirational. Take the following quotations: 

On Librarianship as Service (the Second Law):

"Because a postman handing over a packet of printed slips is not like a librarian who establishes contact between books and people"

"What is a library? A library is a collection of books kept for use. Librarianship, then, is connecting a user and a book. Hence the very life of a library is in the personal service given to the people."

On the Library as a Living Organism (the Fifth Law):

"But the vital principle of the library - which has struggled through all the stages of its evolution, is common to all its different forms and will persist to be its distinguishing feature for all time to come - is that it is an instrument of universal education, and assembles together and freely distributes all the tools of education and disseminates knowledge with their aid."

Ranganathan's Colon Classification was a form of faceted classificaiton, rather than a ranked taxonomic subject hierarchy. His classification system seemed to embody a certain amount of mysticism as well, something that would not be out of place in Doctor Who or even quantum physics, perhaps. His facets were as follows:
  • Personality
  • Matter
  • Energy
  • Space
  • Time