Archive for the ‘Web 2.0’ Category

I was just thinking about writing my first blog post of 2010 about working from home and snow, when I popped onto Twitter and discovered that Marieke Guy (UKOLN remote worker) and Brian Kelly had done the same thing!

It’s my first week back at work after the Christmas break, and I had a good day back on Monday catching up with work and emails and other library staff, and mostly clearing my desk and computer files ready for the replacement who takes over when I go on maternity leave before the end of the month. I’m not teaching this month, partly because students are not back yet, and then mostly doing exams when they are back, so I haven’t been asked to run any student sessions; and partly because I am now large and unwieldy and breathless and find it easier to do computer based work. The main task I now have left before finishing work is completing the Web 2.0 Scoping Study I’ve been working on; I did a lot of work on experimenting with web 2.0 tools and writing the study during the summer, and then had no time during the autumn term due to a busy teaching and enquiries workload.

Luckily, I emailed the study to myself on Monday, thinking I might get a chance to do a bit on it at home, but completely oblivious to the weather forecasts, as they’d been predicting bad weather for a week or so, and so far, the snow in my Welsh village was mainly staying on the mountains!

So when we awoke on Tuesday to find ourselves snowed in, I was very grateful that a) I had a copy of the report accessible from my email and b) I had the kind of job where it was possible to work from home, especially given that my planned work this week involved writing and researching, rather than face to face teaching. In addition, I worked for years for a dispersed e-learning organization called CETIS (a JISC service), and did a lot of home working, so am used to the discipline of typing away on the computer with two dogs and a cat for company.

Interestingly, given that I am working on a web 2.0 study (investigating how web 2.0 tools such as blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr are and can be used by libraries and archives), it has been fascinating to see how much difference web 2.0 technologies make to the home working experience. For starters, I have been able to keep up with the outside world not just via my work email, but also via Twitter and Facebook, which have helped me keep up with the usual professional news and reports (Twitter) and also with weather conditions (both networks). I have also found Twitter very companionable whilst working from home, and posted more tweets than usual.

I also find that you feel quite self conscious about working from home, and very keen that colleagues know you are still working and not taking advantage of the snow to skive off work, so the online networks are also very useful for maintaining contact with people and showing that you are online and “at work” even though not physically in the office.

The other difference with home working is the decision whether to maintain the same working hours; for most of the week I’ve been working office hours with lunch and tea breaks, just as I would at work; but unintentionally had a bit of a longer lunch hour yesterday due to going out in the snow to watch my other half do some fire juggling next to a horse (long story!), which I then compensated for later by spending some time “at work” in the evening reading a new web 2.0 study which I had found out about on Twitter.

Working from home has actually been a real advantage for me this week, not only have I probably got more done than I would have at work, as researching and writing is actually easier to do in the solitude of home; but it’s made it much easier to get through week 32 of my pregnancy, tired and big and heavy, without having to take time off work due to tiredness from travelling.

In summary, I think it’s great if a workplace can trust their workers enough to enable them to work from home during times of adverse weather (or even late pregnancy!), and that not just broadband connections but also web 2.0 technologies can be used effectively to maintain contact and an online work presence; demonstrating just how valuable these tools can be. I can even update my blog from home!


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To register on these sessions please contact Penny Dowdney on p.j.dowdney@bangor.ac.uk. Please send her: 1) your name, 2) your email address, 3) your level (e.g. 1st year, postgraduate, lecturer, etc), and 4) your subject area.

Small groups are also welcome to request extra workshops to those scheduled, contact v.zarach@bangor.ac.uk initially so that I can find a convenient time, and then bookings can be made via Penny as above.

Thu 15th Oct: Refworks for Beginners

Room 035, Deiniol Building (No 47 on Uni Map)

A two hour workshop for beginners, and people who have begun using Refworks but would like some more guidance.

Refworks is an internet based reference manager bought by the university library, which allows you to save your references to books, journals, articles and so forth online; access references from university and home; and use the references to print out reading lists or create bibliographies at the end of essays. Refworks can be used free of charge by university members for as long as they are at the university. This workshop will show you how to register with Refworks, set up folders for references, save references to Refworks from different sources (books, electronic journals, etc), download the Write-N-Cite plug-in, access your references from Microsoft Word, and insert references into an essay and create a bibliography.

Fri 23rd Oct: Information Hunting Using a Range of Sources

Room 013, Deiniol Building (No 47 on Uni Map)

A two hour workshop.

A workshop for people who are information hunting for an essay or dissertation, and would like some help knowing how to quickly and effectively search across a range of sources. Sources discussed include: the library catalogue, e-journal databases, bibliographic databases, newspaper archives, dissertations, Google Scholar, Google Books, Intute, The Welsh Library & Archives, plus more.

Mon 26th Oct: Advanced Refworks: Write-N-Cite

Room 035, Deiniol Building (No 47 on Uni Map)

A two hour workshop

A workshop for people who already know the basics of using Refworks, but would like some extra guidance on using the features in Write-N-Cite (the Refworks plugin for inserting references in documents).

Wed 28th Oct: Overview of Library Resources for Teaching Staff

Room 035, Deiniol Building (No 47 on Uni Map)

A two hour workshop.

A workshop for members of staff who wish to know more about the range of resources we have at the library and how to use them effectively, including the library catalogue, the electronic journal databases (JSTOR, Science Direct, etc), the bibliographic databases (CSA, Web of Knowledge), and any other resources relevant to the subject areas of staff at the workshop.

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LibraryRoom20090901_002Pic: Librarian Velvet Zaurak in the Library Room, Bangor University Island, Second Life

I haven’t managed to blog for a few weeks as I’ve been busy with all kinds of things: drop in enquiries, library tours for international students here over the summer, working on a library leaflet, and all kinds of other things. I’ve also spent some time in the last couple of weeks working on the virtual worlds section of the Web 2.0 Scoping Study I’m doing for the library and archives, which has, as always, involved spending some time using the web 2.0 tool in question, in this case, Second Life, which is the most used virtual world for educational purposes.

Luckily for us, some people at the University had already created an island in Second Life for Bangor University, and have been kind enough to give the library a room to use as we begin exploring the potentials of Second Life for the library and archives service.

So far, I have been getting used to moving my avatar around, and have been out exploring Second Life’s freebie shops hunting for furnishings for the library room, with the aim of making it friendly and comfortable, but with a library-esque ambience! It is currently furnished with a large rug, some bookcases, a desk and chair, a laptop, some leopard skin chairs and a small water feature. I also added a harp, as a symbol of the library’s Welshness.

The next stage is to learn to make signs in Second Life, to bilingually label our library room for visitors, and to create some links to library and archives website pages from the library room, as I have seen in other libraries I have visited in Second Life.

Future plans are to look at using Second Life for things such as library reference and enquiry services, for teaching sessions, and also to attend any useful conferences and meetings in the virtual world, as it can be difficult to attend many meetings when based in North Wales!

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I’m working on the Twitter section of a scoping study I’m writing looking at how Bangor University and Archives can use web 2.0 technologies, and have been making a list of Welsh libraries and librarians I know of on Twitter. Does anyone know of more which I’ve missed?

Rydw i wedi bod yn sgwennu am dan Twitter ar gyfer astudiaeth i ymchwilio am defnyddio dechnolegau Web 2.0 ar gyfer Llyfrgelloedd ac Archifau Prifysgol Fangor, a rydw i’n sgwennu rhestr o llyfrgelloedd a llyfrgellwyr Cymraeg ar Twitter, ydy rhywun yn nabod fwy dwi ‘di methu allan?

Welsh Libraries / Llyfrgelloedd Cymraeg:

Bangor University Library: http://twitter.com/BangorUniLib

Bersham Road, Yale College, Wrexham: http://twitter.com/BershamRdLRC

Glamorgan University: http://twitter.com/lcssatglamorgan

Llandrillo FE College: http://twitter.com/LlandrilloLib

Swansea Public Libraries: http://twitter.com/Discovermore

Welsh FE Librarians / Llyfrgellwyr FE Cymraeg:

Andrew Eynon (Llandrillo) http://twitter.com/andrewey

Sarah Barker (Yale College, Wrexham): http://twitter.com/sarahgb

Welsh HE librarians / Llyfrgellwyr HE Cymraeg:

Emma Rye (Glamorgan): http://twitter.com/Emma7114

John Wright (Glamorgan): http://twitter.com/wrightoid

Karl Drinkwater (Aberystwyth): http://twitter.com/libkarl

Lucy Price (Glamorgan): http://m.twitter.com/puffyhu

Mark Hughes (Swansea): http://m.twitter.com/Mark_H_Swansea

Paul Bevan (Aberystwyth): http://twitter.com/bevanpaul

Paul Jeorrett, (Glyndwr, Wrexham): http://twitter.com/jeorrettp

Sarah Nicholas (Cardiff): http://twitter.com/SarahNicholas

Vashti Zarach (Bangor): http://twitter.com/serenalaburnum

Public Librarians / Llyfrgellwyr Cyhoeddus:

Karen Gibbins (Swansea): http://m.twitter.com/karJg

Other / Arall:

Mandy Powell (CILIP Cymru): http://twitter.com/Minimorticia

Gregynog Conference: http://twitter.com/gregynog2009

Welsh Journals Online: http://twitter.com/welshjournals

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Today’s blog post is on a subject I’ve been meaning to write about since starting the blog. I’m very much hoping for a varied audience for this blog, so whilst some people reading my blog posts may be experienced bloggers themselves, and know how to gather all their favourite blogs in one place for easy viewing, I’m assuming that some people will be new to blogs, and not know how to do this.

To save and view multiple blogs, you will need to use something called a “blog aggregator”. It sounds a bit like some kind of dinosaur, but actually a blog aggregator is just a single location where you can save links to all the blogs you like to follow, and then pop in whenever you like to view all new blog posts on a single page. This is done by sending blog posts to the aggregator as “rss feeds”. RSS  means really simple syndication, and RSS is just a format for frequently updated things such as news and blogs, which can be uploaded and displayed by lots of other sites. For example, you can get news from the BBC in RSS feeds.

What is the point of getting a blog aggregator and uploading news feeds and blog posts? Well, it depends how much you view news and blogs. If you visit one blog and occasionally check the BBC news website, you probably don’t really need to gather them together into one place. If, however, you have a wide variety of blogs you follow, it is much easier to view them all in one place. I follow a range of library and learning blogs, which I keep adding to Bloglines (my blog aggregator), and am currently up to 62. I don’t have time in my working week to visit 62 different blogs, but it’s pretty easy to open Bloglines 2 or 3 times a week and see which blogs have new posts.


This is a screenshot (a saved image) from my account in Bloglines, showing a list of blogs I follow down the left hand side. The blog highlighted in black has a new blog post.

I’m not going to show preference or bias towards any particular blog aggregator, but as Bloglines is the one I know and use, that is the one I will describe today. To set up a blog news feed with Bloglines, go to the Bloglines website, where there is a large link on the front page for setting up a new account. You will need to type in your email address and choose a password, and bloglines will set up an account for you. Once your account is set up, you can login using the link on the top right hand side of the Bloglines front page.

To save a blog news feed to Bloglines, open the blog page in another window (keeping Bloglines open as well), highlight the blog url (as in the screenshot below), right click with the mouse, and select copy.


Go back into the Bloglines window, click Add on the left hand side of the screen, and when the Blog or Feed URL box comes up in the middle of the screen, paste in the blog url, and click subscribe.


Sometimes, you just get one feed, in which case you just tick the subscribe box, but sometimes you get several, in which case just tick a box beside one of the feeds, and then click on the subscribe button at the bottom of the page.

The blog will now be added to the list in the left hand side. Click on a blog title in the list to see the new blog post or posts displayed in the centre of the Bloglines page. You can then click on the title of the displayed blog post if you want to go to the actual blog.


Here is Bloglines with a Muppets blog post open in the middle of the page for reading, and the list of other blogs still visible down the left hand side.

If you have any questions or comments, please either add a comment to my blog post, or email me at v.zarach@bangor.ac.uk.

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Jenny Evans & Ruth Harrison (Imperial College, London): 2. 0 much to do: how, when and why should library staff find out about web 2.0, and what does it mean for information literacy?

The session was about an idea called 23 Things, which was a list put together by a public library in America to encourage their staff to try out different web 2.0 technologies (e.g. blogs, Flickr, wikis, YouTube, etc), and described Imperial College Library’s version of 23 Things which was called Learning 2.0, and ran for ten weeks.

We were in a computer room for the session, which was ideal, as we were able to look at the website, and explore some of the links, including being given password access to look at some of the blogs the Imperial library staff had created during the programme. The extent of entries on the blogs varied enormously, some people having only done one or two posts, and others still blogging now.

There were positive outcomes from Learning 2.0: just under a quarter of library staff took part, surveys done before and after the course showed that people’s knowledge improved; and since completing the course, there are more blogs and wikis at the library, podcasts have been adopted, and there is a library twitter profile.

Overall, it sounds like a good technique to follow to get library staff on board, en mass, trying new web 2.0 technologies, especially if having completed the course, people can opt to use blogs and twitter and so forth if they choose, and not if they don’t, as not everyone is comfortable sharing their professional thoughts online in a web 2.0 style.

Moira Bent & Elizabeth Stockdale (Newcastle University): Integrating information literacy as a habit of learning – assessing the impact of a golden thread of IL in the curriculum

This was an interesting session about teaching information literacy as part of the student’s curriculum (one of the central ongoing debates in information literacy is whether to teach it separately, or as part of students’ courses, so that they can immediately see the relevance to their studies). Moira is a librarian, and Liz is an Environmental Science lecturer, and they worked together on integrating information literacy teaching into Liz’s course.

Moira listed the pros and cons of teaching information literacy within a course (relevant, can work with academic staff, make it subject specific, etc; BUT, means library staff not in control, co-working can be difficult, time consuming, etc) and the pros and cons of teaching information literacy as standalone sessions (easier to make it specific, students can work at own pace, raises library profile, etc, BUT, keeps focus too specific instead of broad, doesn’t make it relevant to subject studied, etc).

Liz was a great advocate for information literacy. She had observed that students were finishing university without necessarily developing the information skills they needed, as there was an unspoken assumption that students would just develop these skills whilst doing their studies, whereas she could see that they actually needed more specific training. She emphasised the need to assess any information literacy skills they learnt, otherwise students would just not make the time to do it, e.g. Liz marks some essays on information literacy skills used as well as essay content.

Interestingly I have spoken to staff at the university where I work who are concerned about some of their students’ information hunting skills, the lack of breadth in their reference lists, and issues with plagiarism and referencing, so I’m very much aware that all this issues are certainly noticed as much by lecturers as by library staff, and think that integration is definitely a good idea, as long as there is time to do it!

Evening Event: Caerphilly Castle

In the evening, I went to the social networking event, which was a coach ride to nearby Caerphilly Castle, which was beautiful, with dinner and drinks in a reception room at the (mostly ruined) castle, plus live music, medieval or classical I think. I love castles, but didn’t go exploring due to the bad combination of conference shoes and free wine. I was lucky enough to talk to some very nice people, including a librarian from the Brit School of performing arts  (I’d love to work in a performing arts library!), some students who had places at the conference, a nice psychologist from Leeds and my friend Melissa Highton from Oxford.

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Word Clouds

Word clouds or tag clouds are clever devices which turn your text into a visual image, with the words used most times in the text presented in larger sizes. They are frequently used on blogs, and in new generation library search engines, and all manner of other places, but oddly enough, I hadn’t really experimented with word clouds until yesterday when I launched my blog.

There is a tag cloud feature on WordPress (my blog host), but with only one blog post, it didn’t do anything very exciting with my blog words, so I decided to submit all my blog text to a word cloud generator called Wordle and see what kind of cloud of thoughts I had created on the first day of my blog.

Word Cloud on Day One of the Blog

Word Cloud on Day One of the Blog

I’m quite pleased with this as a starting set of words, with wonder, sense, provoke and curiosity showing my aims for the blog, and the terms library and information at the core of it all, although you may well wonder what words like robbers, piratical and rumbustification are doing on a library blog (the welcome post explains it all).

I then experimented with doing the same thing with a poem, which was very interesting. I taught English GCSE for a year once, and if I still did, I would definitely want to use word clouds with the students. It’s a really interesting way of exploring the overall themes and moods of literature and poetry. I used The Stolen Child by W.B.Yeats, which is a poem with lovely imagery, as you can see from the word cloud.

Word Cloud of W.B. Yeats' poem The Stolen Child

Word Cloud of W.B. Yeats' poem The Stolen Child

The word cloud is a poem in itself. It both conveys a sense of the content of the poem, and also shows what a wide range of rich and evocative vocabulary Yeats uses.

Finally, thinking about how word clouds could be used by students or staff at the university, I tried putting an article I recently wrote through the Wordle process, thinking this could be an interesting technique for university members to use to get an overview of key words and concepts emerging in their research. My article was about hunting for information, using effective search strategies, and investigating library resources.

libraryarticlewordcloudI think the word cloud emphasises the sort of key words you might expect to find in an article about library resources, although you may spot a few odd words in there that relate to examples I’d given of research enquiries I’ve helped with, rather than being actual search strategies…

Wordle Create is online here, and I recommend pressing the randomise button, to see how different the text image looks in different colours, fonts and layouts. You can also change the settings using the drop down menus above the text box.

It’s an inspiringly different way of looking at a piece of writing…

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