One last thing…

23. Summarise your thoughts on the 23 Things @ Oxford programme
 

I started the 23 Things programme back in February, and  I am quite pleased with how it has gone. The web tools I have experienced as part of the programme are: 

  • iGoogle

    Word cloud from wordle.net

  • Blogging
  • RSS feeds & readers
  • FlickR & Picnik
  • Delicious
  • Podcasting & Youtube
  • Facebook & LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Wikis
  • Google Documents & ThinkFree Office
  • Widgets

I think the most useful of these, and the ones I am likely to keep using in the future, are blogging, Twitter, Google Docs, and perhaps the iGoogle page.

I think a blog is a great way to keep track of what you’ve been up to, and to be reflective about it too. Blogging about these Things has helped me get the confidence to start blogging properly; if I feel I don’t have anything interesting to say, I can fall back on doing the next Thing on the list! (Perhaps I’ll start doing 23cpd just to carry this safety net on!)

The same can be said of Twitter, really. I used it before, but not nearly to the extent I do now. As for Google Docs, I can see it being very handy indeed for group work during my MA.

It has been interesting to compare my thoughts and views of the web tools with the other trainees, and to read back over the past participant’s blogs too. I think at the start I was expecting to know everything straight away about the tools, but I actually learned a lot of new useful information about them. I’m glad I took part, as even if I don’t use all of them that often, at least I have a ground knowledge of them, and will recognise when they might just be the perfect thing to use.

Thing 14: LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social networking site, but for connecting with other people in a professional context.
 
 
Explore http://learn.linkedin.com/ and sign up for LinkedIn
 
Signing up to LinkedIn follows a similar process to most social networking sites – Name, email, password etc, so that was pretty straightforward.
 
You can add various bits of information to your profile, including your current and past employment and education, as well as links to your website/blog and Twitter profile. Essentially the idea is an interactive CV hosted online.
 
An interesting box on the profile is the Contact Settings, where you can let other users know what you want from the site:  career opportunities, job inquiries, reference requests, getting back in touch, etc.
 
I have added a few details to my profile, and here’s how it looks so far:
 
 
It’s kind of ugly with ads down the right hand side, and especially since I don’t have any contacts!
 
I don’t particularly like LinkedIn, but I can’t quite pin down why. I think I’m uncomfortable with my details being on the site, when I won’t be using it to find a job or network.
 
 
Facebook and LinkedIn
 
It’s strange that I should feel uncomfortable with this site, since it’s designed to be professional, whereas I’m happy to announce on Facebook everything from my current mood to what I happen to be tucking into for dinner. That being said, I am careful what I choose to post to Facebook, and I also keep my privacy settings quite high.
 
A person could easily have accounts on both sites, which are intended for very different reasons. Many people have separate Twitter accounts for this very reason – a personal and a professional account. It’s important to keep social and work life separate, especially on the internet where you have no idea who might be viewing your profile.
 
Today, most job vacancies are posted on the internet, and I guess it makes sense to host a CV there too. However, it being for professional eyes, it is vital to keep it up to date. Not using LinkedIn before, I doubt I would do that. It’s an interesting concept, but I don’t think I’ll be using it in future, and will probably delete my profile shortly after the 23 Things are over.

Thing 13: how libraries can use Facebook to connect with their users

Libraries on Facebook 

This subject is quite relevant to me at the moment, as Lauren and I set up the SSL’s Facebook page last year.


It’s been going since October 2010, and as I write the page has 95 fans. It was quite an accomplishment when the number of ‘real’ fans overtook the fans that were SSL staff!

Since Lauren and I were already on Facebook, we were both pretty familiar with setting up a ‘page’. Since it’s been going a little while now, I have a clearer idea of the pros and cons of a Facebook page for a library, and why a library might decide on this tool over (or along with) other web technologies to connect with their readers.

Pros

  • When an admin posts on the library page, that post appears in their followers’ news feed.  In this way, the information goes TO the person, rather than them seeking out the information, for example by going to the website. You are engaging with the reader on a level they are already familiar with and using very frequently.
  • Facebook is especially useful for academic libraries, since, in my experience, it is mostly students who use Facebook.
  • Posting on a page, you are given the option to post a status, photo, link or video, which gives a multi-media platform on which to engage with users. Some of the things I have posted about on the SSL page include links to e-resources, posters of upcoming events, or just quick general information, e.g. changes to opening hours.

 
Cons

  • One thing we have experienced since setting up the SSL page, and have gotten frustrated with, is the way Facebook often changes its layout. It can be hard to keep up to date with the site if you don’t have someone who uses it regularly working on it. We found this when we had just completed the staff manual entry, when Facebook announced pages were to become more like personal profiles.
  • A worry is that library Facebook pages may be intrusive. I use Facebook myself, but for keeping in touch with friends and for frittering away time when I’m meant to be doing other important things. No one wants to be reminded to do work when they’re intentionally avoiding that looming essay, nor do they want to remember that shocking fine when they are at home relaxing. It’s a fine line between engaging users in their own environment, and intruding in their personal domain.
  • What to post?! Never mind intruding if you haven’t a thing to post! We often struggle to come up with exciting posts, and to keep them upbeat. It’s all too easy to start posting about negative things, which will just make people ‘unlike’ your page.

There are of course many more of both categories, but those sprang to mind from my own experience.

Some libraries probably do make the most of Facebook to engage with their users, but it is difficult to say whether it is best placed to do so. I have enjoyed setting up the SSL page, and do think it is a good idea to have one in the ether, simply as another way to find our information on a platform that is highly used by our readers.