Sharing Good Practice on Information Skills

July 19, 2010

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What new technologies are libraries currently exploring to engage users?

May 13, 2010

That was the question a colleague asked me the other day who was moving towards a new build library and was keen to kit out their library with the latest tech.  Interestingly, when I canvassed library staff across the region to find out what they were using they also wanted to find out what tech everyone else was exploring.

Here’s a sample of some of the responses I received from library staff and a few ideas on how the technology can be used to improve the library service:

  • e-Readers are becoming increasingly of interest to libraries but there’s still some debate over there level of accessibility and which model to go for.  My colleague, Chrissie Turkington, has blogged on the issues for library staff which is available here.   Many librarians are also eagerly awaiting the imminent launch of the i-pad in the UK (28th May 2010)  to see what it has to offer.  Watch this space…
  • Bluetooth proximity marketing is being explored by some libraries as a way of communicating  with users by sending adverts, promotions and general information about resources.
  • Voting software, especially Optivote and Qwizdom, are popular amongst students and staff at some libraries.  They are typically used as a fun assessment activity in inductions / information skills and/or staff development sessions.
  • Some FE and Public libraries have made use of the Nintendo Wii at set events for staff development and to enhance student engagement in ‘social learning areas’ in the library.  Further examples of using the Wii are available here.
  • Staff and students are using Vado cameras in one library.  These can be used for recording learner feedback on the library services or by learners who might need to produce audio-visual evidence for their coursework.
  • Regent College in Leicester are using Nintendo DS’s with educational games at certain times of the year to occupy learners and minimise disruption in the library.  The case study is available here.  Plus more and more authors are making their books available on the DSi.

(Image available under the Creative Commons licence on Flickr available at

  • One Sixth Form library has experimented with the i-pod Touch to deliver library inductions.  This case study can be viewed on Mole TV here.
  • Exeter College are using digital photo frames on the library counter to promote different resources and services (e.g. eBooks).
  • A number of libraries operate a loan scheme for the Asus EEE mini computers so that when IT Suites are fully booked library staff still have the capacity to offer students internet access (or to work on their assignments, etc).
  • Bradford College has introduced RFID (radio-frequency identification) in the library to empower learners to control their own lending.  It has provided many organisational benefits, including enhanced security and stock control.  More importantly though, RFID has enabled staff to support learners in a more effective way.  This case study can be viewed on the Excellence Gateway here.   This option is clearly a longer term project though and requires more planning compared to the smaller kit options above.

Clearly, this is not an exhaustive list by any means, but I hope it has provided a few new things for you to try out at your library and if there’s something I’ve missed feel free to let me know byadding a comment below.
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Untangling Web 2

April 27, 2010

First of all, a big thank you to all the librarians at the cofhe lasec event I attended at Westminster Kingsway College in London last Friday, Untangling Web 2, delivered by Phil Bradley.  The library staff at Westminster Kingsway College made us all feel very welcome and it was a great modern library to have the event.  The event was attended by a broad range of library staff from across a number of sectors, all of whom were enthusiastic towards the world of Web 2 and keen to explore Phil’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject.

The day began with a comprehensive and entertaining overview of Web 2 from Phil and raised some important issues, such as:

  • Although it’s important to consider your digital identity carefully when using Web 2 and the implications it has for your organisation, don’t let this stop you experimenting.  Fear stifles innovation.
  • Can Web 2 be trusted?  Before dabbling with an Web 2 site do some research by canvassing friends to see who is using it and what they think.  Does it have an entry on Wikipedia?  Is there a video tutorial for it on Youtube?  Search Twitter and blog search engines like Technorati to find out what other people are saying.
  • Don’t focus too much on the tool, but on what you get from the tool.  Many Web 2 sites can have a limited shelf life, but don’t worry too much if they disappear, you can guarantee another will spring up in its place that does a similar job!
  • Many Web 2 sites tend to be permanently in beta.  Web 2 is constantly evolving – go with it.
  • Web 2 doesn’t mean that there is no place for librarians anymore!  In fact, there is now a lot more work for librarians as there is even more information to organise, evaluate and share than ever before.
  • Many librarians are enthusiastic about using Web 2, but unfortunately their organisation sees Web 2 as a threat and it’s blocked on the network.  Phil has written a useful blog post, 25 barriers to using Web 2.0 technology: solutions, that addresses this and provides librarians with arguments to emancipate Web 2.

Okay, there was a lot more than just the above, but as I spent most of the day tweeting about Phil’s pearls of Web 2 wisdom you can get a flavour by searching Twitter under the hashtag #lasec.  Ewa Wraga, the E-Resources Co-ordinator at South Thames College, has also written a blog posting too about the event which can be viewed here.

Right, enough blogging for one day, time to check my Twitter…

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10 practical uses of Twitter for librarians

August 13, 2009

Twitter has enjoyed something of an explosion in use in the year 2009 and many librarians are keen to exploit its potential to champion their own libraries.  Twitter is now ranked number one in the Top 100 Tools for Learning and CILIP are even delivering training courses on Twitter for librarians.

Many Public libraries and HE libraries in particular are already using Twitter to great effect, and FE libraries are also beginning to dip their toes in the water, but how exactly is Twitter being used?

Well, because I’m such a nice guy, I’ve had a trawl around the various tweets posted by libraries and have come up with a list of useful ways you could use Twitter – so here they are:

  1. Provide your followers with a top tip of the day.  This could be something that helps learners with their study/information literacy.
  2. If you are putting an event on in the library be sure to tweet about it to let people know, e.g. reading groups, inductions, book sales, etc.
  3. Provide links to new electronic resources in the library.
  4. Promote a book of the day to encourage reading for pleasure.
  5. If you need feedback from your followers about any aspect of the library service try using an app like twtpoll.
  6. Find other librarians using a Twitter directory like wefollow or twellow and see what they are tweeting about to get some ideas.
  7. Make your Twitter social rather than just relaying information outwards.  Retweet other people who make relevant tweets to your users and reply to tweeters when you can.
  8. Promote the webopac by including links.
  9. If you are redesigning the physical spaces in the library show your users what you are doing by adding photos using twitpic.
  10. Invite your users to use Twitter like an enquiry service where they can ask questions regarding services and resources etc.

Clearly, this is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully it’s given you some food for thought.

Well, what are you waiting for?

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