Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

And another Thing

Thing 2 involves exploring RSS feeds, which of course is just another excuse for me to play with iGoogle. In this instance, it allows me to separate my feeds out into different tabs, which means I get a snapshot overview of what’s going on in a particular sphere of interest. Plus I get to have a different image and colourway for each tab, which is the fun bit.

Lottie over at Adventures of a Blogging Trainee Librarian comments that the tab function is “the perfect solution for people who like to compartmentalise their lives” – and I suspect I am that person. (Only now that I’m about to expose them to the indifferent gaze of the world do I realise how much time it’s possible to spend agonising over which photo theme best reflects each facet of my life.)

As well as the stuff on my home tab, I have three further tabs devoted to different kinds of RSS feed. Here’s the start of the ‘Libraries’ tab:

igoogle page

And here’s the more techie stuff that I like to drop into conversation occasionally so it sounds as though I understand it:

iGoogle page

But the jewel in the crown is of course …

igoogle page

Currently rather sparse, I’m expecting the Cam23 page to fill out rapidly next week when other Thingers start blogging. I’m already really enjoying reading what people make of Things 1 and 2, and can’t wait to add some more feeds to this tab : )

Oh, and everyone should check out The Passion and the Fury posting about 23 Things and her coffee machine …

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23 Things are Go!

Cam23 is officially underway, and in my excitement I’m jumping the gun by blogging about Thing 1: iGoogle. I confess that I adore iGoogle. It panders to my childish side with entertaining widgets, to my visual appetite with colour and images, and to my inner control freak by allowing me to reorder my page elements with click-and-drag ease.

iGoogle page

Here’s my home tab, which has RSS feeds that keep me up to date with UL and Cambridge University news. It also reminds me what month it is and lets me know what I should be wearing (assuming I remember to look at the Weather tab). For pure enjoyment there’s an XKCD feed and a nod towards my secret life as a penguin, which happens in the dark outside working hours …

I also have to confess that I love my iGoogle as it is, and so I’ve already deviated from Cam23 instructions by not adding the COPAC widget. In a hasty bid to regain the moral high ground I explored the ‘optional extra’ suggestion of looking at other start pages, and this has really piqued my interest in their potential for libraries. The Unquiet Library at Creekwater High School, which boasts a seriously trendsetting librarian, has a really appealing homepage hosted on Netvibes. It’s colourful, dynamic, and user-friendly, with information presented in clearly delineated chunks.

Closer to home, thanks to Darren Bevin for letting me know about the Lewy Library’s Philosophy@Cambridge page, also on Netvibes. It’s fantastic to see a range of citation tools being made available, and the ‘Journals – latest issues’ tab is droolworthy. Looking at this page makes me feel libraries are truly moving forward into the 21st century.

Lewy Library netvibes page

Love and a shoestring in the UL Tea Room

There are two qualities I’ve noticed in the planning for the most successful events I’ve been involved with: a kind of serendipitous “what the hell” feeling, and the University Library Tea Room. In fact I suspect the two elements are closely linked: there’s something about having your meetings in an atmosphere of academic noise and caffeine that seems to spark inspiration.

In May of 2009 I met a colleague for coffee and a Plan was born. We would organise an e-resources fair aimed at academics that would serve as both an update for their practice and an introduction to new online sources. We would invite publishers and suppliers to come into the library for an afternoon and set up their product stalls on the library desks, and we’d offer the entire Faculty wine and nibbles to entice it collectively through the door.

Thus in the space of one coffee we came up with the entire blueprint for ‘Food for Thought’, which took place less than a month later with remarkably little more organisation.  It turned out to be a roaring success. Suppliers were delighted to come and talk directly to academics about what they want, and to showcase their newest products; academics and researchers enjoyed the presentations and the chance to browse information at their own pace, wine in hand. And aside from food and drink, there were no other costs involved.

“We do it on love and a shoestring” is a phrase I find myself using a lot about the various information ventures I’m involved in. I don’t remember whether I stole it or coined it, but it sums up perfectly the kind of approach I enjoy most. The best events are resource-intensive, but the resource in question isn’t finance: it’s people – their creative thinking, their time willingly given, their engagement and expertise. With those ingredients it’s amazing how far a shoestring will stretch.

Mongoose world

According to Rudyard Kipling, “The motto of all the mongoose family is ‘Run and find out'” – a motto that applies equally (though perhaps at a slower pace) to research skills and information management, and therefore to what I train students and researchers in every day. As a passionate advocate of lifelong learning, however, I believe it should also apply to the library profession as a whole … So in the ever-inquisitive spirit of the mongoose, here’s to new experiences – starting with the Cambridge 23 Things programme!