Thing 22: Mobile Things

“…did you know that in just one hour mobile users will have carried out 68 million searches on Google, generated $3 million worth of ad revenue from Google ads, and made 8 million purchases through their devices with Paypal? In the same time mobile users open 2 billion emails, send 1 billion WhatsApp messages and 768 million text messages, while 29 million will have accessed Facebook .”                                                                    (Dealsunny.com 2016).

The use of smart phones and other mobile technology for seeking information is growing. To illustrate, take a look at this real time graphic  on mobile usage statistics shared on Stephen’s Lighthouse blog, from Dealsunny.com. 😮  It will blow your mind.

“Nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners, and for many these devices are a key entry point to the online world.”

“More than half of smartphone owners have used their phone to get health information, do online banking.”                                                          (Pewinternet.org 2015)

The above quotes are from a 2015 Pew Internet Research study of American smartphone usage.  I would confidently say that the trend may be global.  This book review provides a look at new research on children’s and adolescents‘ info behaviour.  And in developing countries smartphone usage is rising rapidly, increasingly being used to access information, especially health-related information.

mobile-phone

Public Domain Image by Olu Eletu via Unsplash.com

As librarians we need to be on top of our game as far as mobile apps are concerned.  We should not only be seen to be using them, but we should be able to confidently teach people how to use the popular ones.  It is therefore important for us to remain abreast as best we can.  Articles such as this one I saw shared on Facebook a few days ago – Librarian Approved: 30 Ed-Tech Apps to Inspire Creativity and Creation – are a huge help.

After reading Rudaí23 Thing 22, by Wayne Gibbons, I was interested in finding out about the Gum app, since I had not heard of it before.  It was quick to locate on the App Store, simple to activate, and really user-friendly. I scanned the barcode of one of my favourite textbooks, and left my first comment, or ‘gum‘.

photo-10-10-2016-12-52-38

Looking at their website, they’ve used a clever marketing strategy…alliteration…  “conversations on comics”, “poems on products” and “notes on novels”.  😀  That says it all.  The  potential for library users’ to converse about books internationally, right there on Gum, is huge. This article from a blog ‘The Library Voice’, shows how it was used successfully within a library situation. (Thanks to the author of Thing 22 for sharing this link.)

Gum is a super user-friendly, free app. There is no need to first enter an email address and create a password or user account.  It loads, requests access to the phone camera, and you get scanning.  To leave a ‘gum’ the app asks to create a user name. Once you create your comment, you ‘stick’ your ‘gum’, and it appears on your ‘wall’.  Gums can be managed, edited, deleted, and products unfollowed.  Apparently new gums on the same products create an ‘alarm’ that rings on your phone.

If we were to promote this app by means of posters in the library, or even face-to-face, it could really take off within a library community or reading club.  The apps for Goodreads and LibraryThing etc., are fantastic, but a user account is required. Also, Gum is not restricted to books only, so we can get info on popular household products, food items, PC games, tech tools and more.  There is a 12+ age restriction to the app, because, besides the user T & Cs,  there is little control of who posts what. So teachers beware.  However, there is a reporting tool, that, when activated, opens a ready-to-send email, guiding you on specific info sought regarding the product or comment.

smiley_026

Another app that I personally enjoy is Adobe Spark Video. It is one of the trio belonging to Adobe Spark – Spark Post, Spark Page and Spark Video.  Admittedly, it is only available on Apple products, (sorry Android users …) but oh my!…it has never been easier to quickly create interesting presentations, lesson aides, info slides, portfolios and more. *shows thumbs up* 😀

What better way to use that old iPad or tablet, lying around in the library…set it up as an info display.  iPads are increasingly used in classrooms worldwide; teacher librarians can utilise this app to create interesting lesson segments.  Public librarians can have presentations which they all share to guide or instruct on certain topics upon request from users. Voice-overs are easy to record, as long as you know what you want to say.  I created this presentation on Information Literacy for a MOOC that I was doing a while ago.  It is far from perfect, but was fun to make. The target audience was a year 11/12 group of school children; please, academics, be forgiving as you keep that in mind. 🙂

When you’ve tried Adobe Spark Video, do let me know how you feel about it via the comment box below. Most of all, have fun. 🙂

I am super excited to know that I’m on Thing 23 of 23 Things next week.  Woohoo!! Really looking forward to ‘Making it all work together‘.  Until then, thanks for stopping by. 🙂

hourglass_4

Featured image by Frederic Koberl via Unsplash.com (Public domain)
Clipart used from clipart.com

 

 

Thing 18: Communicating through photographs

If a story is not about the hearer he [or she] will not listen . . . A great lasting story is about everyone or it will  not last.

John Steinbeck, East of Eden.

For the library sector, communicating through photographs is essentially advocacy. And storytelling. Or am I wrong? And isn’t it so, that each person sees an image in line with his/her background of information, cultural experience and personal understanding? So where one photo will be harmless to some, to others it can be huge controversy or insulting.

Therefore, I would imagine that for a library’s account to be successful on Instagram or  Flickr etc.,  knowledge and sensitivity must be the starting point…know your community, their values, culture, lifestyle, struggles, and so forth, to ensure that no individual or group is made to feel inferior, insulted, intimidated, excluded, etc.

As a volunteer within libraries I’m unable to comment on how effective photography is as a means of impacting users and visits to the library. But as a user of social media and a library/museum/history/info enthusiast, I know how avidly I pursue various accounts, based on what they share.  Flickr is used effectively by libraries to show-case vintage photos, photos of their community activities, to document the history of their area, and more.  Instagram is a wonderful way to highlight displays in libraries and museums, to draw attention to new resources, to notify of, and share, activities within the library  and to be innovative in communication with a bid to draw the local community to the facility and all it has to offer (the recent #liblympics  from @noosalibraryservice was a brilliant example of an advocacy campaign on Instagram).

On a personal level I have used a Flickr account since 2011, and Instagram since December 2014.  I follow libraries and librarians, museums and other interesting (story-telling) accounts.  On Instagram I post photos of my volunteering efforts in libraries and interesting things I encounter along the way. I use Flickr as a cloud storage facility (on a private setting) for my personal photographs, since they offer 1 Terabyte free of charge, but I have made a few public in an album.

Here are some links to a few accounts that I follow, and which I really enjoy:

On Instagram:

Queensland University of Technology

Prince William Public Library, Virginia USA.

The National Portrait Gallery

The New York Public Library

ig-pic-nypl-picture

A happy snap from the New York Public Library’s Instagram account.

The British Library

The Noosa Library Service

Brisbane Libraries

The State Library Queensland

Elissa Malespina (librarian)

Not libraries, but powerful communication through photographs…

@primecollective

@johnstanmeyer

On Flickr:

State Library Queensland

The Library of Congress

The New York Public Library

The National Archives

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Antique Books (Group)

Sylvia Duckworth, educator.

australia-from-nasa

Australia sideways from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

 

Until next time, when we take a look at the legal side of things – copyright!

Thanks for stopping by. 😀

Featured image:
Storytelling by Daniele Rossi on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Thing 16: Collaboration tools

Six years ago I was one of three people (two coordinators and the HoD) responsible for drafting weekly class tests for each module on English language training, across different levels.  For uniformity purposes collaboration was vital.  They contained speaking activities, listening activities, reading extracts, images, clip-art, and questions of varying format. However, collaboration was a nightmare. First, our time was taken up with different tasks in the normal day-to-day running of the ESL department. Second, when we could, we would work on our local PCs, back up on the flash drives, and then go into the local network’s shared drive to back up again and create a master copy. If one worked at home, the documents would be copied from a flash drive to the work PC, overwriting a previous copy, and then again placed on the shared drive, overwriting the master copy. When we all worked on these tests over the weekend, there we would be, on the first day of the week, trying to retrieve and edit the same master documents, but in turn, as only one person could access a particular master copy at a time. 

Confusion

Confusion by Stuart Miles courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Needless to say, the entire process was a mental battle, trying to establish which was the latest and final edit! In the end each task often ended up with multiple copies, and all three of us at a loss as to which was the actual copy to use. Not only would we have to ensure that the copy on the shared drive is the correct one, but all our local backups needed overwriting, as well as the documents of the flash drives. We realised that our collaboration was a shambles!  As far as drafting final tests were concerned, it was all best left to one person, we decided.  The downside was that that person was sent multiple emails (leading to new stress)  Cool_sign with questions and suggestions for additions, and telephonic debates on the side.  The whole process was stressful and was repeated weekly.  Somehow we managed to get the tests issued on time every week, but only after many private hours spent by one person, at the weekend.

PC Frustration

Has the above story rung a bell, or revived old unpleasant memories? Made you confused and exhausted? Good! Because it drives home my point on just how wonderful it is to have Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, OneNote and all the other programmes that allow effortless collaboration.  Microsoft’s SkyDrive (now OneDrive) was available from about 2008, but cloud computing was a mystery to most of us, and those who were not techie-minded were adamant – they were not going that route.  Witchcraft

Even our IT department was suspicious of the cloud, and consistently avoided any queries.

Dropbox was around soon after, but again, not widely used.  Google Drive was only created in 2012, long after I left the ELT department. Had we have had those programmes and their current features, oh, our lives would have been made so much easier.

collaboration

Collaboration by Urs Steiner on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

So averse was I to creating backups of backups of backups, that as soon as I began my course in 2010, I immediately turned to SkyDrive and Amazon Drive. When Google Drive arrived, it quickly became the popular choice.  Today, documents can be created within these drives, shared, commented on, and collaborated on.  google docsNo constant backing up and transporting of flash drives. It is safe…in the cloud. 😀  (Indeed, the onus is on the creator of the document to keep a back-up of his/her documents on site, but at least the documents and files on the cloud are not on a device that may drop, become damaged, corrupted, be mislaid, or anything else.)  Truly wonderful. And now I can just about hear all those questions and comments regarding security and the cloud?!  Haha, well after 6 years of using it privately, I would never, ever, NOT EVER, look back!

Bullseye

 

Win target by Stuart Miles courtesy of freedigitalpotos.net

 

Earlier this year, as an intern in the school library,  I was tasked with designing reading badges.  These were digital images created with an online badge maker.  To share them with the librarian would have resulted in countless emails containing rather large image files.  Instead, I stored them on Google Drive, and shared each grade’s folder with her, automatically sharing the documents within. All she needed to do was to click on the link, open the folder, edit and/or save the file on her computer for printing.  No pain. No flash drives. No back and forth emailing. The folders were downloaded onto her PC, organised according to grades,   all ready to go.

Today, in the library where I volunteer, no-one seems to be using  collaboration tools.  It may be that their needs are different, but I have on multiple occasions wished I could give someone access to a document or form that I have created for the library, instead of having to email it as an attachment.

My favourite  is Microsoft’s OneNote, which I use to take notes for both professional and private use, and create documents with to share with friends or family. It is user friendly, has multiple features, available on all devices, also allowing collaboration between different users.  The writer of Rudai 23 Thing 16  has provided a super explanation of Google Drive and Doodle as collaboration tools. (I have made my entry into Thing 16’s  Google Drive document, by the way. )

Cloud computing. heart Cloud collaboration. heart My personal thanks to the founders  and developers of these software.

Thing 17 will be a reflective practice blog entry. Until then…cheers. 😀

Images: 
Featured image: collaboration by Laura Billings on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Gifs from giphy.com; clipart from wpclipart.com.

Image of Google docs by Steven Combs on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Rudai 23, Thing 15: Advocacy for libraries

A

Image from Gary Green, Josh Filhol and Andrew Walsh of

The Library A to Z: the Kickstarter Project. (CC BY 4.0)

“A is for access, advice, answers, archives, art…astronomy, audio books, author events.”  The library A to Z.

A is also for advocacy.  That vital activity that is shared by all who love libraries. In fact, if you’re reading this and you’re an admirer of all things library, did you know that you can affect the opinion of everyone you meet to support, visit or become involved in their local library, if you constantly, yes constantly, advocate for libraries. In my opinion, the responsibility for advocacy begins with each person working in a library, in every task they perform for their users. It’s not merely a task for the select few.

The onus also lies on each user to advocate, and not to leave it to others. Leaders, stakeholders and decision makers can destroy or secure a library’s future, but their opinions can be swayed by voices FOR libraries.

“We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.”   Neil Gaiman, author of The View from the Cheap Seats.

What is library advocacy? It is aptly defined on the website of the ‘Turning the Page‘ organisation, who offer training materials on library advocacy:

“The actions individuals or organizations undertake to influence decision-making at the local, regional, state, national, and international level that help create a desired funding or policy change in support of public libraries.”

Is it ignorance or pure misinformation that cause many to say “Why study for librarianship?” or “Libraries are dying. It’s all on the internet now, we don’t need libraries any longer, much less librarians.” How many times in the last 5 years didn’t I hear this when people heard the subject of my studies. Eventually I stopped going red with fury, and began to feel elated *rubs hands together with glee* for another chance to ‘educate’ someone. 😉

Fortunately in some countries there is heavy investment in state-of-the-art libraries of the future. In the UK, though, there is clearly something wrong.  If it is true that library use is declining in that country, then surely libraries are not offering what their communities want?  The knee-jerk reaction of the previous government was to close many. A crying shame!

So let’s get advocating to avoid the pitfall that the UK finds itself in – one where some are under the impression that it’s too costly an expense for a service no longer needed – sadly developing a blindness for the potential future of libraries.  Here’s hoping the new Prime Minister will amend that quickly.

The writer of Rudai23 Thing 15 provides many links to different advocacy campaigns. One I really enjoyed was for The Library A to Z, as I envisioned using their materials in the museum library. The resources on offer from The Library Campaign are noteworthy. As is this poster designed by Sarah McIntyre, available for protests and campaigns…

super_librarian_poster

Advocacy can take on different forms and use different methods.  Social media is a ready-made platform for advocacy.  Here are some great Instagram library accounts to follow for ideas: The New York Public Library, Gympie Regional Libraries in Australia, and the Prince William Public Libraries in Virginia, USA.  Twitter is also a wonderful forum for advocacy inspiration. Public Libraries 2020 (EU), Bredebieb (Netherlands) and Ian Anstice (UK) are just a few accounts for ideas. Then there’s those super librarians mentioned in an earlier blog post, who regularly tweet ideas and activities.

Recently I was part of a discussion on how to increase user stats in the museum library where I volunteer. We decided we would like to suggest placing fun signs that point to the library wing and have the info desk hand out brochures enticing people to visit the library after their museum visit. The museum has also just begun to plan a scavenger hunt that incorporates the library, and the library manager has collaborated with the museum to offer library tours on demand.  Using the idea from Thing 14 on Augmented Reality (AR), I had also thought of creating some iPad excitement with AR for children visiting the children’s corner.  I used the Aurasma app and the letters from ‘Libraries A to Z’, to make up an example of  an advocacy campaign.  Since I am not able to insert an MP4 video into this blog (would need to upgrade), here is a still from the ‘C is for children who come to meet the library dinosaur’.  (The dino rears up on hindquarters and roars.  I was totally thrilled at the action.)

screen grab of video

This could be taken one step further: the museum has a camel mascot in its children’s booklets, named Jamila.  A great AR image would be a video of a camel across a still of the library, purportedly showing Jamila browsing and telling children how fun it is to visit. 😀

Camels
Hey guys! We’re almost at the library.

Camels by Shinya Ichinohe on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The advocacy resulting from these ideas could only benefit the library’s use, as people would be encouraged to tell others. Library staff could Tweet, Snapchat and post on Facebook. Local news magazines/newspapers could be invited to periodically cover activities.

Until next time, when we discuss collaboration tools.  Thanks again, for stopping by. 🙂

Thing 8: Content curation

(c) S Brandt
The Curating Tree | S Brandt

Thing 8 requires us to work through one or more of a few popular web curation tools. Librarians are natural curators.  We love to organise things.  In the image above, the kiddies corner of the museum library hosts this ‘book review tree’, where the children’s book reviews are placed on display.  It’s easy to curate tangible things.  We do it all the time. Socks in their own drawer, books on a shelf, bank documents in a folder, garden tools in a shed, table cutlery all in one place.

So what do we do with the info we gather from the internet? How do we store the interesting articles, funny cat videos, beautiful images, the jokes, the stories that we encounter as we surf, read or research on the web? Enter web curation tools.

A few years ago I subscribed to Scoop.it, but consistently forgot to “scoop”.  :p (I recently deactivated that account, since I just don’t get to it at all.)  A  while later I enrolled on a webinar titled ‘Using Pinterest to be a better teacher‘ presented by Shannon Holden, via Newteacherhelp.com.  Having heard of Pinterest and how its users were waxing lyrical about what they found there, I was inquisitive when I saw that it could be called a teaching tool.  I subscribed, watched the webinar and was sold on the idea. Pinning, re-pinning and searching for content, friends or like-minded professionals is easy; content display is visually attractive and wow, do you get ideas from Pinterest!

File 2016-07-12, 6 44 02 PM

 

An image of my Pinterest profile page on iPad. With only 311 pins, I am in no way a serious pinner.  I have seen some accounts that run into the thousands of pins. 😀

 

I recall going into the school library one day, where I was an intern.  The librarian had called in sick and had left no instructions.  It was the first day of the week, and the display boards needed a theme…my first thought was “to Pinterest!”.  Sure enough, after searching ‘middle school library displays’, I was presented with a host of ideas and found one that the library assistant and I could put together in the 30 minutes before the first library lesson. File 2016-07-12, 6 43 22 PM

 

Here is an image of that display idea via Pinterest.                                (c) S Brandt

 

Of course, unless you don’t mind it, the downside with these sites is the amount of time (that elusive commodity once again) that one can potentially spend in browsing through curated content.  On Pinterest I can simply know that for the next hour I’ll be out of this current zone and visiting in the cyber world. Actually, for this desert-expat it’s really fun to visit other travel hotspots, gardens, homes, kitchens, bookshops, closets, fashion stores, art galleries…the list is endless.

One particular successful user on Pinterest is Jeff Bullas, a social media marketing blogger, strategist and speaker.  Regarding librarianship, a whole world opened up for me, of fun displays, interesting books, reading lists, library challenges, activities, worksheets, innovative spaces, makerspace ideas, and fantastically techie, awesome, librarians.

It is a reality that web-links become broken (that is, the web pages are deleted or moved).  So, although one curates, some links won’t be there when you re-visit them.  That said, the value one gets out of curating and sharing with others is truly rewarding.

Here are some cool pinterest logo tips and ideas.

 

content curation

Free image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Another one of my favorite curation tools is Storify.  A Twitterchat, for example, that has been ‘storified’ is great, because while the chat is on there is little time to read each tweet or to visit links that others might share.  The Storify makes it so much more enjoyable and it’s also accessible later on.  In thing 8’s write up, the author Christine Jordan, gives a useful step-by-step explanation on how to Storify.  Do take a look.

Here is a Storify of an #auslibchat Twitterchat, that I took part in last week, via ALIA NGAC.

Having signed up for a free Storify account, I went ahead and used it to curate some of my own tweets pertaining to my volunteering effort at the museum library.  I keep a daily record on Twitter of what I do at the museum, using the hashtag #MIALibrary.  Here is my Storify…(click on the link below the image to access the Storify).

 

Libraries can use content curation in many ways…

  • curate content to place into a library blog;
  • curate about your library’s history and development (don’t forget to MARKET THE CURATION) to engage your users;
  • curate a twitter feed, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, etc. about displays, book reviews, book lists, clubs/services offered in the library, etc.
  • news…curate for librarians’ current awareness, to keep them up to date with new tech, new databases, professional advice, new games, etc.

And finally, libraries need to market their services, their resources, their hub.  Without knowledge of their community and their environment they could not offer a valid service.  Web content curation can help to keep the library’s stakeholders and decision makers informed of what is happening and why it’s vital to meet their users’ needs. This article from Social Media Today, provides tips to content curation for marketing purposes.

This link provides ideas for more curation tools. Let me know (below) which is your favourite.

Till ‘Thing 9’ and the topic of video recording technology.  Thanks again for stopping by.

Image credit:  Pinterest logo by Family Creative via Flickr on Creative Commons licence (BY-NC-ND 2.0)