Tag Archives: professional development

MOOC-ing About

By Morag Gray, presented at LIANZA Otago-Southland Weekend School, 15-17 November 2013.

Professional Development
While there are many opportunities for professional development provided by LIANZA, Invercargill (where I live) and Southland District (where I work) are a long way from anywhere much.  The closest courses offered are usually in Dunedin, which is a 2 and a half hour drive each way. There are no trains or planes, and buses are slower than cars! To attend a two-hour session in Dunedin takes the whole day.

Budget – our Council is very good about providing for professional development, but, there is a limit to funds, and the funds have to be distributed fairly.

This particular MOOC is not constrained by location, and because it is being offered free, there is no impact on the library budget. My Presbyterian and Yorkshire ancestors would applaud.

Massive…
Participants in the Hyperlinked Library MOOC come from everywhere! Each pin on the map represents a student.

…Open Online Course
The course is one paper of the MLIS offered by San Jose State University.  As an experiment, it was offered, free, to 400 librarians around the world.  I found out about it via the 23 Mobile Things, which I signed up for and haven’t completed.  The MOOC seemed like a good idea at the time, so I registered and promptly forgot about it.

In late August I received an email inviting me to visit the Hyperlinked Library site and register.

MOOC is in the air
So I set up my profile. The avatar they pulled from elsewhere – WordPress, I think. I used it there once. I could have earned a badge by changing it, but I rather like her. One day Daisy Meadows will write a book about her: “Lila the Library Fairy.”

Addicted to MOOC
Badges. You earn these for fulfilling certain requirements. Some people are more motivated by these than others.  So far I’ve earned 19. I don’t think I’ll be earning the Master Badges for assignments or for blogging!

A big hunk o’ MOOC
Badges and fairies aside, there is a fair commitment of time in this course.

  • It is twelve weeks long.
  • A new module is released each week.
  • Each module is estimated to take 8-10 hours per week.
  • A module comprises one or more lectures. Some of them are quite short, and some weeks there are two or three. Those weeks there are guest lecturers well as our usual course directors, Michael Stephens and Kyle Jones.
  • Each week there are several readings, mainly of journal articles, and extra material of interest, which may include videos and more articles.
  • All students are required to keep a blog, for reflective writing and also as a means to submit assignments.
  • There are seven assignments; students need to submit five in order to complete a certificate of participation.

Why do fools fall in MOOC?
So why did I sign up for this? There are a few reasons, including:

  • I like to know things, and I enjoy studying.
  • If I’m studying I have a good excuse not to go to parties and other things that some people think of as fun
  • It is actually an excellent way to make contacts with other librarians, from all around the world.  Part of the course is its emphasis on community, and we are encouraged to make friends and join tribes, where people with similar interests meet. The most active one I belong to is knitting librarians. You can be very involved if you like, or you can just lurk. Like most communities, you get back what you put in.
  • If I’m serious about my job I need to keep abreast of developments both here and around the world. Because of its international spread and academic focus, this particular MOOC is helping in that process, as well as giving me some tools to continue once the course has finished.
  • And then there is the registration journal. I am hoping the course content will enable me to fill in several of the requirements.

Moving beyond “Brand Books”
Ok, we’ve looked at the structure. What is the course actually about? Chiefly it is about a new model of libraries and librarianship, based on what the community wants from its libraries.

It is about the meeting challenges facing libraries today, where what libraries (and librarians) do and what people think they do, are not at all the same thing

In reality, libraries are (still) in the business of linking people with information. It’s just that now the information is less likely to be housed in a library stack and bound in boards. Librarians nowadays keep up with social media, they tweet, have facebook pages, use instagram and vine, post videos, both instructional and entertaining, on youtube…

Books are still part of the mix, but it is more important for librarians to be able to connect people with a wider range of what they need or want.

Transparency
Transparency is about being open about what we do, about avoiding jargon and language that alienates people who are not in the in-group.  It is about having easy-to-read documents. How ironic, then, that the module after Transparency was on UX, which I automatically pronounced ucks. Turns out it meant “user experience.” It is now trendy to have UX librarians. I see there is soon to be a journal for it – Weave. Details are at http://weaveux.org/

Kindness Audit
One of the things that Michael Stephens is very keen on is the idea of heart. He thinks libraries should strive to project a warm, human, friendly image, something we do not always do very well. He suggests that as an exercise we should do a kindness audit of our library, and in particular take note of the image our (often homemade) signage projects. At best they are amateurish and cheap-looking. At their worst they are downright aggressive.

Maker Spaces
Maker spaces are a buzz word, where people can come and make things.  Libraries are removing books and installing 3D printers and maker spaces, so members of the public can come into the library and print a new whoosit for the washing machine or design their own robot for an RPG.

Some of this is a little out there for places like Southland, where the do-it-yourself mentality has never gone away, and anyway if we wanted a 3D printer we would probably build our own.

On a more serious note, we do have services such as REAP that provide many of the services that Stephens and his colleagues promote as possible library services and I suspect it would not be beneficial to our small communities for the library to start duplicating their work.

There are things we can do to foster the maker concept however. In the last year we have had very successful knitting programmes at two of our branches, and a recent program for children on making books was well patronized.

Librarians as Teachers
Librarians as teachers is also heavily promoted as the way for the future.  There is quite an emphasis on learning theory, and how learners today are creating knowledge rather than passively receiving it as they did in the past. I have yet to be convinced of the validity of this theory.  Just because I am using technology, listening to a lecture over the internet and at home rather than in a classroom, or earning badges by completing a certain number of tasks it does not mean that I am creating anything.

In our libraries we are finding there is a need for librarians who are competent with technology – in particular e-readers and tablets, and who are patient and good at explaining their use. One-on-one seems to be the preferred option.

Our Winton branch has become a cool place to hang out place for teens, which has its own challenges, but  we have to be careful how we approach them. It is better to wait for them to ask us, rather than to push a lesson onto them that they don’t want. They get that all day at school.

Get to know your community
The most important lesson is that we need to get to know our communities.  The community at each of our branches in Southland District is different, and they are all different to those of Dunedin or Invercargill, or anywhere else for that matter. A case in point – this week we had a seminar at Winton to demonstrate Fundview and Breakout databases. I expected about two people to come. We got about twenty. Fundraising is a subject of greater importance than I realised in small communities.

Adapt
We have to be adaptable. What we knew last year is not necessarily what people need to know today. As librarians we do have to be constantly learning, but not necessarily what is taught in library school.

We have to be able to change things to suit our communities and our situations. It is useless to impose  borrowed programmes onto our library without taking into account what our communities need or want.

Impeccable customer service
Good customer service cannot be overemphasized. People remember how they are treated, and they are more likely to come back if the service they receive is friendly, efficient and provides them with what they need.

Librarianship is no longer a refuge for the shy and socially inept, especially as technical service departments are being dismantled and their services outsourced.

We are doing better than we think
As we examine our services, though, we may find that we are doing better than we thought. Articles and videos seem to focus on the big, the loud and the expensive, but often what our communities want is quiet and unobtrusive. They want us to be there when we need them, and to link them to the things they want.

We are not experts on everything, but what we are good at is finding out. The key is to then connect what we have discovered with the person who wants to know it.

Course Format: Pros and Cons
Would I do a similar course again? Yes, I would.  The style of delivery makes it easy to fit the course into the week. Instead of a daunting quantity of reading and seemingly unlimited time which rapidly runs out, the course is broken up into manageable chunks.

However, a lot of the readings were by Michael Stephens, one of the lecturers on the course.  It felt to me, at times, as if he was using the course to push his own personal agenda – not necessarily a bad one, but personal nonetheless.

The time commitment is substantial, especially if you are doing all your study outside of work time. The social side of the MOOC format can be very time consuming.

However, where else do I get to study alongside and exchange ideas with librarians from all over the world ?

Bye bye MOOC
The Hyperlinked Library MOOC finishes this week. I think it was a worthwhile experience, although probably is not for everyone. I leave you with a challenge that Michael Stephens included in an article in last week’s module on writing your resume. How will we contribute to our workplaces? And how will we continue to learn?

Notes: A couple of explanations
Registration journal: in order to obtain and maintain professional registration in New Zealand, librarians are required to keep a professional development journal. In it they note and reflect upon professional development activities they have undertaken. They are required to complete a minimum of thirty activities over a three-year period.

REAP: An organisation that provides educational opportunities for adults in rural communities.

http://www.reapanz.org.nz/

http://southernreap.co.nz/

Heroes Mingle achieves the impossible

In librarianship, professional learning used to be dominated by national or regional conferences where only those of a certain tier in the librarianship hierarchy would be privileged enough to attend. And whatever happened at conference stayed at conference. As a result the hundreds of librarians left behind, were left behind.

That world still exists but it no longer dominates our professional learning.

The perfect professional development opportunity is free, online, after hours and highly relevant to you. This is one of those opportunities.

On Saturday 19 October at 7pm NZT Heroes Mingle is going global. Megan and I will be the only New Zealand librarians presenting at Library 2.0: the future of libraries in the digital age where we will discuss our philosophy, the technological tools we use and the lessons we’ve learned in taking control of our own professional development pathway.

Library 2.0 is a free, fully online, totally virtual conference and we’d love it if you could come to our presentation. Our session will be held immediately before Gene Tan’s keynote. So depending on your time zone this could be:

New Zealand Saturday 19 October, 7pm
US Pacific Daylight Time Friday 18 October, 11pm
US Eastern Daylight Time Saturday 19 October, 2am
Brisbane Saturday 19 October, 4pm
London Saturday 19 October, 7am

You don’t need to register for the conference, all you have to do is find our session (Creating the professional development opportunities you want) in your time zone, click on it to expand the information and you’ll find a link to the session the day before the conference begins.

Join us and learn key strategies to beginning your own professional development journey.

Join us

On Saturday 19 October at 7pm NZT, we’re taking Heroes Mingle to the world – Heroes Mingle goes global! Megan and I will be the only NZ librarians presenting at Library 2.0: the future of libraries in the digital age - our session focuses on our philosophy, the technological tools we’ve used and the lessons we’ve learned by taking control of our own professional development pathway.

Library 2.0 is a free, fully online, totally virtual conference. We’d we’d love it if you could come to our presentation which precedes Gene Tan’s keynote. Depending on your time zone this could be:

New Zealand Saturday 19 October, 7pm
US Pacific Daylight Time Friday 18 October, 11pm
US Eastern Daylight Time Saturday 19 October, 2am
Brisbane Saturday 19 October, 4pm
London Saturday 19 October, 7am

You don’t need to register for the conference, all you have to do is find our session (Creating the professional development opportunities you want) in your time zone, click on it to expand the information and you’ll find a link to the session the day before the conference begins.

Join us and learn key strategies to beginning your own professional development journey.

Library Staff Professional Development Needs A Makeover #nicat13

Yesterday I presented at the 2013 North Island Children’s and Teens’ Librarians’ Conference: Manaakitanga: Empowering Our Youth in Rotorua, New Zealand, 1-2 August 2013.

You can read my presentation below or download it.

Summary
This presentation explores the role of Twitter as a professional development tool in overcoming the challenges presented by the traditional model of library staff professional development.

It begins with five examples of the disruptions that are occurring in learning to illustrate why we need to change how we think about professional development. This is followed by examining the research done by Bekti Mulatiningsih, Helen Partridge and Kate Davis in ‘Exploring the role of Twitter in the professional practice of LIS professionals: a pilot study’. And lastly I recommend ten people to follow on Twitter, who are of relevance to New Zealand Children’s and Teens’ Librarians wanting to create their own professional development pathways using Twitter.

Introduction
I think the current state of library staff professional development in New Zealand can be best illustrated by the following question:

What is the likelihood that a library assistant working part-time in a small public library would be able to attend a social media workshop run by LIANZA? 

The most likely answer will be: ‘It depends’. It depends when it is. It depends how long it is for.  It depends who else should go. It depends how much it costs. It depends where the course will be held. And so on, and so on. Yet the answer should really be a whole lot simpler: ‘If you’re interested, go for it!’

The predominant model of library professional development in New Zealand today, favours staff in large metropolitan areas with the financial means to pay for attendance and the capacity to cover staff absences. It also favours staff who need to learn stuff because it is directly related to their job rather than staff who are interested in learning stuff.

And frankly I find that disappointing. I find it disappointing because there are so many opportunities for professional development that don’t require you to jump through all these hoops before you even get to the learning bit, and yet they do not feature in our library professional development landscape.

Imagine having the freedom to choose. Imagine having professional development that is personalised, relevant, free, and on your terms.

Today I’m going to share my thoughts on the role of Twitter as a professional development tool because it is all of those things I have just described – personalised, relevant, free, and on your terms. But before I do, I’d like to bring to your attention five examples of the disruptions that are occurring in learning to illustrate why we need to change how we think about professional development.

Disruptions in Learning
1. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
The New York Times dubbed 2012 the year of the MOOC1 and it’s one of the hottest topics in higher education right now. Several top universities such as Harvard and Stanford, along with many other organisations, offer MOOCs on a wide range of topics.  For example, Google’s Power Searching course2 is a MOOC which many librarians have participated in to polish their searching skills.

Four weeks ago I began a MOOC in New Librarianship3. It’s my first MOOC and it’s the first one I’ve come across specifically focussed on our profession. This MOOC is run by the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University in New York and is taught by Dave Lankes, the author of The Atlas of New Librarianship4 on which the syllabus is based.

Like many MOOCs the content is presented through a series of videos, and students are required to read the core text to get a fuller understanding of that content. And also like many MOOCs it is free, open to anyone, and delivered asynchronously.

This means:

  • There were no pre-requisites to register.
  • I didn’t have to ask permission to take time off work for study
  • I didn’t have to ask if my library will pay for me to attend and
  • I also don’t have to get up at 4am to attend classes run on New York time.

There are over 1500 students from around the world doing this course because they want to; not because their library or manager gave them permission to.

A video by Cormier5 compares knowledge in a MOOC with knowledge in traditional education. In a traditional course you purchase a knowledge contract with an institution, such as The Open Polytechnic or Victoria University of Wellington. They have the knowledge and you want that knowledge. You go to a location – it could be online, engage in this contract and take home the knowledge. The institution judges whether or not you have the appropriate knowledge at the end of that course.

A MOOC is something entirely different. A MOOC does not presume that there is one thing that you need to know. The materials that are part of the syllabus are really just a starting point for the negotiation of knowledge. Knowledge in a MOOC emerges through the conversations that occur as students share their understanding, experiences and applications.

For example, in New Librarianship the mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.6, p15 But this mission is not a given as it might be in a traditional course. Many students in the MOOC disagree quite strongly with this mission. Some think it cannot be universally applied across the profession and others agree with it wholeheartedly. Dave Lankes doesn’t hold the set of knowledge on new librarianship, as may be presumed to be the case in traditional courses. Instead Lankes is the catalyst. Knowledge is gained through an organic and dynamic negotiation process that will extend beyond the life of the MOOC.

MOOCs aren’t likely to replace traditional higher education in the immediate future at least. But because MOOCs are free and take a different approach to learning, they are changing the rules and expectations of education, training, and professional development.

2. Change Happens Faster Than We Can Learn
Can you imagine a world without Facebook, smartphone apps, or voting off reality TV contestants? That was New Zealand ten years ago. It was also a time when many jobs being advertised today simply didn’t exist. Think about it in terms of librarianship. We’ve got new roles in areas like social media and digital services and I’m sure the role of teen librarians has also changed in terms of outreach and communication. So how do we educate people for library roles such as these? It won’t be by solely relying on the traditional forms of education or in-house training. Most likely it will be through keeping up with what’s happening, experimenting and learning from others.

For example, keeping up with technology is one of the more obvious areas where experimentation and learning from others is of more benefit than course learning. It is also ubiquitous across all library roles whether you are in digital services or YA. ‘23 mobile things’7  is a free, self-directed online program that explores the potential of 23 mobile tools for delivering library services.

‘23 mobile things’ was developed by librarians for librarians:

  • You can choose to do all 23 things or just some.
  • You can personalise the content to suit your needs, or you can use it as it is.
  • You can choose to do it by yourself, as a team within the library, or as a larger group.

In fact, more than 400 librarians mostly from New Zealand and Australia are exploring 23 mobile things together.8 This group was initiated and led by Abigail Willemse, a new library graduate from Hamilton and Kate Freedman, an academic librarian in Melbourne. They hold weekly twitter chats, write blog posts, have mentors signed up to contribute their expertise and provide a supportive environment for librarians experimenting with mobile technology for the first time.

If you’re keen to give it a go, ‘go for it’. Admissions never close, it doesn’t matter where you live or where you work, and you don’t need to ask for permission.

Once upon a time you used to be able to rely on journal subscriptions, association membership and regular conferences to keep up with change in library-land. But now change happens more frequently than a monthly subscription or annual conference and your professional development should change to reflect this.

3. Flipped Learning
Flipped classrooms or flipped learning is also turning traditional education on its head. In a flipped learning model teachers use online videos and podcasts to teach students outside the class (ie when at home), reserving class time for collaborative work and mastery of the key concepts.9

Salman Khan of The Khan Academy was one of the most influential initiators of flipped learning. In 2004 Salman lived in Boston and was tutoring maths on the phone to his 13 year old cousin Nadia in New Orleans. When they couldn’t talk Salman recorded the lesson on video. What he found was that Nadia preferred him in video rather than in person. Nadia could pause and replay what Salman was tutoring without having to feel embarrassed. She could also fast-forward through the boring bits.10 Today the Khan Academy has over 4000 videos on youtube to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace. You can learn almost anything for free.

Flipped learning isn’t confined to just the classroom.

For the Heroes Mingle Reality Librarianship series11 which Megan Ingle and I ran in June and July this year we flipped the traditional professional development model that many New Zealand librarians are familiar with.

flip

In the traditional professional development model material is usually presented via a workshop or presentation with a sage on the stage. In Reality Librarianship we flipped this into a conversation between our guest and audience. Because the events weren’t recorded Reality Librarianship was about participating in the conversation rather than listening in isolation.

Reality Librarianship was online so you could be located anywhere in New Zealand and after hours so you could be comfy in front of the fire. We weren’t limited to a physical space and accepted up to 200 participants from across all library sectors. It was also free and to ensure maximum relevance for participants each Reality Librarianship event lasted just 30 minutes.

And, I suppose another flip was that instead of professional development being organised by LIANZA, SLANZA or an organisation like your library, Megan and I organised it ourselves. We were just two librarians wanting different staff development opportunities and worked together to make it happen.

4. Interest-Driven Learning
I think people are motivated to learn for two reasons.

  1. Because they have to – such as for an exam, qualification, or to solve an immediate problem
  2. Because it interests them.

Think about the last time you learnt something because it interested you. Perhaps it was learning a craft, a musical instrument, or even playing Candy Crush. I imagine you were completely absorbed in your learning and looked forward to mastering the techniques or moving up a level. I imagine you practiced over and over again to reach a level of competency that you were happy with. And because you were interested in learning you extended the boundaries of your knowledge through curiosity, failure and experimentation.

Earlier this year I became interested in reading maps as a readers’ advisory tool. Reading maps are like bookmarks on steroids. Rather than just a list of titles or authors on a specific theme such as ‘historical adventure’, reading maps are information-rich and promote the library’s collection in a reader-centred context.

My role as Strategic Services Coordinator at Waimakariri District Libraries is largely about adding value to what we already do as a library in our community. This could mean implementing RFID, it could mean working more closely with local business, and it could also mean sharing our collection in different ways for different readers. I wanted to explore reading maps to learn if and how they could add value to what we already do in terms of bookmarks and readers’ advisory. As a result, I became highly motivated, curious and willing to experiment.

So far, I’ve produced one reading map in collaboration with Alison Miles from CityLibraries Townsville. This reading map called ‘Beyond Chocolat’ recommends 31 sumptuous reads if you loved the book called Chocolat by Joanne Harris.12 I’m also working on another reading map with Paul Brown from Auckland Libraries based on the book 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. With this collaboration we’re experimenting with a ‘his and hers’ reading map. We’re curious to learn whether our interpretations of 1Q84 differ depending on gender.

Although these reading map projects could legitimately be counted as work, they are happening outside of work hours because I want to experiment and learn about their applications without restriction. If I lose interest or become completely absorbed it doesn’t matter. I’m doing them because I’m interested, not because I have to.

Interest-driven learning is learner-centred rather than institutional-centred. It’s about more than learning the content. Interest-driven learning is about learning the tools and skills to remake that content and becoming the creator and producer of that content. Interest-driven learning is changing the rules of education.13

5. Social networks and communication
The last example that I’d like to share with you of disruption in learning is the permeating nature of social networks and communication technologies. In librarianship, professional learning used to be dominated by national or regional conferences where only those of a certain tier in the librarianship hierarchy would be privileged enough to attend. And whatever happened at conference stayed at conference. As a result the hundreds of librarians left behind, were left behind.

That world still exists but it no longer dominates our professional learning. Social networks and communication technologies such as Twitter, Skype and Google+ Hangouts have levelled the playing field. Access to experts, peers, and conference presentations from around the world is now commonplace, as are the conversations that emerge from this access. Geographical location, hierarchical status or financial ability are no longer barriers to participation.

For example, South Taranaki Libraries recently Skyped with authors during their NZ Post Children’s Book Awards events. They’re also thinking about using Google+ Hangout as a way for staff from different branches to talk informally from time to time. Not a staff meeting, just a chance to get to know each other better.14

The ‘Beyond Chocolat’ reading map with Alison Miles from Townsville was accomplished using Skype, a wiki and email. The planning for Reality Librarianship with Megan Ingle was done via Skype and a wiki. Identifying potential guests for Reality Librarianship came from the recommendations from friends on Twitter. The opportunities and potential are limited only by your imagination.

Using Twitter as a Professional Development Tool
‘Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news about what you find interesting’.15 Twitter is valuable because you get to choose what interests you. ‘You don’t have to build a web page to surf the web, and you don’t have to tweet to enjoy Twitter. Whether you tweet 100 times a day or never, you still have access to the voices and information surrounding all that interests you. You can contribute, or just listen in and retrieve up-to-the-second information’.16 Twitter is also the least likely social networking site to be blocked by your organisation’s IT department.

I started using Twitter two years ago in 2011. I had my own business running project management workshops for librarians and business people. I wasn’t working in a library and I felt like I was missing out on what was happening in the profession. And for some reason, I can’t remember why now, I hoped Twitter would be the answer.

I started out by doing a Twitter search for New Zealand libraries and librarians and began following them. I sent my first tweet “First tentative tweet – hello, anyone there?” and within five minutes Alison Wallbutton from Massey University Library replied welcoming me to the Twitterverse. At that time, I didn’t know Alison so her tweet came as a nice surprise. And from there I began providing librarians with the Daily News which contains links to information I had found on Twitter so others could keep up-to-date with what was happening in the profession locally and globally.

Twitter’s Value as a Professional Development Tool
In June this year, The Australian Library Journal published ‘Exploring the role of Twitter in the professional practice of LIS professionals: a pilot study’ by Bekti Mulatiningsih, Helen Partridge and Kate Davis.17 The findings from their research identified three main themes in how library staff use Twitter in their professional development:

  1. Being connected
  2. Building networks and
  3. Staying informed

Being connected, building networks and staying informed are common threads for all types of professional development whether it be online or in person. What Twitter does is it enlarges the scope of opportunities from a local environment to a global one.

1. Being Connected – library staff use Twitter to connect and communicate with like-minded people to support their professional development.18,p6

In 2011 Teresa Bennett from Kalgoorlie Campus of Curtin University presented a paper at the ALIA New Librarians Symposium on how Twitter has helped her overcome both geographical and professional isolation as a new library graduate.19 Teresa has ‘no day-to-day contact with others in the profession and much of the ‘tacit knowledge’ that is passed along on a daily basis in larger organizations is not available to a librarian working as the only professional in a small staff’.20, p1 Teresa uses Twitter to learn on the job.

I also use Twitter to overcome my geographical and professional isolation. Rangiora isn’t as isolated as Kalgoorlie but it isn’t the hub of the library profession either. Being on Twitter provides that connection to like-minded people in the profession. Every day I connect with librarians from around the world through the information we share.

2. Building Networks – Twitter provides library staff with opportunities to form communities and support learning activities. Or in other words to form a personal learning network.21, p9

Cook and Wiebrands22, p1 assert that the value of Twitter as a tool for developing a personal learning network is not determined by how many “followers” that you have following you, but in the numbers and quality of the people that you follow. Who you follow will be dependent on your professional development goals, plans and needs. And that is by the way, how you can reduce the pointless babble on Twitter and increase the meaningful banalities.

Alisa Howlett a LIS Masters Student from Queensland University of Technology presented a paper on Personal Learning Networks at the ALIA New Librarians Symposium in 2011. Alisa admits that she found the prospect of conversing and sharing ideas with people she didn’t know, using new tools and applications, appeared very daunting and overwhelming. Prior to being introduced to the concept of a personal learning network, Alisa thought she had little need to use its enabling technologies, both as a professional and in her work role. Using Twitter as her main communication tool Alisa began by following those she knew and found it easier to join in the conversations as time went on.23, p3-4

Twitter provides a space to ask profession-related questions and obtain perspectives from other library staff. I’ve asked for advice on solving ereader problems, collection management practices, tweaking the format of holds notices, book recommendations and much much more. Now, more often than not I ask Twitter before I ask Google. Why? Because the information I get from Twitter will come from my peers rather than an algorithm.

3. Staying Informed – library staff use Twitter as a means of staying informed about the latest trends in the library and information sector.

I found out about the New Librarianship MOOC via Twitter. I follow conferences such as SLANZA’s conference in Wellington last month or Auckland Libraries Children’s and Youth Hui held last week, via Twitter. The research paper by Mulatiningsih, Partridge and Davis was shared as a link on Twitter. I expressed my disappointment about it being behind a paywall and one of my Twitter peers sent me the full-text document all in the space of an hour. Twitter is my #1 source of news, both professional and personal.

I hope by now you’re thinking that you’d like to give Twitter a whirl, to see what it has to offer you. Perhaps the fear of getting it wrong has put you off joining but as Paula Eskett from National Library’s Services to Schools wrote in a blog post three weeks ago “not everyone adopts new technologies and tools instantly. Many of us have needed to lurk in the background of Twitter, and consume quietly in order to understand what it offers and how the communication nuances work before we launch into the contribution mode. That’s okay!…Bearing in mind that sharing online is just an evolution of the face-to- face meetings most of us already contribute in, can help calm nerves”.24

Who should I follow?
As I’ve mentioned previously Cook and Wiebrands25, p1 assert that the value of Twitter is not determined by how many followers that you have following you, but in the numbers and quality of the people that you follow. So where do you start?

Firstly, I suggest starting with the people in this room who earlier indicated they use Twitter. They are your peers and as we’ve seen at this conference, they have a ton of valuable information worth sharing. Not only that, but they’ll be following others not at this conference who would also be valuable for your professional development. You may even want to send them a tweet asking who they would recommend – it would save you time and maximise your learning.

And secondly I also recommend you start with a selection from the following ten accounts depending on your interests.

  1.  @YALSA
    The Young Adults Librarians division of the American Library Association.
  2. @SLJournal
    School Library Journal, for Children and YA book reviews.
  3. @TLT16
    The Teen Librarians’ Toolbox – reviews, programmes and discussions.
  4. @Saskia_CHSL
    Saskia Hill, School Librarian at Cashmere High School in Christchurch.
  5. @bkshelvesofdoom
    Leila Roy, an academic librarian with a quirky sense of humour who LOVES YA books.
  6. @catagator
    Kelly Jensen, everything to do with YA literature.
  7. @MrSchuReads
    John Schu, a primary school librarian sharing what he does and reads.
  8. @ZacKids
    Zac Harding, Children’s Librarian Extraordinaire at Christchurch City Libraries.
  9. @AliDevNZ
    Alison Hewitt, a primary school librarian in Auckland.
  10. @MSimmsNZ
    Michelle Simms, a primary school librarian in Hamilton.

Imagine having professional development that is personalised, relevant, free, and on your terms. With Twitter you can achieve just that. So, go for it!

References

  1. Pappano L. The Year of the MOOC. The New York Times. [Internet]. 2012 November 2[cited 2013 July 28]; Available from: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/education/edlife/massive-open-online-courses-are-multiplying-at-a-rapid-pace.html
  2. Google. Sharpen your search skills: join a free course to help you become a better searcher. [Internet] 2012. [cited 2013 July 28]. Available from: http://www.google.com/insidesearch/landing/powersearching.html
  3. Syracuse University, School of Information Studies. New Librarianship Open Online Course. [Internet] 2013. [cited 2013 July 28]. Available from: http://ischool.syr.edu/future/grad/newlibopencourse.aspx
  4. Lankes RD. The Atlas of New Librarianship. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press; 2011.
  5. Cormier D. Gillis N. Knowledge in a MOOC. Youtube. [Internet] 2010. [cited 2013 July 28]. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWKdhzSAAG0
  6. Lankes RD. The Atlas of New Librarianship. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press; 2011.
  7. Holmquist J. Joseph M. Barwick K. Thing 17: Evernote nad Zotero. 2013 July 26.  [Internet] 2013. [cited: 2013 July 28]. In: 23 Mobile Things. Available from: http://23mobilethings.net/wpress/
  8. Willemse A. Freedman K. Welcome to week 0. 2013 April 29. [Internet] 2013. [cited 2013 July 28]. In: ANZ 23 Mobile Things. Available from: http://anz23mobilethings.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/welcome-to-week-0/
  9. Neilsen L. Flipping the Classroom. 2012 April 27. [Internet] 2012. [cited 2013 July 28]. In: Teach Learning. Available from: http://www.techlearning.com/features/0039/flipping-the-classroom/52462
  10. Thompson C. How Khan Academy is Changing the Rules of Education. 2011 July 15. [Internet] 2011. [cited 2013 July 28]. In: Wired. Available from:  http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/07/ff_khan/all/1
  11. Ingle M. Pewhairangi S. Reality Librarianship 2013: Community Partnerships. [Internet] 2013. [cited 2013 July 28]. In: Heroes Mingle. Available from: http://heroesmingle.wordpress.com/reality-librarianship-2013/
  12. Miles A. Pewhairangi S. Beyond Chocolat: the reading map. [Internet] 2013. [cited 2013 July 28].  In: Reading Map. Available from: http://issuu.com/readingmap/docs/beyondchocolat
  13. Edutopia. Diane Rhoten on Sparking Students Interest with Informal Learning. Youtube. [Internet] 2013. [cited 2013 July 28] Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBN4j4rZgrc
  14. Sheard C. Thing 7: Communicate (Google+ Hangout, Skype). 2013 June 30. [cited 2013 July 28]; In: Kiwi Librarian. Available from: http://www.kiwilibrarian.co.nz/thing-7-communicate-google-hangout-skype/
  15. Twitter. The Fastest, Simplest Way to Stay Close to Everything You Care About. [Internet] 2013. [cited 2013 July 28]. Available from: https://twitter.com/about
  16. Twitter. The Fastest, Simplest Way to Stay Close to Everything You Care About. [Internet] 2013. [cited 2013 July 28]. Available from: https://twitter.com/about
  17. Mulatiningsih B. Partridge H. Davis K. Exploring the Role of Twitter in the Professional Practice of LIS Professionals: A Pilot Study. Australian Library Journal 2013;62:1-14. doi: 10.1080/00049670.2013.8086998. Available from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00049670.2013.806998
  18. Mulatiningsih B. Partridge H. Davis K. Exploring the Role of Twitter in the Professional Practice of LIS Professionals: A Pilot Study. Australian Library Journal 2013; 62:1-14. doi: 10.1080/00049670.2013.8086998. Available from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00049670.2013.806998
  19. Bennett T.A. Is there Anyone Else out there?: Working as a New Professional in an Isolated Library. Paper presentated at: ALIA 5th New Librarians Symposium: Metamorphosis: What will you become today?; 2011 September 16-18; Perth, Australia. Available from: http://conferences.alia.org.au/nls5/papers/Teresa_Bennett.pdf
  20. Bennett T.A. Is there Anyone Else out there?: Working as a New Professional in an Isolated Library. Paper presentated at: ALIA 5th New Librarians Symposium: Metamorphosis: What will you become today?; 2011 September 16-18; Perth, Australia. Available from: http://conferences.alia.org.au/nls5/papers/Teresa_Bennett.pdf
  21. Mulatiningsih B. Partridge H. Davis K. Exploring the Role of Twitter in the Professional Practice of LIS Professionals: A Pilot Study. Australian Library Journal 2013;62:1-14. doi: 10.1080/00049670.2013.8086998. Available from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00049670.2013.806998
  22. Cook S. Wiebrands C. Keeping Up: Strategic Use of Online Social Networks for Librarian Current Awareness. Paper presented at: VALA 15th Biennial Conference and Exhibition, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre; 2010 February 9-11; Melbourne, Australia. Available from: http://vala.org.au/vala2010/papers2010/VALA2010_78_Cook_Final.pdf
  23. Howlett A. Connecting to the LIS Online Community: A New Information Professional Developing a Personal Learning Network. Paper presented at the ALIA 5th New Librarians Symposium: Metamorphosis: What Will You Become Today?; 2011 September 16-18; Perth, Australia. Available from: http://conferences.alia.org.au/nls5/papers/Alisa_Howlett.pdf
  24. Eskett P. Putting the PERSONAL into Personal Learning Networks. 2013 July 11.  [Internet] 2013. [cited 2013 July 28]. In: Libraries and Learning Blog. Available from: http://schools.natlib.govt.nz/blogs/libraries-and-learning/13-07/putting-personal-personal-learning-networks
  25. Cook S. Wiebrands C. Keeping Up: Strategic Use of Online Social Networks for Librarian Current Awareness. Paper presented at: VALA 15th Biennial Conference and Exhibition, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre; 2010 February 9-11; Melbourne, Australia. Available from: http://vala.org.au/vala2010/papers2010/VALA2010_78_Cook_Final.pdf

At Tweet Level: How To Instantly Engage Your Market

“It’s a real-time world now, and if you’re not engaged, then  you’re on your way to marketplace irrelevance.” Real-Time Marketing & PR.

The above quote may sound a bit extreme, especially for libraries, but being first in the conversation (offline or online) is very important.

Witness this article about librarians being silenced at the CLA Conference, with a response from the CLA President a day later. It is worth noting that it took only a day for the CLA President to respond and they did so by commenting on both the initial post and on the CLA website. However by the time the response was published, the initial post had already received over a dozen comments (none of them favouring CLA) and tweeted numerous times within that 24 hour period. Because CLA wasn’t first, and their response didn’t elucidate what occurred, it will be difficult for them to repair any damage caused.

Being first in the conversation is important because you get to control the impression you want others to see. If you aren’t first it can take a lot of time, energy and resources to change the impression others already have of  you.

So how can libraries (and LIANZA) control the conversations they want to have with their members? The Engaged Web in New Zealand report provides some excellent guidelines about how to use the web to engage with customers. Rather than reiterate what is said in the report I’m going to suggest something different but equally practical and effective – live-tweeting.

Live-tweet (v.): to engage on Twitter for a continuous period of time—anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours—with a sequence of focused Tweets. The focus can be a big live event that everybody’s paying attention to (e.g. a TV show or an award show) or it can be an event you create yourself. (Source: Twitter.com)

I attended LIANZA Waikato/BOP weekend school in Whakatane with the purpose of live-tweeting the event. Why would I (or you) want to live-tweet? There are several reasons.

1. I’ve followed live-tweets from other people attending events in the past and have found them just as good, if not better, than being there in person.

  • Live-tweeters often share more highlights than lowlights.
  • Live-tweeters are open to questions and discussion from their followers.
  • Followers don’t have to sit through the boring bits. Followers get to live vicariously.
  • And followers also save on travel, accommodation and registration expenses.

2. I knew there would be other tweeters (@arwenamin, @paulcnielsen, @vye, @Anna_is_great) in the audience and as a result live-tweeting becomes a form of collaborative note-taking. However instead of writing notes on paper (or tablet) that only we can see, we each post them to Twitter and they become a collaborative set of notes for ourselves and people following. It’s distributed professional development (and promotion to potential new members) at its finest.

3. Live-tweeting requires a set of well-refined skills. You need to be able to listen, distill, summarise and tweet all before the next information nugget comes along. It is not for everyone but it can be learned.

4. Live-tweeting is an immediate broadcast of your event. Instead of only reaching the 60-plus people in the room we tweeted to at least 1500 followers around the world. They in turn shared their favourite tweets with their followers and so on. You get immediate feedback on specific content and can sense the level of engagement by how content is shared and discussed. In real-time. No follow-up required.

5. And last but by no means least, a cumulative effect of the previous four reasons is that following live-tweets provides a much richer professional development/event experience. Live-tweeting enables you to instantly engage with your market by providing them with pertinent, relevant and timely information. It enables you to start conversations with them and learn more about what pushes their buttons.

Imagine how valuable someone live-tweeting your event could be as a way to broadcast and promote the value of libraries with both new and current members.

Imagine how valuable someone live-tweeting an event could be if your schedule doesn’t allow you to attend, or if you only want to learn what happened at one session rather than the entire event.

Imagine if libraries pooled their training budget and collaboratively sent one person to an event with the express purpose of live-tweeting the sessions they were interested in.

If you’d like some pointers on how to engage real-time or if you’d like me to live-tweet your event, contact me and let’s see what we can work out.

A version of this article appeared in Library Life: Te Rau Ora, 6 June 2012.