Tag Archives: Twitter

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.

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.

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.


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!


  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

50 Shades Of Blue

The School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (SLANZA) has recently published the latest issue (pdf) of Collected magazine. This issue is devoted to Blue Sky Thinking: If the sky was the limit, what would you hope for? so “prepare to be challenged, have your paradigm shifted or even have your current thinking validated as you read the stellar articles from both national and international educators”.

Rather than write an article I took a visual approach and asked Twitter: “If $, time and resources were no object what would be the first thing you’d do in your library?” The responses show the blue sky thinking of many librarians is heavily tinted with practical realities.

Live-Tweets Of The LIANZA Waikato/BOP Weekend School 25-27 May 2012

The LIANZA Waikato/BOP Weekend School celebrated it’s 10th anniversary this year in Whakatane. Below is a brief summary of selected presentations and how they were represented on Twitter at the time (live-tweets).

LIANZA update
Jane Hill, LIANZA President
Jane outlined where LIANZA is going in 2012 and beyond; and asked the audience to discuss future skills of the profession. >> Read the live-tweet version.

Demystifying metadata and the semantic web: A potted guide to digispeak
Shelley Gurney, Team Leader & Information Services, NZ Institute of Chartered Accountants, Wellington
Shelley helped the audience make sense of metadata and its associated terminology in the hope that we become familiar enough with the terms and concepts to understand the upcoming changes in cataloguing practices. >> Read the live-tweet version.

Kaupapa Māori: Some guiding principles
Tangimeriana Maxine Rua, Library Coordinator, Whakatāne District Libraries
Tangimeriana’s presentation style exemplified Māori values in practice. One valuable nugget to reflect on: language is holistic – 4 learning styles and 5 senses. Not just reading and writing. >> Read the live-tweet version.

E-books in libraries: Securing our future in this space
Paul Nielsen, Library Manager, Hauraki District Council
Paul spoke about the impact DRM is having on the core principles of libraries (open and democratic access to information) and suggested that libraries need a position on ebooks. >> Read the live-tweet version.

Don’t fight it Marsha, it’s contextual readers’ advisory and it’s bigger than both of us!
Paul Brown, Auckland
Read-alike lists are not readers’ advisory. It’s the stuff around the content that’s important. >> Read the live-tweet version.

So what’s it like in the future? How to Skype an author for a teens’ event
Amanda McFadden, Teenage Services Librarian, Tauranga City Libraries
Amanda shared her experiences and what she learned when skyping with Lauren Oliver and Brian Faulkner at the teen reading programme finale. >> Read the live-tweet version.

Testing the product, and staff
Theresa Ball, Electronic Resources Librarian, & Heather Tennant, Digital Initiatives Librarian, Wintec
The testing and implementation of a discovery layer didn’t go quite as expected. We were reminded of the importance of keeping your users in mind. >> Read the live-tweet version.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it… 
Vye Perrone, Associate University Librarian Collection Services, University of Waikato
Vye asked us to imagine everything is online and all our collections have been digitised. What happens to libraries in this world? >> Read the live-tweet version.

993 v. 994: The New Zealand Oz connection
Carol Routley, Australia
There are often assumptions about what happens in the library world in Australia and New Zealand, and vice versa. >> Read the live-tweet version.

General comments from Twitter.

Live-tweeting is a great way to share what is happening at an event, as it is happening. Perhaps you’d like me to live-tweet your next event. Contact me and let’s work something out.

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

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.

Opportunities As Seeds

My name is Tosca Waerea and, currently, I work for Auckland Libraries in their digital services team.  Specifically, I’m involved with our social media streams.  Prior to the 2010 local government amalgamation I worked for Manukau Libraries firstly as a general library assistant, then as a library assistant for Maori services and, lastly, as digital outreach for their digital services team.  I believe that libraries are shared community spaces.  I am first, foremost and forever a reader.

“Opportunities, many times, are so small that we glimpse them not and yet they are often the seeds of great enterprises. Opportunities are also everywhere and so you must always let your hook be hanging. When you least expect it, a great fish will swim by.” Og Mandino

I’ve been turning an idea over in my head for the last couple of months, in that way that I do when I have the seeds of something indefinable that I’m not quite ready to discuss yet for a variety of reasons. Maybe it won’t withstand closer scrutiny, maybe it’s a silly idea, or maybe it’s actually a good idea and then it’ll require a proposal and a strategy and some finessing of people (in that way that I don’t do well at all). Roughly four weeks ago I voiced it aloud (randomly and on Twitter) and it had a couple of positive comments from colleagues based locally and nationally. Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to discuss it with others in the wider library profession (nationally and internationally this time), again on Twitter, and decided that it was time to see whether or not it is actually viable.

I’ve been closely following the @sweden tweetstream since its inception with an eye to seeing whether or not a public library could do the same. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, in 2011 Sweden decided to let its citizens run its official tweetstream, with the approval of the Swedish government. It’s an exciting move, and one I’ve watched right from the get go. Each week a different person tweets on behalf of the country about anything and everything. The result is an eclectic mix of points of view, lifestyles, commentary about everything from the difference between being a bad parent and bad parenting (that was an enlightening discussion), breastfeeding in public, how an initial long distance relationship started (as a romance reader this was so sweet) to life on the road as a trucker and everything else I could ever conceive of. It really does prove that nobody owns the brand ‘Sweden’ more than the people who live there.

We, and by ‘we’ I mean libraries in general, always talk about how our customers are our biggest advocates. I agree. They are. As are our staff. But I often wonder if we really do mean it and, if we do, how we show it/live it more/better? So how do I see this working as a part of a public library tweetstream? Alternate between having staff and customers tweeting, either change it weekly, fortnightly, or a ‘guest’ once a month. When it’s staff, mix it up a little – someone who works a front desk, someone in acquisitions/processing, someone in training and development, someone from leadership, a kids librarian – a different library perspective each time, hopefully rounding out what it is that we do, making us that much more accessible – and visible – in the public eye. When it’s customers, show them what you do. Really show them. Not tell them, because it’s all just words. Arrange for behind the scenes tours of community libraries, talks with managers, show them different departments, take them to the acquisitions department and show them all of the incoming titles (that’d be my personal favourite), give them a tour of special collections, let them meet with leadership teams (one on one or as a group) and hear, firsthand, about your library’s purpose and vision, if they have a particular concern about a point of policy or strategy then let them talk with the people who created/wrote those policies and strategies. Let their experiences, and any thoughts they have as a result, shape their tweets. A sort of live journalism, if you will. If they have a particular interest, e.g. family history, incunabula, Maori services, then foster it. Let them meet the people who handle those departments or service areas. I like to think that we are all fangirls and fanboys at heart who are just waiting for our interests to be fostered. Or something like it that doesn’t sound so…fangirlish. (If you could put professional terms in the place of ‘fangirls’ and ‘fanboys’ I’d really appreciate it).

I’m going to spend the next month seeing if it is possible and, if so, how it would work, and how it could be implemented. To kickstart that process, I’ll be contacting anyone and everyone behind the various location curation projects and asking for a general idea of what was involved and, if possible, if they would mind sharing their policies. (People always think I’m a sandwich short of a picnic when I tell them I work this way – that I contact people and ask them if they’d mind sharing tips, hints, strategies and policies. I do it because I very firmly believe that social media is about sharing information, so why wouldn’t we practise this offlist, as well? And yes, if anything concrete does come out of this I would be more than happy to share with others. A virtual ‘pay it forward,’ if you will and, yes, I will expect those others to share pass on what I give them to others, too). Then I’ll write a proposal and take it to management within my own organisation where we’ll have wonderfully robust and open discussion about whether or not this can work for us, and how we’d make it happen.

There are, now, quite a few location curation projects taking place around the world (NZ, France, Ukraine, UK, Australia, and a few others more) and, yes, I happily follow them all, and constantly wonder how and where libraries can use this. As a side note, I adore that NZ is doing this, too. There’s been a great mix of people so far, with some rather interesting people still to come.

Should other public libraries pick up this idea and run with it then I wish you the best of luck, and I can’t wait to read all about your journeys.

I’d like to thank the following people for allowing me to kick the idea back and forth with them both in person and on Twitter, and for providing encouragement and inspiration: @mcrtt, @bobinrob, @sallyheroes, @jobeaz, @haikugirlOz, @megingle, @BeezilBeard, @VaVeros, @natz2d2, @ielfling

10 Reasons To Go To #LIANZA11 (In 140 Characters Or Less)

Last week I attended the Queensland Public Libraries Association Conference and tweeted live updates for the first time (all tweets from the QPLA Conference have been captured here).

I was quite nervous about this as I wasn’t sure if I could:

  1. Offer any real value within 140 characters
  2. Keep my tweets up-to-date with the speed of the presentations
  3. Remember to use the hashtag (#) as an easy way to identify and search for Conference tweets.

But I’d followed live tweets from attendees at other conferences and learnt so much without actually being there; so I wanted to give it a go.

As a result I learnt that not only is tweeting a great form of note-taking because it forces you to focus on the key points; but it also allows you to include your own perspective to each tweet that you send.

And so here we are. The LIANZA Conference  is just a few weeks away and here are my 10 reasons to go to #lianza11 in 140 characters or less. (I might actually tweet these too!)

10 reasons to go to #lianza11

  1. #lianza11: People.Love.Share. Share stories with people I love.Love people sharing stories. 3 words from Paul Brown http://linkd.in/rra5EQ
  2. Aroha Mead’s #lianza11 keynote “Sharing Power…” fits nicely with Dr Loriene Roy’s “…advocating for indigenous librarians” on Tues pm.
  3. #lianza11 unconference on Mon pm looks intriguing – building a stronger profession. Wonder what ideas will percolate?
  4. Can’t miss #lianza11 One City, Auckland Libraries. The largest public lib in the Southern Hemisphere. V.interested in marketing session.
  5. Karen Coyle. I enjoy Coyle’s Information (http://bit.ly/nAFCaO) even though I have no experience in cataloguing, metadata or MARC. #lianza11
  6. Andrew Booth at #lianza11 for evidence-based practice. We need more of this in library prof. Also sounds a bit like project management. :)
  7. Jenica Rogers. Don’t know much more than what the #lianza11 programme says but appreciated her article on vendors: http://bit.ly/n1PbHJ
  8. “Power to print disabled people through passion for information” Wed am. Chose this one to learn new stuff at #lianza11.
  9. Want to see how ShowGizmo #lianza11 works. Don’t have a smartphone but works on web too: http://bit.ly/n7ewko and http://bit.ly/qAJaT9
  10. Yay! Free wifi at #lianza11. Geek? Maybe. Addicted to Twitter? I can’t help it.

What are you looking forward to?
And if you see me at conference please say ‘Hi’.

PS. If you aren’t going to conference you can always follow the tweets (you don’t need to join Twitter).

A version of this article appeared in Library Life: Te Rau Ora, 6 October 2011.

Other articles that may interest you:

Social Media Influence Of Public Libraries

The previous article in this series looked at the number of Facebook and Twitter followers of New Zealand public libraries.

The number of followers or likes provides a simple measure of a library’s social media success. But it doesn’t tell you how effectively you are engaging with them. There are several tools that can help you measure your level of influence, with Klout.com being the most popular at the moment.

Klout measures your social media influence across the three biggest social networking sites – Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, and assigns a Klout score from 1 to 100 based on your ability to drive action. Aaron Tay analysed the most influential libraries on Twitter using Klout, but didn’t include New Zealand libraries, so here they are:

<click on image to enlarge it>

As you can see the top 5 are:

  1. Christchurch City Libraries – by Aaron Tay’s ranking, Christchurch would rank well within the top 10 of all libraries, which is no easy accomplishment. Alison Wallbutton wrote an article earlier this year on Christchurch’s Twitter strategy which provides some really useful starting points for libraries to consider.
  2. Auckland Libraries – I think they’re still finding their feet after the transition into a super city and merging several Facebook and Twitter accounts into one will have affected their score. Klout also doesn’t appear to have recognised their Facebook presence so I’d be disappointed if their Klout score wasn’t above 50 before the end of the year.
  3. Wellington City Libraries – a strong Facebook presence with lots of engagement but it doesn’t seem to have been linked to their Klout.com profile. Expect a higher rating next time.
  4. Waimakariri District Libraries – a surprise for the top 5 especially as they only have a Twitter presence. However their Twitter presence is unique. At least once a day they tweet the first lines from a book with a link to their catalogue  – “follow our firstlines and let a book hook you“. Simple and obviously influential.
  5. Central Hawkes Bay Libraries – and just pipping Dunedin too. I found it very difficult to find their Facebook page which happens to be a profile rather than a business page (for the differences, click here). They were the only library to have a profile rather than a business page, and as such this may have influenced their Klout score.

I did consider writing my next article on some best practice social media tips but decided there was enough food for thought here. If you would like to discuss how your library could improve its social media presence please do get in touch.