Sunday, 25 September 2011

That's all folks!

Well done to everyone who has completed the Things. If you haven't finished yet, don't worry, we will keep this blog open and you can work your way through at your own pace.

On Thursday evening we held our closing event at the Museum of Classical Archaeology. During the evening we announced the winners of the Cam23 Awards. And heeeere they are!

Best Blog Title
Runners up: 'Cardies and Tweed'
                   'Gareth 2.0'
                   'Views from the 'LibRhi'
Winner: Heather Lane with 'The Magic Lantern'

Best Blog Post
Runner up: Gareth 2.0 - Thing 10 
Winner: Jenny Sargent with Murmuration - Reflections on Blogging

Most Supportive 'Thinger'
Runners up: Becky Woods
                   Jenny Sargent
Winner: Suzan Griffiths (Wild Venture)

Best Blog
Runners up: Alliteration Station
                  Wee Bookworm
Winner: Gareth Burgess with Gareth 2.0

The final thing we would like you to do is to take a moment to fill in this feedback survey, so that we can evaluate the programme. I know you have done a lot of reflection already, so the survey is only a short one!

Photos taken by Annie Johnson and Becky Woods

Monday, 19 September 2011

Thing 23: Reaching Cam23Thing Nirvana

Now arriving at Thing 23, which is where this programme terminates.
All reflect please, all reflect...

So it's reflection time again, but this time, you can sit back, relax, and gaze out over the landscape of all the new web 2.0 tools you can now use. 

But first ...
We'd like you to check the list of 23 Things and make sure you have blogged about each one, preferably with an evaluation of each Thing either for libraries or your personal and professional development. You've got a bit of time though - you need to be finished (or as close to as possible) by the end of next week (Friday 23rd September)

Now reflect upon...
Things which made you smile
Things which have become a part of the way you live and work
Things which you'll never go near again
Web 2.0 and social media more generally - what role do they really play within libraries and information services?

...and don't forget to write this all down!

In fact, as well as writing it down, how about turning it into a beautiful word cloud with:

1. Go to Wordle and click on "Create".
2. Paste in the URL of your blog, click submit and watch for the result (this may take a few minutes, especially if you have posted lots). You can restrict the content to a single post if you prefer: just enter the specific URL of that post, rather than the general URL for your blog.
3. You can play with the display using the toolbar at the top until you are happy with it, but don't navigate away from the page or you will lose it. If this happens, just re-submit the copy.
4. When you are happy with your word cloud, simply take a screenshot of it, save it as an image format, and upload it to your blog, where it should look something like this:

Is that all?
Not quite. The end of programme party will take place in the Museum of Classicial Archaeology in the Faculty of Classics on Thursday 22nd September at 5.30pm. We'd be very grateful if you could register your attendance on the form here or by emailing Annie at

We will also be handing out a few special prizes in the following categories:
  • Best blog
  • Best blog post
  • Best blog title
  • Most supportive "Thinger"

So that's a little more reflection for you to do - have a look through some of your favourite blogs from throughout the programme and nominate your winners using the form here.

Where did that curtain come from?
Lastly, but by no means leastly, CONGRATULATIONS on surviving 14 weeks of relentless techy torture and, hopefully, learning one or two useful things for future use, personally or professionally.

As a treat (and what a treat), here's the man himself to sing us out...

Thanks to Sarah Stamford for more than a little inspiration and for the Wordle instructions

Friday, 16 September 2011

Parties and prizes and all kinds of exciting things!

The end of the programme is drawing nearer. I'm sure there will be mixed feelings about this - I certainly feel a strange mixture of sadness that it will soon be over and overwhelming relief that we have pulled it off (touch wood) without any major disasters!

As a final hurrah, I hope as many of you as possible will be able to join us on Thursday after work at the Museum of Classical Archaeology (more details here) for a celebration of your achievements. It doesn't matter if you made it to the end or not! There will be drinks and nibbles, and some prizes! So that we know how many to cater for, please could you send me a message at, or fill in this form.

Everyone who has completed either the 23 Things or the 9 Extra Things will be entered into a prize draw (there's still time to finish of the last few Things if you're a bit behind!). We will also be holding an awards ceremony for the blogs and bloggers you have judged to be the best. So please, take a couple of minutes to vote for your favourites below.

I hope to see you on Thursday!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Week 13, Thing 22: Wikis

The end is nigh - hang on in there!!

We're all familiar with Wikipedia and the notion of a wiki as a website written and edited by a community.
But aren't wikis a bit 'old-hat' now? All very 2005/2006. Take a look at all the articles and talks about wikis listed on the professional development library wiki Library Success; they all date from 2005-2007. Facet Publishing have even got around to publishing a dead-tree book about library wikis.
We've got Twitter and blogs now. Aren't they the Web 2.0 tools of choice?

I think that in many ways, blogging software has replaced wikis - it's more intuitive, easier to set up and customise. But wikis can still be a useful way of storing documents that are linked in linear and non-linear ways and in enabling collaboration.

  • Wikis are really great for managing project documentation. I worked on a 4-year digitisation project which generated a lot of reports, minutes of meetings, plans and timetables. The project wiki was a great repository for all that information, enabling all members of the team, on both sides of the Atlantic, to read, edit and upload all this material at a glance. Documents could easily be shuffled around and archived. A wiki discussion was much more easily retrieved and organised than an email thread.
  • Staff Intranet Several university libraries use wiki software to manage their staff intranet. Take a look at the University of Minnesota or the University of Connecticut. The wiki operates as a content management system, combining both publicly available and restricted access documents.
  • Staff Manual If you want to produce a document with multiple sections that you'd like staff to be able to edit or comment on, with those changes being tracked, a wiki might be the answer.
  • Subject guides Have a look at this example from Ohio University. It's fine but a basic list of links like this is probably easier to put together with blogging software. Chad Boeninger from Ohio University set up a popular BizWiki guide to business-related info in 2006 and has now replaced it with a Business Blog. Take a look at both and see for yourself which is the most user-friendly.
Wikis used to be touted as interactive spaces for collaboration between library staff and users but they're pretty unsatisfactory for that. As Chad notes, he had high hopes that users would get involved and contribute content to his wiki but nobody ever did - he only had to deal with spam. There are of course issues involved in allowing open editing of a wiki. In general, users are much more likely to add a comment to a blogpost or perhaps offer a guest post than they are to edit a wiki page. It's perhaps easier to see how teachers might use wikis collaboratively, where students are obliged to contribute.

Wikis are still a great medium for archiving and publishing large quantities of documents, no matter how you obtained them.

But for the final word in deciding between blogs and wikis, what better than a presidential debate??

Monday, 12 September 2011

Week 13, Extra Thing: QR Codes

Before we get onto this week's Extra Thing, just a reminder about our wrap party next week! It's at the Museum of Classical Archaeology (upstairs in the Classics Faculty building, Sidgwick Site) on Thursday 22nd September from 5.30pm. If you're coming and you haven't already done so, please could you email me at or fill in this form to let us know for catering purposes!

Now onto our final Extra Thing - QR codes.

What is a QR code? 

I'll let Wikipedia explain this one: "A QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) designed to be read by smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text, a URL, or other data."

So if you have a phone with a camera and the ability to download a free QR reader app (e.g. QR Code Reader and Scanner for the iPhone or QR Droid for Android) you can take a picture of a code like the one above, and be taken directly to the URL or the message that the code links to.

What can I use it for?

QR codes are appearing all over the place nowadays. On billboards, TV cookery shows, note paper, CVs, and yes, in libraries. As an example of how they can work in an academic library setting, the University of Huddersfield have started using QR codes throughout their libraries "to deliver library instruction and help at the point of need". These link to electronic copies of materials in the catalogue, mobile-friendly versions of instruction videos, floor plans, handouts etc.

Okay, how do I make one?

Searching for "QR code generator" brings up a variety of options. I've used Kaywa QR code generator which works well, but most will work in much the same way. You can choose whether you want your code to link to a URL, a message or phone number, choose the size and then click "Generate!" You should then see this:

You can then copy the image into the document you are working on. Simple!

Now how do I make it look good?

Let's face it, QR codes aren't the most visually appealing thing to stick on those beautiful library signs you spent an hour lovingly crafting. Geeks like me might be rather fond of their blocky, pixellated style but even I'll admit that one QR code looks much the same as another. Never fear! Although most codes you see are the standard black blocks on a white background, they can in fact be customised quite a bit.

Firstly, they don't have to be black and white. As long as the background is lighter than the code and there is enough contrast between the two, you can make your QR code whatever colour(s) you like. You can do this yourself with something as simple as MS Paint, or there are web apps such as that will let you customise colours etc. when generating the code.

Secondly, designs can be built into the code itself. On a fairly simple level, will generate a personalised QR code incorporating words or numbers of your choice. I used this to made the Newnham College Library code on the left, which links to our library website.

RHCP QR code by Annie_Bob on Flickr
Some brands are getting really creative with the QR codes they are using in their marketing. A Mashable article from April this year gives some great examples of designer QR codes, and I recently spotted the one on the right "in the wild", where the code is incorporated into the Red Hot Chili Peppers' logo.

What to do for this Thing
  • Think about how QR codes could be used in your library. What are the benefits and the drawbacks?
  • Have a go at generating a code of your own. Unfortunately you will only be able to read it if you have a phone with a barcode reader (e.g. QR Code Reader and Scanner for the iPhone or QR Droid for Android), but try and get someone to read it and test it out.
  • If you're feeling fancy, try making a personalised code!
Extra Reading

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Week 12, Thing 21: Reference Management, part 2

So you've decided to take the plunge and commit to using a reference management tool. There are various questions you need to ask yourself before you start.

  • Will I mainly be working from a single machine? Or will I need to add to and access my bibliography from multiple locations?
  • Web-based or desktop program? Where is the data actually stored?
  • What kind of references will I be adding? Is it principally bibliographical material or do I want to add lots of other types of files?
  • Do I want to share my bibliography with others?
  • How much support might I need? Do I prefer support from an open source community or a proprietary manufacturer?
  • Do I envisage maintaining my bibliography after my academic affiliation ends?
This is the principal reference management software supported by the university. It is installed on a selection of public workstations across campus but if you want to use it on your individual machine, you'll need to buy a licensed version from UCS for about £60.
It works best on a single machine. It can be combined with Endnote Web if you're away from your desktop, though you need to be careful with the syncing process.
It connects seamlessly with many major databases, particularly Web of Knowledge to import references. It integrates well with Newton and with the library's e-resources to search for full-text versions of citations via the OpenURL link resolver.
It is possible to attach files (eg PDFs, images) to bibliographic records.
It has an enormous number of output styles appropriate for different journals and publishers.

This is another proprietary product but one which is web-based, avoiding the complications involved with syncing across multiple machines. Both institutional and individual accounts are offered but Cambridge is not a subscriber so you would have to sign up for an individual account and pay the annual fee (currently $100).
It connects seamlessly with major bibliographical databases to import references directly.
It has a nifty RSS feed reader so that you can add feeds from publishers, for instance.
It is possible to attach unlimited files to records.
It has lots of output styles and if you don't find the one that you need, you can modify an existing one or request that one be created.
There's lots of online help documentation, including webinars.

This is a free, open source tool which started out as an extension to the Firefox browser but is now available as an independent stand-alone application.
It also works best on a single machine, though it has recently improved accessibility from multiple locations through syncing.
Since it sits within your browser, it's very easy to add citations from webpages.
It handles multimedia items well, and has a useful archiving feature which allows you to save and annotate webpages.
It does not interact quite so seamlessly with major bibliographic databases such as Scopus or Web of Knowledge. It's often necessary to save your list of references in a format like .ris and then import into Zotero.
It can also be configured to work with CUL's OpenURL link resolver to find full-text items.
It doesn't offer quite so many output styles - but you can always request one or create your own.

Think about using a reference management tool if you've got an upcoming project - an article? library course or chartership?
A fuller comparison of the various options is available.
For more info on how reference management software works in a Cambridge environment, see the CUL e-resources page or the Computing Service documentation.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Week12, Thing 21: Reference Management, part 1

Sounds like a very fancy thing, doesn't it?
Obviously, as a librarian, there's nothing I like more than seeing a well-ordered, beautifully-formatted list of references but I don't necessarily enjoy the sweat and tears involved in producing such a list. That's where reference management software comes in.

It's worth knowing about some different programs in order to help students or researchers who might find them useful for essays or dissertations but it's also worth thinking about projects within the library for which such tools might come in handy. We've used them in the Parker Library to organise a bibliography of works citing our manuscripts. And we're planning to set up another database of works produced by Fellows and alumni of the College.

I'm going to look at three different programs that you might want to try: RefWorks, Endnote and Zotero.

But first some basic points common to all of them.

There are three elements to using the software: input, organisation and output.

1. Input: These days this is rarely about manually typing entries into fields of a database. It's more likely that you'll want to import references directly from
  • bibliographic databases such as Scopus or Web of Knowledge
  • online sources such as Google Scholar
  • a .txt file, perhaps from a saved search
  • a library catalogue
  • an RSS feed
  • another reference management tool
These references might be of many different types - not just the bibliographical details for books, articles, reviews and abstracts, but also webpages, audio files, news stories.

2. Organisation: You'll want to store the references in folders, tag, index or search them.

3. Output: There are two main types of output: in-text citations, footnotes or endnotes and stand-alone bibliographies. Generally the reference management software interacts with your word-processing program and saves you having to type in the full references. What's particularly useful for academic writers is that you can instruct the software to output the information according to a particular stylesheet. This can save enormous amounts of time and make copy- editors at journals and publishers very happy.

The keys to success with reference management software are selecting the right one for your needs, getting to know the features that you'll need and then making sure you use it. It does take a little time at first to find your way around but it will save you oodles of time in the long run...

Tomorrow I'll have a look at the questions you need to ask yourself before choosing a program and run through some of the main features of the three frontrunners: RefWorks, Zotero and Endnote.