Monday, 27 June 2011

Week 2, Extra Thing: Twitter, extended!

This week's Extra Thing is really several things - third party Twitter applications and clients. These tools or add-ons complement your Twitter account and add extra functionalities which can be extremely useful. Here are a few handy ones, but there are many more out there!

  • Twitterfeed - sends a tweet every time you publish a new blog post.
  • Future Tweets - allows you to schedule tweets to go out at a specified date and time.
  • The Archivist - creates graphs about tweet volume over time, top users, top words used etc. Despite the name it doesn't create a full archive of your tweets.
  • Twapperkeeper - creates archives of tweets. You can create 2 free archives, if you want more you'll either have to delete one or pay.
  • Twittermail - update your Twitter status by email.
  • - not really a Twitter application, but if you paste a URL into the box, it pops out a shortened URL such as this one - - which is a short URL for this blog. If you use shortened URLs in your tweets then it saves on precious characters!
Twitter clients make it easier to manage more than one Twitter account at once. (Great when you have a library and a personal account!) Most also allow you to schedule tweets, and automatically shorten URLs
  • Hootsuite - Comes in browser and mobile versions. Multiple tabs make it easy to keep track of several Twitter accounts at once (and Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare and a few other social media sites). Can also have multiple contributers to accounts without sharing passwords - could be useful for library tweeting teams!
  • Seesmic - comes in browser, desktop and mobile versions. As with Hootsuite you can add other social media accounts besides Twitter.
  • Tweetdeck - desktop and mobile client (browser version for Chrome only - but with a limited beta testing version for other browsers). This client is now owned by Twitter, so if you want the official endorsed platform, give this a try!
Try out one or two of these, or google "twitter apps" and see what else you can find!

by IconEden on

Week 2, Thing 4: Twitter

I'm probably supposed to be impartial, but I have to admit Thing 4 is my favourite Thing! Otherwise known as Twitter, this microblogging service allows you to publish short updates of up to 140 characters (this is because Twitter was designed to work with mobile phone text messages, which have a character limit). Users follow other users to subscribe to each other's updates. All the updates from the users you follow will be aggregated in to one timeline that appears when you log in to the site.

Twitter has been in the news a lot over the last couple of years, what with super-injunction breaking and celebrity endorsments from the likes of Stephen Fry. Although a common belief is that Twitter is filled with people tweeting about what they had for lunch, in reality few users actually use the service to send updates about the minutiae of their everyday activities, instead preferring to use it to network and share ideas or interesting things they have seen around the web. Because of this, Twitter can be of use to librarians on (at least) two levels - for personal networking, and as an institution interacting with users.

Twitter for libraries
Firstly, here are a few examples of libraries using Twitter: The UL, The Jerwood Library (Trinity Hall), the Judge Business School information and library services, New York Public Library, and Orkney Library. I've picked out these five as they give a range of both style and purpose. The Judge Business School aggregates business news for its students - their Twitter feed serves as an information service. Orkney Library on the other hand mixes library news with all kinds of other things, almost all of it hilarious. Building up a relationship with their patrons (and the rest of the interwebs) like this has worked very well for them, as is evidenced by their massive list of followers. I suspect in most Cambridge libraries however, the staff don't have quite so much leeway for irreverence as this!

Other services a library Twitter feed can provide include linking to eresources, plugging the library's blog, and reminding followers of end of term due dates etc. It is obviously important to remember that a lot of students will not have Twitter, so this should be enhancing other communications rather than replacing them. However it is very easy to embed a widget into your library website that displays recent tweets (just follow the simple steps here), and the libraries@cambridge team have aggregated all tweets by Cambridge University libraries into a widget on their libraries gateway.

Twitter for networking
By on
While we were talking about library twitter accounts in the section above (where the account is one of the public faces of the library), the majority of accounts on Twitter are not institutions but individuals. Tweeting as an individual you will again have to decide on the level of personal vs professionalism you want to have for your "Twitter style", and there is no one right answer to this. As a networking tool, Twitter really comes into its own, as its real-time feed allows conversations to be held, thoughts on conferences to be aggregated as they are taking place using hashtags (more on this later), and questions to be asked and answered.

Once you have been tweeting for a while and have built up a few followers, Twitter can be really handy for asking questions. To help me with this blog post I asked my followers who their top 3 Twitter accounts were for LIS news and information. (I also asked them to "retweet" this message - commonly abbreviated as "RT" - so that it reached more people.) Here is the crowdsourced list. Take a look at this list for starters, then why not explore a bit further yourself! If you find someone interesting, take a look at who they follow and go from there. But follow as many or as few people as you personally can manage - current awareness is good but information overload is bad!

Being able to view all updates using a particular hashtag has made Twitter a valuable tool for following conferences. For example, if you wished you'd had the chance to go to CILIP's New Professionals Conference, here are all the tweets from conference-goers: #npc11. Another use for the hashtag is for holding real-time Twitter chats on a particular topic. A great example of this is #libchat, the brainchild of @NatalieBinder which is held every Wednesday at 8-9.30pm EST.

How to get started
  1. Go to and click the yellow "sign up" button and follow the steps to create an account.
  2. Once you have created your account you will be taken to your Twitter homepage where you can update your profile to include a short biography, a link to your blog and a profile picture. We recommend that you leave the Twitter Privacy box unchecked because this means other Cam23 2.0 participants can read your tweets. You can always change this at any time.
  3. Now post your first update. Click in the status box at the top of the screen where you see the question "What's happening?" Write a comment, maybe something about your participation in the 23 Things programme. You are restricted to 140 characters, and as you type you will see the number at the top right of the box decrease. Leave enough characters to add #cam23 at the end. This is known as a hashtag and allows Twitter users to group tweets by subject. By adding #cam23 to your tweet your comment will be picked up by other participants. Once you click "Update", this tweet will be added to your timeline, and anyone who follows you will be able to see your tweet.
  4. Search for @cam23things (or click here) and click "follow". Now our tweets will appear in your timeline!

Week 2, Thing 3: RSS feeds

On to week 2! Now you've got your blog set up and have registered it with us, we're going to explore how to gather all of the blogs and news sites you want to keep track of into one place.

RSS (commonly known as Really Simple Syndication) allows you to view new content from web sites, blog entries, etc in one place, without having to visit the individual sites. This obviously makes following library news and developments a lot easier, as all the news comes to you!

The first step you need to take when subscribing to RSS feeds is to sign up for a feed reader. There are many available but for the purposes of this programme we will use Google Reader as you have already created an account with Google. As an example of how to subscribe to a feed, let's get you subscribed to the Cam23 2.0 blog. In the right sidebar of this blog there is a "Subscribe to..." box. Click on the arrow next to "Posts", and click "Add to Google". This should take you to your Google Reader (you may need to sign in with your Google account) and you can then subscribe to this feed. From now on, whenever we post something new it will come straight to your Reader, eliminating the need to keep checking the site. You can subscribe to other blogs and news sites in a similar way, even if they don't have a subscribe button embedded in their site, most web browsers will have an RSS button - this may be up by the address bar, or in Firefox 4 this is in the bookmarks menu.

We have added all the registered Cam23 2.0 blogs to the "blogroll" in the left sidebar, so spend some time this week reading a few of the blogs, and then subscribe to your favourites, or click here to subscribe to all the Cam23 2.0 blogs in one go.

In addition to the Cam23 2.0 blogs, here are a few other library-related blogs which I find useful:
  • Phil Bradley's weblog - "where librarians and the internet meet" - search engines, web 2.0 technologies
  • The Wikiman - library advocacy and marketing, social media
  • Librarian by Day - US librarian writing about (amongst other things) transliteracy and digital library services
  • Tower Project Blog - ever wanted to know more about what was in the UL tower? This is the blog for you!
  • Rarely Sited - special collections and outreach blog set up by Cambridge's very own Naomi Herbert
  • Mashable - social media and technology news
For some more suggestions of library blogs to subscribe to, the 2011 Salem Library Blog Award winners were announced a couple of weeks ago, giving us another source of outstanding library blogs to add to our feed readers.
    Where do you get your library news and information from? When you blog about this Thing, please share any useful blogs you have come across!

    Image by Raindropmemory on

    Wednesday, 22 June 2011

    Sharing Cam23 2.0 beyond the echochamber

    It is great to see so many people signed up already and blogging about the first few Things! It's also wonderful to see a few non-librarians amongst the participants - although the programme was originally planned with librarians in mind it will be really interesting to see how those "on the other side of the desk" approach the Things.

    With that in mind I'm really excited to announce a side competition which Phill Hall has just announced:
    "I would like to put a challenge out to you, and as the Cam23 2.0 sponsor representative I will back this up with a special prize.
    With Cam23 2.0 there will be a special prize on offer for the Librarian that represents clearly they have gone beyond the echo chamber with their blogs and discussions beyond interacting with just other librarians and show interactions / discussions with Cambridge University students / academics / staff / alumni / interested tag-alongs.
    Learn a new application through Cam23, teach it to a couple of others and learn from them how they would use such a tool."
    The whole post can be read here:

    So as you're blogging about the Things, have a think about how you could share what you've learnt with your library users, and don't forget to let us know how you get on!

    by Britta Bohlinger on Flickr

    Tuesday, 21 June 2011

    Week 1, Extra Thing: Ways to make your blog beautiful

    You have just created your first blog.  Congratulations!  It is likely, though, that you are not completely satisfied with how it looks.  You might wonder how to make it look interesting and professional, like some of the more established library blogs.

    Do not worry, you do not need great coding or design skill to make a nice-looking blog.  Blogger (and Wordpress) offers many templates and gadgets/widgets that add sparkle to your blog and extend its functionality -- and most are easy to install and configure (and free!).

    Quick definitions: A template controls the layout, colors, and overall look and feel of your blog.  In Wordpress, these are called themes.  A gadget (or widget) is a snippet of code that you can copy and add to your blog and which adds functionality to your blog, such as a feed from your Twitter account, a connection to your Facebook account, or slideshow of your photographs.  There are literally thousands of themes and widgets to choose from.

    To change your template on Blogger, follow these instructions.  If you would like to customise your template, you can use the template designer.

    There are also many third-party Blogger templates to choose from.  A Google search for 'blogger templates' yields many sites with many interesting designs.  It is important to choose a template that reflects your personality and goals.

    To add a pre-loaded gadget to Blogger, click 'Design' and then the 'Page Elements' tab.  Any place you see the link 'Add a Gadget' you can click to add one of 24 gadgets Blogger provides by default.  Some of these gadgets include a search bar, a 'follow me by email' feature, and an easy way to add an image.

    For lists of other great widgets, a Google search for 'blogger widgets' yields many great sites.  If you find a widget you would like to add, copy the given code snippet, go back to your blog and 'Add a Gadget' (instructions above).  Select 'HTML/JavaScript,' paste the code snippet, and save.  Your new widget/gadget should appear on your blog.

    Have fun exploring the many ways you can improve the look and functionality of your blog.  Change your template at least one time and add at least two widgets.  You will be surprised at how easy it is!

    Monday, 20 June 2011

    Week 1, Thing 2: Creating a Blog

    Welcome to Week 1, Thing 2!

    After completing Thing 2...
    You will have a shiny new blog to use throughout the programme to record your progress. You will also have begun to think about how you want to present yourself online via your blog and what makes for a good blog.

    What is blogging and is it relevant to libraries?
    Check out the Wikipedia entry on blogging for a perfectly acceptable definition and brief history, then come back here. There are numerous blogs and bloggers within the field of librarianship. Many librarians pen individual blogs which they use to reflect on their professional experiences and to offer their opinions on the library world, while many libraries on the other hand maintain organisational blogs in order to promote services and enhance communication with their users. There are of course also many blogs written by people participating in 23 Things programmes at other institutions.

    Blogging during 23 Things
    Blogging is a key element of the 23 Things experience which we'd like all participants to engage with. Every time you complete a Thing we ask that you blog about it. Your blog posts should aim to constructively evaluate each Thing, giving an indication of what you liked (or didn't like) about it. They should also offer the reader an ongoing flavour of your experience of the programme. It's worth mentioning that any blogs which contain posts which say little more than 'Done Thing 3' will not be eligible for completion as that is neither entering into the spirit of the programme nor the purpose of blogging. 

    Blog platforms
    We have chosen to give instructions on creating a blog on the Blogger platform as its very quick and simple to get going on, however, you may choose to use the other main free blog provider WordPress instead. If you already have a blog, there's no requirement to create a new one for 23 Things. 

    Blogger: step-by-step instructions
    1. Go to and sign in with your Google account username and password. This will bring you to a Sign up for Blogger screen. Some of the information may already be filled in for you (depending on what you told Google when you signed up for your account) but you will need to choose a display name and to accept the Blogger terms of service.

    2. You now need to create your blog by clicking on the blue Create Your Blog Now button and choosing a name and a web address (URL) for your blog. The address has to be unique so your first choice may not be available.

    3. Now choose your preferred layout template for your blog. You can change this at any point for a different one.

    4. Congratulations, your blog exists! 

    Your first post
    You now need to create your first blog post.

    1. Click on the orange arrow that says start blogging (if you have logged out and are returning, then click on new post by your blog's name on your dashboard - the screen you see when you log in). This will bring you to the posting screen.

    2. Enter a title for the post, and then type your text into the box. There is a toolbar at the top of the box which will allow you to format your text and add links and images.

    3. Write something here about what you hope to get out of Cam 23 and your previous experience of Web 2.0 and social media.

    4. When you have finished writing the post, type Thing 2 in the Labels box under the text box. You will need to tag all your posts with the number of the Thing being blogged about and any other descriptive words you want to use to help you find the post later on (just as we librarians add subject headings to catalogue records in order to help users retrieve books).

    5. Click the orange Publish Post button at the bottom of the screen, and your first post will go live. 

    Any problems?
    If you got lost at all at any point above, I can recommend this Blogger tutorial (from YouTube). 

    Register your blog
    You will need to register your blog it so that it can be added to the list of Cam 23 bloggers on the lefthand menu of the Cam 23 blog. All you need to do is visit this URL and fill in the details. 

    Remember, you are required to blog about each Thing on your blog in order to complete the programme. Your blog needs to record your progress through the whole programme so you need to take a bit of time now to write a post about what you thought of Things 1 and 2.

    Add tags
    Don't forget to add tags (Blogger calls them Labels) to your post - Thing 1, Thing 2, iGoogle etc. 

    Get social
    Blogging is much more fun and interactive if you receive comments on your posts, so now you need to visit a few Cam 23 blogs and comment away. You may have to wait for more blogs to appear on the left-hand Cam 23 blog list before you can go visiting - it really depends how speedy you are compared to everyone else. If someone leaves you a comment from a blog that you have not yet viewed then go and visit it and comment back. Cam 23 is not just about learning about how new technologies work but also about using them to network and share.

    Week 1, Thing 1: Set up a Google ID and create an iGoogle page

    Welcome to Week 1, Thing 1!

    After completing Thing 1 you will have...
    Created a Google ID and your own iGoogle start page, so all your Things can be organised from the very start.

    What is a Google ID?
    A GoogleID allows you to make the most of Google and its products by personalising and customising pages, search results and your interface with Google. With a Google ID, you can also make the most of instant online collaborative working through applications like Gmail (Google Mail), but also Google Calendar, Google Docs and iGoogle.

    How is iGoogle relevant to libraries?
    iGoogle is a personal web portal which allows you to organise your favourite webpages and web 2.0 tools, letting you see at a glance what's happening out there. You can add RSS feeds and gadgets to your iGoogle page, some which are useful (Twitter, YouTube, the Cambridge Libraries Widget) and some which are less so (hamsters which need feeding and a "real age" calculator, for instance!) More and more libraries are developing iGoogle gadgets to facilitate renewals, OPAC searches and account maintenance.

    Step-by-step instructions
    1. To create a Google ID, go to (if you already have a Google ID, log in here).
    2. Complete the form (it is probably best to use a personal email address rather than a Cambridge University one as a couple of people have mentioned problems accessing Google Docs with a Cambridge email address) and click on I accept when ready. 

    3. To create your iGoogle page, go to and log in with your Google ID.
    4. Click on the Add gadgets link to explore the various gadgets you can install - have a look at All categories on the left of the screen for ideas, as well as the most popular gadgets (Most Users), what's new (Newest) , Editor's picks or use the search box on the right.
    5. Type COPAC in the search box.
    6. Click on Add it now - when you return to your Home page, your COPAC will have appeared. 
    You can also organise your gadgets with tabs which allow you to navigate quickly to your content, as well as helping your iGoogle pages load faster.

    1. To add a tab, click on the arrow button of the Home tab on the left of the screen and select Add a tab.
    2. Untick the I'm feeling lucky box.
    3. Type in a name for your tab (e.g Library stuff) in the box.
    4. Click OK
    5. Your Library stuff tab will open, but there will be no content in it.
    6. Go back to the Home tab. Drag your COPAC box onto the Library stuff tab. It will disappear from the Home page and will only be visible when you click on Library stuff.

    You can add as many tabs as you like whenever you think your page is getting too busy. You can also choose a theme to jazz up your iGoogle page by clicking Select theme on the right hand side.

    You may find this animation an entertaining way to help you explore your iGoogle further:

    Want to go a bit further?
    The Library 2.0 blog has an interesting article on the utility of Start pages in libraries here, and MMIT takes a look at how UK libraries and associations, including CILIP, are making use of them here. If you've already been using iGoogle for some time, you might want to look at Netvibes, Pageflakes or even Symbaloo to see if they can offer you something a bit different.

    What happens next?
    In Thing 3 (next week) you will learn how to subscribe to RSS feeds, which you can add to your iGoogle page. Then you can have all your favourite blog posts and articles streamed directly to your start page.

    Thanks to Emma-Jane Batchelor for providing the template and ideas in the original 23 Things Cambridge... and Happy iGoogling!

    Wednesday, 8 June 2011

    Cam 23 2.0 Launch - 17 June

    It's almost the end of term. You can almost smell the relief (and the cheap sparkling wine). The libraries of Cambridge are gradually emptying and thoughts turn to the summer...

    To academic librarians the long vacation means not just holidays but a chance to GET THINGS DONE.

    How many things?

    How about 23 of them, give or take.

    Yes, Cam 23 is back - a chance for all of us to explore some social media tools, get to know some colleagues better, find some new smart ways of working.

    If you'd like to find out what it's all about, come along to the launch on

    Friday 17 June from 5pm onwards in the Morison Room, CUL.

    The programme's open to all library staff in Cambridge. There's plenty of support and encouragement along the way and participants are free to complete as much or as little of the programme as they like.
    And if you started or finished the programme last year, dust off your blog, we've got some new things for you to try.

    Hope to see lots of you there next Friday - for catering purposes, could you please let Erin Lee ( know if you're coming.