Podcasts; still a receiver, not a giver

I have finished the course, now reflecting on the final section, Engaged Professional.

Proud to have ‘ALAI’

Last month I was elected to the register of Associate members of the Library Association of Ireland. This was an important professional goal of mine, and involved looking back at the ways that I engaged with the profession over the past decade or so.

I have just completed a report for the Research Award I won in 2016 from CONUL Training and Development, with my RCSI colleague Johanna Archbold. This was a look at the ways an organisation representing libraries can have its voice heard nationally and internationally. Advocacy was a major theme in the research and within the interviews we conducted for the project. Our final report will be published on the CONUL website and Johanna and I will present our findings at the CONUL Conference in May 2018. One of the interesting things we learned about during our project was that SCONUL is producing an Advocacy Toolkit, can’t wait to get my hands on that when it comes out.

The Rudaí23 post on Advocacy and Engagement says “library professionals must never lose sight of the library’s fundamental role in society”. When we are carrying out a reference interview, teaching information literacy or presenting the services of our library to an online audience, we are playing an advocacy role so it’s important that we all do a little bit more of this every day.


I am an avid podcast consumer, best one so far this year was ‘West Cork’ a free series telling the story of the mysterious death of Sophie Toscan Du Plantier in 1996. I am subscribed to many podcasts, Irish ones, international ones historical, documentary, interview style, all very good but I just don’t have the content myself at present to consider setting one up. I admire those that do them like Laura Rooney Ferris with Librarian’s Aloud and UL’s Research Office who launched a new podcast series recently but, no, not for me at present. I will keep listening though.


Don’t click it, check it! (My Rudaí23 application for Critical Thinker badge)

It was late last year when I completed the first half of the Rudaí23 course. Now, with the deadline looming for submitting applications for the remaining 2 badges I needed to re-engage with the course.

security-protection-anti-virus-software-60504.jpegThe Critical Thinker badge set out a number of areas that are important in everyday library work; managing personal information, being more secure online activity, using solid information sources and sharing our work via whatever platform is most relevant to the audience we’re trying to reach. All very intriguing topics. I was drawn particularly to the Digital Footprint post as I knew how good a trainer/lecturer Brian Hickey of the Dublin Business School is. After reading Brian’s post my workplace got hit by a significant phishing scam and I hope when that happens to any one that did this part of the course they are wide awake to the sorts of things to watch out for although it’s more and more difficult as scams are getting more sophisticated. A good way to test out the veracity of a URL is to put it in to one of these link checkers. Don’t ever take a chance, don’t click the link even if the thing looks believable as many of these scams do. Be safe, check the link using one of these free Malicious Website Lookup services.


man-coffee-cup-pen.jpgThing 17 in this section was about how to share your work and after reading this I did a good bit of work on my ResearchGate profile. For example, I connected with all the people I referenced in a recent article I wrote, and what a way to network. Half of them were already on there as published aithors and half of the people I contacted wrote back. Through this activity, I’ve reached a like- minded group that also inhabit ResearchGate. I’ve let my SlideShare account slip a bit but will put my upcoming CONUL Conference talk up there in advance of the event and schedule a link to tweet out the day of my talk.

All of the tools force you to reflect in the Critical Thinker, I guess that was the idea. I think I am better equipped now to more consciously and carefully manage my security online while still relying heavily on the internet for searching, networking and profile-building.

And I’m still using Pixabay from the Visual Communicator section.

Is it time for libraries to say farewell to Facebook?

FBLots of libraries use Facebook for marketing and outreach activities. Facebook is a free platform where many librarians dipped their toes in the social media waters for the first time. It made sense in the early 2000s for academic libraries in particular as many of our target audience were using Facebook and there was no cost to using the service.

The way content is displayed on Facebook has changed over time. Who has not been invited to boost a post in the regular course of their Facebook duties? This was an early indicator of what was to come with Facebook; unless you could pay for an ad or a ‘boost’ your content was not going to be served up to your target audiences – that is if any of them are still even using Facebook. That’s a separate blog post!

If you manage a Facebook page for your library there’s a good chance that the type of page you’ve got is a Business page or a ‘Like’ page. Your Facebook challenge to engage your users is going to become a very real and large one in 2018. Let me explain.

I’d wager that your library has low reach with your organic content (things you don’t pay to advertise/boost) on Facebook. If your experience is different I’d love to hear about it.  With Facebook’s most recent NewsFeed update it is going to be even harder for Business (Like) pages to have their content seen.

With their latest update, Facebook will be prioritizing posts that trigger conversations and meaningful interactions between users.  Users will begin to see more content from their friends and family and less content from businesses; that’s libraries I’m afraid.

If you want to persist with Facebook for your library and try to work around Facebook’s NewsFeed changes, here are some things you can try:

  1. Spend a little of your library’s marketing budget. With Facebook Ads, you have a wealth of targeting parameters to ensure that the people you want to reach see your content.
  2. Create high quality video and get your users to watch it, repeatedly. This might ensure you a good position on the NewsFeed and it might bring visitors back to your page to see other content.
  3. Schedule some Facebook LIVE events as this will get you some visibility as the LIVE videos usually generate conversation.
  4. Encourage people to “see you first” by changing their settings/preferences. Difficult but not impossible.

Marketing Strategy LibraryIf none of these seem attractive options for you, re-consider your marketing mix for your library. Take a look at Snapchat and Instagram as alternatives, or if you want to persist with Facebook, consider setting up a relevant Facebook Group for your library e.g. a reading group, a subject-based group, or a referencing group and spend your time there, supporting people who need your library’s expertise and assistance.

And if you have any tips or advice about using Facebook in your library please share.

How to be a good online networker: Reflective practice for Rudai23 MOOC

I began the Online Networker part of the Rudaí23 course on a Saturday afternoon, having completed my first badge (Visual Communicator) over a month ago. Some call it cramming, I call it ‘fitting it in’ so here goes.

I’m glad that Face 2 Face networking was included at the outset in Thing 10, it’s a great skill to have, to be capable of small talk that gets a conversation started with a stranger.  I have had a Facebook page for a long time and have been active on Twitter since 2007,  you can check your own Twitter age on sites like Twiage.  Getting started on Facebook was easy, everyone I knew was on it. Twitter was less easy, it involved a lot of lurking at the beginning, following interesting people and eventually liking and retweeting, before moving on to writing my own tweets to have my say on topics. So learning how to engage, and who to engage with applies as much in a face to face setting as it does on social networks. I do a lot of networking on LinkedIn. Before I set up this blog I used it as a sort of blog when I had something long I wanted to write. I use it to share events and news too and have joined some really interesting professional groups on LinkedIn and on Facebook, and appreciate recommendations from colleagues to alert me to new groups, such as the Irish Librarians Community of Practice that was recommended in Thing 10.  I really enjoyed the SLA article that was shared in the post too, Network Like Nobody’s Watching: Demystifying Networking as a Skill for the Librarian and Information Professional Community. Networking might not come naturally to everyone but I think it’s a skill we can all work at throughout our careers and aim to get better at.

Put a l ens on yourself
Put a lens on yourself through an incognito search                                (Image from Unsplash.com)

The fantastic Jane Burns wrote Thing 11 for the course, and who better to get Professional Brand advice from. I’ve learned a lot from people like Jane over the years and some of the ways that I manage my brand is to keep a short bio on file so that I don’t have to start from a blank sheet whenever I have to submit something for a conference, a publication or a funding proposal. As Jane says, your biography is evolving all the time and it’s so true, I don’t think I’ve ever used the same bio twice.

Regularly Googling yourself in incognito mode is also a good check on your public profile, do it once and you might be surprised at what you see. If you have a name that also belongs to someone famous, or more high profile than yourself, you may have to work harder at being found or seen online so think of ways to differentiate yourself, e.g. your post nominals from the LAI when you become an Associate (fingers crossed, application being assessed at present) and always remember to use good photos, and if you update it in one place, think about all the other places you will need to update it too. Don’t create confusion for people online by having several different photos of yourself.

The Collaborative Tools Thing was a particularly interesting one for me. I am working on several projects at present that involve partners at different locations, including the Rudaí23 team. We have a lot of collaborative tools on the go. One thing I’ve learned is the need to be able to switch quickly from one tool to another if you find that the tool is no longer meeting our needs. Even within my own workplace when co-authoring a paper this year, we needed a collaborative workplace where we could share files and we turned again to online tools for this. In my ANLTC Research Award project Johanna and I of course have face to face meetings but we also use Freedcamp to share files and I can’t recommend it enough as a collaborative tool. It is a comfort to know that the files we need are not just stored on one of our computers, that they are ‘safe’ in the cloud too.

ELEarningThe VLEs that are used in online learning are often described as cumbersome but I guess that on the scale that these are offered there are going to be issues for some users. From being an online learner, and educator, I can appreciate the challenges involved for both sides when it comes to collaborative online workspaces. With OneDrive being available in Higher Ed libraries it is ironically the tool I use least, with Google Drive being a preferred option as our projects often involve people outside the Higher Ed world.

As the landscape with these new tools is always changing it is great to see a tool that has lasted as long as Doodle. It is amazingly simple to use and everyone should use it as a meeting planning tool, no subscription required, just go to the site and schedule your meeting.

This was a very practical section of the course, and beautifully short. Thanks Rudai23, and thanks too for giving people a much needed break for Christmas.

Seeking re-election as a UL Governor

Campaign flyer 2017Elections will take place at UL on November 27th for staff governors. I was elected to the UL Governing Authority in 2015 and served on what I deem to be the most important committee for staff that work at UL, the GA HR Committee. My membership of this committee means that the perspective of the support staff is presented and recognised. When I campaigned for election in 2015 people told me that that once Governors were elected you never heard from them again. I promised to change that if elected and I committed to keeping people updated throughout my period as Governor.

It is vital that we elect strong staff Governors during this period of change in UL. Staff have a genuine interest in knowing what’s happening in UL and having someone you can talk to that understands staff issues and how these intertwine with the University’s strategy is critical.

I urge voters to consider giving me your Number 1 vote on November 27th.

Applying for my first open badge for online learning

It’s the end of the first section of the Rudai23 course, Digital Skills for Information, or Information for Digital Skills, or just Digital Skills. Any combination of the above will explain to you what the course is about and I am delighted to be able to be a participant in addition to being a course creator and moderator.

I looked at all of the Things in the Visual Communicator section but I am focusing on Things 3, 4, 5 & 6 for my badge, this is Thing 6, my reflective blog post about the tasks I did for the other 3 Things.

The biggest takeaway for me from Thing 3: Image Banks was the range of free resources there are when looking for free to use images online. I now go to Pixabay all the time and have started to use RawPixel that was recommended by someone else doing this course. That’s one of the great things about online learning, people sharing what they know with others, through their blog posts or via our Twitter by just tagging us @Rudai23.

I really believe in the power of visual communications. In everyday life aren’t you drawn in by a strong image more often than you are by a text heavy ad or poster? I am. In Thing 4: Communicating Visually we introduced some visual communication apps. We know people that don’t have smartphones struggled with this one but the reality is that many of the apps like Quik and Photofunia, with which people had a lot of fun, just aren’t designed for the desktop. I use Photofunia a lot and have a subscription to RIPL at work and really can’t recommend these highly enough, even for non creative sorts like me, just load a few images in to the app and it sort of does the rest for you. Most of the creations I do on RIPL are shared on UL Library social accounts including Instagram.

Video presentations are things I used to do when I was a faculty librarian, when there was more teaching in my role. The chance to revisit the up to date tools in Thing 5: Video Presentations was therefore a good refresher. Powtoon seems to be a popular tool in libraries but does anyone else get annoyed by the little jingle ‘Created Using Powtoon’ that’s embedded in the free version? I’ve done screencasts in the past too but they’re nearly always really home-made looking and amateurish so I am slow to share them publicly. I worked on a Take 1 Step project within the Shannon Consortium a couple of years ago and we used a lot of short videos to promote the project and reflect on it, videos were loaded to our YouTube Channel at the time and we used Moovly, with a subscription to create some of our videos. So if you’re in a teaching role now these are worth experimenting with.

So even though I was a content contributor for some of these Things I really learned a lot by doing the tasks in them too. Online Learning It wasn’t kids play (see what I did there) but I hope everyone else found them useful and manageable. (Image courtesy of Pixabay)

Now I am going to clap myself on the back and go forward with my badge application. Wish me luck.

Looking back at Things 1, 2, 3 & 4

I am a moderator of the Rudaí23 course, and contributed some of the content too. I decided to wait until a few ‘Things’ had been published before putting pen to virtual paper to reflect on my learnings from the course to date.

I look back at the breadth and depth of what has been covered to date and despite being a big advocate of Visual Communications and being pretty immersed in it I have learned SO MUCH more about it, from the blog posts and from the participants reactions to it.

I set up a Feedly to see the new content that people are writing for each thing and have so far really enjoyed John Ryan’s post on Thing 3: Image Banks. Nobody really wants to talk about copyright but John presented some great examples of how it can impact on people’s daily lives. I also enjoyed Siobhán’s post about her trips to galleries over the summer, check out her ongoing Art and Art history blog.

So many new people have started blogging through the Rudaí23 course and forced the rest of us to up our game and get through the things, whether it is one by one or as a group on a weekend when we have more time.

My favourite tools so far are Pixabay and Quik, using both regularly now in my work so thanks to my fellor course coordinators for those tips. I only have the free version of Quik but I can see its potential especially as the files are automatically saved to my camera roll on my phone. Quik auto generated a short video for me using a set of photos from a trip to Columbia University earlier this year and this was so easy to save and share that it knocked my socks off! Quik_Mobile_thumbnail_headerMobile content creation is now the fastest and easiest way for me to make good content for social media channels so more tools like Quik can make my job easier.

I am looking forward to doing the screencasting tasks in Thing 5: Video Presentations and particularly excited about Thing 7: Online Exhibitions. All part of Communicating Visually and I will submit a Digital Badge application once I’ve completed my reflective blog post about these Things.

How to build a follower base on Snapchat

Last week I wrote a piece for the very popular LibFocus blog about how academic libraries can use Snapchat to have direct communication with students. Snapchat is now the MOST popular social network among under 35 year olds in Ireland. I received many queries as a result of my post and when distilled they essentially boil down to ‘How’; people want to know how to grow their number of followers so that their Snapchat account is more visible.  The steps below are not the exhaustive list of ‘How’ but I hope they are enough to give people ideas and get them started. Here’s what we did with LibraryUL, the Snapchat account for the Glucksman Library at the University of Limerick when we got started last October:

  • Printed SnapCode and displayed it in prominent locations
  • Student Peer Advisor team promoted it, mainly by word of mouth
  • Cross-platform advertising, on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram
  • Promoted by main student Snap accounts e.g. ULSU & First Seven Weeks
  • Advertised directly by email to students

Orientation option 1I don’t claim to be an expert Snapchatter, I am learning as I go along and am superbly supported in Snapchat by a student digital ambassador in our library.  There are many advocates of Snapchat at the University of Limerick and we are learning from one another and happy to help you out if you have queries like the one above.

Happy Snapping!

Rudaí 23 course will help you to create eye-catching content for the web

Over the summer I will be working with good friends and colleagues in the Western Regional Section of the LAI to fine tune our free online learning course for 2017/18. It’s called Rudaí23 and we are very excited to be running it for a second time.

Rudaí23 is an adaptation of the more widely known ’23 Things’ which is an online CPD course that teaches people new digital skills. 23 Things began in the United States in 2006 and it has been adapted and delivered in many countries since, and once before by the WRSLAI, in 2015.  We took a themed approach when devising the content for this course. Along with the inspiring Niamh O’Donovan, I will be leading the Visual Communicator piece. We have superb guest contributors like Sinéad Keogh from UL Library, an innovator in digital learning, and others who are lending us some of their expertise by writing modules and setting tasks for our course.

Rudai 23poster 2017Our Rudaí23 course is completely free, and we are awarding digital open badges to people who complete some or all of the areas, which along with Visual Communicator, include Critical Thinker, Engaged Professional and Online Networker.

More than half of the world’s population are ‘visual learners’. This means that you can get your message across to these people more effectively by using some type of ‘visual’ in your blog post, web page, poster or social media post. Evidence from social media platforms tells us that posts with visual or multimedia content engage more users than ‘plain old text’ so the modules in this section of Rudaí 23 are designed to give people the skills to be a competent visual communicator.


We are thrilled to be delivering the course a second time and look forward to learning side by side with all of you that register on August 28th 2017. Good luck with the modules and be assured of our commitment to helping you if you encounter bumps along the way.

Follow Rudaí23 on Twitter for updates and breaking news on the content that we will cover in the course.