Friday, 25 June 2010

Catalogue makeovers

After looking at cataloguing images on Flickr I have a whole new idea: library catalogue makeovers. Do you have a boring looking catalogue that nobody notices? Do people routinely assume that your catalogue is five years older than it is? It's time to update your look: add balloons to your catalogue terminal, plus perhaps a colourful label.

For over-fifties catalogues who want to stay age-appropriate, add a traditional lamp or pot plant. This can really help to soften hard lines

It's such a pity this Cam23 isn't just about trying to be witty. I could spend hours on it if so. But here is the work bit. Something I don't get asked very often is "What's retrospective conversion?" You may not be asked it either but your job title isn't "Head of Retrospective Conversion". Well, for those of you that haven't already switched off, retrospective conversion is the ultimate makeover process, turning ageing housebound catalogue cards into electronic catalogue records that are flexible and fully mobile and travel all around the world. We're about to finish converting the UL sheaf catalogue and start on the UL supplementary card catalogue. Which means publicising the end of the sheaf catalogue and raising funds to convert the card catalogue. And I think Flickr images can be a useful way to do that. After all, you all know what retrospective conversion is now.

Monday, 21 June 2010


Tempted by NPage's blogpost on JournoTwit Using Twitter without using Twitter I've given it a try. This is definitely a good thing.

This picture is just the feed from Twitter for theul. To see the full JournoTwit screen, see NPage's blog above.

Note neat columns for each Twitter feed.

Note easily clickable links to other feeds (Glee at top right, inevitably)

Note easily clickable icons at top to Tweet, search Twitter, minimise the column when you want to read another column, etc.

I'm going to give Twitter another chance. Will keep you posted.

Sunday, 20 June 2010


Oh, I like Flickr! This is a screenshot from a Flickr page created by Glasgow University Library Special Collections department. I'd definitely like to do this for the Tower Project, we've got some great images. But I can't see any special collections stuff from Cambridge libraries - has anyone else found them?

Saturday, 19 June 2010


Twitter: so far I don't get it. I find it pretty bewildering. Long ago in a sci-fi TV series called Babylon 5, a girl suddenly acquires the ability to hear everyone's thoughts (a mindburst). Everyone's. All at once. That's what Twitter feels like to me. What do you do with it? Partly it's the text-speak, partly the troubling fact that I don't know any of these people. But in an attempt to select an event to follow, I kept an eye on Twitter during the World cup match between England and Algeria, and the subsequent post-mortem discussion. It was great! I picked up some of the best jokes I've heard in ages:

"What's the difference between the England team and a tea bag?"

"The tea bag stays in the cup longer."

Excellent. Unfortunately I've had to censor all the others as I haven't worked out how to do the adult content warning thing. I think in future when there's something groundbreaking going on I will probably have a look at Twitter and see what people are saying and make a few comments of my own. But I can't get the point of it for work.

Friday, 18 June 2010


I'm in two minds about this tagging idea. Asking a librarian to add independently generated keywords rather than controlled vocabulary goes against ingrained work habits. I'm not joking.

The screenshot shows what happens when you search Aquabrowser for books by the author Angela Brazil. it finds the books (among other things) but the tags generated (in the little cloud on the left) are a motley collection and generally not much use.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Did we make it crash?

Sunday, 13 June 2010

I wouldn't say I was obsessive ...

This is my first attempt to add video to my blog, and it has to be Glee. If you ever feel that library life needs livening up, this may help!

Adding this was hard - where has Sunday gone to? I was sure I'd seen a handy 'add video' icon on this blogger toolbar, then I realised it is on the 'old settings' but not on the new, so I've changed back to the 'old settings to add video. I wasn't even sure of the difference between uploading and downloading, also didn't know what "embed" meant, didn't know anything about different video formats and the different programmes required to play them. I realised I know nothing about the copyright issues of downloading a clip of a TV programme. Surely there's a 'fair dealing' clause for something like a 30 second clip? I shall have to find out, or I may get dragged off to a US jail and miss series 2. Also I suspect that Fox TV, which makes Glee, is canny enough to put something on their videos to stop them being downloaded. After struggling with trying to add video clips of Glee from the E4 site, I thought I'd fall back on YouTube, and that is a lot easier: instructions are here

Sadly, for various possible reasons, I haven't yet managed to add the Glee take on Lady Gaga and I still have to eat. So here's the link

And apologies for the dodgy layout, I've been over-ambitious today!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

What's happening out there?

Lots of this web 2.0 stuff is new to me, but it's been around for a while, so I decided it was time to see what other people in university/teaching institutions are doing with it. So far the outstanding institution is just up the road - CRASSH. Which is:
The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, or
"a crossroads. A way in which people can move from one end of the university to the other, from one discipline to the other, from one set of interests or problems to the other...A continual and busy crossroads of exchange, circulation, ideas"

Oddly, I first noticed CRASSH's presence in the TLS (Times Literary Supplement, weekly journal on the arts esp. creative writing, amazingly good in patches but pretty reactionary). CRASSH was advertising a conference to be held in June, and I noticed there was a "collaborative blog" related to the conference and went to have a look at it. Unfortunately the conference topic is totally baffling "Reconsidering detachment: an emergent discussion of the productive potential of disconnection, distance and detachment ..." you may get the idea. But I was intrigued to read the blog: conference speakers had posted abstracts of their papers, researchers posted abstracts of related journal articles. Several people had used the comments to raise questions they would like to see addressed at the conference, and a discussion had already been started well before the conference began. Researchers from several different disciplines were involved, in fact anyone could register for the blog and comment. It seems to have great potential for opening up the exchange of ideas among different academic specialities.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Can I do that? Yes! (not always)

One of my favourite things about learning new things is that you find yourself asking a whole lot of new questions. After a few weeks of Cam23 I find myself not just looking at things online but wondering how they're done. How does it work? On the UL public homepage there's a slideshow of images, many of them from the Tower project - how does it work? Cardies and tweed has video in her blog - I want it too! And the great thing is that I can just ask people and find out.

Which leads to the next, revolutionary question: can I do that? And often the answer is yes!

It's a great feeling! And hopefully the answer will be Yes more often as I try things out.

Google calendar and Doodle

Now I have a Google calendar, and I've added it to my IGoogle page. I've tried several online calendars before, but have never maintained them for more than a few days. I still fall back on my little pocket sized diary made of paper - it's portable, easy to maintain and I like the business of choosing one every year and looking at the pictures/literary quotes whatever, for each week. Even for work, in the Tower Project we get by with a shared diary on dedicated file space, so we can all see who should be where and when. I'm on leave this week but when I get back I will ask my colleagues if they would like to sign up for Google calendars and share them. I think I might find this calendar more interesting if I customised it a bit, but at the moment I'm doing so much new stuff that customising the calendar will have to wait.

Doodle - we already use this at work (UL Collection Development and Description) for scheduling meetings. It's certainly more economical in time than dealing with a dozen replies by email. Thinking about it, I'm quite embarrassed to remember that in the past I've had email exchanges on the lines of "Can we meet to talk about x? When are you free?" "How about Monday?" "Oh, I can't do Monday, how about Tuesday morning?" ... and so on. Life is finite.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Finally! Not sure if it's my discovery of brandy and soda as drink of choice that's made this possible, but I've done it! I've added an image! In fact it's more due to reading other people's experiences of adding images, so thanks to all you pioneers! Now for lots more pictures!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

identity crisis

One of the interesting possible outcomes of 23 Things is that some of my quite fundamental feelings might change. For example: yesterday I was slightly alarmed that people weren't using their real names in their blogs. Today, reading through some of the Cam23 blogs I found a deeper sense of unease creeping through me. One blogger admits to setting up multiple Google accounts with multiple different pseudonyms. To be willing and able to maintain multiple identities - doesn't that sound like some sort of personality disorder? The sort of sinister brilliance of the talented Mr Ripley? Or the sort of headline "she led a double life as university librarian and vice girl" headlines. But who knows? In a few short weeks I may have got over this particular hang-up and changed my attitude.

Monday, 7 June 2010


Well, I looked at the next thing to do and it was to go and look at some other blogs from the Cam23 programme, and my heart sank. Do I really have to read 43 blogs on Today I got up and did a little cataloguing? But more by luck than judgement the first one I looked at was brilliant, I don't know who you are "Evans above" but you saved my sanity! I've been getting a bit stressed trying to keep up with ths programme and my photoeditor wouldn't download and then it turned out we were running short of space on the PC and I was going into full crisis mode, then I realised Evans whoever was going through almost the same thing. And getting annoyed like me. And using words like blasted. And then I sort of got the point of this blogging thing: it's not about being literary or competitive, it's about sharing. And I never thought I'd say that without my toes curling, but it's true.

Things 1 & 2 - Igoogle

Well, I already had an Igoogle page, but this was a good opportunity to try out some new things. Some are surprisingly poor: I got very excited about getting a Glee (tv show) theme for my Igoogle page, but it cuts right through Matthew Morrison's face.

How could they?! So I've gone for a tasteful Cambridge scene of Clare College bridge, it's quite soothing first thing in the morning.

I use the Igoogle as my homepage so I need it to provide any essential info to get through the day. Traffic, weather, news. BBC for news: it has a talent for clarity. Years ago I picked up the Nottingham Evening post and read the headline 'Bombs fall on city'. The city was not Nottingham.
It would be good to have something on audio - random song from Glee? - but that's not advisable in a shared office environment. I shall have a lookout for something.

Better late than ...

So far my experience of Web 2.0 stuff has been patchy: I have a good deal of curiosity but not much staying power, so I've got some driving enthusiasms (Igoogle, YouTube, Google reader) and other things that I dipped into but stopped because I couldn't see the point of them (Facebook, Twitter). Google reader and Igoogle appeal to the organiser side of me, but YouTube is something else, my favourite country to travel in. You can instantly jump back to revisit your childhood, (1960s TV), or explore different versions of a song (so far I prefer Glee versions to the originals). And some quite inspired things are on it - I found out how to hook up my hearing aid to my ipod with a little gadget, they've put a video on YouTube to show you how to fit the thing together.

I had a brief flirtation with Twitter around General election time this year, I'd created an account last year but retired baffled as to what people got out of it. What persuaded me to try again was talking to John Naughton briefly while doing a library Tower tour: he was so attached to it as part of the political process that I was almost converted. I think I'd need a definite focus to tweet about.

Blogging- I've never blogged yet but I'm quite keen on reading blogs: Mary Beard's A don's life which has nothing to do with the mafia but has a lot of classics news (and Cambridge Uni gossip). The comments are actually almost as entertaining as the blog: the same commenters (?) appear after almost every post, they have a real engagement with the topics, and I get the impression they either know each other 'in real life' or have been sharing a virtual life for some time.

Also Joyce DiDonato's YankeeDiva: if you're not into opera you might be unable to cope with the breathless excitement of this blog. DiDonato is the opera singer who managed not only to break her leg while performing an opera (not part of the plot) but managed to continue and play subsequent performances without apparent effect on her voice. Although DiDonato's blog has a weakness for pictures of cute animals, her enthusiasm for writing about the process of opera-making, (rather than the three hours performance in the theatre) is outstanding. And her penchant for pink frocks I can share. If she can find time to blog - and say something intelligent - then nobody can say they're too busy, or that blogs are too trivial to say anything sensible.

And finally Random acts of reality, a blog by a London ambulance driver that gets inside all those houses and lives belonging to other people - the people you wouldn't choose as friends because they're ill, confused, violent or whatever - and writes about what happens. I like it partly because it puts my own working life into perspective but I think it's effective because it continually points out that society constantly fails on a domestic, everyday level, that the process of illness or injury should go Problem - ambulance - problem solved. But it doesn't, and this blog gives plemty of examples.

So, my plan for 23 things is that I don't just read stuff online but I actually get out and interact with what's happening.