Monday, 30 July 2012

Thing 14: Zotero / Mendeley / CiteULike

When I wrote my masters dissertation I typed out my bibliography reference by reference. I worked through the whole text too, slotting in the references, remembering where I’d referenced the same thing twice – the whole 15,000 words of it.

I don’t say this in a “we had it tough back in my day, you lot, you don’t know you’re born” sort of way. I say it because I didn’t have any alternative (that I was aware of).  It was time consuming and error prone – who would chose that?

There are so many tools out there these days that there’s no reason for anyone -  student, academic, researcher, would-be librarian  – anyone to have to do that anymore.  

For those of us still in the throes of writing essays, or perhaps writing articles for professional journals, picking one piece of software and running with it makes life a lot easier. But looking beyond our own needs to consider the needs of the library users we support, being aware of a number of different tools is always an advantage (and a big selling point on a CV). Being able to explore the pros and cons of different ways of achieving the same goal helps others decide which is the tool for them.

Managing information in this way, and helping others to do so too demonstrates our worth in a new way, and is a very useful skill. We’re not just there to help people find information, we can help them manage it to more easily achieve their goal. (I’m mostly thinking of these tools in an academic or research environment, but please give me examples their use in public libraries, business  information centres – anywhere!)

There are 4 essential elements that you need in any reference management system. The ability to:
  • import references from a number of difference sources (eg websites, library catalogues, bibliographic databases etc)
  • manage and/or edit the references once they’re in the system, and add manually any references that you cannot find online
  • export references into the document that you’re writing, either as a single bibliography, or individually, often called “cite while you write” which generates a list of references.
  • format the bibliography according the referencing style of your choice, and re-format if/when necessary

There are some other “bells and whistles” which might be nice. The ability to:
  • share references with colleagues, supervisors, co-authors
  • attach the text of the article to the reference, so you can manage the full-text documents as well as the references
  • find full text of the articles in your list of references (particularly relevant in academic libraries)
  • manage your full-text articles- perhaps by ensuring that file names are consistent,
  • detect and delete duplicates - if an article is important, you may find it more than once - but you don’t want more than one entry in your list of references.

There are many commercial products out there – Endnote, Reference Manager, RefWorks and Papers  are just 4 examples. Those of us working in higher education may already have access to one or more of these. But there are also some free tools which are available open source, and so accessible to anyone (so long as you’ve got the rights to download software onto your computer!)

There’s a comparison table in Wikipedia and Martin Fenner produced a useful comparison between 8 different tool.

Of the many possibles, we’re going to look at 3 free ones:
Zotero, Mendeley and CiteULike.

Thing 14a – Zotero –

Zotero is an open source product that started life as a plug-in for Mozilla Firefox but in its 3.0 version is now available as a standalone which is compatible with Chrome and Safari
A useful video which demonstrates Zotero is available from their front page, and rather than re-invent the wheel, I suggest you watch this

Zotero is free, but you can get extra storage space and more flexibility for a monthly subscription if you need it.

I think it’s a great, simple to use product which allows easy importing of references from a lot of sources – check if the ones you use regularly are covered:

Zotero also encourages collaboration by providing a social networking element to their site - you can create groups ( private or public) where you can share your reference lists - a bit like delicious.

Thing 14b – Mendeley –
Mendeley is another product which requires a download, but this time it’s a desktop feature, rather the forcing you to one particular browser.  Like Zotero, there is a free version of Mendeley, but more features and increased storage are available if you chose to subscribe.
There’s some great introductory videos available, plus loads of supporting documentation.

One of the nicest features, is that if you’re starting off with a desktop or folder full of PDFs, there is a “watched folder” feature that you can point Mendeley towards, and it extracts metadata from the PDF files and populates your Mendeley library automatically. This is great if you/your library user has a great morass of files they want to organise retrospectively - and I’ve never seen a room of researchers go quiet so quickly as when you show them this feature, plus the one that renames the files in a tidy and consistent way (really very impressive!)

There’s also a PDF editor function within Mendeley, so you can “scribble” on the full-text articles (though you can get this functionality without by using PDF-XChange)

Mendeley has the added bonus that when you synch the web version of Mendeley, the PDF (if you’ve attached it) will go into the cloud too, so you can access your full-text articles wherever you are.

The group/social networking function in Mendeley takes things a step further, by allowing you to set up a closed group where collabators can share the full-text articles, not just the references.

Mendeley also has a very nice iPad or iPhone app which means you can always keep up with your reading and keep adding to your reference list.

Thing 14c– CiteULike
CiteULike is a like delicious  but for articles rather than websites. So it’s not strictly comparable with zotero and mendeley, but still an interesting tool.
There’s a nice tour of citeulike by Alan Cann : 

It’s a great site for sharing references (very useful for many academics who work collaboratively). It’s easy to gather references into citeulike using the browser button (similar to the functionality of delicious) and there is a massive bonus that you can upload PDFs to attach to the reference – since there is no desktop element this means you can access your documents and references from any computer, any time. You can share your library of references, or keep them private as you see fit.

If you chose to make your library public, just like delicious, you can see if anyone else has this paper in their library – ie who is reading what you’re reading. This might give you clues as to who your competition is, or who potential collaborators are.

But the big down side (I think) is that there is no cite while you write functionality – you can export the references in a single bibliography, in a range of difference referencing styles, but not add references through a document. (but since I don’t think it’s designed to do this, so not a fair criticism).

Thing to do
For this week’s Thing, I’d like you to explore and play with at least one (or more if you’re feeling enthusiastic and have time) of these tools how could it help you achieve some of your own goals? How could your new skill help you improve the support you offer your library users?

If you’re already using one or several of these tools, please share how you’re using them. 
If you are running courses, who are they for? What format do these courses take? Does this service help to change perceptions of the library service?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Thing 13: Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox

This post was originally published by Jennifer Yellin for the 2011 programme.  It has been updated to reflect the change from Google Docs to Google Drive.

In this Thing you will investigate different methods of online collaboration and file-sharing and explore the benefits of using these tools within your library.

Collaborating on group projects with colleagues can be a great way to boost your professional development. However, when several people are editing the same document simultaneously this can sometimes lead to the existence of multiple drafts of the same file, which can result in confusion! Tools such as Google Drive, Wikis and Dropbox are designed to enable you to share information and documents more effectively when working with others on a joint project.

For this Thing, you will need to have a go at some of the activities below and then blog about any or all of these tools.

One of the main purposes of Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) is to allow multiple people to edit the same document, spreadsheet or presentation without creating duplicate copies. Documents can either be uploaded or created from scratch within Google Drive and the fact that everyone can access the file in one place means that it is much simpler to edit and update. This can be very useful for librarians who are collaborating on a project; for example, for this very 23 Things programme we used Google Docs to create a spreadsheet of everybody who has registered to take part. This allows us to store the information in a single location where multiple administrators can edit and update it as necessary.

Accessing Google Drive is quite straightforward: simply login with the same username and password that you would use to access your Google account. If you don’t have a Google account, you can quickly set one up by clicking here and completing the online form.

Once you have logged in to Google Drive, click ‘Create’ and choose what kind of document you would like to create – such as a spreadsheet, word-processing document or a presentation.

Create your document and it will save automatically, or you can force a save by pressing Ctrl+s.

Now you are ready to share your document, either with a colleague or even with another CPD23 participant if you wish! Click on the ‘Share’ button in the top right-hand corner of the screen. In the ‘Add People’ box, enter the email address of the person with whom you would like to share the document and decide whether you will allow them to edit the document or just to view it. Click ‘Share’ and this person will now receive an email with a direct link to your document.

Dropbox is a free desktop application which allows you to store your documents online so that you can access them from multiple computers.

Like Google Docs, Dropbox can also be used when collaborating with others on a project as it enables easy file-sharing without the need for creating duplicates. For example, one person can drop documents and files into Dropbox and then invite other people to access and edit those files.

If you don’t already have a Dropbox account, go to the Dropbox website and create one. Once you have created an account, you will be directed to a page that explains how to download Dropbox.

After you have downloaded and installed Dropbox, you will have a Dropbox folder on your computer where you can store any files that you want to share with others. You can access these files from any computer by logging into the Dropbox website with your username and password. From here, you can view, download and upload files securely using any web browser.

Sharing documents using Dropbox

Sharing with someone who already has a Dropbox account:
Create a new folder called CPD23 inside your Dropbox folder, select a file from your computer and paste it into this folder. Now go to the Dropbox website, login if you aren’t already logged in, and click on the tab called ‘Sharing’.

Select the option to share an existing folder, click ‘next’ and then select your CPD23 folder. Enter the email address of someone with whom you wish to share your folder and click ‘share folder’. This will send an email inviting the recipient to view your CPD23 folder via Dropbox. If the recipient is not yet a member of Dropbox, the email will direct them to page asking them to register.

Sharing with someone who does not have a Dropbox account:
Dropbox will also allow you to share single files (but not folders) with people who do not have a Dropbox account. In order to do this, simply copy and paste a file into the folder called ‘Public’ which is already inside the Dropbox folder on your computer.

Next, navigate to your Public folder via your account on the Dropbox website, right-click on the file you want and select ‘Copy public link’. This will give you a URL which links to your file and you can then paste this, for example, into emails or blog posts in order to share it with others. If you wish, you can paste this link into your blog post for Thing 13!

A Wiki is a public or private web page which allows multiple people to contribute to its content. The most obvious example of a Wiki is Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

Wikis can be a great collaborative tool for library staff and may be particularly useful when creating documents such as library resource guides, student handbooks or teaching materials. Wikis can be used to store information which is useful to all staff members, while at the same time allowing all staff members to edit and update this information. I personally have found a Wiki to be quite useful for recording updates to the website which I jointly maintain with the other graduate trainees in Cambridge. The Wiki enables us to keep a record of the changes that each of us has made to the website, as well as the work which still needs to be done. We also use it to store all our HTML instructions, as well as the weekly rota.

One excellent example of librarians using a Wiki as a collaborative tool is the Library Day in the Life Project, which is a semi-annual event organised by Bobbi Newman (Librarian by Day). Librarians from all around the world add their blog URLs to a shared Wiki and then write blog posts about their working day. The Wiki acts as a central location from which to access all of these blog posts and as such it becomes a really informative web page which offers an insight into the wide variety of careers that exist within the field of librarianship.

Another good example of a Wiki is the Library Routes Project set up by Ned Potter and Laura Woods. This Wiki was set up in October 2009 to bring together the thoughts of Information Professionals on how they got to where they are today, and why they initially chose to work in libraries. As more and more people have contributed, this Wiki has quickly become a valuable career’s resource for those thinking about joining the library profession.

If you’re still unsure about how Wikis can be useful, check out this 'Wikis in Plain English' video.

Optional Activity
If you are interested in setting up your own Wiki, the basic edition of PBWorks provides a free platform for librarians. Alternatively, you could try MediaWiki, which uses the same software as Wikipedia.

Suggestions for your Thing 13 blog post
You could write about your first impressions of any or all of these tools, or you could explore their potential uses within your library. If you are already using one or more of them, you could write about the kinds of projects for which they have been useful. If you wish, you could also compare and contrast the value of each of these different tools and consider how they could be used to further your own professional development.

Don’t forget to visit other CPD23 blogs and share your insights with other CPD23 participants!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Thing 12: Putting the social into social media

This week is a quiet catch up week so you can all take a deep breath and relax! This is a chance for those still trying to complete previous Things to do so, but it also gives everyone a chance to pause and reflect for a moment (putting into practice the skills you all learnt in Thing 5).
Information professionals are turning more and more towards social media as a way of advancing their professional knowledge and networks. The initial run of CPD23 had nearly 100 registered participants before the programme started, rising to nearly 800. This was all achieved through promotion of the programme on social media, demonstrating the reach that it can have.
Using social media for professional development has been the subject of many recent articles and debates. In an article in CILIP’s Update magazine, Debby Raven gave a brief rundown of the advantages of information professionals using social media for professional development:
  • Social networking can lead to better communication. This can be with either people you already know, for example from events or work, or with people that you would never normally have a chance to meet. I’ve ‘met’ people on Twitter who I’ll probably never meet in real life, mainly because they live all over the world. Without social media it’s difficult to think how I could have made these connections
  • It creates a more collaborative working space where people are encouraged to share their ideas. Many participants made contact with each other as a result of taking part in the programme last year and there’s no telling what exciting projects have happened as a result!
  • It aids in building online communities. Whatever you particular passion is, both inside and outside the profession, there will be an online community devoted to it. Using social media to form communities was highlighted by Things 6 and 7 of CPD23. Many real life meet-ups were organised by participants, taking an online community into the real world
  • Social networking can also provide easy access to other areas of the profession. I work in an academic library and as a result my real life contacts tend to be from similar professional backgrounds.  Using social media has helped me to make contact with people in a variety of different sectors. This could have been a hassle in the real world, but social media has made it a much more informal process
By being part of an enthusiastic online community, information professionals can help to advance their own development. It’s important to remember though that social media is just that, a social network. There’s a danger that people will start to use these sites merely as a way to push out information and forget that they’re designed to help us interact. One piece of advice that I would give is that you will get as much out of social media as you put in. If you’re involved in a community then you will benefit from it a lot more than by just sitting on the side-lines.

With that in mind, here’s this week’s task: reflect on how you put the social into your social media use. Do you interact with people or do you lurk? Do you tend to stay within the comfort zone of your own sector or do you actively look for people who work in different areas of the profession? If you’re a bit reluctant to get involved, why do you think this is? Remember, there are no right or wrong answers to these questions - it’s all down to the individual! If anyone needs a bit of prompting, then try having a look at the blog of a CPD23 participant who is in a different sector to you. It could be a sector that you have an interest in or one that you maybe aspire to work in one day. Comment on one of their posts or maybe ask a question about their work. You never know what it might lead to….
Reference: Opportunities not to be missed / Debby Raven in CILIP Update, July 2011, pg. 43-45.
Photo credits:
Floating network / WebWizzard
Social media dim sum / The Daring Libarian

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Another networking opportunity

Cardiff, 24th July
The brilliantly pro-active Kristine is organising another informal networking evening in Cardiff, on the evening of Tuesday 24 July.  It's open to everyone who works in libraries, and is taking place in a yurt.

Full details are over on Kristine's blog.

Yurt in Moonlight, Kyrgyzstan by dwrawlinson, on Flickr
Cardiff librarians meet in yurts. Not this one, though.
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  dwrawlinson 

As ever, if you want to organise an event for cpd23 participants and other local library folk in your area, do let us know and we'll help to publicise it.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Thing 11: Mentoring

This post was originally published by Meg Westbury as part of the 2011 programme.

Welcome to Thing 11, where I discuss an often overlooked -- but quite important -- part of professional development: having a mentor.  By ‘mentor,’ I mean someone who takes an active interest in your career either by sharing advice and knowledge or by facilitating professional opportunities.  A mentor is an advisor who is usually more senior than you (ideally by 5 to 15 years), but does not have to be, and you can seek one out at any time of your career.  Everyone should have a mentor, but circumstances often prevent many of us from having one.   

A bit of personal sharing
I have been lucky thus far in my career to have had two very good mentors, one formal and one informal.  These mentors have provided advice about my career path, explained the political workings of a new work place, provided professional opportunities, and have been a sounding board when I had hard decisions to make.  Though busy people, they took an active interest in my work, and my career benefited tremendously from them.  In return, these mentors learned from me about new technology developments in the field and (they said) were inspired to try new lines of research by my enthusiasm.  The mentoring relationship has been so critical for me that I would encourage everyone to seek one out, no matter where you are on your career path.

My formal mentor was someone I explicitly asked to be my mentor -- something that admittedly was scary to do.  However, as many writers about mentoring in librarianship have noted, reaching out like that is tremendously rewarding (and it was).  Before asking, I was worried my mentor wouldn't have time or, worse, wouldn't see me as worthy of being mentored.  Upon asking, I discovered that she was actually flattered and thrilled to be asked, as it validated her role as a leader in the library world and gave her a chance to give back to the librarian community.

My informal mentor was not someone I asked explicitly to be in a mentoring relationship with me, but someone I chose to consult a lot and to emulate early in my career ('What would so-and-so do in this situation?' was something I would constantly ask myself).  Having a role model to aspire to gave my career path a clearer trajectory and, even though she likely would not call me a 'mentee' per se, she did indeed mentor me as I often sought after her advice.

Qualities of a good mentor -- and of a good mentee
If you do ask someone explicitly to be your mentor -- highly recommended -- you should choose someone you feel comfortable with and would like to learn from.  It's imperative to be clear about what you would like from the relationship -- career advice, sounding board, professional opportunities -- and then to ask about such things in particular.  A mentor/mentee relationship needs to be cultivated like any other.  Remember that your mentor is giving his/her time and energy so make sure to reciprocate accordingly with gratitude and offers to share information from your perspective and experience.

What sorts of qualities should a mentor have?  Not everyone is cut out to be a mentor.  For starters, you should look for someone self-aware, respectful, and empathetic, with a strong sense of collegiality.  After all, you're asking someone to help you, so that person should enjoy helping and understand the need to help colleagues network and find professional opportunities.

As a mentee, your role is not to accept the advice and assistance of a mentor passively, but to try to give back in terms of gratitude, professional sharing, and enthusiasm.  You should be quite clear about your strengths and weaknesses and be honest about what sort of assistance you would like your mentor to provide.  Such clarity and straightforwardness will lead to a much more productive and successful relationship.

In short, do try to find a mentor.  At any stage of your career, reaching out to people you admire and seeking their counsel is immensely rewarding and beneficial.  You will find that if you cultivate a good mentor, it is likely that one day in the future you will in turn ‘pay it forward’ and generously give of your time to a fellow librarian seeking advice and traction in this rapidly changing world of librarianship.  

Further reading
The literature on mentoring in and out of librarianship is voluminous.  It is not possible here to give a complete resource list, but a few good starting places online include:
Mentoring page:

How to Find a Mentor

Effective Mentoring
doi: 10.1177/0340035209105672
IFLA Journal June 2009 vol. 35 no. 2171-182

Sharing program: The Big-Boy Boomeroo of mentoring
Carrye Syma and Cynthia Henry
C&RL News March 2009, pp 178-180

Revitalizing a Mentoring Program for Academic Librarians
Diana Farmer, Marcia Stockham, and Alice Trussell
College and Research Libraries, July 2009, pp 8-24

Monday, 2 July 2012

Thing 10 - Graduate traineeships, Masters Degrees, Chartership, Accreditation

This post was first published by Charlotte Smith as part of the 2011 programme and has been slightly adapted for 2012. The main change is to the task at the end, which asks for a consideration of qualifications in librarianship. Library routes/roots will be considered in more detail in Thing 20.

This week we will be discussing routes into librarianship. This post will mainly focus on the training and qualifications available to librarians in the UK. We are interested in hearing how this differs for other parts of the information sector and in other parts of the world!

Graduate traineeships
Although there are now undergraduate qualifications in librarianship, most librarians tend to have done their first degree in another subject, and then go on to a Masters in Library and Information Studies.
Most UK universities who offer LIS courses want you to have a year’s work experience before you start the course. Some people get this experience by working as library assistants but there are now an increasing number of graduate traineeships in the UK.

Graduate traineeships are usually 12 month long posts which start in August or September and are aimed at recent graduates who are thinking about going into librarianship. There are many different types of institution that offer these positions, amongst them are schools, universities, businesses and law firms.  CILIP have a good directory of traineeships in the UK.

Every traineeship position is different but a lot of institutions offer training and a programme of visits to other libraries. Traineeships not only provide recent graduates with relevant library experience but can also help them decide whether the career is really right for them.

If you would like to know more details about an individual traineeship programme in the UK then I would recommend looking at Catalog. This website documents the traineeship programme in Cambridge and is maintained by the trainees themselves. There are many more types of traineeships out there though so have a look at the CILIP website and see which one looks good for you!

The 2010-2011 Cambridge Graduate Trainee Librarians on a visit to Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Masters degrees
The next step for most people is to complete a CILIP accredited course. It is becoming more and more necessary for holders of professional library positions in the UK to have or to be working towards a qualification in librarianship. A list of CILIP accredited courses can be found on their website It is useful to note at this stage that graduate level qualifications from the USA, Canada, Australia and the EU member states are accepted by CILIP in the UK.
Most courses are quite similar in structure and contain core course on cataloguing, classification, IT systems and management. Courses are offered both full time and part time by most institutions. The distance learning courses at Aberystwyth, the Robert Gordon University and Northumbria University are becoming increasingly popular as there is the opportunity to continue working whilst you study.

Most librarians go on to Chartership after completing a qualification accredited by CILIP. Some professional posts require their applicants to be chartered but most people look at Chartership as a way to continue their professional development. You have to be a member of CILIP to undertake the programme. Chartership is a portfolio based qualification where you collect evidence of you professional development. Another important part of the programme is finding a mentor, (a concept which will be discussed more fully in the next Thing!) See the CILIP website for more information.

Certification is another CILIP qualification. It is open to anyone at any level who has had a minimum of 2 years work experience in the sector. You do not need to have completed an accredited course by CILIP and so in this way it is a different route to Chartership for people who might have had a different library career. The qualification is portfolio based and like Chartership is based round critically evaluating yourself and the job that you do. Again the CILIP website has a lot more information about how to join the Certification programme.

What next?
For this week’s 'Thing' I would like you to consider the various qualifications that are appropriate for your role (not necessarily specific to librarianship).  You may wish to discuss a qualification you have already undertaken, one you might look at next, or why you feel specific qualifications are useful (or not) as preparation or as continuing professional development.  I apologise that this blog post has been rather UK focused and therefore I would love it if our international colleagues out there would blog about their experiences in their countries so we can learn more about routes in librarianship on a global level.