Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Thing 6 Online Networks

Thing 6 - Social or online networks. 

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand:
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:

Lewis Carroll

May I confess, I'm feeling like the Walrus and his esteemed friend as they walk along the beach? Thing 6 is all about social or online networks and for me these are beginning to look a whole load like "sand". I remember the buzz about Second Life and how some members of the profession took to this like proverbial fish to water. What do we hear about Second Life now? I guess I should temper my bewilderment, fear and frustrations. Get used to change; and accept, that as fickle as we are, social media are going to start up, blossom with popularity, and then fade away. For some platforms their lifespan may be a brief as a gnat's; others hopefully more enduring - like redwoods, oaks or yew. The trick is finding the tools that work for you. Thing 6 helps with this personal analysis. 

LinkedIn (http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/stephen-gregory/30/2b0/76b)

I've been on LinkedIn since March 2011, and joined because my mentor is a member. However, we didn't use LinkedIn as part of our mentoring, and so my use of it didn't go any further. Today, in order make this network more useful I've updated and added to my profile and added a couple connection requests. A few weeks ago a colleague posted a query on LinkedIn, and received a number of helpful responses. Evidence, if this is required, that LinkedIn can be really useful. I should use it more!


As previously mentioned, I use Facebook for social and family connections only. I don't envisage that my usage of Facebook will expand to include professional / work interaction for the near future. However, I can see the value of using Facebook as one strand to a library service's communication plan. Swansea Libraries have an excellent Facebook page and it provides a fascinating view of the wide range of activities and events provided by the Service. For some, this will be a great way of service user engagement. It complements their Twitter postings and blogging.  I can also see that Facebook will become an  increasingly useful information resource. Material to supplement Who's who, biographical information requests, and possibly to support company / partnership information requests when our conventional resources fail us. Ditto with LinkedIn!

CILIP Communities

A great concept but in my view this platform hasn't hit adequate levels of regular usage, viewing, participation or contribution. I am a member of CILIP Communities and I have responded to questions in the past. I may even consider adding new queries to the Forum if this seems to be appropriate. But it wouldn't be top of my list.

LISNPN, LATNetwork, Google+

Sand, more sand?  Just goes to show that we need to keep tags on evolving online networks. I may choose not to be actively involved in these networks, but it will be helpful for me to be aware of a wide range of them, and to appreciate those that appear to be popular.

Civil Pages

The UK Civil Service also have Civil Pages, a restricted access, online directory, discussion forum and resource, available to those with access to the Government Secure Intranet.  In my experience, like CILIP Communities, Civil Pages can be a useful resource for:

  • seeking answers to particular types of enquiry (e.g. who works in the Communities & Local Government departmental library; what are other departments doing with SharePoint; is anybody else currently working on x?)
  • supporting face-to-face groups (e.g. the Circle of Departmental Librarians, the Government Legal Librarians Forum). An online space for adding meeting minutes, circulating agenda and discussion papers, and for continuing discussions virtually.
  • enabling resource sharing - identifying who has what, and helping discussion in rationalising collections etc. 
  • providing an online network. Enabling colleagues who may never meet to establish a link; building a network of personal contacts that will be mutually beneficial.

Civil Pages isn't without fault or challenges. Not all civil servants choose to be involved, and  information gets added but not always deleted or managed. Furthermore the platform is difficult to use. Adding new information is frustrating, time consuming and invariably only  partially successful.  


Here's the nub ... I can only keep tabs on a limited number of social networks and so I'll use my Twitter network, RSS feeds and email to help me find and share information that is relevant to me. Where that information comes from becomes irrelevant. As long as I trust it, and it is helpful to me, then that's great.  Platforms such as Netvibes may be helpful in providing a single point of interface. It would be helpful to try this out!

Although dispirited by such quantities of sand on the beach, and fearful of physical labour, the Walrus and the Carpenter eventually discovered, and went on to enjoy, a bed of oysters. The internet and social media tools can be fantastically informative and helpful. Our challenge is locating and benefiting from the "oysters"!   

Not familiar with the Walrus and the Carpenter? Click here

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Follow-up from Thing 5

There are a few outstanding action points from Thing 5. So here goes....

Labels in Blogger. No great mystery really... I was just confused about the Show All function. Just enter each label word or phrase separated by commas. The Show All button displays labels that you have previously used and you can then re-use labels that are appropriate to that posting by selecting them from the list.  Further details are available through Blogger's Help. This also suggests adding a Labels gadget to your blog's layout so that visitors to your blog can select blogs using specific labels. I've done this, and consequently decided to restrict (think hard about) the number of labels that I use. A judicious label editing exercise to follow.

Do I need several blogs? This also answers the issue raised in my Thing 5 blog about whether I need several blogs. No, for the time being, I don't think so. I just need to use labels appropriately! Fantastic.

Pushnote, Delicious ...and now Netvibes. I looked at Pushnote again and remain unconvinced that this will be helpful. This is backed up by comments from fellow CPD23 colleagues (e.g. Tom Roper and librarydoodles). So I'm going to put this to bed until Thing19, when I'm sure that it will come back to haunt me. I've also checked Delicious quickly. Delicious allows you to save your web links (bookmarks or favourites), to organise them (categorise them into "stacks"), and to share them with others. It's been a while since I last looked at it. However, I can see benefits in using it personally, and also in using it as a retrieval tool for some searches. Having an external store of bookmarks can't be a bad back-up mechanism anyway, with the added bonus of always being able to access bookmarks remotely. Worth further consideration!

The recent Cardiff Libraries in Cooperation event included a presentation showcasing the University of Glamorgan's Business HR Library Netvibes page. This has recently been joined by the Law Libraries Page . Netvibes therefore provides a further avenue for exploration. These pages look excellent, and are really useful subject portal pages. I really like the personal touch too. Emma and Sue are clearly geared up to using social media extensively, and I find it fascinating that they are using tools like these that aren't part of the University's Internet site. Clear messages here for me:

  • Go where your users will be;
  • Use external services to link Twitter, RSS feeds, guides, your Internet pages, etc.. A portal approach should make life easier for your users, and provide a friendly, coordinated, professional point of contact for your users to find out about and contact you. I suspect that these Netvibes pages will be well-used and will become excellent marketing tools for the Library.
  • Use these external services because they provide easy to use tools, creating mash-up pages that look great, work, are accessible, and are free.
  • Know the risks ... availability, reliability, endurance. Don't get too tied to one solution, and keep abreast of similar services so that if you do need to find a new home for the service, you are aware of the options.
So, some resolution from Thing 5 but also further work required. Now, what's Thing 6 all about?

Monday, 14 November 2011

Thing 5 - Reflective practice

Thing 5 provides an introduction to reflective practice and a chance to reflect on my learning and development  during Things 1 to 4. I'm not new to reflective practice - it has been a vital component of Chartership, Revalidation and many other aspects of life. To support these activities I attended a Reflective Writing half-day event delivered by Margaret Chapman a little while ago. This provided encouragement to use a basic framework for reflection (what happened, so what, what next) which I have been using in my blogs. Even so, I don't find reflection easy, and I definitely need an incentive to do it. Blogging is, I think, a great way to try and be more reflective.

So where am I? What has happened?

Blogging - Doing it, enjoying it, and getting value from it. I have even starting to blog on other matters - Access to Welsh Laws and developing a Welsh Statute. Perhaps I therefore need to consider having a couple  of blogs? However, labels in Blogger are driving me crazy. Clearly I need to investigate how these work, are they for each posting, or do labels apply to the entire blog? This was also an opportunity to consider my personal branding. I've created a blog that I like visually, and I've taken some steps to integrate my blog with my Twitter account and vice-versa (e.g. Tweeting about new blogs, and having a "my Tweets" gadget on my blog page).

Twitter - I've been reintroduced to Twitter, and since the iron curtain has come down in work, (or has the firewall burnt through?) it's now great to be able to catch up with Tweets at lunchtime. Time to really consider how Twitter can be used as an information resource for work. But I also recognise that I still have a lot to learn about Twitter. Fortunately @PME200 provided a couple of very helpful and amusing blogs about the Language of Twitter, and  How to use Twitter.  I learned a lot ... putting the @Name at the beginning of a Tweet will send that tweet directly to them, but will be seen by all followers in common to you both. @ Tab - allowing you to see @ mentions to you. Why these don't appear in your timeline baffles me, but there we are. I'm also investigating Retweeted of mine with thanks to @glambuslib for this - but at present it doesn't seem to work quite how I was expecting it to ... hmmm. More learning. Perhaps this is an incentive to investigate some of the  front-ends for Twitter - not Tweetdeck because that needs software installation - but perhaps there are others to check out. Or perhaps I should just investigate ways to use Twitter more effectively and comprehensively?

RSS Feeds via Google Reader ... yep...  reconsidered, and using again. I also find the blog feeds within Blogger really helpful.

So what? 

Lots of learning and refamiliarization has been achieved to date. But clearly there is still lots to follow up from here. I will blog on my further progress in due course.

So what hasn't worked?

Pushnote - a great idea, which should be well used, but doesn't seem to be! Perhaps Delicious or other social bookmarking tools are more popular? I need to investigate this aspect more as it doesn't seem to be covered in CDP23 Things. That said, if Pushnote is the only let down so far then that's been fatastic.

What have I enjoyed? 

Definitely working alongside my colleagues,  reading about their experiences, and hopefully supporting them during our Monday evening CPD23 sessions. This is proving to be an excellent, well structured opportunity to look at a wide range of tools and to consider my own skills / knowledge.

This has also started me thinking about which social networks to use when and coping strategies. Phil Bradley helpfully considers the connundrum of which social network sites to be involved with http://www.philb.com/articles/whichsocialnetwork.htm together with a  follow-on page on using social media for searching, and how librarians can benefit and influence within these services. I still think that separation of social and professional is the way to go for me .... so I'll be using Facebook for social stuff for the time being. Perhaps now that Google+ has allowed organisations to join, and that CILIP has set up a Google+ group, then I should check this out.  Hmmm ... more to do.

So, what next?

Follow up the action points raised in this blog! And ponder on  "there is no such thing as information overload, there's only filter failure".

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Access to Welsh laws and developing a Welsh statute.

“Accessing the law goes to the heart of the democratic process and the people of Wales's understanding of the work done here on their behalf” Theodore Huckle QC to the National Assembly for Wales, 4 October 2011.

Theodore Huckle QC, the Counsel General to the Welsh Government 1, made a statement to Welsh Assembly Members on Tuesday 4 October 2011 2. In this statement Mr Huckle outlined his views on the challenges of this next stage of devolution in Wales: to improve access to Welsh legislation; and in doing so to develop a Welsh Statute Book. These views don't appear to have been widely reported and are, in my opinion, deserving of further coverage.

Many legal practitioners in both Wales and England will be fully familiar with the difficulties of identifying the correct and pertinent legislation applicable in Wales. Mr Huckle notes that in education alone there are legislative provisions applicable for Wales in 21 Acts of Parliament and four Assembly Measures. Within the UK Acts the Welsh provisions can be difficult to locate, and may lie alongside provisions that have been repealed in England for many years. There is no freely available, up-to-date consolidation of Welsh (or for that matter English) primary legislation. Legislation.gov.uk, is an exciting and admirable service, but currently vital consolidation activities remain backlogged 3. Furthermore, there is currently no free public access for consolidated Welsh secondary legislation. Nor is there access to consolidated legislation in the Welsh language.

In tackling these issues Mr Huckle proposes to investigate the feasibility of:

  • Moving towards a free-standing Welsh Legislation – a statute book for Wales. This long-term goal will mean taking opportunities within the Welsh legislative programme to develop Welsh Bills that not only address current legislative intentions, but simultaneously simplify and consolidate related legislation for Wales into Wales-only Acts.
  • Establishing fast-track mechanisms to consolidate legislation, that will run in parallel to the main legislative programme. Such Consolidation Bills will serve to clarify and consolidate law in Wales rather than changing law, and will separate legislation that applies in Wales from English provisions. This will also provide accurate Welsh language versions of consolidated Welsh legislation.
  • Moving towards a freely available fully consolidated primary and secondary legislation service for Wales, in both English and Welsh languages. Mr Huckle is investigating the feasibility of providing additional resourcing to enable http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ to fulfil this function.
  • Creating a freely available online Encyclopaedia of Welsh Law, providing narrative, explanation and analysis to assist lawyers and non-lawyers. The existing framework of Wales Legislation Online will be investigated as a foundation for this service.
Mr Huckle will report back to Assembly Members on his findings and progress towards these goals in the coming Spring. 

I welcome this statement. The Counsel General has provided clear indications of his ambitions to simultaneously address:
  • the complexity of law in Wales;
  • the current information deficits. Investigating routes to provide public access to up-to-date legislation for Wales in English, but also in Welsh ; and
  • the growing need for sophisticated, accurate and up-to-date legal commentary for Wales. This highly specialised and comparatively small potential marketplace of legal information is unlikely to be viable to commercial publishers, and will therefore will require public support and funding.
If progress is made in these areas then this will form a strong foundation for supporting a flourishing democratic, administrative, civil, commercial and legal life in Wales.  


1 Welsh Government. Cabinet and Ministers. Theodore Huckle. http://wales.gov.uk/about/cabinet/cabinetm/counselgeneral/ Last updated 13 May 2011. Accessed on 12 November 2011.

2 National Assembly for Wales. Counsel General's Statement: Access to Welsh Laws and Developing a Welsh Statute. The Record of Proceedings, 4 October 2011.

3 National Archives. Frequently asked questions: How up to date is the revised content on this website?How up to date is the revised content on this website? http://www.legislation.gov.uk/help#aboutRevDate Accessed on 12 November 2011.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Thing 4: Current awareness - Twitter, RSS and Pushnote

So Thing 4 was all about tools to facilitate personal current awareness, and for me this proved to be a useful reminder of, and an incentive to use more actively, a couple of these.

What I did?

I've been a Twitter user for a number of years now, and have found it really useful when following discussions at professional conferences and events. It's a great way to keep up to date with professional issues, and to have a wider understanding of the library world. As a legal librarian I follow several people from BIALL (e.g. jimmy1712 - James Mullen), CILIP (e.g. CILIP- Info), Welsh organisations (e,g, Institute of Welsh Affairs, Bevan Foundation), and some interesting professionals who are regular tweeters (e.g. Jo Alcock, Phil Bradley, Karen Blakeman). As a result of CPD23 I updated my profile in Twitter and in doing so noted that there is a Twitter gadget for Blogger. So I've added that to my blog pages. I tweet as StepGreg. The Twitter gadget appears at the bottom right of my Blogger screen.

I used to use Google Reader extensively when compiling current awareness bulletins in my previous role as Policy Support Librarian for Local Government / Social Justice in the Welsh Government. On revisiting Reader I updated my subscription feeds. At this stage this mainly meant removing subscriptions that are no longer relevant to me, but it was good to note that my new Blogger followings have also been added to my Reader account. Google Reader / RSS feeds can be a really helpful tool for wider professional awareness. I particularly like posting from Sue Hill Recruitment - the team blog on a wide range of issues. Tom Roper has also been undertaking CPD 23 Things, so it has been interesting following his progress, but he also provides fascinating horse racing tips. Just goes to prove how multi-faceted people can be!

Pushnote seems like a good idea, but I'm not sure that it's for me. My reservations are two fold:
  • The need to install software will mean that it is not possible to use Pushnote in work (IT security restrictions);
  • I was disappointed that I couldn't locate my key professional contacts to follow via Pushnote.
If I had found some of "library idols" using Pushnote then I might have been more thrilled. An interesting idea .. but perhaps not for me.

So what? What next?

This has been a really useful reminder of both Twitter and Google Reader (for RSS feeds). I have trimmed my Reader subscriptions so that this will now be more pertinent to my current role and interests. I will continue to seek out and subscribe to relevant feeds. Furthermore, now that the security curtain on using Twitter and other social media tools in work has been slightly lifted, then I should explore using Twitter more throughout my working day. Tweets are designed to be reasonably spontaneous; pertinent replies can only be relevant and of worth if posted promptly.

I will keep my eye on Pushnote and see how my colleagues fared with this too. I will be interested to see if their views and experiences differed!

Returning to Thing 3 - My web presence .... I have considered updating my Twitter name to Stepheninlibraryland. However, this name is too long for Twitter. In order to overcome this I have linked in my blog to Twitter, and updated my Twitter profile to indicate that I blog as Stepheninlibraryland.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Thing 3 - Considering my personal branding

Hello! Thanks for checking back on my progress!

This was a really interesting activity. It's not often that I consider my personal, visual and web profile / image. I am always keen to provide work of high professional standard that is also well presented. But, I'm just not that interested with how I look, or indeed what others might think of me because of my appearance. (I usually revel in the "uniform" of shirt and tie - the pathway of least resistance.) So this was a challenging exercise for me!

What happened.... 

I used Yahoo to check out for any mentions of me. Well, of course, I was staggered at how many "Stephen Gregorys" there are. I shouldn't have been because I have a name-sake in the my own organisation, but aside from Steve in Health, there is also:

  • an author of several horror books
  • an actor, from New York and he's been in 8 films
  • there's even another librarian - at the Union Theological College, Belfast!!
  • and many more.
The single mention of the "real me" within the first few pages of results notes my current involvement with the Career Development Group Wales Division. So nothing too terrible then. Phew.

I had also had reservations about the URL for my blog from the moment that I'd created it. I should have put more thought and  care into this important aspect. But, by the same token I was reasonably pleased with the appearance of my blog. I had carefully selected a theme which mirrored internal branding within the Welsh Government. As a small group of colleagues are working on CPD23 Things I thought that this was a nice touch of  "corporateness". I also liked the layout for my blog, although note that the display varies between Internet browsers, and in IE6 is just horrid. (Please use IE8, Chrome or another browser if you are following me!)

So what? 

With such a seemingly common name, if I am going to be clearly differentiated and identifiable on the web then I need to be clear about my profile description.  I've added my photograph so that people who know me will recognise me, and I've added more information to the "About Me" section of my blog profile. This will enable people to gain a reasonable understanding of what I do. I have also changed my blog URL to something more apt / memorable http://stepheninlibraryland.blogspot.com/. I haven't made my blog truly public yet, but perhaps I will after a few weeks. I also toyed with the idea of adding a logo .... but I couldn't quite master that.

What next? Thing 4 of course! ;-) but I will also look at some of the suggested reading for Task 3 in my own time. I'll blog if there are any action to take from this reading. I will also take closer note on how people have branded themselves on the web in future too. I'll be keen to "creatively swipe" their good ideas.

I've used a framework for my reflection here: what happened; so what? and what next? This should help structure my reflections and make them more purposeful and useful. Any thoughts on this?

So that's me signing off for now. I will welcome your comments and I'm keen to see how my colleague bloggers have fared with their investigations.

Later follow-up. (3 November 2011) The suggested reading for Thing 3 is really helpful, especially the blog by cpdbygeorge who usefully suggests really thinking hard about your blog name and url and checking this thoroughly for uniqueness. Fortunately I seem to have struck reasonably lucky with stepheninlibraryland, and this might also be good to rebrand in Twitter too. LibWig provides some great tips on changing Twitter name if I decide to go ahead with this. 

Monday, 24 October 2011

Checking out other peoples' blogs

cpd23 Task 2. Checking other peoples' blog

So I've looked at:

I wasn't brave enough to comment. Perhaps next time.

What I hope to achieve in undertaking CPD23 - CPD23 Task 1

I've worked in government librarianship for 5-years and during that time I've been prevented from using  Web 2.0 applications in work. I've worked in librarianship for much longer, and so my qualifications and knowledge might be a little dated!  I therefore hope that CPD23 will:

  • provide me with a framework to explore some of these tools;
  • to identify applications that may be suitable to use for work and professional development, but perhaps also tools that will be useful for social means;
  • to see examples of such tools in use;
  • to update my skills and confidence in using new IT tools;
  • a number of us are undertaking CDP23 in work and I hope to support my colleagues, but also gain through our collaborative learning;
  • to see this as an example of online / distance / self-paced learning. To idenitify the challenges and difficulties that arise with this type of learning, but also to understand the potential benefits.
So there we are. My first blog, and I've outlined my hopes in undertaking CDP23. These seem to be reasonably achieveable. Wish me luck .... here goes!