Friday, 30 July 2010

Ah, yes...the M Word

The delicate subject of marketing was introduced to us last July at the user.ed@cambridge meeting. And there was a talk given in March by that charming young gentleman from Scopus, who gave us all a free book ‘A Short-cut to Marketing the Library’, where ‘furniture as a marketing tool’ was suggested. You’ll see later that I have taken this on board.

Certainly won’t be going the pencils and pens route, as this might be more appropriate for new undergrads. Nor mugs either – and a certain well-known serials supplier might like to know that getting our journals in time [or at all] would be appreciated more than getting free mugs at libraries@cambridge. Have decided on posters instead.

But, all right, seriously, if we must. What's my JOB? The most important thing is that people realise it is not about ‘the library’ or books, but about them getting information in the most efficient and reliable way available. And to '.. train people to take the intellectual initiative' as Seth Godin put it in the Prezi thingy. THAT'S the important bit. And, surprise, we tweed-clad harpies can help! I still think a real person is worth a thousand Facebook profiles.

Working in two smallish department libraries, I am lucky in that department members know that the physical libraries are right there, accessible 24/7, so there's no serious bums-on-seats issue. Yes, Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen would have a meltdown at the physical environment, but there's a cold financial wind blowing - so there's not much to be said for that. Students are mostly 3rd years and PhDs when they arrive, and they get compulsory library talks and separate www sessions, so half the battle is won already. The intention is to convey that the library is there if they need it, and I am around if they need help with finding information. The main problem is the attitude of some senior people, who insist ‘everything is on the web these days’ and ‘nobody uses libraries these days’ – ie they have their own offices and they only ever look for specific cited papers. We have to be ‘out there’ to counteract that.

[I am by the way well aware that people other than department members are potential marketing, er, targets, but that’s a different ball game]

Right, I haven't answered the question, essay returned, where's the Crail Bartle Bogle Fogarty interface in the Infotheque? How can I use all these Web 2.0 toys to help others’ information needs? If anything, it won’t be for marketing, more for publicity [= different]. Yes, yes, this is reaction not proaction, but anticipating and innovating needs time and careful consideration. Despite a lengthy period spent in several educational emporia at the bottom end of the THE charts, Crail is no specialist in the skills required. Andy’s list of possibles would require a heck of a lot of time ergo staff to set up and even to maintain/evolve. Jane has listed the updates to be done already in Zoology.

OK, so what would help MY users?
  • Appropriate info and news on the websites, via RSS if necessary, but certainly not bloody Tweets

  • Have already done but will develop:

    • Bookmarks on Delicious, that’s a definite, but for user ed, not for marketing

    • Encouraging people to organise their work with Mendeley/EndNote … and now Zotero

    • Helping them set up appropriate RSS feeds for their own research interests

  • For sure they are most interested in making their lives easier, but I do believe a good website, tied to the ‘brand’, is important, and still the most obvious place to look for information [Yes, Crail’s current websites are decidedly doo-doo but these are undergoing extensive cosmetic surgery as we speak]

  • A reasonable page on Facebook, if it’s almost an expectation, is probably a good idea

  • Blogs only for information feeds, and no more of this navel-gazing, jolly fun though it has been

And the Crail ingule ....

  • Whether I personally am on LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter is neither here nor there for the library

  • Flickr is largely irrelevant in the library context, nice toy though

  • LibraryThing is plundered but I cannot contribute

  • Podcasts, YouTube, SlideShare &c : no. Good tools but not for me, alas, being THE staff for two libraries

Oh, I nearly forgot, the posters. See how I've cleverly worked the furniture bit into the third one?

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Eeeny meeny ... another meltdown

This is terrible. Another flaming can of worms. Don't you people understand how difficult it is for Crail to make decisions?

EndNoteWeb? Mendeley? Zotero?

I have really, really, wanted to use Mendeley, since seeing that charming young gentleman [was that Jan Reichelt?] who demonstrated it last year. Freely available, devised by PhD students, iTunes for references, not dominated by Big Boys, drag and drop for god's sake, pretty colour, what's not to like? Plus in June received notification that they are working with Caret to investigate using it as a repository.... though as Caret admit themselves, a lot of their projects fall by the wayside. However, as long as they drop Connotea that would be a start. Would like to know why Mendeley, which initially received equal billing in 23Things, has dropped down the pecking order. Is this because hardly anyone in the Cambridge libraries is actually using it apart from Isla? Interesting.....

Anyway, yes, back to the point. Some of these Web 2.0 wotsits are interesting, but can be taken or left, without our, er, clients being inconvenienced. But now we are talking reference management systems, and things get more serious. We should promote these tools ergo we have to have a degree of competency in them.

Trouble is, Mendeley doesn't quite work. Same as EndNote. Same, probably, with Zotero.

What is the point in telling PhD students to get organised and park their refs in one of these when it is all such a flippin' FAFF? If I am chucking the toys out of the pram in frustration, one can hardly expect them to stick with it. All that dropping into Notepad and converting to .ris, or dropping into EndNote and then into Mendeley. Why do I have to DO all that?

I hadn't even bothered to look at Zotero until now, more stuff on the Firefox pane, I can resiste anything but temptation etc. But oh heck, I have to confess that clicking that little booky-thing in the search box and having the ref drop in IS fabulously easy ... ergo alarmingly tempting. BUT the Computing Service warns against it for large nos of refs. So now I've got [personal] refs in EndNoteWeb, in Mendeley and in Zotero. Mostly the same ones. More Augean messes.

Ah, life was easy when you just showed the students how to drop from WoK into EndNote. Job done, sidle off before they started asking about the other databases and things got decidedly sticky.....

That's it. I'm propped up at the Hommage a Huysmans and it's only 11 am.