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Posts Tagged ‘ili2007’

Guest Blog Post: Blogging Masterclass at ILI 2007: A Perspective

Posted by ukwebfocusguest on 4 November 2007

In the second guest blog post of the month Eddie Byrne gives his thoughts on the Blog Masterclass facilitated recently by myself and Kara Jones.

Eddie Byrne is Senior Librarian with Dublin City Public Libraries with responsibility for Web Services. A graduate of University College Dublin School of Library and Information Studies, he has worked for many years in the public library sector. From 2000-2002 he served as Metadata Project Co-ordinator for the Irish public service.

Eddie’s review of the workshop, in which he describes the promotional video for the event, the structure of the workshop and the workshop materials, may be of particular interest to those who work in public libraries, museums and archives, as UKOLN is in the process of developing a series of events and briefing documents to support this community. It is particularly pleasing to receive this evidence of the success of the event.


Having flown into London on the morning of Sunday, 7th October, the scene was now a familiar one for me, as I made my way from Heathrow to the Copthorne Tara Hotel in Kensington for the 9th Internet Librarian International 2007 conference. Familiar, as this was my third appearance on the trot at the conference, and familiar also as when I first came to London way back in the last century (!) having left school, I headed for my first ‘real’ job (read ‘summer job’) and, where do you think it was, yes, in the Copthorne Tara Hotel in Kensington of course! Now the less said about that the better, let’s just say I was starting at the bottom! Three days there and I cracked! Peculiarly enough, my visits to the Copthorne Tara have on each occasion since also been of approx. three days duration. But those visits have been much more satisfying, let me add! I was attending the afternoon masterclass entitled ‘Using Blogs Effectively Within Your Library‘ and being given by Brian Kelly (UKOLN) and Kara Jones (University of Bath). Brian of course I was familiar with from last year, and from following his blog; Kara was new to me, but her ‘performance’ in selling the course to me on a VCasmo multimedia announcement was, let me add, a determining factor! This class appealed to me largely because the blurb in the programme included the words ‘practical’ and ‘sustainable’, and was also going to talk about ‘real user experiences’. Kara also mentioned in the VCasmo announcement others crucial elements such as ‘good practices‘ and ‘things that work and things that don’t‘. I was sold!

The first thing I must say is that the class had an agreeable format, with Kara and Brian interchanging in order to keep us attentive and on our toes (or rather the edge of our seats, seats were provided)! I also welcomed the multiple handouts distributed during the class – it saved one having to take copious notes, thereby freeing one up to do some ‘active’ listening and actually participate. Simple but invaluable. Kara also introduced a little technological gizmo that allowed her to poll participants to get their input at various points, fun and functional at the same time.

We involved ourselves in a number of exercises; one to identify possible blog uses and the benefits to be accrued, another to identify potential barriers, those we thought could be easily addressed, and those that presented greater challenges. The fruits of our labour were posted to the class wiki (in real time!), so I won’t reproduce them here, they can be seen over on the WetPaint wiki. Also, in this context, Kara’s presentation entitled “Why Have a Blog?” was particularly good in covering all the angles.

It is worth saying at this point that what I found of particular value was Kara’s and Brian’s use of the Web as a delivery platform and as a means of networking with potential participants prior to the conference. The social network platfom ‘Ning’ was used in this context in order to illicit user experiences that would contribute to the substance of the class. Some of the presentations were available on ‘Slideshare’ prior to the conference and others on ‘Google Presents’ immediately afterwards; making presentations available in this manner can be of great advantage to participants preparing in advance or reviewing material afterwards.

Many other topics were of course covered in the masterclass: blog basics; the technical issues in setting up and maintaining a blog (hosting, software, look and feel); launching and monitoring your blog (marketing, statistics); evaluation (role, policies, feedback); and more besides. What is of particular value in a workshop or masterclass such as this is that you are required to do some critical thinking, and you also get the invaluable perspective of others, those working in different areas, and therefore bringing a different perspective, as well as those who have tried something, been there, done that. I found it interesting to note that, despite the participants working in diverse areas and coming from different backgrounds, there was a commonality in terms of issues, concerns, perceived opportunities, and most of all a shared enthusiasm for using a tool that facilitates communication, user participation, user engagement, collaboration, and resource building.

If I can refer to that word ‘practical’ again, this class was that. From forcing us to ask ourselves the ‘why’ of doing it, the ‘how’ to doing it, to the ‘watch out’ while doing it. I particularly liked Brian’s suggestion of having a documented blog policy – I think it becomes so much easier for you, your organisation and your users if you have it down on paper (remember paper?). It clarifies so much. Stating the purpose and scope of your organisation’s blog, the intended audience, policy on comments and third party use. I also welcomed the focus on demonstrating value, using evidence to justify the setting up of a blog in the first place: analysing your blog statistics and seeking feedback, asking the user for their views on the blog and how it may better serve them. Brian recently involved himself in such an exercise on his blog, and the results make interesting reading. He provided a handout with those too!

The suggestion was put forward during the class that one should experiment with blogs for particular events or occasions. That to do so gave a taste of the strengths and opportunities of blogs. I would go further. They are more than just experimental, a one-off event of note, or a particular programme with a short-term lifespan, are ideal candidates of themselves for blogs in my estimation; they are relatively easy and quick to set up, involve little in the way of overheads, and are as easily de-activated should you want to when the event is over (I favour leaving the blog visible as a testament to the event and as a permanent record). And there is always a high profile event around the corner that merits its own blog. I indeed make widespread use of them in my library service. And whereas they do help inform and guide you in implementing other blogs in your organisation, their existence is no less important than that permanent presence you desire with your ‘lead’ blog. Is it contradictory to say that the temporary blog is here to stay?

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Guest Blog Post: The ILI 2007 Blog Masterclass

Posted by ukwebfocusguest on 2 November 2007

The Month’s Guest Blog Post

The guest blog spot for November provides an opportunity to hear from participants at an event I have participated at recently. We start with Pernille Helholm‘s reflections on the half day Blogging Masterclass facilitated by myself and Kara Jones.

About Me

I work at a large company within the medical device industry in Copenhagen, Denmark. I am a (solo) librarian, information specialist and furthermore I attend The Master of Library and Information Science programme at The Danish School of librarianship.

At work my tasks are providing competitor surveillance, scientific searches, patent searches, supplying our users with all kind of information in the form of journal, books, web pages, etc. and to guide them through the various systems.

Furthermore (and very important!) I have to develop the library services all the time. I also have a blog at pnille.wordpress.com

The Guest Blog Post

Last year at Internet Librarian International 2006 I discovered a new world of social software, new and easy ways of communicating, the concept of sharing and some great new aspects of librarianship. So this year I signed up for the ILI2007 conference without hesitation. It was obvious to me, that I should attend the pre-conference Masterclass on Using Blogs Effectively within Your Organisation facilitated by Brian Kelly and Kara Jones.

During the past year I had explored many of the new social software tools and with the help of blogs, RSS, and online friends I constantly discovered new possibilities! And from all those tools I really find that blogging can be a very useful tool in an organisation like the one I work for.

I can see that it would be an excellent way for people within the organisation to share ideas, look for solutions to old and new problems, generate and administrate new ideas that lead to innovation.

Therefore, I decided that my goals for this masterclass were to bring home ideas and inspiration about blogging and share it with my organisation.

But how, where and when do I begin? Brian and Kara’s masterclass was right on target for finding answers to my questions. And I am happy to say, it was an absolute highlight at the conference for me. I have made a list of things that I particularly liked:

  • The practical angle and down to earth approach.
  • Our hosts talked about their personal experiences with blogging, which made it easy to relate to.
  • They managed to involve the attendants with “voting” and group assignments.
  • The handouts! Very practical and condensed format. Not just copies of the slides! Useful!
  • The laughs and the relaxed, personal attitude of the speakers.
  • The many good points they had to convince management and co-workers.
  • The wiki that Kara updated with our input.
  • That sometimes, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than to beg for permission.

I can find very few points for improvement, other than that it was much too short. I think that a full day with hands-on training would be very suitable. And for the next time I think it would be better to sit in an U-shape to improve interaction between the participants. I went back to my hotel with many thoughts in mind and I found that this Masterclass did give me answers to my questions of how, where and when to begin, plus a lot more! What I learned at the Masterclass has given me inspiration to start as soon as I get back to work

As I already described, I believe that blogging will be great for the company. But now I can put words and action to my thoughts. And I think the right way to start will be to get rid of my old one-way-information-intranet-web page and replace it with a blog. I decided, not to wait for permission from our IT department.

Practically, I will install a WordPress blog on an in-house server, so that I can keep the – often confidential – information between the walls of the company. I can use the features of a blog to share news otherwise distributed by mail and I can make additional pages for other content. After the initial launch of the blog, this will provide a great opportunity to start teaching my users about RSS in order to receive the library news on their desktop!

In a way you could call it a pilot project for internal blogging. It is going to be a great showcase for my users, and I am so sure that it will make a lot of people interested in blogging as a tool for the company!

And if anyone from the management or other sceptics will ask “What’s the big deal about blogging?” or “Why do we need one?” or “What’s wrong with e-mail?”, I will know what to answer!

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