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Month: July, 2012

LIKE ideas 2012

Last week was all about real-life-networking-whilst-talking-about-social-networking at the LIKE ideas conference. I was lucky enough to receive an early careers award sponsored place for the conference and dinner courtesy of Sue Hill and from the number of people who recommended the LIKE crowd to me as ‘a nice bunch’ I suspected I was in for a good time. I wasn’t disappointed.

Diving into the Colorado River at "Parker Strip," a favorite swimming spot of southern Californians and Arizonians, April 1973

Social media – insert ‘taking the plunge’ caption here

The slides from the conference are all online, so I’ll just highlight a few of the themes that I think relate to my work in an academic / special collections library.  Unfortunately (and ironically) the slides don’t give much of an impression of how engaging the speakers were, so you’ll just have to trust me on that one.

Noeleen Schenk’s presentation on research communities was probably the most relevant to our users.  Her talk focused on the ways researchers were supplementing traditional networking, information gathering and dissemination using social networking technology. Take a look at her research lifecycle slide for some insight into how researchers are integrating these tools into all the stages of their practice – and Noeleen was keen to stress was that relationships built up in this way could cross disciplines in a far more natural way than has traditionally been the case.

Bertie Bosrédon from breast cancer care talked about the way that organization has encouraged its staff to become online advocates. Staff who were already keen uses of twitter were trained as social media champions and given tips on how to use their own media accounts to promote the charity – for example monthly emails suggest upcoming events they might like to tweet about. He was keen to point out that all of this is entirely voluntary and something the staff had really enjoyed getting involved in.

Andrew and Simon from Kingsley Napier were there to take us back down to earth – their talk on social media law stressed the importance of keeping work and private social networking separate – even making sure staff don’t log in to twitter using work email addresses for fear of litigation over the opinions they express online. Nevertheless, their fascinating talk was the surprise hit of the afternoon (yes, really!).

After all that, if was off to the pub for  dinner and a chance to mull it all over with some fellow info-pros. I even took home a couple of business cards – and a tiny paper duck. Turns out this networking stuff (online and otherwise) isn’t so bad after all…

29th June 2012


Royal College of Physicians Library visit

Another day, another medicinal garden – this time at the beautiful home of the Royal College of Physicians Library where rare books librarian Katie Flanagan showed a group of fellow professionals from ALISS around. It was a genuinely varied trip, taking in both the modern and the historic – on one hand the library is home to cutting edge collections and document supply which caters for members, fellows and staff (including the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence). On the other, it houses extensive collections of historic material which reflect the varied (and occasionally esoteric) interests of its members.

WW2 shrapnel damage in the RCP’s historic collection

Following on from this week’s theme of library destruction we heard a rare tale of woe – the original library, formed in 1518, was almost completely destroyed in the great fire of London (only a year after the  College had been robbed of the majority of its silver collection). All but 100 books were lost. The current rare books collection is based on the library of the Marquess of Dorchester who donated his private library of 3,400 books to make up for the losses.

25th June 2012

Lost Libraries of London walking tour

A Friday night out with a bunch of librarians looking at places where books used to be was always going to be a niche activity. But the knowledge and enthusiasm of the lovely Alice Ford-Smith more than made up for the loss of a couple of hours drinking time. The evening commenced with a tour of the cathedral-like Gray’s Inn library, which lost the major part of its collection during the blitz and was completely re-built after the war. Destruction and dispersal were the themes of the evening, which was not for the faint hearted bibliophile. Our tour ranged in date from the loss of the library of old St Pauls in the great fire of London (which was said to smoulder for a week) through the disbanded libraries of eighteenth century coffee houses right up to the present day – and the much-loved St Brides  library which faces an uncertain future. Our stops ranged from the official to the commercial and we even took in the site of public book burnings outside Stationers Hall. Nevertheless the tone of the tour was upbeat and contained my favourite fact of the week – that Dr Johnson treated his books so badly that when his library of 2000 volumes was auctioned after his death it raised a measly £300. Surely a comfort to those of us who can’t seem to kick the habit of turning our page corners down.

22nd June 2012