#ili2011 “Library Campaigning With A Virtual Voice” Presentation With Notes


The following is an outline of the presentation I gave about Voices For The Library’s use of social media and online tools to develop campaigning methods at “Internet Librarian International 2011” last week.

Slide 1

We are a national campaign group highlighting the value of UK public libraries

Talking about how social media and online tools formed the group and how we have used them in our campaign

Slide 2

We have 3 main online presences – website; Twitter; Facebook

Slide 3

Why did we form?

In Mid 2010 there was an increased threat of library funding cuts leading to library closures and reductions in service. (Currently 430+ public libraries are under threat – out of a total network of 4600+)

People were questioning the relevance of libraries and librarians – common misconceptions included… you can find everything on Google; books can bought cheaply from Amazon; everyone has the internet; all books are available as e-books

Slide 4

Many people in the profession were talking about the situation on library discussion lists and Twitter

This included a group of us (about 7of us) on Twitter, who decided we wanted to do something pro-active, rather than just talk about it.

Slide 5

We did it very quickly – from intending to do something to setting up site/blog with content; Twitter & Facebook accounts took us 2 weeks.

We didn’t have to meet in real life to do this – it all happened online.

Most of us in the group hadn’t met in real life before and many of us didn’t meet in real life for a good few months after the campaign had been running.

Slide 6

Online presence wasn’t the only important thing, but it was the quickest way to organise and had the widest reach

Wanted to support local campaigners

Wanted to ensure we talked to others offline ie library users/campaigners; media

Slide 7

We are doing this voluntarily outside our day jobs and need to do it as cheaply (free) as possible and within limits of time outside work.

Lots of the online tools we use are free and easy to use

Slide 8

Social media tools we use for informing others – our site/blog; Twitter; Facebook; Tumblr; paper.li; Flickr; Foursquare

Provide guidance for campaigners

Comment on national situation

Positive library user stories

Links to news articles, other campaigners sites, retweet other campaigners tweets

Slide 9

Social media tools we use to find out what is happening – Google and Yahoo news; other peoples blogs; Government sites; Facebook; delicious; Twitter; email

Slide 10

Tools we use to discuss the situation – our website/blog; Facebook; Twitter; email; comment on other peoples blogs & news articles; forums

Talk to anyone with a part to play in the situation – library users; campaigners; journalists; politicians; library detractors

Slide 11

Social media tools for behind the scenes – Twapperkeeper; Twitterfeed; Packrati.us; delicious; Google maps (Ian Anstice/Public libraries news); If This Then That; Yahoo pipes; Pbworks wiki; chatzy

Use to discuss, meet, store, share, re-use information

Slide 12

In summer 2010 started archiving tweets containing keywords around saving libraries eg. #save libraries, #love libraries, ’I love libraries’ –  as a way to give a positive morale boost – can retweet them.

In January 2011 @mardixon tweeted the tweet on this slide and responses to it caused the #save libraries hash tag to trend worldwide. We got involved by promoting the tweet and retweeting responses  by others.

It helped promote the value of libraries and highlight library cuts in the UK.

Most of the quotes on the slides in this presentation are taken from Twitter in response to this tweet sent out by @mardixon

#savelibraries archive now contains 53,000+ tweets.

Slide 13

Not just VFTL campaign using social media – other local campaigns do too.

They also have blogs/sites; Twitter; Facebook accounts

Not just about online presence, but they too recognise online presence has wide reach and can get your message across the world

Slide 14

We use a wide range of tools to pull together info from many places and pass on information to others

We experiment to see what works well and what doesn’t

Slide 15

We thought about how the information flows and interconnects – where possible we try to automate and re-use information eg. Feed blog posts to Twitter and Facebook; Facebook to Twitter; Flickr to Twitter/Facebook; Twitter to paper.li; etc

Slide 16

Not sure how much of a difference our activities have made, but I like to think it’s made some difference

Maybe it’s made people more aware of the situation – library users; journalists; politicians

Maybe it’s inspired people to campaign in their area

Maybe it’s helped to stop some closures/cuts

Maybe it’s made people realise the value of public libraries

Slide 17

What next?

Last week we jointly ran a conference with The Library Campaign with the aim of bringing campaigners from across the UK together to discuss a way forward

Clear that campaigners want to work more closely together with other campaigners in the UK

Plans for rally in the near future

We’ll continue trying to save libraries in the UK!

Library Camp UK 2011 #libcampuk11

I recently attended Library Camp UK 2011 in Birmingham. It was an event that focused around the future of libraries – any type – what that future for them may involve and how we could develop library services to keep them relevant to the world around us. The event was also attended by other people who either had an interest or a stake in the future of libraries – not just librarians – and there were an amazing 150 to 175 people there. “Amazing” because so many people had decided to attend a work related event on a Saturday and because of the genuine buzz that you could feel throughout the day.
Library Camp Sessions

Library Camp Sessions (c) c_l_b/Flickr

There were about 35 sessions run on the day. They covered technological, political and social aspects of libraries. I went for the techy focus and attended 3 of them (Virtual tour of the Library of Birmingham; Gamification in libraries; Use of mobile devices/services), plus the introduction and final session. During the rest of the day I was generally talking to others about what they were getting up to in their library related work and forcing people into marathon length hug fests.
Here are a few points I noted, but more detailed blogs from others can be found on Pinboard and on the Library Camp wiki.
Virtual tour of Birmingham Library

Virtual tour of Birmingham Library (c) bae22 / Flickr

Virtual tour of the Library of Birmingham
This library is due to open in 2013, but a virtual version has been created in Second Life and we were shown a walk through of all the areas, which in addition to stock related areas, included business spaces for rent to new businesses, music practice areas and a rooftop garden area. It looks like it’s going to be fantastic. As well as a walk through, there’s a virtual fly through on a book as well.
Gamification in Libraries
This session was not only about how games can be used in libraries, but how games can be used to solve problems, provide information and improve interaction between libraries and their users. Some points I picked up on were:
(1) libraries already have an element of gaming and achievement around them, particularly with regard to children’s summer reading schemes.
(2) Games help improve digital literacy in general. eg how to use a mouse.
(3) Simulations can be used to represent the attitudes/personalities of different types of people and can be used to inform others about how it feels to be that person.
(4) Contribution by users to information provision eg tagging catalogue records, could lead onto achievement awards.
Mobile devices
This session covered the value of providing information via mobile devices. The mobile internet market is expanding and it’s important that organisations think seriously about resources they provide via this method. There was a discussion about what the purpose of mobile device apps and sites is? Is it for carrying out tasks (eg. renew your books) or providing info? There was also a discussion about whether it was better to provide an app or a mobile site?
Hug fest
It was a bloody good one, actually. Seeing friends I knew from events like Mashed Libraries and my Voices For The Library friends gave me a great opportunity to dish out and demand hugs from lots of people. I am genuinely fond of my Twitter friends and the more I get to meet in person the better… although I do feel sorry for those I hugged towards the end of the day as I’m sure my deoderant was running out. I also got to meet lots of other people I didn’t know before the event and I’m looking forward to meeting them again too.
JoBo and Elif Hhhhhhuuuuuuuuggggggg

JoBo and Elif Hhhhhhuuuuuuuuggggggg (c) ggstopflat/Flickr

When we started the day we were all asked what we wanted to get out of it. My response was “To be reassured about the future of libraries, and by the end of the day I was reassured by the fact that so many people (150+) came to a work related event on a Saturday, with so much enthusiasm and a buzz around them. These people really seemed as if they wanted to ensure the future of libraries and fight for them to have an important role to play. I also have no doubt that there are many other people out there who couldn’t make it on the day that are just as enthusiastic too. With these people involved, libraries will have a better chance of fulfilling their potential, more so than if we left it to the politicians and people in power who seem to be indifferent as to what happens with libraries – even when they shouldn’t be and are, in fact, paid not to be indifferent about them.
I’m really looking forward to Library Camp UK 2012.

Pulling Photo Storage Together With ifttt


I set up another group of tasks with ifttt.com today, so that I don’t have to dither about:

(1) Where I upload a photo or image to, based on who I want to share it with – Flickr, Facebook, Twitpic, my personal blog.

(2) Which of my photos/images from these various places should be stored together.

So, I decided that Flickr is the place I’m going to store all my images and any images posted on the other sites will automatically be uploaded to my Flickr account.

I’ll still need to go in and tweak some of the information in Flickr once an item has been uploaded to it from these other places (eg tags; which sets they appear in), but it will still save me a lot of time to do it this way and I’ll have at least one place now where my photos and images can be found together.

It’s Raining – Twitter Says Get To The Library


One of the inputs of “If This Then That” (ifttt) is a weather feed. It allows you to create an action based on the current weather or tomorrow’s weather. I was wondering how this could be tied in with libraries, to see if it’s of any use. I suppose if it’s not upbeat weather people might rather be inside than outside. This is simplistic I know, but I only thought of it an hour ago. 🙂 So maybe ifttt could be used to promote library services based on the weather! That might be suggesting reading a book borrowed from the library, attending an event in a library on a cold day, etc.

Rainy Walk

Rainy Walk (c) moionet/ Flickr

So, as an experiment, I set up a few ifttt tasks that would automatically send out a tweet from my personal account suggesting using library services based on the weather. For example:

Chilly tomorrow! 8C. Not staying in, but don’t fancy staying out all day. Anything on in the library? http://ow.ly/6OzL6

Clear tomorrow! 🙂 Think I’ll spend the afternoon in the park with a relaxing book. http://www.worldcat.org/genres/

Snow tomorrow! :-O I’m stocking up with tea, chocolate, a good book & staying in. http://www.worldcat.org/genres/

Oh no! Rain tomorrow. Get a decent book from your library tonight & stay indoors tomorrow. http://www.worldcat.org/genres/

I’ve set these up already and the triggers work, so it’s looking promising already. I just need to come up with a few more creative and sensible reasons for using the library that ties in with the weather. Or maybe you can? All ideas welcome. Thanks.

Using ifttt For Productivity And More


I’m busy exploring a useful way of feeding information from one application to another at the moment. It’s called “If This Then That” (ifttt) , is based on a simple idea and is really straightforward to use.

You set up a trigger from one web application (eg A Google News search for “libraries”), so that it triggers an action in another web application any time this happens (eg Creates a blog post from any newspaper articles it finds and links to the full news article). Each trigger/action you set up is called a task.

Put into “If This Then That” terminology the above would be…

IF A Google News search finds any news articles containing the word “libraries”

THEN create a blog post in Posterous using details of that news article.”

Visually this would be set up like this.

ifttt - Task Shot 1

ifttt - Task shot 2

1.) Shows the full “task” indicating that the “If” part is pulling in an RSS feed and the “Then” part is creating the blog post.

2.) A plain English description of the task. If you add a hashtag keyword to a description you can also search on this. eg. #LibraryNews #Productivity

3.) Shows how I set up the “If” task – I just pasted in an RSS feed.

4.) Shows how I created the “Then” action. The text in {{ }} brackets indicates that these are fields in the RSS feed containing data. I can tell ifttt which part of the blog post this data should be put into eg Title, Description, Tags.

The screen shot below shows how it appears in the blog post.

{{Entry Title}} = “Uncertainty over library funding – Croydon Advertiser.

{{EntryPublished}} = October 04, 2011 at 08:44AM.

{{EntryContent}} = Title again and summary of article.

{{EntryURL}} = Link to full article on the Croydon Advertiser website.

ifttt - Task shot 3

In some cases you can indicate which piece of information triggers the response and you can indicate which information is passed to the response eg. If you were pulling through Twitter information and posting it to Evernote, you could say that you only want to see the Twitter user name & tweet, but you don’t need to see the date the tweet was sent.

There are a number of resources you can use as a trigger and/or a response to that trigger: RSS feeds; Twitter; Tumblr; Youtube; Evernote; Google calendar; Posterous; Tumblr; Clock; Weather monitor; Flickr and others too.

I’ve been playing around with it for a couple of weeks now and I’m finding it really useful for when I’m:

(1) Performing the same/similar tasks in a variety of locations

(2) Performing the same tasks in the same place on a regular basis

(3) Wanting to re-use information in different places, without the need to do it manually.

Once created, the tasks can be edited and deleted. They can also be turned on/off depending if you want them to run all the time or only when you decide to run them.

So how have I been using it?

  • Keeping a record of what I need to do, by:
    • Feeding information from emails containing the words “To Do” or “Blog This” in the subject heading into a specific folder in Evernote.
    • Feeding bookmarks in delicious.com with the tag “readlater” into the same folder in Evernote. I use this tag for large reports/articles I can’t whizz through in 30 minutes.
  • Keeping a record of what I’ve done, by:
    • Feeding bookmarks in delicious.com with the tag “finishedreading” into Google calendar. These tend to be the same bookmarks as above, once I’ve read them.
    • Feeding details of blog posts I’ve written from any of my blogs into the same Google calendar.

I’m doing this (1) as a way of pulling together reminders of the things I’m supposed to be doing and (2) sometimes I feel as if I’ve not done much, so I want somewhere I can go to that will give me a positive boost and show me that I have actually achieved things.

I’m also using it for:

  • Collating library news quickly, by setting up searches on a number of sites and feeding the search results into the same blog. The purpose of this is to avoid having to do the same search over and over again in the same places, generally so I can find and Tweet news articles/blog posts for Voices For The Library more easily.
  • Feeding “likes” on various resources eg Youtube; last.fm to a blog post on my Tumblr blog. I use this blog as a place to post upbeat and creative things I like.

I know some services, such as WordPress, allow you to feed information directly to other services without using ifttt, but the good thing about ifttt, is that you can do this all in one place for a wide range of popular services, using the same method.

I’ve found it really useful so far, but as it’s still in its infancy I’ve also been thinking about how ifttt could be developed too. Here are some ideas about how I think it could be developed to help me achieve more productivity:

(1) Being able to make a copy of a task. I’m setting up a series of tasks that are only slightly different, but I have to create each one from scratch. It would be great if I could copy a task and then edit the parts that need changing.

(2) Being able to create an RSS output  for the “That” part of a task?

(3) Being able to create an Evernote input for the “This” part of a task?

(4) It would be great if I could take one input specified in “This” and feed it/branch off to multiple outputs via “That”, rather than having to set up a number of separate tasks.

(5) The ability to combine a chain of ifttt tasks in future, so that a single input can trigger a series of actions and can possibly branch off as mentioned in (4) above.

(6) A channel input/output to Google docs, specifically spreadsheets. I’m thinking that a data feed in/out of a spreadsheet would be really useful.

Even if they aren’t able to implement any of the above ideas I know ifttt is going to prove useful for me just as it is, expanding on the ideas I’ve already put into practice. It really is a useful tool and so simple to use too.

Update on Plans for Surrey Libraries


Surrey County Council held a Cabinet meeting on 27 September 2011. During this meeting the future of Surrey’s Public Library network was discussed and the following recommendations were made.

  • 10 libraries to be provided via Community partnership and to be run by volunteers. 9 more libraries may be run in a similar manner if the 1st 10 are regarded as successful when they are reviewed after April 2013.
  • Molesey Library is no longer to be run in Community partnership, but will remain as part of the main Surrey Libraries network.
  • The 10 libraries won’t be staffed by Surrey County Council in 2012/2013. If any of them haven’t progressed towards community partnership by December their future will be re-considered.
  • Services to replace the mobile libraries will be endorsed. NB: The mobile libraries ran for the last time in Surrey last week.

Further details of these recommendations can be found here.

During the meeting, a number of questions were raised by library users/campaigners regarding the changes to the library service.

The recommendations were passed by Cabinet.

Campaigners outside Woking Library

Campaigners outside Woking Library (c) ggstopflat/Flickr

Following this, on Saturday morning library campaigners held a number of events at libraries in Surrey that would be affected by the decisions. In the afternoon, a rally was held outside Woking Library. The aim being to highlight and challenge the changes being made to Surrey Libraries. Campaigners also collected petition signatures, for both the local campaign & the W.I. national campaign. A number of people spoke at the rally: Alan Gibbons sent a message of support, UNISON spoke about the cuts, campaigners talked about Surrey’s plans and their concerns and, as a representative for Voices For The Library, I highlighted the value of public libraries by reading out quotes/comments from library users throughout the country.

Next week (Tuesday 11th October) the Cabinet decision regarding the recommendations will be passed to a full Council meeting.