Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Working together online....

Over half way through CPD23 Things now and a chance for a bit of interaction in Thing 13. This is all about Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox - all of which encourage online collaboration.

I like the freedom Google Docs offers, with the option to create of a variety of documents (spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and so on) "on the fly" without the need to save these locally. On a cautionary note, CPD23 Bloggers are an astute bunch and several of them how noted there to be issues over Google's recent changes in privacy policy. This makes me reticent too about using Google Docs for any serious work and there are potential problems in terms of Data Protection too. I have created a Visits wish list!, though as a test document. This lists the 43 libraries I have visited so far for this blog in one column and then shows those I would like to visit in the other (some of which are more realistically visit-able than others!). Usefully, I can access and update this from anywhere...and anyone else can too, in fact, if they like! Of course this also means that there is potential for the list to be damaged or deleted entirely, if someone were being careless or even malicious, which is one major drawback of shared files (I do have a backup, just in case!).

I spotted an Online Forms function on Google Docs which I thought I'd also have a play with as an experiment in collaborative working online. Please do type in any recommendations you have as to libraries which might be worth a visit in the 'Suggestions Box' below (although I can't promise I will be able to visit them all!):

At work, we use SharePoint which does a similar thing to Google Docs in allowing users to collaborate. Individual sites are often created for specific procedures and projects. Documents can then be uploaded in these shared work spaces and edited by any staff with the relevant permission. We will soon be ugrading to SharePoint 2010 and it will be interesting to see whether will encourage further online collaboration.

I had a go at creating my very own wiki using PBworks. Creating a simple page was reasonably straightforward, once I got around some of the quirks which the editing function churned up when I tried to create links. I understand that anyone can go in to edit this page, just as anyone can do on Wikipedia - the company's unofficial motto encourages users to "Be bold" in editing their constantly updating and ever-expanding global encyclopedia. Wikipedia is clearly another site which should be used with caution but (rather like social media) should not be underestimated as a learning tool and remains an invaluable starting point when researching new topics.

I have downloaded Dropbox and have started to experiment with syncing folders created on my PC in a similar way to synchronising the tunes which are on my iPod, making these available on multiple machines. The 2GB free storage space is limiting but I would mainly foresee using this as a temporary measure to transfer current files I am working with easily to other machines. Being able to quickly drop documents into a folder which lives in an readily accessible virtual space is something which I am sure will be useful when it comes to building my Chartership portfolio too.

...and this brings me to my good news for this week, which is that I've met up with my Chartership mentor and have now completed my registration for my MCLIP! We had a very useful chat about how to identify what  my development needs are and where to find useful sources of support and literature to get me started on building a portfolio. My mentor works in a public library setting and has had experience of being a Music Librarian so it has already been valuable for me to find out about another whole different side of librarianship. If I were to go into a subject area in future then Music would be one which would certainly appeal to me as a keen musician myself, albeit a highly unskilled one (although I do manage to toot away on the trombone with the University's brass ensemble at Kingston!). We have agreed to meet again in the Autumn and I hoping to have come up with a development plan and personal statement by then.

This has been quite a long ramble already so I'll try to make this a quick roundup of some my latest wanderings. It was the libraries of Suffolk this time, specifically University Campus Suffolk (UCS), Ipswich County Library and Bury St. Edmunds Library. 

UCS is a new breed of campus which acts as a learning hub for courses accredited by other educational institutions (predominantly the University of Essex and the University of East Anglia with support from several Suffolk colleges - more details here). There is a real sense of collaboration in the Ipswich Campus's vast and smart-looking, glass-fronted buildings. The Atrium Studios (pictured below) house the library and other University functions but some of this space can also be rented out by local companies:

Atrium Studios: Companies renting office/studio space also
have access to the University's facilities, including the library
Bean bags, bookable pods and mobile furniture are prevalent
in the UCS Ipswich Campus Library's group study area
Suffolk New College is another sponsoring institution of UCS
and is situated directly opposite the Atrium Studios building

UCS had the feel of some of the universities I had visited in the States in some ways, with sports facilities featuring prominently and a healthy emphasis on peer support. The facility opened in 2007 and is due to expand from around 2,000 students last year to around 7,500 across its 6 campuses, which are spread all across the county, by 2014 (according to the Independent). The new tuition fees structure in the UK, which starts to take effect at the start of the next Academic Year, will mean Universities will start having to compete in new ways. It is likely innovative forms of Higher Education institution like UCS will start to proliferate in years to come.

Next it was on to Ipswich County Library, which had some fantastic displays on show to celebrate the Queens' Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. I also really liked the stained-glass windows in the building's research library:

Ipwich County Library ties in its StoryLab activities with London 2012

Geoffrey Chaucer is immortalised in one of a set of
stained glass windows at Ipswich County Library
Finally, I visited Bury St. Edmunds library which opened a couple of years ago following a £2 million refurbishment. It includes a children's centre and a Learning and Enterprise Access Point (LEAP) - a project maintained by the East of England Development Agency in conjunction with UCS:

Bury St. Edmunds Library: Re-opened in September 2010

The library's café  (called Cafe Libra) has a policy of employing
people who are disadvantaged or who have disabilities:

An unexpected sand sculpture I spotted
being crafted on the streets of Ipswich

1 comment:

  1. Nice way to decorate your walls. I have never done that. My effort to beautify the walls in my house was to order big-sized canvas prints from, from images of western art. I use the same angel motifs in all of the rooms painted by different painters, such as this one by very interesting English artist Stanley Spencer,