Cultural Heritage

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Voices for the Library and social media

Posted by guestblogger on 7th March 2011

About this Guest Post

Bethan Ruddock works as Content Development Officer for Library and Archival Services for Mimas at the University of Manchester.

Bethan has a strong interest in professional development and supporting new professionals.  She is a member of the SLA Europe board, and a Chartered member of CILIP.  She is editor of the LIS New Professionals’ Toolkit, to be published by Facet in 2012.

You can find Bethan on Twitter as @bethanar, where she tweets from conferences and events, takes part in professional discussions, and drinks a lot of tea.  She blogs at, and you can email her at

What is Voices for the Library?

Voices for the Library is a place for anyone who loves and values libraries to share their experiences and stories about what libraries mean to them.  The campaign was set up in September 2010 by a group of information professionals who were concerned about the negative and inaccurate coverage of libraries in the media.

Voices started out as a way to provide accurate and impartial information about UK public libraries.  But not all of this information was to come from librarians!  The name ‘Voices for the Library’ was chosen carefully – we wanted it to be a place where anyone who cares about libraries can make their voices heard.  Much of our content comes from library users, who want to share their stories about how libraries have affected their lives.

There are stories from librarians as well.  Some are examples of the kind of work they do, to show the range and depth of what trained library staff do, and to illustrate that it’s not all stamping books and shushing!  And some are more theoretical debates, about the philosophy of public libraries.

Why do we use social media?

So, how did we gather these stories from users, these thoughtful pieces from librarians?

Through social media.  We’ve relied heavily on social media right from the start of the campaign – not just for dissemination, but for collaboration too.  We faced a number of challenges, for which social media was – not just the best, but often the only – solution.

Firstly, we’re geographically dispersed.  This means that meeting face-to-face has been basically out of the question.  We’d never all been in one room together until the campaign had been running for over 6 months. This means that everything that had been done in those 6 months – all the planning, work, collaboration etc, had been done purely virtually and remotely.

Our second challenge was that we have no budget, which meant our tools had to be free.  Thanks to some generous sponsors, we now do have a budget – but it’s very easy to find vital things to spend it on! This means that we have to carry on finding free solutions – and most of these come from social media.

The third challenge?  Time!  We have even less time than we have money.  The VftL team are all volunteers, doing what we can for the campaign in the time we have available.  This means that we quite simply don’t have the time to spend on a tool that doesn’t work, quickly and easily.  We need to be putting all of our effort into what we’re doing, not the tools we’re using to do it.  Of course, some things require more time than others – the website, for instance – so our key concept here is return for time spent.

The final challenge is that of trying to connect to a huge demographic. Public libraries in the UK are designed to serve the whole community, from babies to pensioners, and often the only thing they have in common is that they use libraries.

Social media is really the only way we currently have of being able to communicate with these disparate groups of people.

What social media do we use?

We do most of our communicating within the group by email, but there are a number of other tools we use.

Wiki – we use a wiki for most of our collaboration.  We chose PB works, who offer a free version for individuals/groups and education.  We didn’t quite fit under ‘education’, so went with the free ‘individual’ option, which offers all the functionality we require. We can:

  • edit pages,
  • keep track of who has made changes when,
  • see the most recent changes in a list, or have them emailed to us
  • have folders and a file structure
  • upload files, so we can use it as a filestore

Pbwiki is quick and easy to learn to use.

We also briefly tried using google docs, but they just didn’t work for VftL.  We didn’t persist in trying to use them once we noticed they weren’t quite right for us, but just moved over completely to the wiki, where we’ve stayed happily ever since.

Chatzy: we may have only recently had our first face-to-face meeting, but we have had online meetings.  The tool we settled on for this was ‘chatzy’, an online service that allows you to create a private online chat room, and have text-based discussions.

Chatzy has been very effective – it shows everyone in a different colour, so you can instantly see who has said what, and it allows you to save the text of your discussion.  You need a premium account for the full save/download options, but you can get round this by simply selecting and copying the discussion before you leave the chat room.  This makes minuting meetings very easy.

Doodle: if we’re having meetings, we need to schedule them.  We use Doodle as a collaborative scheduler.  I like Doodle more than some of its rivals (such as meetomatic and when are you free) for a number of reasons:

  • no login/signup required
  • you can specify exact times – not just am/pm
  • respondees can see the responses everyone else has entered.  This means that all respondents (not just the admin) can see when other people have said they’re available.
  • You can also edit the times once you’ve opened the poll

To-do and tasks:  we were briefly using Task Bin as a group task management system – it allows you to invite other people to see your tasks, and to share tasks with people within a group.  However, our use of this never really got off the ground.  Nothing wrong with the software, I think it might just have been one thing too many for people to check.

These are our inward-facing uses of social media – what we use within the team.  But we also use social media for most of our external communication.

There are 3 main points of entry to our online presence, and each is important:  website, facebook, and twitter.

Website:  the website is built on the WordPress platform.  We use a installation – this is the self-hosted version, which means we have to pay for domain hosting, although the software itself is free. It is possible to have completely free site, by having it hosted on their servers.  This does limit your functionality, however, and we wanted slightly more control over the site than the totally free option allows.  As one of our members already runs several self-hosted wordpress sites, and was willing to extend his hosting package to cover VftL, we decided that this was a case where spending money was important.

And the website has been a success! We use Google analytics (again, a free tool) to track usage, and since we launched in September we’ve had over 32,000 unique visitors, with over 108,000 page views!  Most of these visits are from the UK, but we’ve had visits from 96 countries/territories in total, including Yemen, Iceland, Mexico, and Romania.

We get lots of comments on the website (we accept comments on almost all pages), and also have forums, which people can use for discussion.  They’re not getting much use, but they are getting some, and we feel the benefits of having made that space available outweigh the small time commitment required.

We already have some stories on the website that have come from feedback left for libraries, not directly to us – Weoley castle Library in Birmingham for instance have sent us comments from their comments book, and this is something we’d really like to encourage other libraries to do in the future.

We’ve also been very lucky in having a graphic designer to create our fab new logo.  This was designed by the cousin of one of our team members, which means we got it for free!

Facebook: the other main landing point for our online presence is Facebook.  Again, Facebook pages are free to create and maintain, though they do take quite a bit of time if you’re very active!  We now have 2615 likes (which used to be called ‘fans’), which is fantastic.

Facebook sits in the gap between the website and our twitter account. While there is a fair amount of cross-over in the content, Facebook gives us slightly more freedom for longer links and discussions than twitter, but is more news-y and less in-depth than the website.  It also gives users another choice about where they’d like to interact with us.

Twitter: twitter has a special place in the hearts of the Voices team.  VftL was conceived on twitter, by a group of info pros who, for the most part, had never met.  They knew each other only through twitter – that’s where the discussion and the idea started.

The twitter account was the very first thing made! That’s why it has a different name to everything else – UKpling.  This was intended to be the original name of the group, standing for ‘UK public libraries in need group’.  Discussion changed this to ‘Voices for the Library’, but the twitter account was already established, under a different name.

Now, it is possible to change your twitter name, and we have discussed doing so.  But all the ones we really wanted were taken, and we’d built up quite a twitter following – over 1500 followers – so we decided to stick with it.  It we were running the campaign all over again, one of the very first things we’d do would be to change the twitter name!

One of the things that twitter is great for is running quick and dirty viral campaigns.  This was illustrated recently when @mardixon (not a librarian, but a library user) tweeted “Libraries are important because … [fill in your answer & RT] #savelibraries”. The #savelibraries hashtag got over 5000 tweets, and was a trending topic not only in the UK, but worldwide.  As trending topics are usually breaking news, amusing memes, or celebrity gossip, this was quite an achievement!

Other tools:

Delicious:  we have a delicious account, and automatically add anything tagged with various tags (pling, voicesforthelibrary, etc).  These are then tweeted, added to the facebook account, and shown in a widget on the website.  This gives us a news feed about library news with a minimum of effort.

Flikr:  we have a flickr group, which is a nice visual way to represent the range of things that goes on libraries.  Anyone can add to it. – this is a twitter tool that gets a round-up of ‘top stories’ from your twitter stream, and presents them in a magazine format.  It’s a nice extra way of pointing people to things they might have missed.

To conclude?  Social media is fast, free and flexible, which is just what we need for a time- and resource-poor project!

Posted in Guest-blog, Libraries, Social Web, Twitter, Web 2.0 | Comments Off

Around the World in 80 Gigabytes

Posted by guestblogger on 21st February 2011

About this Guest Post

Alexandra Eveleigh is an archivist with a background working mostly within the local authority sector. She has a long standing interest in the impact of digital technologies upon archives, and her PhD research at University College London seeks to evaluate the implications for professional theory and practice of user collaboration initiatives using Web2.0 tools.

She can be contacted via her blog Around the World in Eighty Gigabytes or follow her on Twitter.

Around the World in 80 Gigabytes

Web 2.0 is here to stay. This blog is as good evidence as any of the enthusiasm with which a whole variety of online tools designed to encourage audience participation are being adopted and adapted across the cultural heritage sector. In his recent book, Cognitive Surplus, Clay Shirky argues that increased experimentation is a defining feature of this brave, new technological world. But as public sector cuts begin to bite, there is a real need to begin to evaluate existing initiatives, to map current trends in the use of Web2.0 tools, and to find out what has worked and what hasn’t within our sector. Are some participatory models more successful than others, and why? What outcomes do Web2.0 projects aim to achieve, and how can these be measured? Are these kinds of initiatives sustainable – that is, are the results sufficient to warrant the effort that organisations put into the development and maintenance of such projects? For example, are wikis merely going out of fashion or are there specific structural constraints which make this particular model of online collaboration especially challenging to design and sustain in professionalized heritage contexts?

Advocates for the use of Web2.0 technologies in archives (and I’d be one of them) tend to make much of the opportunity to reach new and different audiences, to expose archive collections to the world, even to democratize the archive. But even if as professional archivists we aspire to a transformation of the civic function of archives in our use of Web2.0 tools, we cannot achieve this on our own. As Stuart Macdonald commented in his guest post about the AddressingHistory project, the success of these types of initiatives will “ultimately be measured by continual and extended use within the wider community”. Encouraging two-way engagement is not like the usual kind of organizational development project, in that there’s no fixed end point at project launch. Web2.0 experiments are easy to start up, but hard to pull the plug on, even if only a few people are contributing, without adversely affecting community trust in your organization and their willingness to participate in the future.

image of Old Weather home page

Old Weather project home page

My research is focused upon those initiatives which depend upon the skills or knowledge of members of the public to supplement or create new information about archival collections (as opposed to platforms like facebook which primarily enable passing comments or indications of approval on content submitted by archivists). This incorporates a wide spectrum of participant behavior from the small, atomized contributions required to take part in the Old Weather transcription of ships’ logs or to tag archival photographs on flickr commons, right through to the sustained effort and specialist knowledge needed to make a substantive contribution to The National Archives’ wiki Your Archives.

Flickr commons home page

I’m particularly interested in what motivates people to participate online, so that we can establish what social and technical structures best support user participation, and feed this knowledge back into the design of future initiatives. Do online collaborative tools genuinely open up archives to crowds of ‘new’ users as is often claimed, or can the expertise of those with a prior interest and awareness of archives be more easily or usefully tapped? What mechanisms can be put in place both to encourage contributions and to establish the trustworthiness and relevance of submissions? I’m also interested to find out how potential contributors find out about online participation opportunities in the first place, and the interplay between different Web2.0 tools in promoting such projects. Some of the initial data I’ve collected suggests that although social media like twitter and facebook can play an important role in raising awareness amongst fellow professionals of new projects, and in sustaining enthusiasm amongst the participant community once established, traditional press coverage still packs an unrivalled punch in terms of making initial contact with would-be participants in cultural heritage contexts.

image of milkyway project home page

Milkyway project homepage

Certain trends are already becoming evident within the (broadly defined) archives domain. 2010 was definitely the year of the transcription platform, as organisations seek to strike a happy balance between motivating participants to contribute and maintaining adequate organizational control over the content created. Some distinctions are also now becoming evident between different styles of project. Some aim to ‘crowdsource’ lots of small contributions from as many people as possible, yet the commitment required and connection established between each individual participant and the archives may only be fleeting. More community-focused initiatives, on the other hand, bear a close resemblance to traditional volunteering opportunities or outreach work, specifically aiming to capitalize on participants’ emotional attachment with the subject matter in hand. But this is a dynamic field, and sometimes its hard to keep up with all the new projects unveiled: I wonder what new ideas 2011 will bring?

Posted in archives, Guest-blog, Web 2.0, wikis | 1 Comment »

Revitalising Information Services

Posted by guestblogger on 14th February 2011

image of Peter Brown, Enfield Libraries

About this Guest Post

Peter Brown is Information and Digital Citizenship Manager at Enfield Libraries. He can be contacted on:

The London Libraries Consortium can be contacted via Madeline Barratt, Libraries Strategy & Performance Manager, Enfield Libraries: or 0208 379 3784.

Revitalising information services

Since the introduction of the Public Libraries Act over 150 years ago, a lot of time, effort and money, have been invested in building large static collections of books that reflected the likely information needs of the populations they served. Traditionally the ‘Reference Library’ – often on the first floor of the older Carnegie or Passmore Edwards buildings – represented the inner sanctum of reserve, and specialisation for the ‘serious’ customer in search of enlightenment (or an undisturbed snooze).

Publishing costs today have pushed series, annual reference volumes and special interest books to stratospheric prices. Publication, processing and shelving of these materials has made the process seemingly lethargic in comparison with instant internet access. The means of production is changing rapidly, likewise that of delivery and we need to get in front of this or be mown down and left for dead!

Despite the pitfalls of the web for the unwary, customers have changed their habits, they are busier people and their hunting grounds have expanded exponentially. Unless librarians radically adjust by seizing the moment, and become knowledgeable mentors to what is out there and how best to harness its information potential, we will be entombed in the stacks along with complete files of Wisden, Whitaker’s Almanac – and Keesing’s Contemporary Archives!

With all library authority budgets under pressure it is inevitable that services will be subject to scrutiny. In London some authorities are currently spending up to £150k on materials and a further £210K on staffing annually to maintain their Reference or Information Services. It will not be feasible for authorities to keep hard copy, online and periodical reference resources with budgets facing considerable reductions over the next four years. Trying to keep all three strands going on reduced means is neither conducive to an efficient service nor to the majority of our customers. Libraries throughout the world should be leading by example by setting standards that will be the admiration of the polity.

At Enfield Libraries we are spearheading the London Libraries Consortium workstream on digital resources and believe libraries must grasp the digital revolution and be purveyors of accurate and up-to-date information. Online legal resources, for example, are constantly refreshed and updated and can offer more information than the hard copy resources we used to purchase.

Some authorities are reportedly considering cancelling online resources due to lack of use, adding that customers are quite happy using Google and Wikepedia. This is a worrying development because not only do they not add value to library services they are also of little help to school children or any other customer lost in the information wood.

In order to get more accurate data on our use of these resources, we recently carried out a review of our own services and the lessons from this are now being shared with the 13 other members of the consortium (Barking & Dagenham, Brent, Ealing, Hackney, Havering, Kingston Upon Thames, Lewisham, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Wandsworth).

Whilst there are visitors who prefer to come into the reference library and use the dwindling hard copy resources, in general customers are increasingly web savvy and becoming increasingly used to accessing information from PCs or mobile devices such as iPads. Evidence suggests that a similar split exists among library staff – so staff need very specific training so that they can be effective catalysts to assist the cross over. This always-on culture helps to drive staff and customers to our online reference resources. Since the radical change in our information services from mostly hard copy to mostly digital, we have had only a handful of formal complaints – the majority about requesting better access to digital resources – particularly access to LexisNexis from home.

As a result in Enfield we have increased usage of our online reference resources by over 300 percent and saved £40k per annum. We are confident that our colleagues in the consortium will achieve similar gains. To achieve a successful progression to mostly online reference resources, library staff must clearly understand the context of the shift of information away from a centralised model (i.e. from reference librarians based in reference libraries) to branch-based delivery from all PCs by all staff and be confident in using and promoting these resources.

image of poster

Online safety poster

Training and marketing

The Information and Digital Citizenship Team (Paolo Zanelli and I) carried out a comprehensive 12-month training programme for our staff focusing on: homework help; business and legal; newspapers and periodicals; local and community information. We follow up these sessions with mystery shopping exercises to test the effectiveness of the training – and we no longer have ‘Reference Librarians’. Library Senior Management teams must show considerable leadership by example by engaging in being trained if not be part of the actual training team itself. As previously mentioned we had to overcome the general view that library staff are au fait with searching digital resources. Mystery shopping had demonstrated ‘books’ as first port of call even for the birth date of Richard Branson prior to training.

Whilst it’s true that most are familiar with sites such as Google, Amazon and Facebook, training was required in skills suitable to a public library setting providing information that would previously only have been expected in a library with ‘Reference Library’. We then trained our staff intensively for 12 months using the 4 modules (homework help, business and legal, etc). This exercise enabled us to identify a handful of staff that were clearly struggling with the modules due to additional needs, such as basic PC operations, file management, Word, so further training was devised to meet these needs. The Information and Digital Citizenship team combined this with a marketing programme of posters around the library, shelf markers pointing visitors to online resources, bookends, individual emails to all driving instructors in Enfield about Driving Theory Test Pro, and bookmarks.

image of young internet user

Safety first guidelines

Some of the schools in the area have staff, and not always their librarians, who value what we do. They work closely with us and to encourage pupils to use our high quality digital resources. This was a consequence of a marketing campaign aimed at all secondary schools in the authority. As part of the schools campaign we requested a link to the library services on the schools’ Managed Learning Environment, designed posters and drop down leaflets aimed at homework resources. We also use the digital mediums of Facebook (Enfield Library and Museum Service) and Twitter (@enfieldlibrary) to reach visitors. As a result of these initiatives we saw performance of our range of digital resources more than triple.

Most popular resources

Although the subscription covers access from only two libraries in Enfield, is one of our most popular resources with around 20,000 hits over the last 9 months. The more hits we have the greater the value because it is more cost effective; the projected annual individual search cost for is £0.10. It is also a well known brand thanks to television, online and print advertising of the service. Family history researchers also use FindMyPast, available in our family history library. The latter now includes the 1911 census, making the data even more useful to researchers.  We have recently added Nineteenth Century Newspapers to our resources, available via the internet with a library card. This is the British Library’s full run of influential national and regional newspapers representing different political and cultural segments of the 19th century British society. This has proved very popular in other library authorities and we feel will be a good complement to and FindMyPast.

Our other most used digital resources are Britannica (over 15,000 hits over 9 months, £0.17 per individual search and widely used by schoolchildren) and Driving Test Pro (over 6,000 tests taken over the last 9 months, £0.06 for each individual test completed). Another reason for increasing popularity is that these resources are far more accessible to multiple users and offer much more than text or the previously stocked CD-ROMs, as they tend to be very interactive and offer images, videos, audio and hyperlinks.

Future plans

We continue to review our resources and to work with suppliers to get performance data – we no longer subscribe to services which cannot provide us with this information. Single sign on will soon be established by the consortium, which will make it easier for customers to use digital resources. Joint purchasing of online resources is likely when we have completed our benchmarking exercise of LLC member authority usage and costs.

Posted in Guest-blog, Libraries, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

The Story of a Blog – Dulwich OnView

Posted by guestblogger on 24th January 2011

About this Guest Post

Ingrid Beazley is the strategic advisor to the Community Outreach Department and the E-learning project developer in the Education Department of Dulwich Picture Gallery. She can be contacted at

The Story of a blog – Dulwich OnView

Dulwich Picture Gallery (DPG) is a small, purpose built art museum on the outskirts of London with a fabulous Baroque permanent collection. It’s England’s first public art gallery, founded 200 years ago exactly and is pretty well known. As might be expected the majority of regular visitors are middle aged/old, white, middle class and local. DPG has a large Friends organisation similarly made up. 3 years ago I was chair of the Friends. I also fit neatly into the description of the regular visitor.

Yes, I had made efforts to attract a different demographic to DPG. Through the Friends I had arranged events to attract younger people and families, but basically, as my children explained to me, no person in their 20s and 30s would have any interest in visiting this ‘old fashioned gallery with its stuffy pictures’.

Then I met a dynamic young woman, Yang May Ooi, at a local party who suggested using social media to reach younger people and explode this myth. I agreed and Dulwich OnView was born.

Dulwich OnView is not a museum blog like the ones you might find on museum websites, written by the museum staff. Dulwich OnView is an independent blog run by members of the local community on a voluntary basis. It has a large number of guest contributors who write about/take pictures of/make short films, podcasts about the local community as well as DPG.  About 2/3 of the posts are NOT about DPG.

So Dulwich OnView is of interest to people who wish to read about local history/events/people/pubs/parks/festivals etc. They might Google ‘Dulwich walks’ and up would come Dulwich OnView’s numerous articles on these. Then they would notice all the references to DPG and be lured to read those posts and follow the wealth of links to the DPG website. We have stats to prove that this happens.

image of promotional material

Dulwich OnView minicard

Community interaction

For Dulwich Picture Gallery, Dulwich OnView complements its official website as, like all blogs, it is informal and interactive. Many of the DPG staff write for it, from the director, the marketing, education and curatorial staff, to the warders and interns. The Friends have the opportunity to put up lots of background information about the events that they run which is not appropriate for the main DPG website, and there are many local people who submit reviews of the special exhibitions or just descriptions of their favourite paintings. DPG links to many of these articles from their website. It is an opportunity for DPG to have conversations with the local community via the Dulwich OnView comment boxes.

In the same way as you are more likely to be persuaded to go to an exhibition by your friend in a conversation at the pub, than you might be by reading the marketing blurb on an official website written by a person paid to write it, so posts recommending DPG written by locals are more convincing than reading the official information on its website.

Being a section of a local community website enables DPG to be seen as part of the local community itself, and to show its human face.

Younger people tend to read blogs, and in the case of Dulwich OnView, to accept the invitation to contribute to it. Our youngest blogger is in primary school and we have teens and university students contributing too. We also have authors in their 80’s as increasingly, older people go online not only for information but interactively too. And they tell their friends about their article – perfect viral marketing.

Blog stats.

Dulwich OnView is just 3 years old and now gets about 20,000 hits a month. The referrers come from local organisations/businesses/charities that we have featured and who link to the article from their websites, from forums where we are mentioned and from the DPG website itself. We can tell from the search engine terms that people are not looking for DPG (e.g. ‘east Dulwich cinema’, ‘Ann Shelton’, ‘South London Youth Orchestra’) but that about 2/3rds of onward clicks are to pages on the DPG website.

National and International Recognition

I have talked at numerous national and international conferences from Montreal, Denver Colorado, Iceland (Nodem), Glasgow (Museums Association) and our own London (EVA and many others), and Dulwich OnView won the prestigious ‘Museums and the Web’ award in Denver last year for the ‘best small museum site’.

How is Dulwich OnView organised?

At its inception, the younger members of the committee of the Friends of DPG (and some others not on the committee) were excited about the idea and we formed a team of joint editors. We would take in turns to be editor on duty – to be responsible for having 6 new posts every week, for responding to all emails, for encouraging contributions, for moderating and answering comments etc. I then finished my term as chair and over the next year the committee members involved with Dulwich OnView left, to be replaced by people not interested in online social networking. (We had also set up a Flickr group, a Facebook page and Twitter).

Image of editorial team

Editorial team get together

Also at its inception, DPG was very nervous about Dulwich OnView. It had no control over the articles, could impose no regulations. Three years ago it was unusual for organisations to have blogs. It took a while to persuade them to mention DOV in the Friends area of their website and to link to us. They had to take us on trust. And in the end they did. All credit to them, and all credit to us for creating a successful website.


Recently the burden of running Dulwich OnView has been on just a couple of people, making the task of maintaining the volume and quality of the articles extremely onerous. I had continued my involvement after leaving the committee, but at the end of last year I had an opportunity to change direction which I wanted to take. It was crisis time. How much did DPG value Dulwich OnView? Would they allow it to die?

No; over the years DPG had come to realise the importance of Dulwich OnView as a modern marketing tool, in particular for younger people, and were prepared to employ 3 part time people to run it. They have agreed that it maintains its independence, which, after all, it its USP, and does not become just another institutional blog.

The DPG route from original shock-horror to creating a mini community outreach department to run Dulwich OnView has been rutted and long. It is with immense pride that myself, Yang May and all the original founders of Dulwich OnView deliver this unique and popular website into the hands of Dulwich Picture Gallery with the full blessing of its Director and Trustees.

Posted in Blogs, Guest-blog, Social Web | 1 Comment »

Netvibes for Centralised Management of the Internet Desktop

Posted by guestblogger on 8th November 2010

About this Guest Post

Eddie Byrne is a Senior Librarian with Dublin City Public Libraries, Dublin, Ireland, and Head of the Libraries’ Web Services Unit. In the public library service since 1980, his experiences extend to website development, content management systems, open source software, web accessibility, cataloguing, metadata, thesaurus construction, and of course Web 2.0. He can be contacted at

Netvibes for Centralised Management of the Internet Desktop

Dublin City Public Libraries is the largest public library authority in the Republic of Ireland, serving a population in excess of half a million. Free public Internet access is available on over 100 Internet computers in 21 locations across the city, and in 2009 alone there were over 380,000 Internet sessions. Free wi-fi is also available.

Due to the number of locations and PCs, computer and desktop management has always proved a challenge. It had long been apparent that a solution was needed that would in the first instance provide library Internet users with a useful and well presented Internet desktop, while at the same time ease the task of desktop management. Prior to the introduction of the Internet start page solution, the practice had been, as and when required, to highlight select websites by placing Internet shortcuts on an already cluttered computer desktop, adding website addresses to a browser’s list of favourites, while also having to edit existing links as and when necessary. This process had then to be replicated on each of the over one hundred PCs in the many and diverse locations, a time and resource consuming task for the Libraries’ IT Unit. It was at the same time debatable as to whether or not these efforts were of any real benefit to the Internet user.

Our Solution

The obvious solution was a centrally managed and purposely designed default home page or ‘Internet desktop’, with changes applied in one location taking immediate effect across the whole network of Internet PCs. From a management perspective this would result in huge savings in terms of time and staff involvement. It also afforded the opportunity to some degree to monitor usage of the custom delivered desktop and as a consequence improve it as necessary.

screenshot of netvibes homepage

Dublin City Libraries netvibes homepage

In late 2007, various solutions were looked at, including a number of web-based start page services. A web-based solution quickly became the front-runner in terms of cost, available time, and ease of delivery, tied in to available staff resources and expertise. Pageflakes, having been found to meet certain minimum requirements, was eventually selected and a custom-built Pageflakes page rolled out in early 2008 as the default entry point to the web on all public-access PCs. All this work was carried out internally, with no recourse to third-party developers or service providers, and consequently no third-party costs. Netvibes replaced Pageflakes in late 2008 consequent on issues experienced with Pageflakes, issues which highlighted the need to have a risk management plan in place.

The ‘Start Page’

The newly delivered Internet desktop, or ‘start page’, acted as a ‘portal’ or gateway, giving library users a single point of access to information and services on the web, while also presenting information from diverse sources in a unified manner. See

screenshot of netvibes mediazone page

Dublin City Library media zone page on netvibes

In terms of structure and substance, content is delivered by means of eight tabs, each tab representing a different category.  These are: – Home (default page), Find It!, News, European Press, Your Pleasure, Traffic & Travel, Mail & Tool Kit and Media Zone. Most of the tabs incorporate some library-related content (event and service promotions, announcements), the Home tab in particular having a particular library focus.

In terms of measuring usage, Google Analytics is used to collate statistical data, with a different script collecting data on each tab, thereby allowing analysis of use of each category of content.

The desktop is managed by the Libraries’ Web Team and management entails ongoing monitoring of the ‘Start Page’, checking for downtime, performance issues, widget failure, broken links, and carrying out periodic manual edits; the bulk of the content is generated dynamically via RSS feeds from the Libraries’ other web presences including its Twitter account and delicious bookmark site, as well as the astute use of the various widgets available to deliver diverse content.

In real terms, the management of the desktop can now be measured in terms of minutes per day, with additional time spent periodically carrying out a more extensive audit and analysis of use. Of greater note of course is the fact that the library service is now providing a value-added service for its users, one available not merely via the library-based Internet PCs but from any location where one can access the Internet.

Further Developments – Children’s Internet Computers

screenshot of netvibes learning zone page

Dublin City Libraries Learning Zone on netvibes

Towards the end of 2009 work began on developing a separate purposely designed Internet desktop using the Netvibes platform for use on the dedicated children’s Internet computers in branch libraries. Because of the particular target audience, security concerns were paramount, and having to get the approval of the Libraries’ parent organisation (City Council) resulted in time delays and additional work in addressing concerns, real and imaginary. As a consequence, access on dedicated children’s computers is restricted to select sites, and as a risk minimisation effort it was decided to restrict the use of widgets on the resulting page to those built, maintained and hosted by Netvibes alone. This desktop is due for rollout in Autumn 2010.

Future developments – Business Information Centre Internet Computers

As of late summer 2010, a purposely designed desktop is being investigated for use in the Business Information Centre, a specialist service housed in the main Central Library.

To Find Out More

The article author, Eddie Byrne, gave a presentation on the use of a start page service by a public library at the Internet Librarian International conference in London in October 2009, see the presentation at:

Posted in Guest-blog, Libraries, Web 2.0 | Comments Off

Riverside Museum Blog

Posted by guestblogger on 1st November 2010

About this Guest Post

Colin Campbell is editor at the Riverside Museum Project, a £74 million development creating a new transport museum by the River Clyde in Glasgow, due to open spring 2011. He can be contacted at

Riverside Museum Blog

More than 10,000 people came to bid farewell to Glasgow’s Museum of Transport when it closed its doors for the very last time on Sunday 18th April 2010. While newspapers and magazines paid homage and TV stations ran nostalgic bulletins, people like you and me posted personal tributes on blogs, forums, in Facebook, Twitter and so on.

At the same time, the Riverside Museum Appeal – charged with raising £5million for the new transport museum – launched its public appeal, aided by figures including Robbie Coltrane and Carol Smillie.

Why Blog?

With the huge volume of interest, it was clear that this was the right time to create a blog about the Riverside Museum Project. Its aim was not just to inform interested members of the public; we also wanted a way to update our colleagues in Glasgow Museums and our parent organisation Glasgow Life as well as employees of Glasgow City Council and other partners.

Early posts focused on the work behind the scenes at the Museum of Transport. Photographs revealed subway cars under sheets of polythene, the hugely popular re-created 1930s street being demolished, objects such as the Royal Mail horse-drawn carriage being taken away. Project photographer Iona Shepherd’s excellent photography is a major feature of the site.

Image of subway cars

Subway cars (Photograph by Iona Shepherd, Copyright Glasgow City Council)

While the story of the removal of the museum’s objects made (and continues to make) some excellent news articles and photos, we also wanted posts from a curatorial and conservation point of view. Joining Iona were curator John Messner, conservator Rebecca Jackson and decant technician Lisa Brown. Rebecca’s before-and-after posts look at the conservation of objects ranging from shoes to ship models. John, meanwhile, has revealed the stories behind the objects. Their posts are complemented by Lisa who blogs about their removal. You’ll also find updates about the building’s construction, as well as posts from other departments, such as admin, whose massive archiving project was the focus of a recent blog.

image of locomotive

Locomotive (Photograph by Iona Shepherd, Copyright Glasgow City Council)

Aims, Strategy and Design

As well as guidelines for publishing to WordPress we also created a strategy outlining our aims and hopes for the blog. We considered word length, tone, image size, resources, what content to share and what to hold back. Yes, we wanted to share the project’s behind-the-scenes news, but not at the expense of the Riverside Museum Appeal. In fact, rather than diverting attention from the appeal, the blog has supported it. Thanks to WordPress’s cross-publicising feature, each new blog post automatically creates a status update for the RMA’s Facebook and Twitter streams, bringing in readers from the appeal’s fanbase while at the same time adding to the richness of their own feeds. Though it’s impossible to accurately quantify the numbers – and the financial benefit – the appeal has seen the number of its Facebook and Twitter followers increase since we launched the blog.

How successful has it been?

It’s still early days, and there are teething problems. Issues with access and internet speed continue to dog us. Time is often in short supply, particularly as the demands of the project intensify in the run-up to opening. But we manage. There is plenty of excellent content, and most weeks we manage to publish between three and five posts, including the regular Picture of the Week.

Riverside Museum attracts a lot of comment online. Much of it is positive, but not all. Opinions range from excitement about the Zaha Hadid-designed building (her first major construction to be completed in the UK) to criticism of the decision to relocate Glasgow’s transport collection from Kelvin Hall. And as Riverside Museum moves towards its opening in spring 2011, the comments, status updates and posts will only increase. Thanks to our blog, the Riverside team now has a strong voice that can take part in the online dialogue.

Aerial view

Aerial view (Copyright BAM/Hawkeye)

Posted in Blogs, Guest-blog, Museums, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

Spitfire RW388

Posted by guestblogger on 25th October 2010

About this Guest Post

Andrew Dawson is Project Assistant for the Connecting for the Future project based at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery where he is responsible for helping with the general running of the CftF project, but particularly with the collection and storing of participating museums’ data, the running of The Potteries Museum’s e-newsletter and the maintenance of the project’s microsites & associated Twitter, Flickr, etc. presences. He can be contacted at

Read Andrew’s first post on Connecting for the Future

RW388 and

RW388 is a MkXVI clipped wing Spitfire given to the City of Stoke-on-Trent in 1972 by the RAF. It’s long been one of the most popular exhibits here at the Potteries Museum but due to being exhibited firstly in a sun-drenched and humid glasshouse (before it was brought into a special gallery in the Museum in 1986) a large block of renovation and restoration is needed to stabilise the aircraft in the long term. We decided to tackle this renovation issue by creating a microsite which would celebrate one of the City’s unique exhibits – especially important when its designer, R.J. Mitchell was born locally and was educated in the City – and help raise funds to go towards its eventual renovation.

The microsite, running on a WordPress Multi-Site install, has been designed from the beginning to be light on static content. The “Your Photos” page – where the general public can create their own gallery of RW388-related photographs – and the “Your Memories” page – where people can talk about their memories of RW388’s arrival and time in the City – are the cornerstones of the site, allowing us to capture, store and share what local people think of this unique exhibit which has been part of the City for almost 40 years.

“Your Photos”

The “Your Photos” page contains a gallery of RW388-related photographs created by using the Flickr Mini Gallery plugin and an RW388 Flickr tag. Any Flickr user can upload images of the City’s Spitfire, tag it with RW388 and it will automatically appear in the gallery – clicking on an image brings up a lightbox containing the image, the photo’s title and description and a link to the original Flickr page.

screenshot of lightbox image

Flickr Image displayed in a Lightbox

It’s difficult to say why we chose to use Flickr for our gallery other than “because it’s Flickr” – there are so many reasons to use Flickr, from the excellent hosting and organisation tools to useful little additions such as the ability to add tags to other users’ photographs as well as your own. As The Potteries Museum was already signed up to Flickr we took the opportunity to upgrade to a Pro account – this costs $24.95 per year (around £16 at the current exchange rate) and allows a greater degree of flexibility with, amongst other things, unlimited uploads and storage. To see a more exhaustive list of the benefits of “going Pro” check out What do I get with a Pro Account? on Flickr’s FAQ.

The option to create a gallery from photographs pulled from a Facebook Group also exists thanks to a plugin called Facebook Photo Fetcher. However, as this would have involved creating and monitoring a Spitfire RW388 Facebook Group on top of all the other work to prepare the site for its launch we decided to look at this in the future instead, especially as we were already setting up Flickr to give us a similar end result.

“Your Memories”

To collect people’s memories of RW388 on the “Your Memories” page we decided to use the standard WordPress comments form as it was already well integrated into the frontend of the site, encouraged people to write a manageable amount of text and allowed some HTML for people to link to websites or insert images. The standard admin framework for monitoring comments and being able to grab an RSS feed of these comments/memories were also plus points to using the standard form. WordPress supports paged comments and plugins such as Hikari Featured Comments can be used to highlight particularly interesting memories, but it’s important that the growing number of memories on the site doesn’t become unwieldy and so we’ll watch how the standard paging works as more memories are added.

scrrenshot of comment box

Filling in a “Your Memories” comment on behalf of someone who emailed their thoughts in via our e-Newsletter email address

We’re looking into adding the option to use Audioboo to record audio memories of the Spitfire as well – in a similar way to Flickr’s photos “boos” can be tagged and Audioboo plugins do exist for WordPress, though we’re yet to find out whether they can display lists of tagged boos rather than a list of a particular user’s boos.

We’re also using the comments form in a similar way on the “Your Visit” page to find out what people think of the gallery and what they’d like to see changed, if anything.


We decided to create a standalone Twitter account for RW388 as a way to promote the site in general, tweet RW388-tagged photos or extracts of memories left on the site, and also to broadcast the latest fundraising news and donation totals. Having been lucky enough to speak to a Battle of Britain pilot about his Spitfire experiences we felt we could also take advantage of the #BoB70 hashtag being given so much coverage by Tweeters such as @RAFMUSEUM and @BattleofBritain by promoting our “Pilots’ Memories” page. Officially launching the website on Battle of Britain Day only helped get @RW388s tweets out into the twittersphere all the more!

Since the first flurry of tweets surrounding the website’s launch @RW388 has been a relatively quiet account as we wait for memories and photos – this is difficult as we know how important it is to try and keep content flowing on Twitter, but hopefully as memories and photos begin to be added we can “pick up the pace”, attract a few more followers and use the account a little more proactively.

Powering a site with web services…

An interesting observation and certainly a trap we almost fell into on occasions – especially as we were pushing very hard to meet the September 15th Battle of Britain Day deadline – was that when we were adding our content to services such as Flickr and Vimeo it was important to remind ourselves that the content would not just be accessed from the site but also from within the services itself. Taking the time to add tags, titles, short descriptions (with the microsite URL in of course!) and even geolocating the images before placing them into sets and collection will make a real difference to those browsing our images via Flickr rather than through the website, just as collating our Vimeo videos into an RW388 Channel will help people find all four of our interview clips. It also makes this content look important and cared for, and where’s the harm in that?!

Posted in Guest-blog, Museums, Social Web, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

Connecting for the Future

Posted by guestblogger on 18th October 2010

About this Guest Post

Andrew Dawson is Project Assistant for the Connecting for the Future project based at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery where he is responsible for helping with the general running of the CftF project, but particularly with the collection and storing of participating museums’ data, the running of The Potteries Museum’s e-newsletter and the maintenance of the project’s microsites & associated Twitter, Flickr, etc. presences. He can be contacted at

Connecting for the Future

Context is Everything

Describing the various facets of the Connecting for the Future project – of which I am part of – seemed like the easiest way to give you an overview of when, where and how we’re planning (and beginning!) to use social networking and Web 2.0. Please forgive the heavy use of the future tense in parts, but much of the project is still in the concept/building/testing stage – I’m sure that the follow-up post in early 2011, when much of the project will be complete, will flesh out these concepts with the trials and tribulations of bringing Connecting for the Future to completion in March 2011.

The Very Near Future

One of the project’s main goals – and one of two key deliverables – is to create a hub website for all of Staffordshire’s museums and heritage sites. Where this will differ from normal tourist-centric websites such as Visit England or Culture24 is that the Connecting for the Future concept – “My Museum” – plans to add a social networking element to this information which will allow users to personalise their museums and heritage site experience.

Using Buddypress – a social networking platform which began life as a spin off from WordPress – to power the site, we hope to build a place where people create an account and tag (or “Like” if we use a Facebook analogy!) the museums they’re interested in. This will then augment their view of the rest of the site: for example, an Events panels will display events happening at museums they’ve tagged (with further user-defined filtering for different types of event) or an Object of the Day panel will show an object pulled from the collections data of one of their tagged museums. We’re also looking at ways to implement real life tagging by using individually QR-coded tags that people can hang up at a museum or heritage site to proclaim “This is My Museum!”.

The second key deliverable – and the one that will power parts of the My Museums concept such as the Object of the Day – is the creation of a repository of collections data from all the museums taking part in the CftF project. As well as being fully searchable we were also keen that this data be completely open and so anyone can use the API (Application Programming Interface) to create applications, widgets, mashups or even just play around with Yahoo Pipes to create new ways of viewing or interacting with the data (Digital New Zealand is a great example of how data is being used in this way).


A quick test of the API using Yahoo Pipes

The Present

The events, exhibitions and objects held at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery have proved to be an invaluable resource for the Connecting for the Future project as they have given us the opportunity to experiment with ideas and services which we think other museums and heritage sites may benefit from using.

We’ve already launched, a microsite dedicated to the museum’s Spitfire, and are completing another site to run alongside the City’s Centenary celebrations and an associated temporary exhibition. Both microsites were designed to have only a small amount of static content, instead being given life by memories, photos, audio and video contributed by the public (which I’ll talk about in detail within the context of SpitfireRW388 in a future post). The repository of collections data mentioned earlier is also searchable from each of these websites, and searches can be locked to particular organisations, subjects or any other field or keyword from the data.

Screenshot of draft web site

The under-construction Portrait of the Potteries Microsite

In a similar way to, both of these microsites are run from a single WordPress Multi-Site (originally WordPress MU before it was subsumed into WordPress 3.0) install, giving us the ability to create new microsites or blogs for museum events and exhibitions incredibly easily and quickly. This very flexible and extensible system means that we can offer those partner museums and heritage sites without a web presence an opportunity to create their own blog, microsite or even fully fledged website, or offer a blogging platform to those who already have an established web presence.

Since January 2010 we’ve been using MailChimp as an e-marketing tool to supplement the print advertising and quarterly “What’s On” leaflets produced by The Potteries Museum. Although there are many companies offering e-marketing services we decided to use MailChimp as it’s less corporate feel and user-friendly interface was something that we felt museums & heritage sites just getting to grips with this technology would appreciate (and the chimps of course – everyone loves chimps!).

Screenshot of mailchimp dashboard

The MailChimp dashboard

MailChimp’s “Forever Free” plan is also a great choice for these institutions, as it’s unlikely that they’ll ever reach the 1000 subscriber/6000 emails per month limit, and MailChimp even offers an easily authenticated not-for-profit discount of 15% once that limit is reached. For paying customers their “Social Pro” add-on is also invaluable (and free until March 2011), giving you information about which of your subscribers is on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Flickr, as well as how “influential” each subscriber is on these networks. Any of these pieces of information can be used as a segment, meaning you can email just those subscribers who are on Flickr to tell them about your new photo competition, or just those on Twitter (that don’t follow you – a segment within a segment!) to let them know that you have a Twitter account and what sorts of things you discuss on it.

For the next post in this series I’ll be using our new microsite,, to show you more specific examples of where and how we’re using social networking and Web 2.0 to try and engage with the public and open up new sources of information surrounding the City’s Spitfire.

Posted in Blogs, Guest-blog, Museums, Twitter, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments »

e-Books in Public Libraries

Posted by guestblogger on 4th October 2010

About this Guest Post

Martin Palmer is the Principal Officer for Libraries at Essex County Council, where he has been responsible for the provision of e-books over the past seven years. He can be contacted at

e-Books in Public Libraries

I was invited to a meeting of Health Librarians recently to talk about the Essex experience of providing e-books in a public library setting. It was held at the Senate House at London University, which – apart from giving me the opportunity to hear about lots of exciting things going on in a different sector – also provided an interesting context in which to reflect on how e-books in public libraries have developed over the past few years, as I had given a presentation in the same venue (along with Linda Berube, one of last month’s guest bloggers…) on the same subject in 2004.

So, has anything changed in six years?

Well, one would hope so – and a lot has. For a start, the Overdrive download service that we first offered all that time ago is now also available from around 20 other authorities around the country (with more in the pipeline) providing not only e-books but e-audio as well. In fact, growth in interest has been sufficient for the MLA to set up a ‘community of practice’ for librarians interested in sharing their experience, problem solving, requesting advice, and so on.

New suppliers have also emerged, including Coutts/Ingram’s MyiLibrary; Public Library Online (formerly Bloomsbury Online), which offers simultaneous on-line access to ‘electronic bookshelves’; and W F Howes’ Clipper material is available as e-audio downloads. Not only that, but a venerable name from the supply of print material to public libraries – Askews – is about to launch its own e-book service, too.

Not surprisingly, this growth on the supply side has been stimulated to a large extent by a rise in public demand for such material, reflecting a huge growth in e-reading – partly inspired by the latest generation of devices such as the Sony e-reader, the Kindle, and others but also by the arrival of the iPhone, iPad and so on (other multi-functional bits of kit are also available…).

This has been accompanied by a gradual realisation on the part of many publishers that e-books can offer an important new income stream, rather than simply threatening their existing revenue. As a result, some bestsellers now become available as e-books at the same time as the print publication; recent examples include Dan Brown’s ‘The Lost Symbol’ and the accounts of life in New Labour by Tony Blair and Baron Mandelson (ok – possibly not the best adverts for an exciting new medium…), all of which throw into sharp contrast the situation of only a few years ago when it was unclear whether any top-selling titles would ever appear in an e-format.

What hasn’t changed

However, some things haven’t changed that much – and some have had a rather mixed impact. For example, when we first started in Essex, we offered e-books that could be read on generic PCs and laptops, partly because we didn’t want to have to supply reading devices ourselves, but mainly because all e-book readers had temporarily become obsolete and so there were none available to purchase.

The ‘renaissance’ of the e-reader has had the beneficial effect of raising awareness and demand, but has also resulted in bewildering matrix of format/device compatibility questions that – complicated further by Digital Rights Management (DRM) questions – has led in turn to a very confused public. If a borrower has an iPad and it’s compatible with .epub, why can’t they read the library’s .epub titles? (Because the iPad and the DRM wrapper for library .epub e-books aren’t compatible). And so on…

To charge or not to charge?

There’s also some confusion for public library managers at the moment in that, as part of the DCMS review of the service published earlier this year, the government made some very clear statements around the question of charging for e-book lending, saying that there was an expectation that it should be free of charge. This was a useful clarification for some at least, reinforcing the basic message of the 1964 Act that public library reading-based activity should be free; for others, hoping to introduce e-books as a way of generating income, it was less helpful…

However, the change of government has led to a period of uncertainty in this area as Ed Vaizey has said that he wants to consult more widely before deciding on the way ahead. Consequently – alongside all the other changes that have happened over the past few months since the election, it’s perhaps not surprising that any services who hadn’t already firmly committed themselves to launching e-books should opt to wait to see how things pan out.

Audience take-up

Nevertheless, it’s beginning to look as though the attractions of e-reading are finally reaching a critical mass-type audience, with mainstream publishers now having ‘teaser’ advertising campaigns which make the first couple of chapters of new books available in e-formats, enabling potential customers to read them on their mobile phones and – hopefully – get sufficiently hooked to buy the book (whether in print or electronically), while the number of reading-based apps now available for the iPhone and iPad seemingly now outnumbers that for games. Not bad for an activity which Steve Jobs seemed to dismiss less than two years ago, saying that ‘nobody reads any more’.

In Essex, we’ve now expanded our coverage from the original Overdrive and ebrary services to include Public Library Online and Clipper from W F Howes, and currently get the equivalent of around 100,000 ‘loans’ per year from our electronic services, with the level of take-up increasing all the time.

That’s not to ignore the fact that there are still many areas of the e-book world that still need both further development and stabilisation – standards are still more notable by their absence, for example, while collection development is still fraught with difficulty.

Looking ahead

However, compared with the position when we first got involved seven or more years ago – where it wasn’t even clear that there was an audience, let alone suitable content – the relationship between e-books and UK public libraries is now much more firmly-based, and (legislation and budgetary pressures notwithstanding) now seems likely to grow much more quickly over the next couple of years.

In fact, as I sometimes find myself talking about e-books in public libraries at events alongside librarians from special and academic libraries, it’s interesting to see that although the involvement of those sectors in e-material tends to rather fuller, and also dates back some time before that of public libraries, there now often seems to be less difference in terms of scale, range and use of collections across the sectors than might be imagined…

Posted in Guest-blog, Libraries | 1 Comment »

An Archive in the Palm of Your Hand

Posted by guestblogger on 27th September 2010

About this Guest Post

Emma Faragher is an Education & Outreach Officer, at the National Library of Scotland (NLS), where she works on learning and interpretation for The John Murray Archive project. Emma can be contacted at

An Archive in the palm of your hand: The John Murray Archive app at the National Library of Scotland

The John Murray Archive exhibition at the National Library of Scotland exhibition highlights the archive of publishers John Murray. The archive records the business of the John Murray publishing firm, widely regarded as one of the world’s most important publishing archives. It comprises over 150,000 papers, manuscripts, letters and other documents representing many of the world’s most celebrated writers, thinkers, politicians, explorers, economists and scientists. The exhibition is an innovative interactive space which uses a mix of technology and theatre to bring a unique archive collection to life.

NLS iPhone app showing text from John Murray Archive

Originally the exhibition had an introductory film. However this was presented in a separate room and evaluation revealed that it was not well-used or understood by visitors. Therefore in 2009 NLS took the decision to remove the film and seek an alternative way to introduce the archive, deciding that this was a good opportunity to pilot the use of new technologies and handheld guides in our exhibition spaces.

Following a period of research and evaluation of existing handheld guides used in museums in the UK and further afield we decided to develop an ‘app’ for iPhone and iPod. At the time of our research this was still relatively unusual, though the popularity of apps as guides in the cultural sector has grown significantly since this project began, in tandem with the rapid growth of the mobile internet.


The app was built with an external developer, Screenmedia. We built the app over a period of four and a half months. The team at Screenmedia worked with our Learning and Public Engagement team to develop a structure and content plan. We developed a themed structure which complements the archive’s website. Each theme includes an audio-visual introduction and access to a selection of documents. Content was developed with liaison from the curatorial team for the John Murray Archive.

Access & promotion

Image of Iphone app interactive

NLS iPhone app - interactive state

The app is available to the public in a number of ways:

  • Remote users can download it from the Apple iTunes store, links have been provided to the store from John Murray Archive and main NLS websites.
  • Visitors to NLS with an iPhone or iPod have the option to download to their own devices using our public wifi network.
  • Visitors to NLS without their own device can borrow an iPod during their visit.

We have promoted the app using social media, including Twitter updates and Facebook and news streams on our website.

In addition we have used more traditional means of promotion, including a press release to local and national newspapers and more specialist press, receiving good coverage. We are also promoting the app in our public areas, including posters, café table tent cards and inclusion on information screens.

To date there have been almost 900 downloads of the app.


We receive monthly updates on downloads of the app which we map against promotional activity. This has already revealed that though social media promotion is valuable, traditional media still has its place – one of the greatest peaks in downloads was following the press release and subsequent publication of stories about the app in newspapers.

NLSiPhone app image

NLS iPhone app - rollover

We track star-ratings of the app following downloads, and have implemented an evaluation screen within the application itself which is linked to our wi-fi system so that people who use the app in the library can send feedback direct.

We are currently surveying visitors to NLS who use the app; initial returns have been very positive.

Some key learning points from the project

Our app began life as a project focussed on providing a service to exhibition visitors, but as soon as we selected our format it became apparent the service would also be of great potential interest to remote users. Therefore as the app developed we ensured that it would be interesting and relevant even if you are not physically at the Library. This has been borne out by the popularity of downloads for the app.

When this project was developed, iPhones dominated the smart phone market, but recent figures suggest that Google Android (the operating system used by a number of other smart phones) is likely to have an equal market share in the future. Further, the, advent of the iPad and tablet computers is likely to change the mobile internet market further in the next few years.

Remote users are increasingly important in our sector and as the popularity of mobile internet, smartphones and other tools develops they will offer many opportunities and tools for the cultural sector to engage with new audiences.

Image of NLS iPhone app

NLS iPhone app - video screen

Posted in archives, Guest-blog, Libraries, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

The Library Technology Market: a case for an ‘open’ conversation

Posted by guestblogger on 20th September 2010

About this Guest Post

Ken Chad is CEO of Ken Chad Consulting which has the mission of helping to ‘make libraries more effective’ through better and more imaginative use of technology. His consulting work has been wide ranging. He has worked with academic and public libraries and with various government and sector organisations in the UK and internationally. His published articles and conference contributions have focused on the strategic impact on libraries of technology driven change. Ken can be contacted at

The library technology market: a case for an open ‘conversation’

Over the years a number of resources including books, articles and websites have been available to help libraries get the best from the opportunities offered by technology. For example back in the 1980s Juliet Leeves published ‘Library Systems: a buyer’s guide’.  Each April, in Library Journal, Marshall Breeding publishes a review of the library automation marketplace. His  ‘Library Technology Guides’ website is also an invaluable resource despite its US bias. In the UK the ‘eGovernment Register’, maintained by the London Borough of Brent, published a listing of local authority systems (including some library related ones) on their (now defunct) website. UCISA does a similar job for Higher Education (HE) through its ‘Corporate Information System’ (CIS) annual survey.

However all these resources are ‘closed’ to some degree. They are also very incomplete as far as library technology is concerned. The eGovernment register ceased in June this year and passed the baton to the SOCITM application software index. However this is currently even more closed with very restricted access and editing rights. Marshall Breeding says that he is ‘solely responsible for all content’ on the Library Technology Guides web site ‘and for any errors it may contain’.

It seemed to me that it would be possible create something more comprehensive, accurate and useful by taking a very open and inclusive approach:  something that harnessed the capabilities and goodwill of the library community.  I had read David Weinberger’s marketing book ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto‘ some years ago and I think his notion back in 1999 that ‘markets are ‘conversations’ rings true more than a decade later.  ‘Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter’. Perhaps then we could enhance the quality of the technology ‘conversation’ in the library domain. Maybe being ‘smarter’ could take, at least some of, the cost and ‘friction’ out of the market and make it easier for everyone. Moreover it seemed to me everyone could benefit from this open and inclusive approach, not least in having the content freely available for anyone to re-use.

I started with simple lists of who had what Library Management System (LMS – or Integrated Library System (ILS) in American parlance). The truth was that working in the library software business for over 20 years I actually knew most of it by heart! My job was made easier, for HE at least, because I had been closely involved in the much cited JISC/SCONUL ‘LMS study’, which is a great source for data and analysis. During the work on the study vendors were very open and helpful about giving me their customer lists and information about their business and strategies. SCONUL were enthusiastic about getting more value out of the study by putting it online in a more interactive format than a PDF. I persuaded them that a wiki was a simple, inexpensive and effective tool to help in that goal. It would also allow the community itself to keep the information and analysis current. A further possibility was to expand on the original study’s coverage which was very focussed on the LMS. The Higher Education Library Technology wiki was born.

The underlying wiki technology (Wikispaces) is very easy and inexpensive to set up and maintain and we soon had a good part of the SCONUL LMS study uploaded. We chose Wikispaces too because, after some serious evaluation, we judged it easier to maintain and edit that alternatives such a MediaWiki (the platform for Wikipedia). We knew the proportion of active contributions would be small. That is a fact of ‘Web 2.0’ life. I knew about Jacob Nielsen’s ‘90-9-1 Rule’ for large scale online communities and social networks. He argues 90% of users are ‘lurkers’, 9% of users contribute intermittently and only 1% of users are heavy contributors. With this in mind we didn’t want to make the task of contributors harder than absolutely necessary. It was uncertain if our small-scale community would fare worse in terms of contributors. In fact it’s been about the same but with a higher proportion of ‘intermittent’ contributors. I also had in my mind a comment, I believe attributed to one of the founders of Flickr, to the effect that an important factor in building critical mass and success was putting tremendous effort early on to encourage and support their contributors. We believe that’s important and our role in Ken Chad Consulting as ‘wikimaster’ is all about enabling things and keeping up the momentum. It’s most certainly not about control. We haven’t had a single case of spamming or abuse. (Though of course we have tools to deal with them). We also know that sometimes it takes time for resources to get embedded in the community’s consciousness. The wikimaster has an important sustaining role.

As well as a Library Technology wiki for HE we’ve created one for local government public libraries. Clearly there is overlap but there are significant differences too. For example HELibTech has much more emphasis on the management of e-resources. We felt that the audiences would differ significantly and this has been the case. This leads me into another point. We have an inclusive view of our audience. We welcome contributions from librarians, and vendors-and indeed anyone with an interest. Just sign up and get started.

screenshot of local government library technology wiki

Local Government Library Technology wiki

Finally how valuable are these wikis to the communities they are designed to serve? Feedback so far has been good. For example when SCONUL held a ‘community event’ about its recent study into the feasibility and business case for shared services they created an entry on HELibTech. We saw a significant rise in traffic, some of which has been sustained. Clearly though with communities based around a market of around 180-200 institutions in UK HE and public libraries respectively, we are not expecting a huge audience. Both wikis have a small but growing number of ‘members’ and, as the community of ‘lurkers’ grows, so does the number of contributors. Finally an important factor in determining value is to realise this is an equation. Using modern tools we can deliver valuable services effectively and cheaply to relatively small communities. All the time Web 2.0 tools are getting better and (mostly) less expensive. Costs are often less a factor of the purchase price than the cost of maintaining the service. Enabling the community to keep the content up-to-date is much less expensive than a printed annual guide, survey or ‘closed’ website that incurs heavy editorial and production costs. We think it’s more accurate too. Feel free to join in the ‘conversation’….

Posted in Guest-blog, Libraries, Technical, wikis | 1 Comment »

Web 2.0 or Not Web 2.0? Using Ancestry in Museums

Posted by guestblogger on 13th September 2010

About this Guest Post

Patricia Collins is a curator based in Norfolk working on a freelance basis for museums in the independent sector.  She can be contacted at

Web 2.0 or Not Web 2.0? – Using Ancestry in Museums

Reading Brian Kelly’s recent AIM research paper prompted me to post this about

Ancestry is the market leader in on-line family history. Users can not only research their family trees by accessing databases of census details, parish registers, military record cards and the like, but they can also upload their own trees and make them available to other researchers. Hence the site fosters collaborative working and information sharing; both key components of Web 2.0 technologies. However it is a subscription-only facility whereas Web 2.0 technologies are freely available.

image of Ancestry web page

Screenshot of Web site

What, to my mind, makes ancestry different is that public libraries across the country are subscribers so that anyone with a library ticket can access it and public libraries are (still) always free. This means the user group is huge, non-exclusive and, because the organisation has partners across the world, international.

Web 2.0 or Not Web 2.0, I’ve been using ancestry to create genealogies for people associated with local museums. Museums often have displays, objects and research files relating to the ‘great and good’ of their communities. I put up trees for local heroes such as an archaeologist and a naval commander and all their servants with links to objects and documents in museum and archive collections. When other ancestry genealogists began to interact with the trees, the research went well beyond county or country borders and further back in time than the information held in the local museum.

Image of Wesleyan tea-pot

From Ancestry - Wesleyan tea pot from Robert Robinson archive

An example is Swaffham People – Rev Edmund Outram. Mr Outram was a curate in Swaffham in the 1930s. He had a passion for photography and created a magic lantern slideshow of the town and its inhabitants which he then showed in the local Assembly Rooms. The magic lantern slides became part of the local museum collection. Having put information about Mr Outram and some of his images onto ancestry, I heard from Sussex genealogists that he had made similar slideshows there. From Leicestershire, I received images of graffitti made by Outram’s great grandfather in a church bell tower. We discovered his original magic lantern in West Sussex County archives, his father’s collection of weather records in a Cambridge University collection and encountered someone who had been married by him. This created a far richer portrait of the man and greater understanding of his legacy than we could ever hope to achieve alone in Norfolk. A digital research community had been created.

image of basket making tools

Photo from Ancestry - Oliver Meek basket making tools

My task then became that of site moderator adding the information from ancestry researchers to the Norfolk trees as appropriate. Museums often describe themselves as beseiged by enquiries from family historians and are not always best placed to answer them.

Enquiries can be time consuming and rarely generate any income for the museum. Using ancestry has met some of the industry targets – widened museum user and advocate groups, increased local knowledge and made collections available to a far wider audience. As the digital research communities grow, they take on more of the enquiries thereby taking the weight off museum staff. The enquiries that do come into the museum are often from those wishing to make a visit in person.

Small museums often relate solely to the local geographical community of residents and visitors to a town. By focussing on local great and good on ancestry, museums have engaged many different communities of interest – naval historians, collectors of ceramics, family genealogists and who knows what the next posting will bring.

I would be very happy to hear from others in museums or libraries who are also using ancestry.

Posted in Guest-blog, Libraries, Museums | 1 Comment »

Museums as Social Creatures

Posted by guestblogger on 6th September 2010

About this Guest Post

Shona Carnall studied Museum Studies at Leicester University and since graduating she has been working at Hartlepool Cultural Services for nearly two years as an Education Officer. Shona specialises in e-Learning in a museum context and has added the museum to several social media websites including Twitter, Facebook and Audioboo. She recently wrote a case study for ‘Twitter for Museums: Strategies and Tactics for Success’ and her work on Twitter was mentioned by UKOLN’s Brian Kelly during a Radio 4 programme, ‘Making History’.

Museums as Social Creatures

Museums have always been institutes of learning and communication. A place where history can come alive and you can visit any part of the world. With the invention of the internet and digital media, people can explore the world without leaving the comfort of their own homes. Museums are now trying to find new ways to interact with their audience, and which has started to include going to where your audience is.  Museums are becoming increasingly sociable, participating in conversations already taking place and this is where the internet can help.

Social media has become massive over the past couple of years with Facebook and Twitter becoming increasingly popular with the national and international population. Twitter particularly has grown rapidly from a few followers to over 25 million people registered with the microblogging service as of January 2010. Twitter allows people to get short, up-to the minute messages about what is happening around the world, with some of these messages reaching the general populous before traditional media. For museums, Twitter gives us a unique opportunity to contribute to conversations people are having online by going to them rather than trying to drive traffic towards us.

The Learning Team at the Hartlepool Cultural Services has been on Twitter since May 2009 under the guise of their mascot, Yuffy (@YuffyMOH). The aim of joining Twitter was to increase awareness of the Learning Team’s events particularly family events and to participate in conversations with interested members of the public. With over 1500 followers, and regular communication with followers, the scheme has been a success and one that will hopefully continue. The Learning Team’s presence on Twitter has been used as a case study in ‘Twitter For Museums’ book and mentioned on Radio 4 in the Making History programme.

screenshot of twitter page

Yuffy on twitter

Yuffy tweets about all sorts of topics, with some of his tweets being marketing in tone. However, it was decided from the inset that his tweets should be relevant to his followers and therefore should contribute to the conversations already taking place.  We need to be sociable and not simply broadcast, but create content that will be interesting for all.

How do people use Twitter?

When researching how Twitter is used, there were several examples that struck me as key to how people use and perceive Twitter. The examples below encouraged me to look at Twitter in a new way and influenced how I use Twitter for the museum.

After a nasty election in 2009, the people in the Iranian capital Tehran took to the streets in protest. The government then put a media ban on the protest. No-one was allowed in to the country to report on the protests, where police were imprisoning protesters and even shooting at them. The protesters turned to Twitter to get the message out. People across the globe took up the cause and tweeted safe areas in Tehran for protesters to go and news stations used Twitter to get information and videos to use in their broadcasts. Twitter allowed the protesters and the world to find out about the protest and atrocities happening to the people in an otherwise media blackout.

In May 2008 a massive 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit mainland China. While it was still happening, ordinary people were reporting it. They were texting on their phones, taking pictures and videos, and adding these to Twitter. It was a tweet that announced the quake online, several minutes before the US Geological Survey had anything up online for people to read. Twitter is the newest and fastest news feed the world has ever seen. In fact, the USGS have learnt from the China Earthquake and are piloting a new programme that maps tweets about earthquakes. The more people that tweet about an earthquake in a particular area, the more reliable the information and the USGS can make an announcement. The hope is to increase the alert time for local residents and possibly even save lives.

Twitter has even been used to free someone from jail. In April 2008, James Karl Buck and his translator were arrested by the Egyptian police while covering an anti-government protest in Mahalla. James was only able to tweet one word while being taken away by Egyptian authorities: “Arrested.” Within seconds, colleagues in the United States and his friends in Egypt were notified of his arrest. Eventually this lead to his university hiring a lawyer on his behalf and he was released a day later.  This is proof that one update, no matter how simple, can mobilise people to action and change the course of events.

image of mascot

Yuffy on the high seas

But it’s not just on a national sphere, some tweets are very personal. From marriage proposals to births, people can now tweet at every part of their lives. On May 28th 2010, Max Kiesler asked Emily Chang for her hand in marriage via Twitter. And with a “Yes, I do”,  similarly tweeted she accepted his proposal. This beautiful moment in a couple’s lives was shared by their followers across the globe. In fact there have been at least 3 (successful) marriage proposals.

These examples had thousands of tweets about the topic, or articles written about them.  Tweets no matter how big or small attract the attention of users from all over the world and are commented upon. Learning how people use Twitter enables museums to understand the potential of Twitter and ways we can use the social media platform to communication with our users.

Tapping into the Potential

image of mascot

Yuffy out and about

How can museums then ‘tap into’ this potential community? There are many websites and resources out there giving you advice about how you can use Twitter. I approached this from two places: a museum and an individual. I use Twitter personally and therefore can understand what I want from museum Twitter streams. There are a few simple guidelines I would follow when using Twitter as an organisation.

  1. Be active. What is the point of being on Twitter if you do not update? People follow you on Twitter to read what you are continuing to say. So you need to make sure your stream remains active with tweets happening at least once a day.
  2. Be informal. Nobody wants their Twitter stream filled with automated, impersonal tweets. People go to Twitter to talk to other people, from all sorts of backgrounds, cultures and places. They want REAL conversations with REAL people. So you need to be a real person, who has a name, has a tone of voice and reacts to what they are seeing.
  3. Be a part of it. Don’t just broadcast your message. Although a useful tool for doing so, you will turn away followers who want to engage with you. Talk to your followers.  Ask them for advice or comments, you’ll be surprised by the responses you get.
  4. Be prepared.  Have at least some sort of guidelines in place when you start out.  These will help identify issues and ways to deal with them. But remember, Twitter is constantly changing, so you’re guidelines must be able to change too. I started with a half page guidance for Twitter. Over the past year, this has developed into a 16 page strategy.
  5. Connect. If you run several of accounts on different platforms, it can become a laborious job to update them all. Twitter is useful in that it can be linked to other social media sites like YouTube, Facebook and Audioboo so you only need to add it to one place and it goes to Twitter too! Although make sure you don’t fill your Twitter stream completely with this type of material. You need Twitter-only created content too.
  6. Have fun! The last thing you want is to feel dread at the thought of writing a tweet. It needs to flow freely. So remember to have a little fun with your tweets. If you’re having fun and enjoying what you are writing, your followers will be too.

Don’t be afraid to join

Museums are only just starting to realise the potential of Twitter and how it can extend the reach of your message.  You can converse with people on their terms, where they feel comfortable. This can be scary for organisations who are more accustomed to presenting information than having conversations with people.  But people are already talking about your museum online. They are telling people about the experiences they had (good or bad) and stories they know about objects and the museum. Twitter allows you to take part in these conversations and part the knowledge we have about our museums in a new way.

Museums should not be frightened about going on Twitter and listening to what people are saying about your organisation. Remember people are already having these conversations so why not participate too?

Posted in Guest-blog, Museums, Twitter | 1 Comment »

Making Time for Web 2.0

Posted by guestblogger on 30th August 2010

About this guest post

Kiara King is the Archivist for the Ballast Trust, a charitable foundation that provides a rescue, sorting and cataloguing service for business archives with an emphasis on technical records such as plans, drawings and photographs. She can be contacted at:

Making Time for Web 2.0

Hopefully you now have a good idea about what web 2.0 can do for your archive and are convinced of the benefits of web 2.0. But if you are unsure if you can spare the time to get involved, then fret no more! Fortunately there is an entry point to web 2.0 for everyone, even if you can only spare an hour a week and don’t know what html is.

image Web 2.0 tool logos

The world of Web 2.0

As this diagram shows, web 2.0 activity can be broken down into three different types that require varying levels of commitment and time.


  • Investigate your organisation’s web presence by googling yourself and see if you can amend or add to the information that is available.
  • Comment, amend, tag anything relevant to your collections that you find on sites like Wikipedia, Flickr and Youtube with your expert knowledge about the collection or item and link back to your own website.
  • Start a Twitter feed and see what others are saying about archives on twitter by using the #archives tag.
  • Join Flickr and post your own images.

Create and share content

  • Start a blog, make sure you can commit to regular posting (at least 1-2 posts a week) which should only take an hour of staff time.
  • Create podcasts, if you are already doing talks then this just means recording them and creating an audio file for download.
  • Create some videos to show how to handle documents or a behind the scenes look at the archives and put them up on youtube.

Build communities

  • Consider starting a facebook group for your archive.
  • Create a social network group using a site like ning to build an online community for your users.
  • How about opening up your catalogue in a wiki for users to amend and contribute to? This will require moderating but is a great way to harvest the knowledge users have about collections and share it with others.

Finally, work smartly and make the Internet work for you by creating a personalised start page. This acts like a personal web portal so that when you open up your browser it will push content to you from other sources for you to engage with. This could be recent activity in your flickr account, blog posts to read and comment on from other sources, news results for certain terms relevant to your archive as well as your emails.

screenshot of start page

screenshot of start page

Posted in archives, Guest-blog, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

The Benefits of Using Web 2.0 Tools in Your Archive

Posted by guestblogger on 23rd August 2010

About this guest post

Kiara King is the Archivist for the Ballast Trust, a charitable foundation that provides a rescue, sorting and cataloguing service for business archives with an emphasis on technical records such as plans, drawings and photographs. She can be contacted at:

The benefits of using Web 2.0 tools in your archive

In my last guest post I talked about some of the ways you can use web 2.0 tools to share your collections, communicate differently and find a wider audience for the resources you have developed. In this post I’m going to expand on the potential benefits gained by using web 2.0 tools to do this and my own experience of using web 2.0 tools at work.


Engaging with web 2.0 offers many benefits but the main one is that it gives you multiple ways to get the message about your archive and collections out to lots and lots of people. Considering that 70% of UK households have the Internet (Office for National Statistics), there is the potential to reach a much wider audience by using these tools and maximising your online presence. Some of the benefits this approach can result in are:
• Increased awareness of collections among existing and new users
• Diversification of users
• New opportunities for collaborative working
• The ability to capture additional information about collections
• Varied access points to your collections
These all sound like good things but what do they really mean for an archive?

Share your collections – open them up using flickr, wikis, youtube

Putting content from your collections on other websites allows you to push that content to users through sites that they are already using. You can also take a “shop window” approach and showcase a limited number of items through these avenues and then direct people back to your main site if you prefer.

Sharing content will increase awareness and help reach different users but it can also give back by providing new information and content for your collections. The Great War Archive project used flickr as one way to gather digitised items from the public. Although the project is now finished, the flickr group continues to receive contributions and now has 2,423 images from nearly 300 members.

screenshot Great War flickr group

Screenshot of Great War flickr group page

Web 2.0 tools can also enable an archive to allow additions to existing content to be made with ease. Images in flickr can be tagged with user subject terms, youtube videos can receive comments and a wiki version of your catalogue can be edited and added to while preserving the original. By allowing the user to participate in the descriptive process, archivists can obtain detailed and informed descriptions of their collections that they themselves would not have the knowledge or time to produce. The National Archives have developed a wiki version of their catalogue called Your Archives which allows users to contribute their knowledge of archival sources to the site by adding to the catalogue and research guides or submitting transcriptions of documents.

The benefits of sharing collections via other websites are:
• Various online profiles for your archive – allowing you to tailor content for different audiences.
• Multiple ways to access your content – lets you bring content to the user.
• Increased awareness of the collections – raises the profile of collections.
• Capture of user knowledge – allows you to improve and enhance your finding aids.
• Engaged users – can provide mew content for collections and further information about them with ease

Communicate differently – by blogging

Blogging and/or tweeting provides a regular, informal way to communicate news and information about your archive service, its collections and events. The popularity of smartphones with 11 million users in the UK (comScore study means that more people are accessing web content on the move which gives this form of communication even greater impact and immediacy than traditional ‘news’ pages.

image of blog software and twitter logos

Blog software and twitter logos

The benefits of using these methods of communication are that they allow for engagement with what you do by allowing people to comment and reply to information you post, this can generate conversations between the archive and its users.

Different communication channels give you:
• Regular contact with a different audience – you can reach different people with an immediacy that traditional news sections on a website don’t have.
• Improved understanding about ‘what you do’ – by blogging about the day to day aspects of being an archivist.
• The ability to react quickly to current media topics and connect with them – make your content relevant by picking up on news items and anniversaries.
• Engagement by providing users with a way to give you feedback – people can comment on blog posts, reply to or retweet your tweets.

Share your resources – reach a global audience with podcasts

Giving talks to family and/or local history groups, schools or within your organisation about the archive and its collections is a great way to promote your archive and raise awareness of the collections. If you have taken the time to prepare a talk or presentation, wouldn’t it be great to reach as wide an audience as possible? By recording your talks and making them available online you can. This also allows you to build a resource up of past talks that users can access when they wish.

image of podcast logo

Podcast logo

The National Archives has a very successful and varied podcast series with over 150 episodes. According to podcast alley the TNA series is in the top 10% of podcasts downloaded out of over 85,000 other podcasts and on iTunes, 11 of the 20 bestselling government podcasts are TNA ones.

The benefits of a podcasting are:
• Potential global audience – 19% of the 222 million Americans who use the Internet have downloaded a podcast (Pew Internet Research Centre)
• Better informed users – recorded talks can also be used by visitors before they come to your archive to provide audio guides about certain collections and give basic information about how to use an archive and its resources.
• Flexible access to your resources – users can choose when to listen to your talk.
• Improved listening figures – in a three month period during 2007 TNA podcasts were downloaded 8,000 times.

My experience at the Ballast Trust

I’m the archivist for a small charity called the Ballast Trust which provides a rescue, sorting and cataloguing service for business archives with an emphasis on technical records such as shipbuilding, railway and engineering plans, drawings and photographs. It has been working for over twenty years to help archives understand their technical records and make their collections available for the public.

When I started, the Trust didn’t have a web presence so I created a website and also a blog to provide information about us and our activities. In time we have also joined flickr to allow us to share the small photographic collections that we have with a wider audience.

screenshot Ballast Trust blog

Screenshot of Ballast Trust blog

My experience with these three sites, created at no financial expense using blogger and flickr ( has been a very positive one. Together all three have helped to give the Ballast Trust a higher public profile, create new connections and share what we do with a global audience. The blog consistently gets higher statistics compared to the website, in the first year the website received 554 visits from 20 countries compared to 1,212 visits to the blog from 64 countries. Since we started a year ago; our flickr pages have had nearly 3,000 views, we’ve received comments and information about some pictures and an enquiry about volunteering with us.

For a small organisation this has been a great way to extend our network and put ourselves and what we do out there. It has required only basic technical knowledge and an small investment of my time but nothing else and given us great results to build on.

Examples and experiences from other organisations

Don’t just take my word for it! There are plenty of other archives out there using web 2.0 and seeing the benefits. There is an excellent selection of case studies available on the Interactive Archivist website covering a wide selection of web 2.0 tools, including some of the following:
• Using a blog to market your archive at Northwestern University Archives
• Using podcasts to increase access at the Kansas Historical Society

Lots of archives have a presence on flickr, there are 198 organisations in the ArchivesOnFlickr group and these two reports from early adopters about their flickr pilots are a great resource for more information:
For the Common Good, is the 2008 report on the Library of Congress’ Flickr Pilot Project.
Lessons from the National Library of New Zealand’s Flickr pilot

Posted in archives, Blogs, Guest-blog, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment »

Using a Blog as a Research Diary

Posted by guestblogger on 16th August 2010

About this Guest post

Marianne Bamkin is a PhD research student at Loughborough University. As a very mature student she has previously worked in shops, been an Early Years practitioner, a teacher and a children’s mobile library assistant. Marianne qualified as a librarian in 2008 and her passion for reading and interest in teaching literacy has led her to investigate the influence of children’s mobile libraries on children’s reading.

Marianne can be contacted at m.r. or visit her university profile or follow her on Twitter.

Using a Blog as a Research Diary

image of diary

Traditional 5 year diary

I have always been a diarist, ever since I was bought one of these five year diaries with a tooled fake leather cover and a lock on the front. I must have been about 8 or 9 years old. I therefore instinctively used an online web log to write about me, my family and my thoughts of what was happening in society. Therefore, it was a natural progression to use the internet as a space for recording events, thoughts and feelings as a researcher when I embarked on the journey of taking a PhD. The aim of my research is to discover if children’s mobile libraries in Britain help children’s literacy and give them a love of books. A children’s mobile library can be described as a vehicle that provides all the services of a children’s library.

The blog “Children’s Mobile Libraries; the story of my research” was started for several reasons. I wanted to record anything I found out about children’s mobile libraries in the course of my investigations and comment on the findings. I needed a space to write notes taken from any literature I found about children’s mobile libraries and I wanted to publicise the fact that I was doing the research to attract attention from anyone researching the same area and anyone who was working on or had worked on a children’s mobile library. I describe the blog in my first post as a “Scrapbook from which I can assemble a thesis”.

It has become more of a scrapbook as time has gone on, and more gadgets have become available. Like a scrapbook, it gets untidy, currently I have a string of posts that are just links to interesting news articles that I have not yet commented on. Periodically, it gets tidied and preened. Like a scrapbook, I stick pictures in it, pictures that I have taken of children’s mobile libraries as I visit them. It is a space to deposit anything I find of relevance and want to pass on to children’s mobile library operators. At one point in the research, I realised that some of the blog posts may have been boring for third parties to read. I had needed to find out more about the psychology of reading and posted notes from the text books that I was reading. So I revised my ideas of what and what not to post. Another problem arose when I started doing fieldwork in earnest.

Blog screenshot

Screen shot from my blog

I thought I could write up all my field notes on the blog, but realised that I had promised anonymity to all the participants and there could be plagiarism issues when my thesis is eventually submitted and put through the plagiarism software; it would pick up that I was plagiarising myself! The intensive, reflective field notes are therefore simply typed up and not shared with the rest of the world. The words that appear on the blog about the places I observe are now mainly descriptive and give information that is generally in the public domain. In some ways the blog has been a success, it is an excellent depositary for interesting facts and articles. It has been somewhat of a failure in attracting attention to my research. I know that some people in the mobile library world have looked at it, my business card includes it’s address. I suspect that one of my supervisors looks at it. I try to use tags to my advantage, including the names of people and places. However, I have never had any comments other that the odd commercial company trying to sell through the blog and I suppose it is unfortunate that most of my writing time gets taken up with statutory reports that I have to produce for university, so the blog is not updated as regularly as I would like.

blog screenshot

Screenshot of my blog

I have visited 13 children’s mobile libraries from 9 library services across the country and I am constantly surprised at the isolation of their staff. Many children’s mobile library operators ask me questions about what other services do and how they do it (and I am the one who should be doing the questioning). Others are surprised that they are not the only children’s mobile library. I foresee a need for a central point of information for all people who work in a children’s mobile library. This could be the continuation of the blog past the end of my PhD, or it could expand into something more interactive, a wiki or a website or even a Facebook group.

image of pile of files

File overload

I use Web 2.0 extensively in my search for data and set up blog, twitter and news alerts for the terms Mobile Library and Bookmobile (the American term for a mobile library). Twitter appears to be extensively used in America for alerting customers to the arrival of the bookmobile at a certain town or the sudden cancellation of a stop. Twitter is also used globally to show pictures of new vehicles and to announce the demise of others. I also pick up the tweets from people who have just visited their local mobile library, or seen one driving along. Mobile libraries seem to stir up a lot of pleasant memories for people.

Blog posts are commonly from third parties who visit a mobile library or have found an interesting subject in the news or on the internet such as an unusual form of distributing books. So far there I have not found many blog entries like this one, from a library service about their mobile library, and certainly British libraries are a little slow off the mark. Interestingly, local village bloggers and small local news websites often comment on the mobile library service. Newspaper websites cover disasters, announce temporary changes in service and when a new service starts. Basically, mobile libraries are born, have accidents and die on the web but there appears to be very little about their day to day existence.

This is why I am doing the research.

Please take a look at and if you feel inclined, please leave a comment about any mobile library experience you have had.

Posted in Blogs, Guest-blog, Libraries | 1 Comment »

23 Things …

Posted by guestblogger on 9th August 2010

About this Guest Post

Helen Leech is the Virtual Content Manager, for Surrey Library Service. Here she writes about her experience of collaboratively developing a wiki using the 23 Things concept. She can be contacted at or follow her at

23 Things …

Speaking as a public librarian, there’s a sense of delightful anarchy in working together with another authority on a Wiki. So many new technologies are banned to public library staff across the country. We can’t Facebook, because we would waste working time. We can’t freely communicate with staff in other public services, such as the NHS, because we’re all on secure Government Connects networks. We can’t Twitter, because God forbid we should say something out of the corporate line. Every mention of social media is accompanied by the scare stories about copyright infringement, people dissing their boss and getting sacked, illegal file sharing and the spectre of the Digigal Economy Act. We are bound around with restrictions, and anything to do with social networking is treated with the utmost suspicion.

I’m lucky to be working for an authority – Surrey Library Service, part of Surrey County Council – which is realising the worth of Web 2.0 and is loosening up. As a result of this, I’ve been set relatively free to explore and develop new tools, with the aim of improving our customer service, changing the library culture and raising staff awareness (and skills).

23 Things screenshot

Thing 11 of 23 Things

Towards this, I’ve been co-ordinating a project called 23 Things. In 2006, an American librarian, Helene Blowers, realised not only that her staff needed a course which would improve their understanding of the internet and all the stuff that’s grown up around it, but that the tools were freely available to create an online course. Helene had read a blog article about 43 Things, which suggested technologies and websites that people ought to explore to increase their web-savviness. She took some of these, such as blogging and RSS feeds and pod casting, developed each into a module that was light and informative and engaging, put the modules onto a blog (still available at, and asked her staff to work their way through it, offering an iPod as an incentive prize.

The concept was too fabulous to resist. I, along with around 400 other librarians all over the planet, wanted my own version for my own staff!

But why work alone, when we’re all trying to do the same thing? The Society of Chief Librarians (South East) put me in touch with Pat Garrett from Portsmouth public library service, and teams from the two authorities built a wiki (how wonderfully subversive!), populated it with content harvested with kind permission from Devon and Kirklees, who were working on their own versions, and asked other organisations, via the Jiscmail web 2.0 list, if they wouldn’t mind having a look at it and giving us their opinions.

The size of the response was surprising. Staff from 11 public library authorities, 15 FE/HE bodies and two health authorities worked their way through the Things and told us what they thought of them.

So, as I write, we’re into the next phase, and we’re not doing it alone. Four public library authorities – Surrey, Portsmouth, Aberdeen and Suffolk – are now working together, honing the materials in line with the evaluation, creating a “lite” version for those staff who don’t have much time, and planning to roll it out in our authorities come the end of the summer. You can see the work in progress at And, in the spirit of the original, it’s freely available for anybody to use, but beware – it will carry on changing until autumn.

Working together in this way – our four authorities accessing the Wiki, all of us creating stuff and editing each other’s stuff and making it available for anybody at all to use, embodies the spirit of Web 2.0. It’s a practical demonstration of what our users and customers and communities are doing, it’s a good reason for all library staff to learn revolutionary new skills – and in my opinion it’s a convincing argument for our parent bodies to loosen up a bit!

Surrey Libraries links

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Visit the photostream on Flickr
Chat about e-books at Surrey on Facebook

Posted in Blogs, Guest-blog, Libraries, Web 2.0, wikis | 1 Comment »

If a Tree Falls in the Forest (pt.2)

Posted by guestblogger on 5th August 2010

If a Tree Falls in the Forest – and other thoughts on Web 2.0 Evaluation (pt. 2)

Linda Berube continues her guest post. (Read Part 1)

Back to the Tree

Given such focused objectives as listed for a virtual book discussion group, there still may be no discernible response from the online public to Facebook book discussion announcements, to library blog posts etc. But a librarian should not necessarily give up hope if met with deafening silence. In my book, DO You Web 2.0?, I discuss the different communication paradigms for Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. For the former, the communication is usually one way; in the case of libraries, the corporate web page is all about communication from library to community (one to many). Sometimes, there is two-way communication, but it is usually one-to-one and asynchronous (email, and email-based such as web forms). With Web 2.0, communication is many to many and in real-time. For libraries, this would mean not only users contributing to the library web page, through comments, tagging, and even content, but also using the library virtual space to communicate to other users.

However, quite a few libraries are using Web 2.0 tools in a Web 1.0 manner: blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc are used to announce events, new books, etc—essentially for one-to-many communication. There is not anything necessarily wrong with this, unless the objective was to change the communication paradigm with users. In other words, if the intention was to create a blog so as to encourage user response, and posts only ever come from librarians, then something has gone wrong in the planning.

Still, if users do not post on a library blog, does this mean the blog has not fulfilled its purpose? About a year ago, I would have answered an unqualified yes. While it is true that a blog is an online diary of sorts and therefore might be considered a satisfying enough solitary experience, broadcasting opinions and activities over the network rather begs an audience and some degree of feedback from that audience. However, in the process of writing the book, reviewing how blogs are used by libraries, intentionally or unintentionally, and talking with a number of librarians, I see it a bit differently. For example, according to Eli Neiburger at Ann Arbor District Library in the US “items featured in blog posts immediately see 100%-400% increases in the number of requests. So we know people are reading the blogs, and we find that almost a third of our event attendees find out about events online in our blogs or listings”. [Footnote] If a library has the statistical software and the staff time and knowledge that can uncover this kind of causal link across services, the resulting analysis may reveal not only public interest, but an impact on other library services based on that interest.

The Results of Twittering Trees Falling

Eli observed that ‘circulation-styled metrics’ upon which libraries have traditionally relied may not be sufficient in the new communication paradigm introduced by Web 2.0. I would agree and disagree. On the one hand, the straightforward counting of repeated activities — circulating books, reserves, inter-library loans — does not accommodate the kind of mining of data required to identify the subtle but real impact or value to communities, the causal links, as demonstrated in the Ann Arbor experience. However, these metrics still have a place, as they do with any service, public or commercial. In an age when the public library penchant for questioning its value in the face of declining numbers all around has reached an even more obsessive pitch than usual, we cannot escape that we are fighting to maintain, if not increase, our numbers, whether they represent physical or virtual activities or visits. The fight for relevance may boil down to a fight for numbers, and while we want to ensure that we are delivering and can measure value, it really won’t matter if it is delivered to a vanishing community.


From email correspondence with author, 29 April 2010. Ann Arbor is an acknowledged leader in the use of Web 2.0 technology in public libraries, with blogs and RSS feeds integrated onto the pages of the corporate library website, a ‘social catalogue’ where users can tag and write reviews, as well as create a personal card catalogue. See

Posted in Evaluation, Guest-blog, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments »

If a Tree Falls in the Forest (pt.1)

Posted by guestblogger on 2nd August 2010

About this Guest Post

Linda Berube is no stranger to using web services to transform public libraries. As a regional manager for e-services and e-procurement, she not only oversaw the distributed interoperability of library management systems, but also created and managed the implementation of a co-operative national virtual reference service, the People’s Network Enquire. She currently coordinates and advises on policy, research, and project work for the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel, a non-departmental government body charged by the UK Secretary of State to make recommendations on regulations for the legal deposit of digital resources. She can be contacted at:

If a Tree Falls in the Forest – and other thoughts on Web 2.0 Evaluation (pt.1)

A few things caught my eye on the way to writing this guest blog for UKOLN:

• The announcement that the Library of Congress will archive Tweets
“Professor of War,” a Vanity Fair article reviewing the career of General David Petraeus, Commander of US Central Command. Of particular relevance was his father’s exhortation, “results, boy, results.”
• A discussion with a US librarian regarding how blogs can be evaluated absent any response posts from members of the public. (Hence, the title of this blog—if someone writes a blog and there is no response to posts, is it being read? Er, or something like that…)

What has any of this to do with evaluating the impact of Web 2.0 in libraries? In a way, they point to the key questions – what, why, and how – of any service development, Web 2.0-based or otherwise, the answers to which should provide the objectives for evaluation, not as a separate activity, but one that is integral to the service from the beginning.

As one who started some years ago to encourage public librarians to look at Web 2.0 services, (for example see my bit of technology forecasting for the Laser Foundation in 2005, On the Road Again), the process of writing a book on the subject (Do You Web 2.0?) afforded me the opportunity to talk with a number of librarians from the UK, US, and Canada, not only about the services themselves, but also their thoughts on impact and how it is evaluated. While I found many excellent examples of Web 2.0 services, I also encountered something called ‘the evaluation by-pass’. I like to refer to this as simply ‘the evaluation pass,’ as in “Evaluation? We took a pass on that for now. It’s early days, after all.” (for more on the evaluation by pass, see Booth, A (2007). “Blogs, wikis, and podcasts: the ‘evaluation by pass’ in action?” Health Information Information and Libraries Journal 24, pp298-302.)

I have had long, heartfelt email exchanges with librarians about how they know they should be evaluating, how they would if they could, how just doing it (Web 2.0) has been satisfactory enough etcetcetc. Reasons often cited as mitigating factors for not evaluating include staff capacity; lack of motivation and/or support on the part of front-line staff or senior management; and simply not knowing what or how to evaluate Web 2.0-based services.

My impression regarding these reasons, and especially this last, is that quite a few librarians have embarked on experimenting with Web 2.0 without a service mindset. So, before we consider how impact might be evaluated, some observations on ‘why’ are in order.

The Twitter Factor

Because the technology is low-to-no cost, quite a few librarians have given into the temptation ‘to experiment’ with Web 2.0, thus setting themselves up for a common enough trap: high expectation meets low return. Librarians might say they don’t have high expectations when they start using these tools, but when blog posts are met with deafening silence, or when no one wants to be a ‘Friend’ or ‘Follower’ or ‘Fan’ of the library’s on a social networking site, such as Twitter or Facebook, it’s hard not to feel rejected and to turn this bitterness against the technology. (“It works for some libraries, just not for ours.”)

I think a great deal of expectation has been cranked up about these tools in general, and librarians have certainly felt the peer pressure. The amount of publicity a service like Twitter gets, especially with regard to the value of its data whether it be commercial or scholarly, compels librarians to think about trying it. And, Twitter seemed to have caught on overnight, growing exponentially, making the quick win of instant attention derived just by signing up within everyone’s grasp. Essentially, all a librarian has to do is set up a Twitter account, put out a few Tweets and the public response will be instantaneous.

Results, Boy, Results

I understand the pressure exerted to try this new technology, and think that a little experimentation is a good thing. But expectations are no substitute for even the most minimal planning that focuses on objectives and outcomes, regardless of whether a library is just experimenting, testing proof of concept, or launching a live service. In various publications about the evaluation process, a common first step is to answer the question “why?”— in other words, knowing the purpose of evaluation will often identify the necessary method for collecting data.

However, “why” should be asked at the very inception of a service, way before it is implemented—why are we doing this? Answers to this question should provide the basis for the service: its objectives, how it will be delivered (technology), and how success will be measured. For evaluation should not start after the service has been up and running for a while, and it should not be reactive (to stave off threats of budget cuts, or awkward questions from senior management etc). The gathering of the required data should start from the first day of implementation and should be ongoing, as a matter of course.

This is just plain good service sense, whether that service is a homework help club, a book group, an online catalogue, or a Facebook page. It is no different for any service using Web 2.0 tools. So many librarians start out in an experimental mode, but I think the secret hope is to stumble upon a crowd-pleaser with little effort. Essentially, they believe that the technology is the point. But, Web 2.0 is no more the point than any other technology—it’s about the service and what that service means to the community served.

And, service development should start with critical success factors against which impact on the community can be measured. With Web 2.0 tools, the confusion of what and how to evaluate arises from the original objectives of the tools, including how users measure success. For social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook, users measure success by counting the 3Fs: ‘followers’ ‘fans’ ‘friends’. In addition, there are activities such as posts, tagging, ‘likes’, ‘retweets’, online games, and any one of a number of ways users indicate that they are reading, are interested, and want to share.

Librarians also evaluate success in terms of numbers: hits or visits on the webpage, registered users, reserves, etc. However, when they come to services like Facebook or Twitter, it is often difficult to translate the social activities and membership into anything of significance to library service (except for those pages that include local or WorldCat search capability, where searches and access can be counted). I have looked at a number of these pages, and frequently the numbers do not equate to anything meaningful, unless it is accepted that small numbers signify lack of a significant network or interest.

So, if numbers are required as a marker of success, which is often the case for public libraries, then the use of blogs, wikis, and especially social networking services must be very focused: not just to encourage participation but to ensure relevance and success. If we accept that it is the service and its support of users going about their business that should be the focus, and not the gratuitous use of technology because it is new, then what we need to identify is the service, the purpose of the service, and what success looks like.

For instance, the library wants to start a reading group for the housebound: a virtual book group sounds like a good idea, and a number of Web 2.0 tools can support this activity. In this case, critical success factors could include:

• everybody in the book club to be signed on as a friend to a Facebook page;
• a calendar of events to be created and sign up to an RSS feed of events to be encouraged;
• one book discussion meeting a month to be held on Facebook;
• an agreed level of participation that is considered successful (maybe based on how many “show up” for book discussions), etc.

Evaluation is this simple, and it is eminently measurable – a thriving book discussion group on Facebook, which opens this library activity up to the housebound and physically challenged. This is what success looks like for our book discussion club, and it can be measured, whether the days are early or late.

Continued in Part 2

Posted in Evaluation, Guest-blog, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments »

The National Library of Wales and Flickr Commons

Posted by guestblogger on 26th July 2010

About this guest blog post

Siân Lloyd Pugh is e-Editor at the National Library of Wales. She is responsible for the Library’s online content, ranging from the Library’s website to all web 2.0 provisions. She also monitors all the Library’s online statistics and trains all online contributors.

Siân can be contacted at

The National Library of Wales and Flickr Commons


The National Library of Wales joined Flickr Commons in April 2009. Originally the Library joined as a pilot, which was a part of the Web 2.0 research undertaken by Dr Paul Bevan, leading to the new NLW web strategy. This has been a highly successful and popular pilot, and the work is now seen as an integral part of the Library’s provision.

The Library sought to join Flickr Commons as a way to open its collections to a wider audience. The Library has a powerful online catalogue that allows users to search and view digital images online, but of course if you don’t know that items exist it’s hard to find them in a catalogue. Flickr Commons therefore was the perfect way to bring these collections to the attention of interested parties, that may not think to visit the National Library of Wales’ website, let alone its catalogue.

National Library of Wales on Flickr screenshot

National Library of Wales on Flickr

Roles and Responsibilities

Early on in the project it was recognised that we needed to clearly define roles and responsibilities in order to ensure the smooth running of the account.

Image Selection

It was decided that the images should be selected and uploaded by a member of staff in the digitisation section, as they are aware which photographic collections have been digitised.

Content monitoring and Interaction

The content monitoring and interaction work was undertaken by the exhibitions interpretation officer. At the time Flickr Commons was seen as a sort of online exhibition space where we could share copyright free photographs from the collection, which is why the moderation and responding to comments work was placed in the exhibitions unit. However, a new member of staff joined the marketing unit at the end of last year, responsible for the day to day running of much of our online web 2.0 provision, and so this work was moved to this post.

It was felt that it was important to keep all day to day running of our web 2.0 provision together, and Flickr Commons is an important part of this. This move means that we can easily highlight new photographs on Twitter or write a comment on Facebook about interest in certain photographs etc. We feel it’s vitally important that we join our web 2.0 presence together, while keeping in mind that all outlets are different and have different audiences and this must be respected in order to fulfil each medium’s potential.

NLW Flickr photostream screenshot

National Library of Wales Flickr photostream

Strategic development

As e-Editor I oversee the day to day running of the account, and I am also responsible for the statistical analysis of the data. I am also the first port of call if any problems arise with comments, questions regarding Flickrmail enquiries etc. Finally, I am responsible for driving the project forward strategically, and ensuring that we continue to fulfil our users’ expectations.

Future Development

As I mentioned, we are continually trying to ensure that we develop our web 2.0 presences, Flickr Commons included. We recently held a meeting to discuss our current Flickr presence, and whether we felt it was worth pursuing, and it was a resounding yes from everyone!

The level of interest we’ve had in the profile has been incredible, something we could never have achieved if the photographs were left in the catalogue and on some NLW microsites alone. Our statistics tend to speak for themselves. 45% of our images have received comments, and 72% have been selected as favourites. These statistics clearly show the value for money the project offers. It costs very little to run the account, but it’s incredibly popular. It also affords us the opportunity to reach users who we could never have hoped to reach otherwise.

1. Engaging with ours users

One area that is very important to us to develop in the future is the interaction between the Library and its users. We want to be a living Library that people can connect with, not a quiet establishment to admire from afar.

Designating a member of staff to moderate (although we haven’t really had any issues with moderation) and interact with users, by responding to comments and accepting request to add images to groups is very important therefore. We hope that as our collection on Flickr Commons grows, that this interaction will also develop. Although it must be recognised that it’s impossible to respond to all comments as we receive so many!

2. Upload API

We currently upload all images by hand, but we are looking at the possibility of developing and API to upload selected images automatically. Although Flickr is very user friendly and easy to use, uploading every image takes time, and developing an API to take images from our catalogue and upload them directly into Flickr will make this work much quicker.

3. A cohesive presence

As the content moderation and interaction work now lies in the promotions unit, we also hope to tie the selected images from the digitisation section much more closely with current exhibitions and events that the Library is involved with. This has a twofold benefit. It makes the images more relevant, and hopefully will entice those users who are in a position to do so, to visit exhibitions. It also brings the work of selecting and uploading images much closer to the work of managing the content then generated, thus giving us a more cohesive presence on Flickr Commons.

Who know what the future holds?

In the long term of course, the possibilities are vast.

Currently only very few of our photographs are geotagged, but this functionality certainly offers some very interesting possibilities for the future. One other aspect that we are baring in mind is crowdsourcing. A few of our users on Flickr Commons add additional tags to our photographs, and the notion of being able to crowdsource these and add them to our online catalogue could be very interesting indeed.

Happy, but keeping one eye on the horizon

But for now, we are content with trying to grow our audience
on Flickr Commons, by continuing to add interesting photographs from our collection, and cross-pollinating through our various online presences.

As I mentioned, our original aim in joining Flickr Commons was just to open our photographic collection to the world, and help people enjoy the treasures that we hold – and judging from the response, I think we can certainly say that Flickr Commons has been a roaring success.

Posted in Guest-blog, Libraries, Web 2.0 | 3 Comments »