I know, seems unlikely doesn’t it? But this week at Judge Business School (University of Cambridge) is all about children’s charity Barnardo’s. A month ago managers from across the school – including myself – taking part in a management development programme, were first told about an Apprentice-alike team task during which we would compete to raise awareness of, and money for, the charity, and hopefully learn some new things about teamwork and leadership along the way.
A specified constraint of the challenge is that all the money can only be raised on Thursday 25th April. Business school Director (Christoph Loch) will be doing his best Alan Sugar impression in the boardroom the following morning and judge (geddit) the team’s relative performance. Although I don’t think he is going to be firing all the managers in the weakest team, learning that he is looking forward to grilling us when we present to him certainly concentrates the mind!
Despite concerns about already heavy workloads we all sprang into action and began to discuss possible events and schemes. One of the first things our team did was talk to Barnardo’s own Ashley Westpfel to see if he had any advice for us. His main suggestion was that we should play to our strengths and do stuff that we were comfortable with and enjoyed doing. This led us to a shortlist of ideas that we ultimately did not narrow down, deciding instead to have a go at pulling them all off! Gluttons for punishment! We were also intent on utilising social media and raise awareness and funds for Barnardo’s beyond Judge if possible. ]
I should add that it very quickly became clear that I had been blessed with excellent fellow team members – Conrad, Katie, Mari and Natalie – all with different talents, none of whom I had worked closely with before, so if the fundraising achieved nothing else this opportunity for networking alone has proved very fruitful.
As I write we are about to enter the week in which ‘B-Day’ (Barnardo’s Day) the 25th April is hurtling towards us like an angry tornado, however, apart from a few bits an pieces here and there (and a heck of a lot of baking) I think we’re almost there. This is where you dear reader come in, by helping us with our fundraising activities. They are as follows:
THE BIG QUIZ
An attempt to break the world record for the largest online quiz (registered with Guinness – fingers crossed that we meet their criteria). This fun image-based 50-question quiz can be taken here: bit.ly/11SRdO4 As well as filling it in and entering yourself, please, please, send the link to your students, academics, friends, family. Anyone really! The prize for the highest score is a rather fine Amazon voucher for £25. You will be nudged to donate on our JustGiving page after completing the quiz.
This is the only activity for which we’re not asking for donations. The idea is that we try to get a video of my son John retweeted around the world in which he is promoting Barnardo’s. John’s journey will be plotted on a map on this site. This activity starts on today (Monday 22nd) so please get involved by tweeting the video link and make sure you follow @Barnardos too.
Our remaining activities are Cambridge-based…
CAMBRIDGE TREASURE HUNT
A dash around Cambridge in teams following photographic clues and answering questions all against the clock. Starting at Judge at 6pm and finishing at the Anchor at 7.15pm for restorative food and drink! We have ten teams of four signed up so far and only have spots for 3 more. £20 per team to enter. Link:
‘SWEET TOOTH’ FAIRY VISITS
During the day on Thursday, our team will be dressing up as pairs of ‘sweet tooth’ fairies (even I may end up wearing fairy wings – such dedication) selling amazing homemade cakes and sweets at the following locations in Cambridge: the Faculty of Education (11am); Homerton College (11:30); CUDO (tbc), the Pitt Building (tbc); the English Faculty Library (11:45); Selwyn College (12:30); and Trinity Hall (13:00).
INFORMATION CENTRE DONATIONS
Also on Thursday, anyone coming to the Information Centre (Library) will be asked to donate when they ask library & information staff for assistance.
Of course it would be very , very nice if our team won, but an even better result would be greater awareness of the important work of Barnardo’s, which includes helping children in the UK living in poverty, prevention of the sexual exploitation of children and supporting children who have difficult lives as carers for their parents. See the Barnardo’s website for more details: http://www.barnardos.org.uk/
Our team put a website together on which all the Judge teams are promoting their events on, so please go take a look and see what else is going on (however, non-Cambridge readers – the other teams are only offering Cambridge-based events): http://cjbsbarnardos.wordpress.com
One final plea, please retweet our #CJBSbarnardos (CJBS stands for Cambridge Judge Business School) tweets on Thursday!
Many thanks in advance for your help with the fundraising. I will be posting the relevant quiz and donation links here on Thursday morning.
John’s Journey video (please tweet it far and wide!):
Earlier this week I fronted an annual meeting for faculty and departmental librarians on the topic of ebook use and developments here at Cambridge University. Ebooks administrator Jayne Kelly kicked the meeting off with an update (presentation on SlideShare), and was followed by Jack MacDonald of CUP, and various librarians describing the different ways they currently choose to select and fund ebooks.
As meeting host I decided that a discussion at the end of the event on ebook futures might be fun and came up with the angle of different groups formulating ‘ebook utopias’. Why? Well, because…
a) I’m VERY bored of talking about current ebook constraints and problems.
b) I could put together an attractive PPT easily.
c) I thought attendees would get behind the topic, cos its a bit of fun.
Prior to the discussion I was a little concerned that everyone would just say ‘any title, any device, anywhere’ because that’s essentially what our needs boil down to, but the groups, who were tasked to come up with 5 different component elements for their ebook utopias, came up with a good variety of ideas and angles that went beyond these basics, as follows:
- Platform independence.
- No VAT!
- Prices agreed between publishers and librarians.
- All textbooks available.
- Download from anywhere.
- Philanthropic benefactor – gifting billions to sort ebooks out.
- Instant availability.
- Accessibility for all.
- Uniformity of design and use.
- Unlimited retro-digitisation.
- Easy access via OPAC.
- Simpler/fewer platforms.
- Take advantage of different mediums.
- Maintaining contact with readers vital despite e-availability.
- More coverage.
- All books ever published and to be published available as ebook (to academic libraries).
- No DRM.
- Accessible to everybody, including ‘disabled’.
- Accessible/downloadable to all devices, current and future.
- Easy online ordering from only very few suppliers.
- 100% coverage.
- Open access model for books.
- One click access.
- One format.
- Smart interactivity.
Suggestions were also received before, during, and after the session on the Twitterbox, using the hashtag #ebkutopia. This was valuable as many other neat ideas were volunteered.
Quite deliberately there wasn’t time to explore the complexity of actually delivering or arriving at such utopias, as it was exactly that sort of detail that I was trying to avoid, but obviously utopian visions are by their very nature flawed. A great quote about seeking utopias from Christopher Hitchens runs as follows:
“The search for Nirvana, like the search for Utopia or the end of history or the classless society, is ultimately a futile and dangerous one. It involves, if it does not necessitate, the sleep of reason. There is no escape from anxiety and struggle.”
Ah well, at least it was half-an-hour of ebook positivity for a change!
Thanks to all the librarians who contributed in Cambridge and beyond, and to Sarah Burton for transcribing the flipchart sheets.
Ange and I have just recorded another edition of TheLibraryRant and despite intending to knock a quick one out (Matron!) this is our longest podcast yet at a 25 rip-roaring minutes.
The usual dancing and choons aside, there are serious discussions and debates around meritocracy and work-life balance, plus the usual top tips on tools from Inspector G-Ange-t.
I thought I’d take the opportunity in the remainder of this blatant promo blogpost to answer some questions from our listeners:
Qn: How long does it take you to edit it together/record in total?
Ans: It’s done in one-take, so its takes as long as each podcast lasts for.
Qn: What does the Currency Horse like to eat?
Ans: Journal articles and books after we’ve finished reviewing them.
Qn: Have you got a recording booth/equipment
Ans: So far its been recorded in a Judge seminar room on a humble iPhone, with an Android tablet for sound effects, but I like the idea of an on-location summer punting edition.
Qn: Can I be a guest on the Rant?
Ans: Yes, anyone from the library & information world is welcome. Guests are good. Payment in the form of a hot or cold beverage.
Qn: How can you justify the time it takes to prepare and make the podcast?
Ans: With promotion and a 15 minute discussion about what we might include and recording as well, each one takes around an hour of our time. It keeps us engaged, it makes us think and reflect, and it make us laugh. And all of those things are priceless (to us anyway).
Qn: Did you really run around to the Benny Hill music?
Thanking you dear listeners!
There was an unexpected hiatus since the first and introductory edition of our LibraryRant podcast back in December. This didn’t reflect a crisis of confidence or a change of heart, but was instead due to a spate of silly injuries. Myself a sprained ankle and Ange a sprained wrist. We were concerned that on this our third attempt to record the second podcast that a similar fate would befall our very special guest – the man, the legend – Ed Chamberlain, but thankfully he made it unscathed, arriving in some style in the end.
Between us we discussed discovery systems – specifically the Summon trial here in Cambridge, video tutorials and ‘the age of the individual’. Our charmingly obedient Currency Horse (who bring us a new book, blogpost, or article each Rant) also trotted in with a spangly new copy of Rethinking Information Literacy by Jane Secker and Emma Coonan.
Its ony 20 minutes, so get that ironing out, run a bath, or just pour yourself a wine, and click play.
I was only twenty four hours in Korsør. Onlyyyy, one day away from my work
I saw a welcoming light and stopped to rest for the night…
Last week I enjoyed a lightning trip to Denmark, a country that these days probably puts us more in mind of achingly cool drama than bacon. The purpose of the visit was to present a conference keynote at the annual Vinterinternat (Winter conference) of the Danmarks Forskningsbiblioteksforening (Danish Research Library Association). I’d been invited to present along with my co-author Libby Tilley on the topic of our personalising library services book. While I was going to focus on the need for librarians to communicate differently to today’s users and to offer higher levels of customer service, Libby was going to square up to the criticism that a ’boutique’ approach to libraries is not cost-effective. However, before we could do either we had to get there.
To say Libby and I were relaxed as we travelled by plane and two trains to our destination is something of an understatement. Both of us were far too busy chatting and having a good time to worry about the fact that our Danish was non-existent (tak meaning thank you being one of the very few words in our vocabulary) or that we had to travel half way across Denmark – well across the Danish island of Zealand anyway - after we flew in to Copenhagen. In fact this latter fact had rather passed us by. However, despite this huge state of unpreparedness, we only had one moment of true indecision during the journey, when we found ourselves wandering aimlessly along a rather seedy underpass at Copenhagen Central Station mixing up platforms with tracks, and wagons with seat numbers. Utterly confused we reacted in true British fashion by stopping and finding the funny side of the situation – laughing at ourselves and our complete unsuitability for foreign travel. As I wiped the tears away, a friendly local took pity on us and we were soon headed in the right direction for a restorative coffee and a kanelsnegle.
The train journey from Copenhagen to Korsør (location of the oldest cinema in the wolrd fact-fans) was remarkably comfortable and once we got some inevitable tweets about Sarah Lund and chunky-knit jumpers out of the way, we sat back and put libraryland to rights and then the world at large. As we passed swiftly through the pitch-black Danish countryside I was already regretting that we were going to return to the UK pretty much straight after our presentation, having only seen of Denmark, the inside of an airport, train stations and a conference centre. Ah well.
I enjoyed the names of the places we passed en route, particularly Slagelse, presumably named after a Danish woman of ill repute? We were put in mind of The Killing once again when, after arriving in Korsør, our gruff taxi driver appeared to be taking us deep into the forest to kill us both in interesting ways. As it turned out, our venue, Konferencenter Klarskovgaard, was nestled between said forest and the sea, The Great Belt, between Zealand and the other major Danish island: Funen. Yes I’ve checked out the geography since I got home.
We were warmly greeted by our Danish hosts, including two old librarian friends of mine from the European Business Schools Librarians Group – Rene Steffensen and Gert Poulsen -around 9pm, having set off from Cambridge at 11:30am. The remainder of the evening was spent perfectly, drinking ale at the bar, well my evening anyway, Libby sensibly went to bed. I noted the relaxed dress code around me and asked if everyone was going to be in jeans tomorrow? Gert told me that ‘some would’, but weighing it up quickly, I told him that I thought I might be more convincing in formal trousers!
My hotel room was very ‘Scandi’ with a design classic chair and mood lighting. It was cosy too, a good job as the wind was howling outside all night. As usual, I had a few nerves about presenting before I nodded off - How much would I need my notes? Would I get my message over to Danish librarians? Would the interactive elements work? But I slept very well. Thank you ale.
The next morning we were very impressed by our first sight of the conference auditorium – very posh with summit-like furniture (with mics that lit up when delegates wanted to speak) and after a quick equipment check and a check on the Twitter hashtag #dfvinter13 the 120 or so Danish librarians who had travelled to be there from all over their country filed in. We were first up after an introduction to the conference from a very cool librarian Christian Lauersen of the Danish Royal Library which he very kindly opted to give in English rather than Danish for mine and Libby’s benefit.
Our presentations, for which I wore formal trousers not jeans (and definitely not just my pants – a running twitter joke that morning), went smoothly and as usual I found myself surprised at just how passionate I get when speaking, although I hoped my tendency to say ‘we must do this’ or ‘we must do that’, didn’t feel too much like browbeating. I was told during our first break – much needed as we were on for 2 hours – that we were going at a good speed and that it was only the occasional colloquial word such as ‘maverick’ that was not being understood.
I think the most successful element of the session was an interactive exercise for which I needed three volunteers from the audience to read a long rambling library email I’d written, which they’d each get different amounts of time to read, on which they were then tested. The results were amusing and just as poor as they’d been when I’d carried out the exercise with my team. I also enjoyed asking the audience for their most recent excellent customer service experiences. Thank you Liv for the story about how a salesman tried to sell your tomboy daughter a pink bike, before another salesman in a different shop bothered to talk to her to find out her preferences, which completely and utterly sold my key point that we must not assume what our users need but talk to them (a few hundred kroner in the post to you). I should say that Libby’s presentation went very well too. We were once again – getting used to this – asked for a clearer definiton of a boutique service which we provided and I also tweeted.
I was pleased to be told afterwards – over a great lunch at which I tried everything – by several delegates that they preferred ’boutique’ to ‘personalising’ as it better encapsulates the approach we’re describing and, besides, they already felt they’d ‘done’ personalising and that it was passe, so maybe there is life in the term yet?
All too quickly our time at the conference was over, but not before Libby and I ran like children from the conference centre down to the sea (bleak, if atmospheric – see below) in order to feel as though we had seen at least some of the country before our taxi arrived to whisk us back to the train station. Our hosts had been wonderful and as we bid goodbye we promised to return for a longer visit in the near future. I didn’t see much of Denmark this time around, but enough to know I definitely want to go back for more.
I just wanted to flag up the recent publishing of Rethinking Information Literacy edited by the very lovely Jane Secker (pictured left with shiny copies of the book) and the equally lovely Emma Coonan.
Publishers, Facet, have described the book as: ‘A vision for the future of information literacy teaching.’
My chapter (yes I haz a chapter therein) concerns Strand 8 of this new curriculum on ‘presenting and communicating knowledge’ and directly relates to the teaching I undertook – under the umbrella of Jane’s and Emma’s new curriculum – on ‘Using Twitter for Research’ and the ‘Value of Blogging’ and, more generally, the pedagogical principles that guide me when I plan and present teaching sessions. For me, the most interesting element of writing the chapter was exploring the concept of andragogy (first coined by Malcolm Knowles) rather than pedagogy (man-leading rather than child-leading) which I’ve found to be important, and more relevant, given the average age of students I teach is closer to 30 than school-age. There is a good page on andragogy here and I highly recommend Knowles’s classic ‘The Adult Learner’, now in its 7th ed from Butterworth-Heinemann.
View the Table of Contents for Rethinking Information Literacy
Read Sarah Pavey’s chapter on Strand 1 of the curriculum
The book can be bought direct from Facet or from those small publisher-strangling, 40%-taking, High Street-destroying, tax-dodging mountebanks Amazon instead. The choice is yours! N.B. If you want to know a little more about why Amazon are so evil (and getting more evil by the day) then you might want to read this (the ‘bully your suppliers’ para relates directly to my experiences as a small publisher).
A final word on Amazon, a heartfelt plea: I know full well that people are not going to stop buying from Amazon however evil they are proved to be, hell I end up buying from the buggers sometimes, but can people please, please stop liking them on Facebook? Every time I see a friend of mine has liked Amazon on there I die a little inside (and silently curse the person too). Thank you.
Further information on the ’Rethinking Information Literacy’ from Facet: Based on groundbreaking research, undertaken by the authors as part of the prestigious Arcadia Programme at Cambridge University, this presents a new and dynamic information literacy curriculum developed for the 21st century information professional. The curriculum adopts a broad definition of information literacy that encompasses social as well as academic environments and situates IL as a fundamental attribute of the discerning scholar and the informed citizen. It seeks to address in a modular, flexible and holistic way the developing information needs of students entering higher education over the next five years. Interweaving the authors’ research and the reflections of internationally-recognised experts from the library, education and information literacy sectors, it will illustrate how and why this new curriculum will work in practice. Contributors include: Sarah Pavey, Boxhill School; Andy Priestner, University of Cambridge; Geoff Walton, Staffordshire University; Susie Andretta, London Metropolitan University; and Libby Tilley, University of Cambridge.
For some time my deputy, Ange Fitzpatrick, and I have been playing around with the idea of producing a regular podcast. Today we finally took the plunge and in no time at all – without stopping and with no script to speak of – produced the first edition on Audioboo.
It was a very enjoyable experience and one we plan to keep going for the forseeable future.
Why are we doing it though?
- To rant about stuff that annoys us (although not in a career ending way!)
- To rave about things we like
- To discuss professional library issues
- To explore and review new sites, books and articles
- To keep ourselves professionally engaged
- To discuss our experiences of running a busy library service
Obviously lots of stuff won’t make it into each podcast – the confidential, the truly sensitive – but rest assured, as the title suggests, we will rant.
There are plans to have guests in future podcasts and possibly even proper sound effects. Gosh!
If you want to listen to the festive introductory edition, go visit: http://audioboo.fm/TheLibraryRant
And a happy Christmas to you all!
This blog post is a bit different to my usual musings. You may or may not know that I’m an accredited Lego Serious Play trainer. A what I hear you cry? Well essentially a guy who uses Lego in workshop style sessions to solve work-related problems such as poor communication, ineffective management, team troubles, that sort of thing.
The technique is surprisingly effective and is far more memorable, insightful and engaging than regular training as participants get to play with Lego (yay!) but more importantly, examine their working lives from a unique and new perspective.
But isn’t it just playing with bricks? On the surface yes, but every group I’ve been through the process with has cited tangible benefits from the experience: increased understanding of themselves and their colleagues; and, better still, tangible personal actions to take forward in the workplace.
I have been using the method for some time now and am happy to lead workshops at conferences or training sessions for groups/organisations: Please do email me if you are interested or just want to find out more.
There’s a guy over the pond who also happens to be a librarian and is also using the Lego Serious Play methodology and his video very neatly sums up the technique and value of the approach:
Today I’m making way for a guest post from Aoife Brophy Haney, a PhD here who is looking for contributors to a forthcoming book on communicating research. She specifically asked me to put this in the eyeline of the UK librarians community on twitter and the blogosphere, so don’t write this off as irrelevant to you. Take it away Aoife:
Hello! We are editing a forthcoming book entitled 53 interesting ways to communicate your research. The book is designed to provide researchers with practical, imaginative, tried and tested, ways, to communicate their research.
The book will be published in e-book and print formats as part of the Professional and Higher Education series. Details of the series are available at http://53interesting.wordpress.com
The book will consist of 53 contributions, each of a few hundred words based on the series ‘recipe’ for contributions, as follows:
- identify a problem (here, concerning the communication of research);
- propose a solution (one that you have tried and tested);
- explain how to implement the solution;
- identify potential pitfalls and outline how to avoid them.
The contributions will cover a wide range of themes from conferences to communicating in writing, in person and online. Some examples of problems in these areas include: getting your message across in poster presentations, using images effectively, and communicating your research to non-academic audiences.
We are currently seeking contributors to this book of essays, which will be targeted at early career researchers. Proposals are welcome from anyone either inside or outside of academia – the key is that you must have an interesting idea to share. To send your proposal please:
- e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘53iwtcyr’ in the subject line
- tell us your name and affiliation;
- explain in a single sentence what problem your contribution would seek to help the reader solve;
- explain, again in one sentence, what your proposed solution would be.
Please keep your entire message to no more than 50 words.
The deadline for proposals is 12th October. We will contact (by the 31st October) all those whose submissions we wish to discuss further. We won’t use your e-mail address for any other purpose.
If you would like further information on the book, please contact our publisher, Anthony Haynes, via the following page: http://pandhp.com/contact-us/ .
Aoife Brophy Haney
Judge Business School
University of Cambridge