Week 4: Organisation AKA Helen tries to get everybody to love Evernote as much as she does #RHUL23

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This week’s 23 things is on Evernote Organisation. Which has given me the chance to talk about my favourite thing Evernote.

I’m not a naturally organised person but Evernote has helped me no end. This is the post I did for 23 things RHUL on Evernote to give some background about what it is.

There is far more to it than just a notebook. I asked Twitter for examples of innovative uses and the following replies came back:

Not being a knitter I have no real idea what Lynne means but it sounds good! I also use it for recipes. This notebook contains them. What is absolutely brilliant about this is that you can search by ingredient. You might have chicken to use up, search your recipes and all the recipes with chicken are there. Brilliant.

Samanatha Halford takes it further and tags ones in cookbooks:

Or there is the fact you can create a blog post and share it to WordPress:

There is also a facility called Evernote clearly which strips away websites so you can see it clearer which has real educational advantages for people with some additional needs. Here is this blog’s home page:

Melon the librarian

This is a video about Evernote Clearly which shows a bit more about what it does:


Week 2: Social Networking #RHUL23

I’m catching up with 23things myself. I have blogged in the past about social networking so don’t really want to repeat myself but I think Social Networking is important for libraries and librarians both for promotion and for networking. Personally my key professional network is Twitter.

When I started work on 23things RHUL I asked for tips from other people who had run it in the past – this request went out via Twitter and the responses came thick and fast. Some from participants of 23things as well as people who had run it. But this isn’t the least of the reasons to interact professionally with Twitter.

Why should you be on Twitter?

Learn about library – Find out what influential people in the library world are thinking and doing.

Networking – start conversations and get to know your peers.

Keeping up to date – often Twitter is the first place people find out about major news events. It is also very useful if you commute or have to travel at all as this post I did illustrates.

Sharing – not just funny pictures of cute animals or you tube videos of dogs chasing deer but ideas, information and opinions (be careful on the opinions bit though. Tweets have a long lifespan).

Get answers – if you are stuck with something ask Twitter and often the answer will appear. There are a lot of clever people on Twitter.

Entertainment – Twitter is full of jokes, funny videos and quick wit. Follow celebrities, especially comedians and you will laugh a lot.

Compliment / Complain – had great service?  Tweet about it and let others know when a brand does well. Had bad service? Same applies. Also most companies take Twitter seriously so they will respond to complaints as they are public.




The Research Pile

Evernote is THE best app I have found in the last year. I was given the task of looking into it for 23 things city and to be honest wasn’t sure what use it would really be but now I have no idea what I did without it.

Evernote is a web application which is also available to download on to mobile devices, desktop PCs, lap tops and just about every computer. This means that you can literally use it anywhere and it will sync with on all your devices and the website.

 I was always starting a notebook then forgetting it and starting another then never looking at the notes anyway because I couldn’t read my writing or had to scan through so much that I couldn’t find what I was looking for but with evernote I am finally becoming a notetaker!

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I use Evernote to plan blogposts, take notes in meetings or lectures and save pictures or links. I use it both personally and professionally. I can start something on my laptop at home, work on it on my iPad on the train, edit it on my work PC, log on to any computer to check it via the web and share it via my phone if I want. At the Business Librarians Association Conference I was able to make notes, download all the pre-conference information and agenda and keep it all in one “notebook” on Evernote. When I came back to the office I could view these notes online and add links to them where needed. I can then share the notes with colleagues. For example these notes on a talk about doing a library video from the conference.

Why use it?

Even if you don’t have a mobile device to use it on or a lap top to download it to it can still transform your work.

* You can log on to the web version (http://www.evernote.com/) anywhere with an internet connection and you can share your notes so it is a great way of quickly creating a simple web page or putting a plan together.
* You can clip all or part of a webpage into a note by using the web clipping tool (this is easier to install at work on Firefox than on Internet Explorer).
This is a note I created linking to a clipping of this page.
* You can create checklists so you can tick the boxes to keep track of what you have done.
* You can tag notes so notes in different notebooks can all use the same tage and be found on a search.
* If you are using it on a mobile device you can add a location so you can see all notes made at that location by you.

Evernote is particularly useful for projects as this video shows:

How do I start?

Evernote have some getting started pages which take you through everything step by step.

Fancy YouTube things – next year’s library video might be in 3d.


Did you know you can do lots of fancy things in YouTube including editing and adding “effects”?

You can:

These links were also in the Wall Street Journal (Boehert, K; The Wonders of YouTube’s Hidden Tools, Wall Street Journal Monday 24th October 2011 p.33)

When Twitter comes into its own

Twitter is the answer to travel nightmares. I remember thinking this last November in the snow and today this was confirmed. From sometime this morning there was widespread travel chaos across the Southern network caused by a flood and then a landslide.

Landslide at Croydon - via First Capital Connect

Landslide from slightly different angle - via Southern

Looking at the live departures on Southern’s website it was clear that we would not be going anywhere south of Croydon this evening. Then Tweets confirmed that there were huge delays at Gatwick and the rail replacement bus services were overwhelmed. Before Twitter I could only have guessed this but through my network I had people updating me from all over the place. I knew the Eastbourne and Brighton lines were both impossible to get down. The national rail website only told me all the trains were cancelled and I needed to find alternative trains. It made no suggestion of what these trains were.

So I looked at other routes, using my own local knowledge combined with confirmation from Southern that Southeastern were accepting tickets. I realised if I could get to Tunbridge Wells I could get a bus that stopped practically outside my flat. So I left work and headed to Charing Cross.

Emerging from the underground I heard an announcement that no trains were travelling between Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells due to a lineside fire. Tonbridge is the town before Tunbridge Wells. This was not good news. I then saw a tweet from @southernrailuk saying I should go on this route. I replied to them and told them there were problems. My response was retweeted by people living near me.

After encountering flood, landslide and fire I  laughed at a tweet from @angefitzpatrick suggesting that she wouldn’t be surprised if all replacement bus services were cancelled due to Godzilla. I wouldn’t have been surprised either!

I then had a text from my friend Catherine saying she was on a train to Ramsgate and getting off at Tonbridge, the guard on the train said that the trains still weren’t going through to Tunbridge Wells but should be soon. So I hopped on the next train to Tunbridge Wells in the hope it would get me home.

While I tweeted about my journey I had a message from someone else on the same train asking how to get from Tunbridge Wells to Lewes. I also spoke to some people around me who were trying to get to Uckfield and Lewes. They were impressed that I had information from Twitter. Through Twitter and my friend on the train in front I was able to both be informed and keep people informed. A group of random people became connected. I was also buoyed up by tweets from friends wishing me luck on my journey and really impressed by Southern’s own use of Twitter. They replied to my tweets. This included an apology after I tweeted them an update on the journey.

Tweet from SouthernI was able to check bus times on my ipad and tweet them. We arrived at Tunbridge Wells just after 6:45 and the bus came on time at 6:58. I’m sure he doesn’t normally have quite so many people going to Lewes at that time.

The journey through the highways and byways of Kent and Sussex was speedy and a bit of a white knuckle ride but an hour later I was getting off the bus just by my flat. It was almost 4 hours after I left work (thirty minutes early) and I was over an hour and a half late home but because the delays were so bad I didn’t mind so much.

It’s times like this people muse why I commute. It’s simple, I get to live in the best place in the world. Delays like today are very rare and they are so bad there’s nothing anybody can do about it. It wasn’t Southern’s fault that a watermain burst and then there was a landslide. The fire was just so surreal that I was waiting for a plague of locusts to delay the bus.

So, yet again, if anyone asks why you should join Twitter tell them that it is the best way of finding out what is going on and should fire and brimstone rain down on your journey home nothing beats it to help you get on your way. Or as @archelina said “twitter f***ing rocks in a travel crisis”. Couldn’t have put it better myself!


This morning I caught my usual 6:51 train and over heard a couple of commuters talking about their horrendous journeys home. It was clear they hadn’t used Twitter and had been in the dark about what was going on. If you are a commuter then sign up to twitter, follow @SouthernRailUK and @NRE_Southern (or the relevant ones in your area) also follow other people from your area. I was home 2 hours before the people who hadn’t used Twitter!

Using Google forms for surveys … (almost #23thingscity )

This week on 23 things City we are looking at Office 2.0. two of the things are Google Docs and Survey Monkey. I felt this was a good point to mention how I used Google Forms in Google Docs to do a survey as part of my MA Film Studies.

I used Google Docs because it allowed unlimited questions unlike the free version of survey monkey, otherwise it was similar to survey monkey in that the link was easily distributed (via Twitter and Facebook). Google Docs allowed me to enter unlimited questions and direct people to particular questions based on the responses to a question which was a great asset, although for some people this functionality didn’t work which annoyed some respondents, I have a feeling it was to do with their browsers because it worked when I tested it.

When I got down to the analysis and I discovered Google Docs does a lot for you. For example you get a lovely summary which includes graphics, percentages and counts.

favourite type of film
Click on image to see it bigger

The data summary meant I had more time to get on with the more detailed analysis, such as looking at gender differences in the responses and the free text answers. It was possible to limit the size of the free text responses but these provided a lot of information such as “I find watching rom-coms relaxing and uplifting. They make me think that not all men are immature pigs. They are also good fun to watch with your friends and family (usually female or gay male ones). The humour in them is usually more subtle than comedies with a broader focus (i.e. ones aimed at young men).” (Female, 20-29)” and “”I don’t have any because they are all rubbish. Sometimes I am forced to watch them by my wife to be.”” This respondent felt that enjoyment was only to be had by “”Short viewing time and numerous phone calls to interrupt it. Failing all of that a packet of jammie dodgers to eat” (Male, 30-39)” (this same respondent thought Die Hard 2 was a romantic comedy).

Comparison between the sexes was easy with the way google forms puts the data into spreadsheets (see image below). For example it was easy to find “50% of men believe the hero’s reactions and feelings towards people and events are somewhat like theirs and 36% of women appear to agree.”

The form I created is still available so if you want to have a look here it is. (It’s based on a particular study which is why with hindsight some questions would be different).

Google forms is great if you are undertaking complicated research and even for simple surveys I think it provides a great alternative to survey monkey with more functionality for free. Although it has to be said the survey monkey part of this week’s things is causing far more hilarity than expected and more on that will follow at a later date.

Week 4 – Twitter #23thingscity


Another of this week’s 23 things is Twitter. In my experience Twitter is a bit like Marmite. You either love it or hate it (or simply don’t get it). I love it, although if I had to choose I’d choose Facebook over it because more of my real-life friends and family are on there and there’s more to it. I posted a few weeks ago about the merging of professional and private lives via Twitter  and the power of Twitter so I won’t repeat that here but I will give a brief introduction into why I love twitter.

The BBC and the 23thingscity blog both explain Twitter very well but basically people post messages (tweets) in 140 characters or less and often have conversations using these tweets. People have Twitter usernames, mine is @melon_h, which allows other people to find them and follow them. Unless you have protected your tweets anyone can follow you and you don’t have to follow them back but you can block people if you don’t want them to see you.

I have been on Twitter since 9/2/2009 (coincidentally I joined twitter about the same time I had my brace fitted. There’s no connection between these events except when I had my operation I did get lots of nice messages from various tweeps). I think my use of Twitter increased when I got a blackberry, I check it whenever I check my phone for messages or emails. It’s part of my daily routine.

Twitter works best when you take part in it. You need to interact with people on there otherwise you’re basically the person sitting in the corner listening in on other people’s conversations but turning away when people try to talk to you. It can be daunting sending that first message to someone you don’t really know but what’s the worst that will happen? They might ignore you but unless they’re a celebrity who gets hundreds or thousands of messages it’s unlikely (and if they are a celebrity they might just reply).

I use twitter mainly to interact with other librarians and colleagues (both former and present) but I have a few people on there I know personally not through work. I also follow a few celebrities and several organisations and newspapers. I do think being part of a network of librarians who tweet makes it more relevant to me than if I wasn’t using it professionally which may explain why people doing other jobs can’t see the point.

I also enjoy watching the Apprentice and question time while tweeting with other twitter users. I’ve had conversations about Neighbours, Eastenders, and One Tree Hill with people I only know via Twitter. Of course if you don’t want to know the results of anything you need to avoid twitter, much like that episode of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads where they spend the day avoiding the football score.

Every day I see something that makes me laugh and something that makes me go wow. It’s probably my main source of news headlines, leading me to the whole story (usually on the BBC or guardian). I also am much more professionally informed because of twitter than I ever was before. When I was stuck in London last year because of the snow it was Twitter that kept me better informed than any of the rail staff or websites could.

One of the 23 things participants, Library Apocalypse, described Twitter as being like a radio. Always buzzing but you can tune in and out of it. I’d say that’s a brilliant description. One of the other good things is you can tune in and go back to interesting things by searching or using hashtags(#) to follow an event, conference, news story or any other stream. For example the # tag for 23 things city is #23thingscity. You can also retweet things you want to swear. According to my friend Jenny I do this a lot. I am offering no comment on this.

Thinking about Twitter for this week did make me wonder when I joined twitter and what I said first. Luckily (This sounds like a bad advert) there’s a site to help you find this out. It is called rather imaginatively my first tweet.


It’s safe to say I started tweeting when I was doing the film noir module on my MA!

Now that was my first tweet but what about the first tweet ever? According to the BBC it was “just setting up my twittr” personally I think mine was better!

Grace dent has written a book called “How to leave Twitter”, a few extracts have been published in the Guardian and make amusing reading (Grace Dent: 100 things about me and Twitter, Three typical tweeters, and Love in the Time of Twitter.

Whether Twitter will last or go the same way as myspace ( I used to log on to that all the time … I probably haven’t been on there for two years. Ooh maybe since I joined twitter!) only time will tell but right now I can’t imagine not using it.

Week 4 -Social Networking: Facebook #23thingscity

This is the first week where I’ve written one the “things” mine is the cool extra thing – Facebook. A week about social networking and Facebook is only a cool extra? I hear you ask. Well, it was felt we couldn’t ignore Facebook but we were also aware that some people have good reasons not to join and others wouldn’t want their work world venturing into their private/facebook world. So we have suggested people look at how other libraries have used Facebook. I am wondering what the thoughts will be …

Library and university presence on Facebook always makes me think back to Facebook’s early days and the theory that students didn’t want their studying life to intrude into their social space. They wanted to keep the two separate, logging on to VLEs for study and Facebook for fun. I am wondering how true this still is? 18 year old students today have been using Facebook/Bebo/Myspace for almost all their teenage years so are the divisions still there?

Interest in Facebook and formal university connections has existed since its beginning. Possibly because of its roots as a university communication network unlike MySpace and Bebo. Research from Nicole Ellison at Michigan State University in December 2007 suggested 79-95% of all undergraduates had Facebook accounts. I have no idea what today’s precentage would be but it probably is similar.

What I find interesting is why and how different people use Facebook. I use it a lot. I use it to keep in touch with friends and family near and far, I play scrabble on it (again with friends and family near and far), I arrange events with it and I have reconnected with friends from the past. I know people who have committed “facebook suicide” and I know people who have very strong privacy settings. I also know people who are far too open and seemingly live a virtual life at the expense of a real one. I think some of my friendships and connections have strengthened because of it but also sometimes you realise you have little in common with people beyond the setting you know them in.

I recently saw what can happen when people from different areas of your life collide on Facebook. I posted a link to a story connected with a close friend’s brother. I knew the whole story but the article didn’t tell it all (more here). Two friends ( ex- colleagues) then commented on it without much regard for the feelings of those involved. For a few hours I felt that I was in the crossfire of an argument with people feeling very hurt. I defended my friend and her brother but I didn’t remove what my other friends said because while I disagreed with them I do believe everybody’s entitled to an opinion. I hope my subsequent comments (if they read them properly) calmed things down properly and possibly informed them of the facts. It was a reminder that Facebook isn’t just a medium removed from real life but very much part of my life where people can reveal sides of themselves that make them seem a little less than I thought they were but also reminded me how strong my other friend is. This could have happened in a discussion in the pub but the record of the exchange remains on Facebook whereas in the pub nobody could keep going back over it.

Returning to the more professional aspects of Facebook. There was an article on the Guardian website which highlights the dificulties faced by universities in maintaining contact with students and controlling their image. Students can discuss courses, universities and even slag off the library’s fines. It seems that despite the early boundaries it is essential that all university libraries have a presence in social networks not least Facebook.

Looking through the pages I found for this week’s post it is clear students are interacting with the university presence on Facebook more than they used to. One post on the University of Sussex page shows the way that students are using Facebook to interact with their library:

Susex Facebook Post
Post from Sussex's Facebook

Previously this student would have had to find someone to complain about the heat but instead he could just post on the page. However the pages aren’t hugely popular. The British Library leads the field with 32,991 likes but Harvard lags well behind with a mere 110 (ironic as that is where Facebook started). Of the university libraries listed Brunel is the most popular with 1068 likes. It makes me wonder if the lack of interest is because students aren’t interested or if the pages aren’t interesting enough. Should we look at how companies use Facebook? I think we need a presence there because people look for us there but it needs to be interactive and not just because other people have done it.

Maybe Twitter is a more natural place for libraries to give out information? Orkney Libraries have only 837 likes on Facebook but on Twitter they have a big following of 3278. I can’t instantly explain why this is.

Social vs Professional – are they mutually exclusive?

One of the most popular discussions coming from our 23 things programme is whether people want to keep their professional and personal lives separate and what the point of blogs are. Ultimately this is entirely a personal decision but it has reminded me of work my friend Katie and others have been doing. Katie’s done a couple of great blog posts on research into how social use of social networks may affect credibility. The overwhelming consensus appears to be that by tweeting personal things as well as professional things your credibility will be increased rather than decreased. This could be because you feel more connected with someone if you know more about them personally and their for you trust them more. After all you would trust a friend over a person in the street.


Credibility: qualities that someone has that make people believe or trust them
definition from http://www.macmillandictionary.com/ via Katie Piatt

I would say that what I tweet/blog/share depends very much on my mood or where I am rather than any big calculation. I don’t tend to prepare posts in advance and think about them, although maybe sometimes I should! I guess the main issue for me is who will see it? On twitter a lot of my “followers” are fellow librarians so I would post there something entirely library related which my friends would yawn at. On facebook my friends are just that, people I know and have met personally so I would share personal events and things there which people who don’t know me personally probably wouldn’t care about.

My social media
My Flavors.me page

In my blogging though I tended not to be too personal until I did the most personal blog I could have done with my jaw surgery blog . I thought it would be a blog firstly for my close friends and family(especially as I couldn’t talk or have the energy to contact people) and then when complete for other jaw surgery patients to refer to. In fact it took on a whole new lease of life with friends  I hadn’t seen for years and strangers sending me messages to wish me well. I thought it was basically me moaning about how ill I felt but people sent me messages saying how positive it was and how it inspired them in their own lives. Even though I haven’t posted to it for over a month it is still getting 20 -50 visitors a day and interestingly in 5 months it has had over 10,000 visitors. Melon The Librarian has been around for over 18 months and just hit 1000 visitors. My lesson from this experience was that what you think you are writing may well not be what people think they are reading!

There is inevitably a crossover of information between all my social media platforms. This is no different to how if you gathered together everybody who knows me in all walks of life then nobody would have the same view or opinion of me but probably share a general impression. I’m not rigid in where I write or post and do believe that people perceive you better if you are a real person. This is probably a reflection of my personality as I am sociable and open. So amongst some worthy item on work there is a good chance there will be a random post which would mean nothing to anybody but my best friends!


How private are your photos?

I’m a fairly open person but for various personal reasons I do restrict my Facebook photos, usually to friends only but occasionally to a select group of people. I was interested in this item on Newsnight last week, where a woman from London’s photos had been taken from Facebook and used on  a blog (which  has now been revealed to be a fake). After concern was raised that the blogger had been kidnapped in Syria her picture appeared in newspapers the world over and because of the sensitive nature of the blog she was understandably fearful. It’s not clear how the pictures came to be used or whether she had made the pictures private but the story raises issues of privacy and copyright.

I guess the best advice is make your images private but beware you may still not have control over what happens to them. Certainly don’t post anything you wouldn’t want people to see!

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