Online Learning Journal

INF206 | Salinafix

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Evaluation (2a)

For this statement I have will discuss my experiences related to blog posts Information comes to you with RSS feeds, Social media and the art of conversations and ask your PLN!

Information comes to you with RSS feeds allowed me to explore how RSS feeds can be used to share library information. I was able to expand on my working knowledge of RSS and with some excellent assistance from Aaron Tay’s article I understood just how much data can be combined and shared via RSS. Aaron always uses a very analytical brain when examining methods and uses for technology whereas I use a more suck it and see method!

I can now see how well RSS feeds can be used to distribute information on particular topics of interest, but also how RSS feeds can fit particular user groups with varying levels of technology skills. When teaching seniors to use technology, we spent a lot of time discussing how to use Google, right down to the basics of how the internet works. We talk about how to find information, how to scan websites and use critical thinking to determine credible sources. Most important of all though, people are new to technology (and I mean very new, as in only using a computer for the first time at the age of 87) they need to see that it’s easy to ‘find’ information. And because the user has the choice of what to receive and accept (Aqil, Ahmad & Siddique, 2011, p. 398) without the need for registration, RSS feeds are perfect.

I’d like to see local libraries such as my own use RSS feeds more but they absolutely MUST provide training in the form of face to face or even a video or instruction leaflet on how to set up an RSS reader like Google Reader or how to receive RSS feeds via an email application. In my experience, once someone experiences finding information they actually want, their enthusiasm for using the internet more increases tenfold.

Joining conversations on social networking platforms and how they can benefit your own learning is a topic that I could talk about forever. One of the aspects of this subject I have enjoyed the most is the use of a Facebook group for the class instead of the traditional forum on myCSU. The group is a lot less formal, the conversations are much easier to follow and I did feel that people were more willing to share information and have a conversation. Perhaps it is because on the forums we are often required to submit forum posts for assessment which makes our responses much more considered and formal. Using the Facebook group and the Twitter hashtag (although I confess I didn’t use if often) drew people into the conversation very well. I’m sure that there are people who will delete their accounts at the end of this subject, I hope they won’t, there are so many conversations to be had and knowledge to share online!

Throughout this subject I have explored the use of social media creating conversations with patrons, and there have been many offerings of libraries who do this very well. When I posed my question to Twitter it truly opened a Pandora’s box of information on how libraries do and don’t use social media, specifically how many staff run the accounts, what changes staff are hoping to make and of course the generosity and enthusiasm of the responses were brilliant.

What I learnt in and posted about in Ask Your PLN! has really altered my thinking about social media. It isn’t just as simple as letting staff do their own thing with social media. Of course there must be policy and training in what is acceptable and ensuring that the online conversations are meeting an organisation’s overall strategy. But as Judy O’Connell puts it better than I ever will library’s also need to have the courage to let go and allow customers to shape our services through these connections, services (O’Connell, 2011) and conversations. What a great word, shape. Not change, alter, manipulate . . . shape. It goes so well with Web 2.0 and more importantly Web 3.0, the world is shaping how and how and where everywhere online.

So that’s what I’ve learnt through my three documented experiences plus all the other ones I didn’t write about but definitely experienced. And the ones that I experience everyday in my online. Diigo, Delicious, unsuccessful attempts at Second Life and Storify, blogging, many YouTube videos, Slideshare, podcasts . . . some have reignited my enthusiasm for particular social networks, otherwise have left me cold and I can’t see that I’d ever enjoy using them. My most important takeaway from this entire subject is that the patrons need to be allowed to shape libraries, museums, archives. It’s not just about staying relevant, it’s about finally have a real conversation. Libraries need to listen and reflect their patrons. Now.


Aqil, M., Ahmad, P., & Siddique, M. A. (2011). Web 2.0 and Libraries: Facts or Myths. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 31(5), 395–400.

O’Connell, J. (2011, November 3). Revolutionizing Libraries with Social Media. HeyJude – Learning in an Online World. Retrieved February 4, 2013, from


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Trends in digital citizenship

Digitisation of information, social media policy, handheld devices, leveraging of social networks for promotion and fundraising and digital advertising are five shifts/trends that are impacting on how we behave as individuals online. They also deeply impact on how an organisation first plans, then responds to these new needs and changes in information delivery.

Digitisation of information is happening at a rapid rate. Books, news, music, Wikipedia, maps, textbooks, universities, school resources are all available online. However what happens to the percentage of the world of population in your area who don’t have access to the internet and/or a device to access it on? Yes, the digital divide. The Shift Happens video presents a statistic of 95% of people in the US have access to a handheld device. What about the 5%? In Australia, ACMA recently announced that nearly half of Australia’s adult population now owns a smartphone (Australian Communications and Media Authority, 2013) which is exciting. But again, what about the other half? The other half isn’t learning about digital citizenship, their online voice is not being heard.

Information organisations need to work hard to create information policies which ensure that all users of their service have access and the ability to be a digital citizen. They also need to create employee guidelines for interacting online with social networks. A good social media policy will ensure that employees are informed of their responsibilities, encourages them to find a voice, outlines how to conduct themselves (Web Publishing Branch, 2012) and also outlines what the objectives of using social media are for the organisation. Many social media policies such as the National Library of Australia’s social media policy encourages staff to engage in the conversation with users of their social networks, but uses control definitions to indicate differing degrees of compliance: required, must, should, recommended and may (Web Publishing Branch, 2012).

Going back to my earlier point about the digital divide, the Shift Happens video states that handheld devices will be the world’s primary connection to the Internet in 2020 (Did You Know 4.0, 2009). Policy and planning for information organisations and particularly public libraries need to ensure that future technologies and systems are useable on mobile devices. The lower cost of smartphones over laptops and desktop computers mean that patrons will expect to access a full catalogue on their smartphone, download e-books to it, access the library’s databases and much more. Libraries will need to consider training for patrons and staff on these technologies NOW.

Digital advertising and particular social media and networking for publicity and marketing needs to play a large part in telling the community how to access digitised information and bring people in to libraries. Librarians blogging about marketing are creating a lot of interest in the online community and for good reason. Without understanding how to market such a unique service, digital citizens will go elsewhere and may not end up good ones.

I’ll leave the last comment to Jessamyn West which sums up why libraries need to embrace digital information and digital citizenship and truly lead the way forward in the information society.

I’m sure there’s a larger post here about dealing with teens + comptuers + internet + understaffing + the fear factor of unknown online socializing, but I feel that it’s all of our responsibility as online community members of various stripes, to provide positive examples of social software online (West 2008).

Australian Communications and Media Authority. (2013, February 1). ACMA – ACMA media release 5/2013 – 1 February. ACMA. Retrieved February 3, 2013, from

Did You Know 4.0. (2009). Retrieved from

Web Publishing Branch. (2012, December). Social media policy. National Library of Australia. Retrieved from

West, J. (2008, March 19). Why should libraries be socially networking? Retrieved January 3, 2013, from

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Reflection (2b)

I enrolled in this subject hoping I would learn more and deepen my enthusiasm and understanding of social networking. And I can confidently say that yes it has happened. INF206 has given me the confidence to be more discerning and mindful of my contacts and friends on Facebook, to have the confidence to reach out to my Twitter PLN when I need help and to write a blog post and share it on Twitter. This has always been a difficult one for me, someone might actually read what I’ve written. And they did, and commented and I learnt a lot.

Some aspects of this subject were not particularly enjoyable, actually really only Delicious but I knew that my preference was for Diigo anyway.

As I’ve already stated I enjoyed interacting with the other students on the Facebook group and in particular I enjoyed the questions asked and seeing people who were reluctant to use social media find their feet. I wonder how many will stay connected?

The online learning journal has given me the chance to spend some serious time thinking not only about topics like digital citizenship, Creative Commons and what social networking actually is, I’ve gained insight into the routine of writing, blogging, routine and time management! Keeping up with the modules is always a struggle for me but having to write an online learning journal to accompany the reading was difficult. However at times I did use the catching up as an opportunity to go back over modules and rewatch videos and re-read articles. Sometimes the first time information doesn’t actually go in! So on reflection, I now realise that when I have a thought or an idea to blog, I need to take action immediately. And that means making use not of Evernote on my smartphone, but actually putting the Blogger app on it and blogging straight away. Seizing the day when the penny drops will make for more fluid blogging and writing in the future.

Having received several comments on my blog post about valuing libraries I can now see the need to comment more on blogs. There are plenty of terrific library bloggers in my Feedly so I need to show my appreciation more for their writing and sharing knowledge. That’s another one that’s easy to fix.

INF206 covered a lot of territory and at times I did wish that we could just stop for a while to examine and discuss particularly popular facets of social networking and libraries. For example, there are many many librarians who blog. Some simply blog about being a librarian and their day to day life and work, but others have specific areas of interest, and have established themselves as knowledgeable about a particular area (Schrier, 2011), an expert. The Wikiman,, Librarians Mattersocialnetworkinglibrarian, Information Tyrannosaur to name just a tiny few have all established themselves as voices in the biblioblogosphere. To be able to discuss with other future librarians just why these people are successful voices in the library world, what student librarians can learn from them and the importance of having a voice (and I realise this isn’t for everybody however this degree is pumping out the new generation of librarians, voice and conversation is important!) Perhaps this feedback has arisen because I am very interested in blogging and getting better at it and I look to these people for advice (through reading) and ideas whenever I am completing any assessment for the degree. They are my go to people, the internet brain I rely upon.

During the last 4 or so months I cannot say that I have connected any more online with social media than usual. I do read Twitter many times a day, check Facebook before I get up in the morning, use Diigo for bookmarking all the time, listen to podcasts and watch YouTube etc etc. However I do think I have used it with more intent. Looking more closely at why I use particular platforms for particular tasks, I was prepared to ask questions and to put forward my own opinion on a topic that many/most would say I shouldn’t be commenting on at all. My understanding of social media policy and the negativity and lack of trust that councils have in their librarians has increased. I am appreciative of that fact that sometimes librarians and information professionals cannot comment online about a particular topic. Their job is on the line. That’s pretty frightening but also sobering.

And when I draw all the connections, discussions, readings, videos, tweets and comments together I see what I have learnt in this subject, that librarians have to disrupt the patterns and set a new path, and that librarians and information professionals are really very good at very responsive to change (Potter, 2011). Even though some aren’t able to implement it in their own organisation, they follow it avidly online and engage in all discussion on this topic. They keep going.

Potter, N. (2011, July 25). Bravery based librarianship is the (only) future. Thewikiman. Retrieved February 5, 2013, from

Schrier, R. A. (2011). Digital Librarianship @ Social Media: the Digital Library as Conversation Facilitator. D-Lib Magazine, 17(7/8). doi:10.1045/july2011-schrier

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ask your PLN!

Assessment 2 for INF206 was a social media policy for a real or fictitious library service. Given that I do not work in a library and never have, I often find these type of assessments difficult as my lack of experience leaves big gaping holes in my knowledge. Luckily I have a fantastic group of study buddies who all have loads of library experience and are willing to answer my questions and let me pick their brains.

During the assessment writing process I realised I didn’t know if libraries who ran social media had a one person social media strategy or a team. So I asked Twitter:

I received some retweets which helped spread the word, far and wide, all the way to Ireland and New Zealand and around Australia. And the answers were fantastic! People gave great insight into what their organisations currently does or doesn’t do, plus their own thoughts on the matter.

When it came to thanking everyone and gathering my thoughts I realised it was going to much longer than 140 characters so I blogged about it instead, then tweeted:

And feedback I received! And more retweets which brought in comments via Twitter, Direct Message on Twitter (from people who aren’t able to publicly comment due to their job), offers of email addresses if I wanted to ask more questions and from comments on the blog. The second tweet and blog post led me to recommendations from @Larrydlibrarian on great Australian libraries who tweet, Facebook and interact and I made some new connections for my PLN. I received 181 page views on my valuing libraries blog post which for me is plenty and I’m glad that people read it.

Although I have used Twitter for a couple of years now and do talk frequently this would be one of my most successful crowd-sourcing attempts to date. And the reaction I received from my subsequent blog post really gave me a boost to my confidence in sharing what I blog but also that I was understanding what I am studying. And ultimately that having a library PLN is a most wonderful thing. Librarians love to share and talk (yes I am generalising but in my experience this is the truth).

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Information comes to you with RSS feeds

RSS feeds are an incredibly easy way of receiving up to date information on specific topics or areas of interest without having to subscribe to a newsletter, forum or discussion list.

As demonstrated in the examples in module 2, libraries, small and large are using RSS feeds to share their information with users of their service. Two more examples are the New York Public Library (NYPL) and the Bureau of Meterology’s (BOM) RSS feeds (the latter could be particularly useful given the wildly different weather patterns around Australia at the moment!).

The NYPL has a great page “Follow the Library using RSS” which has feeds to news, blogs, adult, children and teen events and exhibitions. The page also explains what RSS is, why you might want to use it, and most importantly HOW to receive an RSS feed (“Follow the Library using RSS | The New York Public Library,” 2013).

BOM has RSS feeds for weather and warnings for all states and territories in Australia, for both land and marine and both combined. There is also an RSS feed for Climate Updates and Outlooks.

RSS feeds allow users to dig deep into the information on an organisation’s website and receive updates on what is of interest to them. The information organisation is meeting the specific needs of a specific group. Libraries use RSS feeds to provide updates and discussion for lovers of romance fiction, family history, children’s books, book groups, the list goes on.

Aaron Tay of Musings about Librarianship has written a number of posts about RSS feeds. Of particular interest is his article on Using RSS feeds to distribute library news – 6 ways. When you read through the article and look at Aaron’s examples you may have an aha! moment as I did. There is a great deal of data and information that can be shared via RSS – calendars, policy, service outages, Twitter Q&A’s, news events (Tay, 2010). RSS can do SO MUCH!

The one thing I noticed when looking for RSS feeds on websites is that may do not provide any information on what RSS is and how to use is. If you want people to use it, you have to explain it! Not everyone uses social media and social networking all day! Perhaps this is where information organisations could make their own videos posted on their website, Vimeo or YouTube on how to set up a RSS reader and subscribe to feeds.

Two more good snippets of info on RSS for libraries: RSS and its use in Libraries and 10 Ways Libraries Can Use RSS.

Follow the Library using RSS | The New York Public Library. (2013). Retrieved February 1, 2013, from

Tay, A. (2010, March 22). Using RSS feeds to distribute library news – 6 ways. Musings About Librarianship. Retrieved from

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Creative Commons continued

Following on from my post about how it’s a struggle to understand creative commons licencing, this post from Bobbie Newman aka Librarian by Day highlights how complicated using Creative Commons licenced photos really is. Slipper slope springs to mind.

Bobbi says that she has begun weaning herself off Flickr photos and on to using her own or sometimes paying for images (Newman, 2013). So I feel a little better about my concerns and confusion over exactly what is useable and what isn’t. The comments on this blog post are also very insightful and have given me some more ideas to explore.

In the meantime, I think I’ll aim to be using my own images as well and keep trying to find blog posts and articles which assist in my understanding of using images.

Newman, B. (2013, January 27). The Danger of Using Creative Commons Flickr Photos in Presentations. Librarian by Day. Retrieved February 2, 2013, from