Save the planet while searching the internet!

Check out the following search engine:
Almost all the money Forestle gets from sponsored links goes to a fund to save the rainforest. To find out more about how it works:

I have tried a few keywords and it seems to work like google. Even the results look the same. I think it's quite an interesting idea to use a search engine to generate money for rainforest projects...

Web 2.0: An overview

On the 11th May I attended the ASLIB course entitled Web 2.0: an overview. There were three other participants on the course, two from law firms and one from the Royal Society of Science, we were a small group but this enabled us to cover many topics and enter into detailed discussions and so it was highly advantageous. The course director was Lyn Robinson, who is currently the director of Information Science at City University and who has worked as an information specialist for the last 20 years.

Introduction: What is Web2.0

After introductions, we commenced by discussing what we hoped to gain from the day. There was a general agreement from the participants that we were all familiar with certain components of Web2.0, but that our experience was tentative, hence we sought a general understanding of the concept and hopped to learn how to use the various tools of Web2.0 within our libraries. With that in mind we began by discussing and defining what is meant by Web 2.0. We concluded that Web 2.0 can be defined as applications which use semantic coding, which enables us to separate form from content, making it possible to update, move, extract and combine individual elements of a webpage, often creating new resources. In short, instead of having static webpage’s, we now have those with dynamic shareable content. These new applications facilitate shared resource development. Within Libraries, the term Library 2.0 has emerged which refers to the constant, purposeful change, provided by web 2.0 which allows for increased dialogue between both the information provider and users and between users themselves. Throughout the course of the day we discussed several of these applications including, Blogs, Feeds, Social Networking sites and Wikis. Lyn ended our introductory session with a highly original video summation of Web 2.0 video, which is broadcast on Youtube.

Homepages and Blogs

We next looked at Lyn’s own home page at City University. Lyn’s home page consisted of an overview of her academic and professional career, including publication information and also included a link to her professional Blog, her Delicious tags and a link to her Library Thing account, which details lists of books on her course module. Lyn’s highly innovative Blog is an excellent example of the multitude of uses a Blog has. Lyn uses Delicious cloud tags, links, pictures, vidoes and feeds, to interact and convey information to her colleagues and students. Her Blog is open to all and those whom she knows are welcome to post comments in response to her posts. Her Blog is very much a professional one, her posting consist of matters refering to information science and the other Blogs she links to of people in the Library world. Blogs are a great way to chart the progress of colleagues and organisations and provide a framework for discussion and interaction. From a professional view point Lyn commented that she found it very advantageous to search her Blog archive and detail what she was thinking about and discussing in past months and years, and thus uses it as a sort of portfolio. Lyn’s Blog is hosted by Word Press which provides very professional looking Blogs and enables the addition of a number of different widgets and applications. It also protects that copy right of the Blogger via the Creative Commons.

Twitter and Second Life

Probably the most interesting part of the day for me was that spent looking at Twitter. Though I have never used it myself I was aware of the premise of the application. One can sign up and post a 136 character ‘tweet’ in response to the question what are you doing now? Any one who is following you is notified of your new tweet, as you are of those people/organisations you have chosen to follow. Of all the applications which fall under the auspices of Web 2.0, this was to me the most contrived, however Lyn enlightened me as to some of the benefits of Twitter. The most significant in my opinion for those in the Library and Information Sector is the use of TwitterFall and TwitterFountain. People and groups can all enter a topic on Twitter Fountain/Fall and all tweet on the same topic and everyone signed up to the event can see all the tweets without the need to refresh their pages. Lyn informed us that this application is currently being used by CILIP and other organisations during meetings, so that those absent, can nonetheless interact with the discussion, via those members who tweet during the discussion. We also discussed several ways in which twitter could be used in Libraries including how TwitterFall could be set up and librarians and users could see exactly what other users feeling are about the library at that precise moments by way of display screens Another way of contributing to meetings and events from a far, can be achieved by Second Life, whereby users upload and animated version of themselves and interact with other animated users in a virtual environment. Lyn said she recently attended a conference where the speakers were all participants in Second Life and were joined by several second life delegates, all of whom were transmitted on a screen above the speaker’s podium.

Book marking and Tagging

We next spoke about social booking with particular reference to Delicious. Using applications such as Delicious allows users to store all their favourite links in a place where they can be accessed by themselves and others. Delicious enables users to create tags to organise your book marks you can also create tag clouds in which the frequency of use of the tag is indicated by the size of the text. Delicious can be linked to Blogs, websites and Wikis. Delicious also allows you to subscribe to a particular tag and or user and be notified or changes to the tag and the users collection. Delicious is utilised greatly by Library and Information professionals and was one of web 2.0 applications most utilised by the participants

Wiki’s ,RSS feeds and Instant messaging

Instant messaging provides real time communication between information providers and users. The concept has been around for a long time and is still very useful and is used by a number of Libraries, to answer, ‘Ask a Librarian Queries’.

Wiki’s are the classic shared authoring tool, Users can access information and also edit and update resources, they lend themselves very well to the professional environment and we all agreed that they are of great use in the Library and Information Sector. Users can access information and also edit and update resources, they are very important to the professional work environment.

RSS feeds are an alerting services, which can notify you of changes and updates to websites of interest to you. You can receive notification by setting up an aggregator such as Bloglines or Google reader, by email or by setting up a feed to part of a webpage, like your Blog.

Social and professional networking sites

Of all the applications which fall under the umbrella of Web 2.0, social networking sites, namely Face Book and My Space were the most familiar to those of us attending the course. We looked at some Library Facebook accounts and identified how they were useful for publicising there resources and aiding users. One of the participants pointed out that the Facebook page was like a second, more interactive home page. The Personal profile facilitated the ‘About’ section of the website. The major advantages over a home page are that people can subscribe as your friends and leave feedback on your wall. You can similarly post announcements and bulletins and send out messages to all your friends about new events. The BL has a successful Facebook site as does the Library of Congress. Lyn also mentioned the use of professional networking sites such as Linked in and Collective X, are professional networking sites used for recruitment which present a portfolio for employers and are a good way of networking with colleagues.

Problems with WEB 2.0 and information overload.

It is important to embrace changes that are purposeful and not merely the latest thing. The danger of web 2.0 advances are that users reach an information overload. There are also issues of privacy as recently came to light with the controversy of Google Street Maps. But certainly overall, libraries have gained and will continue to gain greatly from Web 2.0

It was a very interesting course and Lyn was an excellent teacher. It demystified some of the jargon and was a very good overview of all the different applications associated with Web 2.0

Visit to the Whitechapel Idea Store

“Idea Stores are more than just a library or a place of learning. As well as the traditional library service, they offer a wide range of adult education classes, along with career support, training, meeting areas, cafes and arts and leisure pursuits”

As a relatively new project (completed 2005) with a rather aggressive marketing campagin, I admit I approached the Whitechapel Idea Store with reserve. The press coverage and promotion of the project puts me on guard; it’s easy to be cynical about Tower Hamlets boasts (“after consulting with local residents in the largest consultation exercise ever undertaken by Tower Hamlets Council”, and I have a natural suspicion to any public service that describes itself in advertising language and buzzwords (the “contemporary space …encourages people to engage with library and learning services”, “Idea Stores combine the best of traditional library and information services with first class lifelong learning opportunities in comfortable and friendly surroundings).

I can quite happily report that overall the Whitechapel Idea Store is great; it seems genuinely open and inclusive, the design is smart and pleasant and it appeared well used.
The strength of it’s inclusiveness lies in some very simple ideas, for example, it has a crèche so users can leave their kids while they take a class or use the resources. There are a large number of classrooms (learning labs in Idea Store speak) rather than being secreted away, they are posted throughout the building. There’s a dance studio next to the local interest section and classes on offer range from beginners street dance to English as a foreign language.
In terms of the building itself, it’s a bold, unashamedly modern, blockbuster of a design - smack bang in the middle of the community, on the main road amongst the market stalls and right next to Sainsbury’s (I think this was kind of metaphoric for it’s mission statement as such – a marketable, branded chain that is still tailored to the local community and encompassed it’s traditions and history).
The building is light and airy, the isles and signage well-spaced, accessible and clearly labeled and there seems to be plenty of seating but I can’t help wonder about the long term maintenance of such a brave design – how will it look in 20 years time?
There are plenty of computer terminals for self check-out of books and the emphasis seems to be of exploring, of playing around and working out how you want to use the space and then staff are stationed at help points should you need guidance. The children’s library was brightly coloured with child height computer terminals and shelves.
Although there was ample space, all four floors were busy; evidently well-used by a broad section of society, particularly around the café (we had to be quick on our feet to nab some seats!)

Overall, I think the project is truly interesting and proving popular and I suppose it’s a case of ‘you can’t please all people all the time’, yet you can offer a democratic service which pleases most people. I would be terrible to think of all public libraries having this brand makeover but as long as Starbucks doesn’t take out a franchise in the Idea Store Café, I think it’s a smashing project, well worth a visit and especially for the gentle challenge to assumption.

Bloomsbury Healthcare Library Visit

Along with a small group of the London graduate trainee librarians I visited the Bloomsbury Healthcare Library. The Library is housed in a converted ballroom and offers suitably salubrious surroundings for study. The library is funded by the NHS and caters primarily for NHS staff, specialising in nursing and allied health professions. The Library employs five members of staff including the senior librarian Mike and assistant librarian Daphne who introduced us to the work of the library.

Apart from the routine duties involved in maintaining a library, staff also offer a number of specialised services to their users. The library subscribes to a wide range of online resources, which NHS staff can access remotely as well as in the Library. Library staff offer an alerts service, designing custom made email alerts to notify users of new material in their subject area or to the table of contents lists for journals of interest. The library also produces a current awareness newsletter and quality reviews new journal articles.

Mike and Daphne seem to find their work really rewarding and enjoy having the opportunity to engage with the academic content of their collections in order to possess the knowledge to steer users to authoritative and useful materials. Daphne has a substantial scientific background, which she has been able to exploit working in the library. Mike’s background, like many librarians, is in the arts. Though he felt a scientific background would be beneficial to a medical librarian, Mike did not consider this by any means essential.

The visit was enjoyable and gave me valuable insight into the work of medical librarians. Mike and Daphne were really informative and seemed genuinely happy in their work, which is always encouraging.

Social event for library trainees 26th June

This event might be of interest. It is a social event for trainees at libraries which are part of the Chapter One network (list of libraries willing to offer visits to trainees- ULRLS is part).

Another library visit

For all of those who can't get enough of library visits ;-)

Tuesday 26 May 2009: 4.00pm; Sir John Soane's Museum, Lincoln's Inn Fields

History of Libraries Research Seminar

Visit to the Library and Archives of Sir John Soane's Museum, Lincoln's Inn Fields. A tour of the Museum will be given at 4 p.m. Tour of the Library & Archives at 5.15 p.m. Numbers will be limited. Bookings please to: Keith Manley (