Archive for October 2010

Twitter elections

Is this the first Twitter CILIP election?
The campaign to elect the next Vice-president of CILIP (who will automatically become President the following year) is underway with two candidates - Phil Bradley and Edwina Smart. 5 candidates are also competing for 4 places on CILIP Council.
To my knowledge this is the first time that social media has played an important part in the hustings. Social media - in particular CILIP Communities but also independent blogs and Twitter - have emerged as a forum for members to question the candidates and for candidates to explain their views and plans for CILIP. But there is more to it than that. Social media has become a hot topic of debate in itself. The view has been expressed that CILIP is too London-centric and inward looking. Social media is seen as a way of overcoming this, of taking CILIP out to the wider membership. There is even a suggestion that users of social media are a new generation of library professionals in contrast to the traditional old guard and that the adoption of social media by CILIP will change the way in which the professional body operates.
One of the presidential candidates Phil Bradley, has criticised the fact that the CILIP AGM was not live streamed and that it was not in a venue where people could send tweets. Another blogger has started a lively debate about CILIP being a London clique with an anti-technology bias.

But is this a new wave of connected librarians or simply a different clique. Is it a small gang of techies in an echo chamber talking to themselves and to no one else? How large and representative is this library social media community? One proxy measure is the number of Twitter followers for library organisations and leading librarians. CILIPinfo has 1700 followers. The CILIP Chief Executive Annie Mauger has 333 followers. CILIP President Biddy Fisher has 447. Many of the librarians I follow have around 300-400 followers. I would put the number of library Tweeters at no more than 1000 maximum. Other librarians may use social networking tools other than Twitter but clearly this is a very small percentage of library professionals. Those who argue that CILIP should use these tools to communicate with members and to deliver training are ignoring the fact the vast majority of the profession does not use these tools. Overreliance on social networking at this point in time would not make CILIP more responsive to its membership.

That is not to say that CILIP should turn its back on social networking- far from it. Use of these tools is growing and in particular is popular with new professionals. If CILIP were to make more use of these tools for communicating with members then more members would use them and discover the wider benefits. CILIP has to lead by example and out new Chief Executive and soon to be elected president in waiting are in a strong position to do that.

Department of Health consultation

The UK Government’s Department of Health has just launched a consultation on its proposals for an Information Revolution. The White Paper and information on how to become involved are available on the DH website.

The focus of the consultation is the transformation of the way information is accessed, collected, analysed and used so that people are at the heart of health and adult social care services. The intended outcome is to give people more information and control and greater choice about their care. Worth looking at and joining in – an opportunity for information professionals inside and outside the health service to influence the NHS future from a professional perspective.

Zombies in the workplace

BIR author Kevin Desouza's blog The zombie workplace survival guide, has been published in Harvard Business Review.

Maurice Line

UK Serials News and others have announced the death of Maurice Line during the weekend of 18/19 September 2010.

For those who use the British Library’s Document Supply service and its services to business, science and technology, Maurice’s work at the BL was pivotal to the services we see today and to the development of the BL as a leading international research library. As Librarian at the University of Bath he had directed a study into the scope for automated data processing in the new British Library. He was Librarian of the National Central Library (NCL) from 1971-1973 and a member of the British Library Organizing Committee which undertook preparatory and planning work for the UK's new national library which was to start operating in July 1973. He joined the British Library in 1973, when the NCL was incorporated into the BL, as Deputy Director-General of the Lending Division. He became Director General in 1974, a post he held until 1985. From 1985 until his retirement in 1988 he was Director General, Science Technology and Industry.

For the next 12 years Maurice worked as a consultant specialising in the management of change, and advising organisations in many parts of the world. He was editor of Interlending and Document Supply and Alexandria, the journal concerned with national libraries, their roles and functions and international issues. He also edited, and contributed to, many books in the field of librarianship.

An obituary has also appeared in Times Higher Education.

New opportunities for LIS skills

Expertise in social media is growing in the LIS profession (watch out for the article by Hazel Hall in the December issue). At the same time, demand for social media consultants is rising in the UK (See Twitter is boosting the jobs market, claims The number of businesses looking for "Twitter consultants" to help them exploit the messaging service has grown by 300per cent this year, says the online recruitment company. Facebook advisors and YouTube experts are also needed to advise business on how to make better use of social media services particularly in sales and marketing. Perhaps this demand will provide new opportunities for information professionals?

Social activism via social media

In this week’s New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell, author of, among other titles, Blink and The Tipping Point considers the nature of social activism and argues that social media tools are not reinventing activism.

He argues that to compare campaign engagement via social media such as Twitter with the courage of 'true activists', giving the civil rights movement as an example.

"Where activists were once defined by their causes, they are now defined by their tools" he argues.

Naturally, the debate is taken up in the New Yorker's Room for Debate. Well worth a visit to read the full article and the resultant debate.