Sunday 8 November 2009

The final countdown

In just about three weeks, I take up a new post at Liverpool John Moores University.

A real mix of emotions, thoughts and feelings are going on.

I'm very excited about the new job, and this role is a big step up for me so is going to be the challenge I've been looking for. I'm also a bit sad about leaving Edge Hill University and Learning Services, as I will have been there for nine years, in a variety of different roles and studied there too so it's a real home-from-home.

Edge Hill has seen massive change in the last few years, the growth has been phenomenal in terms of students numbers, but also facilities and resources. The campus is virtually unrecognisable with a new build every 12 months since I started. It's a beautiful campus and it has been a real pleasure to work there.

Many colleagues have become friends so despite moving on, I know it won't be long before I'm hearing all about the place again!

I'm looking forward to taking on management of some service areas that I haven't had before, working on the leadership team and of course, working in the lovely city of Liverpool. (amongst other things!).

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Feeling mellow..

Logo of the University of SheffieldImage via Wikipedia

Yesterday was a great day.

I got to see two Universities in South Yorkshire, one because I'd tweeted with someone (@nethergreen) and one because I was offered an interview.

The contrast was pretty startling. Hallam was buzzing and vibrant, and the Adsetts Centre looked like it was doing a perfect job of welcoming students and getting them to behave whilst in there. A great mix of 'social learning' spaces, bookstock and technology.

University of Sheffield was also buzzing and vibrant with RAG week in full progress, with the Western Bank library being a completely different kettle of fish. Still very busy, but a 1950's grade 2 listed building that couldn't have been more traditional if it tried.

The interview went very well, much better than I'd anticipated really, and I really enjoyed it. People often think I'm quite strange when I talk about enjoying normally stressful situations, but an interview is just like a bit of a big chat, and people are asking questions, like they're interested (even if they're not) so that's all good, right? They did a great job of giving me context about the role, what would be expected in the short term and longer term, and what the key priorities where before the interview started which was really good (and not often done).

I didn't get the job 'on this occasion' but did get some excellent feedback which was gratefully received, and I did make the panel think, which is always in my plan somewhere.

This was my first external interview in 10 years - wow. 10 years at Edge Hill College of Higher Education/University this year, blimey.

4 restructures, 3 name changes, 8 or 9 different roles in different teams and a library management system implementation.

Think it's time to do something different.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday 15 March 2009

Creating a group of bloggers

A group session was held yesterday, Friday 13th March (hope that isn’t a bad omen!) which brought together a group of volunteers from Learning Services at Edge Hill University (my department), who were interested in, wanted to know more about, thought they should be, or already were - blogging.

As the saying goes, one volunteer is worth a hundred pressed men so the group were engaged, interested, open and willing to find out more, regardless of past experience. Mike Nolan, Acting Head of Web Services and I delivered the workshop which discussed what is a blog?, why should we blog?, what kind of structure should a Learning Services blog take, and how would the blog fit into the wider University picture?

In just over an hour, the group watched the commoncraft guide to blogging, asked questions, wrote for some their first ever blog post, queried tags and categories and had many more questions than we could answer in this, what will turn out to be, part one.

I’m writing about it because I want to document the growth of the group, which will be evidenced by the posts that you see at Learning Service blog, and can’t be measured in the true sense, but which will be clear as the writers find their blogging voice, and possibly even a wider digital identity.

We’re going to meet again in three weeks, after the group have had a bit of practice in writing and posting, to further discuss how we move this project forward.

I should say that this is linked to the overhaul of Learning Services web presence that Martin Baxter, ICT and Media Resource Manager and I have been working on over the last 15 months with a cross service project group, and the blog posts will be directed (using categories) to the most relevant parts of the web site to ensure that the content of the blog, which will be varied, reaches the right audience.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday 13 March 2009

Blogging as a profession

Today, a group of colleagues met to discuss blogging. Some are experienced, some are complete novices but all had volunteered and so we had a common theme.

Linked to the redevelopment of the Learning Services web pages, I was keen that we started to take blogging seriously as a department, and wanted to display snippets from the latest blog posts to best sell

Sunday 8 March 2009

Thank you from Charity:Water

Hi Amanda (via Liverpool Twestival) ,

I want to personally thank you for your recent donation to charity: water. Because of your generous gift we can provide clean and safe drinking water to 28 people in a developing nation for 20 years! Best of all, 100% of your donation will go toward building sustainable water solutions.

You will receive a formal tax receipt within two weeks of your gift. If you have questions or would like additional information, please feel free to contact our Director of Development, Carrie Sanders <>. She would be happy to help.

We are so grateful for your support.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday 7 March 2009

Lightning Strikes in Milton Keynes

Had a very enlightening visit to Lightning Source's plant in Milton Keynes this week. As a member of Coutt's Oasis Advisory Group (OAG) (Coutts are a library book/ebook supplier, not the financial whizzkids) we were due to meet, and Coutts are part of the much bigger company that is Ingram Industries, which includes Lightning Source.

The advisory group is a great idea, they are currently my only supplier that offer something like this, where they bring together 10 or so representatives from across the UK, twice a year to receive updates from Coutts, and to give feedback to the supplier on strategic direction of academic libraries, with relation to purchasing books and the like.

It's quite a complicated set up in terms of the different businesses that are working under the Ingram umbrella, and rather than try to explain it here in a somewhat confused way, feel free to go off and explore Ingram's web site!

So, how does Lightning Source impact on what I do at Edge Hill University?

I've been interested in Ingram for quite a while as there are some quite disparate things that I have responsibility for as part of my role. One is to buy books, ebooks, journals etc for the purpose of teaching, learning and research, which is to all intents and purposes, quite straightforward although constantly changing (library supply). The other is to consider how we supply our students with textbooks and other learner support material to purchase. (student supply)

The first links through Ingram as they have (and I might get this a bit wrong but the principle will be right) Core Source, and Vital Source. This part of the company builds relationships with publishers and takes from publishers e-copies of books which Ingram then re-sells via one of two routes. The first is MyiLibrary, which is their e-book platform, and which we at EHU use extensively, the second is Lightning Source, a print on demand service.

I heard James Gray speak at UKSG last year about the digital workflow involved in this process, and was very impressed at what was going on. Mr Ingram obviously had a very clear vision about what he wanted to do about digital publishing, and has delivered it in a very publisher focussed way.

This is jumping about a bit - hope you're still with me!

So, I love Ingram for getting me lots of ebooks for EHU students and staff, a platform in MyiLibrary that is relatively easy to use, and which has a growing selection of stock. Now, don't get me wrong - I don't hate books, in fact I love 'em, but e-books just have so many advantages in terms of access, and my ideal is to have both and offer our customers a choice wherever possible. The fact that Ingram are negotiating with publishers to get stock in e-format is just great, and they have such a powerful business model that they are likely to convince 'lots' of publishers to get on board with it.

Sticking with library supply still, the second element is delivered via Lightning Source, which is print on demand, or p.o.d. to those in the know.

Lightning Source is a service delivered through warehouses, currently one in the USA, one in Milton Keynes, that take orders direct from publishers for anything from one book, to 50,000 and print the books - on demand. It sounds like a very simple service, and it is, but it is just amazing, and will have a real impact on the way publishing will work in the future (not publishing as in writing, but distribution of stock).

So, you go to your local bookshop or your favourite online retailer and order that book you really want or need - they don't have it in stock, what happens next? If the publisher has an agreement with Lightning Source, they can send through an order for 'a' copy and have it printed within a very short timeframe, Lightning Source can even post it directly out to the customer on the publishers behalf, cutting down that very important delivery time.

It is a very slick set up, and seeing the process from cover to cover was intriguing, and also offered up some ideas for further streamlining of our own library processes (which I'll write about another time!).

Impact on publishers has already been noted, with some removing their own warehouse facilities, and relying upon Lightning Source to do all printing, as printing to order means the publishers don't have to forecast on how many books they 'might' sell, but only print those that they have orders for.

Gap printing is also used, where publishers will order a 'normal' print run of 10,000 books but unexpected very high demand will ensure a sell out of that stock, using Lightning Source as a stop gap for actual orders allows publishers to set up a second print run without losing any custom in between. This was used to bring the Nobel Laureate titles to market.

From a student supply perspective, Lightning Source won't really help me, but it's database of electronic stock will, and I believe that a UK supplier now has access to that stock for retail purposes. One of the things I've been looking at over the last year is electronic course packs, and how we provide not ebooks to students, but echapters from relevant text books, and how we do that at a price that is reasonable, so a very different model to the library one where the library pays a fortune for all its staff and students to be able to get access, and one that puts the onus on students to purchase parts of books that will be extremely relevant to what they are studying.

The student supply model is related to the student support package that Edge Hill University offer to all full fee paying students, which won a Times Higher award a few years back.

Now, I want to go on but I'm going to stop there, and make a note to self to write in the future about emerging business models for ebooks and print (in that order) .

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday 15 February 2009

Organiser Survey

I'm just filling in a form to go to @Amanda, Twestival organiser extraordinaire, and thought as I'm writing it once, I might as well record it here too (nb. My personal thoughts, not those of the wider team):

Press and web coverage:

Liverpool Daily Post:

Bootle Times:

Radio Merseyside:

CityTalk Radio:
Pete Price show - Awaiting links
Simon O'Brien show - Awaiting links

Southport Visitor:

Crosby Herald:

Art in Liverpool blog: - Before - After

FACT blog:

Adventures in Open Source:


Click Liverpool:

P3dro's Blog:

Links to pictures and videos of the event:

Echo TV:

Flickr: - Pete Carr - Peter Goodbody - Matt Thomas - Jennifer Welch - Alison Gow and Alison Gow

Additional comments/feedback:

Would have loved to have streamed live but faced some technical challenges because of the very short lead in time.

As organiser, seemed like it all went a bit crazy about 3 days before, and I wasn't able to keep up with everything that was going on - .fm, tshirts, streaming etc. (I know it was the first!)

Would love to do it again, with more time, more team members and some choices about making it local as well as global.

Wanted to link up to other cities doing events but again, maybe next time!

In your own words, what did this experience mean to you:

Organising Twestival was an amazing experience, from initial gathering of expressions of interest through to receiving fantastic positive feedback from all involved - it has been challenging, great fun, and helped the local Twitter community to really bond.

The support and generousity of twitter folk has been quite staggering in the current financial climate, and reinforced my feeling that communities really can change the world!


Music - the three bands we had were fantastic!
Getting wider community involved, giving work experience to students through School Audio Engineering that did our sound.
Meeting the faces behind the @twitter names!
Using Bubblino to blow bubbles whenever#livtwest was detected on a twitter feed.
Auctioning Liverpool prints, and Stephen Fry's socks!

Will we have another one?

I said yes.


That's another post...!
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday 14 February 2009

Review of Liverpool Twestival - Part One

I want to record what has been happening over the past few weeks, before I get onto reviewing what happened on Thursday night which is likely to be part two!

For a while now, my creative side has been itching to get out, and to some degree it can whilst at work, but not a lot. I had a feeling when thinking about New Year, and resolutions etc that this was going to be a 'big year' (as my friend Margie would say) and embraced that fact, making a decision that this was going to be the year of Yes. I even watched Jim Carrey in Yes Man over Christmas, which was reasonably good, and gave me more food for thought.

In fact, one of my resolutions was to get out more, at least once a month (posted here). Little did I know that rather than just 'getting out', before the end of Feb I'd be working with a few complete strangers to put on a party in Liverpool that would be one of 185 parties held in Cities across the world, to raise money for a very good cause - Charity:Water.

I just want to put this in context a little. I had thought about getting into Liverpool once a month to go to some gigs, having in the very far and distant past been a bit of a clubber rather than a live music person, that said - that alone would have been something very different for me.

To then volunteer (a first) to work with (not only work with, but lead) strangers that I had only previously conversed with online via Twitter, which would involve meeting up with more complete strangers was a bit random. Add to that the fact that we agreed to put on some live music, sort out an auction/raffle to raise money for charity and do quite a bit of media and PR coverage for the event - All Firsts - made it a little bit unbelievable.

Not that I'm averse to doing things for the first time you understand, I like to think of myself as innovative, and a bit quirky, but usually these things are done in quite a safe environment (i.e. work) and the one thing I love to do whatever time of day it is, is learn.

So, what have I learnt in the past month then?

Twitter is a remarkable platform for acquiring and building networks. I kinda knew this in theory, but I've seen so many examples of how powerful it is in the last few weeks that I'm qute staggered. In the words of a Stage 1 twitterer, I may be evangelising but I have strong evidence.

To be more open and trusting (within reason!) - Being cynical is so last year. I've taken my share of knocks throughout my life, and find it difficult to trust people beyond a certain level. Twestival has shown me how many good people there are out there, if only I would look for them, and the power of the community, which is hugely underestimated.

How to do a radio interview, by phone and in studio. Having appeared on CityTalk twice and the Radio Merseyside Drivetime show, I am in the words of @alisongow 'a seasoned pro'. Not sure I'd go that far, but I'll certainly know what to expect should I do it again. (It did remind me of the time I was a weather girl for Rock FM, back in the day!).
I prefer phone-in's, you can, and I did, do them in your jammies and slippers.

How to be filmed - I've now done a few pieces to camera because of this event, and whereas before I would have been so self conscious that I really would have preferred never to get in front of a camera, and have hidden behind several, focussing on the aims of the project allowed me to 'sell' the event, and hopefully come over quite calmly, rationally and not like a jibbering idiot. I'm not saying I want to watch it back, but it won't kill me.

To ask for more than I normally would - I'll say it again, I'm staggered by the generousity of the local Twitterati, and even those only slightly attached. For example, SAE sponsored the sound techs and equipment. This came about because I asked @paulnolan1980 to help (on @sicktrumpet's recommendation), not only did he help, he brought along another colleague, then we discussed having two students who would gain work experience in on the act too. Having had no experience, and no real idea of what kind of kit would be needed, Paul and Doug soon informed me that we were short of kit to the tune of about £300 (hire fees).

At this stage, I'd asked the bands to play, who were giving me requirements, we'd started publicity about the event and we working with a zero budget. Oo-er...

I, very cheekily, asked Paul and Doug to ask SAE for the equipment. They said the answer would be no. I departed from that meeting quite deflated, thinking that this might be the deal breaker. No equipment, no gig - not the end of the world I know, but not what we'd hoped for either.

Thankfully, SAE stepped in to save the day with most of the kit, and Edge Hill Uni kindly lent some too.

That I'm quite bored - and if I could fit all of this in, in 3 weeks then what else could I be doing in my spare time?

That I have confidence - I was waiting for someone to give it to me, those that know me will think i'm being melodramatic, thinking I had it all along, but I really didn't realise that I had. Well, I've found it now, and I'm not letting go of it.

I've been reminded that I love music and art, love socialising, love photography, love being challenged, love life and somewhere in the mix, most of that had got lost.

I'm sure there is much more, and I'm trying to document this as reminder to self. It has been an absolute blast. I know Andy Goodwin and Alison Gow don't think that they did very much in all of this, but you did guys, you played a huge part in it, as I couldn't have done it without you. And it is a lovely feeling to think that I made at least two new friends in all of the mayhem and madness! x

Images: Pete Carr and Jennifer Welch

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday 8 February 2009

Twitter and Twits

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

I've been meaning to get to the keys for a while now, but have been crazee busy organising Liverpool's first Twitter festival - or Twestival.

This week has seen quite a few firsts for me, from speaking to sound guys (i didn't have a clue!), to doing radio interviews, and responding to articles in the Independant (about Twitter) so thought I should just share some of that.

Before I made the opportunity to do so - Mike Nolan wrote a great piece on 'Has Twitter gone mainstream' which was going to be the crux of my piece - so go there and read it, and then my comments!

So many work related opportunites for using Twitter, so little time and as with anything, how we prove that this will add value, in order to release staffing to be able to support it upfront. And if we don't release staffing to support it, it'll be crap because it hasn't been supported! A vicious circle if ever there was one.

My beef with the piece in the Independant was first of all the title, 'You don't have to be a Twit but it helps' and secondly that the author seemingly fixated on one instance of how Twitter had been used, by one celebrity (@stephenfry) and discarded all of the 'good stuff' that goes on.

By good stuff, I mean the business networking, the social networking, the learning and teaching, the getting togethers to raise money for charity, the direct routes to people that you'd never have been able to access before... and the list goes on.

You can see my full ranty comment here. This article instigated quite a reaction from twitterers everywhere, and as some kindly pointed out to Terence, the article got a great deal of coverage because someone had linked to it on Twitter - had they not, I certainly would never had come across it.

Terence says "It is time to admit that computers, which have transformed and improved our lives in so many ways, are also doing terrible harm to much human interaction and thought. There are increasing numbers of people who find it easier to conduct friendships through Facebook than to leave their computer and spend time with real, flesh-and-blood friends. The fretful banality of round-the-clock texting and twittering is drowning out real communication and thought."

As you can imagine, this provoked quite a reaction including:

"Why do people like Terence always assume that online & offline friendships are mutually exclusive? I find Facebook *helps* my real life interactions - it's so much easier to organise stuff online than to rely on the old 'chinese whispers' messages which invariably end in miscommunication. Also, I have friends from all over the world that I have met while travelling - the internet allows us to keep up with each others' lives. Being able to talk with people on the other side of the world using the Internet is wonderful."

I feel particularly strongly about this - as increasingly in this very busy global world, applications such as facebook and twitter allow the beginning of a conversation, that might not ever take place 'in real life'. Certainly in my experience, I have got to know several distant colleagues through twitter, and in the absence of a direct relationship before, twitter has enhanced the real life experience.

In addition, and from a personal perspective, as a mum who spends many evenings home alone, using sites such as facebook and twitter allow me to continue conversations, not just with my 'real life' friends, but with a much wider audience. Being able to tap into knowledge that others have, and are willing to share, enhances many aspects of my life.

As with all technology - it won't work for everyone, and you do really need to stick at it and work out what you want from it, but Twitter works for me, and thousands upon thousands of others. And to finish, all I'll say is - don't knock it 'till you've tried it..

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday 17 January 2009

Twestival Fever

Things have been a little crazee this week. I've been having a fine old time getting involved with a very worthwhile project, and cause through one of my favourite web things,

If you haven't heard of Twitter before, then you won't be alone (although it was featured on BBC News at Ten last night with regard to the Hudson River story). Twitter, by its own admission,"is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?"

It's an interesting site to use, as the response to the question is limited to 140 characters, about the size of an SMS text message, and therefore makes you think quite carefully about what you're saying or responding to, and how you might want to say it.

As well as updating your status, additional features include following other people, and being followed. This might be based on your brief biography, links to your website or blog, or because you've said something relatively interesting that has resonated with fellow tweeple.

A whole new language is emerging; tweeple or tweeps(twitter people), tweetups (meet ups for tweeple), and now - the most exciting so far; twestivals (festivals for tweeple!).

I wouldn't like to hazard a guess at how many people are now using Twitter, but for those that are, it's a day in, day out part of their lives.

Earlier this week, I saw some updates about twestivals, which linked through to and told a story about "
a group of Twitterers based in London UK decided to organise an event where the local Twitter community could socialize offline; meet the faces behind the avatars, enjoy some entertainment, have a few drinks and tie this in with a food drive and fundraising effort for a local homeless charity."

Twestival was going to take this to a whole new level, by choosing a date - Thursday 12th Feb 2009, and by inviting cities all over the world to get involved in having local Twestivals, with the aim of raising as much money as possible for charity: water, a non profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations by funding sustainable clean water solutions in areas of greatest need.

Keen to get involved in this, I asked who was doing the Liverpool Twestival and got many replies saying 'yeah, I'd come' and 'yeah, I'll help' but none offering to take a lead. I thought long and hard about how much commitment this might take (considering I work full time, and have a demanding toddler and social life!) and then thought bugger it - this is the year of YES!

After replying to the volunteers, and pulling together a team, I registered Liverpool as a Twestival site! I am absolutely amazed and overwhelmed by the kind and giving nature of so many people who are offering to get involved/give time/do stuff to help and I know that this is going to be a wonderful event.

So, in about 25 days, the first ever Liverpool Twestival will be held.... Oh my word....