At least 97% of librarians are nerds. Okay this is an entirely made up statistic right up there with 70% of librarians use their cardigan collection to convey their mood. However, unlike the latter, the former has some truth to it. Why? Because we are the early adopters, the multi-disciplinarians. With MOOCS we are living in the golden era of the nerdy multi-disciplinarian. Whilst the principles of library and information science are obviously core to the industry we also need to possess a knowledge and understanding of the interests of our users. MOOCs provide you with the resources and if you are like me, the necessary deadlines to create this understanding about a wide range of topics. What can you learn about? Short answer is everything! From the latest in AI technology, ethics (and that difficult question of if stranded on a desert island – who would you eat?), leadership techniques, psychology or medieval history. So where are they? Many institutions have their own MOOCs or you can sign up to dedicated platforms such as:
2. Keep up to date with all the movers, shakers, innovators and librarians
There are some great blogs out there to keep you up to date with the latest in the technology and library language. Here are my recommendations in each.
Technology (and a bit of everything)
Technology according to librarians
On the fun side
I’m also going to use this month’s column to share some of my favorite sources of a library-related giggle:
3. Use an RSS reader to help keep it all library
When it comes to keeping up to date with the latest in technology or its application to the profession there is no one size fits all. Whilst there are many different ways and technology, at the heart of it all tends to be RSS reader-like functionality.
An RSS reader is the easiest way to keep up to date with what’s going on. Since the untimely death of GoogleReader at the hands of its creators I haven’t found a perfect replacement that ticks all the boxes. If you aren’t looking for an exact match there are a few options out there:
So whats good about it? First of all, Feedly makes it really easy for you to integrate the app into your everyday routine. It is accessible via your desktop, smartphone and tablet, and you can log in and start saving ‘feeds’ using your Facebook, Twitter, Google, Windows or Evernote accounts.
Feedly also adds an additional dimension to the traditional RSS reader experience through its editor’s choice and explore functionality. Use the explore page to discover and continually grow your information sources.
As the name suggests, Flipboard transforms your RSS feeds into a flippable (or I guess more accurately – swipable) book. Requiring an internet connection, Flipboard displays the abstracts of your RSS feeds as stories of a newspaper that you can click through to access the full content. Available for iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry, Flipboard also has a discover function with content relating to news, technology, science, art, books, and a lot more which you can add to your ‘daily edition’.
Whilst Feedly and Flipboard along with a raft of others are great RSS readers I will have to be honest an say that I don’t use them. Since the passing of Google Reader I have given up the RSS readers and have sought solace with an unlikely source. Twitter.
The list functionality makes it easy to split your updates between your many interests – e.g. personal, professional, books, general geekery. The list functionality also enables you to sort your information into organised lots to make sure that what you want to know about isn’t lost in the white noise. And remember your lists can be both public and private.
4. Make the most of your mobile tech
Making the most of your smartphone or tablet means trying out the latest apps. So what are some of the latest and greatest apps around?
If you are a list person the only way to describe Wunderlist is wunderful. Available on Android, iOS, Windows and Chromebook, Wunderlist is a simple and easy way to get organised. Once you register you can synch your list between your devices or share a list with friends if you are planning an event, holiday or silent book party.
Want to learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Irish, Danish, or English? Duolingo is the way to go! A fantastic and amazingly free app, Duolingo tests you on your written and verbal language skills through a trial and error lesson format. It also hassles you to study and subsequently is the nagging teacher/parent (in the best possible way). You can download Duolingo for iOS, Android and Windows Phone on the Duolingo website. p.s You are also able to learn straight from your desktop.
Turn pictures you take of books into OCR’d pdfs with Camscanner. The handy tool comes in free and pro versions. The primary difference between the two is that the free app includes a demo watermark. The text recognition is very hit and miss but if you often need to scan/copy documents it is worth the nominal price.
Share a secret anonymously with the world. This app isn’t technologically innovative however is beautiful in its intent and execution. It offers a mechanism for people to bare their secrets, fears, thoughts and joys with the world, and for the world to have an opportunity to celebrate, console and counsel in return. The app is available for iOS, Android and Windows.
5. Make it all happen
These resolutions will only transfer over to next year if you make them happen. How do you do that? The obvious and most difficult thing to do is to MAKE TIME.
When it comes to signing up and completing MOOCs here are my tips:
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
There are a lot of interesting MOOCs going on out there. However, when signing up take care to not sign up to too much. Don’t make the mistake of the White Rabbit and be sure to look at the time! The course outline will include an estimate of how much time the course will take to complete. Consider whether you will be able to fit the hours in with your other commitments. Be realistic about how much time you have.
- If you are going to commit, be sure to schedule the time!
Dedicate a particular time or times and block out the time in your calendar. Don’t double book the time or push it aside for something else. Treat the time like you would if you had to attend a physical class.
So those are my 5 tips. Hope you have a techno-tastic 2015!
Best Wishes and Happy New Year!