10 August 2012

Thing 15: Attending, presenting at and organising seminars, conferences and other events

Goodness me, keeping up with the Things has never felt harder than on a hot, sunny August Friday...just before I go off for a week. This particular thing is also something I don't have too much to say about. As mentioned before, I'm a terrible stay-at-home these days unless there's something devastatingly interesting (rare!) or I'm forced into going (Gregynog!). Actually I really enjoyed my day at Gregynog, despite having to present, as it was full of friendly Welsh librarians, some of whom I'd not seen for a long time. So that will teach me to try to get out more...

I made a colossal effort with my presentation not to be death-by-powerpoint and I was boosted when someone complimented my first slide (a pic of an owl!) right at the start. So this is the tip I would share - make the effort to find good pics, nuke any bullet points and follow the advice of the presentation links in this Thing. I feel like I am on a steep presentations learning curve which is taking me far from my comfort zone. I still make many fundamental errors in boring an audience, but I do feel like I'm improving by trial and error.

A splendid owl (free use pic)

I'm going to pledge this year (2012-2013 academic year!) to try to attend one library event, no matter how far, as I definitely need to kick myself out of my lethargy.

3 August 2012

Thing 14: Zotero / Mendeley / CiteULike

This thing is something I have dabbled with in the past as I try to keep up with referencing tools. Supporting students and researchers is a key part of my role and I think this ought to include information management if I can manage it. At my university we have a licence for EndNote and EndNoteWeb so this is promoted as the tool of choice and we run plenty of training on it too. It's OK but these are the defects:
  • It's not social: you can only share libraries with other EndNote users
  • I don't think it's a good idea to put your eggs in a subscription basket as most students and researchers will find themselves moving around in their careers and may not have an EndNote sub. However, you can always export and import your library to a new system.
  • It's not the prettiest or the friendliest tool out there.
  • EndNote the software is only available on campus PCs - for your own laptop you need to shell out around £60. EndNoteWeb is a cut-down version accessed via the web.
It does integrate well with Word and the full EndNote package is bells and whistles. I try to use EndNoteWeb myself as I have to train on it and need to know how it works.

I have tried Mendeley and used it for a project where we wished to share a list of references with the wide world. It worked well for that. It's also fab at indexing a load of PDFs but generally speaking I find it a bit clunky to use. You need to download and install it, and then there's the web interface.

Zotero I used once about a year ago and found it OK - again, I liked being able to share my references. I think you can see them here? They are part a work thing and part a Welsh flora thing I did as part of some voluntary work for the National Botanic Gardens of Wales.

My big problem is that I am accumulating various bits of library-related stuff and I have no way of indexing it all and keeping it neatly together. Some of these are articles but others are blog posts or reports etc. I sort of shuffle along in a disorganized state, Googling things I already found, re-downloading things I already have etc. It doesn't take too long - that's the problem! If I ever undertook some serious research or writing again, I'd have to put my eggs in one basket and I'd probably pick Mendeley.