September #uklibchat discussing the environmental footprint of technology

We were delighted to partner with @uklibchat earlier this month to discuss ‘Green Tech’ and the environmental footprint of technology. During the 90 minutes available to discuss this critical topic, there were 60+ tweets.

The agenda generated discussion on the environmental impact of the 24/7/365 library; recycling e-waste (at organisational and personal level); the potential of electric vehicle technology for mobile libraries; the environmental impact of online resources; and apps which support green initiatives.

The tweets have been collected into a Wakelet and are available here. If you’d like to save the Wakelet as a PDF to read later (on a device – please don’t print it!) then click on the three dots and export it.


Looking forward to #ILI2019

MmIT really appreciates our partnership with Internet Librarian International: the library innovation conference. With just over a month until it opens, here are some highlights:

  • The MmIT stand: join us to learn about our forthcoming events and participate in our latest competition.
  • Three keynote speakers who will talk about accelerating innovation, harnessing the power of community and collaboration and celebrating the love of libraries.
  • We think Track C (Digital, diverse, disrupted) on Day 1 and Track B (The Rebooted Librarian) on Day 2 will particularly appeal to MmIT members, but there are fascinating talks in all the tracks.
  • Committee member presentations: Antony Groves is discussing Library Code Camp in session B203: Delicious digital skills and Alison McNab will give a lightning talk on How to be heard as part of session C204: The rebranded librarian.
  • There’s a 25% discount on the cost of registration if you are a member of MmIT or another supporting organisation. Please note that the Early Bird discount closes on Friday 13 September.
  • We’re awarding the Most Intriguing Presentation Title award to David Bennet for his talk on Smile for the thesaurus!

Are you a first-time delegate? Read our advice on getting the most out of your conference experience.

Unable to attend this year? Follow along on Twitter at #ILI2019 and consider submitting an abstract for next year….

Below: Video from our MmIT stand at #CilipConf19 in July 2019.

CILIP Conference 2019 : reflections on #CilipConf19

Earlier this year we publicised our bursary to attend the 2019 Cilip Conference. We were delighted to award it to Claire Back, Development Manager with Plymouth Libraries. In her winning blog entry Claire discussed her favourite tech tool Canva. Claire has now blogged her impressions from the conference and highlighted those themes which she found most significant.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a month since the CILIP Conference in Manchester. Rather than a chronological write up, this blog post is more a reflection of my thoughts on the conference; what I enjoyed the most, what I took away from attending and what I’m still thinking about one month later.

Major themes

For me there were two major themes that came up repeatedly. The first, diversity and inclusion ran throughout the two days. From Kriti Sharma’s excellent opening keynote on bias and ethics in AI to Hong-Anh Nguyen’s powerful day two keynote Questioning Diversity: A call to action for everyone working in the profession to make a positive change. There was also the BAME Network allies’ breakfast which unfortunately I couldn’t attend but I have since signed up as an ally on the website.

Demonstrating impact was the second major theme for me, probably because it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. It was clear listening to stories from 25 years of Libraries Change Lives that being able to demonstrate the difference these initiatives made was a key to their success and recognition. In Glasgow’s Mitchell Library we saw the positive impact that moving the Citizens Advice Bureau into the library had on both users and staff. Jan Holden from Norfolk Libraries shared their vision for ensuring that libraries change lives every day through a range of health and wellbeing activities. I liked their plan on a page which was simple and effective. It was also good to hear Jan say that it’s sometimes hard to get people to listen and understand what libraries can do, and how important it is to have confidence in the service and be willing to have the same conversations again and again.

It was also interesting to hear Kay Grieves from the University of Sunderland describe how they are using an engagement and impact model to drive service design and I enjoyed seeing their experiments with data visualisation, something I’m keen to do more of.

Public Libraries are awesome

I know this, I work for one, but it’s good to be reminded sometimes and the Innovation in Public Libraries highlighted some of the great work going on. This included Archives+ at Manchester Central Library who have been documenting the history and stories of the LBQT community in the city and I loved that they invited a couple of the volunteers, a vital part of the project, along to hear the talk. I’m always slightly in awe of the work being done by Leeds Libraries on 100% Digital Leeds, ensuring that everyone in the city has the same options and choices when it comes to digital inclusion, so it was useful to pick up some tips on how they are doing it from Amy Hearn.

Best slides

A special mention to Dave Rowe from Libraries Hacked who illustrated his talk on open geographic intelligence with library data solely with images of dogs (and a single cat) on mobile libraries.  Dave’s current project to improve the state of mobile library data makes me wish we had a mobile so we could get involved.

What I missed

There will always be the problem of clashing sessions at a conference, but I was really sorry to miss the Diversity in the Profession Panel.

Overall I really enjoyed my couple of days in Manchester. I felt it helped me to reconnect with the wider profession and I’m very grateful to MMIT for the bursary.

MmIT joins @uklibchat to discuss ‘Green Tech’ and the environmental footprint of technology

We’re joining up with the tweeps at #uklibchat on Monday 2nd September for a Twitter chat on ‘Green Tech’ and the environmental footprint of technology.

Join us on Monday 2 September 2019 from 7.00-8.30pm BST. The chat sessions start with general introductions and then we move on to the discussion topics.  Never participated in #uklibchat before? Here’s an introduction to the concept.

Please add the questions that you would like to discuss to the agenda here in under 280 characters. Please remember to use the hashtag #uklibchat so that everyone can see your replies.  Please also remember to include the question number to which you are replying in all your tweets.

MmIT Committee member Antony Groves has provided a thought-provoking blog post to set the scene for our discussions:

What can libraries and librarians do to tackle the climate emergency?

Earlier this week Goldsmiths announced that they will soon stop selling beef on campus in a step towards becoming carbon neutral. At the more technological end of the spectrum, the University of Sussex has undertaken the largest solar panel project in UK HE, positioning it as one of the most energy-efficient universities in England. Over 7000 HE and FE institutions around the world have declared a climate emergency, along with half of local councils in the UK, meaning that many of us will now be working for employers who have rightly made a commitment to practices that reduce global warming (or attempt to hold it beneath a catastrophic rise of 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels). However, as service provision within many of our organisations moves towards a 24 hour a day, 365 day a year model, what else can we do to minimise our environmental footprint? 

To begin with, we can do what we do best: find and share information. As UNESCO have stated, education will be key to addressing climate change. For us, there is much that we can learn from other libraries and librarians in the pursuit of making our profession carbon neutral – a form of library neutrality that we’d all like to see. 

In the UK, according to government statistics, the energy supply and transport sectors are responsible for over half of greenhouse gas emissions through their burning of fossil fuels. So what can libraries do to move away from their reliance on these sectors and save on energy consumption? At the University of Sussex Library our recently created Green Group highlight and undertake ways to reduce our environmental impact by encouraging staff and students to use best practice in limiting wastage of power, water and other consumables. For example, we run digital note-making workshops for our students showing them how to digitally annotate and highlight PDFs instead of having to print them. 

Like many other libraries we also have motion sensor lighting in our stacks and, inspired by a presentation from Dr Jon Knight at a previous MmIT event, now use more energy efficient Raspberry Pi’s to run some of our displays. Whilst it is possible to use low energy computers to replace PCs and OPAC machines, researchers from the University of Bath have also discovered a way of saving electrical power by running their library’s computers on a direct current. When these computers can easily be used to host webinars, we should also ask ourselves whether we really need to be travelling for meetings and non-essential training that contribute toward transport emissions.

As individuals, every time we use a computer we create carbon, even through the simple act of checking emails (although this could be mitigated by cloud computing). Not only should we avoid printing unnecessary emails, we should avoid sending them. When we do need to share information, we should think about how it is packaged and design our digital resources to avoid electronic waste. For example, is video always the best format for support materials? Researchers estimate that a design intervention stopping images being sent to people only using YouTube to listen to audio could reduce the platform’s carbon footprint annually by roughly that of 30,000 UK homes!

We can also look at ways to offset the CO2 that our online activities generate. The search engine Ecosia is used widely at the University of Sussex and the company behind this spent 80% of their profits in June 2019 planting trees in an effort to tackle the climate crisis. Creators of the Forest app take a similar approach and work with the organisation Trees for the Future to achieve this. The Forest app has the added bonus of encouraging you to stay off your device (and is one we recommend to students who want to focus) so it’s both reducing and offsetting your carbon footprint. 

If opting out isn’t feasible we can always turn to activism. Perhaps, as suggested in a fictitious Nature review, it’s time to form the “Librarians against Climate Change pressure group”?  Although organisations such as the International Federation of Library Associations are already recognising our efforts through their Green Library Awards, there is much more that we can do. 

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg; one that together we can work to preserve.

Photo credit: A. Groves

Book now for #ILI2019

The draft programme has been released and registration has opened for Internet Librarian 2019, which takes place at London Olympia on 15-16 October. Members of CILIP MmIT can receive a discount of 25% when they book (see foot of blog for the code).

Why attend? ILI provides a forum to network with information professionals from all over the world as they share their stories of real-world innovation and reflect on their experiences and lessons learned. You’ll hear about ground-breaking services that deliver real impact and explore new technologies, services and business models for your library or information service.

You’ll also be investing two days learning about new roles, new skillsets and new tools, and ways in which libraries are supporting social inclusion, engagement and equality. Speakers will discuss about AI, AR and VR, blockchain, bots, digital disruption, library marketing and engagement, library strategies, users and UX, podcasting, repositories, RDM, search, and services for the digital

To use the MmIT discount code for ILI 2019, enter MMIT25 in the Priority Code box on the online registration form.

Designing with minimal design skills: our #CILIPConf19 bursary winner recommends Canva

MmIT is delighted to announce that the bursary to #CILIPConf19 has been won by  Claire Back, Development Manager with Plymouth Libraries. Her role includes responsibility for marketing, communications and outreach. We asked entrants to draft a blog post about their favourite technology, and below we publish Claire’s blog post on her favourite tech tool: Canva.

Designing with little or no design skills using Canva

I’m not a designer, yet every day I have to provide content for the various websites, social media channels and newsletters that make up the digital marketing tools for my organisation. That used to mean struggling with Photoshop or speaking nicely to the corporate design team, but all that has changed since I discovered Canva.

Canva is an online graphic design tool that lets you create professional looking designs even if you have little or no design skills. In this post I’ll just be looking at what’s available for free as so far that’s been enough for my needs, but there are paid options available.

Once you’ve logged in, you can choose to search, or create a design. Canva has pre-set templates for almost everything you might want to design. I only use it for online content, but it is also possible to get print ready files.

Canva is useful when creating content for social media. As people scroll through everything so quickly now, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to grab someone’s attention and a well-placed image can make people take notice. Canva has templates for all the main social media channels and not just posts, it includes headers, event pages, covers and more allowing you to quickly create an image that will work across sites.

Once you’ve decided on a template you can start designing. If you’re happy using the pre-set templates, it’s easy to replace what’s there with your own images and text, download the image and you’re done. However if you have a bit more time, you can spend time exploring all the features. There are hundreds of elements including photos, graphics and backgrounds. Just use the search box to find what you want and add to your design. Adding text is easy and there are lots of different fonts to choose from. You have complete control over colours and placement and the drag and drop format makes it easy to move things around and try things out. Being able to add text and backgrounds using our brand colours is really useful. 

Canva will also let you upload your own images to use in designs and once uploaded they are always there, so you can go back and reuse whenever you like. I like this feature as I try to use our own images when I can.

Once you’re happy with your design you can download in PNG, JPEG, standard and print PDF. Canva also saves your designs so they are always available.

Another feature I like is the ability to create a design with custom dimensions, useful for our website, blogs and email newsletter.

There’s also a Canva app, and although it doesn’t have the full functionality of the website its useful if I’m out and about or don’t want to turn on my laptop. I can quickly make images the right size and post from my phone. I can also access all my previous designs.

Canva will never replace the talent and skills of a real graphic designer, but because of the ease with which I can quickly create professional looking content, it’s become one of my most used tools.

Tabling Library Carpentry: talking data skills at #CILIPConf19

In advance of next week’s CILIP Conference, the purpose of this short post is to highlight a session that Jez Cope from the British Library will be delivering on the Thursday morning (with a little help from myself). The title of the session is Library Carpentry: software and data skills for library and information professionals, and may be of interest to MmIT members.  

For those familiar with the Library Carpentry moniker but less so with what it involves, Jez explains as follows:

Library Carpentry develops lessons and teaches workshops for and with people working in library and information-related roles. Their goal is to create an on-ramp to empower this community to use software and data in their own work as well as be advocates for, and train others in, efficient, effective and reproducible data and software practices.

This has been exactly my experience of engaging with the Library Carpentry Community, from learning about software skills through to using, sharing and teaching them (which I’ll speak about briefly in the session).  As my colleague Clare has written, the information profession needs Library Carpentry; the skills that it fosters can benefit us and those we support, it’s win-win.

However, like any emerging area of work, understanding the context and being able to decipher any mysterious new language makes it much easier to engage. Thankfully Jez’s introductory session should address both of these potential barriers, and you won’t even need a laptop! As he states in the programme:

This session gives an overview of the history and goals of the Library Carpentry initiative, followed by a little taster of their lessons and teaching style with a jargon-busting exercise.

So come along on Thursday 4th July to learn more, hopefully it will dovetail nicely with whatever else you have planned for the conference.

Written by guest writer Antony Groves (@AntonyGroves)