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.

Recording of “Mindful Tech: balancing work and life”

MmIT Committee member Antony Groves has kindly recorded his talk on Mindful Tech: balancing work and life (originally given at MmIT’s MindfulTech19 event in January 2019). In an MP4 recording (just under nine minutes long) he shares his own story about why he brought mindfulness practices into his own life and recommends books and tools that have helped support his practice. We share this during Mental Health Awareness Week.

Many public and academic libraries now contain curated collections of self-help books from the Reading Well initiative, which supports individuals to understand and manage their health and wellbeing using helpful reading. In addition, the Mental Health Foundation offers a range of helpful online booklets, including a guide to How to look after your mental health using mindfulness.

Exploring information literacy pedagogies through sonic objects #MmITsonic

Join us at Central Saint Martins for this interactive workshop. Participants will be encouraged to experiment with sound, then relate these experiences to teaching practices, strategies and approaches to learning within a context of teaching information literacy. Themes will be emergent on the day, but the workshop design encourages exploration of the following: assumptions about group learning, group dynamics, lived experience of teaching and learning, session design and digital learning.

Anyone who works with students supporting information literacy/academic support or has an interest in pedagogy will benefit from this workshop. Come along and put yourselves in your students shoes for an afternoon and remember what it feels like to be learning something brand new, reflect on your own learning habits and how group dynamics can effect your own experience of learning.

The workshop is on Thursday 6th June, 2pm-5pm at Central Saint Martins, Granary Sq. Kings Cross, London

Book here and follow us at #MMITsonic

Call for speakers: Internet Librarian International #ILI2019

The Call for Speakers for Internet Librarian International #ILI2019  has opened.  Share your library experiences with hundreds of global colleagues this October in London.

Every year hundreds of library and information professionals – and others – come together at ILI to exchange ideas, knowledge and experience. The focus is on real-world innovations, whether large or small.   The organisers are looking for case studies, great stories, personal experiences and lessons learned from the ideas, strategies and practical implementations you’ve put in place.

The submission deadline is 12 April 2019.

Members of the MmIT Committee will be attending #ILI2019, where we’ll staff an information stand and tweet our discoveries from the conference.



Talks and tweets from #MindfulTech19

The MmIT Committee were delighted to welcome over forty group members and others from the library and information community to Cilip HQ on 9 January 2019.  We heard four excellent speakers who guided and provoked us to consider the topics of mindful technology and how to beat digital distraction.

While some delegates avoided the “digital distraction” of Twitter during the afternoon, the tweets from #MindfulTech19  indicate that delegates (and Twitter followers) found plenty to share!  Val Skelton wrote up an excellent overview of the event in her article Mindful tech – looking for new ways to engage with tech, work and nature.

All four speakers have kindly added their presentations to the MmIT Slideshare account:

The event also included the MmIT AGM for 2019.  Andy Tattersall stepped down after two years as Chair and the new MmIT Officers are:

  • Alison McNab (Chair)
  • Debbie Morris (Secretary)
  • Amina Choudhury (Treasurer)