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.

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

Setting up a tweet archive with IFTTT

We welcome a guest post from Claire Sewell, Research Support Skills Coordinator in the the Office of Scholarly Communication at Cambridge University Library.  

Reading tweets from a conference or other event is a great way to keep up with what is happening in your area, especially as the number of events you can attend in person is likely to be limited. If you are lucky enough to attend something then using Twitter to share your insights is a great way to both take notes and raise your individual profile within the community. However, Twitter is very fast moving and it can be easy to lose content that you would like to keep or refer back to.

Setting up a tweet archive is one way to keep track of tweets – either just your own or those across the whole event hashtag. The much-missed Storify used to do this but with its demise, we have had to find new methods. One solution is to use IFTTT (If This Then That), an online platform which lets users connect different websites to automate a number of tasks – known as applets. I’ve used this to connect Twitter and Google Sheets to create both personal and public tweet archives for different events.

The instructions below will guide you through setting up a tweet archive using Google Sheets but you can use any of the apps available on IFTTT to create something suited to your preferred workflow. IFTTT is an intuitive website that guides you through any complicated parts quickly and easily.

Setting up a tweet archive:

  1. Create an IFTTT account (this is free).
  2. Connect your Twitter and Google Drive accounts to IFTTT. You will only need to do this the first time you connect any third party site to use it in multiple applets.
  3. Select My applets New applet.
  4. The following message will appear:


Select this and then select Twitter.

  1. Select the appropriate option depending on whether you want to set up an archive of all tweets from an event (New tweet from search) or just the ones you send (New tweet by you with hashtag).
  2. Specify the hashtag that you want to collect when prompted and then select Create trigger. The following message will appear:


  1. Select that and then Google Sheets (or whichever tool you are using).
  2. Select Add row to spreadsheet. At this point you will be prompted to specify a spreadsheet – either an existing one in your library or a new one created for this applet. You can also alter the format that the tweet is collected in at this stage (IFTT will guide you through this process).
  3. Select create action and you are ready to go. The applet will run automatically once it has been created although you can run it manually if desired.

When creating the archive with Google Sheets you can either share it or keep it private depending on what you intend to use it for. It’s worth pointing out that this system is not fool proof – it may miss some tweets, particularly if the hashtag is fast moving and IFTTT will only work with certain sites. However it is a good alternative to trawling through pages of tweets searching for the one you meant to save. I would recommend experimenting with the different tools available on IFTTT to create an archive which works for your purposes – you never know what you might discover!

Note: sections of this post were originally posted on Claire’s blog Librarian In Training.

Conference tech: the hardware

MmIT Committee member Alison McNab writes:

I’m looking forward to attending #ILI2018 next month (if you are a member of MmIT you can claim a 25% discount – see our blog post for details of how to claim it).  We will be staffing an MmIT stand with giveaways and a competition.

I’m giving a lightning talk at ILI on using social media to promote and amplify events and thought it might be helpful to talk about the tech that helps me do so.  The two devices I use are an iPad and mobile phone.  I find a tablet much lighter and easier than a laptop when balanced on my knees but I do know other people who prefer having the full keyboard on a laptop for rapid tweeting or blogging.

A spare power supply is essential if you wish to keep tweeting after lunch! You can’t guarantee having access to a power point at a conference, but it is probably worth taking your charger plug and lead along just in case.  Delegates who bring and share access to a multi-USB adaptor and/or an extension lead are true digital citizens!

  • Entry-level power banks (left) are low cost and often feature as a “high value” giveaway  from library suppliers and publishers.  They should help you top-up your phone charge to last out the day.
  • The more powerful high-capacity power banks (centre) can carry enough charge to keep your laptop or tablet topped up throughout the conference or a transantlantic flight.
  • My most recent purchase has been a battery phone case (right), which gives me four times the battery life (YMMV), and the some newer versions even offer wireless charging.

My final tip is to charge all your devices and chargers the night before the event starts, and top up the charge whenever possible.  I’ve found an article that advises that shallow discharges and recharges are better than full ones, which mentions the new-to-me  Battery University as an authority!

[Note: my “tech” was purchased personally, apart from the entry-level power bank which was a publisher giveaway.  Obviously other brands of tablets, power banks and phone cases are available….]Technology to keep tweeting at conferences

MmIT Join #uklibchat Technology in libraries. Monday 3rd September 7.00-8.30pm BST

Join #uklibchat this September with MmIT Chair Andy Tattersall and committee member Christina Harbour to discuss the ever growing and changing topic within Libraries, Technology. cropped-uklibchatskysegoe

We will have a featured post in the next few days, along with some articles (keep an eye on Twitter) for now the Agenda is up and running so please add your questions.

This is open to all sectors of the library profession, so feel free to pop along on Monday the 3rd of September at 7pm, as usual, join in using the #uklibchat hashtag to make your voice heard.

We need to talk about #Storify…..

It would not be exaggerating to say that there were groans of anguish across the library and information community when Storify (now owned by Adobe) announced that the service will close in May 2018.  While the lengthy notice period was appreciated, with only a month until Storify closes how can we ensure that we preserve existing stories and what can we use as an alternative?

Archiving existing Storify stories

Wakelet very quickly rose to the challenge with a two step process to Import your Stories to Wakelet.  Storify users can create Stories until the end of April 2018, and have until May 16 to move their Stories across.

Alternatives to Storify

Wakelet, obviously.  However, it has taken the recent introduction of the Import from Twitter feature to make it more of a Storify experience: see the brief Twitter Import video.

If you are primarily interested in curating content, there are still many alternative social bookmarking sites that can fill the void e.g. Scoop.It or Pocket.  The excellent C4LPT website has a list of Curation & Social Bookmarking Tools.


Why is Storify closing? 

If you are interested in why social media service Storify is coming to an end, it is due to a sequence of acquisitions plus the growth in chronology and curation tools.  In a blog post Ian Milligan reminds us of how vulnerable user-generated content can be online,  and that we need to steward our data responsibly.


Engage, review, repeat: Using metrics to improve your Twitter engagement

It’s been more than a year since we looked at social media analysis tools and a lot has changed in that time. If an internet year is 7 weeks¹, than a social networking year feels like even less than that.  And, as important as it is to have a social media strategy, it’s equally important for this to be a dynamic strategy, being constantly revised.

TweetCloud for MultiMediaIT
TweetCloud for MultiMediaIT on TweetStats

Some of the tools mentioned last year are still around; ThinkUp has left beta, HootSuite is now  a freemium platform and, sadly, TwapperKeeper is no more (although the core functionality is now built into HootSuite). Twitter itself has gone through a couple of iterations since then. In the latest version of the Twitter web client (I’ve lost count by now, let’s just call it #newnewtwitter) you can view the interactions and mentions, activity (what people you follow are up to), browse categories and try to make sense of the latest ‘trends’ (only joking). But there still aren’t really any built-in tools to monitor the reach and effectiveness of your Twitter presence.

There are lots of different tools and apps for exploring Twitter metrics. I’m ignoring Klout and PeerIndex because measuring ‘influence’ is not the same as measuring engagement and in order to review your social media strategy you need data to show interactions with those who use your library or info service . For similar reasons, I’ve steered clear of social marketing tools such as Socialbakers and the like (also their website is a bit ..busy).

Metrics specifically for Twitter can tell you more about your followers (including reciprocal followers and ‘influential’ followers) but there are also more meaningful measures such as ‘conversations’. If you ask a question on Twitter, for example, how do you track and store the responses? And how can you archive and analyse conversations that occur on Twitter at conferences or around a specific subject?

And these can also be linked to your other web services. Twitter (and other social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn) have a growing role for web traffic referrals. Twitter announced a new Twitter web analytics tool late last year in recognition of this but it’s gone a bit quiet since the first announcement.

Most Twitter power users manage their Twitter account via a Twitter client. TweetDeck (now owned by Twitter) is a handy way to manage multiple Twitter accounts if you meet the rather stringent browser requirements but doesn’t offer anything in the way of usage statistics or analytics. Similarly, the reporting tools of Hootsuite are largely restricted to Premium account holders.

I’ve heard good things about TwitterCounter (which generates graphs for current and predicted levels of followers) but more in-depth analysis is again limited to premium accounts.

Tweetreach is handy for occasional reports; you can view the ‘reach’ of your latest 50 tweets without signing up for an account.

Tweet effect is also a useful reference but on the various accounts I tried, it didn’t identify any correlation between tweet content and follower loyalty.

ThinkUp is the Twitter analysis and archiving tool that I use the most. It’s particularly good at measuring Twitter-based conversations by keeping track of replies, retweets and inquiries (questions you’ve posted on Twitter). It also has a GeoEncoder plugin to let you map your social networking conversations. The downside (or at least a slight barrier) is that you need to have hosting but this has been reduced a fair bit by the increasing free and shared hosting options available. PHP Fog now offers free ThinkUp hosting which you can have up and running in next to no time.

Xefer in action - built using Yahoo Pipes, YQL & Google Charts

Tweetstats is great charting tool. As well as follower stats and frequency charts, you can visualise who you interact with most on Twitter, and even patterns of what time of day you tend to tweet — handy for identifying accidental routines.

Xefer is another great graphing tool built using Yahoo Pipes and Google charts. The Reply Explorer also lists replies to your tweets that you can sort by date or frequency.

And if you’re *really* into visualisation tools, check out TAGSExplorer, a brilliant tool created by Martin Hawksey that lets you create interactive visualisations of your Tweets using a Google Spreadsheet, the Google Visualisation API and some kind of d3.js graphing library magic. This is particularly great way of post-conference social networking analysis because it let’s you clearly see the interaction between participants.

Chances are, if your organisation is using Twitter in a significant way, you will need to use a couple of different sources and tools to review how you’re interacting with your network(s). And if there are any you’ve used and found particularly useful or any that we’ve overlooked, let us know in the comments.

1 This reference was quoted by Professor David Nicholas in a presentation (see but I haven’t found the original CIBER study reference online.