9 September 2013

Walking the talk



It's been a somewhat challenging week. At work it was both Research Week and Orientation  Week (yep we have trimesters) and we had a lot of events to attend and some to host. The Library also created an online game in partnership with the Research Office to engage staff and students with research-resources and services available to them. This was a big hit with some very competitive players.

I personally was both the organiser for a panel session and a member of the panel as well. On top of that I was struggling with tracheitis (whoever heard of that before?) and dosed up on antibiotics.

The panel session was, I think (I may be biased), a good illustration of the nature of participatory service. The panel consisted of three academics, one higher degree research student and a librarian talking about the use of new/social media for raising one's research profile. In addition we had another staff member and recent PhD working with us as the host of the session. The topic and flow of the conversation had been planned in a couple of meetings leading up to the event, and with Yammer conversations amongst the group.

It seemed to be hit with the audience who joined us for morning tea afterwards and were asking lots of questions. The conversation over coffee seemed quite loud/lively which I took as a good sign. I had a couple of requests for follow up sessions  - "I don't really get Twitter, I've got an account, but can you help me get going with it".

It was a fabulous experience working with such a team of professionals. In addition to those mentioned above we also had the University Librarian and a reference librarian coming along to meetings, and a bunch of other staff who assisted with operating a video camera, running a microphone for questions from the audience, operating the slide deck (and having to be flexible when the panellists didn't quite stick to the run sheet - I'm guilty forgot to mention one of the slides) and updating our tagboard page with any tweets from the audience, doing a head-count, and setting up a display and issuing loans during the morning tea. We figured if we had an engaged audience why not lend them a book on the topic while they were there - we weren't in the Library, we were in a lecture theatre.

The session was recorded with the intention of publishing a video for our community who could not attend and for others outside of our University. With all this going on during the week it was very hard to find time and energy to engage with Module content, so it really wasn't until the weekend that I started reading and viewing.

Having at last found some time to get started I feel like I was living and breathing module 1 before I even got into the readings.  We worked directly with community members to create an event and content on a topic that was clearly of interest and very timely. Some in our community were probably curious as to why the Library would be hosting such an event. Our University Librarian, Wendy Abbott, who introduced the panel session said it briefly, but succinctly. Libraries have always been interested and taken part in the scholarly communication process. Using new media to disseminate research is part of that process. Many libraries are actually ahead of the more traditionally-minded researchers who are very much focussed on citation counts and journal impact factors. Most (at least in western societies) academic libraries have had Twitter or Facebook accounts they are using for engagement with students, but many academics have only recently started thinking about how to use new media now that governments are starting to mandate open access to publicly funded research and talking about new metrics for research impact.

An opportunity to participate in a University-wide event like Research Week seems to me to be precisely where the readings were heading.

Oh, and one other thing the Library did - we set up a tagboard page for the event hashtag.
#BondResearchWeek to pull together content being created by many individuals and organisational social media channels.