Looking back -#BlogJune wrap-up

Looking_back (2)

Photo from Cole Patrick via Unsplash


#BlogJune 2016 has finished (I know, I should be up with the times, but I’ve been away in Vanuatu, completely off the grid for two weeks, so just settling back into NZ life again :D). It’s my habit to write a bit of a reflection post at the end of the month, so here goes 🙂

In terms of numbers crunched, I published 9 posts – not as many as 2014 (didn’t do #BlogJune last year; trying to remember why?), but I’m happy with the out-put. I haven’t published many posts this year (apparently only 10!), so glad to get back into the habit of writing  I really do enjoy blogging; I’m just not always disciplined enough to put in the time to do it.

In terms of quality, I managed to blog relatively practically this year, and explore some thoughts about work which was really fun. It was great to reflect on things that I am learning and doing (particularly in the area of health librarianship), although it was also challenging to blog in an honest way about work while still being professional and positive. I’m sure everyone has issues and challenges in their workplace, but for me, I don’t necessarily feel comfortable discussing those on a public blog. I prefer to blog in a constructive way about what I’m learning/thinking/reflecting on at work, so that’s what I chose to share here.

Turns out my most popular post was about live-tweeting a design thinking workshop; this one certainly garnered quite a lot of attention on Twitter – not sure which aspect (live-tweeting or design thinking?) was most popular 🙂

And a few numbers here (for those interested in stats):

Stats for June 2016.PNG

Stats by postStats by country.PNG

Some of the other highlights for me were just being able to read other people’s blogs, and follow their stories and thoughts and ideas – so much inspiration! I’ll have to go back and catch up on those posts that I missed in the flurry of #BlogJune 🙂

So what was the highlight for you from #BlogJune? What did you enjoy most? What did you learn? Did you surprise yourself? 🙂 I’d love to know…

A picture is worth a thousand words…

But what if the picture *had* words?

Meet ThingLink, which has been kicking around on the internet at least since 2010, but which I only discovered this week.

ThingLink is a “platform for creating interactive images and videos for web, social, advertising, and educational channels” – basically you can annotate your pictures and add links, videos, and other media directly into your image, which you can click on once you have hovered over the image.

Try mousing over my image below (of my poster for the Allied Health conference), and hovering over each spot on the image to read some more. You can also see the image full-size here on ThingLink itself.

At first glance, it seems a really cool tool that works well with visual images – maybe not with ones already quite text-heavy. I was looking through the featured images that use ThingLink and quite like these ones:

The truth about best before dates by Prajakta Dhopade

Or this one:

The Fault in our Stars by Alaina Pollock

At first glance, I really like this platform. It’s simple, easy-to-use, and the basic account is free. If you pay a little bit, you can customize the icons on the image, track statistics of how many people are clicking on the image, and where they are coming from, but the basic one is fine to play around with.

I’m just struggling to think of ways to use it in library promotion or information literacy instruction. I was tossing up using a screenshot of the library homepage, and maybe using some of these ‘annotations’ to help explain the main parts of the page, but I’m worried that might be a bit wordy. It might be fun to use it for book reviews (like the Fault in our Stars above), or maybe in a infographic style for our stats (maybe create an image on Canva or Piktochart, and then import it into this programme and annotate it), but I’d love to hear some more ideas of how to use it – or how you are using it right now!

So what do you think this could be useful for? How could you use it to spice up some of the promotional material in your library or social media posts? Or is it not the right tool for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂

What did you say? Working Out Loud


Photo by Linnea Sandbakk available on Unsplash

I’ve been thinking for a while about blogging about my work, tweeting about what I do at work, and how much I should share or what people would be interested in. I think it’s probably something that a lot of people think/worry about – how much should I share? Is this private/confidential? What if it’s critical about something at work – should I mention the things that I’m not entirely comfortable with or that I think should be changed? But to balance all these (legitimate) concerns, it’s also really valuable to share your work and what you’re doing with folk, to generate other ideas and discuss your thinking with a wider community. I suppose maybe some of my more recent posts (like this one about Design Thinking and live-tweeting – which was for a workshop at work) fall into this category of sharing my work.

And then I came across this tweet:

And was introduced to the concept of Working Out Loud – see more of what it is in this graph here, and read this introductory blog post:

Working out loud

So basically, my understanding of it was that it was similar to what I was doing already, tweeting about what I was doing at work, thoughts about issues, articles, people that inspired me, blogging about those things, but being even more intentional about it – inviting others to contribute their opinions, organizing it in a way that is useful to others and to yourself, and maybe even taking it a bit further and setting up a WOL group of peer support, in your workplace or wider.

So what do you think about the concept? Do you already ‘work out loud’? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

10 things that energize me at work

blog post energize.jpg

Image by Aleks Dorohovich available from Unsplash

As a few others on #BlogJune have done, I’m going to blog today about the top 10 things that energize me at work. Thank you to Ruth Baxter & Katie Davis for your inspiration 🙂 So here’s 10 things that energize me at work (in no particular order):

  1. Coffee breaks with friends – there’s something about the combination of a warm moccachino (yes, I know they’re not real coffees, but they are still my drink of choice :D) and chatting with friends at work (either about work stuff or other stuff entirely) that just helps reenergize me and get some other ideas flowing
  2. Using pen on paper to write lists or to get my thoughts together. I find that working on a computer all day does not always help me to think creatively (and my eyes get sore – worn glasses since I was 4 :D). So having a wee break from the computer and going to pen and paper helps stoke the fires of creativity and envisage things in a new way.
  3. Closely related to number 2 – use pens, colour and paper to mind map (and not just write things in a list format). You can see one of my mind maps below:
    Mind map of professional development ideas rotated
  4. A change in routine – attending a workshop or talk, going to see a poster display, just mixing up my computer work with talking to people and getting fresh ideas. One thing that is really great about working in Ko Awatea is that we have many professional development opportunities or can sit in on workshops or seminars (like the design thinking workshop I attended the other week).
  5. Deadlines or being under pressure. Much like Katie noted, I am motivated by deadlines – I love starting new projects and rotating between things, but I’m not always the best (or motivated at) following through on things, so deadlines help me focus and be productive and complete things.
  6. Interacting with people – I really enjoy one-on-one tutorials or helping folk, and being able to interact with their problem/challenge and help solve it together. Helping other people does make me feel good, and I enjoy the challenge of working on something together and both learning more out of it. Often I have an ah-ha moment as I understand something about the topic together, or I have to figure out how to answer a question that I might not have thought about before.
  7. Sharing things & reading things on Twitter. Just having a wee break in my day to see what’s happening on Twitter, to exchange a thought or interesting article, and be inspired by what other people are thinking about and working on.
  8. Taking a short walk – I have been trying to build more exercise into my routine this year (particularly as my position is rather sedentary). I find taking a brief walk outside in the fresh air really helps to reenergize me (as sitting down for hours tends to make me feel a little sluggish).
  9. Music. As Katie said, often she’ll have a concert party in her car on the way to work. I find listening to music can help me focus on getting routine tasks done, and can sometimes calm down the ‘imposter thoughts’ that others have mentioned – “Am I really doing this right? Is this the best possible work I could be doing?”
  10. Talking with colleagues about ideas – often we’ll come up with some interesting ideas/problems/challenges at our weekly staff meetings which can help start some interesting ideas & collaborations.

So that’s what energizes me at work! What energizes you at work?

Tweeting on the fly – how I take notes & tweet

Design thinking workshop – notes & live-tweeting

So I recently attended a one hour workshop on Design Thinking at my workplace, facilitated by Simon Holbrook, Innovation Director at Chrysalis Innovation Studio. It was a brilliant session and full of fantastic learning. I’ve dabbled in design thinking before, and love Austin Kleon’s work, which definitely has elements on this thinking. I arrived equipped with my pen, my trusty work diary (as I’ve finished off my free notebook), and my phone (a Samsung S5) to capture my thinking of the day.

The first part of the talk was going through the principles & theories of design thinking, and then Simon talked us through three case studies of big companies to show these principles in action. During the first part of the talk, I mainly scribbled notes in my book (see photo below). These are a bit messy and scrawly – I do love the idea of sketchnotes, and would like to experiment with more colour and typography, but this is the best I could do with a black pen and lined paper 🙂 I’m also a massive fan of @kimtairi’s sketchnotes from conferences and events (and just of her art in general – so creative!).

Design thinking notes

My scribbled notes in my work diary – stage 1

So this is stage one – some short bullet points, and some wee graphs and images (mainly drawn off the slides as they were quite simple models and easy to copy). From this point, while Simon went through the case studies, I listened with one ear and I started my tweets from the beginning of his talk.

I used some of the key words/quotes from Simon, and also quickly searched those keywords on Google images as well to find graphs/images to accompany my tweets. I could have taken the pictures of some slides, but I found the projector and the room we were in was a little dark, so they didn’t show up so well. When I found an image I wanted, I downloaded it onto my device, and then inserted it as a picture into my tweet.

*as a side note, tweets with pictures/photos average a 35% boost in retweets – and they look pretty and take up a bit more real estate on a Twitter feed, so get noticed more. Even if your picture is a quote on a pretty background (sneaky way to get more word count into your tweet AND include a picture), that helps too. Check out Pablo by Buffer, to get images that are free to use (and quotes that are free to use), in a handy social media size for sharing.*

So here are my series of the tweets from the talk – sent out while Simon was going through the case studies, so I was listening to the application & tweeting out the key messages from what he said earlier.

The hashtags #designthinking seemed to tap into tweets on a relevant topic, and I used the #KoAwatea hashtag for my work, to help index tweets on programmes that take place there.

Included a sneaky link to my own blog post on Austin Kleon and design thinking, as I felt it was relevant to the conversation.

The one picture of the slide I took – just loved the image and couldn’t find something similar online to share. It was a little bit fuzzy though…

Simon said to relish ambiguity and I found this cool graphic on Google images so I included that – it made me laugh 🙂 

My own call to action at the end as a way of wrapping up my tweets. 

Overall, I’m a big fan of live-tweeting and taking short bullet-point notes at conferences. Some people have asked me how I manage to keep up or I worry about missing points. As a learner, I’m definitely not auditory focused – if I’m just listening, I struggle to retain it, but if I take notes, or draw while I listen (or tweet), I retain a lot more of what I hear. So this method works for me as a way of capturing my learning, and hopefully producing useful tweets that summarize the main points or link to more information for other participants, and share some of what I am doing at work – just like Working Out Loud, which I just discovered this week. But more on that in another post!

So how do you take notes? Do you live-tweet and are those your notes? Or do you do a mixture and take notes and then tweet them? I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂

Playing with my image – Bitmoji


So, inspired by a post by Karen Miller, aka @infoliterai, I created an avatar of myself using Bitmoji  – which may look just a little bit like me 🙂 I love the creativity in creating the cartoons, and would love to try my own bitstips. However, I’m feeling a bit technologically inept tonight – I can find the page & the app on Facebook, but it looks as though the Bitstrips app on Facebook is no longer active, but I can use the avatar I created in Bitmoji in other cartoons. Any ideas on other apps or places to use this?

One small step for man…


One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind…

That’s a little bit the way I felt as I participated in a health conference – the first ever non-librarian conference I had been to. It felt like a whole new world, and a new place to explore. I’ll try to capture just a few of my thoughts and impressions from attending this conference, and the wealth of knowledge that I learned.

My current position is Information Specialist (Liaison Librarian if you like) with a special focus on Allied Health & Projects. A large part of my work is getting to understand the many different occupations and specialties that are included in Allied Health and help support their research and best practice. This involves doing literature searches to support projects or work initiatives, teaching information tutorials and one-on-one research tutorials, and attending Allied Health events where possible. Just to give you a bit of an idea, a really simple explanation of Allied Health is anyone working in health that isn’t a doctor or a nurse. Some of the many occupations that fit under the umbrella of Allied Health are:

  • audiology
  • dietitians
  • occupational therapy
  • physiotherapy
  • psychology
  • speech and language therapy
  • social work

I had a poster accepted that talked about how my role was created (probably about a year before I came on board) to specifically liaise with Allied Health & Projects to help support research and evidence-based practice in these areas. I’ve included it below, in case you are interested to see it:

Stronger together - Allied with the Library poster - Abigail Tarbotton

Anyway, my overall impressions from the conference (and from some of the themes that were raised) is that many of the same challenges that face Allied Health face librarians as well. The first keynote by Professor Sharon Mickan focused on the importance of using evidence-based research to support our practice, and she also mentioned what a useful resource health librarians are in both locating resources, creating search strategies, and also co-authoring the research along with the relevant health professionals. The other two keynotes, by Professor Susan Nancarrow, and Dr Graeme Benny, picked up the key themes of education, and how many people are going through long years of training, and then the difficulty of getting jobs that are appropriate to their specializations. They also picked up on the importance of being generalists as well, but still utilizing our areas of expertise and providing that guidance and expert knowledge in multidisciplinary teams. Many of these themes would be equally applicable to librarians, I believe – particularly being generalists, learning new skills, but also making the most of the traditional librarian skills & knowledge as we also work in multidisciplinary teams, and get outside of the library and embedded into wider work teams.

One of the other themes – which I know a lot of other librarians can say Amen to! – is that we are not getting more resources, but we need to keep offering and often extending our service. So the little mantra is “Instead of getting more resources, we need to be more resourceful” – for librarians, what can we do with what we have already to work smarter, to help more people, to allow better & equitable access to resources and knowledge?

Many of the presentations were also inspiring, with many great examples of working together, working smarter with the resources we have, and keeping it focused on the customer/user/patient/person – what do they need and is the service we are providing enough for them?

It was encouraging being able to interact with a lot of different people from different disciplines and perspectives, and to learn more about what they do, and how they are doing it differently in response to changing needs.

While there wasn’t an offical hashtag, one of the participants suggested that we all use #nzahconf16 to index our tweets. Many of the conference participants weren’t on Twitter, so it was really exciting to see some of them pick it up for the first time, or dust off their old accounts, and join the conversation. You can also read a storify of the tweets that I collated from the two day conference.

Overall, I had a blast at conference – thank you very much to my workplace for the support to go and present a poster, and network with Allied Health professionals from around the country. It’s definitely helped me understand some of the key challenges facing Allied Health practitioners in their practice, and hopefully it will help me continue to grow my knowledge of each of these areas so I can support them better in my on-going work.
 So back to you now:
  • Have you been to a conference other than a library conference?
  • What were your impressions?
  • How do you think attending professional development events that are not focused on librarians will help you develop into a better information professional?