New project: Managing Your Digital Footprint

This Monday (29th September 2014) the Managing Your Digital Footprint project launched across the University of Edinburgh.  I’m hugely excited about this project as it is a truly cross-University initiative that has been organised by a combination of academic departments, support services and the student association all working together, indeed huge thanks and respect are due to Louise Connelly at IAD for bringing this ambitious project together.

I am representing EDINA across both of the project’s strands: a digital footprint awareness-raising campaign for all students (UG, PGT, ODL, PhD) which is led by the Institute for Academic Development (IAD) in collaboration with EDINA, the Careers Service, EUSA, Information Services, and other University departments; and a research project, a collaboration between IAD, the School of Education, EDINA and EUSA, which will examine how students are managing their digital footprints, where such management is lacking, and what this might mean for future institutional planning to build student competence in this area.

Before saying more about the project it is useful to define what a “digital footprint” might be. The best way to start that is with this brilliant wee video made specially for the campaign:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Digital footprints, or the tracks and traces you leave across the internet, are a topic that frequently comes up in my day to day role as social media officer, and is also the focus of a guest week I provide for the MSc in Digital Education’s IDEL (Introduction to Digital Environments for Learning) module. Understanding how your privacy and personal data (including images, tags, geo locations) are used is central to making the most appropriate, effective, and safe use of social media, or any other professional or personal presences online. Indeed if you look to danah boyd’s work on teens on Facebook, or Violet Blue’s writings on real name policies on Google+ you begin to get a sense of the importance of understanding the rules of engagement, and the complexities that can arise from a failure to engage, or from misunderstanding and/or a desire to subvert the rules and expectations of these spaces. What you put online, no matter how casually, can have a long-term impact on the traces, the “footprints” that you leave behind long after you have moved on from the site/update/image/etc.

When I give talks or training sessions on social media I always try to emphasize the importance of doing fewer things well, and of providing accurate and up to date bios, ensuring your privacy settings are as you expect them to be, and (though it can be a painful process) properly understanding the terms and conditions to sites that you are signing up for, particularly for professional presences. Sometimes I need to help those afraid to share information to understand how to do so more knowledgeably and safely, sometimes it is about helping very enthusiastic web/social media users to reflect on how best to manage and review their presences. These are all elements of understanding your own digital footprints – though there are many non-social media related examples as well. And it is clear that, whilst this particular project is centered on the University of Edinburgh, there is huge potential here for the guidance, resources, reflections and research findings from the Managing Your Digital Footprint project to inform best practice in teaching, support and advice, and policy making across the HE sectors.

So, look out for more on my contributions to the Managing Your Digital Footprint campaign – there should be something specifically looking at issues around settings very soon. In the meantime  anyone reading this who teaches/supports or who is a student at the University of Edinburgh should note that there will also be various competitions, activities, workshops, resources and advice throughout 2014-2015, which will focus on how to create and manage a positive online presence (digital footprint), and which should support students in their: professional networking; finding the right job; collaborating with others; keeping safe online; managing your privacy and the privacy of others; how to set up effective social media profiles; using social media for research and impact.

Digital Footprint campaign logo

The Digital Footprint project logo – anyone based at the University of Edinburgh will be seeing a lot of this over the coming months!

The research strand of the project is also underway but don’t expect anything more about that for a wee while – there will be a lot of data collection, analysis and writing up to do before we are ready to share findings. I’ll make sure to share appropriate updates and links here as appropriate. And, of course, questions and comments are welcome – just add yours to this post.

Find out more


Upcoming Event of Interest: Open Rights Group Event in Edinburgh, 10th May

This is a quick post to let readers of this blog know that there will be an Open Rights Group Scotland discussion day with Charlie Stross, Jim Killock and others, in Edinburgh during the afternoon of Saturday 10th May 2014 (next Saturday). Unfortunately I don’t think I will be able to make it along on Saturday but I thought others here may still be interested in booking a spot, and I would love to know how the event goes and how the discussions develop. 

The event is part of a fundraising and awareness-raising campaign for a new role and strand of Open Rights Group (ORG) activity in Scotland, in recognition of devolved digital rights issues here, and the differences between the Scottish and the English and Welsh legal systems.

For those not already familiar with ORG‘s work, the group campaign on digital rights issues and advocate for openness in digital contexts which brings in open source and open data but is more strongly concerned with digital democracy and digital rights. For this reason there are some particularly interesting connections between the likely topics of discussion at this upcoming event and some of the recommendations in the Spreading the Benefits of Digital Participation Inquiry Final Report surrounding digital rights and responsibilities.

More information and links to book a (free) place at the event can be found on MeetUp. And any comments/feedback on the event would be more than welcome in the comments section below. 


Livetweeting and EDINA events at Jisc Digital Festival (#digifest14)

A brief post to let you know that on Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th March myself and various EDINA colleagues will be taking part in the Jisc Digital Festival 2014.

I will be livetweeting throughout the event – you can view all the tweets on #digifest14 and you can also view a stream from the event via the Jisc website. There will also be materials shared on that site following the event – including my own (see also below).

I will also be running a social media surgery on Wednesday 12th March (9.30am in the Chill Out Lounge) – if you have questions you’d like answered then do come along or tweet them to me. Even if you are not along in person, I’ll do my best to tweet back an answer ASAP!

The full programme of EDINA participation in the event is:

 Tuesday 11th March 2014
11:30-12:15 Increasing the offer to FE Surgery (Chill Out Lounge) Speakers include: Anne Robertson and Conor G. Smyth, EDINA
All Afternoon Going beyond Google (1): content-rich mapping for the classroom and the field Tech demo (Hall 3 Gallery, Demo Pod 3) Addy Pope, EDINA
All Afternoon Going beyond Google (2): using the right media Tech demo (Hall 3 Gallery, Demo Pod 3) Andrew Bevan, EDINA
14:30 – 15:15 Location aware apps: design patterns and solutions surgery Surgery (Executive room 2) Ben Butchart, EDINA
Wednesday 12th March 2014
09:30-10:15 Increasing the offer to FE Surgery (Executive room 2) Speakers include: Anne Robertson and Conor G. Smyth, EDINA
09:30-10:15 Social media best practice surgery Surgery (Chill Out Lounge) Nicola Osborne, EDINA
9.30am and 10.30am Fill your repository from around the world: Repository Junction Broker (RJB) and its potential to increase open access content in your institutional repository Tech demo (Demo Pod 2) Muriel Mewissen, EDINA
9.30am and 10.30am Going beyond Google (1): content-rich mapping for the classroom and the field Tech demo (Demo Pod 3) Addy Pope, EDINA
10am and 11am Going beyond Google (2): using the right media Tech demo (Demo Pod 3) Andrew Bevan, EDINA
11:00 – 11:30 The strategic developer: a new role for HE? Expert speakers (Hall 10a) Paul Walk, EDINA
14:45-15:30 Stronger together: community initiatives in e-journal management Panels Speakers include: Peter Burnhill, and Adam Rusbridge, EDINA


Materials from the Social Media Best Practice Surgery

My session was a surgery so I based the format on an open discussion and question and answer session. There was no central presentation as such, but I did create a brief prezi as a jumping off place for discussing topics in more depth. The prezi links to other presentations and materials and can be found here:

I also produced a resource lists which you can download as either a PDF or a .doc. I am happy for anyone who wishes to edit/update and reuse at their own institution to do so if they would like.


Launch of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Digital Participation Inquiry Interim Report

Today sees the publication and launch of the Interim Report from the Royal Society of Edinburgh Spreading the Benefits of Digital Participation Inquiry.

I have been delighted to be a member of this Inquiry Committee as we have spent the last year or so investigating existing research and speaking to people across Scotland about their own experiences, concerns and ideas. And I wanted to make sure the report was shared here as I hope you will help us get word out about it.

We are really keen to ensure that the Interim Report is read and responded to by many new voices, particularly those who we have yet to engage with. We are keen to hear your honest and informed feedback, comments, and suggestions as we reflect upon the Interim Report and make changes and improvements before a final report is launched in Spring 2014.

The best way to get in touch with your feedback is to email the Royal Society of Edinburgh ( but I will also be happy to pass on any comments left on this post or sent directly to me.

Find out more:


CILIPS Autumn Gathering 2013: “Inspiration and Education” Liveblog

Today I’m at the John McIntyre Conference Centre, Edinburgh, for the CILIPS Autumn Gathering 2013. I will be presenting on social media and digital participation this afternoon but will be liveblogging the event the rest of the day (see headings/sections below). As usual as this is a liveblog please be aware that there may be small errors, typos, etc. and please do feel free to comment, provide suggestions, etc.

Welcome and introduction – Dr Audrey Sutton, CILIPS President

Welcome to the event. I’m so pleased to see such a big turn out today. Early thanks to Cassie and Sean for putting together a great programme. Do use the hashtag – I find so many interesting things on Twitter and I’m sure we all have colleagues keeping an eye on that tag.

The CILIPS autumn gathering is such a lovely opportunity to come together and share experience and information. We have three programme areas today around our theme of inspiration and education. We also have stands today from our sponsors and Supporters.

I was really excited when I saw the themes for today’s programme. I’m an ex-school librarian, and really pleased to see the recent Institute of Education showing that children who read for pleasure do so much better in school – I’m not so sure about maths but I’ll take their word fr it! So having a strand on the impact of the difference we can make for society. And for those of us involved in intensive outcomes based funding, and the proof of the outcomes are absolutely key, so I’m really pleased that we’ll be giving you some knowledge to take away their. We also have a strand of information literacy – my own PhD was on information and digital literacy so this is very dear to my heart. Even when we take about digital tools, digital devices, libraries are really at the heart.

I wanted to leave you with a bit of fun… You know your a 21st century librarian is when you know what an IP number is, but not what an ISBN numbers, when the best way to remind about overdue items is to Facebook them!

Now to our first keynote. Barbara has been a school librarian for over 20 years and is Head of Library and Resources at the Emmbrook School, Berkshire. She has been deeply involved in libraries including through CILIP schools committees.

Keynote 1 -Pentland- Let’s shout about advocacy – Barbara Band (@bcb567) CILIP Vice President

This has been a fantastic and strange year, I never would have dreamed a year ago that I would be here and Vice President of CILIP. Teenagers are much less daunting!

So if I asked you to define advocacy you will find so many varying ideas, but all are correct. So we talk about doing more advocacy but what do we mean? At its core advocacy is about “the art of pleading or arguing in favour of something, such as a cause, idea or policy” but it’s also abut getting others to voice your perspective too, to develop understanding and build partnership. It needs a deliberate sustained effort over time with a variety of approaches and techniques.

For us, librarians and libraries or whatever the terminology is for you and your organisation, we have to self advocate. This is particularly important when resources are short, when there are threats to what we do. And the best people to help us to dvocate are those that we work with, who know and Alcatel our work. If we think about advocacy and the terms around it it is about campaigning, it is about defending but it is also about promoting. And that is promotion meaning persuading, communicating, informing, it is not just about marketing in more traditional senses. And in fact the definition of promotion is fairly similar to advocacy in some ways.

A lot of people are not comfortable with advocating. People are not sure what they need to do. Some are not comfortable with lobbying, with campaigning in this way. Colleagues were concerned with being part of lobbying last year in case there were consequences in their workplace, concerned about doing that advocacy in public. By contrast “promotion” is a more comfortable term, it is more familiar, but it can equate to much the same thing.

Now often a keynote will offer an overview. I could give you statistics – could be quite depressing, particularly latest reports on literacy. But the thing is that you are all librarians, you can all find these yourself. And I find that it’s more useful to leave with something practical, something I can do… What I want you t do is think about why we should advocate, what should we advocate for, who should we advocate to.

So why advocate?
Well the perception of what we do really matters. How we are portrayed in the media, online, in conversation, etc. really makes a difference, we can influence that perception. For instance on Mumsnet a discussion about the lack of a school library indicated that lack of knowledge of what we do, I was able to help them understand. To correct and update those perceptions.

We have power to influence people, to inform them of what we do or what our benefits are, the more we do that the more we can improve our status and that’s really important as we work in an area with competing priorities. And then that hopefully results in a greater profile, increased visibility. It’s not just abut how people regard us but also about new partnerships, links with Alice’s, better impact. And if that isn’t enough building relationships with partners and decision makers.

But the core issue for us is that people don’t know what we do. I have parents coming in for parents evenings who are astonished that it has changed since they were at school – the who,e world has moved on, of course libraries have kept pace!

And who will tell people about or work if not us? How do we make it clear what we contribute and what the impact of cuts or moves to volunteers, etc. without advocating for ourselves? W have to go out and advocate.

I said I wasn’t gong to use quotes and statistics but I did want to show you this quote from Steve Bowman, University of Chichester:

30% of our success is due to skills and experience BT 70% is due to visibility

And it’s not a simple thing. You don’t know who your supporters might be, who might share your message, who might come forward and advocate for you, it’s not just your service users but much wider communities. So for instance students at schools, if we can influence them, we can impact the community beyond the library – to teachers, to other staff and they can alter perceptions of others – the head of school for instance, to parents and governors, and beyond the lock, community.

I have parents talk to me about the role of libraries in students lives, not necessarily vulnerable students who feel the library has been an important part of finding a place to be themselves. And when my friends son had a party there was discussion of librarians in schools and how good they were. You just never know who will pick up these messages.

How you are perceived as a librarian by other staff can really change how you are perceived as a
professional in an organisation. That matters.

If we are advocating for the profession we also need t engage with the wider works, what librarians outside of your area do, what the profession means for them. And we need to advocate much wider to decision makers, policy makers, the press. These are the hardest group to reach and it is s hard t have an impact. You have to advocate again and again, libraries seem to have universal support, MPs say they support us but we don’t have their commitment or their finding. That’s essential. It’s easier to support, it’s harder to commit.

When you are advocating you really have to focus on your target audience. Yo need to have a focus, a key message to a specific target. That message needs to be pertinent and re,event to your target audience, and it needs to speak their language. So if I talk to teachers I’ll talk abit listed say, with parents it’s about learning and supporting, with fellow professionals it’s about sharing research, etc.

So, how do you do advocacy? Well it will vary by your sector, your context, your organisation. We cannot do everything, don’t stress about it. But even a small action can have a big impact. For instance displaying books in the library will influence students reading.

It’s not enough to meet targets, to deliver great services, you also have to talk about and tell them what you do. The problem is that people who really know what they are song makes it look so easy. The skills involved in finding and evaluating information are not obvious. You need to take advantage of opportunities to talk about what you do. When I out author talks on I send them to all staff, so they know that that’s part of what we do. I send my manager a monthly email of all the events did activities I’ve done. I’ve been at my school ten years and still my colleagues don’t real,y understand what I do – maybe only another school librarian can. And that job changes, we need to communicate that. And if you have a PR person in your organisation make sure they know what you do so that they can advocate for you. My school started doing a “tweet for the day” and because I tweet the person managing that advocate for me by retweeting and sharing. DO use testimonials and quotes, showing the appreciation and impact of your work. And you need to develop a “tribe” around your role. We are lucky, we have a school librarians group with a very active discussion space, they are peers, supporters, people to share experience with, to help advocate, to present a common message. You can also feed that activity back to your organisation, to maximise that impact.

And that takes us to social media… Like it or not it is essential. Organisations and companies have Facebook presences, they tweet, these really matter. Politicians, businesses and the press, those power groups I mentioned, they watch social media for news, for trends, for information. You can’t do this stuff too much. We all have a voice that we need to lose. Read and comment on blogs, retweet information, share them on Facebook, engage online to advocate. Use your network to advocate and generate awareness. If one strategy doesn’t work, try something else. Be persistent, creative and adaptable.

Now when I take my students out on a trip I tell them that people make assumptions based on how they look and behave. We generalise based on experiences with individuals from a specific group. That means that people make assumptions on libraries and librarians based on what they see or experience from us. That means every time we contribute, we respond, we engage with the media we send a message, we advocate. We need to make sure we send the right message, we have to stay professional in what we do even if we are being critical. Using “views my own” is irlevent, I’d have to be anonymous for that to have any impact. Otherwise everything you do sends a message, and it has to be the right one.

And finally I want to as that advocacy is a two way process. CILIP is there to advocate but it can only do so much, we have to do what we can to make the. Kat of that advocacy activity. The retweeting, the sharing of links and success stories all help. And that allows us to build on our success… And that will come back and help you to promote more.

So, in the words of a famous marketing campaign: Just Do It!


Q1 – Ian McPartland, CILIPS schools advocacy) thank yo for your talk. We are setting up a good practice area on the CILIPS Website and I hope you will be happy to share your slides there?

A1) of course.

I’m afraid, due to a major coughing fit (sorry all in the room!) I wasn’t able to type Barbara’s excellent suggestions for how she does her own advocacy work, things like handwritten letters, using every opportunity to highlight what you do, etc…

Parallel sessions

For the first parallel session of the day I have picked the schools advocacy session. I’m curious to find out more about school librarians and their role, particularly with EDINA’s intest in schools through Digimap for Schools. I’m also curious to see how the discussion will transpire after this mornings keynote.

Parallel Session 1 – Schools Libraries: Advocacy! A group discussion facilitated by the School Libraries Advovacy Group (Yvonne, Keith, Cleo)

This session will be very much about discussion and participation. But first a quick update in the schools advocacy task and finish group. CILIPS recognised that support for staff in schools and school libraries highlighting the contribution that staff and school libraries make. And associated with that was some research from SLIC on the school libraries sector.

When we set up it was clear that advocacy was the important thing for us to focus on. And so we came up with some key objectives and we’ve been pretty successful in meeting thoughts. We knew we wanted to contact Education Scotland, and briefings for school librarians. And we were lucky in that Cathy has put this strand for school libraries into this event.

The sharing of best practice matters. We’re just doing our job not shouting about it. But Sean McNamara has set up an area of the CILIPS website to share best practice, case studies, expectations, what the school can expect from their school library. Hopefully today’s discussion can contribute to that space.

We also wanted to contribute to SLIC. There are members of the project group that are also on the SLIC group. Their literature research has come up with really compelling research on the impact of schools library. But it is research on Australia, USA, and Canada but not from the UK or Scotland. The next step will be about us, what about us?

And we wanted to just talk about a really tricky advocacy tool that Dorothy came up with on the SLIC website. This is a very visual guide, based on sound statistical evidence, to how school libraries have impact on achievement on the SLIC website, where the report will also be soon. And we also wanted to do an audit of school libraries in Scotland.

Over to Keith

Keith: I am Freedom of Information officer at Robe Gordon University. I sent 7 questions to local authorities in Scotland and beyond. This was sent on 31st May 2013. Asking about centralised schools library service, if provided the budget, minimum qualification, pay scale, etc.

21 authorities responded. 17 sent a refusal to respnd under the act. Two did not respond at all – and I’ll be following that Jo as it breaches the act, however a very wide variety of quality and depth of answers.

But from the responses. 9 independently funded school library services, one found as recent,y as 2012 with £400k backing. All but one of 21 authorities employ professional librarians. 10 required chartered status or intent, 19 required degree in library and Informaton studies. Hard to give stats on remuneration as a very wide range of pay, contracts, scales, and the roles vary widely. Average spend per school libraries was around £2k, highest £5k, lowest around £1k.

Of those that replied…
– variation of services
– overall demise of centralised school library services
– majority of school libraries staffed by qualified or charted staff
– variety of contracts, most full time and 52 weeks per year…
– some very interesting English stats as well…

Over to Cleo

Cleo: I will be talking about Edinburgh, where we still have a central library service and librarians in every school. But in 2010, about this time of year, had to make efficiencies. I can’t share everything today but school librarians did fantastic work, all wrote an impact statement, with support from colleagues, all working together. They spoke to parent councils, they made a DVD linking their work to the Curriculum for Excellence. And this was brilliant, was shown to their heads and decision makers…

Cue clip of video…

This was an amazing and powerful thing. Working centrally I wrote a report for head teachers about the impact of what sessionalisation – one day a week of librarian time being taken up with other rather than direct work with students. That was really effective, we had political backing at the council. That line of a librarian for schools has been held, because politically that line was being held. But politically that’s changed. Never forget that you may fought for something once and it may have worked but the thing is politicians change, things change, you have to do it again, you’ve got to keep talking all the time!

So let’s jump forward to 2013. We have a great service, super librarians. I have on your table Teen Titles and Free Your Minds, two initiatives we do collaboratively as schools librarians. We do this great work, I sit centrally advocating… But surprise surprise last month the budget proposals came round there is to be a review of schools libraries in Edinburgh. It’s gutting. It may seem unbelievable but people don’t know what they do. They don’t realise what happens outside of what they see. We need people to know it’s not just the library, it’s not just collections. It is the full time equivalent librarian that makes the difference, it’s proven in that evidence of the impact of schools libraries. I know you will all do amazing events, author events, European fairs, etc. but what else do you need to do? You have to spend that time, you have to package that work up, let the head know, raise profile nationally, disseminate what you did, how good it was, what the impact on the learners is and what would happen if you weren’t there! Do your managers know what you do? The reading programmes? The school activities? Wo that work would actually be pushed back onto? Head teachers need to know that role, what that means for other staff. Edinburgh isn’t the only local authority reviewing school librarians. We have to be out there shouting about what were doing. Please take the opportunity to let people know what you are doing, what you could be doing, and how your work connects to the Curriculum for Excellence.

And now back to Yvonne: we will now discuss in groups, we will get our ideas on paper. Record your discussion and we will ring a bell to move you clockwise to the next table…

And with that it’s over to discussion, back shortly

Discussion areas:

– Who do you speak to? Who are the key people? Discussion here included pupils, oupil councils, teachers, etc. but also valid concerns and risk aversion, strictures of schools, ban on speaking to press, need for any materials to be approved by comms teams, caution in tweeting etc.

– What does a school librarian do? Lots of online stuff, events, library as a teaching space, project work, special displays or events to be highlighted, etc. Discussion of participation in teacher training days, this isn’t very common. Teaching and writing teaching materials – e.g. Literacy programme. Sometimes part of literacy work for PSE/careers. Careers information as well, arranging associated events and talks.

– what support do you need? Colleagues, managers, etc. but it’s about informed support. A lot of staff think of the room, not the person. Also need Scottish based evidence, parents, communities, local authorities’ evidence of disbenefits and impact of cuts and changes. Also council and councillors. Education Scotland. Scottish government. Press. Thought leaders and organisations e.g. Rotary clubs.

– what skills do you need? Knowledge of curriculum, ICT, negotiation, communication, empathy, business, management skills, etc… And flanteur (what the kids call “flirty banter”… Huge array here… Also leadership, time travel (as in it won’t fit in the day), persuasion… Respect, anticipation, ability to see and grasp opportunies, and current awareness, strategic skills,

– how to move forward? Job description – review, make it reflective. Emphasise teaching, ebooks, impact statements, consistency across schools, information literacy for teachers, education documents, building good relationship with education scotland.

Keynote 2 – Liz McGettigan – A Force for Change – The infinite possibilities of libraries and librarians in the digital age

I am first and foremost a librarian and passionate about libraries. I want to look back and particularly forward. I want us to remember what a force for change we are, some ideas for the future…

More than 150 million people will be born this year, and into an information economy. W need to cater for that child. I want to show some experiences of works across Scotland, particularly around digital and digital content. I’d love to show some American and Australian examples but there won’t be time today.

Things change fast. The internet has been with us barely 20 years. Children grow up with social media. It is not the strongest but the most intelligent and most flexible opt hat survive, I really believe that. There are so many catalysts for change – ebooks,portals, mobiles… But the content matters for me, not the format. In diminishing budgets and this economic climate how d we rovide the great commercial-like customer experience? And there’s also the dates of our buildings… The move to hubs did cafe culture. Again tough in this economy. Anyone struggling with technology should be heartened by the fact that we’ve adapted before – from card catalogues for instance.

Why are we here? Well John Cotton Dana said that public libraries are the “centre for public happiness” and that seems a fitting way to move on to customer experiences…

So this is CrIgmillar library. This is a hub. About more than libraries, about physical experience, innovative interior spaces, digital experiences. Scotland’s libraries are fabulous, if they are not then they should be, how do we make that happen? How do we get that funded? How do we become players and leaders? How d we get leaders or know that libraries are the centre if what happens – we have free technology, the community and trust of the community… We don’t make enough of that. So inside Craigmillar it’s about a lovely and inviting space, it’s ownership, safe places t red to learn to work to play, it’s not all about books and collections.

Looking at some other libraries, good design is about a modern ambience, an inviting space. You need research, community input, working out how to work together, get libraries involved in economic development… But what about cost? You have to take a fabulous idea and take SL,unions not problems to your leaders. We have to show how you rationalise three or four buildings into one fabulous community space. We make people feel safe, used, happy, that’s still a key thing for us.

The library can be in my pocket, why have a psychical space. We have taken the leap,mstarted social media suites, an app, a portal, that gave us profile. That gives you a can do attitude. Performance improved, that was seen by decision makers. We have opened two new libraries in a hard time. Our social media suite – our blog, rue YouTube content, etc. we created ourselves, this is free promotion and just required a few key people in key posts. We highlighted catalogue materials in our posts – we copied New York public library here. And of course we have provided ebooks, I’d love to see more take up. And local history. We have the most exciting content in the world. If we all gathered our materials we could compete with google for quality and quantity. We created Our Town Stories, people contribute their own perspectives and stories here,

So the time for libraries and librarianship is now!

Digital materials don’t replace libraries, they enhance and update it. There are great Aberdeen touch screen materials for instance. We are moving towards for pads fr staff rather than PCs. Fantastic tech again. Another library shit here – a panel of screens. People do use books but we need hybrid libraries so digital content is accessible.

Yes, I do live in the real world. Performance improvement is key too. The digital and physical improvements led to performance improvements and that’s what matters. Satisfaction improved.

So we need to get better at recognising what we are doing. What we are are. What we are for. What we can do. As how we raise the profile of this. For some people of am books have higher profile than us – we need to shout more, show our digital differences, community activities, we need to speak to COSLAS and be seen as big players. The new librarian or leader has to be a people person, passionate, enthusiastic, digitally savvy, visionary, known for a can do attitude, culture of innovation. And they get out there, at the table, impress people, set the pace, tackle change, models the way, finds champions and partners, pushes buttons – use the right language, presents solutions not problems. Read, learn, develop, take risks.

So tailoring buildings, design and layout of public buildings have impact on the library and the community. It clearly impacts on sense of community and a sense of investment in communities, and it means working with partners and other information and communities.

We have to remain a force for change.


No questions just now but Liz will be available to talk to for the rest of the day…

Presentation of Honorary Membership and Mentor of the Year awards

The Honorary Membership awards go to four information professionals. Rosemary, past literary editor of the Herald and Sunday Herald, led literature working group which reported in February 2010. She published Scotland: a history in 2010 and we we lucky enough to have you speak at our annual conference in 2012.

Annabel Marsh is someone who is very active on Twitter, I’m sure many of us follow you. You have been responsible for the Children’s literature collection at Strathcook, you have been art of the Scottish Educatonal Lubrarians a group, you are responsible for the Glasgow tweetups which Cathy tells me we should all get involved in.

Cathy (from UoE) is a specialist in library cataloging and classification. W have had trouble adequately describing Cathy’s contribution, you have have been an exemplar of professionalism and a challenging presence at times, which is so important. Thank you for your contribution to CILIP.

Peter Reid, we appreciate first and foremost that Peter led CILIPS at a very difficult time, it was Peters judgement and diplomacy that had such impact on our fellow professionals. For me your legacy has been a very rewarding year. Peter is also professor of librarianship and information management at Robert Gordan University. Than you again for your work, in the last year in particular.

Peter says: it has been a challenging year but getting out and seeing what you do has been the most rewarding experience.

Back to awards: our last award winner is for the mentor of the year, Jennifer Findley,her background is environmental and biological sciences but she has mainly worked in law libraries. Most of her mentoring has been online through Twitter and her me tee is about to submit! Congratulations!

And with that it was time for lunch!

Parallel sessions

This session I have plumped for then literacy session.

Parallel Session 3 – Information Literacy: In Practice – National Library of Scotland and Glasgow School of Art Projects (split session)

Beverley Casebow and Alice Haywood from National Library of Scotland will be kicking us off this afternoon. Beverley and Alice work on educational resources for both online and offline activities. They will be talking abut Project Blaster, an initiative between NLS and schools in Edinburgh.

Beverley: Alice and I are the lerning team for the NLS and our remit extends to all ages and all areas of Scotland. E do hands on workshops, online resources, web features and videos, partnership work with partner organisations such as Archeology Scotland, Scottish Ballet etc. but we will focus on one project, Project Blaster which is aimed at developing literacy, critical thinking and digital literacy skills.

All of our projects are underpinned by the Curriculum for Excellence: Literacy across learning. This address pes both literacy and critical literacy. We feel gha the learning team much help young people and lifelong learners tie develop not only multiple-literacy skills but also critical skills across a range of media. SL our toolkit focuses on developing the ability to find and select information, critical thinking and evaluation, cultural and social understanding, creativity, and to be aware of the creative audience.

Some of you may be familiar for Alan Burnett. He used the library regularly to research his history and children’s books. He has worked with schools through various events around information literacy, the research process, and turning this into a variety of formats. We wanted to take advantage of his skills and experiences to create an online experience. In schools he had worked with a Victorian history example but we wanted it to have cross-subject relevance. We also included games and activities for PCs and smart board. We filmed Alun as well. We used animation and a space girl and a crab guide you through… This apealing animation and parts of the resource are aimed to ensure it can be accessed by students themselves.

Over to Alice: this is a six stage process. The sixth stage is “blast off”. So if I play “what am I looking for” video… Alun and also animation explaining what he is saying. This describes Primary or secondary source. (very cute). And how you use a primary source, how you guess and explore and find out what information you are dealing with.

So in stage one the class choose a topic and collaboratively decide what they will be looking at as a class, to set their own goals. In stage two we see that video. It is about research but spew don’t directly refer to it as such. Stage three is about where they find information – starting with their own environment a school, as home, in their community and people in that community, and in the library and internet. this is illustrated as concentric circles that build into a bigger picture, reinforcing places to look for information, establishing basic skills at an early level. Stage four is more meat and bones in terms of putting project together. It shows them how to organise and record the Information for their project. And at stage five critical and selective analysis comes in, this is where they evaluate and choose the best information for their project, emphasising the need to validate. Finally at stage six they go back to the classroom and decide what to produce, what will be created with this research to create and actual class excercise.

So it is about those key skills of finding and selecting information, critical thinking and evaluation, cultural and social understanding, thinking creatively, effective collaboration and creation.

We’ve had feedback from teachers who have trialled the resource. They kink the framework for teachers, the structure to use. They like the applicability across subjects.

We hope that this will be part of a bigger picture.

Beverley: we are currently working in a resource with Archeology Scotland for adult and community learners. Next year we hope t look at visual literacy around the first world war. We also Want to look at political literacy – have already done some work in this area, see the section on the Education Scotland website. Contributed to a timeline of the history of e.g. Women’s and universal suffrage.

And now onto our next literacy presentation. This time from Glasgow School of Art: Duncan Chappell and Jennifer Higgins.

Delivering Information Skills to Artists and Designers

We are going to talk to you about InfoSmart, the GSAs online portfolio of literacy skills, particularly designed for visual thinkers, which is important for us.

InfoSmart is a series of freely available online modules, on the GSA website. They can be completed form beginning to end, or they can be dipped in and out. Designed for any practitioner wanting to improve their Information literacy skills. Designed in house using inexpensive tools. We are one f only two remaining small institutions specialists in Scotland. One of very few independent art colleges. Since 2000 30% of Turner Prize winners have been our graduates. We run from undergraduate through to PhD level.

We looked at existing resources but none suited our visually inclined learners, they often do not think in linear ways and find scholarly writing hard. Cobbledick 1996 emphasises the importance f browsing to artists and designers, Our full bibliography can be found on our website.

It seemed to carry through across all levels that our students have few information skills or very mixed skills. Even at PhD level academic writing skills cannot be assumed. So we wanted to drive development based on feedback and needs. We asked our students about searching versus browsing and 62% of students tend to browse. Where possible we tried to canvas a wide range of views and opinions. Institutionally there were interests to accept more non traditional backgrounds, with even more mixed skills. And we really want to build our research activity as well.

Over to Jennifer

Jennifer: there are five key modules which can be dipped into but there are linkages that students should notice. The structure is not unlike the Project Blaster. So the first section is on searching and discovering, keyword searches are looked at, primary and secondary sources… And having a balance of information. The next module focuses on finding materials whether archives, artists books, etc. then there is an evaluate section which encourages critical thinking, bias of programming, etc. and discuss wikipedia as well. Our next section, arguably the most well used, looks at preparing written assignments including referencing, ethics, plagiarism. And finally the Use section, pretty important in our sector where copyright and usage matters.

The InfoSmart logo was designed in house at GSA. It is in clear language and simple design. We have avatars to help reinforce key learning and provide continuity for the students. And fans,my we ave plans to formally assess but we have an archive certificate that they can enjoy as a playful thing.

We have summaries of what is in each section, what they hope to achieve.

Back to Duncan

Duncan: we mapped our resource to the same standards as academics work to. This mapping of materials to SQA levels, to RS Competitncies, SCONUL, Vitae and National Occupational Standards. Arduous but means InfoSmart has real credibility for academic staff. We will now be mapping to the new Creativity in Scotland report from Education Scotland. We won a THES award for our work and we are keen to explore more. Perhaps as a MOOC. The project was funded by SLIC and it is available as an Open Educatonal Resource under Creative Commons license, so anyone can use or reuse it.


Q for NLS) will this expand to secondary level
A) this is a pilot level, we want to reassess after the first year and then expand.

Q for GSA) what is a MOOC
A) Massively Open Online Courses. These are self directed online courses free at the point of use.

Q) what do you mean by browsing?
A) mainly physical items but also online resources. When we demonstrate full text journal databases a lot prefer to browse every issue… Seem to prefer to do that. They have sort of magpie visual tendencies, huge reliance on serendipity…

Q) you moved from harvard to MHRA?
A – Jennifer) it was for consistency. Not sure why that reasoning.
A – Duncan) I find Harvard easier but our academic board is who we follow

Parallel sessions

Parallel session 3 – Let them Tweet Cake: Engaging communities through the social media that works for them, plus thoughts on spreading the benefits of digital participation – Nicola Osborne, EDINA

I will not be blogging my own session here but you can access the Prezi for this session here, and the associated list of resources here.


Final session keynote – Welcome to the End of the World – E-Safety, Online Behaviour and the Death of Privacy – Simon Finch, Northern Grid

Simon is opening with an overview of the day: I’ve seen a really positive message and areas of hope. When I heard about advocacy I had a bit of sinking feeling… But I’ve seen such motivation and ideas and positivity today!

So I want to say the culture of understanding of behaviour have changed. We have companies that make things that are changing the way that we behave. So if we were talking road safety… If they’d just been invented we’d still need to be working out the detail…

When hurricane sandy hit where did everyone go? Starbucks! But why? Free wifi! Things are changing…. But we have all this new technology that we are trying to bend to our will, trying to fit to our models. I struggle. I watch Question Time and This Week. I watch it on Thursday. My colleague says “why don’t you watch it on Saturday?” we’ll I can’t! It’s on on Thursday! I can’t watch a whole series on a Sunday in a onesie!

Now we mock the sharing of pictures of food then we miss the opportunity to engage. Now I usually give presentations on how to get fired on social media… An Oxford university Librarian was sacked for not stopping it – not for doing it, for not stopping it. But that poor Librarian got so much press. The Daily Mail, and others, are there to give us a hard time…

So, cyborgs… DARPA have created cyborgs for carrying bags. We have “Backyard Brains” which are little electronic cockroaches that can be controlled by mobile phone. And we have Google Glasses… Done on Android… Anyone can write for it… How about software to take an image every time you blink… So we’ll ask kids to bring phones in but leave the glasses at home…. And we have drones tracking kids to school, but also worrying a woman in Seattle… And drone license
So being requested in their thousands… And we have a petman to test clothing….

We have to come to the conclusion that privacy is dead. So we have to teach kids how to manage privacy, how to manage their data. We won’t end up removing the risk but managing the risk. T protect children. You are gatekeepers to the world wide web. Risks include stranger danger perhaps… The culture has changed. My teen neice uses instagram saying “say hi to me”, “I’m bored”. Kids are needy. I was like that too! We need to understand that normal has changed. It’s not only predators who pretend to be someone else…. We tell kids about sexual predators, did bad people are anonymous…. But being anonymous is a great equal thing. It means older people can talk to younger people. Most people who see my stuff are people into education, kids aren’t interested.

Sparkle box, primary school site being run by convicted pedophile. Saw people in schools panic…! Why would be surprised that people who want to do harm to children hang out where kids will be, it’s obvious. So you need to know that websites aren’t like books, authors don’t reach out. So do we need to train the kids what to do. It’s weird not to be on Facebook… But ditch privacy settings, assume your enemy is watching…

We need to define “friend”. Someone you like. Someone you can trust. Someone you’ve met. But meeting online counts. We used to have pen pals. This is the proper stuff. You have to choose the communication channel, you have to reach out t them and you have to change their minds… I am attention seeking and needy, we all are, we like nice things to be SiD… There are fantastic things to be seen on the web. Cue video clip of truck and airplane… It’s rubbish, it’s an advert for a pickup truck. We have to impress on kids that stuff online can’t always be trusted. And companies don’t want your likes, they want your data, they want to know who you are…

Body image… We have a lot to do… Cue photoshopped image of Robert Downey Jnr on Sherlock poster. H&M paste head shots onto computer generated bodies! Because “the clothes fit better”. X factor is bullying as entertainment. And You’ve Been Framed. And then we have Amanda Todd, killed herself about what is said online. Like kids dying for not wearing seatbelts when I was a kid. And it’s not like a computer game, you can’t see when they are running out of life/energy.

So we have to think about security. Need pass phrases, not passwords… Passwords matter. Don’t be stupid….

We have to think about trust. So many hoaxes. We trust star ratings… But have to be critical… Ad we need to think about IPR. Someone takes a creative commons picture of someone on flickr but can’t give away the person photographed’s image yet it ends up on an advert… It’s complex but we need to be out there…

You have to get out there and create stuff, if you don’t Someone else with. It’s an opportunity…

Twitter is biggest staff room in the world. If you blog about what you do you can find peers, interesting people, information. I use delicious, I tag everything in real time… I have to show mos and councillors how to be safe online.

I am brand simfin. He is a better person than Sam Finch. It’s an ideal view. I am all these online identities plus my offline identity. I pump stuff out all the time. If you share stuff that wouldn’t be fine on big screens at conferences then you are doing it wrong.

So that award… I won the Naace ICT Impact Award in 2013. It came at a bad time for various reasons. But I feel weird about awards. Other people don’t get them. I tried curling when I worked in Canada for a while. They gave me most improved player… I was told it meant I was the worst player… But anyway I won an award for web world. Online I’m regarded… At work the muggles don’t get it. In job interviews you start to get people asked to account for last five days on Facebook… Fair enough. You just need to be faster, better, effective… More than the next guy… Do all your stuff under one identity, none of this personal and professional stuff, get everything done right.

Closing remarks – Dr Audrey Sutton, CILIPS President

Thank you for staying on. It’s been extremely worthwhile… You always out me on after the most entertaining speaker! A few observations. I live the idea this morning that those who benefit from services most closely are our best advocates. I want to be in Barbaras tribe really. Liz talked about the hybrid library, the centre of public happiness… The NLS and GSA conversation was really interesting to me…. My son is an artists and he’s an inveterate browser so good luck to GSA! Nicholas bake off was great fun and put me in mind of my tea! Not sure about snap hat though! Geat feedback from Annabel’s session… And how to lose your job on Twitter, how to best share stuff, I have a lot to take away, to be digitally confident.

Thank you to everyone who delivered a session for us today. Huge thank you to our venue here, our photographer, to all of our honourable members and particularly to Cathy and Sean. And to our session chairs. Thank you all so much for coming and we’ll look forward to doing it all again next year!



Follow Up Post: Crowdsourcing Your Neighbourhood

Following my post earlier this month on the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas event which myself and my colleagues Addy and Ben ran on Fieldtrip GB, I am delighted to have some additional follow up.

The main reason for this follow up is because Eccentronic have created a fantastic and, in their words, “quite bizarre”  video using the map of public toilets we created specially for our event using Fieldtrip GB. Watch it in all of it’s glory here:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Do let Eccentronic know what you think – comment or like the video over on YouTube, tweet them @eccentronic, or leave comments below.

Now, this is definitely the most creative response I’ve seen to Fieldtrip GB… so far! I’m hoping it’s the start of many weird and wonderful uses of the app! On that note do share your own thoughts on our key question from the event :

If you could map anything in your community, what would it be and why?

here, in the comments below.

And the other goodies to share…

The Edinburgh Beltane Network – who were coordinating the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas events with Susan Morrison – have now set most of the images from the very varied Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas events live here on Flickr.

Addy Pope speaking to the small audience at the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas

Addy Pope speaking at our Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas event.

This leaves only the audio file from our event. If it is sounds reasonable we will share it via an update to this post so bookmark this post and keep an eye out!


[Extremely Belated] Live-Blog: Introducing Heriot-Watt Engage

Back in May I participated in the Heriot-Watt Engage Launch event (see this news item). These are my very belated notes from this day on communicating and engaging the public with research…

Introduction from Quentin Cooper

This is the official launch of Heriot Watt Engage. The Oxford English Dictionary has 19 discreet uses of engage, so what do we mean by that here? I would argue that it’s about being entangled, being engaged with the public. And engage like engaging, being scintillating. And perhaps also like Jean Luc Picard in Star Trek: the Next Generation, when he says “engage”. It’s about getting things started, taking action.

We’ll hear more formal ideas of how to engage later on, then some experiences of engaging, and some parallel sessions on different ways to engage. But we kick off with some more on Heriot-Watt, on Heriot-Watt Engage.

Professor Alan Millar – Why Engage?

I know we have lots of people passionate about public engagement in the audience today. But why Heriot-Watt Engage? Well engagement is a priority of our overall knowledge exchange/knowledge transfer agenda. I’m involved in the REF at the moment and “impact” is part of that agenda, and Knowledge Exchange, Knowledge Transfer and Public Engagement can all be part of that impact. That means there are financial reasons to engage but there are many other reasons. Firstly this university gets many millions of pounds from public sources and it’s important to explain what we do with that. Many academics really enjoy public engagement, get a lot out of doing more than just publishing articles. And public engagement helps us raise the profile of the organisation, getting word out to Edinburgh, to Scotland, and beyond to international audiences. It is good for student recruitment, for the profile of the organisation, etc. and I feel we have a moral obligation to inspire the next generation, that’s also an important reason to engage.

So we want to increase the amount and perhaps the quality of our public engagement. Heriot-Watt Engage is very much inspired by the work of Edinburgh Beltane, an Edinburgh network for public engagement. We now have the principals prize for public engagement. And we are part of the committee that selects the North Sea public engagement prize (more on prizes later). And we have two people who have taken on the public engagement mantle here so I shall hand over to them now.

Introducing Heriot-Watt Engage – Dr Laura Wicks and Katarzyna Przybycien

Katarzyna began by saying that she and Laura are sharing the public engagement coordinators role, and are based in Academic Enhancement. When we started in January we came with experience of public engagement. We had an idea that there was other work taking place across the university – we kept bumping into people – so we began an exploration of what is taking place. From Science Festival events, Saturday events for kids, the Deadinburgh zombie event, comedy shows, publishing for the public, social media. Heriot-Watt is so big so there is so much going on, a very inspiring picture.

But there were isolated pockets of activity so we wanted to make connections between those involved in public engagement and the activities they do, share the huge amount of knowledge being built up from those in students to professor to technical roles. We hope to match people, we will be building up a mailing list. And we have an advisory group with staff from each school and they help to steers our activities and we hope this will help us steer our activities. And we want to share opportunities, deadlines, prizes etc. We have the slogan of “Stimulate. Support. Promote.” but we also want to ensure we work at a policy level both locally and nationally, working with Beltane, seeing what is happening nationally. And that connects to the impact agenda. My personal background is in measuring imact so I will be delighted to support you with any activities in that area.

Over to Laura:

We already know there is lots of public engagement taking place. Even colleagues in the same department don’t know sometimes. We have staff in the physics department running a science club in his village – we can support that if we know about it. For the REF you need to write an impact statement, how you get your work out there, how you are ensuring your work has the most impact. We can help you, put you in touch with experts, and we are working with Beltane, with Edinburgh International Science Festival, and the Abu Dhabi Science Festival – we have a Dubai campus so that makes sense for us to be there – and the principal is keen to see us running events at the Malaysian centre.

It’s important to promote what to do, to put our work out there. Social media is a great way to engage with the public and there are some fantastic blogs, twitter users, etc. within the university. We have a website coming very soon for Heriot-Watt Engage – with funding opportunities, public engagement opportunities, and we hope the public will use it to find out more about the research going on. We will also be promoting this via Twitter.

Public engagement is important to universities, we see a future where public engagement is a key part of academic life. And we are going to end with a video with academics from Heriot-Watt talking about the public engagement they do and why they do that public engagement.

Cue videos:

iFit Quest/Visual virus – Judy Robinson

Click here to view the embedded video.

Science Signs – Sign language – Gary Quinn

Click here to view the embedded video.

Engineering and Schools – Bill Macpherson

Click here to view the embedded video.


Back to Quentin:

Heriot-Watt was set up in October 1821 as a school of arts, the first specialist school on mechanics.

So, in this session we have showcases of public engagement at Heriot-Watt.

Firstly William Macpherson, Lecturer in the School of Physics:

Bill Macpherson, School of Physics – Outreach for All

I wanted to look at “outreach for all”, really an excuse to use lots of pictures, but to hang this on something I wanted to think about – What? How? Where? Why?

A lot of what I do is very visual, very physical. Using liquid nitrogen in schools captures kids imagination, they may not remember the science but they can be inspired with them.

Keep it simple. You can do science with exotic tools like potatoes and straws. Perhaps the kids don’t remember the forces science but it may inspire them to find out more later on. But you can do more exotic things and as long as you explain them properly it remains accessible to all.

Keep it interactive really helps. Again – cue practical experiment – you can appear to break the law of physics using a balloon and a skewer – there is material science there but you want to make people excited and keep things memorable. Keeps things colourful too!

Where to do it? Well going upside your comfort zone helps. We do science events literally out on princes street where almost anyone can stop by. We’ve done events like the highland games – specifically not a science event – and that’s great for engaging kids but also for engaging parents too.

Who? Well young groups are inherently interested in doing stuff. It’s really fun. It has to be short and snappy but they can be a great audience. Teenagers are tougher but there are ways to break down barriers whether in schools or somewhere more natural to them, their environments, like the aviemore ski centre. Once you break the is-science-cool-or-not barrier there is lots of potential. Of course the under twos are probably too young but 2 to 102 is probably a good age range. It takes a whole range of people to make this stuff work but why do it? Lots of reasons but it’s fun!

Bernadette O’Rourke – Linguistics, Management of Linguistic and Cultural Diversity.

My interest is in language diversity, increased cultural diversity. In Scotland 100 languages are spoken, almost 300 in the EU. I work in social linguistics and anthropological linguistics. Less interested in word construction and more about listening in on buses, differences between genders, kids code-switching in conversation, etc.

As a discipline we have long been engaged with people, we need them to understand their use of language, and this has meant me looking at situations as diverse as painting with kids, up to meeting with MEPS talking about policies for languages in Europe. I also work with the public sector in areas around communicating cross culturally, for those with English as a second language or no knowledge of English at all.

Of course public engagement takes a lot of time. School engagement can be exhausting but it’s fun and I’d like to repeat it. Public engagement activities can be rather addictive, it’s helped me with my academic work, my publications and conferences etc. and those activities help me see that my research has real application and impact in the real world and that’s very rewarding. I just went through a European funding process and I realise that the public engagement work really set me up well for that – those applications don’t stay with your research question but with what benefits there will be to people on the European union. And you become part of a two way process: individuals come back to you, journalists come to you for comment or trickles, and having that dialogue broadens your perspective and gives you new questions to asked.

Janice Blanc – School of the Built Environment

I will take a slightly different slant, as someone who had the chance to get involved in other peoples public engagement. In my PhD I had the opportunity to be part of a project of urban flooding. We had a model that let us make it ran, see flood pathways, could change surfaces. Kids could interact with it. We took it to science festivals and schools so the audiences ranged from rat reticule school groups to much broader swathes of the public. We took it to the Cheltenham Science Festival and saw about 3500 people with hugely varying interests from vague interest in the fun aspect of the model through to councillors with specific questions. So one of the challenges was about making sure you talked to the specific audience that you had in front of you. That experience early in my PhD was brilliant for developing my communication of my research and it’s application in a wider content. I would really encourage phd students to get involved but also supervisors to ensure PhDs students have the time to do that. Without that experience I may not have thought to use public engagement in my own research.

That model we built is a big beastie, it takes lots of organisation, resourcing, people to lug that about and to engage effectively, I did some work with schools two months after an event at Grangemouth to see what they recalled. They remembered what they had done, many remembered the science behind that, and many had started to think about science as a career.

My own research has been lab-based. I don’t get out and see people much, but I wanted to get more involved in public engagement. So I took part in the British Science Association‘s “Strictly Engineering” event and that gave me an opportunity to get out and speak to the public about my work, it gave me ideas to think about, and I’ve had a chance to speak to local councillors and Scottish ministers about the importance of public engagement, which I never would have done without that experience of public engagement.

Lisa Macintyre – School of Textiles

I fell into public engagement by accident. I picked a silly topic post-PhD, a project called “does my bum look big in this” looking at different trouser designs on different ladies bodies. I had five honours students looking at this. This got to the attention of the school newsletter and from there somehow to a silly Christmas press story. On boxing day morning the phone was ringing and the sun newspaper wanted to run the story, then the daily express, then the Sunday time. A tip: dont menton bottoms if you dont want to be involvedinoublic engagement! There were suddenly all these national papers covering this. Oprah, CBS and NBC all called up. The reporter from NBC who covered Tiananmen Square had to come to Galashiels to cover it!

The story grew arms and legs… What I learned from it was… If you have something that might be big you need to make sure you have results first, the media wanted results but we were only oarr way through the project. The press did lead to an invite to the costume society – I was able to speak abut this and my real research on medical compression. And to events with schools on functional design of bike helmets and nappies and such.

The public matters, they pay for our research. We have to get out there, raise enthusiasm and understand why it matters so they know why money for research is prioritised. And you do get amazing questions from different audiences. And it is hugely enjoyable. Know your audience. Short is good.


Q) Is there one thing you wish you’d been told at the start?

A – WM) Prepare for the unexpected, that’s especially the case with kids who will ask all kinds of questions. Be transparent – say if you don’t know the answer – and be flexible and pitch it right to your audience. Sometimes those fundamental questions “what is light” can be a real challenge… But if you get it right it’s a real buzz!

A – BOR) Don’t centre the activity on yourself but on your audience. I took a lecturing type approach but you need the discussion to come from them. You have to give it a structure but it should come from them

a – JB) You have to have a hook, something visual and very quick to grab attention. Having something that grabs attention, that calls people over, is really important. Once you have attention you can explain. And once you can explain to an 8 year old your skills will be up to explaining your work to any audience

A – LM) Props are great, they can be a trigger for activity. I take a selections of weird things and that works great. Being really prepared and quite structured just wasn’t as effective, particularly if you don’t know exactly the age and interests of the kids coming along. You need to know your stuff and be prepared… If you have a super absorbent fibre you need water and towels say… But flexibility is important

Q) There are three women here to one man, audience is fairly fifty-fifty. Is public engagement more of a female thing?

A – WM) It’s great to see lots of women here coming From the male dominated field of engineering

Q) Especially for Lisa: had you done media training before that call on boxing day from the press?

A – LM) No, not really. I just got on with it. It never occurred to me to call colleagues.

Q from Kat) Any disasters after that?

A – LM)  Not really, we had friends for dinner and Cape Town Talk Radio rang up. I had trouble saying no. And did an interview which was fine. But then they opened up the lines… I had to give styling tips to middle aged South African ladies! I wouldn’t ever want to repeat the experience of incessantly talking about something without substance. I do work thoroughly and rigorously so did not enjoy being thrown into a circumstances where I had to wing it.

Quentin) This professor of acoustics at Salford came up with a formula for media interest. He said he’d do a talk on concert hall acoustics but threw in a reference to the echo of a ducks quack. That led to 150 interview requests from the media but he was able to start with silly stuff then go into the serious concert hall acoustics stuff, which worked for him.

Q) On linguistics: have you considered the idea of speaking to an audience in their own language – translating material into, say Arabic, so it is interpreted into the meanings of that language – like Dr Quinn’s work on sign language?

A – BOR) There has been a lot of work here about multilingual Implicatons. We have tried to do lots of public engagement events at Heriot-Watt and to run truly multiple lingual events, speakers in their native language but also translated in real time, to raise awareness of multilingual issues.

A – Kat) Language actually matters to all of your work – different audiences require different language in a way, so there are some words 8 year olds simply don’t understand…

Q) You (Lisa) said not to publicise research unless completed?

A – LM) In that case the outcome wasn’t really substantial. There was nothing much to report which was disappointing for the media.

Comment) You wanted to do something fun and you achieved that?

A – LM) it was a really interesting experience, but I would have preferred to have some research to share.

Comment from Alan) What’s been emphasised here is the idea of something simple to get across. So you have, say, the Raspberry Pi, which has taken off widely… Where do you pitch these things in terms of sophistication?

A – WM) I have a Raspberry Pi, they are good fun. Something like that needs a more specific targeted audience, you need to be interested and have some skills there. But you can have them set up already – as we did at the Barr Science Festival we had a series of Raspberry Pis hooked up to bananas…

Quention) There is a danger of suggesting there is a formula but there are a myriad of different ways to do these things.

Q) Back to Lisa’s comment about publicising research before results. I think for adult and media audiences there is scope to educate them that research does not always have expected or conclusive or positive results. Is there a positive aspect in terms of wider engagement with the wider research agenda and the process of research?

A – LM) You can take that angle on it, you can have those conversations. But the media don’t necessarily want a deeper understanding of research recesses. Or want to run that story.

Quentin) In your case the media seem to have projected onto your story.

A – JB) there may be a role in changing public expectations, to better understand the time it takes to get to an answer. There may be a role for it but I’m not sure how ready the public are or the media are.

Parallel Sessions

The next session consisted of attendees picking from a choice of three short parallel sessions. These ran twice to allow participants to explore several topics. The Parallel Sessions included my joint session with Sophie Good, Heriot Watt. My part of the presentation can be seen in this Prezi and the associated resource sheet can be found here.

How to engage – Chaired by Quentin Cooper

This was Quentins micro summary of the various parallel sessions:

  • Stalking, lurking – Social
  • Supporting reassuring – Schools
  • Collaboration, cocreation – Beltane

Professor Alan Miller, Royal Society Public Engagement Prizes

Several prizes, very prestigious awards. Started by the Beltane. Now that Beltane is not funded nationally the prizes have been funded and embedded in the RSE awards. Prize winners in the past include Aubrey Manning, Tom Devine, Caroline Wilkinson (University of Dundee working in forensics). Those are senior prize winners. The Innovators Prize has gone in the last few years has included those just finishing PhDs, postdocs, etc. Joanna Brooks from UoE and winner of I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here; Nicholas Stanley was doing innovative stuff at Dundee Science Festival, and most recently Dr Chris Speed who has done work on bringing social history and communities together digital. They are very much about real innovation in public engagement, really different projects from what others have done before. Done by nomination by fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and we have about 20 of those within Heriot-Watt.

That’s the prizes but I also wanted to mention TED lectures. They now have TEDx events in Edinburgh. We are doing a TEDx in heriot watt next month, we will do demos of research we do here. Danielli Factule is leading that.

Dr Laura Wicks, Principals Public Engagement Prize and Funding

It’s in its third years. One of our former prize winners spoke earlier – Bill Macpherson. This year’s prize has a Deadline of 14th June 2013. This year there are four categories: individual, early career, team, PhD student. The overall prize is £1500 for a public engagement event, plus £500 for each category. The information and forms are on the engage website. And there are some more videos from previous finalists and winners there. If short listed you too could appear there.

But there are more prizes out there… For example:

The Society for General Microbiology Outreach Prize; the British Psychological Society Public Engagement Award; the Biochemical Society Science Communication Prize; Famelab; IOP Kelvin Award (previous winners include Brian Cox). Lots of opportunities. Many of the academics who have sat on Public Engagement panels indicate that there isn’t always as much competition as expected for some funding schemes so it really is worth applying.

How to fund engagement:

  • Impact Acceleration Account – EPSRC @ HWU – worth considering even if your worth isn’t usually in this funding bodies territory
  • RCUK Pathways to Impact – include Public Engagement in research grants. There’s good funding here and there is opportunity to ask for extra PE cash here.
  • Talking Science Grants – a Scottish scheme for deprived or rural communities. They do only allow one application per university though so they are looking for joint applications
  • Society funding can range from £500-£100,000 depending on the project.

There are loads of sources of funding here, collaboration between departments and disciplines are particularly encouraged so come to us and we can help.

Katarzyna Przybycien, Specific Opportunities

I just wanted to highlight the range of science festivals and public events – we can advise you on developing PE activities for these.

  • Summer Science festival (1-7 July 2013)
  • British Science festival (7-12th sept 2013)
  • Bang Goes the Borders Science Festival – really open to innovation and very supportive and engaging. (21st sept 2013)
  • Midlothian Science Festival (5-20th oct 2013)
  • National Science and Engineering Week (spring 2014)
  • Dunbar Scifest (spring 2014)
  • Edinburgh International Science Festival (5-20th April 2014)

The challenge here can be tracking deadlines. Both Summer Science and the Edinburgh International Science Festival close to applications this summer (late july or early august) for their spring/summer 2014 iterations.

And locally… Cafe Scientifique is a monthly Monday informal opportunity at the Filmhouse to discuss science with broad adult audience.

And we also encourage you to engage with schools. But schools tends to have relationships with academics or projects. It’s not that easy to approach schools directly. Lots of processes to follow. But STEMNET will do much of this for you, keep you informed of opportunities etc. and we encourage those who do engage to sign to the STEMNET Ambassadors Programme, we encourage more people to sign up!

Also from Quentin: Pint of Science type events in pubs….

Dr Sarah Anderson, Beltane Network Opportunities

See the handout on function of Beltane and what you can expect from us. It’s not the thing on Calton Hill, we are a network set up in 2008, aiming to help you make your research available to more people. We are funded by the University of Edinburgh; Heriot-Watt; Queen Margaret’s University; Napier University. We can connect you to non-academic audiences and organisations, to other researchers. We run networking sessions – the next one here at Heriot-Watt is on 21st May on environmental policy, with talks, questions, and networking. The other big upcoming event is on 11th June at Summerhall, our Annual Gathering for networking. We also have a fellowship scheme – that buys out some of your time for public engagement work (you have to be a member of academic staff to apply), and we run various training activities. We like to tie training to big events, for example for TEDxUniversityofEdinburgh we coached the speakers.


Q) What’s the name of the doggie on the home screen of the presentation of

A) Angus

Q) Is there any thought on teaching science communication as a degree subject at heriot watt?

A – Alan miller) Not yet, but an idea. Cardiff has a degree…

A – Quentin) Imperial, Plymouth. Scotland has a great tradition of science. A great tradition of journalism. But a rubbish history of science journalism so that’s good news…

A) And the open university does a science communication msc.

A – SA) And there is a new Science Communications and Public Engagement MSc at Edinburgh University.

Q – Quentin) Sarah in your session you said the senior folk get it, the frontline folk get it but the middle folk don’t always get it… Is that just the nature of where the buck stops? Any solutions?

A – SA) It’s about recognising that work, raising the profile of engagement can help. External drivers may be a clincher – things like the REF.

A – Alan) The REF driver isn’t that strong. There are a few public engagement examples but significance and reach can be hard. It’s a bit of a dilemma. When we come out of REF process and analysis we’ll have a better idea about the realities.

Q – Quentin) We’ve talked about public engagement but are some forms of public engagement more equal than others? If you do something costing 1 million for one person. If you do something that costs 1p and reaches a million and everyone loves it and signs up for courses that’s great. But what about inbetween that.

A – Kat) often expensive stuff pays off over time. This area is still developing. Innovation is a good thing. Individuals and their audiences really make the engagement, make the success. Lots of discussion of ways to measure impact of public engagement… But tricky

A – Sarah) You have to build evaluation of public engagement in from the outset to be effective but that can be very different from metrics. And metrics should not just be about numbers – they are often not about that at all but about comments, opinions, anecdotal evidence.

A – Alan) Publicise what you are doing, get it on the Principal’s agenda, a message to get out that PE is important. There are ways to reward PE. There was a beltane panel looking a at rewards and recognition. We did identify how PE was recognised, e.g. is it recognised in promotions systems? (generally not). I resisted putting PE in to promotions criteria as I think it’s just a part of Knowledge Exchange. But rewards matters.

Comment – Rob) How important is PE for career development… They can use these examples in CVs, in applications, in interviews etc. stories that can be told. Do candidates stand out from the pack that way?

A – Alan) No one gets recruited for public engagement I would say, but it is another part of the pack of skills. For Scottish Crucible that is something we look for though. More and more in academia we look for people who think beyond being in the lab or library or beyond those only publishing articles.

Quentin) These activities potentially spin out in unexpected ways…

Laura) I did my PhD in New Zealand and PE was more built in there. But things like prizes are great for your CV and your career, they show your skills.

Summary and closing – Professor Alan Miller

Thank you to Quentin.

Today’s concept and brainwave to launch Heriot-Watt Engage in this way was Kat and Laura’s. They’ve been busy over the last four months already and we should thank them for that.


How To: Create Sensible Subject lines for Feedburner Email Subscriptions

Here at EDINA we use Feedburner for managing some of our RSS feeds as it allows you to do many very useful added value things with your feed, including delivery by email. Unfortunately by default the service takes the name of your blog as a subject line. That’s fine if your blog has a very broad readership or there are not frequent posts. For some of our blogs, however, posts fall into several parallel strands – so whilst all posts may be of interest some will be particularly relevant to particular subscribers, which means the subject line of those email updates really matters.

Image of the SUNCAT blog

Screenshot of the SUNCAT Blog.

My colleagues from the SUNCAT blog were keen to ensure their post titles would stand out more clearly to their readers as this is one of the EDINA blogs that includes several different strands of posts. Some SUNCAT posts are informative, recording key updates to the service, whilst others are playful explorations of the materials in the SUNCAT service. For systems librarians and those contributing data to SUNCAT those updates need to stand out, to those using the service the playful posts may be much more relevant. No matter who the reader, the title makes a big difference and whilst it is already easy to see the titles in the regular RSS feed, it was time to ensure email subscribers could see the title reflected in the subject line of their emails.

Image of the Feedburner Publicize menu

The slightly hidden away Email Branding settings.

Digging around the Feedburner settings can be a little time consuming – there are no end of options – and the email branding settings are relatively hidden away. However, via this very helpful Shout Me Out blog post, I found the quick route to the appropriate functionality which has been quietly offered by Feedburner since 2009.

To change the subject line of emails being sent to subscribers head to the Publicize heading – one of the four tabs you will see once logged in. Look for the  Email subscription then the sub heading Email branding. In that section you will see the relevant shortcode to add your title to your post:

Image of the Feedburner Settings screen

The magic box and bit of shortcode that ensures email subscribers receive sensibly titled emails.

It’s an easy change but with big impact.