Visiting libraries is the most popular activity in the UK (spread these resources far and wide!)

 

I'm always struck by just how many people use libraries in the UK. It's a mind-bogglingly huge amount.

When we hear about the figures they're always couched in terms of reductions - CIPFA tells us about the continuing decline, noting that UK visits to public libraries in 2013-14 fell to 282 million, from 288 million the previous year. I'm not surprised it fell - we lost 49 branches and 1,000 full-time-equivalent staff in the same period.

But why do we never take the figures in isolation? 282 million visits! That's MASSIVE. And then I started wondering how that compared with other things we visit in the UK. I came up with a list of as many as I could think of, and guess what? We visit libraries more than we visit ANYTHING else. In fact, we visit libraries twice as often as we visit football matches, theatres, A&E and the Church combined.

I mean come on!

So inspired by some utter drivel from the Telegraph about a new Government initiative about libraries (more on which another time), I've come up with some different ways of expressing the comparisons between how often we visit libraries versus other things we visit.

Everything below has no licence attached to it so please use it however you wish - tweet it, blog it, embed it, remix it, change it, and no need to attribute anything (except the original data sources). I just want this message to go as far and wide as possible. I've added various buttons to tweet the individual elements, or you can tweet a link to the entire post:

Library usage stats broken down into smaller timeframes

I'd be really keen for people to make their own versions of these - I'm sure we can do better than what I've come up with below. This is the perfect size to tweet as it won't need expanding to be viewed on Twitter.

Here are all the subdivisions if anyone's feeling creative with comparisons:

  • 282 million library visits per year
  • 23.5 million library visits each month
  • 5.423 million library visits per week
  • 772,602 library visits per day
  • 32,191 library visits per hour
  • 536 library visits per minute
  • 8.9 library visits per second. For every second! Of the entire year! I mean seriously, how the hell can people claim we don't need libraries any more?

Library usage stats on Sway

Here's the first version of the stats. It's done using Sway, a new tool from Microsoft. Direct link to the presentation here.

Clicking the button above will allow you to tweet a link to that Sway presentation. I also did a vertical scrolling Sway in a slightly different style - take your pick! Both Sways allow duplication, so if you want to take them as a starting point to make your own version, feel free - improve and enhance it.

Library usage stats on Slideshare

A slightly different approach for this one - a teaser format where the most popular activity isn't revealed until the very end. Here's a link direct to the slides.

The button above will tweet a link to the Slideshare presentation.

The slides were Featured on Slideshare's homepage and also tweeted by the CEO of the Arts Council, so hopefully we're getting beyond the echo-chamber!

Library usage stats on video

Here's a YouTube video - the same statistics as in the slides, but this time made in PowToon.

The button above will tweet a link to the YouTube video.

Library usage stats as an infographic

This is on the way! I'm working with someone who is much better at this sort of thing than me - but in the meantime the more the merrier, so if you can express the figures in a compelling way then get infographicing...

Library usage stats as a graph

Thanks to @AVwoman for this! What she calls the "My God, Aren't Libraries Stupidly Popular!" graph...

Library usage stats: the raw figures

Here are all the raw figures I collected - if you take these and do something interesting with them, let me know in a comment and I'll add whatever it is to this list!

230 million library visits in England (282 million in UK): http://www.cipfa.org/about-cipfa/press-office/archived-press-releases/2014-press-releases/cipfa-library-survey

Cinemas: 165.5 million admissions: http://www.cinemauk.org.uk/facts-and-figures/admissions/uk-cinema-admissions-2013-by-region/

Church of England: 52 million visits: https://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/facts-stats/research-statistics/parish-attendance-affiliation.aspx

The UK itself: 32.8 million visits from overseas in 2013: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/ott/travel-trends/2013/rpt-travel-trends--2013.html

Theatre: 22 million attendees in 2013: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/11001177/Almost-twice-as-many-people-visit-the-theatre-than-attend-Premier-League-games.html

Hospital A&E Departments: 18.5 million visits http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB16728

Premier League Football: 13.9 million total attendance http://www.espnfc.com/barclays-premier-league/23/statistics/performance?season=2013

There used to be Museums and Galleries figures here, but they turned out to be just for DCMS owned insitutions so I've removed them - thanks to Ian Clark for the heads-up.

Library usage stats: as a Google doc

And finally, if you want to do stuff with the data it may be useful to have it in a spreadsheet: here's a Google doc. It's set to 'anyone can view' - if you want to edit or add to the data etc just make your own copy.


What other people are doing with the stats

The first remix has arrived! Really pleased that Adlib has redone the graphic at the top of this page but for Canadian libraries.

I hope others will be encouraged to take this basic idea and run with it - either by finding new ways to express the information, or finding new information, or redoing some of these resources for different parts of the world...


Spread these messages however you want, as far as you can. And keep the statistics to hand - every time someone says 'we don't need libraries in the digital age' we can respond 'actually 772,000 people in the UK will need them today alone!' and all the rest of it.

Let's do this!

If you need a conference / event / project website, Strikingly might be the option for you

 
The short version of this post is: if you'd like a clean modern website for your online presence, and aren't looking to do anything too complicated, Strikingly may well be the right choice for you. It's easy to use for both author and viewers of the site, and it's free as long as you don't get TOO much traffic.

Over the past couple of months I've been tinkering around with the website builder Strikingly in spare pockets of time.

I really like the vertical scrolling style websites you can make in Strikingly - I first saw that style when Matt Borg used it for stuff like the UXLibs site. You can use normal navigation to skip to whichever page you like, or you can scroll down and they all appear below the homepage - meaning you never have to load up a new page to explore the website. This long-form one-page style saves time and works well.

Where it doesn't work so well is if you have a lot of complicated information to display on many different subjects - in that setting a traditional website may work better. But if you have just one story to tell Strikingly can do it with an uncluttered, stylish, and very mobile friendly site. For example for a conference, an event, a project, a collaboration, or even a personal website to act as a CV or something for the Googlers to find.

I already have this main website made in Squarespace (which I reviewed here), so in order to have a reason to sign up and play with Strikingly in earnest I built a site for my Training offering. You can find it here if you're interested - the top part looks like this:

Click the pic to open the website in a new window

Click the pic to open the website in a new window

At the moment this feels some way ahead of Blogger and even Wordpress in terms of the interface - it's pleasant to interact with a Strikingly site. You can actually blog using Strikingly, but if you do that and achieve success with it, you're going to exceed the 5GB of bandwidth that comes with the free version of the service. You can upgrade to the 8-or-16 dollar a month packages but I doubt anyone reading this would want to that - so to my eyes, Strikingly is a good option for someone who wants an online presence, perhaps to document some projects you've worked on, an online CV, or to showcase your skills if you're job-hunting, but who doesn't want to commit to blogging. Or, as mentioned, for an event, conference or collaborative project.

The editor looks like this:

As you can see you choose the type of section you want, then edit the content to your own. You edit the actual site - so what you see is truly what you get, rather than there being a seperate Editor interface. This makes it easier to see exactly how the changes you make are going to affect your design.

PROS OF STRIKINGLY

  • It's fairly fool-proof in terms of making things look nice. You are set up to succeed and would have to out of your way to make a duff site, even if you have no experience of web design or blog-building etc
  • It's very easy to create a site. There are nice templates which are relatively customisable
  • It's free, as long as your site is not too popular! (See below)
  • It's Responsive Design, so everything about your site is retained when viewing it on mobiles - it's just re-ordered to best fit the size of screen. Below is a screen-grab of Preview mode where you can see your site in tablet or phone view:

CONS OF STRIKINGLY

  • If you exceed 5GB of bandwidth per month, you'll need to upgrade to a paid-for package. There's more on understand bandwidth requirements here but to 5GB ought to be enough unless you're blogging and building an audience. I don't know what my bandwidth usage is anymore as the Squarespace package I have is unlimited, but in my old wordpress days I used between 10 and 20GB a month - had I not been blogging and thus creating traffic I think 5GB would have been more than enough
  • You need a lot of imagery. As with all modern website designs, it's a lot about pictures - so you'll have to use some. There's plenty of inbuilt options to choose from but in making mine I had to hunt around for things which were relevant, and not just stylish for the sake of it
  • Following on from that, all these new website builders (like Squarespace too) are really aimed primarily at start-ups and freelancers; sometimes it feels like an effort to find the options which aren't all about a: the hard sell or b: vaguely trendy lifestyle stuff that may work in a San Franciso web design office but is hard to imagine having any meaning elsewhere
  • It's not THAT flexible - as mentioned above, a more complicated site is better off with a different website builder. The editor is easy to use but a little constraining so you can't micromanage the finer details of how each section is arranged
  • And the usual disclaimer as with any new site-builder - who knows how long the company will be around? Unlike Wordpress which is open-source and sustained by the non-profit community, Strikingly exists as a business, and businesses go under... There's no reason to expect Strikingly to stop existing, but you never know.

So could Strikingly work for you or an enterprise you're involved with? If you do decide to give it a whirl let me know what you make with it.

A UX in Libraries Reading List

There's a new page in my navigation bar! UX is here.

Earlier in the month I called upon the ever-awesome network of twitter info pros to help me create a reading list to introduce someone to UX in Libraries - the part of User Experience focusing on ethnography and physical spaces rather than primarily on the online experience.

UX is a growing area but lots of people are still unfamiliar with it, so the aim of the list is to take a structured approach to introducing the topic, taking someone from a fairly straightforward definition right through to books, blogposts, presentations and journal articles that go into a lot of detail.

Lots of people came back with great suggestions and I said I'd make the list publicly available upon completion, so here it is. When you're looking for UX literature there's obviously a huge amount on website UX, so it's nice to have a concentrated list that's just about the library context.

UX in Libraries Resource List: A Structured Introduction to UX and Ethnography.

If you're wondering about tweeting a link to this blogpost you can use the sharing button at the bottom of the post, or you can use this one to tweet a link directly to the reading list itself instead if you'd prefer!

I created this primarily for the UX Intern about to start work at York for six weeks, who I'll be managing. I'm very excited about this - it's such a great opportunity to hit the ground running with some ethnography, and turn the ideas from the UXLibs conference into results for our own institution. The intern starts in August - I'll blog about how that all goes at a later date.

If you can think of a way to improve this reading list, please let me know! I've created a copy for our intern which I'll leave alone for the moment, so this public version can be amdended to and added to as much as people feel would be useful. I'm particularly keen on additions that you have specifically read / watched / viewed and found helpful, rather than 'I've heard this is good' type suggestions which might end up making the list too long and unwiedly...

Training up North! Digital Marketing and Presentation Skills workshops coming up

I just came back from running some training in London, where I've previously done a lot of this type of work. In 2015, though, that's been the case far less frequently, and I've been all over the place. Even the work I'm doing for the British Library is at their Boston Spa site, and it's been nice to do things not JUST in the South.

With that in mind, there's three training courses I'm running in September and October which are much more local to me up North than usual, and open to all. I ran my very first full-day workshops in York back in 2012, and a lot of people have asked when they'll be run there again - details are below.

Sept 4: Digital Marketing toolkit workshop, york

We're runnng this one at the University of York, in a training room in the Library chosen because it has decent sized screens and good facilities. This is the 'emerging tech' workshop which focuses on aspects of Web 2.0 beyond the social media basics. It changes every time but we'll definitely be covering geolocation and augmented reality, marketing with video, Publishing Online (embedding PDFs, sources of creative commons and free images for comms, interactive tools like Padlet), Mobile and Apps, and probably some social media analytics too.

Full details including booking form are available on the UKeIG website.

The workshop is grounded in the here and now - things you can do as soon as you can get back to your desk, rather than speculation as to what digital comms will look like in 2020 - so people find this course very useful. Here's some feedback from the last 2 versions of this specific course I've run for UKeIG:

“Very up to date - thanks - very useful, practical and relevant course - I’m brimming with ideas”

”I really enjyed the day, opened my eyes to lots of new tools and made me realise that digital marketing doesn’t have to be Facebook”

”Just the right amount of interaction. Very engaging. I learned so much!”

”“This has been a fantastic course - I have learnt so much and gained more confidence around a number of digital marketing tools and how to use them effectively. Ned’s knowledge and brilliant presentation style is great and kept me hooked for the whole day. Everything has been amazing”

”A fantastic training session - incredibly useful - thank you”

”Absolutely brilliant. Interesting, relevant, useful.”

”Far beyond my expectations. Unlike most other courses, it held my attention to the end.”

”This was excellent overall - lots of useful things for me to take back - thank you Ned!”
— UKeIG Digital Marketing Toolkit workshops, 2014 + 2015

Sept 11: Presentation skills workshop, York

As above this one takes place in my place of work, this time covering presentation skills. It's entitled 'Making your message stick' because that's the theme for the whole day - we're all presenting a lot these days, so the very least you want is for your key messages to stay in people's minds after they leave your talk. 

Full details including booking form are available on the UKeIG website - this course focuses on what researchers have found to be key in building effective multimedia presentations, and working from that. It's very hands-on and you'll be creating beautiful slides (whose aesthetically pleasingness will be a byproduct of them being good communication tools, rather than the sole aim...) and experimenting with Prezi. We'll look at the absolute golden rules of creating presentations, explore 4 different methods of creating them based on how much time you have and how high the stakes are, and also discuss presenting itself, conquering nerves and so on.

Oct 16: Presentation skills workshop, Manchester

As above this is the full-day Making Your Message Stick workshop, this time for CILIPNW. It'll take place at Manchester, probably at Manchester Metropolitan University, but that final details are still being sorted out. I'll try and remember to update this page once it's all sorted!

Some feedback from the two most recent Presentation Skills workshops I've run, for CILIP NE and the Bodleian:

“Tips and tricks about perfect presentations - it was fantastic! Very informative, very attractive content of the course. I’d recommend it to anyone.”

”The trainer’s knowledge and approach to the presentation were outstanding. We received numerous references for further learning and finding resources, which is greatly appreciated.”

”It was excellent. It is a particularly difficult topic to present on, as the audience is looking to see excellent presentation skills in action. The trainer succeeded in demonstrating presentation skills as well as talking about them.”

”It was just perfect.”

”Ned is very engaging and was able to get across his enthusiasm and expereince of presenting at a high standard.”

”The trainer gave lots of useful tips and could draw on own experience in libraries to illustrate points; there as a good balence between written and spoken input and time to practice new ideas.”

”The course was really fantastic, I came away with lots of practical ideas and feeling enthusiastic about sharing them with my team.”

”The best training I have ever been on.”

“I found the day very useful - a very practical session with time for hands-on practice and a lot of good advice given. I have heard a lot of about Ned’s presentation expertise. He was great!”

”Really useful and informative. Good to have practical sessions as well as demos.”

”Ned was fantastic, and there was a great balance of practical exercises, and presentation of examples and tips.”
— Bodleian Libraries 2015, and CILIP NE 2015

You can see all of the upcoming workshops on my Upcoming Events page. Hope to see you at one of them!


Visitors and Residents: Useful Social Media in Libraries

 

V&R

Visitors and Residents (or V&R) is a really useful way of thinking about how people interact online and use social media. In short, people in Visitor mode come online to complete a particular task, and then leave - with very little trace of their activity remaining. People in Residents mode are more likely to identify as themselves and use the web as a social space, sharing as well as obtaining information. Visitors and Residents is a continuum which all of us are on, moving between the two according to our needs at any given time. It was first proposed by Le Cornu and White, and (David) White has a very useful section of his site to introduce the topic in more detail.

As libraries, it's really useful to think about how we go about catering for users in both modes. Social media isn't all about social networks - we can use social media platforms to provide easy entry points for Visitors seeking information (a lot of the platforms I've set up at York should provide utility even for students and staff who don't use social media at all), AND we can use it to add our voice to a more Residential space and provide help and information as part of a community. Led very much by Donna Lanclos's views on the subject, I now see V&R as a far more constructive lens through which to view peoples' online behaviour than the 'Digital Natives' idea, which is extremely prevalent and asks us to make assumptions about our users based on their date of birth.

I was invited to give a keynote at the Interlend conference, and asked specifically to talk about social media. As I've mentioned before I think a keynote is a very specific thing, and has different requirements to a regular conference presentation where I could, for example, just report back on what my institution is doing to engage users online. A keynote needs an overarching theme which gives people a way of looking at the world, as well as specific ideas and things for people to try out. With this in mind, my #Interlend2015 talk was entitled Visitors and Residents: Useful Social Media in Libraries.

The Presentation

The actual slides I used will be available on the FiL website shortly, but they won't make that much sense without me talking over the top of them so I've redone them to stand alone online. Here they are. (I get really excited about slide design. It's the one part of me that is remotely visually artistic, and I loved using a slightly different style for this slide-deck and learning new tricks. I found new sources of images - listed on the final slides - and a couple of new fonts, used a lot of darkening and blurring of images so I could write directly onto them, and generally tried REALLY hard with these!)

Screw Digital Natives

Inspired by Donna I've become quite militant about the whole digital natives thing.

It can't be left unchallenged - when people use it uncritically we have to pull them up on it! It's dangerously reductive. There's two major problems with it: firstly anyone who's thought about it for more than a second would agree that age doesn't actually determine technological know-how. How exposed we are to modern tools and computers depends on place of birth, environment growing up, privilege, and other socio-economic factors - we know that. So to assume that students entering University now have a set of skills that they just have (how do you Snapchat? You just Snapchat. Hello to Jason) is to ignore the messier reality in front of you in favour of a very simplistic alternative - an imagined present, as Donna eloquently puts it. So we don't assess the students in front of our very eyes on what they can and can't do, we just plough on and risk a dereliction of our educational duty. And secondly, even those that ARE excellent with the tools don't neccessarily know how to use them in the academic environment (or indeed for life-skills type purposes). Technological literacy does not imply digital literacy! Being deft with a touch-screen and quick to find information is a great first step, but then comes all the (again, messy) business of critically evaluating that information, and potentially re-purposing it.

My 1 year old can - genuinely - do things with our iPad which we can't recreate, to do with swiping in a certain way. She's born into the technology. She's what the people who talk about Digital Natives are imagining ALL children are like. But that doesn't mean she can use the tech to achieve goals and complete tasks and understand how information works. Of course it doesn't.

On talking then leaving

I strongly dislike when people give talks at conferences and then leave straight after. It implies arrogance - it says I am here to give out knowledge, but there's nothing you guys can teach ME.

With the Interlend Conference, the timing was awful - it was in a run of the most stressful and stupidly busy 7 days I've ever had professionally. I really wanted to do the talk though - I was supposed to do it last year but had to pull out because of my daughter's illness, and it was an honour to be asked to do a keynote. The only way I could do it was if I went back to work in the afternoon, due to a massive deadline looming - so essentially I did what I hate people doing: I showed up, gave the talk, and left.

I wanted to stay - especially after the really interesting conversations I had with people over coffee after my talk - but I had to choose between talking and running, or not talking at all. I chose to talk and run, but next time I would make a different choice and not do the talk at all unless I'm able to attend the full day on which I'm speaking. I just felt awful - sad to miss out on stuff I would have found really interesting and useful, and my insecurities running wild about what people must think (fired further by a few tweets which confirmed my worst fears).

So huge apologies to the delegates - I wish I could have stayed and carried on the conversations.

CPD as a way to get some learning done

One of things I like most about CPD is choosing paths which force me to invest proper time in understanding something relatively new. Over the years I've often submitted a title of a talk knowing that it would involve some serious work  and research to actually be able to deliver the finished article... What normally happens is I do this and feel excited about it, then about 2 days before the talk is due to be given I curse my past self in great and sweary detail because I'm still learning about a topic rather than planning how to create a presentation on it, and then afterwards I'm really glad I forced myself to do this because I learned something valuable and lasting. That's basically exactly what happened here.

When I was planning this talk and knew it had to be about social media, I was really drawing a blank in terms of an angle for it - I didn't want to just repeat the same old same old. If I read one more conference tweet that says 'social media is a great way to connect with our users!' I will probably despair.

So I asked Twitter what I should call the talk, and got loads of good suggestions, before ultimately realising that this would be the perfect opportunity to go from 'being interested in that #vandr thing I've read a lot about from Donna Lanclos' all the way to 'knowing enough about #vandr to actually talk about it at a conference' so I settled on that, and am really glad I did. (Although it was, as predicted, massively stressful.)

But I wanted to give an honourable mention to the best twitter suggestion in response to my plea for ideas for possible titles for my talk:

I wish I could have used it...