Saturday, 18 November 2017

Thing 11: Your Professional Brand

Old Letters

Defining Personal Brand

I am a person, not a product! This is often the response I hear when I talk to people about building a personal brand and they are resistant to the idea. I do not see personal branding as a negative thing but rather an activity that should be embraced, developed, and promoted.  Trying to build a professional reputation in any sector is challenging.  In the area of Libraries and Information Services, this can be additionally challenging for many reasons. Firstly, there are the stereotypes to deal with, secondly, we are in a dynamic environment where roles and skills sets are changing rapidly and finally, we generally are not very good at self-promotion.

So, what is a personal brand and why do you need one?  If you are already active on Social Media or if anyone has ever mentioned you in an online context you have an online presence. This online presence contributes to your personal brand whether or not you are managing it.  Social media provides a unique way to develop, monitor and maintain your personal brand. I find it is a great way to build an online community, to network with people who work in libraries throughout the world, and to also network with people in other areas I am interested in. It is important to consider that if anyone wants to find out about you probably the first thing they will do is to search for you on Google and across multiple social media platforms- it is far better to be in the driver’s seat of what your personal brand says about you than not.

Personal branding is your professional identity, your reputation, and it can be developed and managed by you. A definition that resonates with me is “what do people say about you when you are not in the room.” This is different from gossip. This is where the “go to” person is identified by professional colleagues- an unsolicited recommendation on what knowledge, skills, and influence that others perceive you possess.  We’ve all been in that situation when discussing a challenge or interest with colleagues and someone will say “You should really talk to X- they gave a presentation last year at XX conference.” Personal branding is a skill that connects you to your professional community in a way that benefits you specifically and our profession generally.

Why should Library Professionals have Personal Brands? 

Librarians come from so many different backgrounds and have a range of different degrees and work in a variety of environments. We are all at different life and career stages as well and this can be so beneficial for developing a professional network for librarians not only with other librarians, but also a way to highlight and raise our skills and knowledge outside of the library profession.  For example, you may be a business librarian. In this case, your personal brand connects you to the library world as well as the business world. Keeping up your associations to business would be a definite advantage in terms both of helping yourself but also promoting the profession generally. 


There are lots of benefits to you if you develop a personal brand. Some of these are:

  • A way to connect professionally with other librarians who have similar interests or work in areas you are interested in finding out more about. 
  • You take responsibility for developing, controlling, and curating information about you that you promote as your areas of expertise or interest. 
  • By having a personal brand that identifies specialties and interests you are identifying yourself as someone who is interested in collaboration-
  • Raise your profile for potential employers and colleagues
  • Expand your professional circle outside of library circles
  • If all librarians had personal brands this would collectively contribute to the development, perception, and involvement of the library world with other sectors.
  • Being a librarian means you connect to a range of people on different levels and having a personal brand allows these people to connect with you in effective ways.

What tools to use to create and manage a personal brand?

There are a range of tools available that will help you develop your personal brand online, but it is equally important to engage with others in our profession, to attend conferences and seminars and to promote yourself through collaboration (such as volunteering on committees), presenting or publishing (in a variety of formats). Nothing is better than face to face connection and I find most librarians are welcome to connecting, especially if there is tea or coffee involved.
Some of the online tools available that I have found to be very effective are listed below.:


LinkedIn is a great online tool.  It is very straight forward to set up.  Once you set up your account you can develop this as your virtual CV and primary way of connecting to others. Having a LinkedIn account allows you to expand inside and outside of library environments- classmates, other sectors or new sectors you are interested in. LinkedIn provides a platform where you can publish and promote your own articles on topics you find interesting.  You can also post articles and conference news that you think others in your network might be interested in- this is a way to demonstrate you understand other’s areas of interest and also that you are paying attention to what is happening in a subject space. 

LinkedIn has a feature that provides for a working platform for discussion groups.  The site is fully searchable by subject area, institutional names, employment sectors, etc. 
The summary section on your LinkedIn profile provides you with an opportunity to promote your personal brand. To maximise discoverability of your brand be sure to write a keyword driven headline. The summary should speak directly to your intended target audience, identify what sets you apart and be creative. 

By default, LinkedIn populates your headline with your current job title and employer and I would recommend you change this to include what information you think is important for your brand. 

For example, I have my LinkedIn profile address set to include only my name: 

Here are the steps to customise your LinkedIn address:

You can customize your public profile URL when you change what appears on your public profile. Custom public profile URLs are available on a first come, first served basis. Members can only have one custom public profile URL at a time.

To change your public profile URL:
  1. Click the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
  2. Click View profile.
  3. On your profile page, click Edit your public profile & URL on the right rail.
    • Update your public profile settings will show up if you don't have a public profile. Learn how to enable your public profile visibility.
  4. Under Edit public profile URL in the right rail, click the Edit icon next to your public profile URL.
    • It'll be an address that looks like
  5. Type the last part of your new custom URL in the text box.
  6. Click Save.


Conferences used to be the primary way you would be able to network- but this has changed.  With more and more conferences having live streaming and tweeting the audience is far bigger than those in the physical conferences space.

Twitter has been covered extensively in Thing 10 Networking Tools so I am just going to offer a few notes on how to use Twitter for personal branding. The most important aspect of using Twitter is the selection of your username and the wording of your profile description. The use of effective keywords will allow you to be discovered and identified by other Twitter users with similar interests.  

Twitter allows you stay informed about what is happening in libraries in various sectors and connect with people virtually. The networking is ideal as you can do so online in a non-consequential way by following others who have similar interests.  One of the most effective ways I use Twitter for networking is to pre-network.  So if I am attending a conference I and want to connect with someone to discuss a common interest I would contact them on Twitter via the direct message feature and introduce myself and then arrange to meet them in person at the conference. In advance I can send questions they also have access to my twitter postings and can decide if it is beneficial for them to meet as well.  Managing what you tweet and re-tweet is a great way to promote your interests.  

Twitter also allows you celebrate accomplishments with your followers, with such things as “Delighted to be speaking at Conference X today.” Twitter also allows you to promote others interests and accomplishments. The best way to raise your profile is to raise the profile of others. This demonstrates that you are supportive but also that you are aware of people and events that are of interest to your online community.


To set up an ORCID number go to and all it takes is 3 easy steps to get set up. See below:

  1. Register Get your unique ORCID identifier Register now!
  2. Registration takes 30 seconds. 
  3. Add Your Info Enhance your ORCID record with your professional information and link to your other identifiers (such as Scopus or Researcherid or LinkedIn). 
  4. Use Your ORCID Id Include your ORCID identifier on your Webpage, when you submit publications, apply for grants, and in any research workflow to ensure you get credit for your work. 
There is interoperability between LinkedIn, Twitter and ORCID as you can include your account links from each platform in the other platforms, sort of like a personal branding cross referencing system!

Joining a Professional Organisation

As a library and information professional either studying or working in Ireland it is so important to join a professional organisation.

If you are based in the Republic of Ireland joining the Library Association of Ireland is one of the main memberships to consider. Details of membership can be found here.
Remember if you are a student membership is free for your year of study and one-year post qualification!

As with all Professional Organisations, membership provides you with a range of support and CPD opportunities and it is also a great environment within which to build your personal brand and network and demonstrate your skills to your library colleagues. 

Perhaps one of the greatest things about being a member of a Library Association is that you have opportunities to join committees where you can demonstrate or develop new skills that will add to your personal brand!

Here is a comprehensive list of Library Associations across the world from the American Library Association Website

Some things to consider

Listed below are some things to consider when developing and maintaining your personal brand

  • Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken-decide what is unique about your and what you want to promote.
  • Remember branding is an ongoing activity so you do have to maintain it. I would recommend googling yourself every now and then, particularly in 'incognito mode' in your browser, to see what the results are. If that matches what you are promoting, that’s great, but if not, you have the tools to change the information and the results. 
  • Focus on a content niche where you can be the expert in the world on that particular topic.
  • Use a consistent picture, look, voice, etc. across platforms so your brand is consistent.
  • Don’t focus your entire personal brand around your current job- think about how you will maintain your brand once your job changes.
  • Posting too often may cause others to wonder when you find the time to do your work.  
  • Find your balance, one that works for you, in terms of frequency of updating 
  • Be genuine and professional at all times!

Tasks for Thing 11 

For this Thing you have the choice of 2 tasks- pick one. 
Task 1 
Create a bio of yourself that you can use when creating an online profile. 
Task 2
Set up a LinkedIn or ORCID account and highlight aspects of your personal brand you want to emphasise. 

Today's post is written by Jane Burns MBA, MLIS,MPhil, FLAI who is an experienced Library & Information Professional. 

Jane is a part time Lecturer at the School of Information Studies and the School of Education at University College Dublin. Her current role is Research Officer in the School of Nursing & Midwifery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.  She is a published author and presents regularly at Conference nationally and internationally. Jane is a PhD candidate at University College Dublin in the school of Education. She is a winner of the 2017 Wellcome Images Award for her collaborative research Breast Cancer: Graphic Visualisation of Tweets. @JMBurns99

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Thing 10: Networking Tools

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Welcome to Thing 10 of Rudaí23, 23 Things for Information Skills, this is the first Thing from our Online Networker section of the course.
The Online Networker consists of Thing 10, Thing 11, Thing 12. Thing 13 is a reflective piece.
For the benefit of the learner we shall give two tasks for Thing 10, you will have an option to choose one. Please note Thing 10 and 11 are closely linked so we would suggest that if you are interested in this aspect of the course to focus on the tasks given in both as it will benefit your learning as you move through each Thing.

Online networking and Face to Face (F2F) Networking

As library and information professionals we attend conferences in a work capacity and for Continuing Professional Development reasons. Throughout your time attending conferences, you’ve probably had the opportunity to attend many networking events.
Networking in person or online is a skill we all need to practice. Like public speaking, we search for the right pitch, the right tone. Being comfortable talking to strangers that share the same profession can be tasking and doing so online is no different than doing it F2F.

As Maleef (2015) states:
“Your network is a resource that you can access when you need advice, are stuck on a problem, or just need someone to bounce ideas off of”

Social media allows us to keep up with trends and new topics around the library world. We can get to know the profession on a global level and should take the opportunity to develop our networking skills.

Learning how to network in 140 characters, or 280 characters as seen with Twitter's newly increased character limit, for example, is a skill that needs precise focus and allows you to transfer this to a F2F setting. Reaching out to people and developing relationships can be instrumental in your career and professional development. As we are focusing on networking in an online capacity, we shall look at two tools, with information on how to engage, and who to engage with.

We hope Thing 10 will give you the tools to build confidence and become a social media networking wizard.

For Thing 10 we are going to provide links to setting up a Facebook and Twitter account, as there are good guides already available on the internet. Saying that, if you have not set up either account and need any help we are available to guide you through each part.
Facebook step by step guide can be found here.
Twitter step by step guide can be found here.


Facebook is a social, personal social media tool. According to Social Media Today

“Facebook is a multipurpose site centered more around direct communication with people you really know”

Many of us doing this course may have a Facebook profile, as Ipsos MRBI, 2017 state

“In Ireland 64% of adults have a Facebook account”

What we’re looking to accomplish in this lesson is not to change Facebook into a 100% professional tool, but to show you ways that it can work for you in a professional way.

Using Facebook Professionally

Set your public username here – so instead of, you can set your Facebook URL to for example.

Check your privacy settings – do you want professional colleagues seeing all your personal photos, videos?
In Privacy Settings you can select which groups of people see your Facebook content.

Profile picture – have a professional looking photo. This doesn’t need to be on a plain background but it shouldn’t be one of you on a night out. You could use the same photo for Facebook as you use on your LinkedIn profile, and your Twitter account. This is often recommended for branding purposes. But really it is up to you.

Professional details – In the About Section on Facebook they have positioned Work and Education at the very top with a section for Professional Skills also. By completing as many of these details as possible you can be found by classmates and colleagues.

Facebook About Section
Facebook Professional Skills Secion

Consider linking your Facebook page to other online tools you use - If you blog you can link your blog to your Facebook page. WordPress will help you do this automatically when you publish a new post. With Blogger it is more complicated. You can link your Twitter account to Facebook too.

Linking Twitter to Facebook

When posting to Facebook the information should be professionally related and verifiable material, be it articles about libraries or interesting research you’ve found.

Groups and Pages


“Facebook Groups are the place for small group communication and for people to share their common interests and express their opinion. Groups allow people to come together around a common cause, issue or activity to organize, express objectives, discuss issues, post photos, and share related content.” (Hicks, 2010)

I am involved with professional library groups on Facebook and my friends and I use various groups for different interests we have in common. It is a good idea to get involved with a few library groups on Facebook. They can provide you with a network of librarians, and as we all know, librarians are incredibly helpful if you need advice. Groups allow you to have a conversation and so they are more interactive than a Facebook page which we will discuss below.

Some Facebook Groups to follow or join:
Rudaí 23 Join the Rudaí23 group on Facebook and introduce yourself.
Irish Librarians Community of Practice – this is a closed group but you can request to join. It is a group of librarians and only started last year. The aim is to shares ideas and advice to librarians across Ireland.
UCD School of Information & Library Studies Alumni – another closed group. You’ll sometimes get jobs posts here.
Library and Information Professionals, Public Group based in Queensland Australia.


“Facebook Pages enable public figures, businesses, organizations and other entities to create an authentic and public presence on Facebook. […] Facebook Pages are visible to everyone on the internet by default. You, and every person on Facebook, can connect with these Pages by becoming a fan and then receive their updates in your News Feed and interact with them”. (Hicks, 2010)

The majority of public libraries in Ireland and Irish university libraries have Facebook pages. We recommend that if you are job searching follow the Facebook page of the library service you are applying to. You’ll find out a good bit about the library service just from checking out the page. I have often been asked my opinion on Social Media platforms being used by libraries in job interviews.

Getting started with Facebook

Follow a few Facebook Pages that interest you:

There are many library association groups around the world on Facebook that you can follow.

Library Associations: 

Specialist Library Associations or groups within the Library Associations: 

Libraries, national or regional: National Library of Australia, National Library of Ireland, The Library of Congress.


In Ireland 28% of adults have a Twitter account (Ipsos MRBI, 2017).
The uniqueness of Twitter is found in the “short” snaps of information that are passed around at speed. You develop a briefness to your sentences and cull words at a rate that might sometimes worry you [me], all while trying to keep together a coherent conversation. Twitter can be private, but the whole point is to be public and to engage with people you don’t know. It is like being in a room with a lot of strangers and responding to them in a limited number of words.

Twitter was the beginning of the #hashtag, and according to SocialMediaToday became what we now call Microblogging:

“which is also a form of quickfire communication, and very mobile friendly. That is what Twitter is”

Using Twitter professionally

Setting up a Twitter account is the same if not easier than a Facebook account.
You can personalize the look of your Twitter profile with a profile and banner image, along with a few personal details. Again, a good idea here is to keep your online brand consistent across the social media platforms that you use.

Have the same name, same picture (professional), same blog link, same professional information.
Twitter allows us to see what our colleagues are doing in a professional capacity. Other platforms can be used in a more serious way which we shall cover in Thing 11.

Getting started with Twitter

Follow Library Associations, wherever you are in the world:
North America: @SLAhq, @ALALibrary
Europe: @LAIonline, @slaeurope, @CILIPinfo
Australia: @ALIANational
What Library Association are you a member of? Are they listed here? If so follow them.

Follow people who you admire in the library profession:
North America: @LibrarySherpa,
Europe: (Ireland) @niamhodonovan, @martinoconnor3, @michellebreenUL
Australia & New Zealand: Kevin Adams @saywhat32

Find your library champion and get to know them, find them, follow them, and retweet them!
Here is a video we put together to help you.

Follow Library Groups, wherever you are in the world:
North America: @INALJNaomi
Europe: @Rudai23, @uklibchat, @NLPN, @Libfocus @WRSLAI
Australia: @LibrariesAust

Follow Library Lists, wherever you are in the world:
Twitter states that:

"A list is a curated group of Twitter accounts. You can create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others. Viewing a list timeline will show you a stream of Tweets from only the accounts on that list"

Many librarians and library groups have lists which you can subscribe to such as this one by Libfocus which groups together Librarians in Ireland for example.
If you have already followed the people we mentioned above then also check out what lists they are following.

Get involved with Twitter chats, wherever you are in the world:
If you wish to become involved in a Twitter chat, note that Rudai 23 will be hosting one on January 9th 2018, so that will be a great opportunity to get a feel for it!

#uklibchat is another great place to get started. It is a monthly discussion which usually takes place on Twitter between 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm on a Tuesday evening. The conversation is steered by the Twitter account @uklibchat. For more information visit their website.

Groups like @uklibchat will advertise the chats on Twitter in advance. All you have to do to follow or to participate is to follow the hashtag #uklibchat or #rudai23 or whatever the agreed hashtag is on Twitter.
For more information on how to follow hashtags and Twitter chats please check out our Powtoon video below.

Your Task for Thing 10 is

Task one:
Choose Facebook or Twitter.
Find a group, page, or list that interests you and join/follow them.

Please Note: If you wish to use Twitter and do not have an account set up please see the step by step instructions at the beginning of the post.
However, do not hesitate to contact the Rudai 23 team, we are here to help


Task two:
Find a # on Twitter and tweet using that #
For example: search for #rudai23 and send a tweet using that #

Further Reading

Network Like Nobody’s Watching: Demystifying Networking as a Skill for the Librarian and Information Professional Community.

Facebook Tips: What’s the Difference between a Facebook Page and Group?

Ipsos MRBI (2017) Social Networking Infographic – August 2017

Here’s a simple guide by Forbes on how to host a Tweet Chat that might answer any further questions you might have.

Today's post was written by Amye Quigley and Siobhan McGuinness.

Amye Quigley is an Executive Librarian. She has recently joined Kildare County Library and Arts Services.

Siobhan McGuinness is a Social Media Digital Marketing Coordinator, she is also part of the Rudaí 23 team.

Siobhan McGuinness
Amye Quigley

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Rudai 23 Networking Event - meet your fellow participants

The Western Regional Section of the Library Association of Ireland (WRSLAI) is pleased to announce its annual Winter Networking Morning. This networking event is all about Rudai 23, we will be having our official launch of the course, and you the participants are the guests of honour!

This will be an opportunity to meet fellow Rudai 23 participants if you are participating in the course, or learn more about the course if you are interested in signing up. We would love to meet some of you in person and chat about how you feel the course is going for you.

We are excited to be the first Library Association of Ireland Section to be awarding Digital Open Badges for CPD activities. Digital Open Badges is a new and emerging field and you can learn more about why we chose to use them and how you can apply them in your workplace or educational institution from our Secretary and Rudai 23 Manager Niamh O’Donovan.

Also, if you’ve ever thought about putting together a Social Media Strategy for your workplace then you can learn more about what is involved from our Treasurer Michelle Breen. Michelle will share her experiences of putting together a Social Media Strategy for the Glucksman Library in University of Limerick.

Our networking events are a good way to meet other people in the information profession based in the West of Ireland. We realise a lot of you are not based in the West of Ireland, or in Ireland for that matter.

If you can make it however, you will receive a warm welcome, some good coffee and refreshments and come away inspired with new ideas and new connections. 

The venue is Ballybane Library, Castlepark Road, Ballybane, Galway.
Monday 20th November, 10.30 - 12.30

This event is free. Please book your place via this link.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Visual Communicator Things are now complete, it's time for a break

Pause, breathe, Visual Communicator section is almost complete.

This is a round-up of what we have covered and what you have worked through during the Visual Communicator section of the Rudaí23 course to date. We wanted to take time out to look back through Things 1- 9 of the course and look forward to the next stage of the course, the Online Networker badge, beginning in November.

The Rudaí23 course began in early September and since then we have covered 9 ‘Things’. We asked everyone to set up a blog and you responded with some great titles and designs. Wordpress and Blogger were the most popular platforms but some of you were adventurous enough to try out Tumblr. Congratulations on getting this far.

You can follow the other Rudaí23 bloggers by going to the home page of our blog and clicking on any of the blogs listed in our live feed on the left side of the screen. If you want to follow the blogs using a blog reader like Feedly you will find instructions here.

Things 1 – 9 covered a range of tools that you will hopefully find useful in the future for your visual communication needs: Flickr, Pixabay, Photofunia, RIPL, Powtoon, Screencast-o-matic, Canva and PIktochart. We also looked at Copyright and Creative Commons and appropriate uses of both. We hope you will be able to apply some of what you learned in your place of work and share it with your colleagues.

We were thrilled to see so many of you share your creations with us on Twitter, and we look forward to this network growing as we enter the Online Networker section of the course. To date, we have over 100 members in our Rudaí23 Facebook Group and670 followers on our Twitter account.

Here is a short checklist that we’ve put together so that you can check where you are at this stage in your progression through the course.

Have you reviewed the Digital Badges FAQ page here?

Have you read our Digital Badges "how to" guide here?

Have you applied for your Sample Badge? If not, apply here.

Have you written a blog post for Thing 2 and one Reflective Practice blog post – for either Thing 6 or Thing 9 in your progression towards the Badge? Our brochure explains the combination of Things you need to complete.

If you’ve completed the above steps you are now ready to apply for the Visual Communicator badge. Please include a link to your Reflective Practice blog post for Thing 6 or 9 in your application. It is important that this link is correct as this will then be tied to the badge and will act as evidence of you having met the criteria for earning the badge. You can apply for the badge here.

The next part of the course will begin on November 11th, with a section called Online Networker, covering Things 10 – 18 and including tools for networking, collaboration and developing your professional online persona.

Enjoy your break in between the Visual Communicator and Online Networker sections. Feel free to use this time to catch up or just start afresh and please ask any of our team for assistance if you are struggling.

If you are new to the Rudai 23 course and would like to begin with our Online Networker section of the course please read Thing 1 and Thing 2 first, and then register here. To find out more about the course download our brochure here. If you missed out on the Visual Communicator section of the course but would like to do it now, you can access the Things via our homepage.

For each section of the course you complete you will be eligible to apply for a digital open badge accredited by the Library Association of Ireland.

Registration for this course will remain open throughout the course. You can sign up any time, and complete the modules at your own pace.

Looking forward to catching up again in November.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Thing 9: Reflective Practice

Welcome to Thing 9, the final Thing in the Visual Communicator section of the course. Congratulations on reaching this point in the course. We hope that you've enjoyed it so far. Now that we are at the end of the Visual Communicator section we are delighted to announce that the Visual Communicator badge is open for applications.

Because the Visual Communicator section of the course is so large, we divided it into two options. If you have completed Things 3, 4, 5 & 6 (option 1) then you have done enough to apply for a Digital Open Badge.

Option 2 consists of Things 3, 7, 8 & 9. You must write about your experiences of having completed the tasks in either Option 1 or Option 2 in your reflective practice post.

Thing 9 is a repeat of Thing 6 so you may want to read through this blog post simply to refresh your memory before you write your reflective practice post, if you haven't done so already.

The purpose of these reflective practices are to enhance your learning and application of skills through critical thinking and self-reflection.

Reflective Practice can be defined as the capacity to reflect on actions so as to engage in a process of continuous learning (Schön, 1983). 

We chose to use a reflective practice blog as an assessment tool as it matches the format used in the original 23 Things. Blogging as an activity is reflective in nature and is an ideal method of self-directed learning. 

Earning your Open Digital Badge

We have mentioned digital badges a lot on Rudaí 23 and have a great FAQ section on them available here if you’re still a bit hazy on the whole subject. You can also read about how to apply for a badge here.

What we need:

To be eligible to apply for a digital badge, the quality of your reflective post will be assessed.

  • We are looking to see if all aspects of the tasks in Things 3, 7 and 8 are completed and you show good understanding of the topics. 

  • We want to see that you demonstrate an ability to appraise the tools based on your experience in using them;
  • Give evidence of their practical application;
  • Give your thoughts and opinions on using them including your problems or successes, likes or dislikes, you don’t have to agree with us, but detail why;
  • Detail any changes you would make next time round.

Reflective writing is something that takes a bit of practice, there are many articles and books written on the topic. Here we hope to give you an overview, along with some guidance and examples to get you started. So don’t panic yet!

How to write reflectively

It’s best to just dive in the deep end here and give you an example of a reflective practice model that is widely used and basically provides a ‘how to’ guide to reflective writing. In this post we recommend using the Gibbs Reflective Cycle:

Gibbs, G. (1988) Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford.

Things 13, 18 and 22 will provide you with alternative styles and theories on reflective writing, but ultimately your reflective posts for all four Things will be off the same standard necessary for gaining your badge. But remember, they are still deeply personal to you.

Let’s take it in small steps:

Step 1 Description

To help you with the structure of your post, you can begin by describing what you are asked to do. Things 3, 7 and 8 all outline a task for you to complete. You don’t have to go into too much depth here, it’s sufficient to mention the tasks you choose to compete for each of the Things, as options are available. You can also link back to your blog entries for Things 3, 7 and 8 if you completed any.

Step 2 Feelings

To start the reflection process we need to consider our feelings. Was it a negative or positive situation? Did it work and how did I feel about that? What was the end result? For example:

Steps 3-4 Evaluation & Analysis

We now must go further and analyse the impact and outcome of the task. Can you apply any learning theory to the situation? Did you have all the skills necessary to complete the task or was it a steep learning curve? If you had previous knowledge of other applications would this have helped? Did you get any help? Would help have made the task easier? What did you learn and what changes would you make if faced with the task in the future?

For example:

Steps 5-6 Conclusion and Action Plan

Finally, for the deepest level of reflection, you must assess what you would do if you had to repeat this task or something similar, what progress you have made and how your views and opinions of the task have changed. It is the deepest level of reflection. Ask yourself, what did I learn? In what way has it assisted my learning? Could I have applied this task to a situation in the past? Where could I use this knowledge in the future?

For example:

Wrapping up

Hopefully these examples illustrate the difference between superficial reflection and deeper reflection. Atkins and Murphy (1994) state that the skills to write reflectively comprise: self-awareness, description, critical analysis, synthesis and evaluation. As educated information professionals, we have these skills; it is just a matter of learning how to apply them effectively.

Your task for Thing 9 is:

Write a deeply reflective practice post concerning your experience with Things 3, 7 and 8. We understand that it may take too much time to apply Gibbs cycle to each of the Things, so it is sufficient to give us examples of all the tasks you have completed, and choose one or two of the tasks to deeply reflect on for each of the steps in the cycle. Gaining the skill to reflect deeply on your actions leads to further understanding (Smyth, 1992) and reflection is the core of blogging, so we are delighted to accompany you on this process.

Applications for the Visual Communicator Badge are now open. 

Click here to apply for the Visual Communicator Badge.

 There is no deadline to get your application in, it will remain open for the extent of the course.

Best of luck and if you have any questions at all; use the comment feature below, email us at, contact your moderator or shout out to us on Twitter @rudai23 #Rudai23.

Thing 9 was written by Stephanie Ronan


Atkins, S. and Murphy, K. (1994). Reflective Practice. Nursing Standard 8(39) 49-56.

Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford.

Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

Smyth, W. J. (1992). Teachers’ work and the politics of reflection. American Educational Research Journal, 29(2), 267-300.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Thing 8: Infographics

Infographics are a useful way to convey data in an easily readable and digestible format that is also visually pleasing. They have evolved over time to become almost an art form. You will frequently see infographics used in the newspaper to convey complex information on the economy or statistics from a Census report, for example but they have many more uses.

Often the design and layout of an infographic is just as important as the content or data within. Reading a well-designed infographic can be an enjoyable experience. Creating a good infographic can be a daunting prospect. By breaking down the process into simple steps and following a few basic rules however, you should be able to put together something simple and effective.
Figure 1: Example of a
Business Infographic

Why Infographics?

Creating a visually appealing image to convey a message or provide data that can be quickly digested can help make a presentation more interesting and capture an audience's attention. Using infographics as part of your presentation or to highlight some achievement in your library could be the key to getting much needed funding at budget time. 

As information professionals, we all know about the impact that libraries have on a community.  Often it is not possible to record that impact as a statistic or a service indicator. Creating a visually striking infographic that highlights how libraries contribute to and change lives can be an effective way to advocate for libraries.

Many conferences offer the opportunity to present at poster sessions - infographics are the perfect medium for these sessions. They are a perfect way to present information to a passing audience. You can print off smaller versions as fliers, including your contact details for further networking opportunities. Poster presentations are a great way to practice at presenting and increase your confidence if you're not ready to speak to a large audience. 

Figure 2: This infographic
is free to reuse, see the link below. 

Getting Started 

The best infographics may look like they were simple to create but behind the simplicity is a lot of well planned design.  There are several great free tools available online to create infographics and in this Thing we are going to focus on two:  Piktochart  and Canva. 

Both web tools are very similar so it will be down to personal preference as to which one you decide to use. Both provide the option to create a free account and also to upgrade to a pro account. The free version of Canva allows you to download your creations as a JPEG or a PDF. The free version of Piktochart only allows users to download their creations as JPEGs, you have to upgrade to download as PDFs. PDFs are sometimes preferable for printing and emailing.


Go to the Piktochart homepage and select the Start for Free option on the homepage.

Type in your desired account details or connect through your Facebook account.

Choose the Personal Usage option and give them as much or as little information about yourself as you are comfortable with and once you’ve done that you will get a ‘Start Creating’ option on your screen.

Within Piktochart you have a menu of options on the left – select the second one ‘Infograph'.

It’s important at this stage to have an idea what sort of information you are going to present so that you select a suitable template. For example, if you want to show a trend in borrowed books in your library from the school holidays to September you might want to use a template that contains a timeline.

Select a template and you will be brought to an editing page.

If it's your first time using Piktochart you will be offered the opportunity to watch an introductory video, or 'take a tour' of the elements of the page. We would recommend you do this if possible to help you get started.

Figure 3: Piktochart's selection of templastes. 

The menu on the left of the screen houses all that you need for your infographic and will allow you to do the following:

  • Use Uploads to add your own images or logos (file size limit is 40MB on the free account)
  • Use Background to change the colour or pattern on your infograph
  • Use Text to choose a font or style of text that suits
  • The built-in colour schemes mean that you don’t have to agonise over colour combinations
  • Tools allows you to add charts, videos or maps.
  • Once you start to make changes and put in any work on your infograph it’s important to give the file a name and save it.

Your files are saved in your Piktochart account and when you’ve finished creating them you may download them.

Double click on any area within the template that you want to edit. Much of the imagery and icons can be dropped and dragged, boxes can be resized and moved around.

We suggest using the preview button at intervals to see what your infograph looks like. With a free Piktochart account you can download JPEGs only and your creation will contain a Piktochart watermark.

At the moment Piktochart are also offering PNG file downloads as a trial. PNG is useful if you plan to share your Piktochart online, as it's a smaller file size but doesn't lose quality.


Canva offers not just infographics but a whole range of marketing material with impressive professional looking templates. You can sign up to Canva in the same way as Piktochart, for a free account.

On the Canva homepage you will see a wide variety of templates for all the social media platforms. These can be useful if you're developing a brand, or you want to promote the same content across various social media platforms. Depending on whether you're designing something for Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, you can choose a template that will be formatted exactly to the dimensions required by that social media platform.

Figure 4: Canva's choice of templates to get yous started. 

On the left of the Canva homepage you will see a menu. Here, you can set up teams with other Canva users and share your work, see items shared with you and upload your brand colours so that they appear in the colour options when designing your content.

Like Piktochart, Canva has a number of extra elements that are only available to Pro users or Canva for Work. It also has a pay as you go system so that you can purchase some elements while keeping the free account. It's very easy to create documents for free however.

For your first attempt at Canva we would recommend starting with a template. You will find the Infographics template under the Blogging and eBooks templates on the homepage.

When you click on Infographs, a new editing page will open. On the left of this page are a list of templates; rest the mouse over each one to see if they're free or contain paid content.

Sometimes I select a paid content template as a starting point, if I really like it, and insert my own uploaded images instead of the paid ones. You can easily tell which elements in the template cost money if you click on 'Download' on the top right of the screen. A list of the items and their prices will appear.

The menu to the left of the templates allows you to search for elements, add text, change the background or upload your own files. Across the top of the screen you can edit the font type, size, colour and spacing.

Canva allows you to download your document as a JPEG, PDF, or PNG. Canva has also introduced new social sharing and embedding options which make sharing your content even easier.

I have used the free version of Canva for years and it is my go-to tool for creating all of my visual marking material. Gradually over the years however the free content has reduced and it has become more difficult to find it among all the paid elements. Hopefully it wont become a paid-only service as it is definitely one of the best free graphic design tools available on the web.

Piktochart appears to have the advantage over Canva for creating infographics however. In Piktochart the infographics are constructed in blocks so that you can resize them or add or take away sections of data quickly.

If you are creating an infograph that contains a lot of numerical statistics, both Canva and Piktochart allow you to copy and paste your numbers from a spread sheet direct into the editing area of each graph.  Double click on the graph icon on your chosen template and a window appears where you can input your data quickly. Piktochart allows you to do this with many of its icons however, not just the graph ones.

Figure 5 : Piktochart's impressive map tool allows you to choose any
country and edit it to suit the data you want to represent. 

How to Produce a Good Infographic

A good infographic should stand out because of its simplicity and its ability to communicate a message in a way that is both clear and engaging. Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating infographics:

Figure 6: The Piktochart templates
contain useful tips to get you started. 


  • Create an attention grabbing headline for your infographic.
  • Know your audience and tailor the content like you would do in a presentation.
  • Keep it simple - highlight key items in your data rather than displaying everything.
  • Keep paragraphs short. 
  • The data should follow a logical path from start to finish. 
  • Cite the sources of the data used in the infograph and check your facts.


  • Keep the illustrations fun and simple. 
  • Limit your use of fonts to a maximum of two. 
  • Use complimentary colours, again limiting yourself to two or three. 
  • Keep the layout balanced. 
  • Copy and paste is your friend - once you've created a text box or paragraph with font and colours that you're satisified with, copy and paste this and rewrite the text so that the same style is repeated throughout the chart. This saves you time and ensures continuity throughout your infograph. 
  • Use alignment tools and grids to ensure your objects are aligned and spaced correctly.
  • Group objects together once they're aligned so that you can move them as one, without losing the alignment. 

If you take a look at the example we've included further up in this post,  'I am a Social Librarian' you will see that they have employed all of these rules. You can also view this infographic here.

If I were to create an infographic that looked like the Social Librarian one, this is how I would approach it: 

Decide on the content. 
I would break down what I want to say into 4 or 5 groups (in this case five). Write each group into notepad.

Design the structure.
The number of groups of information will then dictate the layout - in this case the information is split into five clear rows, with visual elements alternating in their vertical alignment to create an informal but balanced layout.

Choose five graphics - one to complement each group.
The graphics in this example are very advanced but Canva and Piktochart have plenty of good graphics to choose from.

Choose one or two graphics that are repeated throughout to link everything.
Note the dotted lines and the brackets icon that help the viewer follow a path and create continuity throughout the image.

Write the Content
I would then write my text content for the first element.  Once I've settled on a font and colour that I like I would copy and paste this element four times and place it in the other four areas of my graph. I then edit the text and insert my data.

Choosing a Font
Keep the font decisions until the end so that you don't get lost in a time-wasting font vortex. Choose a font that is 'Sans-Serif' and avoid overly ornate fonts that are difficult to read. Think about the size of the end product - will it be printed in large format or shared on social media?- and let this dictate your font sizes. 

Figure 7: An easy infograhpic to
put together for your Library. 

How to recognise a ‘bad’ infographic

Bad infographics are easily recognisable as you will find yourself quickly switching off or turning away rather than investing your time in reading the content. Usually they will contains some of the following features:

  • A cluttered layout with very little space.
  • Clashing colours.
  • No obvious 'flow' to the order of the information or text.
  • Too much text, and too much information. 

Your Tasks for Thing 8 are:

Consider a report that you recently produced or read. Do you think an infographic would better represent the data? What impact would this have on the reader?

Experiment with Piktochart or Canva  and put together an informative poster or graphic on an easy topic such as a recommended reads list (see Figure 5).

Think about your experiences. If you have not written a Reflective Practice blog post from Thing 6 you can include your experience in your Reflective Practice blog post for Thing 9.

You are not required to blog about your experiences for each Thing, but it helps. You will be asked to write one Reflective Practice blog post in order to apply for the Visual Communicator Badge. If you have written a Reflective Practice post for Thing 6 then you can use this to apply for the Visual Communicator Badge. This application will open after Thing 9 is published.

Further Reading:

A seminal text on data visualisation is The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte and is worth a read if you want to learn more about this discipline.

Take a look at our Evernote notebook for the Communicating Visually section of the course for more articles on the apps mentioned in this blog post.

Image Sources

Figure 1:
Figure 2:
Figure 3:
Figure 4:
Figure 5:
Figure 6:
Figure 7: Cincinatti Library, Ohio, US.

Thing 8 Infographs was written collaboratively by Niamh O'Donovan, Galway Public Libraries and Michelle Breen, Librarian at University of Limerick, Ireland.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Thing 7.5 : Storytelling with Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook

The Visual Communicator section of this course is probably the most information-dense part of the whole course. So much so, that we decided to break it up into two sections to make it more manageable: Option 1 and Option 2. Despite this, we found that we still had more that we wanted to share with you. So you are getting this bonus Thing - Thing 7.5 Storytelling with Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. 

This Thing is not compulsory, and you do not have to complete any tasks or blog about your experience in order to be eligible for our Visual Communicator Badge. 

In our most recent blog post, Thing 7: Online Exhibitions we showed you how to create your own visual display online. This is a planned and formal way to present information visually online.

If you want to present a story in an informal way, direct to your followers, the Stories feature found in apps like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook is something to consider. The Stories feature, first developed by Snapchat and more recently adopted by Facebook and Instagram is growing in popularity and is definitely a preferred method of communication for the younger social media users. This feature allows you to share video and photos immediately via your phone, annotate the images with text, emoji and links, giving a real-time feel of what is happening in your library at that moment.

Users who are on these platforms know how this works and use the features extensively; they in turn expect to see stories that are quick to digest, playful, clever and interesting. If you run an institutional social media account and you want to target young people, then you are missing out if you're not using Stories to connect with them.

When you share a moment, usually a photo or video from your phone, to your story, the collective images become a slideshow that people can watch over and over, thereby increasing your viewing figures. This is important if you need to demonstrate the value of what you are doing in a work sense and it’s nice if you’re the vain type who likes to keep count of your number of views.

The apps allow you to edit your images, even write or doodle on them, add filters or geotags (a device that identifies your location). The photos and videos disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in your feed.

Sharing Your Story on Instagram

Before you create your first story you should explore a few stories from Instagram users that you follow to see how other people are using it. When you open the Instagram app you will see a row of circled profiles of the people you follow across the top. Tap on a circle and you'll see that person's story.

Figure 1.

Tap the screen to skip through the images if there are more than one and swipe right or left to jump to another person’s story. Unlike regular Instagram posts, there are no likes or public comments on stories. You can message the person who's story you are viewing directly and the message will appear in their inbox.

Figure 2 

So, ready to make your own story?

Before you begin, make sure your Instagram app is up-to-date, check for the latest version in the Google Play Store or the iOS App Store.
Check your privacy settings are as you want them to be. You will find the settings area in your profile page (see figure 2.). From here, you can select specific people whom you do not want to see your stories and also choose whom you want to be able to send you messages from your stories (see figure 3.).

Depending on whether you are using an iPhone or an Android device the steps to creating a story on Instagram can differ slightly.

Figure 3

When you’re ready to create your first story, tap on your profile image with the + button at the top left of your Instagram home-screen or profile page (see figures 1. and 4.). From here, you can use the icons at the bottom of your screen from left to right to:

  • Add a photo or video from your phone gallery. 
  • Configure flash settings. 
  • Take a photo or video - tap to take a photo and hold down the button to take a video up to 10 seconds long. 
  • Switch the camera from front- to rear-facing.
  • Add a filter. 

Swipe the menu at the very bottom of the screen from left to right to chose between:

  • A live video 
  • A normal video or photo
  • A boomerang - a looped video that plays backwards and forwards continuously.
  • A rewind video.
  • Or hands free - allowing you to record video for 15 seconds without having to continuously hold down the button. 

Figure 4. 
 Once you have finished taking your photo or recording your video, you can now add text or draw on your photo or video using the options at the top right of the screen. At the bottom of the screen you have the option to download the photo or video to your camera roll.

If you’re satisfied with your edits and text, tap on the circle with the + symbol at the bottom  of the screen to add the photo or video to your story (see figure 5. ). If you tap 'next' you will be given the option to send your story directly to one of your followers but this is probably not something you want to do if you're using an institutional account.

Your story is now available to view via your profile picture at the top of the news-feed, right next to the stories from people you follow. Your photo will always appear first so you can easily access your current story at all times.

Figure 5

To add more photos or videos to your story tap  and hold the circled + icon at the top left  of your home screen, or your profile page (see figure 1. and 4.). Each new video or photo you take will be added to the end of your story and lasts for 24 hours.

Sharing Your Story on Snapchat

Snapchat is the original and most popular social storytelling app; every day over 1 billion snaps are sent via Snapchat worldwide. Ireland is the top country for Snapchat usage and the stories feature of Snapchat is the most used feature of the app. It's no surprise then that a growing number of libraries are using Snapchat for communications.

For a comprehensive list of libraries on Snapchat check out Librarian Enumerations blogpost here.

To create a story on Snapchat the steps are relatively the same as Instagram with a few extra features that Instagram doesn't offer.  There are a number of ways to get started. Option one is to tap on the plus symbol in the top-right hand corner of Stories section. From here you can create a story either for your followers, or publicly based on your location (see figure 6.).

Alternatively you can go directly to the screen to take a photo.

  • Tap on the circle in the bottom centre of your screen to take a snap.
  • Hold down the circle to take a video up to 10 seconds long. 
  • Explore the icons on the right-hand side to add text, colours and draw shapes. 
  • Swipe right to add icons such as your location, the date, filters and the temperature. 
  • Double tap the screen to swap between the front and rear-facing cameras. 

Figure 6.

Adding Your Snap or Video to Your Story

Once you've created your snap or video tap on the arrow on the bottom right marked 'send to'. You can now chose to add it to 'your story' or 'our story'.  Our Story is more publicly shared and can be discovered by people not following you, based on your location.

Figure 7.

To add more photos or videos to your story tap on the circled + icon at the top left to record more video or take a photo. Each new video or photo you take will be added to the end of your story and lasts for 24 hours.

Useful Snapchat Extras

Using Filters in Snapchat

When in selfie-mode, before you take a snap or video, tap on the image of your face and a list of filter options for your face will appear. - this is the fun bit.
Swipe this list to the left to try out the different filters - try raising your eyebrows or smiling to see the filters move and respond to your facial gestures.
Try the face-swap filter - this is the one with the two smiley faces. Grab a patron, or a book with a face on it and see what happens.
When you have chosen a filter you can either take a snap or record a video of yourself talking with this filter.

Saving Snaps

You can and should invite viewers to screenshot certain snaps that contained detailed information, as these will have disappeared after 24 hours.  This is useful if you're sharing timetables or other essential information. Likewise, if you see something interesting on someone’s Snap you should grab a screenshot, it might not be there the next time you remember to check back in.


Geofilters are a location-based overlay that can be added to a user's snaps. You are in theory supposed to be able to create your own geo-filter for your institution and submit it to Snapchat for approval. If successful, your geofilter will appear as an option for anyone who's sharing snaps while in your institution or library. This feature seems to have taken some time to fully develop, and it appears that Snapchat are now charging for the on-demand filters, and it's only available in the UK, US and Canada.

Sharing Your Story on Facebook

Facebook Stories brings a new video format to Facebook that closely resembles Instagram Stories.

Facebook Stories sits at the top of your mobile news feed and has two distinct parts: Direct and Stories. You’ll find Direct at the top left-hand side of your news feed and you can access it by tapping the paper airplane icon (see Figure 8.)

Figure 8. 

Direct is a new private messaging feature linked with Stories, and it allows you to view any story images or videos sent to you directly. You can also see any replies to your own stories.

Remember, Direct is a separate feature from Messenger, and unlike Messenger, you can only start a conversation with a story image or video, not with text.

Stories proper is located in the remaining area along the top of the news feed. Here you’ll see circles that represent the stories (videos and images) posted by you and your friends. Just tap the relevant circle to view a story, which will consist of one or more videos or images, looking something like this:

Figure 9. 

You can respond by typing a reply at the bottom of the screen. This reply will be visible only to the person who sent the story but it’s wise to remember he or she could take a screen grab and share it!

You can only see a story once and the story creator will be able to see who’s viewed his or her story.

If you want to see all of someone’s story quickly or jump to a specific element, simply tap at the top to skim the content. If you want to skip to the next friend’s story, then swipe across the top instead.

To Create a Story on Facebook: 

  • Tap on the circle icon of your profile picture with the  + symbol. 
  • Swipe up to quickly scroll through some of the filter options.
  • Tap on the wand symbol to select from a more extensive menu of filters. 
  • Tap the button take a photo or hold it down to take video. 
  • Double tap the screen to switch between front and rear facing cameras. 
  • Tap the picture icon on the bottom right to chose pictures from your phone gallery. 
  • Swipe the menu at the bottom of the screen to chose between live video, normal or text. 

Once You've Created an Image or Video to Your Liking You Can: 

  • Add text and effects.
  • Save to your phone. 
  • Add to your story.
  • Send directly to a friend, post publicly or add to your story. 

Further Reading

Still not sure about using Stories? Read this blog post from our own Michelle Breen on how she uses Snapchat in the University of Limerick Library by employing a student to create and share content. 

Take a look at our Evernote notebook for the Communicating Visually section of the course for more articles on the apps mentioned in this blog post.

This blog post was written collaboratively by Michelle Breen, Siobhan McGuinness and Niamh O'Donovan.


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