Everyone loves Evernote…

Reebok Stadium, Horwich, Greater Manches by Matthew Wilkinson, on Flickr23 Things for Continued Professional Development has done for Evernote what a 4-0 win on the opening day of the new football season has done for Bolton Wanderers – put it suddenly and unexpectedly at the top of the table. Having been on the fringes for a long time Evernote now seems to be taking its place alongside the big boys of social media.


One good thing about being a few steps behind the rest of the CPD23 participants is that I get to see what they are writing about a tool before I write my post. Most of the posts and tweets I have seen written about Evernote have been positive and if the authors are not completely sold on it then they are at least open to giving it a try. That seems like a pretty good achievement to me, especially when we’ve seen other tools like Pushnote that have hardly been given the time of day.

I’ve had an Evernote account for just short of two years. When I started using it I was clipper happy but that only lasted a month or two before my account went dormant. And for at least a year it remained neglected. Recently however I’ve started using it again in earnest and it’s become a valuable tool in my arsenal.

So what changed? Well the main thing was that I had a real reason to use it. It has become my digital scrapbook and holding pen for things I want to blog about. I keep a notebook of links for my monthly reading round-up posts and jot down ideas for posts as they occur to me. The other thing that changed was that I became mobile. For so many social media tools the ability to access them anywhere and anytime is a crucial factor in my use of them, and Evernote is no exception.

Bolton Wanderers’ future at the top hangs in the balance as they take on Manchester City this weekend. Can they win and hold their position for a second week in a row? Evernote is in a similar position; can it maintain its place as the web clipping tool du jour? The crucial test, for me at least, is whether Evernote will remain part of my everyday routine. If so, I think it has longevity, but I’m all too aware that my account could easily slip into hibernation once more.

Image credit:  Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License by Matthew Wilkinson

Calendar complex

I have a complex about calendars or more specifically, Google Calendar.

Calendars are great, especially online calendars which can be shared with colleagues or loved ones.

I am super efficient about updating my Outlook calendar at work. I use it not only for appointments but also to schedule in time when I need to be working on something specific. This calendar is shared with colleageus so they can see where I am and schedule meetings. I do not have a print diary, instead I sync my Outlook calendar to a Google Calendar which I can access on my phone. Some of my colleagues however are wedded to print diaries and that’s fine if it works for them. But oh how I wish they would also maintain their Outlook calendars, if only so that I can better help students and staff who are trying to track them down.

So you will see that I mentioned before that I do have a Google Calendar. This is my personal calendar and I am useless at updating it. I’m not sure whether that’s because in reality there’s nothing much I need to put in it or whether because I have access to my wife’s Google Calendar, and she’s so good at updating, that I rely on that to see where I need to be and when. I am taking this thing as a prompt to help me get better at updating my Google Calendar. It’s not like it’s difficult, or that I don’t have it when I need it as it’s on my phone which I carry pretty much everywhere. It’s about getting in to a habit of entering events as they are arranged.

Face-off: online vs offline networks

In this post I am going to write about both thing 6 (online networks) and thing 7 (offline networks) of the 23 Things for Continuing Professional Development programme. This is partly because I’m so far behind, but mostly because I don’t feel I can talk about one without mentioning the other. I am also going to flip things around and write about offline networks first.

I am a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals), within that my special interest groups are the CDG (Career Development Group) and CoFHE (Colleges of Further and Higher Education).

I started my membership when I was doing my masters. My reason for joining was because it seemed like a good way to get an insight into the profession I was about to join and really who could say no to student membership for £38 for the year? What I found from that year of membership was that I didn’t really get much out of it so when it came to renewing, as a full-time worker on a moderate income, I didn’t feel it was worth the cost, and I didn’t miss it for the couple of years that I was on the outside.

I rejoined a couple of years ago because I had planned to charter. I haven’t done that yet, and increasingly am thinking that I never will, but I have found that I’m getting more out of CILIP now than I did before. Why is that? I think partly it’s down to the new regime under Annie Mauger who seems to be working hard to make CILIP relevant and useful to its members. Mostly however I think it’s because I’m more engaged with what’s going on in the special interest groups and my local branch. The West Midlands branch is really active and there’s a lot of good stuff being done.

In addition to CILIP I am also a member (through my institution) of the BLA (Business Librarians Association) and this is an absolutely invaluable network to be part of. The events run by the group are second to none as they have direct relevance and application to my day to day work. The conference, as I have mentioned before, is the highlight of my working year. You might say I am biased because I am also on the BLA committee. Being so involved in this group has played a major part in my development in the profession, it’s given me opportunities and challenges that I feel have helped me to become better at what I do.

You know that motto ‘you get out what you put in’? I think this is especially true with professional organisations such as these.

Other than Twitter I can’t say that I use any other online network to its full potential for professional networking. I am a member of LinkedIn, LISNPN and CILIP Communities but the truth is that I just don’t use them unless I’m directed there to look at something. Largely I use them as an add-on to the face-to-face interactions that I get through the offline networks. On LinkedIn I a member of the CILIP and BLA groups which provides an oportunity for communication between events. I contribute to CILIP Communities as a blogger, but the forums are something which I’ve never really got in to.

With the BLA I have tried to initiate more online discussion. I revamped the forum when I took over as Web Officer, but it rarely got used and has wasted away. We’ve got a hashtag on Twitter which is used a little. I think the reason none of these has taken off is because of the success of the LIS-Business email list. Between events this is where the community lives and interacts, and it works so why change it.

So what’s my conclusion? Before I started writing this post I had this in mind as my closing statement:

Online and offline networks each have their own benefits, neither is superior and together they make an awesome team.

As I have been writing though I’ve realised that without Twitter in the equation the online networks just don’t do it for me. The offline networks have by far the most value for me as a professional.

The result
Offline: 1
Online: 0