Come to MozFest!

Come to MozFest!

The annual MozFest is held in London, every October. MozFest is an annual celebration of the open Internet movement. It’s where passionate technologists, educators, and makers come together to explore the future of the open Web.

I attended in 2016 thanks to an SCL Digital Leaders bursary, along with a bunch of librarians from across the country. Over the course of the weekend we became a band of merry #MozLibs. Half of the 2017 gang went again in 2017 and we were delighted to be joined by a new group of SCL sponsored library folk.

The #MozLibs movement is definitely growing, and there is still time for you to get involved! If you are interested in digital inclusion, web literacy, the open internet, innovation, digital technology, collaboration, people centred change, or generally how we can make the world a better place – then MozFest is definitely worth a look!

The festival is divided into themed spaces (Digital Inclusion, Decentralization, Web Literacy, Youth Zone, Privacy and Security, Openess, Queering and Neurodiversity), where a diverse range of workshops, sessions and talks are run by real people, with real knowledge or simply a question that we can all contribute to. You can get hands on with digital making or get your head around a lively debate.

You still need convincing? Here are some of my favourite reasons to come along:

  • You will meet some really great people from around the world (1,600+ participants from 50+ countries).
  • It will stretch your mind, challenge your thinking and enable you to learn loads of new things.
  • You can share your knowledge and passions and relate them to people ready to absorb or challenge your perspective.
  • You will find ways to be truly forward thinking within the library sector.
  • It’s on your doorstep… seriously, people travel from around the globe, but for us it’s a train trip away.
  • You can join a fun loving group of library people, all proud to be representing libraries and how we can play a core role in a healthier internet – it’s all about people afterall!
  • You will have a totally awesome time!

If you’re free, come along!

Tickets are available online.

But if you can’t be there in person, be sure to check out #MozLibs.

Library Carpentry South West

Library Carpentry South West

What is Library Carpentry? It is a toolkit providing core lessons to help build librarians’ knowledge, skills and confidence of data and software tools, including:

  • Data intro
  • Shell
  • OpenRefine
  • Git intro
  • Python intro
  • SQL

Library Carpentry was the winner of the 2016 British Library Labs Teaching and Learning Award. This provided funding, which Somerset Libraries Glass Box Project bid for to run a workshop for librarians across the South West (and further afield).

Purpose? The Library Carpentry pages say:  ‘Library Carpentry is made by librarians, for librarians to help you:

  • automate repetitive, boring, error-prone tasks
  • create, maintain and analyse sustainable and reusable data
  • work effectively with IT and systems colleagues
  • better understand the use of software in research
  • and much more…

Library Carpentry introduces you to the fundamentals of computing and provides you with a platform for further self-directed learning.’

Target audience? Library professionals

How might it be used? The modules have been developed and published under Creative Commons to be delivered in face to face workshops, used online for self directed learning or adapted by library professsionals. We ran our Library Carpentry South West workshop recently – I have included details of what we did below.

How to find out more? There is a lot of information on the Library Carpentry GitHub pages. You can access the modules online. Also check out Twitter @libcarpentry and #librarycarpentry.

Recipe we used for Library Carpentry South West

I’ve had a few requests for information about how others can organise a Library Carpentry event. There’s loads of information on the Library Carpentry pages and I hope our recipe for a successful event is also helpful:

  1. 1 host – this was me as part of the Somerset Libraries team. We’ve been working on an experimental digital collaboration space for a year and Library Carpentry leapt out as an obvious fit.
  2. 1 trainer – this is the most essential ingredient! Dave Rowe is a software engineer and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) developer. He works as a library systems officer, freelance developer and CTO for CartoConsult. He knows his stuff! Dave and I collaborated on the event from the start, as we were both tweeting about the opportunity at the same time, knew each other and were in a similar locality. Finding a confident presenter with a good working knowledge of the content is key.
  3. 2 or 3 Modules/Lessons – we selected the modules by creating google doc survey that we circulated on Twitter. This helped us to choose content that was relevant and also collect contact details for potential attendees. As a mapping enthusiast Dave also offered to create an ‘Everyone loves maps’ module, which was a very popular choice.
  4. 1 date – this was set a couple of months in advance (after a couple of attempts to get it right).
  5. 1 space booked – we chose the Glass Box Taunton, which has good Wi-Fi, large screen (although the bigger the better), electric for laptops to plug in, plus tables and chairs set up for group work.
  6. 1 online booking page created – we used Eventbrite (click view details). We always overbook by about 10% to get a good turnout. We had bookings from public, health and academic library workers.
  7. A good pinch of promotion – we spread the word via social media, our networks and the Library Carpentry pages.
  8. 1 planned timetable.
  9. 2 emails to attendees – it’s important to keep in touch with the event participants, providing information about IT kit to bring (we had laptops to borrow if required), location and transport, confirmed timings etc. This also reminds people to get in touch if they can no longer make it.
  10. At least 1 helper – I am no expert, but working through some of the tasks in advance allowed me to help out with some of the group data tasks.
  11. Plentiful refreshments – we had funding for this, but the ‘library camp’ style lunch could also work – everyone brings something to share. There is a lot of group discussion so water, tea and coffee was essential. The WI cakes from the local market also went down a treat!
  12. 20 sheets of flipchart paper and pens that work (I’d recommend not using your daughter’s dried out felt tips).
  13. 2 or 3 helpful hands to support with room layout, signposting and general navigation of the day (Thanks Catherine, Olly, Emma, Christina and Mandy – ok then, the more the better!)
  14. Enjoy a fun, mind stretching day!

The content of our event can be viewed in full (well apart from our group discussions) at: Library Carpentry South West. You can also view the tweets at #librarycarpentry.

I’d like to thank Dave for his time and efforts in making the day a success, everyone who attended and helped on the day, the creators of Library Carpentry and British Library Lab for funding the event.

Mozilla Clubs

Mozilla Clubs

I was drawn to the Mozilla Clubs session as an opportunity to find a new method for building web literacy – ensuring the internet is open and accessible to everyone. As libraries know, it’s not simply about access, there is a need for skills and confidence as well.


Mozilla Clubs can be set up anywhere to teach local communities web literacy. I got to speak to a Mozilla Club coordinator who is enabling communities across India to collaborate and build their knowledge of the web; where there is no internet access the learning is still passed on in order to empower individuals with knowledge.

To form a Mozilla Club you need:

  1. A club captain – that could be you or a dedicated volunteer. Training and a network contact is available.
  2. A venue – we have plenty of them!
  3. Members from the local community – you could invite the whole community or target groups e.g. girls.
  4. A learning plan – resources and tools are available and can be tailored to local need. The curriculum is ‘free, open and educator tested’

Find out more and get started: Mozilla Clubs; eeek look there is even a page especially for us: Hosting a Mozilla club in your library

Be sure to check out Maker Parties too!


More about my MozFest adventures.

Sharing the knowledge gained from the adventure that was MozFest 2016. Big thanks to SCL for the bursary that enabled me to attend. 

iPad Orchestra

iPad Orchestra

I could see immediately how this iPad Orchestra workshop could work well in a library:

  • Knowledgable cultural partners (A Little Learning with Transformance Music were awesome!)
  • Children and families getting hands-on with digital in a fun and engaging way
  • Intergenerational groups – confidence building through collaboration

It felt like I was in a library! #LearnInLibraries



The session leaders explained the stages in the process, we went into groups to create some music, returning to hear each group’s creation and all had a chance to comment – the feedback from the young people was well considered and exceptional!


A few tools that the session required:

  • iPads preloaded with the GarageBand app.
  • A portable speaker (a Mini Rig was recommended).
  • Headphones.

If Transformance Music or A Little Learning were near a Somerset library, I would certainly pick up the phone today!

You can read more about the session at the Arts Award Voice blog.



More about my MozFest adventures.

Sharing the knowledge gained from the adventure that was MozFest 2016. Big thanks to SCL for the bursary that enabled me to attend. 

Order of Balance

Order of Balance

At the end of the first day at MozFest we got to follow the Order of Balance – a ‘mega secret order of monks that maintain the smooth and blessed running of the I n t e r w e b.  The Order of Balance is the greatest public service that the world has never heard of.’

Hover over the images for an explanation (although there really is no explaining this). You kind of had to be there!!


More about my MozFest adventures.

Sharing the knowledge gained from the adventure that was MozFest 2016. Big thanks to SCL for the bursary that enabled me to attend. 

Chattanooga Library – A Fresh Approach

I was completely inspired when I met Corinne Hill, Director at Chattanooga Public Library, in August 2014 at the Exeter Libraries Constant Evolution event.

So I was super excited at the chance to hear Corinne talk again at the SCL Digital Leaders Pilot, accompanied this time by her wingman, Deputy Director, Nate Hill.

The 4th Floor of Chattanooga library has been converted into a community workspace and innovation hub which includes:

  • Art Lab with a writer in residence and zines
  • Maker Lab with 3D Printer, loom and arduino night
  • Gig Lab with networking classes (public participation), 4K streaming and public projects
  • Civic Lab with mesh networking, map time and data portal

Whilst this development is pretty awesome, it is the leadership in Chattanooga that I believe we can learn from.

Both Corinne and Nate are open and generous. Here are some of the things discussed on the SCL Digital Leaders Pilot, but also take a look at my previous blog:  Innovation – through the eyes of a mercenary librarian

“Best collaborators in town”

It was clear that Nate had really gone outside of the library building to reach out to local groups and to work with the community to grow what they wanted. They set out to be ‘the best collaborators in town’.

The type of events they concentrated on initially were small business pitch nights with business accelerators, 3D maker day with business accelerator, events with hobbyists and University students.

They also highlighted the importance of solid strategic partners as a key to turning around the storytelling and reputation of their organisation.

Staff as community figures – Open, accessible and “exposed”

Corinne talked about the library team base being ‘exposed’ in the public space on 4th floor – this includes the web developer and LMS team. Everyone who works in this space are now community figures. They participate with the community and they all go out to events.

As the Director, Corinne had to rethink what librarians are allowed to – not questioning whether the events they attended are ‘relevant’.  This empowered staff to take on a community organising role , which in turn reached different audiences by being involved in a variety of community groups and events.

Attitude – Recruit the right people and then trust them

Corinne places the right attitude high of her attributes list when recruiting, saying “you have to fit in to the workplace culture”. Other skills and attributes that are key for the role of ‘smart person’ include:

  • a natural interest in technology
  • excellent customer service skills
  • need to be curious enough to learn as technology to changes
  • set an example for how other people could use the space.

To recruit the right people they initially changed the job advert and retained the job description, but they have subsequently changed the job description now they know it works.

Hiring the right people is crucial, but then letting them try new things was equally as important. Corinne talked about how people learn by doing and as a learning and knowledge institution, it is critical to allow individuals and the team to have freedom to experiment .

Corinne and Nate want their organisation to keep the constant pace of innovation, where there is always something changing. To achieve this they encourage ‘passion projects’ to empower staff to do what they are good at. New staff help to drive projects forward and keeps innovation fresh so they are building in a sustainability to the cycle innovation.

Innovate – and then keep innovating!

So in an environment where they strive to keep innovating, where they are always asking “what’s next”, where they need to keep the wow – they inevitably have some new projects:

They recently relaunched one of their small branch libraries, which serves a low socioeconomic neighbourhood. In a bid to focus on the people who are really using the service they decided to turn it into a youth library, which resulted in a circulation increase of 40%.

Partnership with parks and recreation centres – librarians with youth focus – programmes in parks. People can learn anywhere within the community. Pushing services out to people and neighbourhoods that need them.

Appreciate a good crisis

Corinne is extremely pragmatic when it comes to hard times. She talks about appreciating a good crisis to enable you to rethink business model. The question she poses “What are you going to do with the money you have?”

They also suggest that people want to help you when you’re successful, so do something that is successful, demonstrate that  success effectively and build community support  – this will win over the politicians.

Chattanooga Library now has an ‘Innovation district’ being developed around it. Nate talked about the massive opportunities this will bring.

Find out more: When I first met Corinnne : Innovation – through the eyes of a mercenary librarianMaking it on the 4th Floor

Sharing the knowledge gained from the SCL Digital Leaders Pilot (facilitated by Ben Lee and Ethan Ohs from Shared Intelligence) with colleagues  – ideas, examples and inspiration.


The SCL Digital Leaders Pilot covered a whole range of areas about leadership. For starters I’d like to highlight two videos.

The first shows how we all need to find people who will back us up when we are starting out with new ideas. It is often the first follower you helps you create a movement. Could you be a first follower for others in the team?

First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy

The second is a TED Talk.

What? 30, 000+ videos from speakers cover topics from sanitation to technological wizadry to deep policy issues to, well, designing boots for beetles

Purpose? TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less)

Target audience? Anyone

How might it be used? To broaden horizons, to understand topics, to get lost in other people’s thoughts and perspectives.

How to find out more? TEDTalks, Most popular TEDTalks of all time

This talk by Simon Sinek is the third most popular of all time

Start with “Why?” – why do some people achieve things others don’t…

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”



Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

What? Computerised cognitive behaviour therapy – or CCBT for short –the cognitive behaviour therapy is delivered using a computer.

Programmes such as Beating the Blues and FearFighter can be made available on the public computers and patients referred from their GP or health care professional.

Purpose? Enables management of mild and moderate depression or  anxiety. Reduces the need for medication and potentially reduces the cost of treatment.

Target audience? People with mild to moderate depression and anxiety.

How might it be used? Support health agenda, healthier communities

How to find out more? NICE information for patients

North Somerset trialled Beating the Blues with the PCT in 2007, but the subscription wasn’t renewed.

Other programmes for CBT are available.

Sharing the knowledge gained from the SCL Digital Leaders Pilot (facilitated by Ben Lee and Ethan Ohs from Shared Intelligence) with colleagues  – ideas, examples and inspiration.

FabLabs, 3D Printing and Maker Spaces

Fab Lab Devon

What? A small-scale workshop in Exeter Library offering digital fabrication. It’s an open access, not-for-profit, community resource where anybody can invent and make just about anything.

Devon libraries have a collaboration with the local university, with funding from the local economic partnership. 

Purpose? To prototype ideas, to support business start up, to build skills.

Target audience? Pre start up, people with ideas

How might it be used? To enable libraries to play a role in the creative economy. Gives libraries the Wow-factor. Provides people with skills and access to equipment to progress their business or idea. 

How to find out more? Fab Lab Devon

See how the FabLab supports local business:

Hear Economic Development Officer, Tom Dixon, explain the FabLab and its impact:

Sharing the knowledge gained from the SCL Digital Leaders Pilot (facilitated by Ben Lee and Ethan Ohs from Shared Intelligence) with colleagues  – ideas, examples and inspiration.