My last post reviewed my year in relation to libraries, this one returned to another traditional annual activity – looking back at my year of photo projects.
Having just completed my 8th annual photo-a-day project (plus my third 52 in a year weekly photo challenge), I’ve had a quick trawl through the numbers.

And the totals are:

  • total views of photos chosen as photo of the day (as of 31/12/16): 63,596
  • average number of views per pic: 174
  • total favourites: 861
  • total comments: 213

Most popular/viewed?

My spreadsheet (yes, a many sheeted spreadsheet, I’m a bit obsessed with categories – but only after the act – I like looking back, and at patterns)  tells me last year’s project gained the most views so far (apart from one year where I had several photos in explore, which inflated the overall total).

My most viewed photo is a surprise – a snap inside Kibworth community library. A warm and welcoming place, but by no means the most photogenic library I’ve seen. 2510 views as I type – it is currently my 16th most viewed photo ever!


Second place goes to another snap – “Guess the Book” – possibly influenced by a combination of the keywords ‘lego’ and ‘Game of Thrones’? 1578 views to date (and no. 32 on the all time list).

Besides pure views, interaction is interesting. The image with the most likes is one of our regular foxes – this time captured in one of his ‘mozilla’ poses. Autumnal colours has 14 likes.

In a curious co-incidence, joint second are 2 photos of snowdrops – each with 13 likes (the 2nd one has 7 comments – and according to flickr…. (I have no idea how they calculate it,) its my 7th ‘most interesting’ – nb lavender harvest has fewer likes, comments and views, but is ‘ranked’ 6…. go figure!)

And the least viewed? Initially it was some lovely butterfly floortiles in the Grade I listed church in Ashbourne in Derbyshire, with just 32 views….. but, I realised when checking for this blog post, I’d forgotten to post them in any of the photo-a-day groups, so I remedied that, and of course this morning, it had gained a few more views! So – the ‘least viewed’ label now goes to the library in Kedleston Hall:  – another from the Derbyshire holiday, but that one was in all the right albums.

Back to the numbers

50 photos were taken in our garden. 95 were in London – not surprising I guess as I spend most daylight hours there! 43 were taken out and about in Rochester.

I did much better this year with my attempt to try and take more photos of people: 19 (compared to just 8 last year). This is still the area where I am most out of my comfort zone – but will keep practicing!

Nature wins overall, with 111 photos featuring birds (37 – including 7 of our photogenic great spotted woodpeckers), flowers (32 – including 9 orchids), animals (22 – out of which 8 starred one of our foxes) and butterflies (18) plus a couple of fungi. I also took lots of landscapes.

Other interests are well represented in the project too. I took 11 photos of unesco heritage sites, and 39 of libraries (plus 13 book or book related photos – including 3 authors). Owls feature too – besides just 1 real owl (included in the birds total above), there were also 17 other ‘owl-related’ photos – its amazing how many you still see represented in art, or generally on ‘stuff’!

I chose 15 transport related photo-a day images – including 4 trains and 4 planes, and published only 8 sunrises/sunsets. But kept up the well-known social media tradition of recording food: 23 of the photos in the project were food or drink related (lots of cakes!).

Overall numbers

As a final numbers roundup, aside from the photo-a-day images, on flickr overall I now have 10,813 photos published (some of which are restricted to family and friends only) with 1,531,182 views (according to flickr stats, which do go through wobbly patches so I’m not 100% sure how reliable they are). And out of that total, I now have 62 photos which have been viewed more than 1,000 times. They are often photos which surprise me – sometimes there might be an explanation, like flickr explore, a certain group, or social media publicity, but sometimes I have no idea.

Besides the 2 photo projects mentioned, I published a further 24 albums (more than average…. maybe it was all those library expeditions!). I tend to set up an album when there are a number of photos from a particular place or trip, but do also add photos throughout the year to a number of generic albums, such as garden birds, libraries or fungus forays.

And my personal favourite for the year? Lots of them make me smile when I look back, wonderful events, memories of fun times with family and friends, or “right place right time” photos, but I think I might choose this one of the pelicans in St James Park.


I’ve taken their portraits many times – posing, resting or preening, but this is the first ‘action’ shot!

And remember I mentioned ‘people’ photos – well, weddings make it easy – and I do like this one of friends Ann and Dai’s wedding – a gorgeously hot mid-summer day, with lots of smiles, flowers and sparkles.


So – now on to 2018. Happy New Year (and of course, a new year of photos).


I haven’t done this for a year or two, but as I’ve just completed my 7th annual photo-a-day project (plus my second 52 in a year weekly photo challenge) I’ve had a quick trawl through the numbers.

And the totals are:

total views of photos chosen as photo of the day (as of 31/12/16): 52,074
average number of views per pic: 142
total favourites: 834 (av 2.8 per pic)
total comments: 199 (av 1.65 per pic)

Despite flickr stats going wobbly a couple of times during the year, I rely on my own spreadsheet, and it tells me last year gained the most views so far (just, 2015 total was 50,633). No photos in explore, (which has inflated the overall total in previous years), but my most viewed photo – the robin below, was possibly due to my decision to select it and add to the flickr group: Your best shot 2016. 796 views as I type this, plus 17 faves and 2 comments.


Other popular photos may also have an explanation: Wordplay (662 views as I type) was the first photo I added to the 52 in 2016 challenge group, and the Book Bench based on Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere story that I stumbled across in Manchester Central library was probably helped by the fact that @neilhimself retweeted my tweet and brought lots of extra viewers! (663 as I type)


And the least viewed? Discounting the last couple of weeks, where photos haven’t been published for very long, the two photos which tie for that ‘honour’ with 31 apiece, are one taken in a gorgeous italian garden we discovered in East Kent, and one taken on our holiday: the temple at Xunantunich.

Both re-published below so they do not feel unloved!


Godinton italian garden, Kent


Xunantunich, Belize

Back to the numbers

33 photos were taken in our garden. 54 were of recognisable London sights – not surprising I guess as I spend most daylight hours there! 21 were taken out and about in the Medway towns.

Despite my vow each year to try and take more photos of people, I’ve failed again – just 8 contain people, although there were 7 featuring Neil (although only 1 which showed his face!)

Nature wins overall, with 98 photos featuring birds (34), flowers (32), animals (12) and butterflies (11) plus a variety of fungi and insects – and lots of countryside scenery.

Other interests are well represented in the project too. I captured 8 photos of unesco heritage sites, and 29 of libraries (plus 7 book or book related photos – as I made a point of recording some of the many literary anniversaries last year: Happy Birthday Charlotte Bronte, HG Wells, Beatrix Potter and Roald Dahl).


I chose 13 transport related photo-a day images – including 4 trains and 4 planes, and published 11 sunrises/sunsets. And finally, to dispel they myth that all of social media is about food – but to recognise that sometimes after a long day I do take the odd photo of my supper…… 33 of the photos in the project were food or drink related.

Overall numbers

As a final numbers roundup, aside from the photo-a-day images, on flickr overall I now have 9,078 photos published (some of which are restricted to family and friends only) with 1,170,530 views (according to flickr stats, which as mentioned above, do go through wobbly patches so I’m not 100% sure how reliable they are). And out of that total, I now have 44 photos which have been viewed more than 1,000 times. They are often photo which surprise me – and as I mused above, sometimes there might be an explanation, like flickr explore, a certain group, or social media publicity, but sometimes I have no idea.

Besides the 2 photo projects mentioned, I published a further 15 albums (pretty much the same as every year – although that is completely by chance) – I tend to set up an album when there are a number of photos from a particular place or trip, but do also add photos throughout the year to a number of generic albums, such as garden birds, libraries or fungus forays.

And despite rumours of flickr’s demise, I still haven’t found anything better for a vast collection of gorgeous photos, and a global community of people, many of whom are ‘just like me’ – in many different ways, and isn’t that one of the best things about social media?!

Having visited all of the public libraries in the Medway towns, I’m casting my ‘local’ net further and aiming to visit all of those in Kent too. And after a busy year working on issues that affect ALL public libraries, and being lucky enough to visit some of the city centre ‘stars’ of the library world, its good to be reminded about what some of our smaller but no less varied and welcoming local libraries offer.

Kent has 99 public libraries, so its going to take me a while, but today I added 5 to my total: Allington, Larkfield, West Malling, Vigo, Meopham (ending up in Longfield, but that was a revisit…..) . All bar one were open and busy, and in contrast to my last mini tour, when I saw library buildings of all ages, most were of a similar style.

Allington library


On the outskirts of Maidstone, this library is opposite a Waitrose, and next to large playing fields. It was probably the busiest and noisiest I visited, as a large group was having a christmas party. Lots of notices showing the usual offerings – plus a knitting group is due to start in the new year (perhaps inspired by the efforts of the Woolly Maids in decorating the High Street in Maidstone?)

Larkfield library


Another library close to a school and a parade of shops – there was lots of free parking near to this one. Inside was bright and cheerful, with a family choosing books in the childrens section, which was decorated with lots of artwork from local primary schools.

West Malling library


I always enjoy walking along West Malling High Street – so many beautiful old buildings. The library is on a narrow part, and parking is a bit of a lottery, but once inside it was buzzing. The only library where staff made eye contact and said hello, but they were busy scratching their heads making recommendations to a family in the children’s section – to 2 children who I think had read a large chunk of stock already!

Oh yes, and this team get top marks for their christmassy windows:


Vigo village library


The only one out of the 6 visited today which wasn’t open. Vigo library is in a building shared with the village hall and a church. It is only open 10 hours a week, but they have an arrangement with the pharmacy opposite, so people can order, collect and return books there when the library isn’t open.

Meopham library 


Last new (to me) library was Meopham – and this was also the hardest to find. Meopham is a long village which sprawls along the A227, and the postcode directed me to a part where all I could see was a pub, church and garage. Luckily the people in the pub directed me – and the library shares a campus with Meopham school – plus a leisure centre and health centre. All fine, but the only signs from the main road mention everything but the library, and even when you get close, you could be forgiven for thinking it is just the school’s own library – until you see the familiar shape of Invicta (the white horse of Kent) and the red signs of the public library service. However there is one final step – I went 3 sides of the building before realising that the entrance is the one headed “Meopham School”.

Inside was busy though – as in all the others, computers in use, families in the children’s section, and people browsing the shelves.

Last stop was a re-visit to the tiny Longfield library – completing my mini-tour. A standalone brick building with lovely arched windows, possibly the oldest of the group I saw today.

So, that’s around 20 of Kent’s libraries seen – plenty more local exploring to be done.


Haven’t posted here for far too long – and despite best intentions (I’ve even managed to publish a post or two on the DFID corporate platform) there never seems to be time.

But, I have news, and this seems a good place to describe my plans. After 20 years at DFID (yes, 20, seems hard to believe….) after running a library, creating an intranet, learning html and building a website, building a team, replanning after a team was split, rebuilding a team, creating a website using a content management system, migrating a website onto another platform, initiating and participating in numerous experiments with new and exciting toys tools now collectively known under the banner of social media, writing a strategy, trying to implement that strategy, working with some fantastically creative and innovative and fun-to-be-with colleagues, and many many more things (sometimes badged with e-something, or webby, or online, or nowadays digital) I’m finally ready for a change.

And to follow the earworm song titles theme I started with, I’m going back to my roots…..

I’m going to work on communications for the Taskforce for Libraries: the body created to implement the recommendations made in the Independent Library Report for England . While I’ve still got some work to do for DFID, I did spend one day last week attending the Taskforce’s 3rd meeting – and it was inspiring and fascinating to hear the huge amount of commitment and enthusiasm of people round that table, encouraging to recognise their ambition and slightly daunting to think about the amount that is to be done.

I aim to make the time to blog more about my experiences (my whole role is about communications, and I don’t have to fake a passion for libraries, so it really shouldn’t be that hard!). I’ve already met some wonderful people and heard lots of stories about the diverse things going on in public libraries. Anyone I’ve talked to about the role has positive things to share and recognises we are potentially at a crucial time where there is so much opportunity to get things right, to learn from the excellent good practice happening around the country. Yet also it is impossible to ignore the scale of the challenge. You don’t have to look very hard to find stories of library closures, of the implications of relying on volunteers to run a service, of decaying buildings. Libraries are places people feel passionate about, they evoke an emotional response, and I look forward to working with people who want to build on that emotion and nurture a new breed of libraries which are truly at the heart of communities – as I heard earlier this week, are used and valued by their communities, and are seen by decision makers and budget holders as “a resource, not a cost”.

There are masses of things to do to handover my old role, and plan for the new – but one of the profiles I’m most looking forward to changing is my twitter bio. No longer will there need to be a split between the job description and the second half where it said “outside of work, like owls, castles and libraries…….”

Can’t wait to get started.

Following a tweet from @lelil about the Carnegie Library Lab project in Scotland I was encouraged to go public about my own research.
For several years now I’ve been trying to track down and record all the libraries built in England and Wales with funding from Andrew Carnegie, in particular recording their current status.

My connection with these buildings started when I was a child in Kendal, where I remember the stairs to the children’s library on the first floor of the imposing red stone library on the high street.

Entrance to Kendal Carnegie Library

Entrance to Kendal Carnegie Library

Collecting postcards of libraries has also given a boost to my research, although dealers seldom have a separate section for libraries, which means hours are spent flicking through their geographic collections. Makes it even more valuable when you find something!

Having Carnegie as a focus has led to some interesting days out and detours while on holiday, from visiting parts of London I’m unfamiliar with, or collecting 8 in one long weekend in Yorkshire. I always photograph the buildings (click on the tag “carnegie” to filter just the Carnegie buildings) and go inside if they are open. Talking to the library staff has often gleaned useful nuggets of information about the history and boosted my collection by many leaflets, photocopies of newspaper clippings and even books.

I once tried to use the power of social media to track down information about libraries and their current status, and was contacted by a handful of librarians who filled in the gaps about some of the libraries on my list.
I also contacted the team behind volume 3 of the Cambridge University Press book: A History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland and while they generously shared their background data, I unfortunately misplaced the CDs when I moved house…… Sure they will turn up when I finally unpack all my boxes…….

Holidays have often meant stumbling across tiny parts of the Carnegie legacy in unexpected places: Barbados (now unfortunately closed as the stone building is in a poor condition) where I researched my grandad’s landing after being torpedoed during ww2; Dominica where the beautiful wooden building has wide verandas on all sides to catch the breeze, and was bustling and crowded on the morning of our visit, Rheims in Frances, where the stone built library is an Art Deco gem, and Mauritius, where the taxi driver said I was the first tourist ever to ask him to take them to the Carnegie library in Curepipe.

I read Carnegie Libraries across America – a public legacy, by Theodore Jones which gave me a list of the many thousands built there, and have been updating that status list too. I’ve also found websites about the legacy in numerous individual states, plus Canada, a book following a photo exhibition in Ireland, and thorough website listing those in Scotland, but nothing traced which collates the legacy in England and Wales bar a 1970s dissertation (which even being by an alumni of my own college and held by cilip I haven’t been able to see (to their credit, both organisations would have let me visit and consult……but unfortunately that has meant time I haven’t yet had spare)).

Hence my own research, which currently sits on my own computer in various folders and documents. The next challenge is to work out a way of sharing this information. Besides publishing my own photos on flickr, I’ve also published some on the Waymarking site, but that template does demand a wealth of information about the location, which I don’t always know. Neither of these options are suitable for postcards, especially those which may still be in copyright. I looked at wikipedia, where there are the bare bones of information, but it would take more wiki-expertise than I posses to turn that list into the sort of resource I have in mind. I attempted a database, but various glitches have meant so far it has not been entirely successful.
So, now I’ve heard about the Scotland project, perhaps there is someone out there I can pool resources with?

My favourite Carnegie? Those that are still open and in use, perhaps with sympathetic alterations or extensions to make the building suitable for modern use.
Also like those that have been put to another use, as museums, art galleries or even just as offices.
Saddest are to see those that are boarded up and falling into disrepair, becoming even more familiar with the current round of cuts and closures. Even more important to document and record them while still standing.
Finally any of the research projects, whether books or websites, are important to remember those which have been demolished. Before they fade from memory, I think it is important to document the legacy of a man who in his time was richer than Bill Gates, but determined to give away all his fortune.

Haven’t published a blog for ages, which is definitely not a reflection of lack of activity. I’ve attended some thought provoking events, read some inspiring stories of progress in the digital world, and have made some not unsubstantial steps in my own work.
However, all of the notes, thoughts and experiences have never made it here – which has actually become a minor source of annoyance (for me!) Hadn’t realised how much I use my own blog as a diary and aide memoire for people and things, until I stopped producing it…… so here goes, back with renewed intent, I plan to publish a short series of notes and write ups – some long overdue, covering:

  • digital in government (definitions, progress of others)
  • digital in DFID (digital panel, digital event, thoughts on capability building)
  • networks (Whitehall and Industry Group, More Tea Vicar)
  • events (visit to vodafone campus)
  • and the odd noteworthy presentation I’d like to store up to refer to again (Buzzfeed).

And this post serves as an aide memoire to that intention!

Another year’s photo-a-day project completed – with a bonus extra picture as 2012 was a leap year. A roller coaster year, with personal family sadness, but curiously I didn’t put down the camera, and find it strangely comforting to look back now and see what I chose to record on days when I can’t really remember doing anything atall. We also passed another of life’s milestones as after 20 years in a tiny Victorian terrace, we moved house. We’re still in Rochester, but came forward a century in time, as we bought a brand new house. That gave lots of opportunities to take photos to record aspects of the move, but also a new walk to the station and lots of different things to notice.

On with the statistics: Most popular and/or “interesting”

By a long way, it was the Govcamp T-shirt: 462 – also no. 4 in the all time views list, no. 150 in what flickr describes as “most interesting”.

GovCamp 2012 t-shirt

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt…..

I agree its not that interesting a photo – more one for the record – but its position makes it even harder to try and understand the flickr interestingness algorithm. This photo has same number of comments as others which appear much higher – must be something to do with popularity over time too? (still behind last years top photo, which continues to be popular – ‘ripples’ has now reached 728 views)
Others high on the list were Pelican: 373 (also no. 8 all time views, no. 50 ‘interesting’), Owl mugs: 302 and Tube lights: 278
2012 diary photos had over 100 views (at 31 Dec 2012) – 31

To update other figures in the style of last years blog post (comparing with previous years in square brackets):

Number of diary images which appear in my top 20 all time most viewed: 4 [last year it was also 4, 2010: 2]

Number of diary images which appear in the top 20 all time ‘most interesting’: 4 [last year: 9, year before: 6]

Total views of photo diary images during 2012: 25,671 [21,111 in 2011, and 8,680 in 2010]
Average views of each image: 70 [58 and 24]
Total views of all published photos during 2012: 67,320 [2011: 49,791 and 22,577 in 2010]

Categories include:
Event/date specific: 46 [about the same, 54 and 41, although my definitions of this category are non scientific!]
Local photos (Kent) = 66 [up on last years 48, but still fewer than the 95 taken in 2010]
London: 105 – bolstered by 46 taken in St James Park [up on last years 86, which included 28 in the Park, in turn up on 76 taken in 2010]

Travel related: 24 – this year I didn’t include all nights away from home, as we spent a lot of time in Gloucestershire. [55 in 2011, 43 in 2010 (these totals include all day trips and weekends away from home)]

Owl related: 20 [14 in 2011, 11 in 2010]

More libraries: 10 [4 and 7]

Fewer sunrises: 8 [just down from 9 in 2011 and 13 in 2010]

The natural world continued to feature strongly:
flora: 74 [huge growth over 49 in 2011 and 43 in 2010]
while fauna also increased: 47 [up from 41 in 2011 and 17 in 2010]

And the St James Park pelicans continue to feature – one of which was mentioned above as capturing people’s attention.

Pelican in St James Park

What it is to be a star!

Less transport overall:
fewer trains: 4 [14 and 8], fewer boats: 4 [5 and 6], fewer cars: 3 [5 and 0],
planes: 2 [0 and 5] and other transport: 3 [8 and 2]

Food and drink, about the same: 28 [23 and 12]

Still not doing that well with people: 20 – although there were a couple of portraits [24 and 18]

I’ve replied to some people who asked if I was planning to continue in 2013 with yes, and added the explanation that it is a bit of an addiction. While this is true, its also an education – especially as this year I was given a digital SLR, so continuing the photo a day habit is good opportunity to practise. The flickr albums also provide a nice diary snapshot of the year, and mean I can compare the changing of the seasons, when flowers/leaves appear and disappear, and also recall with precision when I did certain things – helpful evidence in occasional resolving of arguments!

Here’s to 2013 – I look forward to seeing how the people I feel I have got to know via flickr see and record their year.

PS – As an example of the wonderful serendipity of social media, just before I was about to publish this, I followed the link tweeted by @russellphoto : – and besides the neat twist that he shares my initials, I also share many of his thoughts and can relate them to why I take photographs. I would add though, that I’m always surprised by just how many of the pictures that I would consider ephemeral do continue to be viewed – perhaps that the librarian in me though, who can’t just publish, I always try to geotag, describe, label and otherwise make sure stuff is findable!

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