Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Thing 23. This is the end -beautiful friend.

So- thing 23 is finally here! What have I learned and will I actually use any of it or just stick it to the back of my mind as I watch another repeat of The Big Bang Theory?

To me the course has been an interesting way of looking at what is going on the world of librarianship- the resources, the networking and the priorities of up and coming librarians. It has been fascinating to read the blogs and see what a disparate group we are. We are international, different ages, have done these Things for wildly different reasons and at different stages of our career. Admittedly we're mostly women and there is unhealthy obsession with knitting (something I am genuinely incapable of,)  but there are still enough interests to allow (hopefully!) librarianship to grow and develop over the next few years. Networking online is the best way of being able to share ideas, resources and band together against the cuts that are affecting libraries in all fields.

As for the personal development plan - I hope I am some way through completing this already. I was a qualified librarian at 22, chartered at 27, volunteering at 29 (slightly cheating- it was 3 days before my 30th birthday!) interning at 30 and employed outside public libraries from 31 years. If I am able to learn all I hope from my new job then I should hopefully have all the qualifications and experience needed to apply for any job I want. 

The scary thing of course is that the career of librarianship is so fragile. A few years ago I thought that I would be able to progress through the ranks as the managers around me retired. Instead, public libraries faced one of their worse crises and the fact that there is (faint) hope on the horizon is, worryingly, thanks to people banding together online rather than the people who were being paid to protect our profession.

And so, I need to continue some of what I have learned from 23Things. To me, the main thing has been raising my awareness of the number of resources that are out there to help librarians. In an ideal world I would like to continue this blog reporting on these (despite the fact that all my posts in this area have focussed on the fact that I am completely unable to work out how to use new technology!) Using Phil Bradley's blog (that I'm following on Google Reader thanks to Thing Four) as a benchmark it would be great to discover these new resources and how practically they can be used in my life (after all, if I can use them, anyone can!)

Of course, I have to ignore the fact that I am writing this blog because it is 2 days before the closing date and I am in competition with one of my friends to actually finish this Thing! 

Time will tell whether this blog continues. Until then, there can be only one message for whoever reads this. Taken from National Libraries Day this year (and as talked about in Thing 16)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Thing 22: Volunteering

I'm afraid much of this will be familiar to those of you rabidly following my posts, filled as they are with random facts about myself.

From 2010(ish) it was becoming more and more obvious that the fate of public libraries was becoming precarious. This was of concern to me (apart from the devastation that this would cause communities) because I only had experience of working in this particular environment and so knew I could have difficulty looking for a new job. From 2005, I had worked as a children's librarian and, despite the fact that I worked in an open plan library and spent as much time working with adults, knew that I was being pigeon-holed. As I worked alternate Saturdays this meant that I had alternate Tuesdays off that could possibly be spent productively volunteering. 

I'm afraid to say that my research was Googling 'volunteer library london.' This would be much more depressing now as it would link to loads of Big Society libraries but luckily then the second option was for the Women's Library. As someone who has always been interested in politics and history this seemed like an amazing opportunity. I was given the ephemera project to work on. This basically meant going through huge files of random ephemera that had been donated over the past few years, sorting it, weeding out duplicates and filing it. I did this every week (I was moved from my original work branch shortly after starting volunteering and so could go to the Women's Library every week) for 13 months. I only left when I got my new job which entailed working Monday-Friday..

What did I gain from working in the Women's Library?
~ experience of working in another environment
~ the chance to learn much more about social history affecting women 
~ the experience of handling archive material and the joy of rediscovering ephemera from Millicent Fawcett, Virginia Woolf and fascinating anonymous suffragettes. 
~ the chance to work with truly lovely people in a building that looks like it will soon be lost to the penny pushers
~ the chance to practically demonstrate my interest in these topics on application forms
~the chance to put all of this on my c.v. when I applying for new jobs.
                                 and these are just a few things quickly jotted down off the top of my head!

I was able to gain all this without distracting from the paid work of the librarians who were working at the Women's Library. I admit I asked for extra cataloguing experience but this was (kindly) turned down because there were people who were already hired to do this.

In short, I think volunteering in a library is an excellent way of gaining new experiences, helping institutions, networking and learning new knowledge. While working in public libraries, we often had volunteers (including prisoners being reintegrated into society) working there- helping in computer classes, events and doing displays etc.

However- it should be remembered throughout that this should not be done at the expense of existing staff. Although I was learning all the time about feminist history, there was no way that I could have answered an enquiry with the same knowledge and skill as the trained librarians who worked at the Women's Library. My ultimate aim was to get a new job from the experience of volunteering, something that would be impossible all the professional posts were taken by unpaid staff.  I have also commented on Walk Astray's blog about other dangers from allowing volunteers to do the work of paid staff. And don't even get me started on the failings of the Big Society ideal!

Today's photo has been posted in support of the staff in Newcastle Libraries where it was announced that 10 out of the 18 libraries in the city will be closed. There are more opinions and links here I've just had a quick look and can't find an online petition. However, considering Newcastle Council have decided to cut their entire arts budget, there are other opportunities to sign in support of cultural activities  including here

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Thing 21: New jobs

Writing this as someone who is only five weeks into a new job, I hope that this is something I won't have to worry about for a while! However, it is useful to have some idea of why I'm doing this and what the eventual outcome will be....

Part 1: Identifying your strengths; capitalising on your interests

My main interest has always been music- I chose my universities based on which ones had the most number of gigs in that week's NME and may possibly have done the same degree as two of the Manic Street Preachers (ah, to be 17 again!) Linked to this (especially what is quoted in music magazines and (once again) by the Manics) I read widely and like art and film. I've always loved history.
One of my strengths for this career is that I can be pretty bolshy (I have loud friends and have to make myself heard!) and so can stand out from some other librarians (massive generalisation klaxon!) If I'm interested in a topic or idea, I throw myself completely into a project and so can often bring a project to fruition in quite a short time period.
Working in public libraries was brilliant as I could widen my reading depending on what the public recommended to me, organise events based around my interests and stand up to boisterous teenagers ensuring that the library space remained open to all.  Working for the RCN was different as I was part of a large organisation so didn't have as much freedom, but could continue my interest in history, introduce some ideas from public libraries (Black History Month and Super Library Challenge (based around the Summer Reading Scheme) In my new place I'm brilliantly the subject librarian for all the creative industries (music, performing arts, photography, fine art etc) studied in the College so I've been enjoying getting to know my new stock.

Part 2: Applying for a job

I hopefully won't need to do this for a while!
My most basic piece of advice would be to use the same vocabulary that is used in the advert. The people who are shortlisting have specific criteria that they are looking for, it's much easier for them to find and tick off. Also, I don't think librarians are really being headhunted at the moment, so make the most of your LinkedIn profile to put everything on there. You can then choose the most relevant for each particular job if you need to put together a CV for it.

Part 3: Interviews

It seems a silly thing to write- be confident- but it is (I think!) the most important lesson. Most libraries are no longer quiet places where people can hide in some dusty shelves and never have to speak to anyone. Employers are looking for people with excellent customer service, who can deal with arguments ( a lot of people REALLY don't want to pay their fines!) and cultivate partnerships with other organisations/ departments to raise the profile of the library/ get funding for a larger project etc. You need to show that you can speak up, smile in awkward situations and express your opinions. 
My only other tip would be to find out as much information as possible about the organisation and library from the website. I also feel no shame in occasionally saying something along the lines of "as it says on your website..." a number of times in the interview.

The advice given on the 23 things website was great- don't feel awkward about boasting. This Thing never asked me to list my weaknesses, failings etc and so I can finish this thing pretending that a long and successful career is in front of me!

Here's a more realistic photo to finish with- me desperately clinging on to the railings outside Victoria library in London!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Thing 20 - Library Routes

Most of the information wanted for this thing has been listed for thing 10 although I am now in a qualified role working as a subject librarian for a college. This is an interesting post for a number of reasons - but librarians may well be interested to learn that there are now more qualified librarian posts than library assistants at the college. This is the result of a recent restructure and it remains to be seen how practical this is (should we be shelving, if we don't who will?!)

I had a go at trying to list my outdated blog post on the Library Routes page but readers of this blog (all 2!) won't be surprised to learn that I failed miserably! I did SOMETHING but nothing like what I was supposed to do. So, alas, only readers of this blog will be able to have me as their specialist round in Mastermind. The world weeps!

Last week I went to the opening of Wakefield Library- a beautiful building with completely new books and a lovely atmosphere (although I'm really not sure about the uniforms the staff have to wear!) It was opened by Jarvis Cocker. He said that reading a book which like getting inside the head of the author and so a place full of books is really like being at a party filled with interesting people. Here's hoping that's what the rest of my career will be like!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Thing 19: Catch Up

Another massive gap in my blogging- but at least I now have a deadline to work to!

This gap was partly due to the fact that I was without the internet for a few weeks when I first moved up north to my new job, but since then has been because I was annoyed that I'd written thing 19 and thing 20 already in my own job but not actually posted them (delaying them because of the need to attach a photo- I have truly suffered for my art!)

Catch up week is a difficult thing to write about when looking from a completely different perspective from when CPD23 started. I now spend my working days frantically having to remember new names, new resources to advertise and new excuses for not spending my budget. Before I was able to complete my blog posts whenever it was quiet at work, now I have to motivate myself in my cold flat (I'm too much of a hippy to heat a flat with such high ceilings!) Previously I understood my job and could consider how certain ideas and software could impact on it whereas now I'm still learning what we already offer before I can start suggesting new ideas.

When I wrote the first draft of this blog in London I remember saying how my favourite part of CPD23 so far had been learning the productivity tools to help me be a better librarian. As previously stated, I really don't enjoy the critical reflection (although I seem to be merrily wittering away in this post!) This has proven to be the case in my new job. The induction for new students is on a Prezzi, and while other colleagues are moaning about how dated they think it seems, I'm glad that CPD23 means that I've only just discovered it! Likewise, yesterday I dropped the names Mendeley and Cite-U-Like into a student session (although this means I've now got to properly learn them because I couldn't access them through my old work!) I've got to go back and look again at many of the tools but my favourite so far have been Screencast-o-matic, Prezi and  Google Reader.

And so to finally add a photo to Thing 19! I previously said that the rest of my photos would be of me in London. However, that pledge was SO September. Here I am outside Berlin Library

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Thing 18: Screen Capture and Podcasts.

When I first read the synopsis for Thing 18, I was unsure about how successful this week’s post would be. However, Screencast-o-matic required no downloading, was able to work on the work’s PCs, was really relevant to work and was even easy to use. Crikey!

One of our most common telephone enquiries is from people who are unable to access our e-books. I was able to easily create a video that demonstrates where they are having problems, how to resolve these issues and how they can read the e-books once they can access them. It only took me two rehearsals (the first time I wasn’t as great at accessing the books as I should have been and kept clicking in the wrong place and the second time the website didn’t demonstrate the problems that is usually does.) My video is available here http://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/clQTXH8la I sent it to other people in my team and they can see real potential for this software being used for a number of information literacy reasons. Thank you cpd23!

Podcasting isn’t really for me. My only skill is that I’m quick at reading and so it is much more convenient to me to receive my information this way- especially when I’m unsure of the quality of the material that I might have to sit through. (I’ve had to sit through far too much awful training in various jobs to want to have to do that voluntarily!)

Here’s a photo of something I did enjoy doing. You can get free tours around the London Library- more details available at http://www.londonlibrary.co.uk/index.php?/tours.html

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Thing 17: Prezi and Slideshare

Prezi is one of those tools that I’ve been hearing about for a while, but until I got to this ‘thing’ I haven’t had the reason to try.

 At work at the moment we are getting ready to celebrate Black History Month by commemorating the role B/EM nurses have played in nursing in the UK. I thought I would use some of the information that we’re about to put on our website in a Prezi. I didn’t initially find it very user friendly and am still not sure where exactly I need to click to bring up the text box or bubble. However, I’m sure that’s something that will come with practice. To link in with the theme, I chose the ‘around the world’ (my name for it) framework which meant that each of my points could be easily ordered anticlockwise so I didn’t need to worry about that part of organising my presentation.  I only used one image and had difficulty getting it the right size. Once I’d achieved this, I couldn’t straighten it but hopefully the jaunty angle adds to the atmosphere! However, I was eventually able to put the bits of text onto the presentation and even started to add subpoints like a show-off! I can see how this could easily become a really useful library tool (as soon as I start to need to give presentations!)

Here is my basic first attempt at a prezi http://prezi.com/l92ush0ufibn/black-history-month/

When I do need to start giving presentations, Slideshare also sounds promising (and an excellent tool for continuing my love of ‘best practice’ (aka not having to reinvent the wheel.) Unfortunately, the version I can access at work can only be viewed in its most basic (links in Times New Roman, no images etc.) So I can see the writing in the presentations about cpd23 (for example) but not the slides themselves. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is linked to work’s deep-rooted suspicion of websites that store personal files on Internet servers for backup or exchange. I’m starting a new job in a couple of weeks in a further education college and it will be interesting to see whether they view such websites with the same suspicion.

In honour of my impending move oop north, I shall use only London based photos for my next few things. Here I am outside the University of London library at Senate House