Sunday, 6 November 2011

The Art of Reflection

Time to reflect on the cpd23 experience.........
It's been a long haul trying to keep up with all the Things and got progressively harder as the weeks went by as the more new things I learned the more time I spent using them. Now that it's finished I can take a breather and think about what I got out of it.

I'd done something similar to this in the past - an online Web 2 learning module put together by work colleagues in Information Services to try and get everyone up to speed with new technologies and encourage us to use them in our job and share ideas with each other. At the time it was great and we all felt we learned a lot and gained from it  though again finding the time to do it was a challenge and some got more involved than others. We learned things like blogging, setting up RSS feeds, creating podcasts, social networking, embedding media, wikis etc.  and throughout the module we were encouraged to blog about our experience and share new discoveries. This was new for all of us and because we were a relatively small group but spread across different campuses it brought us together more and we were able to learn from each other and be supportive. I certainly gained some new skills and ideas from the course which have since become common place in what I do such as using wikis, using Google Reader, embedding media and blogging within our online Community. What was disappointing however was that when the course finished the communication between us dropped and the collaborative blog died a death along with the valuable sharing of ideas and problems. After the buzz we'd experienced from taking part it felt like a  huge let down  when it came to an abrupt end.

Blogging & networking
So when I started cpd 23Things I was curious to see how I'd feel and to see how involved people would become. I quickly realised that there were a lot of online networking opportunities out there that I'd been ignoring and that despite having learned how to blog I hadn't really bothered. I'd seen Twitter and blogs in a rather negative way and looking back at my first blog here I can see that I didn't really see the point of Tweeting or blogging. What I 've discovered is that professionally it's a good way of sharing information, "meeting" new people and learning a lot from them. It's also been a bit of a humbling experience as there's so many people out there with a lot of knowledge and experience and I still don't think I have much to offer myself. So I guess I'm still a bit of a blog "lurker" rather than a sharer but I hope that I'll start to contribute more. I'm also hoping that now the Things are over I won't let it all drop as I'm finding it hard to keep up with blogs, Twitter feeds, new Google + contacts, Linked In and everything else. I've found one of the problems for me was with the huge participation in the programme which meant that I couldn't possibly follow everyone's blog and gave up. It was great to see such a wide variety of people joining in and I started by reading as many blogs as I could but this soon became impossible. This meant I felt that I was missing out on the contact with others that I enjoyed in our smaller in-house programme.

Wordle: cpd23

New Stuff
Some of the Things that I found most valuable were the new technologies as this is something that interests me and I'm always looking out for new ways to store, create and present material. The creative side of me enjoys devising new methods of presenting material to users in more engaging and interesting ways. So hopefully I can use some of what I've learned to spice up my presentations. I must admit I'm struggling a bit with Prezi but I'm determined to go back and have another play with it when I've got more time. It was good to revisit some of the programmes I'd briefly looked at in the past such as Zotero and Jing, and also good to find out about some new ones such as Dropbox and Evernote which I'll likely make use of.

The reflective parts have been a good exercise for me, forcing me to look critically at what I do and what I've learned and how I can put some of what I've learned into practice. As I'm currently working towards Chartership this has fitted in well with what I've needed to do for that and has helped focus me on tasks such as reflecting on events I've been to and thinking how I can use what I've learned to improve the service I offer to students and staff in my role as librarian and trainer. I'd already done PPDP for Chartership so didn't really need to do another PDP but I do think it's a good thing to do in any case as it reminds you what skills you have and what you've done and makes you think about what you would like to improve o or learn in oder to do your job well. it's also useful for job appraisals.  It's prompted me to review my c.v and to look at where I want to go with my career.  It was also interesting to look back at how I got to where I am now and make some sort of sense of my chequered career path. It's probably a bit late for me to progress much further career wise but I think it's important to always try and stay ahead of the game and be on constant watch for new ways to improve the way we work. There's nothing worse than stagnation both in terms of job satisfaction and in providing a good service that's relevant to current needs.

How has it changed me?
I'm much more aware of my online presence now and not so scared of putting myself out there and making new contacts. I've become a more confident blogger and hope to be able to share thoughts, news and ideas with others in the same way that I've benefited from what they have to say. It's also made me more aware of wider issues in the information world and has given me some good leads to follow up in areas that I'm interested in such as information literacy and inclusion. I know that it would be good for me to get more involved in events and in promoting what we as librarians do but as yet I still don't have the confidence to put myself forward and am not good at organising things. This makes me a little sad as I see it as a personal failing.

What am I now using?
  • Twitter
  • Google Calendar ( for promoting student events /workshops on our VLE)
  • Google Docs (for collaborating with colleagues on projects)
  • Evernote (for making quick note of websites, articles etc. I want to revisit)
  • Dropbox (for saving docs I'm working on to open up on different computers)
  • Linked In
  • Jing (although I'd already used this)
  • Google + (as a substitute for Facebook for more professional contacts)
  • Prezi - not sure yet
  • Audacity ??
  • Screencasts (did one of these using Camtasia for a lecture)

What wasn't so useful?

  • Pushnote (don't see any need for it)
  • Zotero and Mendeley (use EndNote so don't really need them but will keep awareness)
  • Information about training and routes into librarianship as I'm already there. Probably very useful for those who aren't though. Doubt if my blog comments on this were read by anyone though. Along the same lines volunteering and mentoring weren't personally of much interest to me although I can see the benfit of this information for others. In a programme like this it's almost impossible to have things that will interest everyone and I think the wide range allowed for at least something to interest everyone albeit different for each person.

What now?
  • Have another look at my online image/branding and make it more professional, deciding what I want to or should allow people to know about me.
  • Finish sprucing up my c.v
  • Keep blogging
  • contribute more to online discussions and comment on other people's blogs
  • Try out some of the new ideas, technologies and integrate them into my work
  • Keep evaluating what I do and looking at ways to improve/progress
  • Take the plunge and give a presentation???
  • Try to keep up with all the networks/contacts I've made
6 words to describe the 23 Things
The Huge Inspirational Network Generating Success

Monday, 24 October 2011

Catching up in no particular order..

Have just realised that cpd23 has come to an end and I'm still trailing behind. So, time to tie up a few loose ends and then reflect on the whole process and what I got out of it.

First then - Thing 21

The last job application I did was for my present job, in 2006, so when I started preparing for Chartership I decided it was time to review my CV and look at my current skills and experience. I have to admit that in the past my job applications were rather informal and mainly consisted of an application form in which I tried to match my experience and skills to the job description, so my CV hadn't needed to be updated. It was only when my children were looking for advice on how to create their own CVs that I realised how unprofessional mine was and so I started looking at online advice and examples of other people's CVs.

I think what's important is to be able to take a step back and look at what you've done, what you've got out of it, how you've contributed, and how you've developed your skills and competencies through what you've experienced. Then you need to focus on how these new skills could be useful in other situations and jobs. Transferable skills is what its all about. And having self confidence. You've got more to offer than you think so don't be shy in promoting yourself.

Wish I could practice what I preach! I have to admit that I'm rubbish at interviews and all the wonderful stuff about myself that I'd planned to demonstrate all gets forgotten and I'm a blabbering idiot. Oh well, it can't be all bad - I did succeed in getting this job, having walked out of the interview wanting to crawl under the nearest stone. Best piece of feedback I got was that although my knowledge was lacking in certain areas I mangaged to think on my feet and come up with something plausible! I think that's another way of saying I somehow managed to blag it!

I don't know if I'll be going for any other jobs as I quite like the one I've got but this has kick-started me into doing an audit of my skills and a major re-vamp of my CV. So at least I'll be prepared if that dream opportunity comes my way.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Catching Up

Nearly there!! I've decided to leave Thing 19 till the end and to reflect on everything I've done once I've finished.
As for Thing 22 - I haven't done any volunteering as part of my career so can't really comment on it except that to me it seems to be a great way of getting experience and adding to your CV while waiting for the right opportunity for a paid job to come along. As long as volunteers don't replace existing staff as a cost cutting exercise then I don't see them as devaluing professionalism as the volunteer is learning from the professional and it gives permanent staff an opportunity to exercise their training and mentoring skills.
Thing 20 I'll look at tomorrow hopefully. My Cv is in dire need of revising and though I'm not currently seeking another job it does pay to be prepared.

How did I get here?

No, I'm not suffering from temporary memory loss or Alzheimer's - I do know where I am, just musing about what got me into my current career in librarianship.
I came to it fairly late in life, though there's still plenty of life in me yet - I hope! But the point is that It's a career that can be taken up at any stage of life and having travelled down very different paths to get there. So here's my story....

The first sign for me that librarianship was ever an option was during my school years when a neighbour got me a saturday job in the local library. This was a job I really enjoyed despite being in an era when computers hadn't even been thought of and books were issued using little cards that were filed in date order. The main clientele in this small South London library were old ladies who liked to come in for a chat and ask for recommendations on the latest romance novels but there was still plenty of variety and it was a relaxed, friendly atmosphere to work in.

The second thing that should have alerted me to my future career was a rather pointless attempt at a careers interview by one of the teachers at my school who basically asked me what I liked and what I was good at. She picked on my love of reading and suggested librarianship. At 18 I had no idea what I wanted to do other than learn languages and travel the world and so I went on to do a degree in French.

After graduating I still had no idea what I wanted to do but still wanted to travel and with some romantic notion that I'd make a good foreign diplomat I joined the Civil Service where I remained for many years. I never did get to travel further than France in my job - c'est la vie!

After having children I decided to go for a more family-friendly career and took a TEFL course at Brighton. This helped me to get a job as a teacher of EFL and later as a French teacher as well. For a variety of reasons I decided to give this up after 8 years and took a casual job as a tourist information adviser which was great fun. While doing this I saw a job advert fo an academic librarian. This gave me the idea that I could combine my teaching skills and information skills into a career in academic librarianship and I looked into the qualifications needed.

I took the MA Information Studies course at Brighton part time while still working ,and after finishing the taught part of the MA I applied for and got the job of Assistant Information Adviser at the University of Brighton in 2006. This meant that I had to complete my research while getting to grips with a new job. This was difficult and challenging at times but I did make it and got my degree in 2007.

I work part time at Eastbourne, which is a very relaxed campus, and I support the School of Health Professions. My work is incredibly varied and includes managing the library budget for the School, handling enquiries, ordering resources and providing support and training for staff and students, and attending School Boards. I'm also involved in creating and maintaining resources and contributing to various service projects. There's always plenty to do and not enough hours to do all that I'd like to achieve but I enjoy the variety and the challenges.
I'm now working on my Chartership portfolio which I hope to complete soon. I don't know if I'll progress further in my career at this stage, but if an opportunity arises.......

Recording myself - Thing 18

I've used Jing and quite like it for its simplicity. It's really easy to use and because it's compatible with Camtasia you can combine it with that for more sophisticated editing. We use Camtasia at work but I don't have it at home so Jing is handy for trying out things.  Because you can only record for a max 5mins it forces you to be short and snappy and avoids overlong videos. It's also handy for capturing screenshots.
Using a combination of Jing, Camtasia Relay and Camtasia Studio I've produced a couple of instructional videos for the library on how to search the catalogue and how to search for online journals. We've been working on a series of short 2 min "How to" videos  as well as some longer ones on things like searching databases. These will all be made available to students via our library website as an alternative to printed documents.
I've also recently used Camtasia Relay to record a lecture on literature searching for Health students which has been posted on their VLE for them to watch and refer to in place of the usual lecture. Screencasts are a good way of making info accessible to distance learners and are also helpful for dyslexic students who might not be able to take in all the information in one go.

 I haven't yet used Audacity but can see that it would be a really useful tool for creating podcasts. This is something that's been on my "to do" list for sometime but I've kept on a back burner for several reasons. Firstly that I haven't yet had a need to create podcasts, secondly because like everything else I don't have the time and quiet space in which to try it out, and most importantly because I hate the sound of my voice! It's bad enough hearing my voice on Camtasia screencasts but at least they have visuals to distract the listener. I'm not a fan of listening to podcasts myself as I prefer to receive information visually so I guess their effectiveness is influenced by what type of learner you are. I've always found audio tours of museums etc. quite useful as you can link what you hear to what you see, but I have to admit to losing concentration easily when solely listening to something unless it really grips me. I will try creating something however so that i acn at least tick it off my "to do" list if nothing else!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

On a roll now!

Finally got a bit of time this week to catch up on things in between multi-tasking at work and home. So looking now at Thing 17.
I hadn't realised until I tried to sign up to this that I'd already got an account so I must have thought about trying it at some point! My own experience of viewing presentations on Prezi so far hasn't been terribly impressive as I've found them a bit too "whizzy" and hard to follow. Like others I've found it can give you that feeling of motion sickness. Maybe I've just not seen good examples or maybe I'm too used to the static, linear from of PowerPoint.?  My biggest concern is accessibility and I'm not sure how dyslexics for example would react to this style of presentation - would it be more confusing for them?

As someone that loves playing around with PowerPoint and using lots of images and custom animations to make them more interesting I'm therefore hoping that I could use Prezi as an alternative.
Have had a quick look today and must admit found it a bit confusing as to how to insert the material. It didn't seem to have options for editing text font size and style but maybe I just haven't found that yet. First impressions are that it would take a lot longer to prepare something on this but I guess with practice this would get easier. I see the need to plan it out before you start but I'm not sure how easy it would be to adapt at a later stage if you want to add/ delete or edit the items. I'm going to persevere and try out an alternative presentation on Literature Searching for my undergrads. I'll post later on how it goes.

Again this is something I'd signed up to ages ago and never really used. I can see it might be a useful way of looking for inspiration for presentations by seeing what others have done. Just did a quick search for presentations on Literature searching and picked up a few ideas but was surprised to see how boring and text-filled most of the slides were. This was good as it made me aware of what to avoid and also gave me a small confidence boost in realising that my own efforts were ok in comparison. Don't know if I'll use it for sharing stuff within our institution as we have so many other places for shared docs etc. but I might consider putting some of my presentations up there for others to see.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Thing 16 Advocacy

Have to admit this isn't something I've given a great deal of thought to other than lending my support to the Save the Libraries campaigns. Locally we don't have a problem as our local council are planning to build a new library integrated with community housing and amenities. So public libraries are well supported in our area.

As my research project for my MA I looked at tourist information in libraries in West Sussex and what struck me as I visited some of the libraries was that they needed to be more of a community amenity if people are to keep using them. One of my case studies was East Grinstead Library which housed council Help Desks and a dedicated Tourist Information Desk within the library. This seemed to work very well and staff said that the number of users was high as a result of the combined services. The one- stop-shop approach has a lot of down sides to it, such as watering down expertise at the frontline level but I can see that for libraries it may be the saving grace in this climate of cost cutting. Libraries are an important asset but they will need to adapt to survive.

As far as advocacy in my own workplace goes I haven't paid a lot of attention to it but perhaps have been quietly promoting our services in a way. As an academic librarian my own role is changing too as more and more information is accessed online and the use of physical space in the library is having to adapt. There's been a lot of fear that our roles will become redundant but rather than be pessimistic about this I feel we should be looking at what we can and should offer that's valuable to our library users. For me one of the most important aspects of my job is information literacy training and this applies to all users from 1st year undergraduates through to researchers and academic staff.  So leading on from this I'd say we need to promote our role as teachers and facilitators rather than just guardians of physical resources.

As a result of this I'm promising myself to look at some of the links to campaigns etc and to see if I could be more actively involved.

Thing 15 Attending, Presenting etc.

Firstly attending - I love doing this as it's a great opportunity to learn new things, get to know new people and reflect on my own practice and how it fits in with what's happening in the big wide world. I've been to quite a variety of conferences including ones on supporting researchers, librarians as teachers, supporting students with disabilities, information literacy and OERs. I've also been to a TeachMeet which was great as it was very informal and gave everyone a chance to participate without feeling intimidated. I've always come back from these events buzzing with ideas and make sure I pass these on to colleagues and keep them updated on new trends.
Main difficulty in attending is cost and time. Budget cuts means that I have had to find the funds myself to attend these events and go in my own time, which restricts the number of ones I'm able to go to.

Presenting - something I've only done so far at a TeachMeet. This was a 5 min. presentation on using PollEverywhere which went down well apart from the fact I couldn't get logged in to my account. Just goes to show you shouldn't rely on technology and should always have a backup.
 I think like a lot of other people I'm held back from presenting because I don't feel I have anything valid to present or anything new to offer. Having attended conferences hasn't made me feel any more confident in presenting myself as I see people who are very knowledgeable, have done new and interesting research and are expert in expressing themselves in front of an audience and this in itself is quite intimidating. I don't think I'm put off by having to stand up and speak in front of a lot of people as I've happily done this as a teacher and as a librarian giving talks to students. If I'd researched something, created something new or developed something that I thought would be of interest to others then maybe I would but as it stands I'm not doing anything out of the ordinary at the moment and don't have anything to contribute that others haven't already done. This isn't to say I wouldn't like to present - so maybe sometime in the future.

Organising - not something I'm very good at as I'm not the leader type. I'm always happy to help out but not very good at initiating unfortunately.

I can't really give much advice to others on this Thing as I've not had the experience of speaking except to say that if you've got something to say go for it as there's lots of people like me who enjoy hearing it.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Catch-up Part 1

OK. Here goes. I'm way back at Thing 14 here so lots of work to do. Choices to make - do I religiously go through each Thing thoroughly and blog at length about each one or, as time is limited, do I skim throuth the bits that interest me and blog about those? hmm......  Think I'll see as I go along.

Thing 14 Zotero/Mendeley/CiteuLike

As a trainer for EndNote at our university I guess I've shelved looking at these for a while mainly because I think that I could do without having to learn how to use yet another referencing tool when I'm using one that does the job.

I signed up to Mendeley a long time ago and never used it but was aware of what it did and that others at the university were starting to promote it and offer demos on how to use it.
So now I've decided to revisit it so that I can compare it with EndNote and other programmes.
Having not looked at it for a while I was surprised to see that it has developed into quite a sophisticated and user-friendly tool. It seems to have more of a social networking feel to it with suggestions of people I might know and an emphasis on contacts and networking groups. I like the facilty to search for papers made available through the site though I still have some concerns over copyright issues. The details on what can be uploaded to the site and made publically available weren't easy to find and weren't terribly clear. isearched successfully for papers and added them and also tried importing records from databases which worked amazingly easily so Brownie points for that. I also liked the way you were able to see recently added records. Other good features are the ability to annotate PDFs (though the new version of Endnote allows that too) , the drag and drop facility for importing PDFs possibly (but didn't work for me) and facility to import refs from other programmes such as Zotero and EndNote(haven't tried this yet). 

The main annoyance with Zotero is that you can't use it with Internet Explorer which happens to be the browser I use most. It's geared to use with Firefox although there is now a standalone download and beta versions available to use with Chrome or Safari. It's also a problem if you don't have installation rights on your computer which is the case for most people in large institutions.  A brief look at it and my first impression is that its a simplistic version of EndNote. It's not as sophisticated as Mendeley and doesn't offer the same opportunities for networking and building up your own profile. It probably offers more than I've spotted so far especially if you go for the upgraded paid version. I'll look again but don't think it's something I'd use. Might be a useful tool for undergrads who want a free, simple referencing collection tool that they can access anywhere.

Comparing these 2 with EndNote I'd say that they don't really offer a lot more and possibly have less opportunities for sophisticated customisation of references. EndNote has done a lot of catching up in the last couple of years and the free web version allows you to access it anywhere and share with others. Other new features in X5 allow you to import PDFs and annotate them so they are on a par with Mendeley there. The main advantage of Mendeley and Zotero are that they're free so a good choice for anyone with no access to programmes such as Endnote and RefWorks. I think I'll look more at Mendeley as this is one that I think researchers may be interested in and it would be good to make them aware of it.

Again this was one I was aware of but hadn't got round to trying out. Looks like it's more of a site for sharing references than for actually using them as it doesn't organise them in groups/libraries in the same way as the others and doesn't have the facility to input them into your documents.  Possibly a worthwhile site for researchers to share references and another way of gathering useful articles, PDFs but probably not something I'll use myself.

Wow, I seem to have written quite a lot more than I intended to on this Thing. Probably because I have an unhealthy interest in ways of organising and using references. Must get out more! This has been a good opportunity though to revisit sites I'd been meaning to look again at and has made me realise that there are good alternatives to EndNote. In my inductions and workshops with researchers I shall think about introducing them to Mendeley and CiteuLike and showing them what else is on offer for sharing and organising their refs. so this has been a useful exercise.
Signing off now to have lunch in the sun while it lasts!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Fallen by the wayside.

I've just realised that I haven't been back to my blog or the cpd23 things for over a month and now feeling thoroughly ashamed of myself! To be fair it's been a hectic month with preparations for all the new students and inductions and training workshops starting up early september. In my defence I have been trying lots of new things, reading blogs and getting connected with new people via Twitter, Google+  and LinkedIn. So I'm promising myself to get back into it all and get blogging again this week. Only trouble is the sun's out and the garden is beckoning me......... watch this space!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Wiki ideas


I've used wikis for quite a while within our university VLE (using Blackboard) and our students have been using them within their module areas. One way we've used them amongst library staff was to keep a list of subject guides that we produce and to update the wiki whenever a document was revised. This way we could easily keep track of who was working on each document and when the docs were last updated. I also introduced a wiki for book suggestions at the request of a lecturer who wanted to know if anyone could recommend books on a particular topic.

A few years ago I looked at various Free Wiki programmes such as PB Wiki and Wetpaint. I decided on Wetpaint in the end as it was easier to use and more visually attractive although you do get annoying adverts with the free version.

My first experiment was to create a tourist information wiki for my home town in which I created several different pages for info on places to visit, restaurants etc. You're welcome to have a look at this although I never finished it and the info may be out of date by now.
My next attempt was to create a wiki for the subject area that I was supporting at the university. Again this was never finished but is something I hope to revive now.
I think wikis are a great idea as you can be as creative as you want with them and they could be used in a multitude of ways. As subject guides they are ideal as you can invite others to contribute recommendations for resources and websites and you are usually able to control whether viewers have read only or read and write access. They're also a good way of keeping track of document or project updates. Thanks to cpd23 for reminding me of their usefulness - I can feel lots of new ideas brewing for using them at work and for my own use as a way of bringing together all the links to interesting new resources that my growing network has provided to interesting new resources.

Google Docs and Dropbox

I use Google Docs occasionally when working on joint projects with colleagues. I've got a bit of a love/hate relationship with it as I find it rather slow and clumsy to use and less flexible than Office programmes. It is a good way of sharing docs though especially as I work at a multi campus University and often need to work collaboratively on projects with colleagues miles away. We recently created a document which 3 of us were working on and were able to view and edit the doc as we worked while Skyping. It worked brilliantly!

I've only just installed DropBox and  so haven't had much of a chance to use it but as I work from several different computers it looks like it might be a good way of storing docs that I'm currently working on without having to convert them to Google Docs and with the bonus that it also allows you to share your docs with others.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Catch up time

OK. I haven't added to my blog for a couple of weeks so it's catch up time now as I see we're up to Thing 14 now on cpd23.

Thing 12 - Social Media
I guess that just by joining in with 23 things has made me more aware of how involved I already am with using social media and how I could  benefit professionally from joining online communities and expanding my online contacts.
I had been on Facebook for a while but used it mostly to keep in touch with family and friends so I only have a few work contacts on there and don't use it to talk about work. I'd been resisting Twitter for ages, telling myself I had no use for it, but since trying it out for Thing 4 I have to admit reluctantly to getting more and more hooked. Apart from the odd "curiosity choice" of people to follow I've found it really good for keeping up with what's new in the library community and have already been picking up tips and discovering useful websites recommended by people. 
I was already a member of a couple of CILIP community groups but have now joined a few more communities such as LinkedIn and Google+.  I like the way that Google+ allows you to create separate groups of friends, family and work contacts for example as you don't necessarily want to share the same information with work colleagues as you would with friends. LinkedIn is different again in that it has a more formal, professional side to it allowing you to connect with people who share the same work or research interests and to contribute to shared topics of interest.
I can see a lot of advantages to social media for connecting with people you might never have met but with whom you share common interests. It also provides forum opportunities to discuss hot topics, share useful info or get advice. I've already "met" some really interesting people from these online communities and have learned a lot of new things. It's also made me more aware of issues affecting the wider information community.
The problem for me is the proliferation of networking sites. There's just too many sites for me to visit regularly and the more people you choose to follow or connect with the more updates, tweets, feeds etc you have to keep up with. Some days I really feel bogged down with info overload and have to keep telling myself that it really won't matter and the world won't end if I don't check my computer or phone for updates!
 I think the only answer is to be ruthless in who I follow and not connect with thousands of people just for the sake of it. Already there are far too many people for me to check out on cpd23 unfortunately so I rarely look at other blogs unless something catches my eye. This is a shame as I'm sure there are loads of really interesting blogs there as well as lots of lovely people that I'd like to connect with.....

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

"I am proud of what I am!"

My favourite librarian film clip from The Mummy:

How did I get here?

Well this week it's all about how I came to be a librarian so here goes....

I spent the first part of my career as a civil servant but after having children decided on a career change and trained to teach EFL. I then spent 8 years teaching EFL and French and running La Jolie Ronde classes for children which fitted in well with looking after my children.

Lewes Tourist Information Centre For various reasons, mostly political, I decided to leave teaching and by chance took a job as a Tourist Information Assistant. Loved the touristy side of it and become quite knowledgable about the local area but then council cuts meant that the Tourist Information Centre was combined with local council and CAB offices as a one-stop-shop and housed in of all places a police station! Not so good.

 It was then that I saw a job advertised for a university subject librarian and looked into what qualifications were needed. It seemed to me that this combined what I enjoyed most  - information seeking, teaching, helping people. This prompted me to do an MA in Information Studies at Brighton with my dissertation based on tourist information in libraries. While doing the research I was successful in gaining a job as Assistant Information Adviser and qualified in 2007. My library career is quite short but loving it so far.

I applied for CILIP Chartership last year and am working hard at expanding my skills and knowledge as well as enjoying meeting up with other info specialists at events around the country. Having a mentor is a good idea as it helps keep you on track and it's reassuring to have someone to encourage you and look at what you've done from a different perspective.

I don't think we always realise the vast range of skills we use as librarians and getting some kind of recognition for it through something like Chartership somehow makes it all worthwhile in an otherwise undervalued, underpaid profession. (excuse the minor rant!)

Monday, 1 August 2011

iGoogle, calendars and getting organised

I've added Google Calendar to my iGoogle which I use as my home page.
I’m not sure I’ll use Google calendar much as we use Outlook calendars at work and I have my diary and calendar on the wall at home for any personal stuff but it may have its uses for non-work reminders I guess if it’s on my homepage.
I use iGoogle to try and keep as much as I can in one place though it does limit you to what you can add. At the moment it has:
to do list                                
BBC news feeds       
Google reader                       
Google maps
BBC iPlayer

Evernote looks interesting initially - as a way of making notes as I think of things and see things and then being able to retrieve the notes from any computer. As I’m constantly using different computers this might be useful instead of having to save things to usb sticks and copy from one to another. Anything that helps me get better organised !

Monday, 25 July 2011

professional organisations

Not much to say on this one. I joined CILIP when I started work as a librarian in 2006 and am currently in the process of applying for chartership. Cosequently I've joined various sub-groups including Career Development Group, Information Literacy Group, Academic Research Group and of course my local Sussex group. Membership of Cilip does help to further your career and get opportunities to network with a wide variety of information specialists. The portfolio bulding courses have been very useful. My biggest gripe though is that most of their CPD events are far too expensive to attend. My department has cut right back on allowances for attending events and as an individual there's no way I could afford it. Librarians in general are dedicated but not well paid so membership of organisations that charge high rates has to be limited. Thus CILIP is the only one I've joined so far.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Thing 6 Don't you just hate technology sometimes!

Grrrr... Just spent ages updating the blog on Thing 6 Online Networking only to find it crashed and didn't save any of it!!! So here goes again.

Facebook - been using it for long time now but keep it for social contacts rather than work ones. Really useful for keeping up to date with friends and family ( and a sneaky peak at what wayward teenager daughter is up to! - yes, she foolishly invited me to be a friend). Prefer to keep work and family/social life separate and this isn't easy to do on Facebook. There's the whole debate too as to whether students want lecturers and librarians intruding on their Facebook space. So far we haven't gone down that route in our library.

LinkedIn - have signed up to this as a way of raising my online profile professionally and finding links to people and groups that would be useful. First time I came across it was in a Google search for an old school friend and it worked! Tracked down my friend via her sister who was on LinkedIn. Not sure how useful it'll be for me yet. but this seems to be more suited to professional use than Facebook. Interesting to see that the more things I've signed up to the more overlaps there are between groups and people - keep seeing a lot of the same people.

LAT network didn't realise I'd already signed up to this last year! I think the reason I'd not kept track of it was that there didn't seem to be much activity on it but hopefully more people will sign up as a result of cpd23 and we'll get a fresh wave of interest.

Looking forward to seeing Google+ when I can get an invite. Looks like this may be better than Facebook for networking with work colleagues as there's more control over groups and privacy.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Time for reflection

After a very wet break in Amsterdam is time to get back to work and catch up on everything.

Task 5 - Reflection - is well timed as I'm looking at what I've done so far for my Chartership portfolio. I've realised that  I've attended several conferences, meetings, presentations that have been really interesting, but after the initial buzz and enthusiasm to put new ideas into practice a lot of it has fizzled out. Time now to look back and reflect on what was useful and what use I can make of it. I like the "What - So What - Now What" Borton model of reflection as it's simple and reminds you that its not enough just to attend something without evaluating it and thinking about how it could help you either in your workplace or in your personal career development. Blogs are a great way of both reflecting on an event and also sharing it with others.

The most recent thing I attended was a TeachMeet organised by CoFHE and ILG at Kingston College. This was the first of these kind of events I'd been to and I was a bit concerned that I would be the only one not working in an FE/HE college. As it turned out there was a great variety of people there including some from universities like myself. The day started with talks by Jane Secker, Sarah Pavey and Lisa Jeskins on IL within their organisations and for me Jane's presentation was really interesting as she talked about an IL module developed at LSE which had been successfully embedded into the curriculum.  As I'm involved in a group developing an IL module this was an excellent opportunity to chat with Jane and to contact her after the event for more info. Networking can be really useful!

There were chances to discuss ideas in groups and a great  "find someone who" type Bingo icebreaker during lunch which got everyone chatting and getting to know each other. A lot of the discussion focussed on the importance of getting IL embedded in the curriculum at an early stage so that students will already have good IL skills by the time they reach HE.

After lunch we all had an opportunity to give a quick 5 min presentation on something.
As I'd never done any presentations outside my workplace before I decided this was a good opportunity to "have a go". I decided to give a demo on Polleverywhere (an online voting/comments application using mobiles that we've started using with students) It could have worked brilliantly but as ever with anything online the technology let me down and I could only talk about it without audience participation. I think I managed to keep my cool! Luckily I'm used to this kind of thing and am quite good at winging it! Of course after my presentation it worked perfectly so I was able to put it up on screen and got some people to text comments.
What would I have done differently on reflection? Checked and double checked it would work, brought along some visuals and examples of feedback comments and surveys I'd already done as an alternative.Lots of people did ask me for more info about it afterwards.
Interestingly not everyone who presented had any visual aids but I found the ones that did caught my attention more - something to bear in mind for future presentations. One novel idea someone used was to pass round a coke can and get people to think of words to describe it as a way of demonstrating how to come up with keywords for searches. Another idea I liked was a guide to using the library by Goldsmiths College that used a film noir theme.

What did I take away from this - some ideas and software that I'm going to try out and websites to visit:
  •  Xerte - an online interactive tool for creating exercises
  • University of East London website of Info Skills (open access repurposable resources)
  • University of West London - Learner Journey project using Glomaker - creates a signposted map of the journey withvideos, podcasts text and interactive quizzes
  • Prezi for more dramatic presentations
All in all a very lively, interesting and useful event. It's great to meet others from different types of institutions and in different roles and to share and pick up ideas. Can't wait to go to another of these.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

To tweet or not to tweet

I've finally got round to working on Task 3 having made a feeble attempt at branding myself in Task 2. Decided I really don't know how I want people to see me and think I prefer to keep my personal and professional profiles separate although that might change. For now I've just made some minor changes to  my blog page and added some tantalising "snippets" about me. No photo/image yet as I'm undecided. Perhaps that's what sums me up!

Anyway back to Task 3 where I looked at Twitter and RSS feeds:
I'd already set up a Twitter account some time ago to see what it was all about and had never bothered to tweet as I guess I just didn't get why I'd want to. Having revisited it I thought again about it's usefulness and can see that professionally it's a good way to quickly pass on bits of useful info and links without subjecting anyone to long ramblings. I know a lot of libraries are already using it to keep users up to date on new additions, services etc and it could be a good way for users to ask quick questions. I've added a few Tweets to follow and have had a look at ones that might be interesting but what I've found most of all from this is that the more things like this I'm subscribing to the more overloaded I'm becoming.

RSS feeds are something I've been using for some time and I use Google Reader by choice as I use iGoogle as my homepage. I mainly use them for news feeds and for information literacy/library related ones but also set up temporary feeds to illustrate use of feeds to research students and staff. As part of our training for researchers we show them how to set up RSS feeds to keep up to date with research in their area or journal articles alerts.

Pushnote is one that I decided not to pursue as I couldn't really see any great need for it and mostly use Internet Explorer anyway.

To sum up:   I'd say that RSS feeds are very useful for keeping up to date on news, developments, fresh ideas etc but you need to keep it maneagable as it's all to easy to end up with so many feeds that you have no time to read them. Google Reader is handy cos you can add it to your home page and see at a glance what's new without logging in. To tweet or not to tweet? Well I still can't see me using it much to tweet myself just yet but I'll keep an open mind. The biggest problem for me is keeping up to date with everything. I try and add as much as I can to my home page but having to log in to so many different sites, especially when I use several different computers is a chore rather than a time-saver. So if anyone has any tips on "keeping it altogether" I'd be grateful before I drown under the tidal wave of information overload!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Branding - Who am I?

Just started looking at how I brand myself and followed the suggestion to Google myself.  How depressing to find that I only exist out there as an entry on an electoral roll and as the author of a momentary rant in a local newspaper some years ago. I know I like my privacy but professionally that can't be a good thing can it?
Task for this week then to decide what I want people to know about me and how they see me and to get some profiles out there.

Thing 2

Now that I've got started with blogging I've realised some of the benefits as well as the drawbacks. Have spent some time sneaking a peak at other people's blogs and found some people I know but also a lot of other very interesting  people out there. I feel quite humbled by the very professional looking blogs and informative and engaging comments, so I almost don't dare to post anything. However one of the benefits I can see straight away is that it will encourage me to be more reflective, which can't be bad as I'm currently working towards Chartership.At the moment I think I'm more of a passive blogger but I hope to be able to contribute more and share some of my experiences and ideas. The main drawback for me is finding the time to go through other blogs to find things of interest. I started browsing the blogs but had to give up after a while as a lot of the blogs took me off on very interesting but lengthy tangents that put me in danger of burning the dinner! Keep feeling I'm missing out on something, which is a common feeling with information overload.
Did find a fellow bellydancing librarian though and some very interesting musings from a deep thinker.
Have had some comments on my blog and have added some comments to others so not a bad start.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

The beginning

Well this is it - I've finally created my own blog! Where will it all lead? I've always thought I would never blog and that blogging was a rather egoistical exercise in that the blogger assumes everyone must be interested in what they have to say. Then there are the "blogger lurkers" who sneak a peak at what others are up to but don't contribute anything themselves. ..
So what kind of blogger am I going to be and why am I doing it?
Well professionally I've decided it's something I ought to try and who knows I might have something of interest to share with others and hopefiully discover new things along the way
 Have just signed up to "23 Things for Professional Development"  and week one is "blogging" so I guess that's really why I'm here.

So here goes.....