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!