Monday, 28 November 2011

Thing 23 - The Final Thing!

I did a bit of reflection on CPD23 as part of Thing 19 only a couple of weeks ago, so for this one I decided to have more of a "what next?" mindset.  I like the idea of setting up a PDP (Personal Development Plan), putting down some long and short term goals, and how to go about trying to achieve them. 

CDP23 has made me much more aware of the many different technologies that are out there, and one thing I am keen to continue with now it's over is learning more about what's out there.  Because I fell behind a bit I wasn't able to explore all the tools introduced to us as much as I'd have liked.  Now the course is over I have the time to go back and review some of them in more depth. 

I'm also keen to bring more of what I've learnt in this course to my day-to-day job.  We recently decided to start a blog and Twitter account at work, I'm not sure if we would have been so confident to do that if it wasn't for CPD23. 

And finally, I want to continue getting involved in events outside the workplace, such as attending conferences, joining professional bodies and keeping my online profile active.
Poster available on Amazon

CPD23 has been a fantastic experience, I've learnt so much and feel it has given a renewed sense of purpose to my career progression, a massive thank-you has to go out to everyone involved with putting the programme together.

Thing 22 - Volunteering

I haven't had to do any volunteering myself, although I have considered it in the past.  The main reason for this is that I am able to get the experience I need at work.  Although I am a Library Assistant, ever since I decided to become qualified and exhibited my intention to become a professional librarian my employers have been very supportive in helping me develop my career prospects.  They have allowed me to take part in activities such as cataloguing, and given me plenty of projects and responsibilities that all add to my skills and experience.

Of course they are only able to do this because we are quite a small library that's not really open to the public.  This, I think, makes it much easier to create opportunities for staff to try working in areas that are not truly part of their job specifications.

I do have experience of volunteering from the other side of the fence, we have taken on a number of volunteers during the time I have been there.  They primarily tend to be library students or recent graduates looking to gain that all important experience, but we have also had staff from other departments and Museum Friends.  Reading through Headstrong Way's report on a presentation about  Bishopsgate Library's use of volunteers I was struck by how similar their set up sounds to ours.  Our volunteers tend either to work on particular projects, or if they are library students, get a taster for the different aspects of working in a museum library.  The Museum has a volunteers policy in place to make sure everyone (Museum and volunteer) gets as much benefit from the experience as possible.

Thing 21 - Promoting yourself in job applications and at interview

The theme of Thing 21 is promoting yourself in job applications and interviews, which isn't something I'd previously thought about that much.  My employers paid for my MSc in Librarianship on the understanding that I would stay with them for a minimum of two years after completion.  This meant I didn't join the rush of newly qualified people trying to find their first professional post, and I have to say that was a bit of a relief to be honest.  Also, I'm already in the job I want, just not at the grade I would like (I'm currently a para-professional) so why would I want to leave?  Ideally I would rather have a promotion in my current workplace, rather than have to go elsewhere.  And, as I mentioned in Thing 20, I work a second part-time job, so job-hunting might mean having to say goodbye to two jobs I love.

However, given the current employment climate, it is probably wise to plan for every eventuality.  I know I would feel a little more confident, should I find myself having to look for alternative employment, if I had done some preparation in advance.  And of course, you never know, a dream job that is impossible to resist, could always present itself!

One of the first things I did for this Thing was to update my CV, it had been so long since I was last job-hunting I had rather neglected it.  I then decided to create an 'application form' document.  One of the aspects of filling in application forms that I always dreaded were the sections detailing your personal skills and how they met the job specifications.  I would spend ages trying to decide what to use as supporting evidence, and then even longer drafting and redrafting it.  I downloaded a couple of relevant application forms to give me an idea of the usual questions and criteria that are requested, and tried to get down as much information as possible.  Should I find myself applying for jobs, all I'll have to do is edit them to fit the particular specifications.

I already have a file at work for my PDR (Performance and Development Review) where I note down work activities I've been involved in.  I decided to expand on that to describe the role of my current job, but also added information about non-work activities and my non-library job.  In the past I've always kept my two part-time jobs very separate (or as much as possible) but recently I've come to feel this isn't such a good idea, I have skills I use in both jobs that could be applied to the other.

I had a brief look over the section on the CPD23 post giving advice on job interviews, but as I am not yet at that stage, I feel it is better to come back to that if I do end up needing to attend interviews.  It has made me more aware though of where I can go to find the information I require when I do need it.  Particularly the knowledge that CILIP members are entitled to two free sessions with a careers advisor a year.  I wouldn't have known that if the CPD23 team hadn't pointed it out, as it had somehow managed to escape my notice when I signed up to CILIP, but that will be very useful.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Thing 20 - The Library Routes project

I'd been on the Library Routes wiki in the past, as I always like to be nosy into why other people had decided to choose librarianship, but I had never posted myself.  I was happy to remedy that by adding a link to my Thing 10 post.

I then started looking through the other entries to compare people's paths to librarianship.  I was struck by how many people, like myself, had come to the profession after originally training or studying in a different area.  So many people had first degrees in subjects such as English, Art or Humanities, and only considered becoming a librarian after graduation.

The Wikiman's visual description of his career options
I was also interested to see how many people work part-time in libraries, particularly those who combine two part-time jobs to create a full-time equivalent, as this is what I'm currently doing.  One thing I certainly noticed when I started working in libraries was the wide range of  flexible working patterns that were available.  

Both my library jobs so far have been part-time, because when I was doing my first Masters (in ceramics) I got a part-time job as a pottery technician in a local community learning centre.  I love that job, but the hours and pay are limited.  When I graduated rather than give it up to do a full-time job, I searched for ones that could work around it, which is how I first ended up in a library.  When I realised that libraries were where I wanted to stay, I was heartened to discover that part-time roles were a common feature. 

In the time since starting my current library job I've also added teaching to my pottery technician's job.  I'm relieved that for the moment I don't have to choose between two (very different) jobs that I love, they work side by side very well.  Long may it last!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Thing 19 - Reflection

I think this 'Thing' was originally intended as a way to give people a chance for a bit of a breather and catch up.  I'm so far behind now that I'm starting to fear I won't be done in time to get the certificate (and I really want that certificate!), so I'm only going to do a brief reflection now.  I think I'll save doing a fuller evaluation of the whole course once I'm finished, and preferably after a little time has passed.  I think a little distance, and breathing space, is often required to see the true value of what you have been learning.

Some of the changes that have occurred since doing CPD23, either as a direct result, or because it confirmed what I'd already been considering, include;
Having a blog, a Twitter and a LinkedIn account
Considering setting up a library blog and Twitter account at work
Joining CILIP, and plan on joining ARLIS and the SLA (Special Library Association) in the New Year
Going to networking events, including Library Camp 2011 in Birmingham
Getting re-involved with CLIC (Cardiff Libraries in Co-operation)
Taking part in a couple of #uklibchat discussions, Library Day in the Life and the Library Routes project
Offering to do a guest post on LISNPN in the future

So far one of the things I've found most useful has been Twitter, which really surprised me.  I never used it before CPD, and had a rather negative impression of it, but once I got into it I realised how incredibly useful it is a professional tool.

But I think overall, looking at the list of things I've done I'm struck by the fact that it has all worked to raise, both my profile as a library professional and that of my place of work to the wider world.

Thing 18 - Jing/screencapture/podcasts

Yet again I'm going to skim over, rather than fully explore a 'Thing'.  I have tried to give each new tool introduced to us the time it deserves to review it, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to spare the time for those that are less relevant to my job.  CPD23 has inspired me to be more proactive in looking at how to use new media at work so I'm hopeful that once the course is over I'll continue to explore what's out there.
Screencasts - a digital recording of computer screen output, often containing audio narration
I think there could be scope to use these in my current job.  I've often explained to staff over the phone how to access either the library OPAC or the e-journals on the staff intranet.  Occasionally it has included me demonstrating the process on my computer, and they on theirs, going through the steps together.  It would be useful to simply direct people to a screencast showing them how to do the more common queries.

Podcasts - a media file (audio or video) that can be downloaded and saved
I'm not sure whether we would use these, I know lots of places use them to supplement inductions or training sessions.  Although we do inductions for new staff, they tend to be in quite small groups and not very frequent, so it's easier to do them in person.  However, recently we have discussed doing tours for groups interested in the history of the Museum's library, but space and security constraints have limited how much we can do.  I think placing virtual tours on Rhagor may be one way to combat that problem.

I've downloaded Jing to my home computer, and went through some of the tutorials.  If time allows I may try doing some screencasts introducing searching on the Library OPAC, and maybe try some mock up virtual tours to show to my boss.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Reading Aloud event - 5th November 2011

Last Saturday I took part in the BookIns Reading Aloud event at the National Museum Wales.  Organised by Leona Jones, it's the second of these events to be held at the museum (the first was back in March 2011 to celebrate International Women's Day) and aims to create an "aural and visual impact in unexpected places".

 Participating in the BookIns Reading Aloud event at the National Museum Wales

The theme of this event was travel writing, so we all brought along our favourite travel related books to read aloud for half an hour.  Mine was Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks.

Courtesy of Amazon

Participants spread out over two locations, the Main Hall and the Welsh Landscape Gallery.  As we were reading a large screen in the Main Hall displayed images from the library's collection of travel books including; Gerald Cambrensis The Journey through Wales/The Description of Wales; Sarah Anne Wilmot's Diaries (c.1810) and Shirley Jones's Taith Arall/An Other Journey (2008).

Illustration from Taith Arall by Shirley Jones
The event was a great success, and I'll definitely be taking part in the next one to be held at the Museum, which is happening  in February 2012 to coincide with the LGBT week.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Thing 17 - Prezi and SlideShare

I rarely, if ever, have to do presentations, so my skills in that area end with PowerPoint.  To be honest I barely knew there were any other alternatives out there, I'd never heard of Prezi before, although I had used SlideShare as a way of accessing presentations that people had put online.

Because I want to get through the rest of the 'things' in time to get the certificate, I haven't spent that long experimenting with creating presentations, I just had a look at some of the exisiting presentations on the 'explore' section of the Prezi website and read some how-to guides such as Ned Potter's.

I think that while this is not something that will be of use to me now, if I am in the position where presentations become much more a part of what I do, it will be great to have the knowledge that I can use a more dynamic option.

Finally, if you want to see an example of an inspired use of Prezi check out the one on Library Wanderer's blog, all together now "chilling out, maxing..."!

Thing 16 - advocacy, speaking up for the profession

Typical conversation when meeting someone new and we get on to the ‘so where do you work then?’ part.
Me – In the museum
Them – Oh wow, that sounds great, what do you do there
Me – I work in the library
Them – [long pause] The museum has a library?
Me – [big sigh] Yes
Them – Well I never knew that!
Me – No, no-one seems to [goes off to cry in the corner at lack of public interest in our library]

The Library at Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

Then of course I have to get into explaining how we are in a private part of the museum and only open to members of the public by appointment.  And you can’t really browse, it’s for specific research requirements only, and you can’t borrow books, by which time they have completely lost interest.

Because of the kind of environment I work in I’m not used to shouting about our library that much, it seems unfair to promote something that many people won’t be making use of.  However, I’m starting to think maybe we should, I’d be interested to know how other people in special libraries approach this.

I decided to have a look at the CILIP campaigning toolkit for ideas on some advocacy tools to use within my organisation, my aim is to start small, promoting us to our staff, and to the targeted audiences (post-grad students at the local universities for example) before attempting anything larger.

Other than that my primary method of advocacy is to continue to use my public library as much as possible, I read loads, but I rarely ever buy books, particularly not fiction.  When I hear about a book I might be interested in, my first instinct is always to check the local library catalogue, never to check the price on Amazon, I visit my local library about once a week.  I’m constantly amazed at how many of my friends, many of whom are also avid readers, never use the library. 

So, my new resolution is to try and promote the use of libraries (of all types) wherever possible, it may not be as big as the Voices for the Library or the Women's Institute's Love your Libraries campaigns but it's a start!

Lib-heart.jpg from Read and Shout