Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Reflections on a year gone past - 2011.

I have been very busy this last year. I completed my Chartership portfolio and will find out in a month or so whether I have truly completed it or whether I need to go back to it. It's been an interesting experience and even though I think I reflected well enough on my work previously, it  has helped me to place my role within the bigger picture of the library profession.

I also finished my Preparing to teach in the lifelong learning sector (PTTLS) course. This has helped to improve my teaching and training and confirmed that I was on the right track with many of the methods I was using.

Over the year I have made an extra effort to attended information related events outside of work time and have attended quite a few including Library Camp, London Library Teachmeet, various LIKE events and, where I could get time out of work, partnership training sessions led by my workplace's partners. I also joined the CoFHE LASEC committee. Due to the nature of my role within the committee I was able to attend, speak at and help organise events as well as connect with many other librarians in the academic sector. I have met some wonderful people through my work there and it is a shame that the group will now cease to exist. I do intend to still be involved in the newly formed Academic and Research Libraries Group (ARLG) but have yet to establish what form this will take.

Completing CPD23 has introduced me to many methods of developing myself professionally,as well as many other librarians. I do think that the practice has increased a sense of community amongst many of us. Partaking in the course was what encouraged me to blog and I intend to keep it up even though the course is complete.

There have been many challenges this year at work, at home and within the sector. Next year will be much the same - doing more but with much less. It will be interesting to see the effects of the new HE in FE strategy will be on my workplace and the sector as a whole . I do wonder what the students who are due to go to uni next year will do.


  • Next year I intend to continue getting the most I can out of my CILIP Membership and will make a concerted effort to get more out of SLA, of which I am also a member, than I already do. I will assess whether ALA and BIALL have anything to offer me and whether they constitute enough value for me.
  •  I am going to find more means of online and/or self training as it is becoming increasingly difficult to take time off from work to attend events. I know that many, including ARLG members, are facing the same issues so if I do find material that will be of use I will endeavour to pass it on.

  • I am going to write a couple of articles this year. I have eased myself into it gently by writing blogs and an event review for CILIP South East and I intend to actually write some 'proper' ones this year. I'm not entirely sure where to start and I know that CILIP has a course on this very issue but I won't be going (see point above). I believe plenty of people have written about getting published so will start there first.

  • I am going to run at least 10k. I have recently taken up running 5k at Park Run and intend to take it up a few notches!

  • I will also take up my Spanish again so that if all else fails I can go and raise chickens and pigs in a finca...

Friday, 23 December 2011

HE in FE – Students at the Centre: a question of quality

On 20th December I attended training delivered by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS). I was asked to attend the session as I am responsible for the ensuring the LRC service meets the needs of Higher Education students studying at the College where I work. The objectives of this session were to:
  • identify a variety of definitions of quality
  • identify the key stages in the learner journey and the potential Quality Improvement and Quality Assurance interventions that need to be put in place
  • recognise the importance of learner voice and ientify mechanisms for listening and responding to
  • implement strategies to ensure the learner voice has an impact and informs practice
It was a small group of six people consisting of myself, four teachers and a person from one of our nearby affiliated Universities. Our first task was to consider what the term Quality meant meant to us. I found this a little bit tricky as I know that quality means different things to different people but in terms of an instution this can't be allowed to happen - there needs to be a set definition of quality so people know what to expect. As it happens the trainer, Ann Sykes, agreed and as we went round the table discussing our definitions we all had varying answers which made my point! The place I work in has a clear quality framework so we know what is expected of us each year and the college values (Versatility, Opportunity, Inclusion, Choice and Excellence) give us direction.
Our next task was to chart the learner journey and identify key stages throughout. After a few discussions regarding whether the learner journey started before reaching the institution (which it did) we then quickly came to a consensus regarding the types of things students experienced and when, e.g. assessment and feedback need to continue throughout the course, not just at the end when it can often be too late. There was also a discussion about the lack of study and referencing skills students can often have when they take on their HE courses within the college so this was a fantastic opportunity to remind them of what the Learning Resource Centre (LRC)  staff did and how we are in a prime place to be able to help. Everyone agreed that these skills are essential to develop autonomous learners (and that it was really useful having  a librarian in the room to offer a different perspective!).
We then discussed the new QAA review procedures which have recently been published and how this will affect our institution's utilisation of the learner voice. We quickly realised that as an organisation we knew fairly little of how the QAA was going to affect us, luckily I knew a reasonable enough amount of the review because of my work with CoFHE LASEC and the CILIP Policy team, however, as it is still fairly new I'm sure the information will be sent throughout the college soon enough.
Lastly, we considered how we currently collect and deal with the learner voice and compared it to some case studies. Comparitively, we do really well, especially in the LRC. We use a variety of methods to collect data; focus groups, different types of questionnaires and surveys and I attend staff/student consultative meetings. 'You said, we did' posters are displayed throughout the college and whenever there has been a big change in repsonse to student feedack, e.g. a layout change, it has been widely publicised.
Overall, I found the session interesting in terms of what quality checks need to be put in place throughout the student's time in college studying for their degree. I discovered that people have strong views on whether students should be 'spoon-fed' or not and whether they should have separate spaces or not (these discussions will have to wait for another blog post as they are massive topics to get the teeth into!). Lastly, it was a timely reminder that everything needs to be reviewed consistently and regularly in order to continue improving.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Changes keep changing...and then off to market

It's that time of year again when at work we have our staff development days.

Monday 19th December started off with a speech from our principal thanking us for all our hard work for the previous term and encouraging us not to lose heart as the government makes its chops and changes.We then listened to a keynote speech delivered by Professor Bill Lucas entitled: Making more even in challenging times. My colleague, Rachel Preece expands on this in her blog so I won't go into too much detail, albeit to say I found it interesting and I could immediately recognise some of the reactions to change that people can have. I think I manage change pretty well but to do so I have to take some semblance of control over it rather than it be something that is done to me - not always easy or realistic but worth trying. I'm also beginning to learn when to pick my fights and when to roll over! Bill emphasised that we should also take time to process too and this is something I am guilty of not doing. I have achieved some things in my life which I should be proud of as they took time, effort and an ability to overcome some quite serious obstacles but instead of celebrating these achievements I just move right on to the next thing. I really want to change this as it will only lead to stress and dissatisfaction. Lastly, I liked his presentation style. Despite being in a theatre with rather a large amount of people, he managed to include interactivity without it descending into a shambles - something I'm always interested in seeing how other people do.

The rest of the team then split up and went to various training sessions whereupon I was left to don a stall at the 'Marketplace'. For the last couple of years at my workplace, on staff development day, a Learning Exchange or Marketplace takes place. At this Learning Exchange a few dedicated teachers (Learning Coaches)  who are passionate about improving teaching and learning share their knowledge, tips and tricks with everybody who cares to walk past their stall. This year, I was asked to take part. I was a little apprehensive at first as I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, however, it turned out my old background in 'assisted sales' would prove useful.

Attending this event helped to raise awareness of the Learning Resources Centre across college as our name was on all the marketing material which was circulated. It also raised awareness amongst all the members of teaching staff who came to visit us. They were interested to know what we could offer and were occasionally surprised at the range of resources on offer.

It was a very good opportunity to raise awareness of what we do and what we can offer not only to the majority of the academic staff who passed the stall but also to the Learning Coaches who will pass on their enthusiasm to others. It also gave me the opportunity to put a few faces to names and meet people who I don't regularly come into contact with.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Bubbly, chocolate and bingo...

This week I have been mainly attending Christmas events - well two anyway, and both very relevant to library and information.

On Tuesday, I attended the University College and Research (UC&R)  London section and Colleges of Further and Higher Education London and South East (CoFHE LASEC) Christmas quiz in Holborn. As the two groups will merge from January to become the Academic and Research Libraries Group, it was a chance to meet up with fellow committee members. We will hopefully know more about the future of the committee once the minutes of the UC&R AGM have been written up. I would still like to continue to be part of this special interest group and ensure further education, as well as higher education in further education and the issues librarians face in these roles are still supported and represented by CILIP.

On Thursday, I attended the London and Information Knowledge Exchange Christmas meal. The evening was lovely and the people were exceptionally friendly and welcoming as always. The evening started off with a glass of bubbles, shortly followed by a game of Mingle Bingo. This was a game where we had to match up a list of talents or facts with the people in the room. I spoke to lots and lots of people - asking 'have you had a bumper grape harvest this year?' proved to be a great opening line!

We then sat down and ate our Christmas dinners, pulled crackers and opened our Secret Santas. We had all been requested to spend £1 on a gift  - I received a Thornton's chocolate Santa so was very pleased and I gave a pink Santa hat with the word 'Princess' emblazoned across the front - very fetching!

I then won a box of Hotel Chocolat as 1st prize in the Mingle bingo!

So not only did I come away with a lot of chocolate, but also with the residual feeling of having experienced a great atmosphere and the names and 'interesting facts' of lots of people. I intend to continue attending LIKE events, they are always interesting and informative. I have learned a lot from them in the year that I have been attending their events and they have become so popular that there is now also a Northern version. I'm hoping to use some of their magic dust on the ARLG in the New Year.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

LIKE 31 - Information Literacy: fit for the workplace

On Thursday 24th November, I attended LIKE 31. This month the topic was Information Literacy: fit for the workplace and speakers had been arranged from three different information sectors. In my current job, information literacy features heavily. Part of my job is to teach higher education students at the college how to use the electronic resources we subscribe to effectively and why they should use them rather than clicking onto the first link that appears in Google. Bearing this in mind, I was very interested to hear what other people's experiences of teaching information literacy were like.

Dr Susie Andretta introduced us to the definitions of information literacy and then the speakers, after first declaring " ultimately, information literate people have learned how to learn". The first speaker was Adjeo Boateng from the Higher Education sector. She spoke about her students needing to know how to use knowledge not just technology, emphasised by the fact that her presentation technology had just let her down! The biggest surprise I found from her speech was when she mentioned that the very role of the subject librarian was being questioned and a more holistic view of teaching information literacy across subjects was being mooted. While I can see that students need to be able to be critical of all resources they come across, I would worry that this approach would make information literacy appear less relevant to the students. Even in a college, we 'sell' our resources by emphasising how particular ones are great for the course they are studying.

Rachel Adams from the legal sector was the next to speak. She claimed that lawyers use the seven pillars of information literacy to create a tangible product and that she sells information literacy to them by stating that "it saves time, it saves money and it saves stress". Lawyers don't need an holistic approach - they need to know which resources are best for them and how to use them most effectively - the less time wasted finding out how to do this, the cheaper it is for the client. Getting people in to the sessions is not usually a problem as they have to have a set amount of Cpd to remain solicitors and training sessions contribute to this. Trainees have information overload just like our students do so instead of training them at the beginning of the course and having them forget it, they try to implement a more relevant and timely approach. I think this is very important and it is something we try and do at my workplace - tie information literacy in with assignments being completed at the time to show students relevant they are. The legal sector also has the same issues with spoon feeding of students - although this seems to be a common problem, as reported on in this Times Higher Education article,  which won't be going away any time soon.

Lastly, Caroline de Brun from the Health sector spoke of her experiences. She explained how health literacy (deciphering medical language) was often confused with health information literacy so now the term 'evidence-based' was being used instead. Claiming that doctors don't get get time to research and that it is difficult to access good resources on the NHS, it is essential that any training they receive takes the least amount of time possible away from the patients. Consequently, Caroline has developed ten minute training sessions. As with all sectors, impact measurement is required.  In the health library they not only assess by collating immediate feedback but also analyse patient feedback and statistics.

Dr Susie Andretta brought the discussions to a close by reiterating the key points which had been made throughout the evening: we need to be able to 'sell' information literacy to the people who need it possibly by giving it a different name, there is still an over reliance on Google and we need to create a 'just in time' approach to keep information literacy at its most relevant.

I really enjoyed this session and found it very interesting that the same issues regarding information literacy keep cropping up across all the sectors. I found it disturbing, but sadly unsurprising, that doctors are using Google to search for medical information and was rather perturbed that the issues seem to continue despite all the librarians in every sector and level of work and education trying their hardest to promote information literacy. Something is going wrong somewhere.

On a more positive note- the next LIKE event is the Christmas dinner! Best start looking for my Secret Santa...

Sunday, 20 November 2011

HE in FE - just keeps on growing...

For the last couple of weeks, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about and writing about HE in FE. I do this quite a lot anyway as I work in a Further Education College and am primarily responsible for supporting Higher Education students with their learning resource and information literaracy needs. However, a couple of weeks ago I went to a meeting where a member of senior management asked me, as a representative of the LRC, to consider the impact of more directly HEFCE funded courses on our service. For those who don't know, if a course is directly funded by HEFCE it means that the student numbers belong to the college rather than the University - the consequence of this is that it is much cheaper for the college to run the course but students don't have access to anything the validating University has to offer. Great, I thought, a request to spend some time thinking and considering rather than just being asked to help with printing enquiries!

So I did and it kept on growing! I initially wrote down my own thoughts such as the need for more University level resources, especially electronic resources, and the fact that Universities have more generous opening hours than colleges. I then opened it up firstly to my work colleagues, one of whom suggested we should have a separate HE budget, and then secondly to my professional peers via various JISCMAIL lists, CILIP's LinkedIn page and the Cofhe Lasec blog. I even asked the potential CILIP counsellors for their opinions in the ehustings. While the responses I received weren't many the ones I did receive were well thought out and detailed. The main consensus seems to be that:
  • this is going to become a massive issue as the government continues to tinker with education
  • clear communication is vital between the many layers of educational institutions so people, and in particular, students aren't misled
  • that it may all become quite fraught with competition between the various providers - see this BBC piece which clearly demonstrates how this is already happening.
Anyway, I found this all very interesting, if slightly doom-laden, and wrote up my findings for the groups I had commandeered for their opinions. This was then retweeted by the Guardian Higher Education Network which I was very surprised and pleased about.

So that should have been the end of it (apart from I am still waiting to feed back to the member of senior management) but not so. My esteemed CoFHE LASEC Chair, Helen Stein, is in contact with all the right people at CILIP and the policy team there were considering responding to the QAA consultation on the replacement of the IQER. So we told them that we thought this was a very good idea and then had a couple of days to put something together. Being not directly work-related meant I couldn't do this on work time so my evenings were a little busier that usual to say the least! Anyhow, it has gone through and everyone is happy and when the new version of the IQER is rolled out I can tell myself that I was involved in that. While I don't expect much, I do hope that we have encouraged a few of the powers that be to think a little more about the work that librarians do to support students and the challenges they face in doing so.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

LIKE 30 - Knowledge Transfer: Making it stick

On Thursday evening I attended a London Information and Knowledge Exchange event. The evening's speaker was Gary Colet, Knowledge and Innovation Network Facilitator at Warwick Business School and he was speaking about knowledge transfer and making it stick. When I registered to attend the event my interpretation of knowledge transfer was related to my own work i.e. I thought it would have something to do with teaching or training and making the knowledge stick in the attendees heads. What it was really referring to was how to capture and transfer the knowledge of experienced people leaving a company.

Gary started the session by sending four people out of the room and then, one by one, allowing them in . He told a short story with several key facts in it to the first person who then had to repeat it to the next person and so on.  As was expected with this elaborate version of Chinese Whispers, the knowledge experienced a significant level of degradation the further it passed down the line, details were lost and people started to fill in the gaps with their own, wrong, information.

What the speaker was illustrating by this story is that if we don't want details to be lost then we should ensure important knowledge passes through as few hands as possible; the person who has it should speak directly to the person who most needs to receive it. This will help to prevent the disappearance of contextual and tacit knowledge and could, ultimately, save a lot of money.

His job is to put the right people together and to ask the right questions. The questions he asks follow the system of OPEC: open questions - probe for more information - examine it in order to validate key information and close the conversation. To demonstrate what he meant by this we were asked to work with a partner and take it in turn to use these types of questions to find out a particular topic we had chosen. It was harder to do than I thought, especially with a full room of people doing the same thing. However, I did get to find out about one LIKE member's love of music and I was able to share my interest in yoga and how I had applied some of its principles to the workplace!

While I am not involved in any way, shape or form with this type of knowledge transfer in my current professional life, I can see the importance and value it would have to an organisation. I know many organisations, including my own, hold leaving interviews - it would be interesting to discover how these happen in practice.

Attending these events is also opening my eyes to the variety of knowledge and information roles out there and it gives me a little hope that if I were to leave the academic sector there are other routes I could take and I would be working with a lovely group of interesting and dedicated professionals.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 23 -THE END?

I've made it - sanity intact, well almost...

This is the end of Cpd 23 but, while it may be the end of the program, it isn't the end for me. I still have lots I want to do, some of which are mentioned in the previous Thing 19 blog. I have been introduced to a number of new 'things' including Evernote, Dropbox and Zotero. I have reintroduced Prezi to my life, I'd previously given up on it but used it only a few days ago at the Web Safety CoFHE LASEC event Cat, my colleague, and I delivered and the sky didn't fall down. I'll blog about this later. I've also joined organisations which I wouldn't have thought of joining without Cpd23 and hope to start making the most out of these soon too.

The biggest thing Cpd23 has done for me is to encourage me to really think about the impact of what I do and to connect with others working in the same sector and experiencing many of the same issues and challenges. I hope to carry on the conversation with the contacts I have made through Cpd23 so will continue blogging and tweeting.

I hope the CPD23 page won't disappear as I think it is likely that I will want to visit it again in the future. I know some organisations hold their own mini-cpd to get people's in-house skills up to scratch and I think this is a really good idea. Thank you to all the organisers and contributors - I hope we all continue to communicate and learn from each other.

Cpd23 - Thing 22 - Volunteering

Thing 22 asks us to consider volunteering.

As a child I volunteered for lots of things, mostly charity stuff and helping out every Saturday at the coffee morning. However, as an adult, it is not something I have ever done.  I used to work at a children's bookshop but wanted to break into publishing so was very pleased when I was offered some volunteering work at Hodder. I knew I would have to do this if I wanted to gain any experience. In the end I cancelled it as I was offered my first library post and I decided to see where that route would take me.

Luckily, I have always been in paid work but would volunteer if I knew it would give me a skill of which I knew was lacking or if it was something I genuinely cared about and felt I could help with.

Sadly, I think most decent volunteering intern type posts can only be taken up by people who can afford not to be in paid work, although there will be a small few who take on paid as well as voluntary to pay the bills. While I agree that volunteering is very important for both the volunteer and for the service being provided there is a danger that they will only be given the most menial tasks as these are the wages which are being saved and not be taught the skills they are after. I've heard too that some graduate trainee type posts are like this too - the trainee just keeps doing the basic jobs but doesn't get to move on and be shown all the other tasks which they should be.

This has always been prevalent in the media and politics, as well as other industries which affluent people tend to flock towards. However, the deal is that once you have done your time you will reap the rewards. I'm not sure this is the type of volunteering that people are expecting from libraries. Most likely it will be more like the local charity shop which is regularly closed due to lack of volunteers. Maybe not - with more information sector jobs being scrapped despite the dismal literacy rates and despite the lack of knowledge management amongst government officials we will all have more free time to volunteer!

Cpd23 - Thing 21 - Promoting yourself

Thing 21 is getting us to focus on our strengths and how we promote ourselves.

I generally suffer from crises of self-confidence whenever I have to promote myself, despite knowing I can usually do whatever is being asked of me. Writing my Chartership CV has helped me to identify my strengths as it requires you to write about them separately before writing out the details of employment and education. The downside is that I now have a CV four pages long so need to rectify this quickly!

I have been for a couple of interviews in the past year, where I perhaps wasn't the most obvious candidate but knew I could do the job well. Each time I have come second, so I am now doing my best to strengthen areas of weakness. It still hasn't put me off applying for jobs that I like the sound of even if I don't 100% meet the criteria, as you never know. However, preparing for interviews generally makes me sick for about a week prior so I am not sure that doing this is the best thing, short-term anyway, for my health!

Having been embarrassed once in the past by not preparing enough, I make sure never to make that mistake again. I now read all the reports available, find out stakeholders perceptions and generally make sure I know my stuff about the organisation, both good and bad. Try not to mention the bad though - I did once and was told this was the reason I didn't get the job - oops!

Having started delivering staff and student training and information literacy sessions in my workplace, I have discovered that I enjoy doing it. I hope this will feature in a job I have in the future. I also really enjoy the chance to ,research,develop and/or create things but unfortunately there is now little time for this. I would like to do more of this in the future. Now and again working form home would be lovely too. If anyone knows what type of job I would suit in the information sector then please get in touch!

Cpd23 - Thing 20 - The Library Routes Project

Thing 20 is about our careers. I added a brief post of my route to the Library Routes project for Thing 10, but hadn't really spent a lot of time thinking about it. Looking through other people's posts makes me realise that the journalism and careers advise sectors are really missing out, as it seems that at one time or another we have all tried to follow one of these paths! (Just for the record - I wanted to be a journalist).

I wish I had thought more seriously about what I was going to do when I was younger and that I had tried to get more relevant experience. While at college and uni, I worked at various places including factories, a fast-food outlet and a frozen foods retailer. Despite not being closely linked with the type of career I want they have taught me two things, 1 - I am capable of offering good customer service to angry, drunken and hungry people so anyone else is a doddle and 2 - if I'm having a bad day at work it could always be worse!
Jo Alcock, at LibraryCamp, stated her intention to research what libraries can learn from retail and having now a background in both I am finding it all quite interesting.

In my home town, there wasn't a great deal of aspiration and success usually meant you'd been given a council house. I think this is why I wasn't really sure where I was going because there was little advice or inspiration on offer, however, the more I am introduced to the great array of things people do the more excited I become about the possibilities. I now make the most of every opportunity I am given, whether it be training, a meeting, a project and regularly volunteer for things even if I can't ascertain their immediate worth because you never know where it might lead. This attitude has stopped my current job from becoming stale and so far it has increased my skills in elearning, presenting, training and improved my knowledge of issues in the information and educational sector as well as it becoming much easier to talk to people at various hierarchical levels.

My next step is to start looking through job descriptions I may have discounted in the past for being too far above my skill or experience level and try to fill in some of those gaps.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Library Camp 2011

On Friday 7th October I made my way up to Birmingham after work to attend Library Camp on the Saturday. Meghan Jones and I managed to get lost at 11.30 pm but eventually we made it to our lodgings and to the camp the next day. As many of you know by know - it wasn't in a library and there was no camping involved, however it was full of people passionate about libraries (note I don't say librarians!)

It was a fantastic day and I met lots of great people, many of whom I'd already connected with on Twitter. Due to the amount of people, I didn't get to speak to everyone I wanted but did manage to have conversations with a fair few which I hope will continue. I'm just going to cover the main things which stood out for me:

The Venue: was a fantastic place with rooms large enough to hold the conversations in and to keep mingling without being trapped in a corner. I think the sessions worked better where the chairs were in a circle so discussions could happen more naturally.

The Organisation: all occurred far better than I was expecting. Because all the ideas had been pitched at the beginning, people could decide what to go to. Occasionally, they clashed but I think this is always going to happen at whatever type of conference you attend, unless repeat sessions occur. I guess at next year's session, more people will want to propose discussions and there will need to be a fair way of deciding who gets what, for example, not letting people pitch for several. I also think that sessions should be pitched prior to the event via the wiki so more time could be spent on the day discussing the topics.

Session 1: Transliteracy: bridging the transition from school and further education to higher education - led by Jo Alcock and Jean Allen

I found all of the sessions fascinating and have taken away ideas from all of them. A lot of people referred to Further Education (16-18) as school, presumably because they were used to 6th forms. Once I realised this I felt I understood things much better! The session reminded me to not assume that everyone has a PC and to speak the language of academics. I was interested to hear that the University of Brighton and UWE have an information literacy module for teachers. I think this would be a good resource to put in our intranet pages for teaching and learning. I'm also going to look at the research report by Jane Secker and Emma Coonan have completed looking at information literacy.

Session 2: Cutting services while maintaining them 

I though this was incredibly relevant considering the cuts to the sector. The session focused mainly on public libraries but it did give me some useful tips, for example, to check what students are saying about our service on social networking sites and find ways of demonstrating professional activities before they become too watered down.

Session 3: What libraries can learn from retail - led by Jo Alcock and Anna Martin.

 Many of the details of the session came from this post on Jo's blog. I have already ordered the books mentioned and I'm looking forward to reading them. My institution has already put into practice many of the suggestions mentioned but there are some simple things we can still do, for example, leave the returns trolley out and deliver some training on how to spot different characters. Jo Alcock is going be researching this area and I think I will pay close attention!

Session 4: The Higher Education experience in a Further Education environment - led by me!

 Despite there being quite a few shouts of approval when I pitched, there weren't a great many attended, however, this did mean it was much easier to chat (I think they all attended the embedding session which I really wanted to go to as well but thought it would not to turn up to my own!). I wanted to find out how people were creating the Higher Education experience for HE students in an FE setting and people had a variety of experiences to share. For example, some institutions are focusing on open source databases rather than subscription ones for their HE students, some had different opening hours for students depending on whether they were HE or FE and there was much discussion over licensing agreements and the different types of study spaces available to each group. The overall consensus was that it was difficult to please two very different types of stakeholders! I've got a lot to do regarding this subject and no doubt you will hear from again regarding it.

Session 5: Challenges facing academic libraries and collaboration with other sectors - led by Liz Jolly

There was a lot of discussion at this session regarding cross community collaboration under one roof, the Hive at Worcester, is an example of this practice. While I can see it saves money and may increase the interactivity amongst the community, I am a little wary of it - are students paying £9000 a year really going to accept sharing their resources with a member of the public, even if they have paid their council tax? I'm concerned that all this amalgamation might lead to the watering down of services, however, I'm willing to be proved wrong on this matter if it's all good for society!

Overall, Library Camp was definitely worth attending to. I was able to take part in some illuminating conversation and being in a room with so many passionate people has helped to increase my motivation just at a time when it was needed - so thank you Library Camp organisers and attendees. I hope to see, hear and read more of you in the future!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Like 29 - Connecting Information with Innovation

On Thursday I attended another of the events organised by  LIKE (London Information Knowledge Exchange). The speaker was John Davies. and he was talking about TFPL’s recent report “Connecting Information with Innovation” ( The survey examined knowledge and information management skills and roles across a range of participating organisations. As one of the report’s authors, he was explaining the implications for 21st Century Information Professionals.

After he spoke of the report's findings, he asked us several questions including how our role fits into Knowledge Management, what or who gives us the authority to do what we do and what's more important as an attribute; vision, dogmatism, ability to meet deadlines etc. We were then asked to discuss each question in turn then share our findings.

Initially, I could not see how my role fit into the broader spectrum of knowledge information management, but , after discussing my role with several of the people on the 'fishcake' table and after a  few glasses of wine, the group of people I were with expressed surprise at this and called me (amongst other things) a person responsible for knowledge transfer, a squirrel and an onion with may layers! They also said it seemed like I did a heck of a lot - which is something I could have told them straightaway! So I now feel I know my place in the grand scheme of knowledge information management, which is no mean feat.

There were a number of contentious topics discussed amongst all this especially over knowledge management versus librarianship and whether definitions are important. One lady described how when writing her CV, she didn't use job titles as she believed them to be meaningless. Others agreed that job titles never seemed to represent anything. Many concurred that this was the case but unimportant in the scheme of things. Those who worked for recruitment firms, on the other hand, found that it was making their job much more difficult.

When discussing what attributes we considered as important for someone working in the KIM sector, I mentioned the long and still ongoing debate on LinkedIn where no-one can decide on a particular attribute. In my opinion, one good attribute does not a great information professional make! A mix is required -  just like a good variety of skills are required in any organisation. Surprise was expressed at there being no mention of leadership in the TFPL report as this is an attribute worth having if anything is to ever get done.

Overall I had a lovely time, met some great people and found out more about what is happening in the wider sector. It also greatly encouraged me to feel part of it.
The next session is focusing on knowledge transfer and making it stick so, considering the amount of time I spend delivering training, I will definitely be attending it.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 19 - Catch up and reflection

Thing 19 is catch up and reflection time.

Since I started CPD23 I have learned many new things; some of which I have implemented and others I have put on my good intentions list.

Blogging - I have actually quite enjoyed blogging but still find it faintly ridiculous that I am writing for a current total of seven followers - I feel like Snow White, except that I'm the one who's 5ft! It is good for reflection and it  encourages me to do so fairly straight away. I am going to carry on blogging even when CPD23 has finished as I will continue being part of the information profession who are continually developing and it is a useful reminder of some of the things I've been up to. I've also enjoyed reading other's blogs - I access them through Google Reader or new ones via Twitter - I still need to review my choice of blogs regularly to ensure I am reading a good selection of what's available.

Branding - I think I'm getting better at this. I now have a consistent profile across the various social media platforms I am on, however, I do need update them more regularly than I am doing.

Twitter, Google Docs and Reader, and RSS Feeds - I use all of these much much more than I did previously. Not to say I wasn't using them but just that they now feature in my everyday life and I don't have to remind myself to use them. All these tools have proved very useful and I will continue to use them. I would recommend that everyone uses them. For example, I found out about LibraryCamp through Twitter and it was sold out within the day. I wouldn't have had the opportunity to go if I didn't follow tweets. I'm going next week - if it turns out to be rubbish I'll blame Twitter for getting me carried away!

Dropbox, I am now using to store my Chartership Portfolio after the episode with my workplace server. I'm not allowed to download it at work in case people use it for sharing music files so that's the only downside to it. I also can't download Evernote at work. which is a shame because it would have proven very handy when researching web safety and digital literacy recently. I would have been able to save all my notes and relevant websites to one page which would have saved me quite a bit of time. I am currently using it to save ideas for Christmas presents and for decorating my home.

Going through my blogs I realised I had set plans to:

  •  buy kittens
  •  learn Spanish
  •  write articles
  •  and continue involvement with peers. 

Gratuitous shot of kittens as evidence!

  • I'm doing the Spanish BBC Course
  • I've written more blogs and one article which is yet to be published. I still want to keep plugging away at this as I'd love to see my name in print.
Lastly, I am still maintaining my involvement, as it has been the greatest benefit of doing the CPD23 course. I am now closer to my peers and have felt that I am part of the community. I look forward to seeing some of them at LibraryCamp and also the CoFHE LASEC web safety event.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Cpd 23 - Thing 18 - Jing

Thing 18 is about Jing and podcasting/screencasting. I use Jing occasionally and I find it does its job extremely well. Once you get the hang of it and make the screens the correct size, it is fairly easy to use.

At my institution, we have integrated it into our library Moodle pages. These are then either played or alluded to in the induction, depending on content. We have Jings covering how to use the catalogue, how to use keywords effectively, and how to use eResources. As I have recently started delivering staff training on Moodle and interactive technologies in lessons, I will be creating a lot more on these topics.

The positives are:
  • Fairly straight forward once you get the hang of it
  • A good visual way of teaching something that is difficult to explain without showing practically

The negatives are:
  • If any details change then the whole thing needs to be recreated (for example, all your access to resources is now through Moodle)
  • They have to be done in one go so either keep using the pause button or don't sneeze!
  • I really dislike listening to my own voice so it makes me feel all awkward!
Overall, not one of my favourite technologies but really rather useful.

Cpd 23 - Thing 17 - Prezi

Thing 17 is about Prezi and Slideshare.

I've used Prezi once and it took me so long to do I gave up on it. I first came across it last year at a Kingston University Partners' Day when a speech was given by Ian Collins from University of West England. It looked like an interesting way of presenting, and, being quite bored of PowerPoint, I thought I'd give it a try. As it happened, I had an interview coming up at a rather good University and the content of the presentation I had to deliver seemed to fit the profile of what a Prezi should be i.e. lots of connected ideas and topics. However I spent about three evenings thinking about the content and then had to spend another three evenings just trying to put it together. I could not get a handle on wizziness and seasick inducing motion. I came to the conclusion that when style starts taking longer than substance it's time to call it a day. In the end I transferred all my content to a PowerPoint but still kept the theme of connectedness.

However, saying all that, I have now seen a few Prezis and they are getting better.  I think my problem was that I as treating it like a PowerPoint i.e with a linear structure. Also, I've since found that having all the content structure of the presentation laid out before hand greatly helps. I will give it another go but it won't be for work any time soon as we  have standard PowerPoint templates for our referencing sessions and the information literacy and Moodle sessions I deliver are all practical.

Slideshare - I don't use this for work as we keep all our documents in one work area. I do use it a part of the CoFHE LASEC Committee; we keep our presentations from our events on it, which means we can easily give people a link to this rather than emailing several different PowerPoints to numerous people. It is also compatible with LinkedIn so I have added them to my profile. I find looking at other people's Slideshare accounts very useful when I am researching a topic as they are very quick to trawl through. The most recent ones I found to be of value were the JISC slides when looking for information on digital literacy. There's a wealth of information here.

Overall, this Thing has encouraged me to give Prezi another go and reminded me to look at other's slides more often, as well as update my LinkedIn page. So all in all - a worthwhile task.
And the job - sadly I was beaten by an exceptionally strong candidate - I wonder if they used Prezi...

Monday, 12 September 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 16 - Advocacy

Thing 16 is about advocacy and getting published.

I have not been published. I have been intending to get published for the last three years and for some reason something stops me from putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. I have entered library competitions where the winner would have to write a piece on the event they attended - I never won. I keep volunteering to write book reviews just to get me started and for some reason this hasn't come off (although, fingers crossed, there should be something in the post soon from the editor of Managing Information). In the past, I have written pages of ideas and introductions but never completed them. I guess previously the only library 'stuff' I did was for my job and I was a little nervous about writing about this in case I said something that was 'the wrong thing'.

However, now I am much more involved in library 'stuff' outside of my job, it is a much larger part of my life. I have written a piece about a CoFHE LASEC event I was involved in for Eclipse magazine, the CDG LASEC publication, and I hope this is published. Blogging is also getting me into the habit of writing more; I should probably take much more care crafting beautiful sentences in case people think this blog is an example of my ability I write!

Reader, I could probably advocate more. I didn't know there were advocacy resources on the CILIP website and I've started looking at a few of these. While useful, I'm a little concerned how out of date some of them are. The HE in FE information, the area I work in, is from 2004. So much has changed on the last seven years, including the rise in tuition fees, the change in government, the controversial Browne Review followed by the even more controversial HE White Paper that someone from CILIP needs to go over all this material.

I advocate where I can and explain what I do when someone says - " you did a Masters in stamping books". When I've had the opportunity to go to events I've involved myself in conversations and talked about the work I do, not only in my current role but also for CoFHE LASEC. Advocacy is so important, especially when the impact of everything undertaken needs to be assessed. I have started ensuring I can do this. I am currently investigating how I can realistically assess the impact of inductions of student performance and have also set up procedures to assess the impact of displays and events within the LRC. While teachers are becoming focused on evidence-based teaching, it seems that we have to do the same too if we are to remain.

There has been a lot of work put into trying to save the public libraries, an incredibly important task if we are to save them for future generations. It seems like school libraries have all but disappeared  - how was that allowed to happen? As part of CoFHE LASEC, we are considering doing some work on ascertaining the scale of redundancies and unfilled posts within the FE sector. I guess what this shows is that we all want to protect our own little silo of the information world. It would be lovely if we could get together and support each other but at the moment I'm not sure if this is possible. Many people are just trying to stay afloat and sometimes even this can be very gruelling at times. I don't know what the future holds for the profession or for libraries, however, as long as we do the best we can in the circumstances we are in and give the best service we can to our users then I would suggest then I would say we are all advocates for what we do.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 15 - Attending, organising and presenting

Thing 15 is about attending, organising and presenting at events and seminars.

In the last year I have done all three and while it has been occasionally nerve-wracking, it has definitely been interesting and worthwhile.

Some events I've been to:

HE in FE Bristol Conference - this was quite a large conference in Bristol. I got the chance to listen to many different speakers from various colleges and universities and also got chance to meet up with some people I knew from the affiliated universities I work with. Listening to the speakers made me think about how students are going to perceive the library and its offerings post fee hikes, which was rather worrying. It also made me realise that almost all universities allow the librarians from their partner colleges access to their eresources in order to help students use them. Unfortunately, the one university we are partnered with who doesn't do this wasn't there but I will keep arguing for access. It also made me realise that the institution I work for does many, many really good things but we aren't talking about them at conferences such as these. I aimed to change this!

CoFHE Enrichment day - As a new member of CoFHE LASEC, I was asked to speak at the CPD day the held in March. I was used to speaking in front of a room full of students but never in front of a room of professionals so was rather nervous. I spoke about my role in the institution I work for, how I support the HE students, how I keep the HE Centre running smoothly and the impact of a recently installed cafe in the premises. People started asking questions which was encouraging as it showed they had been listening and overall I enjoyed the afternoon.

Due to this experience, I have fewer qualms about speaking at the next event in November and it has also helped increase my confidence in delivering training to academic staff, a recent addition to my role as HE Resources Advisor. I've never embedded fonts though, recommended on the cpd23 blog. This has never crossed my mind although it seems like something I should be doing though! I do use Powerpoint (PREZI takes far too long to prepare) but I don't think I make any of the usual mistakes people do. I find memorising my opening sentences very helpful for keeping nerves at bay and telling myself that the audience doesn't know what I forgot to tell them.

London lib teachmeet -I've previously reviewed this and it was also included in the Information Literacy website!. 

Various Like events - these events are completely different to anything I had been to before. They are held in a pub and there are friendly, interesting people from all sorts of different organisations, although there doesn't seem to be many from college or universities. There will be a speaker and then we will all discuss the topic over dinner - very civilised. I haven't been to many due to them being a little tricky transport wise to get to but I do intend to keep attending as they are a useful reminder that there is a much wider organisation out there working in the information sector.

CoFHE LASEC Information Literacy and Teachmeet - I helped to organise this as I had volunteered the use of the HE Centre as a venue. It was stressful but I guess all first attempts at organising are. Certain things didn't work but we got good feedback and hopefully as my experience increases my abilities will strengthen. A more in depth description can be found on the CoFHE LASEC  blog.

Equality and Diversity Conference - it was a free opportunity and I took it., before realising quite how how tricky it was to get to Havering College from my home! I was the only one who attended out of the E and D Committee so at some point in the near future I will have to report back to lots of directors, something I'm not particularly looking forward to! I also asked a question too in front of the whole audience - we all kept being told how Equality and Diversity was important for all areas of the College and how it was a seamless experience for the students but the library/LRC was never mentioned, so I asked why this was the case. The audience were then told what a fantastic job the LRC did and how they were fully integrated into the college, so I left quite pleased.

Birmingham Lib camp - I will be attending this in October and I am looking forward to it. I have never been to an unconference and I am slightly concerned that it may be unorganised. On the other hand it will be based on what people really want to talk about so could be incredibly timely and relevant.

There are some events which I would have liked to attend such as LILAC, Umbrella and the CoFHE Conference. Funds not withstanding, it's incredibly difficult to get time out of work so events are after work in my own time or at the weekends. As much as I am a committed professional, I also need to remind my husband and kittens of my existence on occasion. I've followed events on Twitter and intend to attend webinars. I recently missed one by the SLA, of which I am recent recruit. It was called how to teach something you know nothing about. Having just started teaching academic staff how to use Moodle 2.0 and also teaching myself it at the same time as doing my usual day job, this is no mean feat and seemed an appropriate title!

I have entered competitions for a couple of different conferences but haven't won anything. I became a little disheartened especially as you put a lot of time and thought into it but I do intend to start looking out for stuff again, especially as some of the other librarians I've spoken to have received so many awards and bursaries.

So plans of action are :

  • learn how to embed fonts
  • enter more competitions, especially for LILAC, Umbrella and CoFHE
  • volunteer to speak more often
  • prepare for November's CoFHE LASEC event.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Cpd 23 - Thing 14 - Zotero, Mendeley and Citeulike

I remember using Endnote for one of my assignments at UCL and getting everything crossed out in red pen. It was my fault for not double-checking but I was relying on it to work! I vowed after that to do all my own referencing! However, I'm sure things have improved and, as I receive lots of referencing enquiries from students, I should really have another go at using these tools.

I regularly teach referencing at my institution but have never had to teach them how to use software. I think it's important that they know the basics first so they can recognise if anything has gone wrong! Higher Education students I work with are taught how to use either Endnote or Refworks depending on their affiliated University, however, they are taught this by the library staff at the University, rather than at the College. They often find this incredibly confusing so I think I should learn how to use these so I can help more.

I had heard about Mendeley at the British Library exhibition at my first LIKE event. It sounded an amazing way of sharing research and connecting to the eminent people in their fields, however, I didn't realise at the time it also sorted out referencing. I guess the downside to it is that you have to download it and then can't just access it from anywhere (please correct me if I've got this wrong) on the plus side it should be safer to use than cloud based software which may still disappear or get taken over and change. I think it would be very useful to serious researchers and I would probably use it or Zotero if I were to rewrite a dissertation or start a PHD - not that I have any intention of doing that... I don't think it would be suitable for the majority of students at my current institution as they are just not writing at a level where they have pages and pages of research which needs organising.

I like that you can add pdfs to Citeulike, but you can also do this with Zotero. I think that if I were to recommend a piece of referencing software to academic staff or researchers it would be a toss up between Zotero and Mendeley but I would recommend Citeulike to the younger students as I think they would get on better with the layout. It is a shame it doesn't do in text referencing though which students often struggle with. Perhaps, after more practise and after reading other people's reviews I will change my mind.

My next job, however, is to refresh my memory of Endnote and Refworks for my HE students who have access to the software...

Monday, 29 August 2011

Cpd - Thing 13 - Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox

Thing 13 from CPD23 focuses on Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox.

Google Docs - I started using Google Docs when I joined CoFHE LASEC. I had never used it before but found it very easy to pick up.We use it to collaborate on training events, keep a list of members, lists of useful contacts and the details of those who have attended our events. We also keep our minutes there. I have found this really useful as it cuts down on the amount of emails sent each other and means we can all see what each other is doing, our progress and what still needs to be done.

I haven't really used it for any other purpose but I think I would have used it for my Chartership documents if I had known about it when I started. The downside to Google Docs at the minute seems to be that whenever I am at work and using it it goes incredibly slowly and the typing doesn't seem to pick up, hopefully this will solve itself soon before I pull any more hair out...

Dropbox - I have just downloaded Dropbox which seems to do exactly the same things that Google Docs does. Perhaps if I didn't already use Google I would use this instead.Downloading Dropbox at home was easy but unfortunately there seems to be a block on this at work - which defeats the purpose somewhat - annoying.  It does seem easier to back things up to Dropbox than it does Google Docs so I may still put my portfolio in there to save a repeat performance of my work server not saving it when using it from home. That sick feeling in the in the pit of the stomach is not something I like to experience very often!

Wikis - I noticed since joining Twitter that many people were tweeting about the Library Day in the Life project and I think I might join in the next one as it looks like an interesting way of finding out what goes on in various library posts round the world.

Wikis have become increasingly useful in my workplace due to the fewer staff members we have and the number of sites we have to maintain. It is often difficult to meet up to discuss projects to keep the service moving forward so a way round this was to create a wiki and for everyone to contribute.

The last wiki used at my place of work was for creating the LRC's mission statement. I think this proved to be very effective method and I like how it also allows for thinking time, i.e. you can often be guaranteed a great idea will come to you when everybody has left the meeting - having a wiki ensures these little nuggets are saved too.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 11 and 12 - Mentoring and Putting the social into social media.

Thing 11 is looking at mentoring.

I currently have a mentor as I am doing my Chartership and it is a prerequisite of the portfolio being accepted by CILIP. I have found it useful as meeting up with her has meant that I keep to my deadlines and she often points me in a slightly different direction to the one I was looking at - not in an immediately obvious way just a slight nudge! I've liked having one for this reason.

Other than that, I've never had an official mentor, although I have occasionally had unofficial ones throughout my life. These have generally been people I look up to and admire.

I have had to be a mentor to people in my current workplace and felt woefully under prepared for it, however, I didn't have any complaints and despite one of the members leaving later on I'm sure it wasn't because of me!

Although having a mentor is a nice thing to have I wouldn't panic if I didn't have one and I don't think others should do either, as often they are there to provide confidence. I  have built on my confidence by working hard and knowing that I can do what I put my mind to and participating in new ventures, like this, can really help.

Thing 12 is going to be quite a short blog this time, as I think I have already extolled the virtues of social networking before. I think social media is a fantastic tool  for building  networks and creating a sense of community.

Professionally, for me the ADVANTAGES are:

The speed of which I can interact with people - I know there's the phone but a tweet or a post in an online debate is so much easier, quicker and doesn't involve disturbing people working or trying to locate them.

The amount of appropriate and  really up to date knowledge I can  access - usually someone has read an interesting article or report and is willing to share. I rarely have the time to look for the them so it is great to latch on to what the people actually paid to research the good stuff have found!

It has put me in contact with people I would never have normally been in touch with. I have met them both online and then in real life, for example, the Cpd23 meetup in London. I found out about the Birmingham Library Camp through Twtter and the whole thing, from the agenda to the cake, has been organised by bunch of social networkers. I am looking forward to meeting many of them there.

The DISADVANTAGES for me are:

Sometimes I feel like I am missing out on what's happening as I can't keep up with everything, especially on Twitter. I can't have Twitter on constantly like some do so I generally just look through say 20 of the last posts from each of my saved lists and have to just leave it at that, otherwise, I'd be spending an inordinate amount of time on there which would not be healthy. For everything else I use rss feeds and have told myself it's okay not to read everything and occasionally use the 'mark all as read' button - without really having read them (who's going to know?) - great post on this here from Laura Woods, aka @Woodsiegirl.

I occasionally feel like I can't keep up with all the new social networking platforms, as reiterated in Phil Bradley's post. I know I need to for the benefit of my own professional development and the people I provide a service for but sometimes it just seems like -  yet another thing! Google+ is a prime example of this!

I'm not sure yet how I can get round these issues but I will be reading other's blogs out of interest to see if they have experienced similar issues and how they have dealt with them. My tip at the moment is to be selective.

The majority of the social networking community I have experienced comes across as really friendly and helpful. There have been the occasional blips such as the Little Gossip website and people using Twitter and Facebook for the riots and hate campaigns. But for every site glorifying a Raol Moat type character there is another called #riotcleanup. I think social networking reflects society - it is not like the crooked mirror in Andersen's The Snow Queen which distorts it.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 8,9 and 10 - Google Calendar, Evernote and Chartership

Well, this week I am amalgamating a few Things as I'm off work for a little while and am trying to just think about things like growing veg, exercise and pondering the meaning of life rather than anything library or work-related - this is to prevent me from having a meltdown come the time of enrolling and inducting new students.

Trying to do more of this...

Firstly, I use Google Calendar sparingly. I have it on my iGoogle page but don't really have much on it. This doesn't mean I lead a carefree existence and can pick things up and drop them as I please, far from it, it just means I currently use other facilities.

 My workplace uses Outlook so this means I tend to as well. I have a page which no-one else can see which I use for work and personal commitments, for example, workshops I am delivering and dentist appointments. I even put meet ups with friends as otherwise I'd end up not seeing people for ages! I have this side by side with the work one and transfer any relevant appointments across.

I started using the Google one as I thought I could also download other useful calendars, like the CILIP one, however, it won't let me at the moment. I like Outlook but can only use the webmail version at home and I really don't like it due to its lack of functionality, so perhaps Google Calendar may still have a chance. I don't seem to use my work diary more for keeping track of events anymore - just my day to day work. I wonder if the sale of work diaries has reduced...

Secondly, I quite like the idea of Evernote as I have often made comments on people's ages and promptly forgotten about them until I did the Google yourself task for Thing 3 and there they were! I don't want to download it just yet as I borrowing someone else's laptop but will as soon as my new one arrives (or I return to work). I had never heard of Evernote or Springpad, which was mentioned in the comments box, so am definitely going to have a look at them. I wish I had known about the Web Clipper before I started my my Chartership as this would have been very useful when trying to compile my bibliography.

Which leads us nicely into thirdly - Thing 10. In whatever job I've had in the past I've wanted to be very good at it! I had all my stars when I worked for McDonalds, for example! So when I landed a job as a Learning Centre Assistant based on my customer service skills rather than any library knowledge, although obviously I'd been an avid library user in the past, I looked at the next step up the ladder. I already had an English degree so investigated studying for a Masters. Due to financial constraints and personal circumstances I decided to continue working full time and did a part time course at UCL. Very difficult but I managed it and have used this as an example of being incredibly organised ever since!

As soon as I qualified, I was given the opportunity to work at Kingston College and set up a Higher Education Centre. I have really enjoyed this job and like delivering workshops to the students and liaising (aka having a good chat) with the staff. Having a job which sits across two sectors is interesting but requires a lot of catching up on what's happening in each one! I didn't start Chartership straight away as I had other training needs which I wanted to sort out. After completing the CMI Diploma in Line Management, to improve my line management skills I decided to take on both Chartership to develop professionally and PTTLS to develop my teaching. 

I have now finished my PTTLS and am close to Chartership completion, so I am now looking round at the next big thing to do. I am contemplating doing something unwork related, like learning Spanish, but have yet to come to any conclusions, as this will be of use both personally and professionally. I would really like to try writing articles, or just the one, but still haven't got round to it - I think I'd feel a bit embarrassed handing something over which no-one has asked for.

 I am also in the process of trying to find some kittens to buy :).

Learning Spanish will be useful if I go back here!
Plans/ideas for future:

Buy kittens
Learn Spanish
Write articles
Continue involvement with other library peeps

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 7 - Face to face networks and professional organisations

Thing 7 is about two things - face to face networking and professional organisations. I used to feel a bit silly networking as I thought that even though I could get a lot of knowledge from other people I had little to offer in return. Also I felt like you had to be a bit of a cold fish to network as basically you are talking to someone in the hope they may prove useful! I find it can be a nerve-wracking experience walking into a room full of professionals that it's sometimes easy to forget I am one! What I now try to do is walk in quickly, ideally not too late when everyone has already introduced themselves, find a table with two or three people on and ask if I can join in. I've found that the less scared I pretend to be the less nervous I come across to other people. I'm terrible at remembering names so if I've got on well with someone I'll make an extra effort. To encourage people to remember me (I haven't convinced myself I need a business card yet) I try to remember to wear something bright - like a yellow top or a red dress - I'm only 5ft so it can be quite easy to miss me sometimes - it also helps that I've now married into a silly surname which no-can spell but is easily identifiable as me!

Not my hats but you get the idea... image by Beglib taken from Morguefile
On 21st July I went to the CPD23 event in London, where there were so many people and speeches that it was really difficult to speak to as many people as I would have liked. I went wearing two hats - one as a cpd23 member wanting to find out what was out there and the other hat was as a CoFHE LASEC Liaison Officer trying to encourage more interest. I think I succeeded in both objectives. People showed interest in CoFHE LASEC and hopefully they will turn up at the AGM meeting in November or be encouraged to write a blog for us. We currently have enough members on the committee however the CDG LASEC could do with a few more and I would really recommend being involved.

At the event I met some people who I follow on Twitter, which was a little strange - is it just me or does 'Hi, I follow you on Twitter' sound a bit stalkerish? Jo Alcock told me how being both in the CoFHE West Midlands and in the CDG  increases the liaison between both groups - perhaps in response I should get more involved in the CDG LASEC group myself.  I don't think this will happen in the near future though as work is going to get increasingly busier over the next few months. She also highlighted the advantages of the ALA which I hadn't looked at because of its focus on America (obviously). She claimed that she has got a lot out if it, especially from her attendance at the ALA Annual, so I am going to have a little investigation.

Tina Reynolds, another Tweeter I follow, enthused about the SLA and the BIALL and encouraged me to sign up, despite my protestations about not being a law librarian. I'll have a look, however, I am concerned that this all going to take a big chunk out my purse and my time - neither of which I have in abundance. I should say for the record I am a member of CILIP and am so because it is the main professional body of most librarians. I am also doing my Chartership at the moment so it is required of me.

So in summary - I am involved in:
  • LIKE
  • LISNPN - a tiny little bit
and am going to investigate:
  • ALA
  • SLA
            so  lots of investigations and reading for me and then a proper look at the prices of these memberships and whether I can justify them.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 6 - Online Networks

Out of all the online networks you had to come to mine...
I have been using LinkedIn the longest. I was initially put off by the amount of information it requires you to type in but I hoped the benefits of joining would outweigh that. So far they have, it is really easy to view and take part in conversations without having to limit the word count and there have been some interesting topics, for example, what one attribute makes a great librarian; there was also quite a heated debate about Cilip training.

Since starting to use Twitter to liaise with people possibly interested in CoFHE LASEC, I have got into it a lot more and now use it every day - this has meant that my LinkedIn usage has dropped but it hasn't taken it over. I now follow many professional organisations, newspapers focusing on education and numerous fellow librarians.

I look at the New Professional's site regularly and found about an SLA Conference competition through it, which I entered but sadly didn't win.  Unfortunately I had quite a few problems with the site - I had tried to edit some elements and it wouldn't let me so I deleted my account to start again but the same problem happened. I now have two accounts, neither of which work properly so I now just lurk on the site!

I had heard of the Librarians as Teachers but hadn't been really aware of what they got up to. I found out about the London Library Teachmeet through them and attended that which was really informative. I intend to sign up to their network shortly. It should be very useful to me as I do a lot of delivering inductions and information literacy sessions to Higher Education students.

I don't use Facebook too often as it's filtered at my workplace. I occasionally check it when I get home and often upload pictures to it. I realise there are lots of overlaps between professional and personal but for now I will keep Facebook for keeping up with friends and nosing through people's photographs.

I used to use CILIP Communities a lot but then nothing new ever seemed to be added. Since joining CoFHE LASEC, I do look a bit more now, especially as our blog is on there. Now seems the right time to add that new content is added to our blog on an almost weekly basis from people working in the education sector!

Since having spoken to Tina Reynolds and Jo Alcock at last night's CPD23 London event, I have now started following online content from BIALL, ALA and SLA and will be investigating membership a bit more thoroughly. I'll probably say a bit more about that in the next blog.

Google+ - well it seems to have got people in a stir is all I can say at the moment. I don't particularly want another site similar to Facebook and Twitter. Plus, I imagine at the moment it's just going to be the same people I follow now. Maybe when it comes out of its beta version I will take it a little more seriously...

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 5 - Reflective Practice

Reflective Practice:

So it's Thing 5 time already (although everyone else seems to be on Thing 7 already!).

 bamagirl - Morguefile
Generally, I don't think I'm too bad at reflecting on my work. In the last two years I have completed the Level 3 Diploma in Line Management for the Chartered Institute of Management, completed a Preparing to Teach (PTTLS) course and have embarked upon Chartership - these have all involved reflective writing to some degree.

My problem with reflective writing is that there isn't time to write everything up so I have to make a choice about which events are important enough to get the time.

Another problem I find myself having is rarely going back to my reflections. When I have done, I've realised that I had noticed an issue which could have been dealt with but then wasn't. I perhaps need to remind myself on occasion to look back over what I have written but how often and how far back? When does reflection become living in the past?

When I started my Chartership I made a conscious effort to write up absolutely everything I did - just in case it was needed as evidence. I think in future, as this is just not sustainable time wise, I may just write up events, training and projects I have been involved in. The good thing is that I have now got into the habit of writing up events, such as the Library and Information Knowledge Exchange (LIKE), that I can report back much more easily to my colleagues and pass on my notes to those that may benefit from them, even months later.

To keep me on track when I am reflecting on an event, I use the following process:
  • what happened?
  • what's my response to it?
  • what am I going to do with what I've learned?
If I'm feeling particularly brave I will also set a deadline.

I think reflective writing is very useful - it helps get the most out of every event, it really helps when writing up annual reports and most of all it helps when you get to the end of the year and wonder 'where did it all go so fast?!'