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?!'

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Serendipity and fundamental book stacks...

On 4th July I visited the London Library, a large independent lending library based in central London.
I found it to be a beautiful library and a place I'd love to study in - far from what I thought it would be; I had thought it would seem elitist.
London Library entrance.
I had also thought it would be a bit like the British Library in that one would take up their little piece of paper with bibliographic information on to the desk where it would then be retrieved. Having done this enough as a student, I remember how frustrating it can be to wait while the member of staff finds it and then you realise, once it has arrived, that it is not quite the item you initially thought it would be. The London Library is not like this. The stacks are open for people to browse with the possibility that through a stroke of serendipity the reader may come across a book they didn't realise existed but is perfect for what they require.
Bookstacks open to browse and holding up the building!
Relating this to my own place of work made me think how we generally encourage students to use the catalogue but always try to explain that there may be other items alongside where they are looking which might be useful - adding a little bit of this serendipity into their own experiences! Unfortunately, students are so frightened of not having the 'right' book that they are too nervous to trust their own judgement, which I think is a shame. This is something we, as a team, are trying to counteract by introducing posters and bookmarks near where the students are searching, saying things like - if you found this useful - why not try..., or try searching for books covering similar subjects on ebrary etc.
At the London Library, there were various study environments ranging from completely silent to being allowed to chat and use electronic equipment. In the Higher Education Centre, which I am responsible for, I have tried very hard to implement and maintain this practice and feedback I have received ensures me I am still doing the right thing.
One of the things our guide showed us which struck me most was that the book stacks were literally holding up the building - I like the obvious metaphor!
There was lots more to see and listen to but I don't want to write every little detail. They do free tours, so I'd recommend you go and see for yourself.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 4 - Twitter, rss feeds, Pushnote etc.

This week we are looking at Twitter, rss feeds and Pushnote. I'd always disliked the idea of Twitter, thinking it was just for the inane ramblings of narcissists. I started using it for my workplace a couple of months ago just to advertise events, opening hours, that sort of thing. It seems to be going okay and will get a big marketing push in September when we get the new batch of students (that sounds a bit like they're gremlins!).

My main use of Twitter started when I joined CoFHE LASEC back in February. I used it to market the committee's events and to liaise with all sorts of people and so far it has been great.  I now get my main library related information from there from people linking to blogs, newspaper articles and having conversations. It's also fantastic for following conference tweets if I can't get time off work to attend them.

I tend to use rss feeds in my work email. I read News and Features from the Times Higher Educational Supplement, Michael Martin's CILIP Qualification posts, Library Hi-Tech,Jisc News webfeed and several Jiscmail lists. I like the ease of use of the feeds as they remind that they are there and I don't have to go trawling through sites. I have just started using Google Reader after it being advocated quite heavily by my colleague, Cat Taylor, and am now going to sign up to a few more interesting ones and try getting more out of it..

I haven't used Pushnote before - to be honest I hadn't heard of it. I've now signed up and started looking for people on it. After typing in ten names and having no results I got bored. I'll perhaps try again when I know more people have joined.

Overall, this exercise has taught me that I need to expand and review regularly what I read and follow. It has also taught me not to get too carried away and try to read everything in case I miss something as I just don't have the time or the inclination - selection is the key!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Cpd23 - Thing 3 - Branding

I've been thinking about being a brand for the next bit of Cpd23. I don't like the idea of being a brand; I rarely even buy branded food. A blog which sums it up perfectly is Library Wanderer's. I guess I don't want to be put in a box with a label neatly placed on me, however, I also understand that everyone else seems to like boxes and labels and brands so I have to be part of the game.

So the first thing I did was check my tags on the CPD Delicious account and immediately realised they didn't match me. I work in Further Education but mainly focus on students studying Higher Education courses. This immediately puts me into two separate and sometimes opposing categories as I need to find out what is going in both sectors and how they impact on each other.I'd also like relevant people to my profession to be able to find me easily too.

Secondly, I thought about my blog name. It was 'Stroumpette's musings' which I like but no-one is going to remember it. If anyone types it into Google they are going to be inundated by Smurfs - which may be quite unexpected!  So my blog name is now The Wolfenden Report as my surname is Wolfenden, it's easy to remember because of the real Wolfenden Report, which is in my family, and I'm reporting on some of my profesional activities.

Thirdly reader, I googled myself. I found my Facebook link (my settings are tight so I'm okay - phew! - not that there's anything too embarrasing - just my red face after doing the Race for Life). My Linkedin profile and another Sarah Wolfenden who is a bridal makeup artist. There were also a couple of posts I'd created in reply to event organisers for the London Library Teachmeet and the CoFHELASEC CPD event. So all in all I don't have a huge Google presence which I don't think is the end of the world - it will make me more careful when replying to other's posts though!

The next thing I need to do is learn how to use my blog more effectively, tidy it up and make it look more professional. This should give off the image I want people to have of me. Professional, hardworking but still with a personality; 'profersonal' as it's described on the CPD23 site. I haven't decided on what to do about my photos as yet - close up so I'm recognisable, a bit of mystery so people don't form an opinion before they've met me? I guess that's what all this branding is all about - forming other people's opinions before they get the chance to do it themselves. How commercial.