Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Library Day in the Life - Day 2

This blog post is part of Library Day in the Life

Usually on a Tuesday I spend the majority of my time single-staffing the HE Centre; keeping the place running smoothly and the students and academic staff happy. This usually involves helping them with everything from help with referencing to how to print a document double-sided.

However, today was a little bit different. At 8am I was on my way to an event jointly run by CILIP in London and Library and Information Research Group (LIRG) called Writing for Publication. I have been telling myself I would write for a while now and haven't gotten round to it. I also believe that it is important for librarians and researchers to share good practice so others can benefit by not having to cover the same ground and also to learn from what has been discovered and/or written about. I am not going to cover this in too much detail here as I intend to write up the event properly quite soon -  suffice to say it has given me motivation and some useful tips which I hope to put into practice shortly.

When I returned to work after the course  I had a few brief minutes to catch up on my emails before going straight into a meeting with my line manager and  a colleague to discuss the student focus group we had recently organised. This had been put together with the intention of getting feedback from the students regarding their resource priorities and study habits. The outcomes of this will heavily inform the way we spend our budget. The focus group went well but now we have the task of extracting useful information from the recordings as well as writing up the minutes from the discussions and group activities we had set and, most importantly, setting action points.

After the meeting, I went to the HE Centre; checked everything had been okay in my absence, tidied it up as a lot of students had just left then put up the new February display materials ready for tomorrow.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Library Day in the Life - Day 1

This blog post is part of Library Day in the Life.

My day is supposed to start at 6.30am, however, 5.30am saw me being woken by my two kittens scratching at the door...


My working day on the other hand starts at 8.45. I usually arrive at work around 8.20/25 ish to check my Google Reader and Twitter. Today was no different.

As I arrived I saw on my desk a 'what do you love about a resource' slip. In the LRC, as part of the National Love Libraries campaign, we have a 'talking wall' where students can fill out slips stating what their favourite or book is - the idea being to try and encourage their peers to try using them too. As staff we were all adding our own slips to get the ball rolling as no-one wants to be the first. I chose to promote Science Reference Centre as it is a really useful electronic resource for our Science Degree and Access to Science courses.

After filling this out, I checked and responded to my emails - there weren't a ridiculous amount as the Learning Resources Centre (LRC) is shut over the weekend. I then collated my feedback forms from Friday's Foundation Degree in Early Years eresource sessions. The students had found it useful, relevant and had written that they felt much more at ease now they could access College resources. I was very pleased about this as these groups of students often lack confidence in their abilities.

After laminating some posters for the February displays in the HE Centre and answering a couple of Moodle enquiries from teachers, I was then due to be on the enquiry desk in the main LRC (we have several sites). So for the next two hours I helped students mainly with their printing and finding things on the catalogue and shelves. This week we are monitoring all our enquiries in order to assess where our time is being used most and how we can respond more effectively to our students needs. It will be interesting to see the outcome.


Normally on a Monday afternoon I would spend the time on a desk at another site, fielding enquiries and generally looking after the Media and Fashion students. However, today sans lunch I sped off to CILIP Headquarters for a meeting between CILIP in London and the representatives of Special Interest Groups (I'm on the CoFHE LASEC Committee) to discuss how there can be more co-ordination between the groups. It seemed fairly positive as many of the people at the meeting seemed open to the idea of working more closely together so I have hopes for the future.

Tomorrow is another unusual day for me as I will be attending a training session in the morning at CILIP Headquarters focusing on writing articles, after which I'll be back at work.

Library Day in the Life

This week I will be taking part in the Library Day in the Life Project. I caught the tail end of it last year and vowed to take part this year, as much as I could anyway. I will endeavour to write a blog at the end of every day detailing the main crux of what I've been up to. I am also tweeting as I go using the hashtag #libday8.

This project involves people share what happens in their working life using Twitter, blogs, Tumblr and various other social networking tools for a week- this can help those who want to find out what happens in different sectors, from newbies to more long-serving professionals. It can also help to show those people who presume you stamp books all day what you actually do!

I'm taking part mainly because I agree with the ethos but also because I am always curious  about what people are up to and believe that if I'm going to rummage through their working week I should let others do the same to me.

So a bit about me so you can decide whether what I do would interest you or bore you to tears. I'm a qualified (graduated from UCL library with an MA in Library and Information Studies in 2008) librarian working in an HE/FE College. I am a Higher Education Resources Advisor in the Learning Reosurce Centre, which primarily entails ensuring the smooth running of the Higher Education Centre and looking after the needs of our 1800 HE students, which includes faculty liaison, teaching and researching assignments. Alongside this I spend a fair amount of time at different sites; answering enquiries, maintaining an environment conducive to studying and promoting our electronic resources. I'm also involved in answering staff Moodle questions and delivering staff training on this and various other topics.

This week will be slightly different to my usual as I will be attending a CILIP in London meeting this afternoon and a workshop on writing articles tomorrow, however, I hope the rest of the week gives an accurate reflection of what I usually get up to.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

My first webinar...alternative careers

On Thursday evening 12th Jan, I attended a webinar led by Bethan Ruddock entitled Alternative Careers. This was my first webinar so I wasn't quite sure what to expect and didn't really know what to do. I had an initial panic as the time for the event to start came and went and nothing happened but then, a couple of minutes later it was underway.

While I enjoy my job and the sector I work in I am always curious to know what else I could do with my skills and qualifications and having vowed to utilise my membership of SLA more in my New Year blog post , this seemed like a good place to start. Bethan introduced the webinar by explaining what she meant by an alternative career, stating that anywhere that handles information, and this is a lot of places, needs a librarian. She described her role as Content Development Officer for Mimas and it was very interesting to find out what the job entails. Her role comprises a mixture of teaching, research and using technology - my current role is a combination of all these things too though it couldn't be more different, completely making her point that the skills we learn as librarians are utterly transferable. She also referred to some case studies of librarians in alternative careers, for example, Jo Alcock who works as a researcher for Evidence Base at Birmingham City University. I liked the sound of this as the job entails constantly meeting new people, establishing what the current and future trends are and will be and working on new projects. I think I might miss the training/teaching element though.

Like Bethan (and all the other librarians on Twitter), I am also learning to code with the Codeacademy. While I wouldn't want this to be the main part of any future job, I do agree with Bethan that it will help me to understand how things work behind the scenes and will take away some of the mystery behind it.

She also mentioned how she works on professional stalls at conferences and encouraged the listeners to talk to people like her at these events to find out more about their careers and backgrounds. I've always been too nervous in the past to approach these people as I've not been in a position to purchase anything, or sometimes talk with enough knowledge about the product being showcased, however, with this recommendation in my ears I will endeavour to do this next time I have the opportunity.

Bethan recommended completing a skills audit to establish not only skills and qualifications but also to help decide a future path. The last time I did one of these was for the beginning of my Chartership, and I found this to be advantageous. I think this may prove to be a useful exercise to do regularly perhaps annually or even biannually; it will also help to keep my CV updated.

Another tip I am going to take away from me is to read the job adverts more carefully. I am guilty of often dismissing an advert because it initially sounds too techie or not for me but I will endeavour to be more thorough in the future.

Finally, I was really impressed by the webinar as it not only reminded me of things I should be doing but also gave me new tips to try out and a fresh perspective on the information profession. I will definitely be keeping watch for more SLA webinars and activities.