Sunday, 27 November 2011

Thing 23 - Reflection - What next?

So I've actually made it to the final task 6 months on! I think that I've surprised myself as I'm not great about sticking to a course of action without specific motivation or someone expecting to see the results.

Will I continue to blog? To be honest, I'm not sure. I think that I would now be confident enough to write a blog as part of a job that I was doing or for an organisation that I was working for, but to blog personally without a purpose would be difficult. Glancing at the stats for viewings of my blog, I was always amazed that anybody actually read it!

I have enjoyed participating in CPD23 as I do enjoy learning whether by attending classes or through online courses. Prior to starting CPD23 I completed an IT User Skills course by distance learning online. And next...? Well, I've just started another online course (free!) - on cataloguing - run by the University of North Texas (thanks to @bethanar for the Twitter tip-off about these courses) so I'm obviously a bit of an addict or a glutton for punishment.

So I'm ending CPD23 still looking for my first break into the profession of librarianship, but how would I sum up the journey in 6 words? New skills, new community, new opportunities.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Thing 19 - Catch up week on integrating 'things'

Since the last two 'things' I have left to complete are reflective (19 & 23), I am going to use 19 to look back & 23 to look forward.

Things which I've enjoyed/found useful from CPD23:

1. Learning to blog & reading other blogs.
2. Using Twitter - this is probably the thing which I have most successfully integrated into my daily life. I love the conciseness of the format & am even getting bolder about tweeting myself. I find it useful for a wide variety of information - current news, arts & cultural events, job opportunities, conference tweets, & feeling part of the wider library & information profession. It's probably the first thing I read after my emails.
3. Google Calendar - I've now got used to the little reminders on my phone each morning as I travel into work! Haven't used this for work as yet.
4. Collaborative tools - enjoyed having my eyes opened to the potential of cloud computing. Have used Dropbox to back up some files.
5. Evernote - have merrily been clipping & saving web pages with this. Have created a 'Dream Jobs' Notebook into which I save any library or information jobs which take my fancy (not usually ones which I am qualified to do!). This is useful to ponder to see if any patterns emerge as to what areas I would like to work in.

Things which I haven't found so useful from CPD23:

1. RSS feeds - I really did try to keep up with following these, but just couldn't find the time. I find it far easier to follow & read blogs/articles as & when they are mentioned on Twitter.
2. Pushnote - just never got off the ground with this.

I have picked out these two as I know that whatever my circumstances I would not find them useful, whereas there were several tools which I learnt about during CPD23 e.g. citation tools, screen capture tools, which I would look forward to implementing if I was in different employment or educational situations.

Things which I wished I'd achieved from CPD23:
1. Ability to network face-to-face. I think that CPD23 has been good for me in terms of online social networking, but for an introvert like myself I think the danger lies in fading into the background in real life! Not good when you're trying to raise your profile & your employment prospects. The problem is I just can't shake off that 'wallflower' attitude - I slunk in the corners at Library Camp, & made a half-hearted invitation for an end-of-CPD23 get-together in the Bournemouth area.

Anyway, I'm going to leave the optimistic, looking-forward stuff to my next & final blog of CPD23!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Thing 18 - Jing / screen capture / podcasts

I've now jumped back from Thing 22 to cover a couple of tasks which I skipped over. Jing, like Prezi (as I talked about in Thing 17 ) is something which I hadn't used before & so I had a little play around with it. I can't download it onto the school computer, otherwise I could have tried making an instruction sequence for the pupils to learn their way around the library management system. Having said that, the system does already have very clear instructions for pupil use including optional spoken instructions, so I guess I would only have been playing! At my place of work (not the school - that's voluntary) we are not allowed to access the internet other than the intranet (even in non-work time) so that puts paid to any experimenting there. There is, anyway, a very large I.T. department & lots of training exercises on the intranet for brushing up on the systems which we use at work. So, sorry Jing - I really did try to get to know you, but it's very difficult (I find) when you don't have any practical use for the task.

Now, podcasts sounded fun & I've downloaded Audacity with a view to following up a few ideas. I have listened to podcasts in the past & enjoy the medium of just concentrating on listening to something & escaping from the visual bombardment which we are subjected to daily. O.K....yes, I am a Radio 4 fan...I confess! I took some time out to listen to the arcadia@cambridge seminar series (as recommended in the blog for Thing 18 ) which was really interesting, & I'm looking forward to checking out the University of London Careers Group podcast too.

I had an idea of making a series of podcasts for the pupils at the school I volunteer at (again, I could have issues with using certain programmes on the school computer). Each podcast would introduce them to the first chapter of a book that is in our library &, hopefully, encourage them to go & read the book, & then lead them on to the next podcast in some way (still working on the details!) like a kind of trail or treasure hunt. I think that I took a little inspiration for this from following this week's UKLibchat on gaming & gamification.

My second idea was connected to the local natural science society of which I am a member & with whom I am involved in cataloguing their museum collection. Each week the society hosts two lectures by either guest speakers or society members on a wide variety of subjects including astronomy, archaeology, geology, history & geography. The society does have a website & is always looking for ways to encourage new membership, & I think that uploading podcasts of the lectures would be a great way to: a) archive the season's programme & b) generate publicity & develop outreach. The AGM is coming up so I'm definitely going to suggest podcasting as a great way to show off the society's activities.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Thing 22 - Volunteering to get experience

I have already discussed at some length my experience of volunteering in a primary school library & my mixed feelings about whether it devalues the profession in Thing 16. Volunteering has given me library & information experience which I would otherwise not have gained over the past year of trying to change career. In addition to my volunteering in the school library, I also volunteer as a cataloguer for a local natural science society which is aiming to catalogue its entire museum collection. I have designed a basic database to catalogue their shell collection (dating from the early 20th century) - the area which has been designated to me - &, one afternoon each week, work my way steadily through drawer after drawer of beautiful shells. I'm not a natural scientist, but as a member of the society, my contribution is welcomed, & I am learning new skills of archive & collection management.
 The one downside to my volunteering is that I am not, in the strictest sense, line-managed. Both the school & the society are very grateful for my contribution, & it is lovely, on the one hand, to be given a certain amount of freedom, but I think that I crave direction & mentoring. My efforts to gain library experience in order to change career have been largely self-guided, &, as we cpd23-ers know, there's nothing wrong with that, but some structured guidance would be great! 

Thing 21 - Promoting yourself in job applications & at interview

I've been putting this blog off as I'm spectacularly & demonstrably bad at both applications & interviews! Preparing to write this has been quite good as reflection on the lows & very lows of my job seeking history. In fact, I guess that I have done a practical exercise for this Thing as only last week I applied for a position. I did try to create a skills database to make the task of completing the application form easier, but I find it difficult to provide concrete examples to match selection criteria & always end up sounding waffly.
 There does seem to be conflicting advice on job apps & C.V. writing. I was interested to read that Guardienne of the Tomes' Jobseeker Tips included deleting the objective section at the start of your C.V.. This sounded quite liberating, if it wasn't for the nagging thought that earlier advice from within the library & information recruitment sector had emphasised the importance of this profile/statement for kicking off your C.V.. Similarly, feedback from one unsuccessful application suggested including interests on the C.V. as this could prove a bit of a tiebreaker if there were two equally qualified candidates, but in a conversation with a Senior Librarian I was told that interests were not particularly useful. What to do?!
 After a year of applying for traineeships, then changing tactics & applying for entry level jobs, I'm no nearer to unlocking the mysteries of successful job applications. The law of contrary nature seems to be that the jobs which you really really want & prepare endlessly for, you don't get, & that the positions which you are not so keen on, but apply for out of necessity, you might get. Sorry if this blog has sounded cynical & negative, but I'm still searching for my equivalent of 'open sesame'!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Thing 20 - The Library Routes Project

I've decided to skip over Things 18 & 19 (for the moment!) as I want to devote more time to them than I currently have available. I have already talked a little about my library route in previous cpd23 blogs which you can read about in Thing 1 & Thing 10 , but to summarise my roots & route:

- An avid user of my local public library as a child. Bit of an obsession with 'information' - family joked that I couldn't go out anywhere without picking up leaflets, flyers, brochures for events, plays, courses... anything really!
- Volunteered in my secondary school library.
- Future career ideas included children's book illustrator, landscape gardener or meteorologist!
- Completed A levels at school.
- 3 years at university culminating in an English degree.
- 6 months working in an office to raise funds to go to drama school.
- 2 years studying Stage Management at drama school (Having stubbornly resisted opportunity to follow my father into a television career, despite the likelihood of earning more than in theatre! Second 'failure' at this point was not taking any inspiration from my mother who used to be a television script librarian...maybe genes are involved in my library roots after all.)
- 20 years working as a Stage Manager in theatre, opera & ballet (with a running joke amongst friends that I was going to open a bookshop)
- Mid-life crisis finds me considering a postgrad qualification (English? Open University?), but in the process of finally renewing my Bodleian Library membership in preparation, I stumble upon the details of the graduate traineeships which then leads me to thinking about doing a library masters.
- Spend 6 months unsuccessfully applying for graduate traineeships & entry level jobs whilst still working as a Stage Manager.
- Give up the theatre work to gain some library experience voluntarily whilst doing temp work.
- Get a part-time job in a medical records library whilst continuing to work voluntarily in a primary school library & helping to catalogue the collections of a local private museum. I know that this doesn't show much focus on a particular sector, & I think that deep down my heart still belongs in the arts & cultural world, so a library job in a connected area would be great.
- The Present: still searching for that elusive first job, & considering applying for a distance learning masters course.

I have previously dipped into The Library Routes Project, but for the purposes of this blog I decided to work my way through as many of the entries as possible & pick out some which either seemed similar to my situation or gave me hope & inspiration! Favourites included Tixylix's & Scarpagirl's for their journeying towards librarianship in the creative arts. I also enjoyed Sarah Barker's & Sara Batts' for their description of later career changes into librarianship (the similarity in names is a coincidence!).

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Thing 17 - Prezi & Slideshare

Goodness - it's been such a long time since my last blog that I'm afraid I may have forgotten how to! I could use excuses like baking cake for & attending Library CampUK2011, but since many of the attendees have not only continued with their CPD23 posts, but also blogged about the camp, I have no excuses. Please forgive the stilted writing style as I crank myself into blogging mode.

I hadn't used Prezi before, or for that matter seen a presentation that used it (I lead a sheltered life...), as far as I'm aware. I'm not really in a situation where I need to make presentations, although I recently had to create some in PowerPoint for an IT qualification that I was completing. I decided to try importing these into Prezi which was a useful exercise & seemed fairly straightforward. I guess the 'seasick' issue depends on how close you are to the screen, its size, & the speed at which the presenter is taking you from point to point - presentations in 3D next for that roller coaster experience?! As I volunteer in a middle school library, I had considered trying out Prezi to help with the induction of the Year 7 Junior Librarians (I know the first few weeks of term were a long time ago...that's how long it has taken me to get round to this blog!). Unfortunately, I can't download Prezi on the school computer.

This has, though, got me thinking about presentations in general & the importance of the organisation & filtering of your material above & beyond style & impressive design. I recently attended a lecture at a local society presented by an acquaintance. Unfortunately, she had not had the time or knowledge to properly prepare the PowerPoint presentation, with images & video excerpts that had not been embedded, slides out of order, & far too much information on what was a really interesting subject. As someone who has not made a presentation, I am not so much criticising, but sympathising, & my resolve is strengthened that if I am ever called upon to give a presentation, I would prepare & prepare & prepare & rehearse & rehearse & rehearse. Attending LibraryCamp where there were no computer-generated presentations, just flipcharts & wipeboards also made me realise that the power of a talk or discussion is down to the person/people involved & not always the technology.

I had a browse through Slideshare &, to narrow my searching a little, looked for theatre/library related presentations as they are two areas of most interest to me (a meeting of sectors about which I had a very interesting discussion at LibraryCamp regarding the new Birmingham Library combining with a third performance space for Birmingham Rep Theatre). The two presentations which appealed to me were for the really interesting concept & data, tho' rather information dense, & for its visual appeal & humour. I also perused some C.V. presentations, but can't quite take them seriously out of context. I don't think that I currently feel confident enough to produce a presentation of my own C.V. for external consumption, but maybe it is something to have a play around with in an idle moment (!)