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 (!)

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Thing 16 - Advocacy, speaking up for the profession and getting published

I have been in two minds about my ideas for this blog - worried that it might expose me as a fraud & a misguided amateur! When considering my personal contribution to advocacy within the library & information sectors, I decided to write about my voluntary work in a primary school library. My para-professional employment as a health records clerk is relatively new &, as a small cog in a large machine, I don't feel 'qualified' to speak up for the profession, other than to say that medical records clerks are the sturdy pit ponies of health informatics (this is entirely my opinion!). Returning to my work in the primary school library, I have to confess that there was a touch of self-interest in my volunteering as it was very difficult to find any opportunities for library experience (paid or unpaid) in my town. I have, however, found it extremely rewarding to be involved in encouraging information literacy for children. In addition to learning the basics of shelving, accessions, cataloguing, & enrolment, I have become much more aware of the importance of supporting literacy skills in primary schools, & a keen advocate of the importance of primary school libraries (which, I believe, are not compulsory?) & librarians. My difficulty, as hinted at earlier, is that, as a volunteer, I may be championing the school library, but not the employment of a professional librarian. Am I selling the information & library profession 'down the river' by condoning the use of volunteers in place of authorities paying for proper skills? It seems to raise the same questions as the use of volunteers to keep certain public libraries going.  My other worry is that my work in the library is largely self-taught - I have the help & advice of the teaching staff, but I'm learning as I go along without a librarian to guide me. I hope that professional school librarians out there will forgive me! I am also 'doing my bit' to advocate public libraries through my volunteering at the school. Just before school broke up for the summer holidays, quite a few of the children were asking if they could borrow books during the break.Having held an end of term 'amnesty' to retrieve many lost books, the school was not lending out books over the holidays. I was very interested to discover that many of the children did not know about their local libraries & the different activities available (in addition to borrowing books), especially over the summer. I hope that my enthusiastic promotion tempted some of them to try their local libraries.

Getting published - as I have said in previous blogs about other 'getting involved' activities, I think that it is early days for me & I feel the same about getting published. I have enjoyed blogging for the first time for cpd23, but this is obviously publishing on a personal level. Maybe the way to get started is to try writing an article for a newsletter of one of the regional groups of which I am a member. 

Monday, 5 September 2011

Thing 15 - Attending, presenting at & organising seminars, conferences & other events

I have only been to one conference (a mini one) - CILIP's New Professionals Information Day 2011(NPID2011), & am currently booked to attend a second one (an 'unconference') - LibraryCampUK 2011. There's a common theme to my attendance - free events! Unfortunately, I haven't been in a position to be able to afford attendance at many events, although I have now become aware that I can put in applications for funding from various groups. Having recently started a new job, the issue is now one of taking the time off to attend! I don't feel that, as a 'newby', I can go swanning off to events, & my clerical position doesn't merit the organisation giving me time for cpd outside of its own training procedures (my interpretation, I hasten to add). If only there were more conferences at weekends eg. LibraryCamp, but I realise this is not the norm. Maybe I'll have to save myself for the summer conferences & book my holidays for then. As is probably clear from my blog about being a 'newby', I haven't presented at or helped to organise a seminar or a conference yet. I'm not sure how I'd fare with the presenting aspect as I'm not a natural public speaker, but never say never. I think that it is also the fact that I don't believe that I have anything to say just yet, but hopefully that will change.  

Monday, 29 August 2011

Thing 14 - Zotero/Mendeley/Citeulike

This is going to be a very brief blog! I haven't had reason to use referencing since my undergraduate dissertation which was a very long time ago. Blushing, I also have to confess that it was in the days when such documents were written by hand & then handed to someone else to type/print up. Anyway, the point is that, having painstakingly constructed reference lists manually, I can fully appreciate the benefits of these & similar online tools. My current & past working environments have not given me any reason to learn about or use such tools. As I intend to study for a LIS Masters in the future, however, I would definitely try using online referencing (and type up my own dissertation!). I read all the info provided on the above 3 tools, watched the videos, followed the links to the comparison of all the different referencing tools, read lots of the CPD23 blogs for this particular Thing, but have to make my second confession of this blog: I didn't actually try out any of the tools. I'm not very patient at trying out something if it is not applicable to me in some way at that time. I need the incentive of practical application in order to learn. But, thank you CPD23 for bringing these potentially useful tools to my notice. 

Thing 13 - Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox

As I mentioned in my last blog, I have been looking forward to trying out the tools in Thing 13 (not so unlucky).

Google Docs & Dropbox - I have no experience of using either of these in a work, educational or personal context, but, having read up about them, can see the great potential. I've owned & used many USB sticks for work & personal use, & thankfully have never (touches wood here) had disasters with losing one. The concept of cloud computing does seem appealing & I suppose one has to weigh up for oneself the pros & cons of online security of information versus the risk of something like a USB device going astray. It is, however, the potential for collaboration which I find appealing & has made me want to try one of these tools out.
 Currently, I cannot think of a place for using either of them in my paid or voluntary work (health service & primary school respectively). However, as a member of a local natural science society, I am currently involved in helping to catalogue their museum's collections. I have jointly taken responsibility with one other person for cataloguing a specific part of the collection & we are storing the access database on a USB stick. As we do not always attend the society at the same time, this relies on us remembering to leave the stick for the other to use! I am now quite keen to discuss the use of a collaborative tool for our sharing of this task. I know that Dropbox has limitations in terms of free storage capacity & the potential for deletion of files after lengthy inactivity, but the ability to download, work offline & then upload is appealing. Also, I wonder how Google Docs would work with formatting an Access document?

Wikis - I have no experience of creating or collaborating on a Wiki. I do use Wikipedia as a kind of quick-fix reference tool when I want to look up something/someone quickly that I know nothing about in order to get a general idea. The other wiki which I recently looked at was for libcampuk11 . Maybe I could take my first steps in contributing to a wiki by adding a cake suggestion to the cakecamp section!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Thing 12 - Putting the social into social media

It's been longer than usual since my last blog for a number of reasons. During Thing 12 Week I was away from home visiting family & did not have access to a computer; I don't enjoy typing at length on my smartphone. It was also coincidentally the week of the riots in the U.K. & I have to confess that taking the time to consider the pros & cons of social media didn't appeal. As a relative newcomer to social media & its uses & pleasures I felt a bit let down - like discovering that your 'new best friend', who you thought was really great, has a nasty side to them. It certainly didn't spur me on to write the blog. By the following week I was starting a new part-time job & Thing 13 came & went...which is a shame as I'm really looking forward to trying out the tools suggested in Thing 13. In fact, I'm probably resenting (unfairly!) Thing 12 as an obstacle to reaching the next one.  So here I am with the prospect of a bank holiday weekend  & the intent to catch up on cpd23.

So, O.K., I will now get down to considering social media (briefly) although I feel that I've covered my personal use of it in Thing 4 & 6 :

- One particular advantage of social networking (in the context of professional development) is the opportunity to remotely follow conferences & other professional events which you might not otherwise be able to attend for logistical, financial & geographical reasons. Indeed, social networking provides real-time access opportunities for the otherwise disadvantaged, crossing social boundaries.
- Possible disadvantages could be that people become so preoccupied with social networking that they neglect face-to-face networking & become isolated in a virtual world with a virtual version of themselves.
- CPD23 has definitely helped me to make contact with people I wouldn't normally have done, particularly as I am new to the library & information profession & didn't have many face-to-face contacts.
- Having had a completely different career in the past, I hadn't used social media for career development. When I was starting out in my first career, social media didn't really exist! I will now definitely continue to use it - Twitter being my current favourite for its pithiness & immediacy.
- I have certainly felt part of a community since using Twitter & blogging for cpd23. Social networking is so far-reaching that you discover & 'meet' people on a great scale. Personally, I really enjoy the sense of a shared experience.

Returning to the matter of the recent 'abuse' of social media, I think that I have come to some sort of peace with social networking. I just need to remember that technology is neutral & can be used for good or bad, just as older media have done in the past (e.g. the handwritten word on paper, the printed word on paper, theatre, film, television & radio). The end result is in the hands of the user, & we should, to coin a phrase used by many alcohol awareness campaigns in the past, "enjoy responsibly".

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Thing 11 - Mentoring

Initially, I didn't think that mentoring had much relevance to my current situation as I associated it with chartering, but after reading some of the articles on the suggested resource list, I changed my mind.

I began to realise that a mentor can be for CPD not just for chartership, & started to feel a little bit excited that I could find someone to help guide me on the journey that I have just started. Although I agree with the idea that it can be fruitful to source a mentor from outside of the library & information sector, I believe that, as a career-changer, it would be most appropriate for me to find a mentor from within the sector. I suppose that I have had informal 'mentoring moments' - sage advice on reconstructing my CV from an experienced academic librarian, support by reference from past academic tutors, suggestions from friends for volunteering opportunities. A mentor would really help my momentum in the initial stages of my career journey. Having learnt how to blog through participating in cpd23, I would hope that my blog might be a useful example of my career development intent & reflective practice to show a potential mentor. To end with a quote from my favourite article on the resource list ('Be a proactive protege' by  Priscilla Shontz): " Don't wait for others to teach you things. Ask questions. Ask supervisors, coworkers, employees, mentors, colleagues, friends, vendors, and others in your professional or personal circles".  For someone like me who has been quite reticent in the past, this is a great mantra. It's also a good reminder that, in order to be successful, mentoring should be a two-way activity just as networking should. 

Be a Proactive Protege'
(an excerpt from Jump Start Your Career in Library & Information Science)
by Priscilla Shontz

Mentoring page:


Sunday, 7 August 2011

Thing 10 - Graduate traineeships, Masters degrees, Chartership, Accreditation

I think that I covered my route (so far/attempted) into the library & information world in my blog for Thing 1. I still feel very much like someone on the outside of the sweetie shop looking in, career-wise, but hopefully things are starting to change (very slowly).

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Thing 9 - Evernote

This blog is going to be my briefest yet. I hadn't heard of Evernote before reading Thing 9, but in the true spirit of cpd23 I've given it a go & installed it both on my computer & iPhone. It has a certain appeal as I'm always squirrelling away articles to read at a later date, but end up saving them variously in Outlook folders, my documents folders or favourites - very messy. Evernote may go some way towards organizing me. I think that using it in conjunction with my smart phone may prove the winner. I haven't really explored it fully yet & need to actually read the Getting Started section properly! 

Thing 8 - Google Calendar

I have to confess to not having used an electronic diary or calendar before either in a work or personal context & I am very fond of my paper diary which feeds my addiction to lists. I decided, however, that as I have been spending more time on my computer lately (especially with cpd23!), it might be worth trying out Google Calendar. Installation seemed simple enough &, so far, I like the look & feel of the calendar.

In an attempt to develop this week's 'organizing' theme, I made Google my homepage in the hope that this will prompt me to both use the calendar more & check my RSS feeds in Google Reader (to continue the good work from Thing 4). It's been a great week for me to start a new system of diary management with several good entries to make -  I have signed up for LibraryCampUK2011 (very excited...), was offered a part-time job as a records library clerk in an NHS Trust (will help to 'keep the wolf from the door' & is, I guess, a step in the right direction of  information management work), & made contact with the guys at Dorset Ad Lib (the action group working  to save the Dorset libraries earmarked for closure) in order to offer my help. Maybe this means I've also managed to fulfil/line up some face-to-face networking opportunities in which I was sadly lacking last week when blogging Thing 7 !

Returning to Google Calendar - I have one problem with it. I have not been able to sync it with Outlook or my iPhone. I seemed to solve one error message by re-configuring my Outlook account details in relation to my Google account, but now the message Error 2016 keeps popping up. If anyone can shed any light, I'd be very grateful!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Thing 7 - Face-to-face networks & professional organisations

I've applied the same technique to this task as the previous one - I had a read-through of the introduction to the various organisations, & took a look at a few of the links, but will be talking about my experience (albeit limited) of particular ones.

Thing 6 - Online Networks

Reading through the introduction to Thing 6 this week I decided not to panic about the networks that I'm not on (unless anyone has suggestions of ones that I can't afford to miss, so to speak), but to consider & consolidate my involvement in the networks that I am on.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Thing 5 - Reflective Practice

Having looked at the various models for reflection I decided to try out Gibbs*, as described on I also thought it might be interesting for me to evaluate 2 different experiences using this model - my CPD23 process so far & my 5 months volunteering as a library helper in a primary school.


Description (what happened)  - signed up for & started to participate in CPD23, a self-directed online course to learn & explore various tools to help my development as an information professional.

Feelings (what were you thinking & feeling) –

  • Nervous that, as a career-changer, I didn't really have any credentials for taking part: I've never (YET) worked as an information professional/paraprofessional & don't have any associated qualifications.
  • Apprehensive about tackling social networking & feeling lacking in I.T. skills.
  • Excited to discover more about the library & information world & make contact with people in the industry.
Evaluation - good aspects of the experience:

  • Learning to blog for the first time.
  • 'Meeting' other LIS folk through their blogs & discovering what a range of jobs there are within the profession.
  • Starting to consider a personal marketing/branding strategy (particularly useful as I am currently stuck at the stage of applying for jobs with no success!).
  • Learning how to set up RSS feeds (which reminds me - I really must read the backlog...).
  • Finding Twitter to be a much more useful tool than I first thought, particularly for following events remotely, & keeping your finger on the pulse day-to-day.
  • Feeling part of an information professional’s community. Developing a self-discipline about blogging each week.
  • Learning to write again (sounds odd I know, but I haven't really had to write coherently or at some length since my undergraduate days! My career since then hasn't really required this).
Bad aspects of the experience:

  • Slight information overload when attempting to read as many of the other blogs as possible.
  • Blog-envy when I see some of the great designs people have developed, but that should lead to a positive of me working more on my own blog.
  • Occasional guilt that I haven't written my blog earlier in the week & appear to have a last-minute approach. 
Analysis (what sense can you make of the situation) -

  • So far, I am finding CPD23 to be a very positive experience.
  • I am slowly finding an online voice amongst library & info folk which is helping me to develop the courage of my convictions in pursuing a career.
  • I'm enjoying learning more I.T. skills.
  • Oh yes, & it's good fun! I love the great humour in so many of the blogs.
  • Reflecting on the process has definitely made me want to continue with it (especially if we get a certificate...O.K. just kidding).
Conclusion (what else could you have done) –

  • Developed my blog (design & content) more.
  • Commented on & followed a few more blogs (I was quite conservative in number).
  • Been more vocal on Twitter.
  • Tried to increase my online profile more.
  • Tried using Pushnote beyond just registering for it. 
Action plan (what will you do next time) - the joy of CPD23 being an ongoing event means that I can apply the above conclusions to subsequent 'things' in addition to new events.

And now, onto my second event for reflection...


Description (what happened)  - I sourced a local volunteering opportunity in a school library through the Council for Voluntary Services, applied & then started volunteering as a library helper 2 days per week in a primary school library 5 months ago.

Feelings (what were you thinking & feeling) -

  • Nervous (again!) because I hadn't worked in any kind of library environment before, & hadn't worked in a school before (tho’ I had quite a bit of experience of working with children in my theatre career).
  • Delighted to be finally getting the opportunity to work in a library after having a lot of knock-backs for jobs.
  • Interested to see a literacy curriculum at work.
Evaluation - good aspects of the experience:

  • Learnt to use a library management system (Junior Librarian).
  • Learnt all the basic tasks such as scanning books in & out, shelving, enrolling new pupils onto the system, carrying out catalogue searches, cataloguing & classifying new books, & repairing books.
  • The size of the library was nice & manageable for a starter like me; the total of books (fiction & non-fiction) numbers around 5,000.
  • Able to get involved in information literacy exercises & reading activities with the children.
  • Given the opportunity to initiate projects such as Book of the Month displays, & an exhibition in the local public library of the winning entries of a Book Cover Design competition which the Year 7 Junior Librarians ran.
  • Working in a great school environment with fantastic pupils & teachers.
  • The organizing teacher gave me freedom to come up with schemes & ideas myself as they were delighted to have a library helper after going some time without one.
Bad aspects of the experience:

  • Not having a librarian to guide or supervise me, although the teachers were very happy to explain the system to me.
  • Not being able to commit more than two days to working in the school, due to having to earn a living as well.
Analysis (what sense can you make of the situation) –
  • Has given me the opportunity & foothold in library work that I have been seeking & is evidence of my commitment to the industry.
  • Has given me an insight into not only the importance of literacy, but also the importance of information literacy for children.
  • Highlighted for me the significance of school libraries & school librarians.
  • Over the course of a term & a half I have developed embryonic library skills.
Conclusion (what else could you have done) –
  • Been braver about asking the teachers more questions.
  • Initiated more projects to encourage the children to participate more in the library.
  • Read more children’s books (both in the library stock & the latest books) to give me a better overview of ages 8-12 reading groups.
  • Established a better system for overdue & a.w.o.l. books. Difficult when not working full time & the Year 7 Junior Librarians are overseeing the process. Resorted to an end of term book amnesty with the lure of house points!
Action plan (what will you do next time) – I guess that in the context of this event, ‘next time’ means the new autumn term & so I shall be attempting to carry out all four points mentioned above.

Well, that concludes my two pieces of reflective practice. I’m not going to talk about them any more as that would be getting into the realms of reflecting upon reflection…argghh! I do seem to have written rather a mammoth blog (for me) this week.

*Gibbs, G., 1988. Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further
Education Unit, Oxford Brookes University.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Thing 4 - current awareness

Hurray! I’ve made it to Thing 4 two days earlier in the week than my last blogs! Current awareness is something which I am very keen to cultivate at the moment, & there is certainly no shortage of interesting conversation threads in library land with all the various conferences & particularly the forthcoming Umbrella. I am loving being a part of CPD23 as there is a great sense of community, & a shared enthusiastic anticipation for each week’s tasks.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Thing 3 - consider your personal brand

My blogging is starting to form a pattern that I'm not proud of - tackling the blog at the very end of the week is like doing your homework at the last minute. Not that I am likening CPD23 to unwelcome homework! I've promised myself that I will  hit Week 3 running & write my blog at the beginning of the week. Anyway, back to the theme of Week 2 - considering my personal brand.
 I started by googling my very common name, Sarah Harris, & was faced with page after page of all the other versions of me. I was actually quite surprised to find that I finally appeared on the 14th page with a link to my LIS New Professionals Network membership. It was quite heartening to discover that my first appearance on Google was a library-related one as I am trying so hard to connect with the sector at the moment. As I use my plain old name on Facebook I guess that if  had continued to trawl through the Google pages I might have found my Facebook link, but there are so many with my name that I kind of lost interest. I have to confess that my presence on Facebook is definitely as a 'lurker'. I ended up on it by default after a few friends requests, but I have never been proactive, tending to use it as a way of catching up on what other people are doing rather than chronicling myself. The majority of my 'friends' are from my theatre work so I'm not sure if my Facebook profile is really any use currently for my LIS activity...
 Onto Twitter - googling of my Twitter name 'selharris' fared rather better & I appeared as the 6th listing on the first page! Not a case of successful branding, however, but happy accident. When I registered on Twitter I couldn't use my forename & surname as the tag was already taken (common name syndrome again) so I opted for initials. I wonder if the use of initials seems a little formal/distant but I hope that combined with a profile photo it will seem less so...
 And now my blog title - like many other cpd23 blogs I have read, the issue of choosing a name caused much procrastination. In the end, I avoided trying to be witty or cryptic as I didn't want to disappoint people when they got beyond the title! I went for the obvious, but, as I don't have any other blogs, decided to omit the '23' so that my new blog could extend beyond the life of the project & be relevant to other stages of my career. So with 3 different versions of me on social networking sites I don't consider myself to have a brand as yet.The one common theme so far is my profile picture which is a recent photo & one which I don't dislike too much. I was faceless on Facebook & Twitter for some time, & it was only after attending the npid2011 & hearing so much about networking that I decided to bite the bullet & post my photo. I think I like having it as a straightforward, consistent image.
 As far as professional v personal identity goes, I think that I am fairly keen to use social networking mainly for professional promotion, although it's difficult not to allow personal aspects to slip in, particularly when blogging. I do also enjoy following non-library Tweets, although they are generally arts/culture related. I suppose having personal elements do make you seem more human! Maybe 'profersonal' (?) is the way to go after all.
 I tried tweaking the visual elements of this blog. I went for a complete re-design, then returned to my original template, then compromised on an altered background! To be honest, it was all about me making something look 'prettier'. I wasn't doing it with any branding in mind as I don't think that I have reached any conclusions/decisions regarding my online presence just yet. For the moment I am happy to make little changes/refinements along the way as I progress through cpd23, learning from the process & from reading everyone's blogs.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Thing 2 - explore other blogs

Well, I'm just managing to squeeze Thing 2 in before the end of Week 1! I spent much of Sunday afternoon reading through many, many fantastic blogs. The variety of designs are amazing & I have resolved to start tinkering with my blog page to make it more interesting visually. Given the huge number of blogs, I had to narrow down the field for my perusal otherwise I would never have made it to Thing 2. I decided to look at blogs with similar experiences to mine or at least a connecting thread (as I have limited experience). I'm very much looking forward to reading more from the 4 blogs that I left comments with: Calon Lan is absolutely at the other end of the experience spectrum to me, but we have our old college in common & it was the mention of the college's former librarian that caught my eye; Monika-C's blog interested me as she is a latecomer from another sector to the profession which is the situation I am finding myself in; Ruth's Library Blog talked about her experiences starting out as a school librarian, & as a volunteer school librarian I am keen to hear of other people's learning curves in that sector; and finally More Adventurous (23 Things) struck a chord as a fellow volunteer looking for a professional post. I know that I have only touched upon these blogs superficially rather than making any in-depth comments, but I wanted to show what sparked my interest. Anyway, must post this before we arrive in Week 2. 

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Thing 1

Well, here goes - my first ever blog. It's taken me a week of humming & haa-ing, reading the other blogs for cpd23 & wondering whether, technically, I qualify for participating, but I've finally taken the plunge. I feel a bit of a fraud because surely to continue one's professional development, you have to have started it first?! And I haven't...yet.

I decided to participate in cpd23 ("a self-directed course aimed at introducing you to a range of tools that could help your personal and professional development as a librarian, information professional or something else") for several reasons - I heard lots of good things about it when I attended npid2011 recently, the weekly projects sound  great particularly for a Web 2 learner like myself (I've spent a long time being 'faceless' on Facebook & silent on Twitter), but mainly because last year I decided to try & change career from the world of theatre to the library & information sector. I shall leave the reasons why to one side for the moment, but the journey over the past 12 months has been a steep learning curve. I have yet to achieve my prized goal of a paid job in the LIS sector, but I haven't given up trying. The first 6 months of applying for entry level jobs & graduate traineeships(I should point out that I am definitely not in the first flush of graduation!) were slightly delusional as I attempted to continue with my theatre work & had no library experience to speak of. I then realised that if I was to get anywhere I needed to show more commitment. So for the last 6 months I have given up the theatre jobs which are all-consuming & taken on voluntary library work including a very rewarding position as a library helper in a primary school. The search for paid library work continues, along with my hope of completing a postgrad qualification in LIS someday. I'm hoping to use cpd23 & blogging in general as a career change diary which will have practical benefits in the process.

Writing this first blog has been quite cathartic so maybe blogging is not quite so scary as I first thought.