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.