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).