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'!