Friday, 14 December 2012

Spreading the word

I left work half an hour late recently, although I think it was worthwhile:
A lady wearing a visitor badge (she was attending an ESOL course interview) seemed offended when I said that she could use the library facilities if she enrolled on a course, but not otherwise.  I spent some time explaining that being an educational institution library we can allow access to our students only, but public libraries could provide her with books, computer use etc. if required.  Once she understood, it transpired that she was unaware of the local public libraries - and that she lived just up the road from one.
After this, she produced some papers with the college logo on, and it appeared that she was enrolled on a course already - although as a work-based learning course this had been done offsite.  She'd therefore received no ID nor had the college facilities explained to her.  I got her sorted with a student ID and showed her the books she was interested in.  She was very grateful and apologised for taking up so much time.  I felt frustrated that she felt the need to apologise and that it was only through the coincidence of attending another interview in the library that she'd ended up with the ID she was entitled to and knowledge of the services we provide.  Books aside, she can now take advantage of a new place to study and computer use (with some free print credit).  I did stress she must still visit the public library to learn what it could offer!

On reflection, it would appear that we need to check what students enrolled offsite are told about the college and has made me rethink producing some small leaflets to explain our services.  We currently deliver most information through induction sessions and our VLE (Moodle) pages, but students such as this will neither have attended an induction nor have an understanding of what Moodle is.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

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

As a child I was a regular visitor to both static and mobile libraries in the three counties I grew up nearest to. Certain childhood interests of mine (Tin Tin and BBC Basic programming being examples) were fantastically catered for by these services.  It took me a long time to realise that not every child has similar experiences - and I still find it difficult to remember that the 16 year olds in front of me each September may have no idea about what a library is or does.  That's sad, and in a world where far too many libraries are closing I think we all need to make sure people understand what they might lose before they lose it.
I loved Annie's jigsaw and Katie's pattern as oh-so-subtle ways of making people think about libraries.  They remind me that advocacy doesn't have to be about marching down the street or lecturing people.
I do feel the whole thing can be a bit of a challenge - I work with a captive audience of teachers and students, but know that a lot of them are ignorant of the services the library can offer.  With that in mind, I work quite hard to publicise what we do and how we can help (I am only too willing to help, really, please, let me help you!).  Whilst the internet has made access to information much easier, there is still a place for librarians in helping users to find that information, even if it's no longer by looking in the back of a book.
I previously worked in a public library, just before the enormous publicity surrounding library cuts.  The county I worked for was not the county I lived in, and the service was under severe threat of complete decimation.  Whilst the situation now is more positive than it looked like it might be, I have felt bad that I didn't do more to show my support to a service that I knew from experience benefited so many people in so many ways.
Our local public library is coming into college in January to promote their services, and I will make sure to try and retain those links and publicise the service as another useful place for students to visit.

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

What?  Present at a conference? Me?
Or at least my reaction was something like that!  Basically, I don't feel I'm anywhere near being able to do such a thing.  Whilst I'm not about to speak at a conference, I do still run training sessions at work and the presentation tips are as useful for that.  I can definitely relate to Katie's advice about learning to embed fonts in a presentation since I've learnt the hard way that there's no point in making a presentation look nice only to find it doesn't load the same on the computer you are presenting on!

I have attended relatively few work-related events in my years in this job, mainly down to a lack of motivation, confidence, funding and/or anyone at work who would understand why I'd want to.  However, when I have attended I have felt it was worthwhile.  The only advice I can give to those in a similar situation is that coming out of a professional event having met even one person who agreed with one thing you said can give you such a boost!

As for organising events - I hate even ordering lunch for meetings we host!, although I hope that as I start to make new contacts within the library world I might one day get to the point of helping organise some sort of informal meet!

Thing 14 - Zotero/Mendeley/CiteULike

Having not looked at any of the three sites mentioned in this Thing I had a try with Zotero using the Chrome plugin and Mendeley and after a brief comparison would choose Mendeley to investigate further, despite it being a separately installed program.  I felt the organisation options when adding articles were better.

However, I have a RefWorks account provided through our university, so that is what I've had more training on and that is what I can teach our students to use (although they are given the option of using any other tool that they choose instead).  For this reason (and the fact that I don't personally have a need for a reference manager at the moment) I'm not keen on spending too much time looking at other tools since I will just get confused!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Thing 13 - Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox

For years, I have stored some documents with my web-based email provider if I thought I might need quick access to them. The new breed of cloud services is an extension of this, and the sharing options allow obvious advantages. The university my college is part of positively promotes the use of Google Docs/Drive for online storage and collaboration. Within the library we use a shared Google account to share resources such as poster templates since we lost our shared drive. I've also filled in a lot of registration forms/questionnaires which have been powered by a Google form.

I have Dropbox installed on my home and work computers and iPad. I don't use it routinely, but have found it useful for sharing photos between devices, and it does work. I don't like that others have to have an account to share some things though.

Of course the problem with these services is reliance on the Internet, and I can't always guarantee getting a connection when needed. If I go to meetings with my iPad, I'll make sure I've got the documents I need before I go, rather than assuming I can sync/download them when there. With the number of lost memory sticks we have at work - and the upset students who've lost them- I'm all for using online services as an extra backup, but I'd never (yet) rely on such a service constantly.

My only real experience of wikis is Wikipedia and various sites for computer games :-). I think I've spent so much time warning students about the downside of Wikipedia having anyone contribute, that I've lost sight of how they can be useful! Whilst I can't see any obvious reason to use one at work, I might pay a bit more attention to how others use them.

Things 12 - Putting the social into social media

Whilst trying not to repeat things I've said previously, I'm all for social media within limits. Even in the last few months I've noticed Facebook has become more and more integrated e.g. it's almost expected that a phone app will link to Facebook in some way. Whilst I still only use it on a personal level to interact with people I have actually met, it has allowed contact with past friends that I might not otherwise have had.

Recently by following the threads on a new community forum, I've discovered a possible book group to attend - something I've previously searched in vain for.

I still haven't managed to be a regular poster on Twitter, but am definitely now positive about its ability to spread the word having learnt about a lot of things I would otherwise have remained ignorant of. We've also been setting ourselves reminders at work to tweet as the library- which I've been partly successful at, although it tends to be a lot or nothing.

I have always been a lurker (!) and will probably remain so for some time, as much as I psyche myself up occasionally to post a comment or response. But I think as myself as proof that even thought you might not realise it, people are watching/listening - which is both an encouragement and warning!

Thing 11 - Mentoring

This is where I have to get my act together: I have read the arguments for having a mentor and would like to find one when I register for my ACLIP, but I am a bit scared! I'm not good a talking to people I don't know and certainly not at instigating contact. Informally, I don't work in a large enough institution to have a senior member of staff I can discuss library issues with: My colleagues and I talk together of course, but there is no-one with significant extra experience to advise. Senior managers may be willing to talk, but don't have the sector knowledge. I find myself drawing on past experience enough to know that the more experience you can draw from, the better!



Oh dear!

I had thought that come the summer holidays, I would be able to schedule time to do CPD23 more easily. As is was, that didn't happen and the term has been busy enough for me to have gone four months without posting. I've done some drafts though, so will be making an effort to post up the rest of the Things.

Monday, 30 July 2012

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

I originally wrote a really long post for this, but didn't feel any better afterwards.Basically, I have a non-LIS degree; no Masters; no Chartership; but the job title 'Librarian'. I am aware of the discussions surrounding the use of the term and believe it should mean something, but am not sure what and realise I could easily sound hypocritical. With the recent news stories about surgeons trying to protect their title and teachers in academies not needing teaching qualifications, I think such discussions will increase and would like to have something to 'prove' my worth.

A lot of people follow the graduate trainee/Masters route in order to get a job. I have a job I'm happy in, so these aren't suitable (currently).

I've decided (and said as much in my appraisal) that I will aim to get CILIP certification, and then work for Chartership.

I have some concerns about needing to retain CILIP membership in order to retain Chartership- surely if you've evidenced you've done something, you'll always have done it? I think it's I important to keep up CPD and be aware of changes in your profession, but perhaps CILIP could have a different way of certifying that annually?

Thing 9 - Evernote

I'm glossing over this one a bit since I have tried Evernote, have it on PC and iPad, but despite the best intentions am not very good at using it. I therefore don't want to form any firm conclusions yet.

Thing 8 - Google Calendar

At work we use Outlook, which works well enough for organising meetings and keeping track of holidays. I don't have a lot of appointments to keep track of so tend to remember things of importance. At home we just have a bog standard paper calendar (this year it's Klimt). However, I have experimented with syncing my work Outlook with Google Calendar. This isn't because I intend to use GC in itself, but so that I can then sync it with the calendar app (Saisuke) on my iPad. It's an exercise in trying new things rather than a necessity, but seems to work well.

I can see the usefulness of using GC as an institutional public calendar, but currently we don't have many events to publicise!

Thing 7 - real-life networks

The one one thing I told myself I wouldn't do is get behind on the Things. Oh, well.

I'm a member of CILIP, primarily since I want to get a qualification and therefore need to be, but haven't yet been to any events. I'm awful with meeting new people and so tend to shy away from instances where I might have to talk to others informally.

I do attend regular meetings within my college's university network, and have attended a couple of JISC events, and I do find these beneficial. Mostly since, being part of a small team with library-specific management, I find it useful to see what similar institutions are doing and how others cope with the same issues we might be having.


Sunday, 17 June 2012

Places and spaces

On Friday, three of us went to have a tour of the refurbished LRC of our nearest FE college. Considering my post on reflection, I figured I had better start reflecting! The college is a similar size with similar courses and part of the same university network as us.

Points of interest for me included:

  • Study/meeting 'pods' to accommodate about 15, equipped with comfy seats (no tables) and plasma screen
  • Two silent study rooms (room for about four in each)
  • Loads of tables and seating of different types
  • HE room with HE book stock, computers and desks; could be booked for classes (athough not permanently timetabled) but used as an overspill area otherwise
  • Signs on tables with QR codes to sites of interest- the links of which are changed regularly
  • Very small area with actual books, although tall and very full bookcases
  • Small staff desks (rather public) with no sort of workroom
I asked my colleagues which one feature or idea struck them most and my line manager had picked up on the general attitude towards social spaces and food. Drinks and cold food are allowed and the variety of seated areas meant it was an obvious place to sit and have a snack. The smaller LRC (they have two) had computers on one side of the room and a comfy breakout area on the other. There was a suggestion that giving students this freedom means they are less likely to rebel - which I think is probably true. We currently allow bottled drinks only, although this is a rule that is constantly ignored and we have discussed taking a more relaxed attitude in September.

My other colleague liked the HE room in which specific HE stock was kept. Our HE books are currently filed amongst other stock, but marked with stickers and only HE students can borrow these titles. Whilst some FE students get disgruntled at not being able to borrow everything, up to now I've been against the idea of having a separate section. Most HE stock should be of a level higher than FE students will want to use, but HE students can still benefit from some of the other stock we have. The complaints we do get are helpful to see where there is overlap, and where necessary additional copies can be bought. Books aside though, the room was a great resource and I'd love us to have something similar, especially if we could have control over the booking (and use it for library training sessions!). A request for a separate study space often comes up in the HE library survey, and whilst they currently have a very small 'HE area', it's not really suitably sized or designed.

The thing I liked most was the open-access PCs. There were about 30 on a mezzanine level, available on a first-come, first-served basis with no bookings allowed. A couple of library staff were based on a desk nearby, but weren't involved in any computer allocation. Whilst this doesn't seem like anything special, it isn't something we manage easily. Our (generous allocation of) computers are constantly booked out by teachers for class use. This causes problems in that a) students act like they would in their classroom and don't recognise that the library is a different environment and b) we turn away students coming independently to study. I feel this latter point is a real problem, especially when a booked class doesn't turn up, half turns up or turns up and obviously have no interest in doing any work. I also feel that when we have multiple classes in we are basically disguising the problem that we don't have enough computers in classrooms.

All in all it was a really interesting visit although I'd like to have gone when it was busier (I think we possibly got a false impression of noise- it was really quiet!).

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Thing 6 - Online networks

OK, so I've had a Facebook account for a long time. I like it, use it often, but only personally, and have no intention of changing that. It's interesting watching the 'war' between social networks: Before Facebook I used Friends Reunited, but have rather abandoned that now. I consider myself too old (!) to have joined Bebo or MySpace. There was a lot of talk about Google+ coming too late when it was launched, and admittedly, whilst I tried it, no-one else I knew leapt on the bandwagon so I saw little point in replicating information. I read a suggestion this morning that Facebook won't exist in five years - that may well be so, things evolve - but it's top of the tree at the moment.

As an individual then, for me Facebook is not relevant to professional networking. I have, however, just registered myself with LinkedIn. This was partly out of curiosity and partly out of worry: Whilst I'm still reluctant to put too much information 'out there' (at the end of the day anyone can register and even without registering view info about me), I hate to think that I might be sending a negative message to prospective employers or similar by not having a profile at all. That aspect is actually something I'm uncomfortable with: I love a lot of what the Internet has given us, and like to think that my use of certain sites and tools is a personal choice which can have positive outcomes, but that shouldn't mean penalising those that don't use them.

As regards Reid Hoffman's "MySpace is the bar. Facebook is the backyard BBQ. LinkedIn is the office.", all I can say is that it reflects my different approaches to the latter two sites at this current time, having been too put off by peeking my head through the door to even enter the bar :-)

I wasn't aware of LISNPN, and might find it useful although it struck me a little like it was focused around graduate trainees. I will certainly bookmark Librarians as Teachers, although I don't do much in the way of teaching. As a CILIP member, I have dipped in and out of Cilip Communities and will continue to do so...

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Thing 5 - Reflective practice

'Reflective practice' always makes me think of the last sheet of A3 paper in HE or CDT projects at school, where we had to write an 'evaluation' (imagine the bubble letters).

Anyway, I know where our books on reflective practice live at work; I recognise the key names; I'm just not very good at doing it formally. We are a small team at work and whilst I'll contribute to review discussions and often find myself thinking or saying to colleagues "that worked well" or "next time I will...", I don't write a lot down.

However, I am going to try and change this. I liked Electric Silverfish's post about making notes throughout the day and summarising them at the end and the example given by Graduate Library Trainee. I'm going to try and keep electronic notes and compile them into a professional journal. I think it will benefit me in several ways, not least by helping to remind myself why something did or didn't work previously rather than me go through it again (I'm thinking particularly about the configuration of our OPAC here, which I have wasted many hours on!).


Friday, 1 June 2012

Twittering on

I've already blogged about Thing 4, but (due to the large number of positive blog posts from others) over the last week have been pushing myself to understand Twitter more and think it has been worth it!

I spent the evening shift on Tuesday lurking around #uklibchat. I'd seen it mentioned and was just trying to get my head around how it worked. Basically, it's run using Twitter and everyone contributing adds the hash tag #uklibchat so that the conversation can be tracked. This sounded rather chaotic to me, but the website suggests using a Twitter client in order to search for the tag and follow the conversation. I've been using my iPad so tried downloading the apps for the clients suggested. Sorry Hootsuite (too many columns!) and Tweetdeck (designed for iPhone) but after a search for other free Twitter apps I've ended up using Echofon.

The ability to save searches had previously escaped me, but for the chat it worked really well (ignoring the many retweets). It meant that my screen was only filled with relevant tweets, whereas I'd been imagining having to filter them out from my main feed. I didn't feel I had much to contribute to the topic (leadership) this time round, but enjoyed reading what others said and I look forward to future sessions.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Thing 4 - current awareness - Twitter, RSS and Storify

I've taken a bit of time with this one, although I'm not sure I've used the time constructively...

Twitter - My first attempt some time ago was a complete failure; I just didn't get it. I've since tried again, and have had an account for a while, @nancecc, but haven't used it much due to the whole personal/professional quandary. I've rather randomly picked a few library people to follow, in addition to local organisations and a couple of obligatory famous people. I have to psyche myself up to post anything, let alone reply to someone else, but am getting the impression that I really shouldn't worry about it! Even though I haven't posted much myself, I have found it really useful for news I might otherwise have missed.

I also intend to tweet separately as the library for work; just need to make sure I can think of sensible and original things to regularly announce...

RSS - I was aware of RSS feeds before joining CPD23, but never subscribed to any having got into the habit of just looking at certain websites every now and then. However, I've now got myself a Google Reader account and have subscribed to the cpd23 feed as well as a few other blogs, and am gradually organising things into folders. I'm not actually using Reader on a PC (find the experience a bit clunky), but have downloaded the iPad app 'Mr. Reader' which is great: It allows me to view each post in a window within the app, so I can easily comment if I want, but also retain Google's features such as starring.

Storify - This was the first thing I was completely ignorant of. Whilst I'd love to be enthusiastic about it, I think I currently just see it as another complication - but probably only because I can't think of any way in which it can currently help me. But then that's how I started with Twitter, so things could change...

Monday, 14 May 2012

Thing 3 - Consider your personal brand

This one was interesting, and has made me think.

I Googled my name with the word 'librarian' and found the top hit was my Twitter feed - hadn't expected that. Then there's a page from our VLE and the rest are the primatologist author who shares my name. I fare better with just my name, since I already have my own website for photographs, for which I have my own domain.

I use Facebook, but all of my 'friends' are people I have actually met; I have made minimal information public; I don't have it indexed by Google. I follow people for work and leisure on Twitter; this blending of two worlds is one of the reasons I'm not fully confident with Twitter yet.

When setting up this blog I thought, for the time being at least, I would like to keep personal and professional separate, so would need a new identity. I thought for a good while about a blog name, and settled on 'three week loan' since it was something I associate with libraries and work rather than home, and I felt it was a little reminder that we still have books to lend, despite all the lovely new things technology brings! I am aware that some people will find my being anonymous off-putting, but I'm still just a little bit scared...I'm happy to get an online identity within the library world, and then perhaps meet other library people in the real world as a result. I'm not so sure, however, that I want someone I meet at party to learn my name and then find out all the same information.

The suggested links for this Thing gave some interesting reading (including by someone I once knew at university; small world). I found particularly interesting Danah Boyd's suggestion that 'stuff gets buried by repetitive blogging' so that 'old' information would only be found by those looking for it. I'm not sure if that's supposed to be comforting or not...

More to remember, in a good way

Just attended a training session on using Refworks for reference management and Ebrary e-books which was very useful. Unfortunately it just makes me think of how much more complicated HE library tutorials will become! Whilst I've listed myself as working in an FE college, we do have a small cohort of HE students, and I have the primary responsibility for them in terms of the library. I'm now even keener to push class tutorials in the new year: I feel some of these tools are being neglected by our students through lack of knowledge, and that's not fair on anyone.

I am also very much enjoying being able to type this post on my iPad while it's fresh in my mind, instead of dozing off on the train home!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Thing 2 - Investigate some other blogs

On and off this week I've had a look at some of the other blogs appearing for CPD23.  I started by concentrating on those participants tagged under 'FE', but have read some interesting things from other sectors too.
There appears to be a split between the confident bloggers who don't think twice about writing about their day, and those of us who are new to it and a bit trepidacious.  I've never kept any sort of diary or journal, and whilst I'm very good at lurking and reading posts, I'm not so good at commenting and writing my own.  That's why I like that one of the tasks is to comment - it's almost forcing me out of my comfort zone.

I've started using Google Reader to subscribe to posts.  That's new to me and I'm not entirely comfortable with it yet - although I did use it as an opportunity to investigate ipad RSS apps...

Monday, 7 May 2012

Taking the easy way out?

Not particularly work-related, but I've just suggested to Him (the boyfriend) that I transfer his hobby website (which I upkeep at his request) to Blogger, enabling both easier editing for me and the ability to create content for him.
I originally taught myself HTML out of curiosity whilst at university ten years ago - at that point writing code in Notepad was the way to create myself a website hosted by the uni.  I can create working web pages and understand how to style with CSS.  He can't.
His reaction to the suggested transfer was extremely negative, based on the principle that embracing the services of Blogger would mean no need for any coding skills.  He admitted the hypocrisy of this but has forecast that the future will be full of 'experts' we will have to consult for everything since we will never have learnt any skills to do things for ourselves; we will then be exploited by the companies offering such services.
Whilst I can see the basis of his argument, I see tools such as Blogger as just that; tools which make tasks easier.  But if I didn't have any HTML/CSS skills, would I still be curious to learn them in order just to make minor changes to the look of a site?

Thing 1 - Blogs and blogging

So to expand on my first post, I am hoping to learn a lot from from doing these 23 Things. Whilst I'm generally quite comfortable using internet applications and already blog a bit from a personal perspective (mainly photographs), I feel I need an extra push in how I can promote tools to others.

I work in a college where a lot of staff and students are reluctant to embrace new technology (although the availability of it in order to do so will always be a issue), and I'm hoping to get some inspiration and really good examples to enable me to help them. At the same time, however, anything which assists in marketing our 'traditional' services would also be great!

I don't get much opportunity to do CPD specific to my post through work, and I haven't yet done a post-grad qualification which is something that plays on my mind...

Friday, 4 May 2012

Hello to CPD23

I'm going to join in this time having been aware of it for a while.
I've already tried some of the tools on the schedule, sometimes with limited success, so I'm hoping to learn some more about how they can be useful to me.