Wednesday, 20 January 2016

So, What Do You Do?

Just before Christmas I started my new role in the Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC) here at Cambridge. I'm still based in the University Library which is nice as it provides some continuity but my role now is very different to any that I have had before. One of the most common questions I've been asked is what my new job title is. The answer: Research Skills Coordinator. This is usually followed by the question "so, what does that mean?". This blog post is my attempt at an answer.

The basic answer is that I am working on developing and delivering training to library staff from across Cambridge in the area of scholarly communication. Since I've spent a good share of my in and out of work time over the past few years working on training others this is a good fit for me! In addition to this I am helping the OSC deliver training to the Cambridge academic community and assisting in outreach to the wider world. 

I've written before about job titles and their meanings so I understand the confusion around names in general. I think a lot of job titles now are more on the generic than the specific side to allow for adapting the role as needed. This is something that applies outside the library and information sector too! My job is actually a brand new role, not just for me but for the Library as well. This is an added bonus for me as I will be able to shape it. Having previously worked only on temporary or part-time contracts I was unsure of how much of myself to invest in a job that I would hand back in a few months. I always felt like a place holder for the 'real thing' so being able to mould my role is a challenge I'm looking forward to.

So, what do I actually do all day?
  • A large portion of my day is spent looking at/organising/running/attending training events as part of the Supporting Researchers in the 21st Century initiative. These can be aimed at either librarians or the wider academic community and we try to tailor the sessions as much as possible. As anyone who knows me will know I love doing some CPD so this is right up my street! 
  • As part of this I'm getting out of the Library and visiting various departments. Researchers are very busy people so it makes sense to take the training to them rather than making them come to us. Despite having been born in Cambridge and working at the University for more years than I would like to admit there are many departments I have never visited. One of the things I like most about working in a library is the chance to interact with people and I was starting to miss it.
  • I'm managing the Research Ambassador Programme which aims to educate library staff in the area of scholarly communication and prepare them for going out and delivering the content to others. The aim is to release a cohort of Ambassadors into the wild at the end of this term before we start all over again! Further information on the Programme can be found here.
  • A lot of learning! Although I've had an interest in this area for a while and attended a lot of training events this is all still pretty new to me. I'm learning about various areas which make up scholarly communication as I go along and although it's a steep learning curve I love it. I've always liked learning about new areas and for once I get a chance to put what I've learnt into practice.
  • Finally I'm getting used to a new way of working. This is something that happens whenever you move jobs but it is still an adjustment after so many years working in the same department (albeit on and off). Luckily I had some practice of this when I moved to a temporary secondment in the Reader Services Department last year and my new colleagues are all lovely. Although they may only be like that as I keep baking them cakes.....

So in a nutshell this is what I do. It has only really been a few weeks so I have every expectation that this the above will change and develop. Hopefully this will give me more reasons to blog as I realise I have been neglecting it recently. I'm very much looking forward to 2016!

photo credit: DSC02603 via photopin (license)

Friday, 18 December 2015

Research Ambassadors Programme

As some people will know I recently moved to a new role within the Office of Scholarly Communication at Cambridge (further blog posts on that in the new year). One of my first priorities has been to manage the Research Ambassadors Programme which aims to encourage staff from across the libraries to get involved in teaching and training other staff and users. I have taken part in the Programme as a participant and am really looking forward to seeing it from a new perspective. 

In the meantime I have written a guest post on our department blog on the Programme and there is also a corresponding view from the outside. If you are interested in reading about the Programme then start here (see if you can spot me in the photo) and I will post more in 2016!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Have an Appy Christmas!

Because I am the master of procrastination I have spent the last few weeks experimenting with creating an interactive Advent calendar to showcase a number of apps that I've found useful. Just click on the window for that day - no cheating and looking ahead!- to see the featured app. It's a small bit of silliness for Christmas (but that's what it's all about at this time of year isn't it?). 

The Appy Advent Calendar can be found here.

Photo: Tina D via Flickr

Thursday, 26 November 2015

A New Chapter

It's been a roller-coaster few weeks for me. My secondment to Reader Services ended and I returned to the English Cataloguing Department in a lower grade to the one I left which was, needless to say, demoralising. I then successfully interviewed for a new job in a different Library department.

On Monday I move to the Office of Scholarly Communication here at Cambridge to work as Research Skills Coordinator, a new role that I will be able to really make my own and which fulfils a lot of my professional goals. I'm beyond excited to start my new role (not least as this is the first full time permanent job I will ever have held!) but it's also a time tinged with a little bit of sadness. I am leaving behind cataloguing as a day job which will be a big change for me. I have spent most of my career working in a cataloguing role and it will be different to think that I won't be going back to it at some point. Of course you can never say never but I think the time has come for me to move on.

A few years ago I was as set as I could be on making cataloguing my niche in the profession and couldn't imagine doing anything else. To some this may seem like a boring ambition but I think it's a truly exciting time for the profession with the advent of initiatives such as Linked Data and BIBFRAME. I will still be involved with the CILIP Cataloguing and Indexing Group for as long as they will have me so I will be able to keep my hand in that way and I think many of the new developments will tie into my own work. A good thing about all this change is that it will hopefully mean more blogging, something I haven't had much time to do recently! This will be a new area for me professionally as well as an exciting direction for the profession and I'm keen to find out all I can about it.

What I have basically realised is that change doesn't have to be scary. People change and adapt over time and what you really want today might not be what you want in a year. My advice to all new (and maybe even not so new) professionals is to keep your options open and don't pin yourself down to only one part of the information industry. There are a lot of facets to the profession so go out and explore them - you never know what you might find!

photo credit: Light Reading via photopin (license)

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Reaching Out

One of the highlights of my secondment to the Reader Services division has been the chance to get actively involved in outreach activities. I've done many tours and volunteered at a lot of events but this year I bit the bullet and decided to organise my own event. 

We have many outreach opportunities in Cambridge including the Festival of Ideas which was established in 2008. The festival sets out to challenge ideas around a particular theme which this year was Power and Resistance. This seemed like a good fit for the work I wanted to do to show off the Library's collection of World War I propaganda posters. Being a history graduate propaganda has always been a subject of interest to me and I think it has enormous relevance to life today.

My event was entitled Patriotism and Pin-Ups to reflect both the content and theme of the display. In addition to posters I managed to find a selection of war propaganda material from the collection. Amongst the items on display were:
  • the Illustrated War News and the War Pictorial to represent the fact that World War I was one of the most widely photographed conflicts. It was the first war where images could be made readily available to an eager public back home, something we take for granted today
  • Nursery Rhymes for Fighting Times. This was the most popular item in the display as it was jarring to see such blatant propaganda aimed at young children.
  • the Martyrdom of Nurse Cavell explored the story of this heroic nurse who was executed as a traitor for helping wounded soldiers escape.
  • the Win the War Cookery Book which claimed that if the people of Britain stopped eating so much bread then the war would be won in no time! It also advocated chewing bread slowly to make it taste more like cake...
Putting together the exhibition was a great way for me to get deeply involved in a subject and do some historical research. It was also a fantastic way to show-off a little seen part of the collection to the public. I couldn't include all of the posters I wanted to for space reasons but it was great to be able to show what I could and it got a lot of people talking.

I also experimented with Vine to create videos of the material on display. I've been hearing a lot about the app recently and how it can be used to create visuals of tutorials or exhibitions so I wanted to give it a try. Vine allows you to create short, seven second videos that play on a continuous loop and can be shared with others on the usual social networks. The app was simple to install on my tablet and I was making videos in minutes! My results are shown below:

This was the first time I had developed an outreach event from start to finish and many lessons were learnt. My top piece of advice would be to always leave yourself more time than you think you will need. Life gets in the way sometimes and things like writing captions will always take you longer than you think! If you are able to participate in something like this then my advice would to be to go for it. We are lucky in Cambridge as there are so many opportunities to get involved but if that isn't the case where you are then why not launch something? It doesn't have to be expensive or time consuming - it could just be an online display. The important thing is that you get your material out there and share it with interested people. You never know what might come of it! 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Going Beyond the Numbers: Measuring the Impact of Social Media Marketing in Your Library

Last month I presented the results of my dissertation research at the CILIP Multimedia Information Technology Group Conference in Sheffield. It was my first time at the conference and it was a great couple of days where I learnt a lot. It was also my first time presenting to a group who had actively chosen to attend my presentation and it was lovely to see so many people turn up. I had a very engaged audience who asked a lot of questions, even though they wanted to get out and have their lunch!

For those interested my presentation is below. I experimented with using Canva to create a presentation which had positives and negatives so I would be interested to know how others find it.

The full dissertation on which this presentation is based can be found here.

Friday, 24 July 2015

LibCAMp: A Cambridge Unconference

People who follow me on Twitter may have recently seen me frantically tweeting about something called #camlibcamp. This was the first Cambridge library staff unconference and was held this week at the Alison Richard Building in central Cambridge.

We are lucky in Cambridge as every year part of the University Library team organise a conference for staff in January. As well as being something to perk you up just after Christmas it provides a great way to meet new people and share new ideas. Circumstances and busy work schedules for the organisers meant that there was no official conference held this year so a group of us decided to do something about it. LibCAMp was born!

I've been to an unconference before but never organised one so it's been a bit of a learning curve. There were nearly sixty attendees in all which exceeded our expectations and showed that there is a real appetite for this kind of discussion. Below are a few of the lessons learnt during the planning process:
  • plan for more people than you think will come. We thought we would only get about thirty attendees at best but we were overwhelmed by the response. The event sold out in two days but luckily we had some wait-list spaces available which we could release
  • be flexible and listen to other people's ideas when planning. You might have a vision of how you think everything should go but you need to be open to the experiences of others. Some of our best ideas came from someone saying, "how about doing it this way?" so it's important not to discount anything during the planning stage
  • collect feedback soon after the event whilst it's still fresh in the minds of participants. We are not sure at the moment if there will be a rerun of LibCAMp but if there is we have some ideas to encorporate. We asked participants to rate the event but also asked them what was they one thing we could do better. This has given us some valuable ideas for any future events we might run
  • try not to be too hard on yourself when things go wrong. I have a tendency to do this personally so I'm really trying hard to focus on everything that went right as opposed to the fact that I forgot to mention a few things
Overall I think LibCAMp was a success. There were things we could have done better but if we had done everything perfectly it wouldn't have been much of a learning experience! People are still tweeting and blogging about the event so we must have made some sort of impression. The main lesson I've taken away from this is that if you see a gap for an event, rather than complaining about it why not try doing something about it? You might surprise yourself at what you can achieve.