Monday 31 October 2011

Halloween fun

On the left is a screenshot from my seasonal Halloween blog post for the Tower Project Blog. Please take a look if you want something macabre to read tonight!

Blogging is just one part of my job with the Tower Project but I really like how it gives us a chance to showcase some of the material that people might not otherwise get a chance to see. It shows people what we do behind the scenes and helps to demystify cataloguing a bit. Not everything about working in cataloguing is boring! There are not many jobs where you can say you spent the afternoon researching premature burial...

Happy Halloween!

Monday 10 October 2011

And now, the end is near (or here!)

So we reach the end of another 23things! Maybe I should change the name of this blog to Librarianintraining46things...

I have thought about changing the name of the blog from time to time now that I am nearing the end of my degree course. I've decided against this however since I think the name illustrates that we are always learning, we never stop over our careers. This is what cpd23 has been about for me - developing my skills as part of lifelong learning. Technology is just one aspect that those in the library profession should keep up with, otherwise we risk getting left behind. You can't just learn something once nowadays, you have to keep topping up knowledge and gaining new skills otherwise you will be left behind, with both users and colleagues.

Here is my personal SWOT analysis:

Strengths: willingness to learn new things, genuine interest in the profession, interest in new technologies

Weaknesses: knowing that I should embrace change, but being scared to actually do it, shyness (which doesn't help when it comes to networking)

Opportunities: learning programmes like cpd23, training provided by work, conferences and outside events

Threats: current state of the job market, increased competition for jobs, future of libraries in general (!)

I'm not sure what I can do to change some/all of these things but I'm going to work on it. You don't get anywhere by sitting and letting chances pass you by. This doesn't necessarily mean getting a new job but could be things like using every opportunity to improve my skills.

One thing that I will definitely do is keep up this blog. Posts might not be as regular as they have been over the course of the programme but when I have something relevant to say I will try and post something. I think that blogging is a very valuable tool for librarians, especially those that feel they might not get a voice otherwise. It's also quite therapeutic! Hopefully I will find something interesting to say in the future. Hopefully this blog can become a reflection tool for me which will help when come to start my chartership in the not too distant future - gulp!

Until then....

Sunday 9 October 2011

The need to volunteer?

Getting caught up finally! Thing 22 talks about volunteering as a way to get experience in areas that your job doesn't cover. While this sounds fantastic in theory I have no idea how I would fit it in in the real world. I have spent the last few years trying to get a full time job so there is no way that I would willingly choose to work part time. Even in the periods that I have been working part time at the library I have had to go and get another job in order to pay the bills so volunteering just wasn't an option. If you can afford to do it I think it's a great use of time but unfortunately it's not possible for everyone.

There are ways round this. You could ask your current employer for more responsibility on a sort of voluntary basis. However, I think you have to be careful not to be taken advantage of here. I have managed to increase my skills recently by attending conferences and getting more involved in the profession in general. Presenting a poster at Umbrella was as much about improving my public speaking skills as anything else and it was a very rewarding experience.

I think volunteering is something that employers definitely respond to since it shows that you are willing to go out there and go the extra mile to learn something new. However, they also need to be aware that not everyone has this luxury and that people may go about gaining experience in different ways. I think that as long as you can gain skills somewhere this will help you in your future career, for example just involving myself in following cpd23 shows that I am interested in developing new skills. Hopefully this will be enough for now.

Thursday 6 October 2011

I wouldn't ask me for job advice, but......

I have more recent experience in job applications and interviews that I care to think about, but given my current success rate I am more than happy to get some extra advice. I think it's always important to carefully read through the job description to see what it is that employers really want. You need to tailor your skill set to what they want and this is going to be different for each and every job. I think that one of the biggest mistakes that people make in applications is turning in the same thing every time, just phrased in a different way. Almost all my experience is in cataloguing. I have applied for many, many jobs in cataloguing and got used to phrasing the same thing in a new way every time since cataloguing was so central to the roles I was applying for. It's only recently that I have started applying for jobs outside cataloguing and have had to really think about what else I need to put in my application.

I would say that one of the best pieces of advice I have been given is not to over-prepare for interviews. Some people go into interviews with answers already rehearsed to certain questions. This is great if these questions get asked but if not then you run the risk of giving you very carefully rehearsed answer when they interviewer has asked a totally different question. I'm also pretty sure that they can tell when you have rehearsed too much and one of the points of an interview is to test how you can think on you feet.

The best things to do in order to prepare for an interview, in my opinion, are:

  • know the company/library/department that you are applying to. Do your research on what they do and how they do it. If it's another department in your current workplace then buy someone who works there a coffee and talk to them about what they do. Interviewers really appreciate when you have taken an interest in their workplace. It shows that you want to work there, not just anywhere

  • have some examples from your working life ready. Interviewers always want real life examples of something you have done, for example how you have handled a difficult situation or what your role is in a team. Having some concrete examples to draw on helps put your skills in context and gives you something solid to talk about if you get stuck

  • don't be afraid to talk about you accomplishments. This is your chance to shine so take it. I'm not saying that you should come across as arrogant but these people are there to hear about you and what you can do so it's not the time for modesty. A lot of people, myself included, are slightly uncomfortable with talking about themselves this way but if you don't do it for yourself then no one else will

Interviews are very scary things so the other bit of advice I will give is to get yourself a treat afterwards. This way you have something to look forward to even if it doesn't work out this time. And if you don't get the job, just remember that it's their loss!

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Going back to my routes (or why you should always listen to your mother!)

Getting slightly behind in my "Things" but I'm afraid that real life has been getting in the way! This weeks Thing asks us to look at how we ended up working in the sector that we work in. My story starts with listening to my mother. Like all teenagers I didn't listen to what she said for most of the time. I didn't have a burning ambition to 'do' anything in particular. I studied history at university since it was something I was interested in but I didn't do it with the idea of making a career out of it. I thought about maybe working in museums but only as a vague idea.

It was my Mum who suggested libraries. She said "you like books" which at the time seemed the best prerequisite for working in a library. She thought that it was something I would be good at and something I would enjoy. I applied for a few jobs when I left university, one of which was in Cambridge University Library. Eventually I got the job and thus my career in libraries began. I began as a library assistant and have progressed to a position in cataloguing, which I really enjoy.

I found that there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm from anyone (apart from my mother) about working in a library. I vaguely remember some sort of dusty information sheet on the bottom of the pile in the careers section of my secondary school library but that's about it. I spent a lot of time in libraries when I was growing up as my family encouraged me to be an avid reader. It's an environment that I enjoy but through my work I have found out that it is, of course, about so much more than liking books and being able to operate a stamp! I like that I can spend my time working on something I feel passionate about and helping to share this with others. Isn't this what jobs should be about in an ideal world?

I didn't realise that there were qualifications that you needed to be called a librarian, an attitude that I find reflected in others when I tell them about my library course. They always, without fail, ask "why do you need that?". There does seem to be a misconception that all we do is fetch and stamp books. In my opinion, one of the best ways to change this is to get out there and show people the broad range of things that working in a library can offer.

I don't want to steer away from the word 'librarian' but there are so many job titles out there in libraries that have much less negative connotations, things like 'metadata specialist'. I have recently met people from all over the librarianship world and hardly any have the same title or do exactly the same thing. There are many different aspects to the profession and I think that this is something that isn't stressed often enough. People see it as a quiet job rather than just a profession, which is why they can't understand the need for a degree. I have met so many enthusiastic people who are pursuing librarianship as a career. Hopefully they (and maybe even me) can help to inspire the next generation!

So far my career has consisted of working in different departments in the same library. It's an academic library and this is where I would very much like to say. Recently I'm starting to get itchy feet, not for a new job necessarily but with the urge to do more. That's why I've been involved in cpd23 and some other projects, like library outreach. I always thought of myself as picking the one thing that I loved about working in a library and then getting on with it but now I see that there are so many exciting opportunities and there is no harm in getting involved (except a lack of sleep).

The moral of this extremely long and rambling story is that maybe you should listen to your mum once in a while. Sometimes they really do have a clue! It seems to me from reading the posts of others that once someone suggested that they should work in libraries it was like a light bulb went off and they wondered why they hadn't thought of this before. By not promoting librarianship enough, I have to wonder how many people are missing out on a fulfilling career? Maybe if you suggest it to someone who isn't quite sure of their career path in the future you will be creating the newest library superstar?

Friday 23 September 2011

Why I love cataloguing

This post started as a response to Theresa Schutlz's controversial post on LISNPN. It seems to have stirred up quite a hornets nest and this is my two cents. It was getting ridiculously long so I decided to publish it as a stand alone post.

From personal experience I can see that cataloguing isn't taken very seriously in some places. We were advised not to even read the cat and class module on our library course until we absolutely had to for work. By the tutor! When I told people at various study schools that I worked in cataloguing they did tend to look at me with pity in their eyes, even when I told them how much I love my job.

I think the worst thing though is trying to convince other librarians of the need to enhance the image of cataloguing. I'm in the process of trying to set up a cataloguing related blog at work which is intended for outside readership by users. I know other places have done this, with varying degrees of success, but I am having a really hard time trying to sell it internally. The most popular question seems to be "who would want to read that?". Whilst it might not be everyone's cup of tea I think that there are people out there who would read it. I know I would (don't really know what that says about me though!).

I work in a legal deposit library which means that we get a lot of non-academic material which our users never get to see. We get everything from the silly to the outrageous and this is one of the reasons I love my job - yes, the actual action of cataloguing can be repetitive but you never know what kind of book you're going to get next. I can be cataloguing a tome on nuclear physics one minute and the autobiography of Jedward the next. One of the best recent examples was "Knit Your Own Royal Wedding" which featured in a lot of news coverage around the big day.

A lot of this fun material gets passed round the office since everyone wants to have a look, and we have FUN looking at them. I want to get some of this type of material on the blog, as well as some posts showcasing what we actually do in the department in the hope of dispelling the myth that cataloguers are all dusty, fusty old librarians who need to get out more.

Maybe I'm wrong in thinking that people would want to read a blog like this. Part of my current job involved posting on the Tower Project blog which focuses on early twentieth century material. We manage to make it really fun and entertaining and get a lot of positive feedback. Why can't we do this for modern material?

On the plus side, Schultz's post has stirred up a lot of debate and that's always a good thing. People wouldn't leap to the defence of cataloguing so much if they didn't have such strong feelings about it. Maybe there is hope after all!

Monday 19 September 2011


I've already covered Slideshare during Cam23 and my thoughts haven't really changed. They are contained in an earlier blog post.

I have seen a few presentations made using Prezzi recently, some good and some really bad! At worst they gave me motion sickness since people seem to think that because it has all of these fancy new features, they must be used.

Even the ones that were slightly calmer were still a little busy. I understand that it's a good tool for drawing parallels between points but people seem to take this to the extreme. I was watching a Prezzi presentation last week and the speaker had used multiple pictures to illustrate her points. I found myself more trying to work out what the pictures were trying to represent than listening to her presentation! Also, I find that if the equipment is a little outdated then the presentations run very slowly which makes them look a little clunky. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I think that the traditional PowerPoint presentations where you can look at something static on the screen at any point in the talk work better. I find too much of my time in Prezzi presentations is taken up following the text/images around on the screen rather than paying attention to what the speaker is saying. It seems to be designed for people with very short attention spans.

Having said this, there are some good examples of the technology out there. Some people have really got to grips with what it can do but I'm not sure it will ever win me over. I know the same was true of PowerPoint when it first came in. People used many special effects just because they could and the result was cluttered mess. Hopefully things will calm down with Prezzi but as of the moment, this isn't one for me.

Sunday 18 September 2011

Reflection: what have I liked so far?

I think the tool that I have found most useful so far (that I wasn't already using) has been Twitter. I have had an account for about eighteen months now but haven't really done much with it. I found it too hard to keep up with since I can't check it at work during the day. Everyone who uses it professionally has been telling me for ages that it's the one tool that they couldn't live without so I bit the bullet and made an effort to go on it at least once a day. I admit, there are still times where I feel a little out of my depth but I intend to keep going. I have even tried to talk to a few people that I don't actually 'know' but this has been met with mixed success. This is definitely one to keep up with though.

I have tried Evernote, again with mixed success. I might keep trying with this one but it also might be one that I let slide. I experimented with a few other citation tools but ultimately went back to Evernote since it's what I know. I did appreciate the chance to explore alternatives though. When someone asks me for help I might actually have an intelligent answer!

I think my favourite posts so far (apart from the stunner that was Thing 12 of course!) have been the ones that focus on career development. This is, for me, the best feature of this programme. I did Cam23 last year and went through most of the tools we are covering but I feel like I am getting something extra out of it this time round. At least where I work, there seems to be a huge gap when it comes to career advice and in these tough times I really appreciate some concrete help.

My next goal is to spend a bit more time on my LinkedIn profile. I took some of the tips from that weeks Thing and spruced up my profile a bit but I'm still not as active as I feel I could be. Probably because I now spend too much time on Twitter......

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Not completely convinced yet...

Jing. Podcasting. In theory I think that tools like this are quite fun. They make librarians looks hip and trendy since we know how to use the latest fad. Jing could be used to make some great instructional videos and would save a lot of staff and users time rather than explaining the same thing again and again. I have often wanted to do a podcast tour of the UL which users could listen to themselves as they wandered round.

Part of me wonders though, do users actually pay any attention to things like this? Would they actually take the time to watch an instructional video or take a podcasted tour?

I'm not sure that podcasting is even that hip any more. I know that when I first got my ipod I downloaded lots of podcasts and I fully intended to listen to them all. I listened to one. The others just gathered virtual dust on the virtual shelf before I deleted them. Maybe podcasting has moved on since then but I found that it was all too easy to forget to find time to listen to then. I'm not sure that most users (who, let's face it, just want to get the book they want fast and leave) would be that bothered about it to be honest. I'm just not sure it is the best use of time/technology from a user point of view.

From a cpd perspective I'm slightly more into these tools. Conference sessions could be recorded and then played back for those who couldn't attend. The same goes for talks/training sessions. Doing a distance learning course I think that these technologies could have come in handy to deliver lectures long distance. Both screen and podcasting could be useful in this way and I know that some universities offer this sort of thing already, I'm just not sure what the uptake is. I would be happy to be proved wrong and find that students and users all love these tools but I suppose time will tell.

I haven't used these tools in my work and I can't see any need for them in the near future. Although they have their advantages, I think I would miss the interaction part of talks etc. and I think that this is an important element of any kind of educational training session. This might be one to file away in the 'maybe in the future' box.

Sunday 4 September 2011

On my soapbox...

Advocacy is something I've been thinking about a lot recently. I work in cataloguing and people have been prophesying the doom of my particular area of the profession for years. I naturally think that this is a huge mistake. I can see libraries all over the world getting rid of their cataloguing departments and downloading records from a central agency. There are too many things wrong with this to go into but I also believe that libraries will live to regret it and bring the departments back. Unfortunately by this time the skills may have been damaged, if not completely lost. Even in my library course, which has an entire module devoted to cataloguing and classification, it seems as though people treat it as more of a chore than a core element of the profession. For anyone who is interested in this I recommend that you read the High Visibility Cataloguing blog.

I have also recently been involved in some attempted advocacy for the department at work but it's not going well. It seems to be only the preserve of the few rather than the many, surely this should be the other way around? Still, I will keep trying since I am nothing if not persistent!

Publishing is a definite future goal for me but right now I just don't have the time/energy. I am about to start work on my MSc dissertation and I've been told by more than one person that it has some potential. I have published some smaller work, see my previous post, but hope to do something bigger in the future. For the moment though I have to prioritise and that means the dreaded dissertation!

Getting over my fear of conferences!

I have attended a couple of 'real world' conferences since I joined CILIP a year ago. I've found them to be really worthwhile experiences where I have learnt a lot. I know from experience that some people only see them as a free day off work and not a learning experience and this always makes me feel sad for those that would have loved a place but couldn't go.

So far, as well as the Libraries @ Cambridge conference that I have been to for the past few years I have been lucky enough to get sponsorship from CILIP to attend the CIG conference last September and more recently the Umbrella conference in July. I got a lot out of these events, learning about new thing and meeting new people. Meeting new people is the best thing to come out of these conferences for me but it doesn't come naturally. I'm naturally a very shy person and talking to strangers is not that easy for me. I would say that a conference is a good place to practice this skill though, since everyone there at least shares one common interest!

This does mean of course that there is no way that I can see myself speaking at a conference any time in the near future. Maybe this isn't the right thing to admit but I know I just couldn't get up in front of an audience and speak! When I went to Umbrella I presented a poster for cpd23 and I would encourage anyone else who has a similar fear but wants to conquer it to try this route. You only have to talk to a few people at a time, and often individually, meaning that some of the pressure is off. It's a way to get your message across at conferences without having to stand up in front of everyone and an excellent way to meet people.

I'm also going to echo the point made in the cpd post that you will never get any funding unless you ask for it. Remember - the worst that anyone can say is no, and at least you will know that you tried. Yes, funding bodies generally want you to do something in return. For example, I had to guest blog from the CIG conference and write an article about Umbrella but these are good examples of professional development in their own right and will hopefully look good on the CV. So my final advice would be: ASK! You will never know unless you try!

Wednesday 24 August 2011

In which I save my sanity...

As someone who has just written what feels like a hundred essays and is about to embark on a dissertation, referencing software is an absolute Godsend! You could cut me off from Facebook, Twitter and every other application that has been covered to far and I could learn to live without them, but cut my access to Endnote and I may have to kill you!

I use Endnote since I get free access to the web version from my university and it has been a while since I have explored any of the alternatives. I do take on board the point that it is always good to have an awareness of alternatives since the same thing won't suit everybody.

I've been experimenting a little with Zotero, which I have used a little before. I like the interface, which as it says in the video is very ITunes like. I'm not really keen on only being able to use it with Firefox though as I tend to stick with Internet Explorer and I have to remember to open the right browser to be able to use this software. I do like being able to access the full text of an article though - a real time saver.

Next I explored CiteULike since this is one I haven't used before. Since I have access at least three computers (I'm not rich - I just have multiple jobs) I like that it can be independent. I'm also quite keen on the group element but I might wait to explore this further since I'm having enough trouble focusing on the groups I'm currently a part of. I'm not sure I would use it for essays since it only produces a single bibliography but it could be useful for those times when I'm doing online research and find something I want to bookmark. I could then collate this into one easy list to come back to later.

I think that this sort of software will become the norm for referencing, if it hasn't already. This means that anyone who works with users, especially academic users, will need to have a good working knowledge of each of the tools in order to help others make the right choice for them.

Monday 15 August 2011

Collaborating online

I've already tried Google Docs as part of last years 23Things so for my thoughts on that see here.

Having had a bit more of a chance to play about with it though (mostly for my very small contributions to the CPD23 project) I think it's great. Once you get to grips with the mechanics of it it makes you wonder why you would ever go back to email etc again for organising things. Wiki's work in much the same way although I have less experience in using them. I think that Google Docs is easier for the more techno-phobic amongst us to use since it's not so different from writing normal documents.

I like the idea of Dropbox, but mainly for my own convenience rather than trying to organise anything with others. I'm in the middle of a literature review for my dissertation so I find it really helpful to be able to store documents online. I have a laptop at home and two computers at work so needless to say, the little scraps of notes keep getting lost. Going electronic makes this process much easier (until there's a power cut!)

One word of caution though. Maybe I just haven't played around with the tools enough but there isn't an obvious way to see who has done what and when. Although this lessens the confusion in some ways since you just see the updated document, I think it's useful to be able to see who has made changes and go back to a previous version if necessary.

Overall I like these tools, but more for smaller group projects or personal use than library wide use.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Putting the social into social media

OK, so do I really have to write a long blog post when I have already written this weeks 'Thing'? It is certainly nerve wracking to know that so many people will be reading my post when this blog usually has about four viewers a month total. It's one thing to talk to such a small audience but quite another to broadcast your thoughts all over the world.

But that's the point of social media - to get your thoughts out there. It takes time, effort and persistence to make meaningful contacts on the social web but it is worth it in the end. I know many people who have made great contacts through applications such as Twitter and it has done wonders for their careers. Hmm, maybe I should be trying this...

Having read some of the responses to Thing 12 I agree with those who have highlighted how helpful social networking is for helping shy people to make contacts. This struck a chord with me since I'm painfully shy and find it really difficult to talk to people I don't know. Although this is getting better, being able to talk to people first before meeting them face to face is a definite bonus!

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Do I need a mentor?

I sort of fell into the library profession in the way that I think most people fall into careers. I didn't really have any burning ambition to be anything and libraries seemed like a good fit for my personality. This turned out to be a serendipitous move since it turns out that I absolutely love my job!

Due to personal circumstances I wasn't able to start my library MA until a couple of years ago despite being ready to do it for some time. I'm just starting my dissertation and I think that research projects could play a big part in my future. There are so many questions that need answering and not enough hours in the day! Hopefully this will also be a way to advance my career as the normal routes don't seem to be working too well for me.

I'm definitely thinking about Chartership and had contemplated starting it already since I found out that your dissertation can actually count towards it. In the end though I decided to wait until I have finished one time consuming and stressful project before I attempt to start another one. Something I am looking forward to though...

I'm not really sold on the whole idea of mentoring in the workplace, but this could just be my experience from the places that I've worked. I prefer to make my own decisions rather than focus on what other people do. There have been times when I've needed a sounding board for work issues and felt that there was no one to turn to so maybe a mentor would have been useful here. I'll need one for when I do my Chartership so maybe that experience will change my mind? For now the position is vacant, all applicants feel free to apply...

Photo credit: moqub

Monday 25 July 2011

Keeping organised

I have used the Google calendar that I set up for Cam23 off and on for the last year or so. I can see its appeal but I still tend to write things down in my paper diary more than I do online. Of course, this then usually means that I have a diary at both of my desks at work and one at home which gets a little time consuming to add things to. This is usually the point at which I go on to Google calendar and try again. I then get fed up of having to be at a computer to add things and go back to a paper diary and so the vicious circle starts again!

I see the advantages from a library point of view for using Google calendar - I am all for anything which gets readers to return their books on time! I also think that it's a great way to publicise events, especially for our more tech literate users. I do really like the idea of users being able to add these events from the library calendar to their own. I have done this in the past and it saves a lot of time and effort. I don't think that it will replace traditional methods of advertising quite yet but it has definite potential.

Evernote is something I have heard of but never tried. I thought that it was a referencing software but I think I must be getting confused with Endnote. Again, I can see the potential here but I'm not sure it's really for me. I can't take notes on the computer in the same way as I can with a paper and pen, I'm an old fashioned sort of girl! I have been having a little play about and it does seem quite simple so this might be one to look into in the future. I do especially like the way that you can add content from a web page in one click, which is useful for me as I tend to find things during browsing sessions and them promptly forget where they are. It may be time to put down the paper and pen and embrace the modern technology...

Image credit: tanakawho

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Staying connected

I recently revised my opinion of LinkedIn (see earlier blog posts). When I did Cam23 last year I couldn't really see the relevance of it for me personally but I have had a rethink in the last twelve months. My 'motto' for this year has been to get more professionally involved and start treating my job as a career. Consequently, I've participated in more activities that I think are worthy of mention on a profile such as LinkedIn.

Something that really struck me at Umbrella was a presentation by Phil Bradley in which he said that if we don't take the conversations to where our users are, then we may as well be invisible. I think the same is true of professional networks - if you don't have some sort of online presence in these communities then you're as good as invisible. I've set up a basic profile but I'm still working on the finer points (doesn't help that my CV looks like a tennis match with me hoping from one department to another and back again - long story!).

I read Sharlyn Lauby's ideas with interest and will be sure to take them on board when updating my profile. The first thing I need to do is find a photo that I'm happy with as otherwise, my profile will fail before it's even begun! I am a little worried about my lack of connections but as I say, I'm new to this so hopefully they will build over time (hint hint). I definitely like the idea that this network can be a completely separate work network, so that it doesn't get mixed up with my personal networks. I have connected it to my blog, since that's a professional thing rather than a personal thing and I want to encourage people to look at it.

I'm slightly daunted at the prospect of having yet another place to build myself up, sometimes I feel like I have enough trouble with this in the real world and having to do it online as well makes me want to crawl under a rock somewhere. But its something which I am rapidly coming to realise HAS to be done in the world that we live in now. There's no point in hiding from it. It's slightly scary to realise that potential employers etc. are searching for your profiles on these sites but that will give me the motivation that I need to keep it up-to-date!

Thing 6 has given me plenty of things to try out, which I hope to do in the next few weeks when real life isn't so hectic! Having said all of the above, I can appreciate that doing all this networking online has definite benefits - especially to the naturally shy like me. This was part of my motivation for agreeing to present a poster at Umbrella - I wanted to put myself out there a bit more and make myself talk to other people. Thankfully this worked and I hardly had a voice by the time I came back from Hatfield! I can sympathise though with people who find this sort of thing very difficult.

I would recommend that anyone in a similar position try contributing something to the blog of a network that they've joined. It's a really easy way to get started and poke your head out from behind the tree. And since most people reading this are participating in cpd23 then all of you are expert bloggers already!

I'm a student member of CILIP and I personally I have gotten a lot out of it in the last year or so. Being able to be a member of a special interest group has really helped me to connect with other people who are on my wavelength work wise. I think that being a member of a professional organisation has also really helped at work since it has given me opportunities that I didn't have before to get myself out there, for example at Umbrella and by guest blogging on a couple of sites.

My advice for anyone new to this is to persevere. I didn't want to know about any of this this time last year but now I'm really starting to see the benefits, and I even have a shiny trophy on my desk to prove it!

(Photo credit: unloveable Steve)

Wednesday 13 July 2011

A huge thank you!

Back from Umbrella 2011 and just want to say thank you to all the lovely people who stopped by the poster. Everyone was really enthusiastic and even helped in spreading the word by bringing people back to view the poster.

The very exciting news is that the poster won not one but TWO awards. It received the Judges prize for best poster and was runner up in the Delegates Choice. Thanks to everyone who voted for the support and well done to the hugely talented Katie Birkwood for designing the poster.

People were really keen on the programme and I hope that I managed to answer any questions people had. It was really encouraging to see so much interest.

Monday 11 July 2011

Reflecting on reflection

I think that to some extent everyone uses reflective practice in their everyday lives, they just don't call it that. I am one of natures worriers and I know that I spend ages analysing what went wrong if I had a bad day, in the hopes of avoiding a repeat.

The main way that I use reflective practice in a work capacity is with job interviews. Over the last few years I have been to a lot of interviews and I think that even when I haven't got the job I have managed to take away something from the experience. This gives me something to work on or repeat and is a good way of honing my skills. I also use it when I get the marks back from a previous assignment by thinking about the things I may have done differently in light of the comments that I received.

Undertaking reflective practice can be very rewarding but I definitely agree with the point about it being a hard thing to make time for. There are some days when the last thing I want to do is think about my work day when I get home. I think that reflective practice works best when you are in the mood for it - it's best not to do it when you are feeling frazzled as you will never get a clear picture.

I am going to Umbrella 2011 tomorrow and I have a feeling that this will be a good chance to practice being reflective. Hopefully I will learn a lot and meet lots of new people which will give me much to think about. I'll be writing an article about my experiences so this will be a good chance to reflect on my experiences.

Blogging is a great outlet for reflective practice. It provides a way to condense your thoughts and share them with other people who can also give you feedback. This is one of the best uses of blogs and I find that a lot of the librarian blogs that I follow use it to some extent. I hope that in the future I can use this blog a lot more for professional reflection.

(Image credit: Dead Habits)

Monday 4 July 2011

Umbrella 2011

I'm going to be presenting a poster for cpd23 at Umbrella 2011 this week. Am slightly nervous (but still excited) since I have never been to Umbrella before, let alone presented anything! Please do come and say hello if you're there, it will be nice to meet some participants in the real world.

(Image credit: lakewentworth)

Unaware of awareness

I have tried and failed many times to get 'into' Twitter - I just feel as though I am missing the point. I'm only following sixteen people and I find it exhausting to try and keep up with everything. Maybe I just follow sixteen very energetic people but everything seems to move so fast that you spend most of your time catching up with what has been said rather than participating. I am not one of those people who can spend all day hooked up to the site constantly monitoring everything that's happening (you know who you are!)

It's a shame really because I know that many discussions happen on Twitter and I do feel like I miss out by not being an active participant. There just don't seem to be enough hours in the day! I do follow conferences on Twitter which I find a really useful substitute for actually being there. I had no idea that there were real time chats so this might be something to investigate in the future. I have been following the cpd23 tweets on and off for the past couple of weeks so maybe I am getting better. Don't think that it will ever really be for me though.

In contrast RSS feeds are something that I use a lot to keep up with the latest happenings. I think they're an excellent idea and so much easier than having to remember to trawl different websites daily. This is obviously me impatient side coming out again! Plus, I know that I would forget to check multiple websites so RSS feeds just make something that could be a pain that much easier and I'm all for anything that makes my life easier at the moment.

Pushnote is something that I'm unfamiliar with. It seems like a really good idea but I wonder how much time I would personally spend rating websites? I know what I like and I like what I know but maybe that isn't such a good thing. Hopefully using Pushnote will encourage me to read things that I might not have found on my own and broaden my horizons a bit. I do tend to be an impatient browser though so I will have to seriously train myself to make proper use of it. This is one to keep my eye on I think but I don't think I can really comment until I have had a decent play about with it.

Overall I think that my current awareness is sadly lacking and this is something that I am hoping to change with this program. If I can take one thing away from cpd23I hope that it's an increased knowledge of my professional world. Here's hoping that I have enough discipline with myself to actually do it...

(Image credit: MadEmoiselle Sugar)

Thursday 30 June 2011

Creating the brand

One thing that I like about blogging is that it can be anonymous if you want it to be. Of course, this somewhat defeats the object of using blogging as a professional development tool! I did 'redesign' this blog when I started cpd23 in order to make it look a little more professional and up-to-date.

I use a nickname as the title for my blog but this was just something I thought up when doing the original 23things so I didn't have to call it "Claire Sewell's 23things blog". I regularly contribute to my work blog under my own name and I have guest blogged on the CILIP CIG blog as myself and I would be happy for anyone to see these as they represent my professional activity.

I took the vanity test and was pleased to find that three of the results were about me. One was from the Umbrella Conference page since I am listed as presenting the poster for cpd23, one was my guest blog for CIG and one was my Twitter account. It would be easy to assume by looking at any and all of these things that they represented the same person but it would only take a little effort on my part to make sure that they are all linked. I will consider adding a photo of myself but I am notoriously camera shy so it may take a while to find something suitable! I tend not to use Twitter since I find it hard to get in to but this is something I am hoping to change in the future so I will definitely look into linking all aspects of my online presence together.

I can take (constructive) criticism so if anyone has any comments on the look/feel of this blog than please let me know. I don't bite, honest .....

(Image credit: Floyd B. Bariscale)

Tuesday 21 June 2011

A quick trip round the world

Over four hundred people have signed up for cpd23 at the time of writing this. I think its phenomenal and a great sign for the future of the profession that so many practitioners care about their development. The fact that it's a world wide list of participants is both amazing and a little daunting!

I find it really hard to comment on someone else's blog and it is something that I missed out on in the last 23things programme that I took part in. Personally I take any comments on my blog to heart but I realise that there are a lot of people out there with thicker skins than me. It's hard to put your thoughts out there for the world to read and it can be hard to see someone take an opposing view. At the same time it is very gratifying to have someone half a world away agree with you!

I have visited a few blogs over the last couple of days and it makes interesting reading. Most of the blogs that I have visited have been from the US (since I harbour a not so secret desire to work there). I will try and visit some others both closer to home and further afield. Should be an interesting week...

(Image credit: \!/_PeacePlusOne)

Monday 20 June 2011

Why another 23 things?

When I told people that I was taking part in another 23things programme after completing Cam23 last year the most common reaction was - WHY?! Usually said with varying degrees of horror. I can understand their reactions a little since the programme is a large commitment to make. I think that with something like this you have to enter in the collaborative spirit in order to get the best out of it. It is not something where you can just follow the instructions and that is it every week, it's about sharing your ideas with others who are on the same wavelength. I have noticed that people who don't work in libraries tend to glaze over when I talk about my job, even though I really love it. It will be nice to get to know people (even just virtually) who understand what it is like to love working in a library.

To that end I am making a belated New Years resolution - I promise to get more involved this year in terms of interacting with other participants. Last year I was one of the guilty ones who only commented on the blogs of others that they knew, just because we had to do it! I am already much more involved than last year since I am helping out the programmes multi-talented organisers by presenting a poster about the programme at the Umbrella conference next month - feel free to stop by and say hello!

As my name would suggest, I am currently studying for my masters. I am just about to start the dreaded dissertation so hopefully one day in the not too distant future I can change the name of the blog to "Trained Librarian". I have worked at Cambridge University Library for nearly ten years but feel that I have let myself down in terms of career development. I have held various jobs but not really involved myself as much as I should in the library community. Hopefully cpd23 will be a way to change that for the better. I am especially looking forward to comparing notes with colleagues in other countries and seeing how practices vary (or not as the case may be!). I think that's one of the best things about this programme - that is is truly international. Other programmes that I have seen have all been quite local in nature and whilst that's no bad thing it will be nice to be global.

Having studied the list of things, I am most looking forward to those which relate to the more traditional methods of cpd since I feel that this is often lacking in training and can be hard to teach yourself. I am also particularly looking forward to the week on developing your brand since I think that this will become more important than ever in the current climate.

Wow - I think this is the longest post I have ever written and it's only week one. Go me!

Small problem...

Slightly embarrassing - I have a problem with the blog even before I've started! For some reason I can't reply to comments on my blog, I just keep going round in an endless circle of passwords and signing in. Anyone out there more techy than me got a solution?

Sunday 19 June 2011

23things for CPD

Have updated the blog in readiness for a new 23things starting tomorrow - 23things for Professional Development (and as procrastination from dissertation research!). Looks like it will be a long but rewarding summer!

Hope to see people there!