Saturday, 3 March 2012

Attendance at #maws2012

I had the pleasure to attend the Metadata and Web 2.0 seminar at the National Library of Scotland yesterday. As ever the NLS is a great venue for the Cataloguing and Indexing group Scotland to hold the event, easy to get to and fabulous library to be in (not to mention nice cafe and shop!). Sadly i didn't have time to go round their current exhibition so i will have to take some time to go back for a social visit.

The maws event was very well attended and no wonder with such an interesting line up of speakers. It began with Nora McGregor from the British library talking about their work on understanding the digital researcher. The presentation encompassed the BL's efforts to understand the current and future researchers in the digital world. Looking at the kind of space and technologies they might use and the digital resources that they will be using. This was a fascinating presentation which lead to some interesting questions about the place social media holds for digital researchers, the conclusion being that researchers are not yet using social media for research, much to the suprise of the information proffessionals.

Lynn Corrigan gave us food for thought about how cataloguers could be using Twitter in their proffessional lives. Another stimulating presentation which gave me personally a lot to think about. Although i have an ill utilised twitter account, i had only considered its use for my personal life and had in the end found myself floundering to find a way to make this a useful part of my life. After this presentation and the following debates about tweeting, i find myself re-evaluating how i might use twitter to keep me up to date with the work of fellow librarians. I have resolved to make more regular use of twitter and look forward to seeing what benefits this will bring to my working life.

Bryan Christie from the National Library of Scotland gave us a run down of his work to utilise social media in promoting NLS. I could see the similarities between what he has done and what we are trying to do at my organisation and there are a few strategies i will be taking back tor try out. This was followed by a debate over traditional marketing methods v's social media. Most organisation will no doubt use both, though it seems that it is increasingly easier and cheaper to reach a wider audience through social media techniques.

At this point we had the oppertunity to pause for breath as the morning presentations were complete!

The afternoon began with a contrast of approaches to mobile strategies in libraries. The first presentation was from Karen Stevenson and Kay Munro of the University of Glasgow. Their organsiation has taken serious look at how the university library needs to adapt to the changes in mobile and tablet use to access information and resources. They have taken the time to set up a team for tackling the new technologies and are looking not just at what to do to enable current library users access through mobile devices but have also created a strategy that will allow them to keep up with the fast changes in technology. This was an impressive presentation and i was particularly impressed to see that that they have included a 'live lab' which gives staff access to moble technologies and tablets and allows them to be trained in how to use them, which inturm will reap the benefit of staff being able to assist students in getting connected to the resources and they will be able to come up with new ideas for ways in which the technologies can be used in the library setting.

Martin Morrey from Edinburgh Universtiy gave a contrasting presentation on the same topic. Edinburgh has chosen to go down the App route but have created an app for the whole of the University including the library. The contrast in strategies was very interesting and both approaches are being well executed, giving the listener much to think about. Edinburgh is continuing to develop their app and the ways in which it can be utilised and it will be interesting to hear later down the line how both of these strategies work out. What i took from both of these presentations was that if your project is well thought out and well executed you are at least giving yourself the best chance at success.

Vicki Comrie from  the University of St. Andrews Library gave us an insight into the use of Libguides for assisting students to access appropriate subject material. As a one time student of St. Andrews i was fascinated to see the change in their approach to student assistance and dare i say they have come a long way in their approach, well done to Vicki and her colleagues for helping to make sense of the wealth of resources available to the students in St. Andrews! I will be ataking alook at Libguides myself to see if it could be utilised in a public library setting, though cost could be a deciding factor for us.

And finally... Nicola Osborne from EDINA - this talk is meta (and so is this title). I have heard Nicola talk about social media before, previously it had been in the context of how libraries could utilise social media as a tool. As ever she gave a fascinating look at social media and the metadata that it creates, which is vast. How can this metadata be utilised? How are companies using metadata now? Once again a great deal to think about, more questions than answers but most importantly stimulating.

The day, for me was a great success, the speakers left me with a great deal to investigate and think baout. Much will ruminate in the dusty corners of my mind before they will see the light of day but some aspects i can take back to my team on Monday and perhaps it will spark something new.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Thing 16: Advocacy

I think we are in times where all library professionals, no matter their field of interest need to be shouting for each others. When you love libraries and think they are important it is very difficult to say that one form is more or less important than another. What would a University be with out its library, i know i would not have the qualifications that i have with out one. The important role that librarians can play in the corporate environment, with in parliament, with in our towns, cities and rural areas.

I know i am preaching to the converted and we are very good at talking to each other about how great we are but somehow that message gets lost. I know that i have not been directly involved in advocacy but i can see it's importance and we are encouraged in our service to try and make sure that we talk our services and libraries up rather than down no matter who we are talking to. With this in mind i have become a library bore to all my friends and family, when ever we have a new service to offer, an event, or just a reminder whenever i can of what we have to offer.

As far as advocacy as part of my job, i am not directly involved, though again when dealing with customers of any kind i always use this as an opportunity to educate people about what libraries do these days and try to talk with enthusiasm about our profession. It is, however the case that i seem to fall into the terrible category of people who believe in advocacy but don't feel i have time to participate. It is a shameful admission but external pressures make getting involved rather difficult. This is why i feel somehting like 23 things is really great. It has proved to be something that i can get involved in easily and in away the number of people getting involved in this is a wonderful advocacy for our profession.

Perhaps we will get better at learning to help ourselves!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Thing 15 - Participate!

Not long back from holiday so i am going slightly out of order and skipping to thing 15. I will go back to 14 & 13 once i get a catchup moment!

I have never been a speaker or organiser of an event, but i have certainly attended plenty, of all kinds. I fall into the category of people who really enjoy attending library or learning events of any kind. On some occasions the information is not directly relevant to my post, but it is amazing how having an understanding of what else is out there can enhance your work.

It is always useful to hear about other projects, concerns or just differing points of views about library work. Just because some one is speaking about a university library doesn't mean it wont be relevant to a public library in some way. As some one who works in cataloguing and acquisitions, i find learning about reader development or new library builds refreshing, not necessarily directly relevant but knowledge is power and at the end of the day libraries are all about learning and expanding the mind. We should practise what we preach and embrace the event experience.

On the down side although i am a perfectly sociable human being and after a number of years on the front line i can talk to just about anybody about anything. If introduced to some one again i find it perfectly easy to have a normal conversation. BUT i find it incredibly difficult to socialise at conferences and similar events. If attending with colleagues i find myself falling into the trap of hanging out in a little clique. If on my own then i end up keeping myself to myself, like some shrinking violet - who is this person? Not the me of everyday that's for sure. Is it perhaps a psychological condition?

Well, at the last event i attended i decided it was time for me to show the world that i am no wall flower. I set myself the challenge of speaking to one person who was also on their own. I scanned the room during a coffee break and looked for the friendliest face i could find. I had a plan, start with simple questions like did you have to travel far? , where do you work? Basic but a start and see where the conversation goes from there. Off i went deep breath and best foot forward. In retrospect, i probably should have kept to the basics and then said something like 'it was nice meeting you' and wandered off looking like i had some place i needed to be. I got the feeling that i had struck up a conversation with the one person in the room who didn't actually want to talk to anybody! In the end i decided that these things happen and so that i didn't end the experience on a sour note made sure i spoke to some one else before the end of the event. This went much better, and next time i attend one of these things i will be making the effort to step off the side lines and strike up a conversation. The important bit is not to give up and know when to move on!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Thing 10 and 11 - Career experience

Like a lot of people i took the postgraduate route to Librarianship. Having spent four years studying Art History and enjoying it very much, i felt i needed something more solid for a career path. i spent a year getting a computing qualification and during that time i came across libraries and catalogues. The amusing part of all this was that being a librarian, for me, was one of those childhood careers, you know along with i want to be a vet, an explorer, the first woman in space... But my interest was sparked and i could see that being a librarian could offer me an endless variety of different working environments.

It was at that point i consulted the Cilips website and learnt about graduate traineeships. I was lucky to be offered a trainee ship at the Templeman Library in Cantebury. Who had at that time a great programme for their trainees. the opportunity to work in various different departments and a half day a week at the Cathedral library. The staff there were friendly and wanted nothing more than for their trainees to feel comfortable and enjoy their experience. By the end of my year with them i was sold on being a librarian. (Big thank you to all the people i met there!)

I chose the postgraduate course at Strathclyde University. Again an excellent experience and very interesting topics to study. the hard part was when i had finished - finding a job. I was unfortunately under a barrier of location. Having a partner who was unable to move their location. Still this is the practicalities of life, i ended up getting work as a library Assistant with Fife libraries and loved the job so much that i really made little effort to progress. However i was luck enough to have a boss who knew when to apply a foot up bum, he encouraged me to apply for various temporary positions and after doing a bit of this and a bit of that all over Fife libraries, I finally got my oppertunity for a permanent professional post. Mine has been, i think a rather unusually relaxed and perhaps lazy progression, but i wouldn't change it for the world. I have had the pleasure to work with so many experienced members of staff who have expertise in so many different areas of public libraries. It has given me a very rounded education in what public libraries are all about.

Now i face the next phase of chartership which is begining to come close to the deadline! I have had a very good mentor, who has given me enough of her time and advise to help me but still leaving me room to come to my own conclusions about my journey. Chartering as it is now is a very personal thing, it is about your development, although everyone chartering is following the same guidlines and have to meet the same criteria, everyone's experiences are different. You are reflecting on how you as a person have developed, what conclusions you have drawn about your experiences and how you need to proceed. This means that you are looking at your own strengths and weaknesses and deciding where you have gaps in your knowledge that could be improved. It is all about you.

In some ways i think there is a sense of pride in belonging to a profession that takes professional development seriously. Although i am chartering at a time when libraries are looking cuts in the face, it is also an exciting time to be part of the profession, we are changing and evolving all the time to meet the challenges of modern life and to try and keep our profession pertinent and useful. I would also add to our credit, that on the whole the library profession attracts friendly and helpful people, so no matter where i have have worked it has always been a sharing and enjoyable experience.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Refection on Thing 5

So here we are at Thing 5 already. Thing 5 is all about reflective practise. Something which i am very interested in as i am currently chartering. However, the more i learn about reflective practise the more i understand that it is a tool that can be used throughout your working and private life. The skill of being able to sit back and assess performance can be used for everything we do. There are two aspects to this that i find difficult, the first is finding time in the current climate of more for less. All professionals are finding more work passed their way as the number of professionals in their organisations shrink. However, to maintain any professional development needs effort. I can see that, in the same way that i have set aside time to do the 23 things, i need to set aside part of my week to reflection.

The second element i think i will find difficult is perhaps the most crucial, to reflect and understand where you might need to make changes is one thing but to implement those changes is more of a challenge. It would be all to easy to sit and reflect, to write out for yourself areas that need development, training or a simple change in aproach and leave it at that. The follow through is what makes it effective, and is probably the most challenging thing to achieve. Again this probably comes down to making time to make things happen.

In conclusion i can see the importance of reflective practise, the need to make time to make it happen and to follow up on the results. So in the spirit of reflective practise i am going to commit myself to half an hour each week to dedicate to this. We shall wait and see how many times this half hour is hijacked by other things but it is definately worth trying.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Thing 4

Thank you for the comments - i can see that brewing may have to be featured occasionally just to keep people interested! I have continued my journey into the 23 things today, i have re-activated a never used twitter account and tweeted. I have found lots of people to follow - though i may have to ease up on that as i am begining to wonder where people get the time to read all of this stuff. (Information overload a definate danger). I shall see which bits and pieces keep me interested. Oh and i signed up for pushnote and think i used it to rate the CPD23 pages but i am still not certain about this one as i don't know anyone who has used it - an interesting experiment. My next problem is going to be upgrading my mobile phone so that i can do these things on the go!! Or is this perhaps to enthusiastic?

Monday, 27 June 2011

Thing 3

Week 2 of the 23 things and we are on Thing number three. My online profile. I wasn't actually expecting to find anything at all, as so far i haven't been making a conscious effort to have an online presence. So i was surprised to find four career related results to my search and no personal results. One is a piece i did for the cilips careers gateway, one is my contact details on the Fife Council website, another is a newspaper article relating to a previous job and the fourth is in relation to an online forum that i took part in. I can see that this is a worthwhile excersize to do once in a while to see what is out there about yourself, after all no one wants to find anything derogatory about themselves, particularly as the whole world can see it!

Although there isn't much about me out there, i find i am pleased with what is there, the information is acurate and there is nothing to be ashamed of!

I think if anything the lack of information put out there by myself means that although what is there is acurate there is no personality about it, nothing that says anything about who i am as a person, my aims or goals. Perhaps a lack of information is worse than no information or too much.

If anyone would like to have a look and tell me what they think i'd appreciate the feedback!