23 Things: Thing 16—Advocacy, Speaking Up For The Profession, And Getting Published

Personally, I haven’t done a lot of advocacy for libraries. I have, however, been involved in a library’s outreach programme at one point in my life (as an intern), and I have done advocacy in the cultural sector, not to mention being a student protester.

As someone who works in the academic sector, I think I sometimes forget what it’s like for those of us who work in the public sector and are constantly in need of advocacy, constantly having to defend themselves, their value and services, and having to justify their existence in the face of more and more cuts to public services. Academic librarianship seems like the only safe sector these days because nobody contests that universities need libraries, right? Read the rest of this entry

23 Things: Thing 15 – Attending, presenting at and organising conferences, seminars and other things

1. Attending

One of the most amazing things I have been able to do in a professional capacity so far was attending IFLA 2010 in Gothenburg, Sweden. It was a great conference and I took away a lot; I was on the team for the IFLA Express so my “attendance” involved a lot of sitting in an office far away form the talks, yet I still feel it was a valuable experience. The networking was great, Gothenburg is a lovely city, and on the whole, it was an amazing week.

What was frustrating was that, at that point in time, I was in no position to implement any of the knowledge that I had taken away. But, you know, it’s never gone, and it’s all experience. It’s taught me a lot about attending, planning, etc. I tend to think though that I prefer smaller events, like Online and the German Bibliothekartag, because they are more specific and the way that I network works better with smaller crowds of people. Larger conferences have their uses and if I got the chance to go to one I would obviously jump, but I think, personally, I’m better with smaller events.

2./3. Presenting/organising

I haven’t done any of that (yet) but I hope that once I qualify, I’ll be able to be a bit more involved with things. I did get some insight into the behind-the-scenes work of a conference at IFLA, and I have helped organised big events, but none of them were library-related.

23 Things: Thing 14 – Zotero, Mendeley, citeulike

One of my lecturers recommended Zotero, but it never worked for me. It kept crashing, wouldn’t play nice with my Mac and the Mac:Office software, and was generally not very usable. And if I changed computers, everything would be gone because it’s tied to one particular computer. Worse, it’s tied to one particular browser, so if Firefox decides to go haywire and freeze up all the time (as it did at one point, with one particular release) then it doesn’t matter if it’s the best research tool in the universe because you can’t access it.

At their most simple, literature/research management tools are databases, indexes of things you read. Besides fields for the standard bibliographic information, you maybe need a field for notes and good compatibility with the program you’re using to write your research paper/dissertation and a choice of reference formats so you can import references in the format you need. Personally, I wrote both my dissertations pretty much without using literature management tools—the first because it proved impossible to get LaTeX to play nice with MLA reference formats, the second because it was pretty much what I was used to, and because the number of references wasn’t unmanageable.

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23 Things: Thing 13 – Google Docs, Dropbox, and wikis

I love using Google Docs. When I was a student, I went through a phase where I didn’t have MS Office on my computer because I was writing everything in LaTeX. If Google Docs had been around at the time, my life (and that of everyone else who tried to send me things) would have been much easier. I like the commenting and editing features, I like that several people can edit a document at the same time. I’m not sure how well versioning works, i. e. if it is potentially possible for someone to intentionally or unintentionally destroy a long day’s (or month’s, or year’s) work. I haven’t used it in a professional capacity yet, but I’m thinking of using it to store instructions when the next graduate trainee hits Accessions. It could also be helpful for managing reservations/holds on a spreadsheet.

Dropbox is one of these services that I’m never quite sure of. If I want to share a document with someone, I usually just put it on Google Docs, or if it’s too large/not the right format for that, there are services like Mediafire, Megaupload etc. that don’t have a storage limit. Dropbox gives you 2GB for free and then you have to pay—what exactly it is that you pay for, I haven’t been able to find out, really. Do people actually use it to back up all their files? Because there are cheaper and better ways of doing that too. So yes, I have an account, but I don’t think it’ll get much use, as there are other services that basically do the same thing.

I’ve participated in a good many wiki projects in my day (*cough*TVTropes*cough*, but some of the classes I took at uni had wikis on the uni websites too, so it was all properly scholarly work), I have a wikipedia account, and yes, they’re useful. The problem is that one person can actually destroy everybody else’s work if they’re so inclined. Or move stuff to a different location so it doesn’t show up where you originally put it.

Visit to UEA

The graduate trainees at my workplace have a programme of visits to various other libraries within the local area. Other members of staff can usually tag along, and so I found myself at UEA in Norwich for a day with a few colleagues and our one remaining graduate trainee (the other two having decided that they don’t want to become librarians after all).

UEA is in the 1994 group, same as my workplace, so architecture is brutalist and the library building is listed, which, as we heard, makes it difficult to adapt to the needs of 21st century students. Nevertheless, I think UEA are doing a fantastic job with what they have, and there are one or two pages that I wouldn’t mind people taking out of their book. Read the rest of this entry

23 Things: Things 8 and 9 – Google Calendar and Evernote

I use Google Calendar, but only for myself. I haven’t worked in an environment that has shared online calendars. I think it could be useful for teams, across teams, to find out where people are, but there is the issue of people actually *using* it correctly. So I don’t really have a lot to say about GCal. It’s a calendar.

I’ve been trying out Evernote for about two weeks now and I think it’s really handy. Especially if you have an iPod touch, which can only go online if there’s wifi around, and you want to sync stuff to read offline. It’s easy, it’s intuitive, I’ll definitely keep using it. I’ll have to have a look and see how it can be streamlined/kept clutter-free, but so far, it’s been a really useful tool and definitely one of the more exciting Things.

23 Things: Things 6 & 7 – Online and offline networking

I hate networking with a passion. Or, well, I used to. I always felt horribly pressurised at networking events; all these interesting people talking to each other while I stood on the sideline feeling I had nothing to say and didn’t want to embarrass myself. And I do use online networks, but not in a professional capacity.

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23 Things: Thing 5 – Reflective Practice

Oh dear. Deep breath. This seems to be the “hump” Thing for most people, and I’m no exception. Reflection in  quiet is one thing, but getting it down black on white is another. I’ll give it a try though! So, here is a bit of reflection on the previous 4 Things and on my experience of CPD23 so far.

Reflection: shifting your perception

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23 Things: Thing 4 – RSS feeds, Twitter, and Pushnote

Current awareness comes in many flavours.

As I said earlier, I have two Twitter accounts, and I find it somewhat useful for current awareness – the trick is to figure out who to follow so you can keep on top of things. It mixes current awareness news accounts with engaging others (or at least, that’s what I think it should do) so it can be useful for discussion if people use it that way. Most of the time though, I “fave” tweets and never look at them later. So I’m not sure if I’m getting the right things out of it. Maybe I need to have a clearout of who I follow, or reorganise between accounts. I do have lists, but they’re a bit out of date as well.

RSS feeds – similar story. I use Google Reader but again, the key element seems to be keeping it manageable.

I’ve had a look at Pushnote, but I’m not sure yet how to use it, or if it can be of more use to me than my current bookmarking tool of choice, Licorize.

23 Things: Thing 3 – My Personal Brand

Exactly the right Thing to kickstart this blog again and beat it into shape. I created this blog as a blog for my library-related musings. Originally, it was intended as a chronicle of my time as a Graduate Trainee. Having finished the traineeship, I found myself entering on an MA in Librarianship, which, on top of working full-time, was so time-consuming I didn’t actually find much time or motivation to blog. There is a degree of irony in that of which I’m well aware.

In any case, here I am again, and here is what I have to say about the personal brand list of things to do.

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