End of January Already – round-up & plans

Somehow the first month of the new year just came and went before I even had the leisure to put my New Year’s Resolutions on paper. So here are a few things I’ve been up to.

I’ve started my Level 3 Award in Education and Training (fka PTLLS) at the City Lit. This is a basic adult education qualification that will take me until the end of March to complete, at the rate of one day a week of contact time. We’ve had three sessions so far and I’ve been enjoying it a lot. Being the child of teachers, some of the theory is vaguely familiar, but applying it to how adults learn is a new way of thinking about it, and it does help me think about my training in different ways.

I went on a curator-led tour of the BL’s exhibition on the Gothic imagination a week before it closed. I enjoyed both the tour and the exhibition a lot. The curators explained the reasoning behind which objects they had chosen and how the exhibition was arranged and put together, which was very interesting from an info professional perspective, because it’s a very different way of thinking about information than what I do in my day to day work – I usually try to find a specific piece of information, whereas in a humanities subject, the key is the connections between texts and how they interact with one another and with what’s going on in the world. Sometimes it’s nice wearing my Humanities/EngLit hat again, I should do it more often.

I’ve had a visit from a LIS student/library assistant (Amy McEwan from SLaM) who had heard me speak about our Recovery College at the HLG conference. She’s doing some work on recovery colleges and writing her dissertation around the topic as well, so she came to see me and chat to me about the project and what’s been happening since the presentation. Good fun, and very educational for both of us.

And I submitted a short addendum for my Chartership.

I think that’s it for Jan 2015. It’s been a pretty full-on month, but in a good way. The City Lit course involves quite a bit of work, so I’m trying not to put too many other things in my diary for now, but I’m hoping I can go to CILIP in London meetings a bit more regularly this year. I feel like I’ve really settled into London now (I know, I know, it took a while), so it’s probably time to take advantage of more things it has to offer.

Offsite training for AHPs: Critical Appraisal

I did a Critical Appraisal session with some children’s physiotherapists at their site last Thursday. It was a paper that they had chosen because it dealt with a patient group that was similar to their own demographic. It was a mixed methods study so I had to make a checklist myself as there wasn’t one readily available. Read the rest of this entry

Putting together a weekly targeted bulletin

My library is establishing links with the public health teams in the area and one of the services we provide is to send them a bulletin once a week with information that is relevant to them. It goes out on a Friday. My manager used to put it together, but when she went on maternity leave she handed the task over to me. I did a few while she was still here so I had some guidance, and she also wrote a procedure of how it all works (applied knowledge management, right there). So my Friday mornings are now taken up by putting the bulletin together. Read the rest of this entry

Blog resurrection + Haiku Deck

I have not written here in ages. Things have changed a lot – I’ve moved to London and started my first professional job in May 2012, and I sort of forgot this existed.

I’ve been reading blogs of colleagues more recently, and it occurred to me that the main reason I don’t tend to blog is because I look at it less like it’s similar to tweeting and more like it’s similar to book publishing. Reading others’ blogs has brought home to me that there are many different ways to use a blog, and that there might yet be one which fits me. Several of my colleagues use their blogs more like reflective diaries, to keep track of what they’ve been up to, or just to put some thoughts down.

If I take off the pressure and the frame of mind I’ve had previously that makes me think every post has to be an academic essay or a work of art, I might be able to do something useful here along the same lines. I’ll try this over the next few weeks and we’ll see how it goes.

I’ve been trying to redo our library outreach presentation today. I’ve been invited to one of our community sites to give a talk on the library in a few weeks and I’m bored of my old Powerpoint, so it seemed like a good opportunity to try out something new. I’ve had a look at Ned Potter’s presentation tool recommendations and am playing around on Haiku Deck at the moment. I like how professional it looks and how little time it takes to create a presentation compared with Powerpoint. It also forces you to put as little text as you can on the slides, which is something that I always have trouble with. I’m not convinced, however, by the search function that’s meant to bring up relevant images if you type in a few words – most results I’ve got so far are questionable at best, and completely unrelated at worst. Thankfully there are enough other places to find images on the web. I can see how this is a useful tool though, and I’m sure I’ll use it for more presentations in future (provided this one goes down okay in the talk).

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.

Read the rest of this entry

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.


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