Thursday, November 29, 2012

End of rollercoaster ride or Thing 23: What next?

So the end is here. I face the final curtain... Dum dum dum dum!

Some posts were written faster than others, some series of posts were written faster than others but by and large all posts were thought about equally. 

I have a lot to do and a lot more to learn and try out (that's right I'm looking at you screencasting and podcasting) and I'm looking forward to integrating it with work in the library in general and in special collections.

6 word story: Work starts with you. Go now!

Thank you all for following the programme and well done for getting to Thing 23.  A short evaluation of the programme is coming soon, but if you're up for a challenge maybe you could come up with a "6 word story" to sum up how you feel about the programme.

I last did a PDP about 5 years ago and I've reached all my then goals. I've talked to my new boss about it and he's going to help me put together a plan. I'm lucky as well that my library has someone in charge of staff training and development so courses that are upcoming are on project management and group facilitation which will be useful for when I go to do chartership. There's no rest for the wicked! 

Once I've put the plan together I'll put it up on the blog.

Big thankyous to the CPD23 team. I've learned so much and I look forward to next year's programme!

Thing 22: Volunteering to gain experience

This is something I feel oddly about. I haven't volunteered. I know I should but where to do it? So much about work is unionised and where do other people in unions stand on someone else volunteering? I know if people come to the library I'm in for work experience then they can do six weeks maximum and then only if they're applying for a library course and need the minimum for entry. Otherwise... I'm not sure. 

I'd love to get any experience doing cataloguing but short of redoing the entries on my ebook collection or tagging on the National Tagging Project well...

As someone I know says: It's problematic.

Thing 21: Promoting yourself in job applications and at interview

Shout out to Ned Potter! You are a star!! I found your post so useful and hey you know but it worked! I got the job! I guess I shouldn't give away the ending at the start but yeah I went for a job and I got it and you do the system and it works. Go figure!

Did I identify my strengths? Yes! Go read Susan Cain's Quiet. Very useful and very interesting. I am an introvert but this can be used wisely.

Apply for job? Only two months before I applied for the job a different post came up so I reorganised my CV for the first time since 2006... Shudder! It took quite the while adding on the sections I'd worked in, the committees I'd served on, the qualifications and modules I'd completed. You know the score! But finally it was done and the next day there was a follow-up email to say only certain grades, I was not the requisite grade, should apply. But I thought no matter it's done now and I can update as necessary and it'll never be that hard again. So when I went to apply for this job well it was all there for me and I just had to fit it for the job.

I was lucky in that I met most of the criteria and I was in the process of working on the rest. And always state that you know you have more to do. When do we ever stop? You stop learning when you're dead. My granny taught me that.

Ned has a fantastic list of 20 things that you need to answer before you go in and they pretty much all came up in one form or another so go Ned Potter!

Thing 20: The Library Routes Project

This is the joys of an internet cafe and not having a tablet. Note to self buy tablet NOW!!

So the post for Library Routes is all ready to go but naturally it won't upload for me so it's just one more thing to do once I get home along with fixing a few other links on previous posts!

I started working in a library, actually the library I'm in at present in 2001. I started as a student assistant and apparently I was capable enough because I and another student assistant who also now works in the library (do we ever leave?) were given tasks to do that were beyond the remit of student assistants in that library. Ordinarily we would shelve and collect material to be reshelved but instead we were working with serials, working on the books collection, re-organising the shelving and doing inventory tasks in general.

Ironically once I'd done this for 18 months I was asked did I want to be a librarian and I said I wasn't sure as the stereotypical image of a librarian remained in my head and so I didn't do the library course at this point. My library career duly stalled until the summer of 2006.

In the summer of 2006 I was hired in the library as a library assistant. My erstwhile colleague was working in the library before me so he gave me all sorts of useful tips such as: It's not all about books! Naturally I was asked at the interview: Is it all about books?

Over the course of the next six years I would work in Customer Services on a part-time, full-time, part-time and full-time basis, in Special Collections on a part-time basis, in a health sciences branch library on a part-time basis, and finally in Inter Library Loans on a full-time and part-time basis. In one six month period I was in four different sections but fortunately no more than three on any given day! While it has been quite the juggling act especially from January 2010 to September 2012 I was always working in two places on the given day, I have gained so much experience and met much more people than most people. You really see the library as a whole and how each section interconnects. Libraries do not have stand alone sections but each section is vitally connected to the others and it so in order that we may give the best possible service to any individual at any given time.

Hmm! That seems quite 'O Band of Brothers' for me but I feel strongly about it.

Stopping 2/3s through the slide or Thing 19: Catch up week on integrating 'things'

This blog has been rather stop/start but I am pleased with my progess so far. As you may recall at the start I worried whether I would be able to finish it or not and while it's come close, it's going to get there. Since I've started doing the blog I've really become proactive on Twitter (unprotecting my tweets, interacting with more Twitter users) though that is bar the last week. The last week has been a leetle crazy!

I've completely seen the benefits of personal branding and I hope that wherever I have a social media presence that it all looks the same and uses the right language and register. Since I started my new job I'm aware that further professional development in the realm of Special Collections will be essential. Once I become slightly more familiar with the role of Special Collections librarian I look forward to advocating more for both the profession as a whole and how Special Collections librarians use emerging technologies. 

I've found that meditating and reflecting on the various posts over the 23 weeks has been great. While the posts haven't been written on schedule, the cpd23 posts were read on a weekly basis which allowed my mind to ponder the questions before I actually wrote anything down. Sometimes I need to meditate a little more but that's ok too. To anyone who likes to reflect a bit more I would recommend Susan Cain's book Quiet.

The Shape of things to come or Thing 18: Jing / Screencapture /Podcasts

My experience with jing, screencapture or podcasts is limited to podcasts alone and that is merely listing to the Battlestar Galactica podcasts which incidentally were very good.

I can very much see the possibilities of Jing. The annotation feature reminds me of Skitch in Evernote. So funny how all the newer tools repeat themselves. I think that screen capture tools would be very useful for Special Collections for using the databases or for showing how to use a particular collection within the reading room. Students are becoming more familiar with databases but it's the physical collections now that stump them. I remember wading through the stacks to find what I want but stacks? Special Collections? Be careful how you wade as with compact shelving you may do damage to someone! But seriously, if the physical collection necessitates a student going back and forth between a book and the index to the microfilm collection then it can be tricky and I'd like to see what could be done to alleviate this.

As for podcasting in an essay for my library course for the collection management module I did describe how podcasting is used and why it's used. It can be very handy for students who are non-native English speakers as it allows them to access a guide to the material which they can start/stop as required and pay repeatedly as needed. The essay described its use for nursing students but equally this could be used for any cohort of students.

Unfortunately I have yet to try screencasting or podcasts but this could well be the shape of things to come and I look forward to trying them out.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thing 17: The Medium is the Message - Prezi & Slideshare

I'm already on slideshare but as yet I've loaded no slides. I use it a lot to view other people's slides: Brian Mathews, Lorcan Dempsey, Stephen Abrams aka the library giants. Do I add something before I've revamped the site to conform to my personal brand?

The presentations I see seem to conform to bullets and a lot of texts. For any presentations I do I try not to have bullets or text but pictures. After all a picture is worth a thousand words. However if other people are used to bullets then the absence of bullets freaks them out.

Which leads me to Prezi. Prezi is amazing. Is it bad to say I'd never heard of Prezi. And once you hear about it, well it's everywhere. Funny thing, on the seminar on effective presentations the presenter used powerpoint but another academic talked about Prezi. My library people aren't using Prezi so are we doing the community a disservice by not being aware of Prezi or other similar tools? What do we do as a library?


A Tree falls in a forest or Thing 16: Advocacy, Speaking Up for the Profession & Getting Published

Library Advocacy is present. Every time I read the Guardian there are more articles about writers, poets, artists speaking up to save libraries. Where are all the librarians? What do we do?

I try tweeting, some days more succesfully than others. I write this blog. I don't know who reads it though.

So what to do? Should I email all my contacts and say write to your TD or MP? Should I tweet to famous people and hope they respond?

Am I a tree falling in a forest? Do I make a sound even if no one is there to hear me?



Thing 15: Attending, Presenting At & Organising Seminars, Conferences & Other Events

I've attended a number of conferences in Ireland. Unfortunately INULS has now bit the dust. Thank you recession! For conferences in general I tend not to think of approaching bodies for funding or bursaries. Of course if no one did this would the funding opportunities still be made available?

Seminars are still going strong. Mostly because they're loss costly for the various institutions, be it hosting or sending someone, and accommodation is rarely needed. I've found them a good way to get an overview a particular area or if the focus is particularly sharp to get an in-depth instruction in a particular section.

For Special Collections most of the courses I attend are held in the British Library which does necessitate travel. Of course it's nearly as easy to travel to London as it is to Dublin.

As part of my work I've assisted curation of exhibitions on Dineen who compiled the first Irish-English dictionary and on Ulysses which left copyright earlier this year.

For all of these it's been useful to meet new people, new ways of doing things, knowing what resources are in the locale or further afield, reconnecting with people I knew already but have lost touch with for one reason and another. It can be hard to connect with people and so often it's over alcohol which is fine in small amounts but not otherwise. Now the recession has us all drinking tea, has to be Barrys and never Lyons. I guess as part of my new job I'll be getting business cards. I already have the business card holder, forward thinking on my part, especially when I may not have anywhere to go!

I enjoyed reading Devora Zack's book on Networking. Thank you Jo Alcock for recommending it!

I don't mind speaking in front of crowd as I trained as a teacher. I always find that it's easier to speak to people who don't want you to fail, not that school students do but all the same. I was at a seminar recently on effective presentations and in pair work the other said something I knew already: "You move your hands too much." Note to self find something to do with hands. Having a lectern is easy but then it can add a barrier between you and whoever the audience is.

In relation to presentations I read Ned Potter's posts thoroughly on being prepared. I practiced everywhere so I knew how and what I wanted to say but until I gave an actual run-through of the presentation to an actual audience I found that the words came out wrong: pyrotechnic against fibre-optic (bit of a difference!) and the time ran over hugely. It's not enough to practice segments while shelving, you have to practise it all. Eventually the time limit came down but that took practice too. Still it's as I was taught as a young un: if something is worth doing, it's worth doing well or do it right the first time!

Bye bye card catalogue or Thing 14: Zotero / Mendeley / CiteULike

I've tried Endnote as the library I'm in runs classes on it. Citeulike was then mentioned in conjunction with these classes. These classes are run for all students but are particularly for post-grads. It's funny but apart from library staff I've never seen any other staff members at it. The meeting point for the class is opposite the desk where I used to work so you see what happens.

It's odd but as a library we don't do any classes on how to reference or how to cite, plagarism or copyright. Undergrads have one class which combines all of these but it's only been introduced this year. Is it a library's place to do classes on citation, on one type but not another? Is Endnote seen as a database or electronic resource?

I've been testing Mendeley for the last while but it's been a little stop start with one thing and another.


I can see the value of using a citation system such as Endnote or Mendeley but I think I need to re-wire my brain. I wrote a previous dissertation by hand and kept note of the various citations by hand as well. That was feasible as it was over a short space of time and the dissertation was 15,000 words only. I say only but by and large it's reasonably small. However I've never returned to that topic and so I don't need to keep the various citations. Now as libraries are what I do I should really keep a better system. It's just a matter of doing it.

It is as if I were changing from a card catalogue to an OPAC.

Thing 13: Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox

When did Google Docs become Google Drive? Hmm, mustn't have used it in a while? Is the name change doffing a hat to the USB drives? I think people use USB drives more than Google Drive. I own about 10 in varying sizes.

However if I'm going somewhere and I don't want to bring my USB key the I use Dropbox and I find it really handy. There are security issues with Dropbox but for information that's going on the web anyway I don't see why it can't be accessed by others on Dropbox. Perhaps others wouldn't need the ability to change the document but it depends on the document. Is it a living document constantly in a state of beta or not? I use Dropbox to transfer large files between my computer at home and my work computer and it can be handy if two people (or more!) are sharing a project.

I like Wikipedia. I know it's got a lot of bad press but the editing procedures and standards have changed hugely since its inception.

Recently I've been thinking about how best to use wikis in relation to Special Collections. Do I set up a wiki? Use a pre-existing site and customise as much as possible? Well my coding isn't that great so I don't know how possible that could be. I do think they would be useful and more so than a list of pdf or word documents. It's just one more thing to think about!

Let me take you on a journey...

Again the blog goes quiet and this time because I've started a new job. I was working as a Library Assistant in my library, yes it's my library and I've been there for just over six years. Recently I started a new job as Special Collections Librarian and although I've been in the university for over ten years between one post and another the amount of extra information to absorb is quite something. I can't imagine what it would be like if I was a newcomer to both the university and the library.

It's a small thing but at the moment I'm getting used to the sheer volume of emails. I've been added to quite a few distribution lists. I always knew that this would happen but until it does you just don't realise how many emails there are.

So let me take you on a journey, welcome to the world of special collections!