Confused by LinkedIn: Thing 6 (online networks)

A couple of weeks ago, the Bodleian trainees had a useful training session at the university careers centre.  As well as tips for writing CVs and practice interview questions, there was an introduction to LinkedIn – how best to use it, how to make sure you appeared in Google search results and why you shouldn’t link your Twitter account to it if you’re going to post inane comments about sandwiches.  Our careers adviser, who was very good, was a fan of LinkedIn, even if it was just in terms of having a professional CV floating around out there online.  She made the point that when you’re applying for jobs you have to fiddle around with your CV, removing and adding things in order to tailor it to the specific position you want.  The LinkedIn CV can be broader if you want it to be, listing everything you’ve done, as well as skills you have, groups you’re involved in and so on.  She wasn’t so keen on the actual social networking aspects of LinkedIn, although she advised us to use it to find other people online if we were jobhunting or trying to find someone to ask for work experience.

I came away from the session determined to create a LinkedIn account, especially with the added incentive of cpd23 Thing 6.  And I have indeed created one.  But so far I’m not very enthusiastic about it!  It may be that I haven’t quite grasped its full potential, but it just doesn’t seem as user friendly as some other networks.

1. It just doesn’t look very nice.  This may be fussy, but profiles on other networks are a lot more aesthetically pleasing – even my actual hard copy CV looks smarter than a LinkedIn profile.

2. I don’t understand the social code of LinkedIn when it comes to making connections.  Unlike Twitter, it seems to be that you are only supposed to ‘connect’ to people if you know them quite well, so therefore the only people I’ve felt comfortable about adding are my colleagues at the library, and a couple of fellow trainees I’ve got to know quite well at conferences.  Although they are lovely people, I’m not sure I really need to see their CVs, and if I want to talk to them I can always talk to them on Twitter (or in real life).  If anyone else knows the unwritten rules of connecting on LinkedIn, I would be pleased to hear them.

3. I find it a bit scary that LinkedIn knows so many ‘people I may know’, and therefore I imagine I (and my photo) am coming up on other people’s homepages too.  As this is the only time I’ve decided to use my real name, I am still slightly uneasy about it.

4. For some reason, it seems to be recommending jobs to me, but not ones that are actually useful.  There are plenty of other ways to find useful library and info jobs online – no, I don’t want to be a graduate trainee analyst or a call centre assistant, thank you.

Anyway, I have added a few of my colleagues, just to see what happens, and have joined the groups recommended in the cpd23 post.  Hopefully I can explore them in the next few days.  I’m not 100% convinced I will keep my profile, especially after the recent security breach, but I will give it another chance before I make a decision.

Onto friendlier networks… Twitter…

I’ve already written about Twitter in a previous post, and it’s probably my favourite online network at the moment.  I think this is partly because it’s the one network which has enough library and info people engaged with it to make it a valuable resource. It’s all very well to have forums, but they easily fall out of use if not enough people use them regularly.

I like the fact that on Twitter you definitely are allowed to follow people you don’t know, just because they look like interesting librarians, and it is even fine to start a conversation with those people.  I have heard about many things on Twitter that I wouldn’t have done otherwise – Libcamp Brunel, CILIP New Professionals Day, CPD23 itself – all things that have really enriched my graduate trainee experience and caused me to become more enthusiastic about librarianship.

I have even used Twitter usefully at work today, in order to search for what people are saying about replacements for the Meebo instant messaging widget, which has been bought out and discontinued by Google.  Searching for the #Meebo hashtag brought up comments and links to blogs and articles about other IM clients, and I got a couple of replies from other information professionals about their experiences with Meebo replacements, which I can usefully take back to my colleagues.

I have to say that not all of Twitter is useful – I have had to unfollow a few people who tweet a lot about their personal lives (this is OK on Facebook, but I find it odd to read so much about the lives of people I’ve never met).  But for the most part, I’d give Twitter the top marks for online networking, and will definitely continue to tweet for a while longer.

… and Facebook

Like most Thing 6 blogs I’ve read, I’ve decided to keep Facebook personal and private.  I really appreciate it – I’ve moved so many times that I’ve got friends scattered every which way, and I don’t think I’d keep up with them if I didn’t have Facebook.  I’ve had a look at the CILIP page, and other library pages, but I’m not going to use them for networking.

While we’re on Facebook though, I think this is a great example of a library page.  It’s St Hughs College Library in Oxford, and I think the use of photos and the new timeline format makes it look really smart and professional!

LISNPN and Librarians as Teachers

As a new graduate trainee in September, the staff development team at the Bodleian recommended that we checked out LIS New Professionals network, and I found the Graduate Trainees forum really interesting – it was the first time I’d heard what was happening in the world of libraries outside of Oxford, and I went to a trainee gathering in London organised through it, where I met a few people that I’m still in touch with, and have seen at other events.  There was also a really successful trainee trip to Oxford organised through LISNPN – I showed a large and enthusiastic group of visitors round the Law Library, and I think everyone enjoyed seeing the different Oxford libraries.

I haven’t been on LISNPN for a while, and it doesn’t seem to be hugely active, but I explored it a bit for Thing 6, and particularly like the downloadable resources.  Anonymous reviews of the MA courses are a really good idea, as well as other good advice.  There’s a new thread to discuss the future plans of this year’s cohort of trainees, which I’ve posted in, and am interested to hear other people’s experiences.  The jobs and placements section also sounds really useful.

Finally, my role at the moment doesn’t involve any teaching, but I know that it’s a skill that more and more academic librarians need, so I look forward to looking at Librarians as Teachers Network at a later date!

Next up – leaving the virtual world behind and meeting face to face…

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Oxford CPD23 meet-up: Wednesday 13th June

Dear fellow Oxford based CPD23-ers,

This is just to let you know that there is an Oxford CPD23 gathering on Wednesday 13th June from 5.15 at the Mitre on the High Street.  Anyone is welcome to come along, whether you’re following the course or not – it will be nice to meet some other Oxford library folks!

Many thanks to Lizzie (library_lizzie) for organising it – here is a link to her blogpost.

Hope to see some of you there!

Mirror mirror on the wall: exploring reflective practice (Thing 5)

Reflections in a sculpture at Chatsworth House

After pondering on the nature of the wonky reflections pictured above, I created a little diagram  which I think demonstrates how NOT to be a good reflective practitioner, or indeed, any kind of practitioner.  It stemmed from considering the art of reflective practice, and the bad habits that form from not reflecting enough, over-reflecting to the point of inactivity and reflecting in the wrong kind of way.   Although everything on the chart is exaggerated for effect (honestly), they are all tendencies I sometimes find myself veering towards when faced with a challenging task.

Bad habits caused by too little / too much reflection.

For me, becoming a good reflective practitioner would mean avoiding falling into that cycle as much as possible.  From reading the links that the cpd23 blog helpfully provided, the actual theory seems fairly simple:

Greenaway 1995

Reflective Practice and Me

Ideally, I should be reflecting on things I do, identifying what went well, and what didn’t go so well, and working out ways I could do better next time, and then using this new understanding to prepare for my next task.  Simple!  And hopefully an excellent way of not falling into the traps pictured above.

I have not carried out much formal reflective practice in the past – the closest I’ve come to it is filling in my annual review at the Law Library, which was useful in that it helped me to reflect on what I had achieved in my trainee year, and how I felt about it.  However, this involved a bit of mental gymnastics, as I had to dredge through my mind to review a whole year’s worth of work.  Some of the best advice about reflective practice seems to be to get your thoughts down in writing quickly so that you can remember clearly what happened and what your gut reaction to the event was.  Forcing myself to do this will be useful, as I often plan to write a diary entry or a blog post about something – a conference that I’ve attended, a talk that I’ve seen or a book that I’ve read – and never get round to it until a few months later, when my initial memories have faded and I don’t remember exactly how I felt at the time.

More good advice is that you should act on what you’ve reflected about.  Although running over events in your head or on a blog may be beneficial to you, it’s no good if you don’t try and apply what you’ve learnt next time you do a similar task.  I think that must be one of the hardest parts of reflective practice – I find it easy to waffle on about my thoughts, but changing my behaviour is another matter!

Reflective Practice at the University of Sheffield

Next year I am going to be studying for my MA Librarianship at the University of Sheffield.  From what I’ve heard, Sheffield is very hot on reflective practice, which scares me a little, as I’m not sure it should be something that ought to be given a grade, but other Sheffield students have said that they found it quite useful.  Here is a blog post by a tutor at Sheffield, all about teaching reflective practice.

Problems

The main problem I can see with reflective practice is quite simply lack of time.  When I write, I tend to write a lot – new ideas always occur to me half way through – and reflecting in writing on everything that I do at work would take up a great deal of time.  Although I’m only a trainee, I’ve heard a lot about CILIP Chartership, and one of the main difficulties seems to be fitting writing up reflective practice evidence into already busy work and home lives.  I suppose it’s probably best to be selective, and choose the things you think you can learn the most from.

Another problem would be that I wouldn’t want to reflect publicly on this blog about my paid work – it’s not particularly secret but it just seems quite unprofessional.  I would prefer to keep a private reflective practice diary for that, and use the blog to reflect on the wider profession.

Reflecting on CPD23 so far

Taking a few moments to think back over the last few weeks, I would say that I have got a lot out of the CPD23 course already.  I am already falling behind by a week, but I feel that as long as I keep myself to within a couple of weeks of where we’re up to I’m not in danger of giving up completely.  However, if I get too far behind I think I might lose motivation.  I am pleased with my blog as a personal record of my thoughts – with the added bonus of other people reading and commenting, and have enjoyed reading and commenting on other people’s blogs.  It has made me realise that there is always room for professional development, no matter what stage of your career you’re at, and has given me a valuable insight into what career options there are out there.  More practically, it has introduced me to useful web tools such as Storify, Scoop.it and Google Reader – and even little, simple things such as how to add a picture to a WordPress blog.  This week’s topic has encouraged me to write down some of the tasks I’m undertaking at work and as part of the graduate trainee scheme, both so I can reflect on them and to provide evidence for when I am writing job applications in future.

In terms of acting on my reflections, I will try and catch up with everyone else this week, and I will make the effort to comment on a few more posts (it’s always rewarding to get a comment).  I will continue to investigate the new online tools I’ve discovered, and I will start a private reflective journal to note down some of my feelings about the work I do at the Bodleian.  I’d also like to use this blog as a way of reflecting on any good training sessions/ events/ conferences that I am lucky enough to be able to go on.  Although I might not have time to reflect on absolutely everything, I hope that the attempt will be of some use.

Finally 

In the interests of fiddling around with my newly-discovered web tools, I have created a Scoop.it page full of useful articles about reflective practice.  Some are very education based – teachers seem to have to do a lot of compulsory reflection – but are still interesting and relevant to librarianship.  Enjoy reflecting everybody!

Workhouse grub and the effects of tight lacing: Dickens and his World

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Dickens and his World: Bodleian exhibition 2nd June-28th October

One of the best things about working in Oxford this year has been the free exhibitions that the Bodleian put on in their Exhibition Room.  First it was Treasures of the Bodleianwhere you could see items as diverse as Shakespeare’s First Folio, a handwritten draft of a Wilfred Owen poem and a fourteenth century bestiary filled with strange and wonderful creatures.  Next was Romance of the Middle Ages, which showcased manuscripts from the late Middle Ages (Sir Gawain, King Arthur etc.) and how they had influenced art and literature throughout history.  The exhibitions were fantastic – created with great care and very informative – and all free, to everyone.

So I was pleased to hear that the third exhibition of the year, Dickens and his World had opened this Saturday, and I went eagerly along to see it.

The Bodleian Exhibition Room has to be kept very dark – I assume to protect the books and manuscripts – so it took a while for my eyes to focus, but the exhibits themselves were well lit, and you could see and read everything perfectly well.  The exhibits were kept in a number of glass cases, and backed by information boards and blown up pictures.  Visitors could wander round as they liked, and there was a small counter where you could buy postcards and guides.

You would think that a Dickens exhibition could really only involve books, and there were a few cases of books – some early editions, some open to show illustrations by Phiz and some publications that are not well known in the Dickens canon.  One that amused me was The Village Coquettes, a comic operetta published in 1836, and which was placed open on a page where a young female character sings about how old people have forgotten the fun of flirtation!

However, books were definitely not the only things on show – for a start, Dickens’ works weren’t initially published in book form.  They came out in installments, leaving audiences with cliffhanger endings waiting for the next serial part. The Bodleian, as a legal deposit library, got all the serial parts.  Unfortunately, conscientious librarians at the time bound them all together, and the library had to end up buying back the front covers when they realised what historical value they would have!  They were on show in the exhibition with covers restored.

But the majority of exhibits had, in fact, come from the wonderful John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemerawhich collects historical ephemera such as theatre bills, adverts and leaflets.  It has been partly digitised and is available free in the UK to all higher ed institutions and public libraries.  Well worth a look if you have access!  Although designed to be ‘ephemeral’ in their very nature, preserved in this way such items give a fascinating insight into daily life.

In the exhibition, a whole wall of playbills showed us some very fast-and-loose nineteenth century adaptations of Dickens’ works – some apparently put on even before Dickens had finished the story!  Characters were plucked out of the novels and given their own star billing – the sad story of Little Em’ly (from David Copperfield) for instance, looked like it had received some rave reviews.

One of my favourite exhibits was a carefully constructed cardboard theatre.  I used to have a similar kind of one as a child, but this one was set up with the scene from Oliver Twist where Bill Sykes brutally murders Nancy – Victorian children were obviously quite hardy.  It is amazing how such items have been preserved in the library for all this time.

Many of the displays dealt with different aspects of Dickens’ world – the railways for instance, and the workhouse.  On show were the pamphlets published to advise workhouses how much food each inmate should be given (not much), and a terrible diatribe about the perils of putting unmarried mothers in the same room as ‘respectable’ women.   In the ‘Diversions of London’ case a leaflet advertised an ‘anatomical waxworks’ display, which proudly claimed to show such disgusting wonders as a waxwork undergoing a Cesarean section, and a waxwork demonstrating the ‘evil effects of Tight Lacing’.  Forerunners of the Channel 4 documentary methinks!

Of course, in a Dickens exhibition we can’t forget his actual writing – there were quotes from his novels to complement the items from the John Johnson Collection, and in the corner you could sit and listen with headphones to longer passages.

As a literature and history fan, and also as someone who would be really interested in working in special collections and library exhibitions in a future life, it has been great to see how the Bodleian exhibits its special collections, and I would recommend anyone in Oxford to go and take a look.

Thing 4: Twitter, RSS and Storify

I’m a little bit behind with CPD23 already, and I blame my own weak will and the weather for it.  An important discovery I’ve made is that the more sun we have, the less interest I have in social media of all forms.  Luckily (and this relates to Thing 4 – Twitter) it doesn’t actually matter if you miss out on a few days of Twitter – there will still be a lovely stream of information drifting by when you get back, and you can often catch up on the more important things through retweets and blog posts.  However, English weather has reasserted itself in full form, and as I’m trying at all costs to avoid any mention of our beloved monarch on her special day, here I am trying to catch up!

Twitter

I’d heard of Twitter a long time before I decided to create an account for myself.  Like a lot of people, I couldn’t really see the point of it – not that I didn’t like to update people on the inane details of my life/ opinions on certain Daily Mail writers, but that was what Facebook was for.  It was only when I started investigating graduate traineeships that I realised how useful Twitter could be as a professional tool.  I joined in July last year, and tweeted my pleasure that Brighton and Hove Jubilee Library had opened a cafe (something I am still pleased about, even though I have moved away from Brighton – it is an awesome public library).  At that time, I was really only tweeting to an audience of one – my cousin Douglas, who is not a librarian but tweets very entertainingly about theatrical goings on.  Because of this, I found that I didn’t have much to tweet myself, but followed some of the recommendations I found on people’s library blogs (@theREALwikiman, @Philbradley etc) and some institutions and organisations (CILIP, the British Library).  I used Twitter as a useful source of library news, job adverts and conference recommendations.

Here is my Twitter profile now.  As you can see, I do tweet a little bit more now, and not always about libraries.  I do try and keep it less daily-life driven than my Facebook though!

Emily's Twitter

My beautiful profile!

I have managed to build up 128 followers, which seems like a fair amount, although some other library tweeters have a following of thousands!  I found the best way to find people to follow has been through attending conferences such as Libcamp Brunel and the more recent CILIP New Professionals Day.  I like the way you can search by the hashtag for an event and find who is attending, and what people are saying about it.  It’s also useful if you can’t actually make it to an event, but want to find out what’s going on anyway.

Here I was going to link to a really interesting blog post I read about the unwritten rules and societal codes of Twitter, but I’ve just spent ten minutes looking for it and I can’t find it anywhere, or remember who wrote it or where I first saw it!  I feel that this is actually a good lesson, as it shows I need to start saving interesting links and tweets somewhere I can easily put my hands on them.  I shall make that my task to take away from this week, but if any one else knows which post I mean, a link to it would be appreciated!  In the meantime, here is a useful Twitter advice post that I can remember.

From reading other people’s CPD23 blogs about Twitter, it is clear that the best advice is that you can’t possibly read all of the tweets all of the time.  And to be honest, you really don’t need to.  I would say that even the most high profile tweeters that I follow only devote about 50% of their time to useful library related things – there are a lot of conversations about lunch, about knitting, about running and generally normal human stuff that I don’t have to pay a huge amount of attention to (except if it’s nearly lunchtime, and then it makes me hungry).  That’s where I find hashtags and retweets really useful – if something is important, it will probably be retweeted, and if I want an overview of what people are saying about #cpd23 or #uklibchat or #cilipnpd12, I can just search the hashtag when I get back from work.

I’ve heard lots of people recommend Hootsuite and Tweetdeck as a good way of managing your Twitter feed, so I set up a Hootsuite account as part of my work for Thing 4.

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A bewildering array of lists!

I set up different tabs reflecting my different interests – one for libraries, one for feminism/LGBT related news, and one about general cultural happenings.  The screenshot is the Libraries tab; I’ve organised some of the most informative library tweeters into one list and some institutions into another.  Then I’ve run searches for the hashtag #cpd23 and #uklibchat for the other two lists.  I think the hashtag generated ones work best – unfortunately, and through no fault of their own, my useful library tweeters all know each other and therefore all you really get on that list are conversations that they are having among themselves!

Hootsuite looks very impressive, and I like the idea of different lists.  However, for the moment I think I prefer the simplicity of the main Twitter feed – so many lists make me stressed!  I shall come back to it if I find Twitter getting too unwieldy in future though.

RSS

I have to admit that RSS was always a bit of a mystery to me, so I ignored it.  Happily, I’ve discovered that it’s actually simple and useful – I’ve set up a Google Reader account and used it to follow lots of blogs.  It’s great to have them all in one place and to be alerted whenever a new post comes up.  I don’t think I would be able to follow as many blogs if I didn’t use Google Reader.  It’s also useful to be able to sort the blogs you follow into groups – and I may have alphebetized them within the groups in a nerdy librarian way.

Storify

Storify is a new discovery for me, and I really like it!  I love the drag-and-drop simplicity of it, and I think it might be a useful way of saving all the tweets and blog posts about a specific topic, as well as creating pretty ‘stories’ for other people.  I particularly like the way you can add your own ‘narration’ in between the boxes you’ve pulled in from other social media platforms.

Annie created some excellent stories about the talks at CILIP New Professionals day, which summed up the talks and other people’s opinions of them.  Here is her Storify of Phil Bradley’s talk.   YiWen has also created an interesting Storify for her CPD23 post about the Glasgow Women’s Library – an institution I’d love to visit some day!

I don’t feel I really have anything particularly useful to make a story about yet, but as I wanted to get to grips with the tool, I made one about LibCamp Leeds – an event that I sadly couldn’t make it to, but which I read about on Twitter.  I hope I can look back at it and find it useful in future.  Here it is, for your general edification – my next task is to work out how to embed Storify in my blog, as I see some people have.  So much to learn!

Postscript

I have just read an article in the paper about the new Wifi provision in some London tube stations, where the writer enthusiastically claimed that this was so you could ‘tweet your journey’ if you so wished.  Now, I may be missing something here, but one thing we surely don’t want to read are people’s tweets about their daily commutes!  Stick to libraries (and lunch) folks, and we’ll all be happy ;-).

Thing 3: Considering my personal brand (comes with added soul-searching)

Not the kind of brand example you should be following…

A few years ago I went to see feminist writer Nina Power speak at the University of Sussex, and came away with something she said that really stuck with me – that in the modern economy we are forced into being  24/7 “walking CVs,” constantly networking and advertising ourselves until our whole lives and personality are swallowed up by our CVs.  Now, I thought then (and still think now) that this is a nightmarish scenario and not to be encouraged.

That’s why I feel a little bit uneasy trying to create myself a ‘personal brand’ for Thing 3.  Other people have explained the problems with branding a person more eloquently than I can – I broadly agree with this post, for instance, and I’ve seen the same anxiety voiced in a few other cpd23 blogs.  Of course, we all have to sell ourselves sometimes – in job interviews and grant applications for example – and if we are trying to market a service, then creating a brand is an essential step, but I find the pressure to constantly maintain an online presence that is supposed to “portray an accurate reflection of who you are” yet still sell yourself at all times, to be a whole different ball-game.

However, in the spirit of not being grumpy and cynical, and taking on board the wise words of Ned Potter (and the Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy) – DON’T PANIC – I shall attempt to muse upon how people experience me professionally online.

Name used

My Twitter name is LibraryEms, as I created it mainly to tweet about all things library based.  I was planning to use it for everything, but some other LibraryEms has already made a WordPress blog! (if this ruins my career I’ll be extremely peeved).   So, I’m LibraryEm for the blog.  I don’t use my real name, and for now it’s going to stay that way.  Here is a useful post on online anonymity – I have gone for the author’s third definition of anonymous: “Pseudonymous but identifiable to those in the know. A consistent identity with enough details relased that those nearby in the offline world can identify the person.”  I’m new to the profession so my blog will naturally be more of a reflective sort than an advice-giving sort – I don’t feel the need for the world and his aunt to be able to find my thoughts so easily just yet.  I’m willing to sacrifice a possible disadvantage in real-life networking for an element of caution online – after all, I’m such a baby librarian that I’d probably have to explain who I was at networking events anyway!  My Linked-in account has my real name, as I’m happier about it being attached to a purely professional CV.  Oh, and my Facebook uses my real name but I keep my privacy settings super-high!

Photograph

My photograph is a silhouette of myself dancing in front of a sparkly Christmas tree.

Future employers will at least know I love Christmas

Pros of this – who doesn’t like Christmas?  And it’s consistent over several forms of social media.  Cons – it has nothing to do with libraries and doesn’t show my face.  I will think about changing it if I find another good one.

Professional vs Personal 

If I told you that I was not only an enthusiastic new information professional with an interest in special collections, but that I was also loved reading and watching films, learning languages, getting involved with LGBT, women’s and disability rights, visiting museums/galleries/authors’ houses/stately homes, especially if they have a cafe with tea and cake, satisfying my woolly left-wing politics by reading the Guardian, hiking in the Peak District and posting irate comments on online Daily Mail articles – my online presence would be erring towards the ‘personal’ .  However, I wouldn’t be being ‘honest’ about who I was, because that’s just not the way it works – everyone creates the identity they want people to see online, whether they keep it professional or add personal details (for example, I might want to show that I’m a well-rounded, fairly cultured, politically motivated yet not too threatening type of librarian!).  At the end of the day, I add  a few personal details just because it’s more fun that way :-).  Nothing I wouldn’t want my boss to read though!

Visual Brand

I took a long time deciding on a theme and photo for my blog – I went for the simple, uncluttered look, and the pretty library photo.  Any advice on how it looks visually would be welcomed, as I’m not very creative.  My Twitter has William Morris wallpaper, which I quite like, although it doesn’t match the blog.

Google search

I don’t come up on a Google search at all at the moment – although if I add ‘library’ to my name it brings up the Bodleian Law Library website, where I am listed as a graduate trainee.  I’d quite like to get my Linked-in CV to appear, but it doesn’t seem to.  Ideally, when I have done more ‘library stuff’, I’d like to appear related to projects I’ve taken part in, articles and (non-personal) blog posts I’ve written, professional and volunteer roles I’ve taken on, presentations I’ve given etc.  So I better get started with doing all those things – scary!  As I said before, I’m happy with my reflective blog and Twitter feed being fairly hidden for now.

Final words

The more I’ve thought about this, the more I realise that I’m so new to the profession that I don’t even have a brand yet.  All I can try to demonstrate is that I’m enthusiastic about the profession, eager for advice, willing to take on new things, and curious about all aspects of the library and information world.  Hopefully, as I work out what I want my career path to be, I can work on how to reflect that online.

What does anyone else think about my brand? 

Any ideas?

Ready, steady, go… Things 1 & 2

Thing 1: Blogs and Blogging

I set up my blog a couple of weeks ago when I first saw that the cpd23 was going to run, as I thought I would get used to WordPress before the course began in earnest.  I ran into a few minor hitches – choosing a theme took me longer than strictly necessary, and then came the dilemma of a photo.  Should it be library related, or something that reflected the inner workings of my personality?  In the end I went for a library related one – a photo I took on a recent tour of the Radcliffe Science Library in Oxford.  It’s not, for the most part, a very pretty building, but it did have a couple of photogenic rooms and I thought that this one looked suitably calm and peaceful.  I also successfully managed to link my Twitter feed to the blog, and created a Good Reads account because I was enticed by the the thought of a display of pretty book covers.  Sadly, the aesthetic considerations then came to an end and I had to start thinking of what to write!

I have already introduced myself and my motivations for doing the cpd23 course in my previous post.  I’ll just add here that now I’ve had a proper look at the cpd23 schedule, I am looking forward to the ‘getting involved’ weeks (Things 15 and 16), as I think they will crack me out of my comfort zone a bit.  I find it fairly easy to ramble away online, but it takes a lot more courage to turn up to real life groups, let alone volunteer to take on any responsibility!  I also think the ‘librarianship training options’ weeks (Things 10 and 11) will be useful, as they should hopefully be relevant to where I am in my career.

Thing 2: Investigate some other blogs

I ran into the problem with this quite quickly – the sheer number of new cpd23 blogs means that it’s impossible to read them all.  However, there are a few things I did to make it easier for myself.

1. I subscribed to ten or fifteen cpd23 blogs on my Google Reader, creating a new section to separate them from the more established library blogs.

2. I looked at the cpd23 Delicious list which gives handy tags to help you sort out which blogs to read.  For instance, you can pull out all the graduate trainees, or all the public librarians.

3. I followed other people doing cpd23 on Twitter, so their blog posts pop up on my feed and it reminds me to read them.  Most of them kindly followed me back, which hopefully means my blog posts reach a wider audience as well.

I made an effort to comment on the blogs – although at this stage the comments were along the lines of “Hello!  Welcome to cpd23, your blog looks awesome.”  Still, I very much appreciated getting comments on my first blog post – it made it feel less as though I had been shouting into the wilderness, and so I hope my comments had the same effect.

Here are some blogs that I suggest you investigate too:

http://deweydecibelle.wordpress.com/

http://bexwithoutspex.blogspot.co.uk/

http://stampingbooksandmore.wordpress.com/

http://rosiehare.blogspot.co.uk/

http://teaandscone.wordpress.com/

http://jonnigirl.wordpress.com/

Happy blogging everyone!

Lego, social media and a burrito lunch: CILIP New Professionals Day 2012

I thought I would interrupt my CPD23 blog in order to recap what I learnt at the excellent CILIP New Professionals Day on Friday.  Three workshops, three presentations, lots of coffee and an enormous burrito for lunch meant that I was a tired trainee by the end of the day.

Lesson 1: I do have a brand, whether I like it or not.

We started off with a welcome from Annie Mauger, CEO of CILIP, and moved swiftly on to Ned Potter‘s talk on influencing your personal brand.  I’m usually completely put off by marketing jargon, and run for the hills crying if anyone mentions the word “brand,” but I was really impressed by Ned’s talk.  His idea was that you have a brand whether you like it or not, and it’s up to you how you want to influence it.  Your brand is basically the sum total of everyone’s perceptions of you as a professional being – online, in your job, in your written publications, as part of a professional body, when you give presentations and so on.  I liked the way he talked about tailoring your brand to your career aims – it isn’t always necessary to devote all your energy to being a 24/7 Twitter whiz kid when getting involved with a CILIP group might be more useful to your professional development.  I came away enthusiastic about getting involved with events and groups, so that my brand is more than just my ‘LibraryEms’ twitter feed (as inspiring and informative as I’m sure it is).

Lesson 2: Cataloguers are awesome, and Lego can be used for educational purposes.

My first workshop was called Game On: Cataloguing and Classification in the 21st Century.  As I’m based in the information resources department in the LawBod, I share an office with two lovely full-time cataloguers and have had a bit of a crash course in cataloguing and classification during my traineeship, (I’ve recently become very familiar with the slightly-worse-for-wear orange Moys book).  It’s definitely something I’d like to learn more about in future.  Opinions differ among librarians about cataloguing – from “it’s a dying skill, you shouldn’t specialize in it,” to “it’s still the foundation of the information profession, it’s a shame that only UCL with its £7000 fees teaches it any more.”    I don’t know yet which opinion holds the most truth, but I do know that our presenters for this workshop were very enthusiastic cataloguers.  Deborah Lee and Jennie Perry were part of a group called High Visibility Cataloguing, working to address the invisibility of cataloguers within the broader information profession.  During the workshop we attempted to reclassify lego bricks: (“should it be by colour or number of nodules?” and “where o where does that little Lego horse go in the scheme?”).  We also played Snakes and Ladders whilst learning about the daily life of a cataloguer.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed there will be room for cataloguing in my future career!

Lesson 3: Your mid-nineteenth century Bible probably doesn’t count as a special collections item

My second workshop was Special Collections Librarianship: what’s it all about? presented by Katie Birkwood.  This gave me my fix of lovely digitized manuscripts for the day, and also lots of valuable information about the (admittedly hard to get into) area of special collections work .  It was interesting to find out what a diverse range of material can constitute special collections, and the focus on exhibitions and outreach work with school kids.  Also, I was happy to see that our presenter loved fourteenth century music manuscripts and queer feminist zines with equal measure.  Excellent taste!  Following on from this workshop, I’d be interested in hearing the career paths of special collections librarians without an Oxbridge background – Katie’s career path was very Cambridge based, including her undergrad degree, which always seems a little daunting.  I will make it my mission to find more special collections stories over the course of cpd23.

Lesson 4: Burritos are tasty but messy.

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but in this case there was, and it came in the form of a large burrito.  It was delicious, but not ideal networking food as it was shamefully messy.  I chatted to some other new professionals over lunch – one of the best things about the event was the chance to meet new people.  It was particularly nice to meet some current Sheffield students, and a Cambridge trainee who will be studying with me in Sheffield next year.

Lesson 5: Always check whether your reader’s using the right password.

After lunch was workshop number 3, Have you tried logging out and then in again?  You’ve guessed it – e-resources, led by two long-suffering e-resource librarians, Abby Barker and Simon Barron.  Recently, I’ve talked to a lot of students and ex-students who honestly don’t seem to realise that librarians have anything to do with e-resources.  So many times I’ve heard: “But librarians don’t have anything to do now everything’s online.”  It doesn’t occur to them that librarians manage the e-resources budget, liaise with the faculty to decide which ones to trial and purchase, work out the best way to teach people about them, deal with technical problems when they go down and finally answer numerous e-resource enquiries from puzzled students.  No wonder e-resource librarians feel overworked and under-appreciated!  The main point I took from the session was that ALL LIBRARY STAFF NEED TO LEARN ABOUT E-RESOURCES.  It’s no good any more to rely on your friendly e-resources librarian – we all need to make the effort to learn what the library subscribes to, what the log-in procedures are and how to guide a reader if they can’t access a resource that they want.  It’s a really valid point and something I have to work on in future.  Thanks to the presenters of this workshop – it was very entertaining as well as informative.

Lesson 6: Make lots of library buddies.

Bethan Ruddock talked to us about How to Assemble your New Professional’s Toolkit, which was good advice about building up a network of supportive colleagues and other professionals.  I’m not sure I need to go as far as deciding whether people are ‘mentors’ or not (until I get to Chartership of course), but having lots of people to call on for help is always an excellent idea.  I look forward to reading Bethan’s new book when I can get my hands on it.

Lesson 7: Get a Google+ account. Or else.

The final talk was from Phil Bradley, the President of CILIP this year.  He was talking about social media, and it was the only talk of the day that I had mixed feelings about.  On one hand, I loved some of his points – the idea that information is moving into the hands of the users through social media, rather than being a one way information exchange, is very exciting; and the idea that better information can be found through a tailored network of trustworthy contacts than through a general Google search is an interesting one.  Certainly I’ve found that my ever-expanding Twitter network of librarians is a fantastic source of information – I even heard about this event through Twitter.  Phil argued that its the duty of information professionals to know about all the different social media tools out there, as they are the future of the internet, and the future of information – which I agree with.  However, he went further than this, and said basically that all information professionals had to actively use ALL the different kinds of social media that existed, otherwise they would fail as librarians.  His tone was almost threatening – I felt as though I was being told that I would be unemployable in five years time if I didn’t get a Google+ account, which to be honest, isn’t the best way of persuading me that I should get one!  I thought that it was a little problematic, in that even the most dedicated librarian would find it difficult to dedicate enough time out of their life to trawl through the thousands of tools out there (even this blog and twitter takes up a lot of time), and that if you have any other commitments (caring responsibilities, other work, disabilities etc.) it would be impossible, and not a positive thing to hear from someone who is representing your professional body.  It’s a shame I felt this way about it, as I actually agreed with a lot of things he said, and will go away and act upon some of them – although an executive decision has been made that I won’t be venturing into Google+ just yet!

Lesson 7: The pub is where all the real networking happens.

We all rushed off to the pub after the event for a well earned drink, (not gin – I’m still slightly confused why librarians are supposed to love gin so much).  Overall, the day was a fantastic (free) opportunity to learn and network, and I will certainly be heading to lots of the books and online resources mentioned in the talks.  It’s also encouraged me to get involved with CILIP more actively next year.

For anyone that’s interested, CILIP has published links here to all the presentations I’ve blogged about, plus all the other ones I unfortunately missed.

My CPD23 will continue soon… watch this space!

A first attempt at library blogging…

Hello everyone!  I thought I would add my ramblings to the hundreds of library blogs already out there, and hope that somebody finds them useful/interesting.  Actually, I am trying my hand at blogging in preparation for the 23 Things for Professional Development course – aimed to introduce librarians to online tools which might help their professional development.

So first off, introductions and a confession.  I’m Emily – a graduate trainee in the information resources department at the Bodleian Law Library in Oxford.  I’m eight months into the year’s traineeship, and am now well acquainted with spine labels and tattle tape – the security strips that protect library books.  In fact, I’ve developed such great labelling and tattle taping skills that I’m not sure how the next trainee is ever going to live up to my high standards.  I’ve also (more importantly) been introduced to the world of libraries, from reclassification to legal research skills, and been lucky enough to benefit from the Bodleian training scheme.  Highlights so far have been trips to the conservation department (“oh by the way, this lady’s just mending Kafka’s birth certificate”), and an insight into the world of e-resources (they’re jolly expensive).  I’ve also been impressed by the excellent range of tea and biscuits.  Thank you Bodleian.

Yesterday I received the happy and fairly unexpected news that I had got AHRC funding for the MA in Librarianship at Sheffield University, so – buoyed up by the thought of heading Northwards next year – I decided to give the cpd23 course a go.

Now for the confession.  When I was applying for trainee posts, I suddenly discovered the hidden world of library bloggers, and found them interesting and a good introduction to information work – after all, if you haven’t worked in a library before you only have a very hazy idea about what being a librarian involves.  And when I started at Oxford, we were encouraged to contribute to the Oxford Trainees Blog .  Enthusiastic librarians extolled the virtues of social media and got decidedly grumpy when anyone dared to disagree.

I’m afraid to say that I got a bit overwhelmed by the whole social media onslaught, took a step back, and didn’t contribute a single post to the blog.  I felt that there were so many library voices out there online that I couldn’t follow them all, and my own contributions wouldn’t be that useful.  I also had the nagging feeling that the obsession with using social media in libraries seemed a little odd to anyone outside the information profession – the hundredth blank look you receive when you ask a student friend whether they would think of following a library twitter account is a little dispiriting.

As the year has gone on, I’ve made the concerted effort to overcome my doubts, and have discovered the great benefits of a twitter account (for myself – I’m still not convinced that library twitter accounts are well used, but am prepared to be proved otherwise).  I read library blog posts that pop up on my twitter feed, and find them interesting and informative.  I have heard examples of online tools such as Delicious being used successfully in smaller, subject based libraries, and am looking forward to hearing about how libraries are using the other tools discussed in cpd23.

I still think libraries should be careful about what social media they embrace – as a student library user, nothing put me off more than a long list of blogs/twitter accounts/ facebook pages that seemed to be there only for the sake of being there, and didn’t contain any useful information.  Even worse would be when they hadn’t been updated properly and their information was out of date.  But I am looking forward to discovering how social media can have a positive impact on libraries, and hearing from other information professionals about their own experiences with online tools.

So that’s me – still slightly cynical about social media but prepared to learn about it with an open mind.  I look forward to reading everyone else’s blogs along the way!

 

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