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Thing 8: Google Calendar

2 Jul

Now that I’ve had a look, I’m quite surprised that I haven’t been using Google Calendar already. At work we use the calendar on MS Outlook as a team: arranging meetings, saying when you’ll be at an external event, etc. I think it is probably the best tool in this situation – we all have Outlook up anyway for our work email and have access to our own plus a group calendar for the library, it’s easy to use, sends reminders and we can access it from any computer using webmail. The only problem we’ve come across is that it doesn’t say who has added an event and when they did it (that usually doesn’t matter but it has caused issues in the past).

Switching to Google Calendar wouldn’t be useful to this library but after having a look around online I’ve seen lots of great examples of it in use by other libraries, especially those that run a lot of events. There are some really interesting ideas on this blog post: Musings about librarianship. I particularly like the suggestion of linking the library management system to Google Calendar to allow users to be alerted on things like due dates.

I have decided that I should start using Google Calendar to keep track of what I’m up to. It wouldn’t be using the tool to it’s full potential but I’ve had real difficulty sticking to using electronic calendars unless it’s solely for work. I generally find it too time-consuming to enter in each event and don’t keep up with it. At the moment I organise my time with a combination of the work Outlook calendar, a physical diary and occasionally the calendar on my smart phone aaand sometimes things fall through the gaps. So we’ll see how I get on with Google!

Thing 7: real-life networks

20 Jun

CC image courtesy of Aidan Jones on Flickr.

Throughout my traineeship I’ve been lucky to have been given lots of opportunities to go out and meet other professionals in the field. The first proper “networking” activities that I was part of was with the London Research Libraries Trainee Programme. The graduate trainees of the various libraries of the University of London take part in visits and events to help them understand how different libraries run and the roles within them. The first event, a welcome party at the start of the year, taught me a couple of things about networking events: 1) that I will attempt to eat as much free food as possible and 2) that I freeze up whenever I’m told to “network”.

This is something I’ve consistently encountered with each event I go to. Socialising informally – fine, but when it’s timetabled in as “networking opportunity”, I get all awkward and begin to panic. What this “thing” has brought to my attention though is that, thankfully, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Joeyanne Libraryanne’s great blog post on networking for introverts has really been insightful and hopefully I can use the tips that she highlights from “Networking for people who hate networking” to take some of the pressure off next time I’m faced with the dreaded networking opportunity. But what’s really important for me is to not look at it as a structured activity but just as free time when I can chat to other people who are in the same place for similar reasons.

Though I feel like I’ve become more comfortable networking in real life as time goes on, there are a couple of things that I’ve found impact on what I get out of it: firstly, going to an event with someone that I already know. Though this is very nice, I do have the tendency to talk to only them for the whole time and personally, being on my own forces me to push past the awkward-barrier and have a chat to other people. Secondly, I’ve been finding that sometimes I’m just not “in the mood” for networking. I think I have a mixture of introvert and extrovert characteristics, and presumably this is the more introverted side of me that sometimes just wants to be alone or with people that I know and are comfortable with. For me, the only way around this is to just fight through the unwilling thoughts and get stuck in.

I became a member of both CILIP and ARLIS this year to take advantage of the fact that graduate trainees are charged at student rates (otherwise membership would be a really tricky decision as it is quite expensive). I enjoy being a member and getting the publications sent to me and I think I have been to quite a few events with both organisations. Admittedly I don’t have much of an excuse as I’m in London where most things are happening and I have lovely employers who encourage me to go to workshops, visits, conferences.

With ARLIS (the Arts Libraries Society), I’ve been to a workshop on art and design reference resources, an event on art librarianship as a career and a visit to the National Maritime Museum. All these events have been fantastically helpful and interesting in their own way and because it’s all about arts libraries everything is directed very much the way I’d like my career to go.

CILIP events are obviously much broader and I’ve really enjoyed getting a sense of other tempting routes of librarianship. The New Professionals Day held fairly recently was a fantastic opportunity and there was lots of time in between sessions and at breaks to network.

I’ve also been to a couple of things run by cpd25  including a visit to the Wellcome Library and a one-day conference on applying to library school. I’d recommend keeping an eye on their events page to anyone working in an academic library in London as they do arrange really interesting things.

These have, for the most part, been paid events but there are still a wealth of networking (and professional development) events that you can attend without paying a penny. The London LibTeachMeet is probably the best event that I’ve been to, for networking and for information. It had a great atmosphere and there was an opportunity to meet all kinds of librarians and information professionals. I’ve found that at London events, it’s often hard to meet someone not working at an academic library, so for me it was a chance to speak to people in other sectors. I’ve also attended visits and meet-ups organised online. LISNPN is a great one for organising nice pub meetups and, thanks to Rosie, I went on a visit to various libraries in Oxford which was organised through the forum.

Thing 6: online networking

14 Jun

 

LinkedIn

CC image courtesy of BlogMama on Flickr

I want to like it, I really do. But every time I get motivated enough to go on LinkedIn, I find that there are suddenly much more pressing things to do like making a cup of tea or staring out of the window. Let’s face it, it’s not the most exciting interface and the people on it aren’t posting amusing or terribly interesting things. It’s all very professional, which is – to be fair – why I want to use it.

It’s just that LinkedIn is not really doing anything for me right now. My fairly minimal profile hangs around in cyber space and serves the purpose of popping up as a pretty neutral top result when I google myself (see Thing 3).

In an effort to get more out of LinkedIn I added a photo and… well,  that’s about it. The information on it isn’t out of date but neither is it putting everything that I do out there – I feel a bit uneasy about basically having my CV up for the world to see. Things that I have done though are to join groups, so I’m now going to make an effort to keep up with what’s going on in the library groups.

 

Facebook

I point-blank refuse to use Facebook for professional networking. My profile has got the privacy settings ramped up as far as they go and I use it solely on a personal basis. I signed up in 2006 I think when it was fairly new and you could only join if you had a university email address. Since then it’s scary how big it’s grown. I use it for contacting friends and sharing photos. There are better mediums for doing both out there but everyone seems to be on Facebook so it’s just easier.

Although I’m not going to use Facebook for any sort of professional medium, I do see the merit in libraries having institute Facebook pages. It’s a great way to interact with users because, as I say, everyone seems to be on it.

 

LISNPN

I found out about the LIS New Professionals Network when I first started my traineeship and it’s been really useful. I’ve used it to connect with other graduate trainees and new professionals and a few months ago I visited Oxford and it’s libraries, an event organised totally on LISNPN.

There’s a lot of great information and it’s really good to have a community of well-wishing professionals that will help with any questions. It moves at a slower pace than Twitter and there’s no character limit so I’ve had some really helpful, detailed responses to queries that I’ve posted.

 

As for the Librarians as Teachers Network and CILIP communities, these are networks that I’ve been lurking around for a while and may continue to lurk for a little bit. And I guess some time in the future something may take my fancy and I’ll get involved.

Thing 5: reflective practice

11 Jun

I’m afraid to say I’ve been putting this ‘Thing’ off for a little while. I also took some time off last week and went back home to beautiful Bath so I haven’t had my library hat on as much recently.

I’m very new to this concept of reflection as it’s not something I’ve come across in previous jobs and have only just started to hear the term bandied about at different training/professional development events. My first impression was that it seems pretty integral to getting chartered which caused me to dismiss it, as chartership is a long way off for me. But the more I read around the subject, the more I realised that reflective practice was something I could and should be getting in the habit of doing now.

Throughout my traineeship I’ve been fortunate enough to be encouraged to go to external training events. For the first couple I took a notebook and made the most meticulous notes for every talk…and didn’t do anything with them afterwards. I definitely wasn’t getting the most out of these events. I was simply writing down what was being said at the time, which gave me no time to think about how what was being said was relevant to me.

In December I attended the ARLIS workshop “An Introduction to Art & Design Reference Resources” and volunteered to write up the event for the ARLIS newssheet and Students & Trainees blog. This was my first venture into doing anything of the sort and I agonized over the write-up for the week after the event. Although I was trying to give an objective overview of the day, going back over my notes and putting them into a readable piece made me think about what I was getting out of events like that.

Since then I’ve been trying to blog about conferences, workshops and visits I’ve been going to, first on the London Research Libraries Trainee blog and now here. I’ve found it much more useful to have my own blog rather than contributing to others because I feel more justified in talking about MY experiences.

At the moment I feel like my reflective practice is very much casual. Like everything I’m doing at the moment, I’m getting to grips with the idea and hopefully it’ll come with time. Yes ok, my model for reflective practice is more like this…:

 

Laurenson, 2012

 …than any of these…:

Kolb, 1984

 

Borton, 1970

…but I feel like this ‘Thing’ has really made me think about how I can make the most out of every experience I have. Pretty soon I’ll be having to look back on my graduate trainee year and by recalling and evaluating (what I’ve learnt, enjoyed, was good at, was bad at), I can look forward and plan my future accordingly.

 

Thing 4: getting to grips with Twitter, RSS and Storify

24 May

This weeks Thing is about exploring online tools that can be used to keep up with all the exciting things happening in the library universe. While I’ve been using Twitter and RSS feeds for some time, I really don’t think I’m getting the most out of them and I had heard of Storify but not yet had a play around with it.

CC Image courtesy of toolmantim on Flickr

Twitter

I signed up to Twitter in August 2010, the motivating factor being that it was a form of social media that wasn’t blocked at my then-job at a contact centre. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and it was no use to me whatsoever – all of my friends were on Facebook and I wasn’t in a job that I wanted to pursue as a career.

It wasn’t until I start my graduate traineeship that I started to realise the potential that Twitter held for me. Over the last few months I’ve been trying (with mixed success) to use it for networking and sharing ideas. But there are a couple of issues that I’ve still yet to get over:

  • Twitter is all a bit scary. In between the RTs, MTs, DMs, etc. it’s hard to know what you’re looking at and who said it. With hashtags and links all over the shop, some tweets can be plain bewildering.
  • Most people I follow on Twitter, I don’t actually know in real life, so it is intimidating to address them directly. My problem is that I tweet as if I’m talking to myself – I find it hard to get involved in conversations and shy away from “interrupting” other people’s Twitter dicussions.
  • Everything moves so fast on Twitter. A couple of hours ago seems like ancient history on the Twitter timeline. The immediacy of it is great if you want a question answered quickly but it can often leave me feeling like I’ve missed an opportunity. Take the other night, I scrolled right down on my timeline and saw lots of fun tweets for #replaceonewordwithlibrarian. Scroll back up and it appeared I had missed the party. Although I’m sure noone would have been too offended if I joined in a little late, I felt too shy to.

Don’t get me wrong, Twitter is a fantastic tool and all of the worries I have about it are actually its strengths: it’s brief, fast and effective. I need to get over my own false perceptions and issues and get stuck in, start conversations and get involved. I’m so scared of breaking some kind of ‘twitiquette’ that I operate in an isolated little bubble and I’m not getting the most out of the medium.

Even though it’s aimed at using Twitter for libaries not librarians, I found this slide-deck by LibMarketing really useful in highlighting common mistakes. Also, Phil Bradley has a list of resources on Twitter for librarians , some of which are a bit dated, but I’ve found incredibly helpful to jump in and out of.

RSS

 I’ve dabbled in RSS in the past, I had a nice feed going for news a year or so ago, but again it’s something that I’m not using to it’s full potential. First stop in my efforts to get a handle on RSS feeds is to Google Reader and I’m already signed in with my Google account so I just click the orange ‘Subscribe’  button and start searching for blogs that I read regularly. Once I’m up and running, I can add the feed to my Firefox bookmarks toolbar and just click on it to have all the latest posts from sites I’m subscribed to.

Since I’m using WordPress for this blog I’ve been following others that way and using the WordPress reader. RSS seems like a more universal way of bringing the things I’m interested in together. I’ll certainly be using this much more in future.

Storify

This is something I’ve heard mentioned and seen briefly but not actually played around with myself. As a little test, I signed up and created this here Storify about the #replaceonewordwithlibrarian game on Twitter I mentioned earlier. Obviously because I was searching for something that only happened on Twitter, this isn’t a particularly good example of how to get the most out of this tool as you can bring in stories from a wide range of sources. I did find an article on the Huffington Post website and a Facebook link related to the story though (check out the amazing photos on the Greene County Public Libraries Facebook page, what a great idea!).

One thing that I have learnt from this little experiment is that you can only search 150 of the most recent related tweets. Since I was making it this morning, I missed out on a lot of Tweets from when the game was in full swing. Other than that, Storify was really easy to use. Hopefully I’ll have something meaningful to make a Storify about in the future.

I didn’t got around to playing with Scoop.it  or Paper.li but those are some more social media tools I hope to get to grips with soon.

Thing 3: Me, me, me

23 May

I was intrigued to get going with ‘Thing 3’ after listening to Ned Potter talk about personal branding at the CILIP New Professionals Day and I agree that it’s pretty much essential now that you should make efforts to affect your ‘brand’ in a positive way.

While the term “personal branding” does send a bit of a shiver down my spine (it makes me think of shouty people in pin-stripe suits…basically a contestant on the Apprentice), I do agree with the thought behind the phrase.

Having an online presence seems to now be par for the course for new professionals and even if you don’t publish anything online yourself, chances are your name will end up floating around in cyber space anyway. While you can’t control everything, I understand that it’s important to try and take charge of what you can.

CC image courtesy of botgirlq on Flickr.

I want the results that come up if someone searches online for my name to represent me in a positive and fairly professional light. Performing a couple of quick Google searches was quite interesting. Most of the results are me in a more professional capacity – my LinkedIn profile, my ‘library’ twitter account, contacts page from work and a blog post I wrote for the ARLIS students & trainees blog. I was confused why this blog didn’t turn up in any of the results. Then I realised I’ve been going by both Jennifer and Jen for the last few years.

A search with ‘Jen’ threw up different results: my ‘personal’ twitter account (which is private) is top and this blog is the 4th entry. It was interesting how some sites, like LinkedIn, still featured quite high on the results even though I only use the full version of my name on it.

It’s something that I never really thought about – even though I’m using my proper name, I’m not being consistent enough which means the ‘me’ that is represented online is pretty dependent on which form of my name people search with.

This is something I should probably really need to sort out but I’m not quite sure how. I prefer ‘Jen’ (and it’s much quicker to type) but when I do anything vaguely official, I call myself ‘Jennifer’. Now, as a budding information professional I should really know more about how search engines work. So I’ve set myself the task of finding out more about them and hopefully this will provide a solution of how to bring all the things that I want to come up in a search for me, to come up no matter which form of my name is used.

In terms of a visual brand, I feel like I’m still coming up with that. I use the same photo for my library twitter and this blog which is pretty casual and not related to libraries (for anyone that’s interested, it’s me at Slope Point, the  southernmost point on the South Island of New Zealand which I’m sure no-one but me has ever bothered to go to). In the future I’d like to have a photo that people can more easily identify from me at events, and I’d also like some kind of exciting and distinctive visual “feel” to this blog. However, I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I know these are the kind of things I’ll spend hours agonizing over, so I’m waiting until some amazing ideas hit me.

I feel that there’s a lot of things that I’m working on with my personal brand. It’d be great to get straight out of the blocks and have a fantastic, distinctive online presence and be clear from the start what my “brand” was, but for me I think it’s going to evolve over time. I’m still finding my feet both as a new professional and as a blogger, I’m not going to have some ready-made online presence that shows succinctly who I am and what I’m interested in, I don’t even know myself! I feel that until I know what direction I’m heading in, I can only try my best and hope that the image of myself that I’m putting out there is not too jumbled.

Lots of things to think about from this activity and I hope to have a ‘Thing 3’ update not too far in the future. Please feel free to post a comment – let me know what you think about my “brand” so far or how I can sort out the Jen/Jennifer search situation, or just say hi. I’m not picky.

Thing 2: …can’t…stop…reading…

17 May

I’ve really had to tear myself away in order to just write this – once you get started reading other people’s blogs, it’s really hard to stop.

I’ve been a longtime lurker around library blogs for a while now and had been reading blogs like the wikiman, Librarians on the Loose and Girl in the Moon but not interacting in any way because I didn’t feel like I had anything worthy to say. It still does feel a little bit strange and nosy to be poking around someone elses blog but in the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to get a bit more social in the social media malarky, which is good because cpd23 Thing 2 is all about visiting and interacting with other blogs.

I’ve been going through the list of CPD23 participants on Delicious and finding so many fantastic blogs out there. Some great ones that I’ve found are Adventures in the LibrarySiobhan B in the library (I absolutely love her pictures), the Neon Librarian and Dewey Decibelle. I could spend all day following links and jumping from one blog to another and never stop reading and to me that’s very encouraging – the online community of librarians seems to be really interactive and lively.

In the past I’ve tended to think of blogging as a bit of an isolated activity where you broadcast and others read, but it’s much much more about sharing and communication. So I’ve been brave and posted a couple of tentative comments, hit the ‘follow’ button more than a few times and I’m really looking forward to getting more involved.