Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A non-trad roar in the crowd

I know its been a long time since I last wrote on this blog. I can blame it on not having enough time in my life or for being too shy to write (both of which are sort of true). But the real reason is that I've not been inspired to write. But yesterday that all changed.

I've always found it difficult to get the voice of us non-trad librarians heard over the din of the library speak.  Yesterday was different. Yesterday the trad community sought me and my voice. The voice of the different - but the same.

@TheDIYLibrarian came to my office to find out what I do and how it relates to professional practice for her CILIP Chartership. And to her surprise (but not mine) the non-trad role I hold is a lot closer to the trad than she anticipated. But of course!

I often worried that what I do is seen not always seen as professional (though I don't know why I worry since I'm Chartered and passed first time). But it was good to see a real life person nod at the righ places; ask questions about my practice and acknowledge that what I do is professional.

So what next? Well my hope is that @TheDIYLibrarian won't be the last to visit.  I'm hoping she'll tell her friends and they'll tell their friends and people will get excited to visit and learn about non-trad information professionals.  So if you know of someone who needs to find out what we non-trads do, schedule a vist with us and ask us questions.  See how we're different - but also see our similarities!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Do I really need to keep on top of things?

Right so maybe that's not the best title I can give a blog post seeing as this post is specifically about Things 8 and 9  which were set out in July ... and where're now in September!  Maybe I do need to keep on top of things!

But I'm just not certain how Google calendar and Evernote are going to do it for me. 

My online engagement is broken into two distinct categories - professional and personal (like most people). My profesional engagement has been increasing due to the course and my general willingness to engage, but my personal engagement has plateaued to email and Facebook.  That's about it.  In fact, if I don't check my email or FB account, I wouldn't be online at all in my personal time.

So whydo I need a Google calendar? My professional role is very rarely related to people outside my organisation and I keep offline calendars for my social life.

As for maintaining a list of websites which can be annoted and include images, well, I wouldn't bother doing that for my personal life and I rarely need to do it for my professional life.  Maybe this is me showing my unwillingness to change and resisting the new modern ways of thinking, but I just don't see the point now.  And, if I did want to engage with something, I think something like Delicious would be enough for me.

So do I need need help keeping on top of things - yes. But probably not using these online tools.  Find me in a year or two and we'll see where I am with my change management.  Maybe I'll have caught up with the rest of the world by then.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

The power of professional networks

I really do value professional networks (not that you can tell since I've been remiss and not written on my blog in almost a month), but I do think they're really important.  I don't think networks have to be professional nor do I think they have to be ILS specific to be valued. A good network supports you in your own professionalism, offers a place for informal learning, a place to bounce ideas and camaraderie in your given field.

When I started in the voluntary sector after finishing my Masters, I was a lone worker in a small local organisation.  I was the only one doing my role and people around me didn't really have the foggiest about me, my role or my ILS training.  To help me feel less isolated, I engaged with CILIPS, to get a sense of ILS community.  But, it was hard to relate to issues like e-books, local library provision or academic cuts when you work in such a small and non-traditional sector.  I continued to engage though and always looked at universal topics to unite my role to the wider ILS scene.  I'd take courses on copyright and intellectual property, knowledge management and project managing and engage with people in more traditional sectors.  I always found it useful to make contacts, and did in a few occasions, use them.

But my real connection was with the voluntary sector.  When I started there wasn't really any network or fora available to help support me specifically in my role.  There were Development Worker fora and Chief Executive fora but really nothing at all to help Information related posts in the voluntary sector (despite the fact that mostly all Information roles in the voluntary sector are lone roles).  So in 2007, after a chance meeting with a fellow Information Officer in the sector, we established the Information Officers' Support Group (IOSG).  If no one was going to support us, we would do it ourselves!

When I moved to my current role a few years ago (again in the voluntary sector), I knew the value of the IOSG and knew it had to continue to be a part of my continued professional development.  It was so important that  I specifically requested that I be given time during the work day facilitate and attend IOSG meetings and events.  It was such a valued network in my old role that I didn't want to give it up - and I knew that continuing my own development would do nothing but benefit the organsation!

The group continues to thrive.  We meet a few times a year and we're currently working to build our LinkedIn group.  We don't often get many people attending meetings, but I've been given amazing feedback from members about how valuable they find the group.

Of all of my professional networks, I think I've learned the most from the IOSG. It's not a professional group and its by no means the largest group I've been involved in. But its the one I've had to work the hardest at and the one that I've gained the most skills.  We're still plodding along, and have made a name for ourselves in the voluntary sector here in the Central Belt of Scotland. (I'd direct you to a website but we're not that sophisticated yet!)

That's not to say that I don't gain professional understanding from my other networks.  Since November last year I've sat on the CILIPS committee and have been taking in issues relating to other ILS sectors.  I hope I'm able to give a different perspective than the norm and try and give my two cents.  Its a long hard slog though because I still feel there is a massive chasm between CILIP(S) and non-traditional sectors; it's not often you speak about ILS issues that don't relate to public, academic or FE libraries.  When was the last conference topic that discussed issues relating to business libraries, or information work not relating to libraries at all!

As for online networks, well, this CPD23 thang has helped me to engage more.  I don't generally go out of my way to look at CILIP communities but with Twitter, updates and feeds I've been able to get more streamlined information. It takes less effort and I feel closer to the pulse of what's going on.  (I went out last night with ILS friends and we discussed copyright issues that I wouldn't have known about without these streamlined information tools! )

Networks take time and effort, but if you use them correctly, you can gain so much.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Thing 6 - connecting with your world

Everyday we make connections.  Each connection we make serves different purposes and affect us in different ways. Some are fleeting while some have a lasting effect.  But whether these connections are deep and meaningful or not, they are important to us.

This is a post for Thing 6  not a philosophical discussion... blah!

I'll be honest and say up until this course I only dabbled in online networks. The concept was fine but it wasn't really something I craved.  I kept in touch with people by email and instant messaging and on a professional level, well, I connected with people in other ways.  There were conferences, training courses and online bulletins.  I didn't need online networks (and I certainly didn't have the time for them).

Even though I didn't use them I did know about them.  I jumped on the LinkedIn bandwagon at the beginning but I never kept it up to date and I couldn't be bothered finding connections so I turfed it... guess I should have kept it! Ah well.

It was only with the Bebo / Facebook  (FB) craze that I started to see the merit of online networks.  But again, it was on a more personal level rather than a professional level.  FB was a way of quickly and easily (and cheaply - no expensive long-distance calls) reconnect with lost friends and acquaintances; share photos, holiday stories and status updates.  I still see FB as a personal tool (I don't use Bebo anymore).  It's so much useful than traditional communication tools and is easy to pass on information to lots of people at the same time.

I know, I know... you can use it for business purposes.  My organisation does use it to relate to external contacts and supporters.  But in my role specifically, nuh uhn.  I'm okay with that though.  I don't like to mix up my personal with my professional.

Then there's Twitter.  I avoided and avoided until I had to set up an account for this course.  I'd ask myself 'what's the point of Twitter? ... How can you actually get anything across? You have no characters!'  While I still have problems with Twitter,  the more I use it the more I sort of enjoy it.  I keep it strictly business and I've actually picked up a lot of useful information.  Who knew you could get so much across with 140 characters!

LinkedIn is now my most used networking tool since starting the course.  I know, I know, I just said that I turfed my account... but I set up a new one the other week.  It's been a great new direction for me, particularly with the Information Officers' Support Group.  We tried Yahoo Groups, we tried a blog (or two) but nothing seemed to connect us.  I'm hoping that LinkedIn will be the thing that keeps us together.

So that's what I use. I connect online but I'll be honest and say I prefer to connect face-to-face.  I like to see emotions, body language and non-visual cues.

I saw an interesting article in the Independent the other day about social networks. Seems quite apt for this posting.  Happy reading.  Science of the social network (01/08/2011)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Calm reflection

Thing 5 is nice and relaxed.  Reflecting on the things that come our way; learnings, situations, networks. Calm. Breathe in. Breathe out... Ahhh.

I'm a reflector by nature.  But the thing is I'm not one of those writter down-er reflector by nature.  I prefer a good internal monologue in my head.  I reflect on everything (if you haven't noticed by some of my posts) and in most cases, I'm ok with the results.  I get all hyped up at first, brain firing messages everywhere.  Then, after a bit of calm and cool collectedness, I really sit and think in a constructive way.  I've never gotten into the whole reflective writing thing. Though I had to do it for my CILIP Chartership I often had to do much of it retrospectively (don't take away my Chartership please! I meant what I wrote retrospectively!). Give me a good internal monologue any day! 

That being said, I do think there is a real value in the reflective process for evaluating work processes (less personal and more service oriented). I attended a knowledge management training session a few years ago and I really took to the after action review.  Its' a simple yet effective tool that asks you four questions:

What is it?
What is supposed to happen?
What actually happened?
What next?

Ok, ok, so it's super similar to most reflective practices... I just really like the way it handles the difference between expected and actual outcomes.

I guess my feeling about reflective writing practice depends on the situation.  I see a real value in evaluation and reflection both for services and for your own practice. But, I don't think there's a one-size fits all approach.  You have to ask yourself these questions when reflecting:

Who am I reflecting for? (Am I doing this for me or for someone else?)

What do I want the reflection to do? (Is it to evaluate myself or to influence others?)

What reflective method suit the situation? (Should I write a narrative? Will bullet points work? Is reflective thinking more suitable? What about a discussion? )

Do I have the time to reflect properly? (Do I have the time to sit and give the reflection justice? If I did it now would I be able to think objectively? Would there be a better time to do it?)

That's my two cents on reflective practice.

As for CPD23, well, it's forcing me to write reflectively these days. I'm getting out of my head a bit and sharing with you my followers. Hope you enjoy!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Thing 4 - keeping up with the neighbours

Set up a Twitter account. Check.

Set up Google Reader feeds. Check.

Set up a Pushnote account. Check.

Well that's me in the loop now!  But then why do I still feel so out of touch (and out of time). 

I've held this post back for a bit to see if I could adjust to my new online self and see if with a little bit of work I all of the sudden have this amazing online network.  Sadly I've not. 

I'm fully aware that online communities don't just automatically come together and they take time and effort. But I did hope I might have more than just call girls following me on Twitter by now.  Not to mention the fact I'd hoped to have more free time since I've set up my feeds.  Maybe my expectations were unrealistic and actually it takes so much more time than I'd anticipated.

Ok, so I have enjoyed checking Twitter on my phone and it has given me something to play with while filling a few minutes here and there, but still.

I think the main problem I have with all of this online stuff is that it's hard to understand. Maybe I'm a bit thick but I really need more than just a quick FAQ guide to get me off the ground. I don't understand hashtags and don't get me started about re-tweeting. Not a clue.  That's why I'm getting a friend who is a dab hand at theses things to give me a quick lesson. You know, the 1:1 in person lessons you used to get when you wanted to learn something. I believe in the online world but sometimes a friendly face really does make a difference. You can't ask difficult questions to FAQ sheets.

The other barrier I've found is me, really. I'm just not sure what to write (even with this blog). Are people interested in what I have to say? Not only that but I work in a very internally facing role. I don't generally interact with outside people and I work on very specific projects. What can I add / contribute? What I might find interesting may be completely boring to you my online network. What kind of things would you be interested in hearing about?
I'll say the one positive experience I've had so far with this thing is that at least I've got all the blogs I want to follow in one spot. It does beat the heck out of remembering them and going to them individually! I've not really dedicated enough time yet to sinking my teeth into them but once I do, and I catch up on past blog post, I should find I have more time to wrap my head around Twitter.

But for now, all feedback about topics and issues you think you'd be interested in hearing about (or helpful advice for my conference topic - see last post) would be gratefully received!

Thanks online network.  I'll catch up with ya soon!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Would you be interested in me?

I need some help from you, my online network.  I want to present a paper at the CILIPS Autumn Gathering (Wednesday 12th October in Dunfermline - Plug!) but I'm not quite sure what people would find interesting.

This year's themes are 

  • Digital Developments 
  • Learning and Doing
  • Looking ahead

I can probably add something to each theme, but I don't know if I can add much. 

I'm working on an interactive map of services, but I don't do the digital bits, I just do the information bits. So does that rule out Digital developments?

Or how about Learning and doing ... I've recently Chartered (go MCLIP!) but would people be interested in hearing how I went about Chartering in a non-traditional sector?

Does setting up and maintaining small bespoke library collections count as Learning and Doing?  I set up a library in my old work and then in this role I'm working with our library team to enhance our regional collections. I mean I've created bespoke classification systems for both my old role and my new.

Looking ahead ... looking ahead... I can't really think I can add anything that fits into this theme. So I guess that's a no goer.

Right, your task as my network is to give me feedback on my suggested themes.  Do they work? Would you be interested in hearing about them? Or are they kinda dud.  I was told that case studies are popular!  Bear in mind I would need to speak for 50 minutes so would you be interested in sitting through a long presentation about me?! 

And ... go!