Thursday, 27 October 2011

cpd23 - now that's the course for me!

Things have been a bit quiet since I completed the cpd23 programme, but I have been thinking about it, and have written the article below for our staff bulletin, in the hope of encouraging staff who may have an interest in cpd to have a go!

Web 2.0 – what does it mean to you??

Way back in June 2009 we ran a session for Bib Services staff on new things that were happening on the internet; we thought it might be useful for staff to at least know of the existence of things like facebook, yammer, twitter, blogs, and wikis etc., and then they could have a look and evaluate these services in relation to their work.

But, a lot has changed since the summer of 2009 and while some services have taken off beyond belief, some have fallen by the wayside and new ones have emerged. Keeping oneself up-to-date can be almost impossible! And that's where cpd23 comes in!

You may already have heard of it - you may already be doing it! But, if you haven't/aren't it's based on the 23 things programme of 2006, devised by staff in Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County which aimed to encourage staff to explore new technologies . This was followed in the UK by a 23 things programme devoted to public library staff, (review here: ), which, in turn, inspired the 23 things Cambridge in 2010 ( ), which was repeated in 2011 ( ), and has now prompted a cpd23 programme for all library staff - This is a brief history; I may not have got it exactly right and I may not have cited all the instances of the 23 things programme, but, you get the idea that it’s a tried and trusted training method!

Initially, when I enrolled on cpd23 in June 2011, there were about 200 people registered, but by the end of programme there were nearly 800 participants! I joined the programme partly because I wanted to be more up-to-date with what was available, and there was an advantage in being pointed in the right direction for potentially useful resources, in being able to follow the programme at my own pace, in being encouraged to blog and in being encouraged to learn by reflection about things.

Apart from learning about weird and wonderful whizzy webby things – jing, online calendars, file-sharing options, online networking, etc. - there were also things that covered topics like advocacy, conferences, qualifying as a librarian, and mentoring, as well as several opportunities to sit back and reflect – well, actually to write up my reflection in my blog.

Along the way, the cpd23 things were supplemented by cpd23 tweets, a cpd23 LinkedIn discussion board, several physical meet-ups for various geographical regions and a live twitter chat, #uklibchat. An added bonus, that I hadn’t anticipated before, was the benefit of contact with other folk who were following the programme; finding like-minded souls was quite an eye-opener for me (no, really, I didn’t respond to thing 2 by looking for blog titles that looked as though they might have been created by cataloguers!)

All-in-all, I found the cpd23 programme extremely helpful as it almost forced me to look at things that I’d heard of but never found the time to investigate, whilst at the same time showed me things I’d not heard of. I would encourage anyone who wants to try and keep up to give it a go!

cpd23 – now that’s the course for me!!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Thing 23 - reflection

My reflection on the cpd23 programme

The cpd23 programme has filled a gap for me and made me sit down and devote time to my development and to looking into, evaluating and using services I may have heard of but not really investigated.

These days, the rate of change seems to be phenomenal, with new ways of doing things constantly appearing, and new software emerging. It is difficult to keep up. You get a feeling there is something you think you don’t know about but feel you ought to, but you don’t know what it is because you don’t know what there is to know! I think I put this into my annual development review at work in the very early days of the ADR, when computing power first started to change the way we worked.

So, being presented with a relatively easy way of finding out about lots of things that are available and having them presented in groups of similar things was fantastic! At work we tried to something like this a couple of years ago and had what we called a “new technologies day”, in which we had demonstrations of Twitter, facebook, Yammer, next generation OPACs etc; I know some people were glad of this, not just as a way of improving their understanding of what was going on but also so that they could use things like facebook to keep up with their distant friends and relatives!

I was very keen to do the cpd23 programme, recognising that for myself there would be a great benefit. Despite sharing my enthusiasm with many members of my team, I have been unable to convince them that the time spent on cpd23 is well worth it. Methinks, those who would be interested are already working hard on NVQs, ECDL or Accreditation so perhaps haven’t got the time to spare (and I recognise that one, having done all my cpd23 in my spare time at home!).

So, my next immediate action is to write a short article for our internal library staff bulletin that promotes cpd23 as the next best thing since sliced bread!

I have been in my current job for about 12 years, and have been a cataloguer since the beginning of my career, over 30 years ago. Of course there are gaps in my experience, but I am happy doing what I do and cannot see me doing anything else for a while. When the time comes to move on, or the job changes, I now have the courage and the support (in the form of thing23) to assess my skills and identify what I need to do or learn in order to secure that next position.

The reflection part of our ADR process at work is also good for this, although it sometimes reads as a long list of objectives! However, I do try to be honest about how well or badly I’ve done what I’ve done, and also to try and look forward to see what skills I might need as the job changes to suit the times.

Many years ago I did a similar sort of thing as a mind map – me in the centre with shoots coming out all over the place, representing me at work, me as a mother, me as a student, me as person etc., with all the things I wanted to achieve and how I could achieve them branching out. It was a very useful technique, although I never did learn Italian, but I did take those singing lessons!

The one “skill” I would like to get to grips with is confidence! Yes, I know it’s not a skill it’s a personality trait, so maybe I should think about how I acquire a skill that will let me objectively assess whether what I have done, am doing and will do has been, is and will be any good! One way of doing that is by getting out there and contributing to things, and I’ve put a toe in the water there, by taking part in this cpd23 challenge.

The other thing I find difficult is managing, but already I find I am getting better at delegating and not being afraid that if I delegate everything there won’t be anything left for me to do and my skills will become out-of-date. As I mentioned in my thing 21 post, as an INFJ I expect everything to be perfect which I think is what makes me want to do everything myself, at least that way if it’s not perfect I can only blame myself, thereby not subjecting anyone else to my exacting standards! Not sure that knowledge helps me any though.

So, here I am at the end of my post, fired up and enthusiastic about having taken part in cpd23, about “meeting” lots of other people like me, about learning lots of new stuff, about being empowered to go out and discover and try things out, and most of all about sharing the benefits of such a programme with others who haven’t as yet tried it out!

Many, many thanks to all who organised this incredible programme, and good luck to others who are following it, or are about to follow it!

Thing 21 – promoting yourself in job applications and at interviews

Thing 21 – promoting yourself in job applications and at interviews

I have been working in the same institution for 25 years; part of the reason for this is I am hopeless at applying for jobs and interview extremely badly. There, said it.

I don’t quite get the idea that I have skills, that these are strengths and that they stem from my interests. This is my lack of self-confidence coming out, I suppose. The few times I have felt excited it’s been when I’ve been singing in a choir, but I rarely get that opportunity in the library!

About 18 months ago I started to look into revalidation and did actually make a list of what I considered to be my achievements. This was an interesting list and the things I seemed to be most proud of were things that I had done, let’s be honest about this, b.c., and while some of the things on the list sounded absolutely amazing and should have built up my confidence, they may not always have had the desired effect. So, knowing that I was first choice for two identical positions within an organisation and that the bosses had to fight over me is great, but I haven’t got a clue whether or not I lived up to expectations. Thus, this really tells me nothing.

But, there I go again, you see. In reality, since having children I have done some of the most exciting things; teaching myself html in 1995 and creating and maintaining my own webpages; creating a wiki and a blog in 2007 etc.. What is also telling is the wording that I used to list these achievements, for example, “finally being involved in a project”; until I read that, I had no idea that I hankered after being involved in any project!

So, as suggested in part 2, I looked at the list I created when trying to record everything I’ve done that demonstrates I’ve got skills (no matter whether or not they come from my interests). Skills equals strengths – right? And it’s here I get side-tracked. I don’t know what my strengths are, if indeed, I’ve even got any.

OH has just started a new job and some of his team were talking about the Myers-Briggs type indicators. I’d forgotten about all this, but while he was talking to me I remembered that I’d done the questionnaire before and had come out as an INFJ. A quick look at the profile reminded me of my characteristics and had me squealing – “yes, that’s me all over!”

Strengths are now looking easier to extract: obviously I’m not going to list them all here, but as an example, I think I’m good at cataloguing, because I’m fast, accurate and consistent, but I am also a perfectionist and nothing (including catalogue records) is ever perfect so I’m not that good at cataloguing or anything else really.

Then I got further side-tracked by remembering my Belbin scores. Now, this is absolute proof that I don’t have any particular strengths (ok, I know it doesn’t really refer to strengths more styles but …), as, instead of getting a range of scores from very low to very high, with lots in the middle, I got a strange set of results. My score of 2 x 12s, 2 x 11s, 1 x 8, 2 x 6s and 1 x 4 had me perplexed. What was my dominant style? Interestingly, I don’t seem to have one – I could almost equally be any of the Belbin types (except perhaps for the type that scored 4). Great – so I’m a Jack of All Trades, and master of none! Wow – I’m a wishy-washy, fickle type who flits from one type to another! On the flip side – I suppose I’m versatile.

But, back to the point! Although I haven’t applied for any jobs in a very long time, I do sit on the other side of the table and so recognise the importance of a good application that shows you meet the essentials, and preferably some, if not all of the desirables, but I also wholeheartedly agree that even if you don’t meet them all you have nothing to loose by applying for that job!

I was interested to note that CILIP offers two careers advice sessions a year to each member; I could have done with that a few years ago when I was looking into alternatives, and will bear it in mind for any future ideas.

I think I can probably make a decent stab at completing the application form, but the interview itself is another story. I find social situations almost unbearable, so interviews are just soul destroying! Being a perfectionist, I feel the need to talk to the right people in the right place at the right time about the right stuff, and since this rarely happens …

Anyway, it was useful to be given some pointers in the form of CARs, although I’m not sure I can be trusted not to ramble when I’m nervous, nor can I not be negative – it’s in-built!

So, when I next apply for a job, I shall be coming back to thing21 to remind me what I should be doing and how I should be going about it. Thanks for the references too!

Thing 17 - the medium is the message - Prezi and slideshare

Thing 17 – Prezi and slideshare

Ok, so I knew I was going to struggle with this thing for several reasons:

· As well as sounding like an abbreviation of “presentation”, prezi also sounds to me like:
o Something you get on your birthday or at Christmas
o A nice Italian restaurant
o A salty snack

· I’ve looked at both Prezi and slideshare before and been wowed by the work people have produced. I could never produce stuff of that quality, and, actually, since I haven’t done a presentation in years, then I probably don’t need to know to learn the practicalities at the moment

· If I ever do want to produce a slideshow I would be soooo reluctant for anybody other than the intended audience to see it and since both P & S allow access for anyone to your work (unless you pay them) this is a definite no for me!

As I said above, I am really impressed with what these programmes offer, and even more impressed with the presentations that people have done on them, although some of the Prezi ones did make me feel a bit seasick!

When the time does come that I need to produce something along these lines, I will know where to look.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Thing 22 - Volunteering

Thing 22 - Volunteering

Skipping thing 21 for the moment; I'm not in the job market and not really expecting to be, and I don't interview at all well, so I'll do the easy things first!

I have some experience of volunteering, although this is not at all current. As I mentioned in an earlier post I did some volunteer work on my way to a permanent job. Actually, now I've thought about it I've remembered more!

I studied librarianship at undergraduate level, rather than doing a subject-based degree and then a post-grad conversion course, and in the interests of pursuing my chosen career quickly I went straight to university from school. Thus, I had no experience of actually working in a library, never having had the financial need to get a Saturday job, and not realising that actually a small amount of work experience could have been quite useful!

So, it was a compulsory part of the course that those of us who had not worked in a library prior to coming to university had to undertake a 6-week placement during each of the summer vacations. Of course, in the late 1970s only about 4% of the population went to university, and most of us went straight from school. There was only one person I can remember who had worked for a year before the course, and it must have helped (that and the fact that she was brilliant!) as she got a first.

Anyway, my first experience was spent with public libraries in North Yorks. This was a fantastic time and they really looked after me and ensured that I got a huge variety of public library experience. I worked on a busy issue desk, I got involved in the 9-9.30 daily shelf-tidying, I processed new books, I went on the mobile library, I spent a couple of days working in York music library, a couple of days in Harrogate reference library, time in a large branch library, time in a very small branch library and had a visit to the N Yorks HQ at Northallerton. This was a brilliant introduction to work in the public library sector; I probably didn't realise this at the time and I probably didn't thank enough the people who looked after me.

In my second summer vacation I spent 6 weeks working at what was then Gwent College of Higher Education, based at the Caerleon site. This was fabulous! This was my home town! This was where my mother had studied for her teaching qualification for three years! This was the place we had been to from school to have a couple of lessons in their brand-new science labs! This was the beautiful building on the hill that you could see from miles around! Oops, back to the point!

Again, I gained huge experience here, but the difference was that I hope I gave something tangible back, as I classified a poster, drawing and newspaper cuttings collection for their teaching practice collection, that perhaps they wouldn't otherwise have had staff time to do. As well as this, I spent a week at the Allt-yr-yn site where I was lucky enough to work with the inspirational lady I regarded as the perfect role model .

Further periods of volunteering came after I had graduated and before my first professional post. For a couple of months I worked in the local Tourist Information Office, which was also a focal point for the Citizen's Advice Bureau and the Volunteer Bureau. This involved answering the phone and various other clerical duties, and again, I was lucky enough to learn much about office work and practice, phone technique, communication skills etc. all of which were a vital part of my learning and prepared me for my first paid job. I hope the centre got something out of my period with them!

I was also involved in a local public library initiative: the town had expanded somewhat during the late 1970s early 80s and the public library wanted to assess whether opening a small branch library on the other side of town from the main library was a viable proposition. So, we had a couple of shelves of public library books sent over to the local community college and opened up to members of the public at certain times during the week. So I spent a couple of months happily sorting and issuing popular novels and other books. I don't remember recording the number of loans, or counting the number of people who used the service, or anything like that, but I now know that is how the need for a library service would have been justified. Not sure what the eventual outcome of this was as I secured a paid job in the middle of the trial, although I'm pretty sure we haven't got a second library in town and I'm sure I've seen the mobile heading off that way.

To sum up, all those years ago I thought that by volunteering I was gaining some great skills to help me progress in my career, and this it true. Now, looking back, I can see that the places I volunteered at weren't just welcoming me out of the goodness of their hearts, but that I also contributed in some small way to their work, either through being available in holiday time and filling in when the regular staff were on holiday, through having the time to undertake a project that might otherwise have taken longer to do, and filling a gap in provision at a time when it was needed. This is the value of volunteering; a mutual exchange of need - a need to learn new skills and a need to have someone do something that might otherwise not get done.

The idea of volunteering has now seem to come into vogue again (can't think why!). However, some of this worries me; I think it's fine to equip up-and-coming librarians with skills they will find useful either to secure a paid job, or to further their careers, but I'm not so sure about the idea of using volunteers to staff libraries in place of trained library staff. Ok, so thinking ahead a bit, I might want to go full circle and end my career by volunteering in my local public library, but I think this should be a bonus to the existing library staff, not a replacement for them.

Thing 20 - the Library Routes project

Thing 20 – the library routes project

I contributed my story to the library routes project before the cpd23 programme came along, so for this thing I am charged with reading other people’s routes and seeing if my route was typical or unusual. This is a hard one! Lots of the routes I read about had some similarities, but equally, lots were completely different from my own experience.

I think there may be several reasons for the differences:

· The routes project has contributors from several different countries, so the routes are almost certainly going to be different too.

· Certain routes seem to be characteristic of the age, so the journey in the 1980s is not the same as the one in the 1990s or 2000s.

· Lots of people seem to have come to librarianship by accident, or because they didn’t quite know what they wanted to do.

I remember going to a careers evening at school when I was in year 4 (that would be today’s year 10!) very shortly after starting O level classes. We had the chance to go to talks so I went to learn about what I could do if I followed a music career, what a career in languages might involve, how to become a journalist, how to become a librarian and what the civil service had to offer. Prior to these sessions I was obsessed with boats and music, so I thought I wanted to join the WRNS as a clarinettist, so I was most interested to hear what else I might do with the O level choices I’d made.

As I said in my original route post, once I’d got the idea of the WRNS out of my system (I was too short!), I decided I wanted to go to music college and I wanted to be a musician, but by the time I got to the sixth form I realised that I just wasn’t going to be good enough, so decided to go for the next best career: librarianship- seemed obvious once I’d realised that being a musician was a dream rather than a real career option. Next best makes it sound as though I was a reluctant librarian, but this just isn't the case! From an early age I had been interested in books (though not much reading!) and libraries, especially catalogue drawers, so this really was my obvious career choice. Combining this with music would have been perfect (I had a dream about becoming the librarian for WNO, but ...), but I am perfectly happy with the route I have taken.

So, on the advice of the school’s career officer I took the fastest route through university, I came out the other end with a BA (Hons) degree and, as a member of the Library Association as it was then, a professional librarian. Chartership took a couple of years, and I’ve been a chartered librarian ever since! Music is now a hobby, although I rarely play nowadays (varifocals do not help!), I do try and sing whenever time allows.

In many ways, the 1980s was a comparable time to today; when I was applying for jobs the Vacancies Supplement was a single side of A4 and jobs were scarce. I suppose the difference is that the early 80s was a time when libraries were looking at computerising their catalogue records and the government had several programmes to get people into work. This is how and why I got my first real job (after a period of volunteering), through the Manpower Services Commission, as retrospective cataloguing supervisor in a public library, which involved converting card catalogue records to computer-based ones that were produced on microfiche and checking classification numbers!

Looking back, that first job really did provide me with a huge set of skills that I was able to put into use in future jobs: cat/class knowledge, supervisory skills, time management and project management skills, communication skills and - commuting skills (wrap up warmly as train stations are cold at 6.30am, wear comfortable shoes as the walk to/from the station can be long, always anticipate a long queue at the ticket office on a Monday morning, don't fall asleep and miss your stop, don't leave your bike at the station when the monsters of rock is on because it will get pinched, and don't do it for more than 2 years because you will get tired ...)!

Luckily for me the next job was a mere 10 minute bike ride away! working in a pharmaceutical library introduced me to the concept of a divide between information professionals and librarians, a divide which has long since been dissolved. I was also lucky enough to be responsible for a whole range of library activities that I hadn't previously experienced: circulation, ordering, inter-library loans, journals, current awareness, reference work, marketing, liaison, UDC!

I have now been in my current workplace for 25 years! Not 5 minutes away, but not an hour's train journey either. Having stayed here for 25 years, I guess I must have found it rewarding and challenging enough!

Now the children are less dependent, I will have to see what work life now brings ...

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Thing 19 - reflection

So, where to start??

I started blogging a few years ago, and although my initial posts were rather sporadic I made a conscious effort about a year ago to post regularly about cataloguing and cataloguing-related issues. However, since I've been doing cpd23 I've had little time to devote to blogging about cataloguing and have written my last few posts on "things"!

All this has been at the expense of the cataloguers' wiki I maintain as well; this is now running about 3 months out-of-date and I am looking forward to blitzing this once I've finished the things, and desperately hoping that people who may have found it a useful resource haven't abandoned it.

I used twitter quite a lot before joining cpd23 but I've found since I've discovered, through cpd23, lots of people to follow, I am a bit time-challenged and instead of reading everything that looked interesting I am now missing a lot of stuff.

I enjoy reading the discussions on LinkedIn where I am a member of the CILIP group and the alumni association of Lufbra Uni. These provide me with a rich mixture of current awareness and nostalgia

One thing I have noticed is that as I work part-time I have spent a lot of time on cpd23 in my own time at home. I'm not sure what this has been at the expense of, but hopefully it was just the washing and cleaning, and not the welfare of the offspring! I think maybe it was them studying for AS and A levels that spurred me on to learn something for myself, that and the desire not to be put out to graze just yet!

Many of the things I've learned about have been interesting to look at but in reality I haven't found anything that I've thought to myself "how on earth have I lived without that", so I've already got strategies in place for dealing with things like wanting to look at work things at home, wanting to share things with people etc..

Another thing I've learned, or rather it's been confirmed in my mind, is that I love writing, am hopeless at socialising but not fazed by the idea of doing a bit of organising etc.. As I say, I think I already knew that, but this process of learning so far has confirmed this.

If I've missed anything out from this post, then I can only assume that it didn't have a big impact on me, but I've been very grateful that someone somewhere had the forethought, time, energy and knowledge enough to put this programme together for the benefit of me, and people like me. So, many, many thanks to all the contributors to the cpd23 programme!

Off to thing 20 - No! off to bed now!

Thing 18 - jing, screen capture and podcasts

Thing 18 is proving to be a bit of a challenge! Paradoxically, the easiest bit was downloading the free software, something which I've found to be quite a nightmare in previous things, and I am now the proud owner of a half-sun at the top of my screen! Strangely, where I'm struggling is trying to understand just what exactly jing can do and why I would want to use it! I've managed to make a screen capture and save it, but now I'm not sure what to do with it!!

So, moving swiftly on, I've used audacity before, understand perfectly how to use it, and can easily understand why I might want to use it - except I've not really got anything to say, unless it's in writing! Some of our subject librarians use podcasting in their work with students and our academics certainly do, so I feel happy to move on to ...

thing 19!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Thing 16 - advocacy

I went to university and studied librarianship 31 years ago, and I'm sorry to say that during those years when I have met people who have asked what I do for a living, I rarely get past the point of dispelling the myth that librarians stamp books! I used to despair that people didn't know or understand just what exactly a librarian does, but now I can see that the fault lies within ourselves for not shouting loudly enough about what we do.

Now, of course, in these difficult times, I think you'd be hard pushed to find anybody who didn't know, at the very least, of the existence of public libraries, and to a certain extent have an opinion about their value.

In my own area of the profession, there has been concern and threats to our existence, as well as a lack of understanding from our colleagues about what we actually do and the value that this adds to the library service as a whole and to the user experience. Cataloguers have been re-examining their role and contribution to the profession for a number of years now, and more recently, the high visibility cataloguing blog has provided a platform for cataloguers to share their day-to-day roles, their hopes and aspirations, their visions for the future, with fellow cataloguers and other interested readers.

I've contributed a couple of pieces to this blog - on the role of the cataloguer and how to market your services to your fellow librarians - and while it could be considered a blog for cataloguers by cataloguers, the fact that many of the members are Twitter users and regularly tweet about updates, information on the site easily reaches places cataloguers cannot normally reach.

A whole issue of the CIG quarterly journal, Catalogue & Index (issue 162), was devoted to high visibility cataloguing, promoting the role of cataloguers in today's libraries, describing a role that no longer deserves the label "backroom" work. Hopefully, these targeted acts of advocacy will have fruitful results and libraries, librarians and cataloguers in particular will continue to contribute much to the quality of life in our society.

Thing 15 - seminars, conferences and other events

Ok, I have to put my hand up and say that I really don't like attending events! As the cpd23 post rightly suggests one of the main benefits of attending any kind of event, apart from the learning element, is the networking opportunities that are handed to you on a plate. I don't have a problem with the learning (although, hand up again, I do scribble away in my notebook, but mostly because my memory is just not what it used to be!) but I do struggle with the networking, being the shy, retiring type. That aside, however ...

Until recently I just haven't had time to go out and about. I work part-time and had a huge cataloguing backlog to contend with; hence, any time spent away from the office left me feeling guilty, and with loads of work to catch up with on return. So, I could reel off my attendances at events ever so easily - CIG annual conference 2000, Umbrella 2001, followed by one or two odd things, before more recently CIG annual conference 2010, CILIP Executive Briefing on RDA, April 2011, CILIP Executive Briefing on Dewey, September 2011 and CIG Re-classification event, September 2011. Hmmmm, looks like I'm getting out a bit more now; still working part-time, but the backlog has reduced to a more manageable amount! Also, Twitter has opened up doors, and helped me make those initial introductions to fellow professionals who share my interests in cataloguing.

The only events I've ever presented at are those that have been held internally - things like training sessions, exchange of experience sessions and other miscellaneous events like the mashdmu sessions. I always thought, being a bit shy, that I'd hate presenting, but actually, it's fine; I hope those listening enjoyed too!

I've never organised an event of any substance. Again, my experience is limited to in-house things, which have simply involved booking a room, booking refreshments and inviting people along. At this stage in my career I don't think I want to get bogged down in organising; I think my skills are better used in other areas.

Thing 16 beckons ...

Monday, 3 October 2011

Thing 14 - Zotero, Mendeley and citeulike

For this "challenge" I thought I'd have a look around something that doesn't require me to download anything or use an internet browser other than Explorer: That narrows it down a bit! citeulike it is then!

I work in a university library where we use Endnote, and, although I admit to having heard of these other services, I've never felt particularly inclined to investigate - and no-one has ever asked me while I've been on the enquiry desk how to use them! One of my colleagues has been recommending citeulike for quite a number of years, so I thought it was about time I sussed it out.

I was pleased to find that no downloading was required and once I'd registered I was straight into the site. A little bit of investigative work, and I was able to do a search for RDA (once a cataloguer, always a cataloguer!) and to exclude articles that were about the "recommended daily allowance"! This search yielded over 200 references, many of which looked as though they would be essential reading! However, I had a tendency to forget that citeulike is a way of automatically referencing material, and not a database of full-text articles! So, I really came away feeling like a child in a sweet shop without any money; lots of tasty morsels to devour, but no way of getting at them!

Still, this was a useful discovery session and has given me the push that I needed to go out and find some useful stuff in my areas of interest; whether or not I'll actually follow through and access them though remains to be seen. If I want to finish cpd23, I may well have to wait a while and come back later when I have more time.

Onto thing15 ...

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Thing13 – Google docs, wikis and dropbox

Thing13 – Google docs, wikis and dropbox

Well, I knew this one was going to be fun!

Yes, I have a Google account, but when I login to it it goes straight to my iGoogle page, so looking for Google docs was the first action! Having found it, I was amazed that there was something in there; I’m sure I didn’t put it there, but then, maybe I did, unwittingly! There seems to be a lot of this unwittingly-ness about! However, I have discovered since I posted about thing9 that I did actually create an Evernote account on 4th Feb 2011, so that explains why it was so easy to log in to it!

And it gets even more weird! When I click on the Share link as suggested in thing13, I get a list of people I don’t know (but maybe I should?) Of course, the other contacts it suggests are people I have emailed using my Google email account (which isn’t my professional email!), so I get that bit!

Question is, why would I want to share things with people I don’t know? From a work point of view, I can get at my work files using netstorage so I don’t need to carry them home on Google docs, or I can email them to myself, or I can bring them home on a stick. I suppose, in reality, I don’t really share much of this type of work with colleagues, and when I do we usually email each other, or work on a document via our shared drive. So, I haven’t really got to grips with Google docs, but I can see how it could be useful for sharing documents across institutions.

Wikis? Well, that’s more up my street as I am quite familiar with using wikis. When I first started the cataloguers’ wiki in July 2007, I looked at and tried lots of wiki software that was around at the time and plumped for wikispaces because it seemed to me to be the easiest to use. Since then I have created a wiki imaginatively called the 67things wiki (to help our library staff update their IT skills) and one called tromboneknowhow which simply links to youtube performances of trombone exam pieces.

Dropbox is new to me – well, I think it is, but you know how forgetful I am, it’s quite possible that I have looked at it before but forgotten about it in the meantime! Oh dear, my Norton security did not like dropbox and I couldn’t get past the administrator login on the home pc!

Ah well, back to the drawing board!

Thing 12 - Putting the social into social media

Thing 12 suggests we add another contact to our social media circle, but I'm not going to do that without careful consideration. I've blogged about my use of social media before, especially Twitter, and the difficulties of following hundreds or thousands of folk, like some people do. I just haven't got the time. Ok, I know there are ways of organising followers, like creating lists etc. but again, I'd have to find tiem to allocate people to lists, and then remember which lists they were in and which lists to check regularly etc.. It's all too overwhelming!

I do agree, however, that social networks have connected me to people I would otherwise have had no contact with, and this has proved most useful from a professioanl point of view. One of the other advantages was mentioned in an earlier thing, that if you find face-to-face difficult, social networking can be a godsend! Also, it is sometimes easier to give a considered response on a social networking site as although these things are set up to be immediate communication, it is quite possible to spend a couple of minutes thinking before replying, after all, it's not always appropriate to post your imeediate, emotional response to something!

Enough on social networking!

Thing 11 - mentoring

Thing 11 - mentoring

This is a really difficult one for me to write about. Have I ever had a mentor? What exactly is the difference between a mentor and a role-model? Is a mentor a necessity? A professional mentor? An informal mentor? A life mentor?

One of the definitions of a mentor that I like is: "a wise and trusted counselor or teacher", and now, having also looked up the meaning of role model "a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people", I can see that I had an informal mentor, but a number of professional role models.

It appears that my informal mentor was also my life coach: "a person who advises clients on how to solve their problems and reach their goals in life", although I was a personal friend, not a client! This was the person who advised me to read "I'm ok, you're ok" and "Games people play" amongst other books, talked to me about any problems I was having, whether they were work or personal, offered advice when needed and was generally always at the end of the 'phone, for the good times and the bad! Sadly, this friend died young in 1998; like the writer of thing 11, I often find myself thinking "what would this person have done or advised me to do" when I have issues and decisions to make.

Role models in the world of librarianship really came from the early days of my career. I mentioned the Site Librarian at Gwent College of Higher Education in my earlier post on thing 10; she was such a wonderful lady, and a good librarian too. Another role model was the District Librarian at Kettering district public libraries. Again, a lovely person and a great librarian. When you are setting out on a career, these early role models can be quite influential, and I hope I have somehow absorbed at least some of the qualities that made them worthy as role models.

As for being a mentor myself; I have never knowingly been one, and can't imagine that I have much to offer someone who is just starting out on a career in librarianship. At my stage of life I am probably a bit too jaded, a bit too set in my ways, and maybe a bit too cynical to be of much use to anyone!

Hmm, this has been a sad blog to write, so I am moving swiftly on to thing 12!

Thing 10 - Routes to librarianship

I've previously blogged about my routes to librarianship for the library routes project so I won't repeat myself here. I will expand a little though.

I did the undergratuate course in Library Studies way back in 1978. In those days you didn't need practical experience to do the course, but two periods of work experience were a compulsory part of the summer holidays! I spent a wonderful 6 weeks working at Harrogate Public Library, with some very nice folk, and was able to put into practise a lot side of things which I had learned about at uni. I was fortunate enough to be taken to the headquarters at Northallerton, spent some time in a branch library, went on the mobile and spent a couple of days in York library.

During the second summer vacation I spent 6 weeks working at what was then South Gwent College of Education. 5 of the weeks were based at what was the teacher training college in Caerleon and I was involved in classifying the collection of posters, drawings and other teaching material they had. I also spent one week at the Newport (Allt-yr-yn) where I worked closely with an inspiration librarian (whose husband was the County Librarian for Gwent) who had had 4 children and then when they were grown up had done the two year librarianship course.

Each period of work experience was a vital part of my education, and I was lucky enough to work in different sectors, which gave me a broad range of experience, and I'm sure helped me to achieve the university result I ended up with.

As for CILIP, well, I joined the Library Association as it was then, in my first year at university and have been a member ever since. I am a strong believer in the value of chartership, so I am a bit worried that in thing 10 we are told that only "Some professional posts require their applicants to be chartered". In our place, chartership is essential to all our professional posts ata certain level - and I believe that is the way it should be.

About 18 months ago I looked into the possibility of pursuing re-validation. I would still really love to do this, but am finding the demands on my time are so great at the moment that I haven't got enough time to do it properly. Maybe in the next 18 months. In the meantime ...

on to thing 11!

Thing 9 - Evernote

Thing 9 - Evernote

Scary, scary, scary! I didn’t think I’d be able to download Evernote; at work it’s very difficult, and at home I don’t have administrator priviledges, but, it did download!! What was more spooky was that the username I wanted to have was already taken, so I tried logging in using it and a specific password and it let me in!! Am I using someone else’s account, or have I played with Evernote before, that’s the question??!!

Well, I’m in and raring to go! Golly, this looks soooo complicated! Gosh, have added a link to a BBC news page – just to try it out. Tried sharing the link via facebook, but I don’t think that worked! Ah, now trying something else, and Evernote has crashed on me! Hmm, managed to get Evernote back (and my links are still there) but it looks a bit different. Really don’t like the typeface.

Now trying to add a picture from my flickr account, but not having any luck. Given up on that. Now, where do I find out how to send myself an email? Back to the main Evernote page, clicking on learn more, found knowledge base, clicked on find answers, then on email. No help there! Tried clicking on account settings. Ah, there it tells me what my Evernote email address is! Hey, I’ve just forwarded an email from my work account to Evernote! Ok, that’s quite good!

Can’t quite work out how to get back to my notes page, so clicked on the login, and it took me directly there. Now clicking on help which takes me to various options including the knowledge base, where topics are laid out much better in the previous help pages I found.

I have now been sitting here for about an hour, but am not yet convinced that using Evernote is going to help me in my work. True, I use one computer at work, and a computer and a laptop at home, but if I want to share interesting websites with myself there are other services that do this. If I want to update documents at home that I’ve created at work, I can use the software that work use specifically for this purpose. If I want to remember emails, I can just look at my email. And as for photos, well, I’ve not managed to put those into Evernote so I’m not sure that is useful either.

Is there someone out there who can convince me to preserve?

No? Then it’s on to thing10!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Thing 8 - Google calendar

Thing 8 – Google calendar

I have a little pink refillable diary that I carry around in my handbag. At home I have a little diary that I keep handy in the kitchen (we don’t party in the kitchen but lots of our conversations take place in there!) I have a wall calendar next to the phone in my hall.

At work I have an A5 diary in which I keep a note of various things. I have a small spiral bound pictorial fold out calendar on my desk (always Cornwall!). I have a pink A4 card calendar of dates stuck on the wall above my desk. We have an A4 team diary in which we record annual leave, courses, training sessions etc.. I have my boss’s work calendar on my Outlook email.

In February 2008 I felt overwhelmed with the number of dates I was trying to remember from all my different diaries, so I registered with an online calendar – airset. In the early days I was really organised and had different coloured highlighting for different types of activities and for the children’s activities, but lately that has slipped a bit. I can share my airset calendar with anyone I wish; I can create a shared login, I can email a day, a month, a year or the whole thing to any email address, and I can export it to anywhere (and, equally, I can import to it from anywhere).

I am obsessed with not forgetting anything!

I don’t think I need to investigate yet another calendar!

Moving swiftly on to Thing 9!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

cpd23 - things6 and 7!

Cpd23 – Thing 6 – Online networks

For a very long time I made a point of avoiding using social networking sites! Ok, so I joined friendsreunited in the very early days, and used it to contact school friends with whom I had lost touch, and later joined other sites for specific reasons. For example, I reluctantly joined facebook when my son’s school was under threat of being closed, with a view to joining the group, but when I investigated the group, I didn’t quite get the “like” idea, so never really took part. What I have used facebook for is keeping in touch with relatives who live far away, and friends I don’t see very often. Only in more recent months have I “liked” professional groups, preferring to keep facebook for the personal!

Before joining Twitter I was used to using Yammer, a microblogging site that was devoted to a specific institution, and I found this quite helpful in my work life. I then joined Twitter because I ran a “new technologies day” for my team members at which I and a few other staff talked about what was happening out there on the internet that might be of use to us as professionals. A colleague was very keen on Twitter, extolling its virtues for answering queries, so I joined to see what it was all about. I admit to having blown hot and cold about it, but now that I have “new” Twitter I can now see Tweets from people I don’t follow etc. without having to subscribe to some other service, so I’m feeling a bit more confident about its use.

I joined LinkedIn for similar reasons as I joined Twitter – to see what all the fuss was about! I am always afraid of having too many contacts on these types of websites, afraid that I will spend all my time on them rather than on meeting up with people in real life, or doing some real life work! In reality my LinkedIn activity is centred around friends! Lately, I have joined some of the groups (again, keeping them to a minimum) and found some of the discussions taking place within those groups quite useful – and I’ve even contributed to some!

Thing6 has alerted me to other networks that I have been vaguely aware of, but I am reluctant to join any more; I only work part-time and I have found myself doing more and more at home in order to keep up with all the information I’ve been extracting from Twitter etc., so I am in danger of collapsing under the weight of it all. I must keep a sense of perspective though; I’ve managed to do my job perfectly well over the last 24 years without much recourse to online networks, but I appreciate that the world is changing and I have to keep up - somehow!

Cpd23 – Thing 7 – face-to-face networks and professional organisations

I have been a member of CILIP (formerly the Library Association) since 1979. The reason I joined (when I was a student) was because without being a member it was not possible to get a professional job in a library! Over the years I have been a member of various CILIP special interest groups, but have not really made the most of my subscription, not having been to many events. Lots of reasons for this, mainly based on the fact that I work part-time and have difficulty enough fitting in all my work. I’ve never been on a committee, nor contributed anything to the groups really. This is partly because of my lack of confidence; this is something that I find difficult to deal with. I have always paid the subscription to CILIP myself and have never claimed the tax back.

When I worked for a pharmaceutical company, I was a member of AIOPI (Association of Information Officers in the Pharmaceutical Industry). This was a great association that cost very little to join and held some really useful training sessions.

Thing7 refers to Jo Alcock’s blog post on networking for introverts. I had already found and read this post with great interest, being an introvert myself (although I did puzzle over the idea that introverts think to talk (yes, I do a lot of that) and that extroverts talk to think (yes, I do a lot of this too, but it’s usually to myself or to someone I would describe as a “safe person” so does this count?!)).

Another thing that resonated with me was the idea that as an introvert I am much happier to lead a discussion in my team than I am to participate in one! I also don’t have a problem standing in front of a group presenting on something I know about (not that I have had occasion to do that much lately!)

A few years ago I read a very helpful book, “How to talk to anyone: 92 little tricks for big success in relationships” by Leil Lowndes. A bit of fun really but some interesting techniques for making socialising a bit easier and a more positive experience. I’ve never read Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people”, but this appears to have influenced Leil; perhaps I should.

Right! That's things 6 and 7 tackled: Thing 8 - here I come!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Thing 5 – reflective practice

Thing 5 – reflective practice

It’s at this time of year that I always have to indulge in a period of reflection: I’ve recently had my annual staff development review, so reflection is on my mind at the moment. I’ve discovered that although what I write is almost entirely dependent upon my mood at the time, the only sure thing is it will be always be negative! That’s just me! Lacking in confidence, a pessimist, whilst at the same time being ambitious and a perfectionist!

Over the last year there have been a number of catalysts to me arriving at a point where I thought I could undertake the cpd23. Going to the CIG conference in September 2010 made me realise there were other people out there who were experiencing the same problems, issues and successes as I was, was one of them. Linking with other cataloguers on Twitter was another. The CILIP Executive Briefing on RDA was another confidence-boosting session, as well as being an avenue for discovering more about RDA. All this whilst in the background our new VC was encouraging us to be a little more vocal about our achievements; ok so he was really talking about the academics, but why not the service areas too? After all, our library achieved high results in the student experience survey so we must have been doing something right, and we needed to recognise what these things were so we could expand on them.

And then there’s my blog. Originally I started a professional blog but really felt I had nothing to say that would be of any interest to anyone else, but having networked with cataloguers and seen what people were grappling with, I thought I had one or two areas of experience that might be useful to other cataloguers, so I started to blog more regularly. I also contributed a couple of articles to the high visibility blog, started up by Celine and Venessa.

My reasons for taking part in the cpd23 programme were really to see if there were other things out there on the web, or other practices that I could use to help me with my day-to-day work. So far, this has proved to be true and I’ve incorporated RSS feeds into my iGoogle page, considered my online identity, found loads of cataloguers out there to network with – and decided that I need to devote at least 2 hours a week to the process in order to do it justice and get as much as possible from it!!

I've also looked into just what exactly reflective practice is and found a brilliant site (amongst the many) which explains it to me really well. Hopefully, I shall continue to refect upon my learning and apply it to my "day" job for a long time to come.

Ok, now to Thing 6 – bring it on!

Thing 4 – Twitter, RSS feeds, Pushnote

Thing 4 – Twitter, RSS feeds, Pushnote

I know, I’m miles behind on my cpd23!

Luckily for me I’ve been registered on Twitter, and have used it for about a year now, so I can put my hand on my heart and say I’ve reflected on that one (see my earlier blog post).

I can also put my hand on my heart and say that I’ve previously tried RSS feeds, but not found them easy to use! Reading through thing4 made the use of RSS feeds sound easy, and more useful than I had previously realised, so I gave it a go! I’m not sure how I did it, but initially I managed to get the cpd23 feed onto my browser bar, so it’s there permanently, although unintentionally! So far so good, now to follow the actual instructions and get it onto my Google account. Oh, seems like I have somehow managed to get other feeds onto my Google Reader page – which is a bit odd as I have never knowingly used Google Reader! Ah, now, on closer inspection they seem to be blogs that I have subscribed to, probably blogger ones, and certainly ones from other cpd23 participants! So that’s what happened when I subscribed; it actually turned them into an RSS feed and put them on my Google Reader, not send me an email like I thought it would!

Well, that’s something unfamiliar, so let’s try something I do use regularly – putting them into iGoogle! Yeah! It worked! I now have a page of RSS feeds in my iGoogle which I will find useful!! Now I’m off to see if blogs from other blogging software can also be RSS fed into iGoogle.

In the meantime, I’m reading about pushnote. Hmmm, no, this is too tricky. I wouldn’t say my work computer is completely locked down, but it is really rather difficult to download stuff, without asking for help from an IT colleague – and that just isn’t on at the moment. Things are no easier at home either; I don’t have administrator rights, so I have to weigh up whether it’s more important that I encourage the OH to decorate the kitchen or download new bits of software for me! No contest really. If anyone out there thinks I’m really missing out on a trick by not having access to pushnote, do let me know and I’ll revise my thinking!

All in all, I am keen to get to grips with new technology and whizzy web developments, but I like to understand how these things will benefit me before I go through all the hassle of getting stuff onto my pc.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Cataloguers and wikipedia

Cataloguers and wikipedia? What is their relationship?

A colleague has just alerted me to a report from the Primary Research Group entitled: "Libraries and the Mega Internet Sites". An abstract of the report is available, but the report is essentially about how and why librarians use some of the big internet sites, like wikipedia, Google, YouTube, etc..

Personally, I haven’t got $89.50 to spare to buy a copy of this report, but in the Primary Research Group newsletter of 2 August 2011, there are a few juicy extracts from the report itself. Naturally, I gravitated to this one:

"Wikipedia was most popular among librarians working in technical services and cataloging; 71.43% of these librarians found it highly useful."

And found myself wondering why this should be the case! I came to the following conclusions, and I admit there are probably a hundred more reasons that I haven’t even considered:

1. Cataloguers who are classifying new bookstock often deal with subjects of which they may have little or no knowledge, and what better starting point than wikipedia, after all, it’s not as if we are writing essays to gain qualifications or that people are marking our work! The “facts” presented by wikipedia, if used in conjunction with the text in hand probably represent a fair interpretation of what the book is about and therefore leads to a relevant classification number being assigned. Usually. And besides, it'll always be found on OPAC, wherever we classify it!

2. One of the other reasons cataloguers are using wikipedia is in an attempt to provide users with greater and easier access to useful resources. Here, think using wikipedia for creating/controlling authority data . Here’s an example of a link to wikipedia in a German authority record (very bottom left of the screen). Have a look at allthingscatalogued for a more in-depth discussion on the German/Austrian approach. Mining the information held in wikipedia is also within the remit of a Tech Services department; have a look at the wikipedia miner site to see just what is possible, and then take a look at a blog post from a cataloguer who has just seen the light - do read the comments too, as they are most interesting! OCLC has also been doing work with wikipedia to include OCLC name authorities in wikipedia articles, see the wikipedia entry for Abraham Lincoln: Right at the bottom of the entry, the LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number) links to the LC authority heading for Abraham Lincoln. (dare I say this looks a little more aesthetically pleasing than the LC authority search results page?)

3. Cataloguers are also talking about mapping wikipedia articles to LCSH

Of course, one has to be careful when presented with isolated statistics:

Ok, wikipedia was most popular with Tech Services librarians and cataloguers at 71.43% , but maybe there was another group of librarians with whom its popularity was 71%? And how many other groups of librarians were there? Oh, one could go on and on, but at least it proves that Tech Services librarians and cataloguers are not the dinosaurs that they are often imagined to be! We do use the internet, the “big” sites, and are interested in mashups and providing our users with access to all sorts of useful resources.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

University open days

Over the last couple of weeks I have been lucky enough to accompany my daughter to five university open days. Ok, so that doesn't make me an expert in running an open day, but it has opened my eyes to what can be achieved by making potential students feel welcome, and what might put them off! Let's have a look at some of the things which really impressed me about the open days I've been to. Obviously, I'm not going to "name and shame" the institutions, just point you in the direction of what I think were the good things, and possibly what were the not so good things! In no particular order, these are thoughts just as they came to me!
  • Student Ambassadors - are vital to the sucess of the open day! Having lots of ambassadors is essential (as long as they are not huddled around together in groups!) as this proves that current students are interested in promoting the university, and by implication that the university is worth applying to. It also gives the prospective students someone to address with any queries they don't feel they can ask of staff! Dress the ambassadors in a prominent colour t-shirt and station them at strategic points: at the railway station, at the bus station, various points en-route to the university - no matter if it's a straight route from public transport to your university - and position them everywhere on campus or outside university buildings.
  • Put up clear signs from major routes into your town or city to help those who are driving in. Sat nav codes on your website are very handy, as are the obvious links to maps of the major routes, showing where your university is situated.
  • Ample route and building signs on your campus are also a must, and work well in conjunction with your student ambassadors. These are also a must if your permanent signage is not too hot - you may well know your way around but a prospective student is unlikely to and may waste valuable time trying to find a specific location.
  • Plenty of pre-open day information is more than useful! Email the prospective student to make them feel welcome, even if all you're doing is sending them links to open day information on your website.
  • Provide a coherent set of welcome and informational lectures: cover student finance, UCAS admission procedures, student accommodation, student life, student careers & support. Even if a prospective student has heard the finance situation from a previous visit, others will not have done, so you are never going to be presenting to a small, disinterested audience!
  • Ensure, as far as possible, that the subject-specific lectures cover all the ground a prospective student is likely to want to know: admission criteria, course outline, amount of contact time, assessment methods, module choices, what your usp is, etc.. Also, if at all possible have said lecture presented by your most charismatic, engaging member of staff, whether that be the head of department, a lecturer, or a junior researcher; there's nothing like a lecture delivered with a bit of passion to sway a propective student's opinion!
  • Make sure that the general lectures are repeated throughout the day.
  • Be sure to co-ordinate across the university so that lectures are scheduled at such times to give people enough time to move between buildings.
  • Ensure that you provide big enough lecture rooms to accommodate all the people who want to attend the lecture! There's nothing more disheartening than having closely planned your day to be told that the particular lecture you've scheduled into your limited timetable, and turned up for is full!
  • If at all possible, open up some of your other buildings! Most open day visits seem to be centred around one or two buildings which doesn't give prospective students much of insight into your university. A good one is to open the subject staff common rooms, where staff can be on hand to answer questions, displays of current work can be exhibited and refreshments provided.
  • If something unexpected should happen (for example the fire bell rings) do try and let people know what's happening, especially if you are going to pick up the talks where you left off or if you are going to continue with the scheduled events at the scheduled times.
  • Where possible provide tours to and of the university accommodation; open up a few rooms if possible so the youngsters get a feel for what it might be like to live in uni halls.
  • Another great idea is to offer campus tours, even if you you don't offer to actually go into buildings, it's still good for people to be aware of how big/hilly/old/new etc. your campus is.
  • Make sure your library offers tours to prospective students!
  • Have a central exhibition area where all departments and services can display their wares and answer questions.
  • Clearly identify all your eating establishments; many people have travelled a long way to get to you and need to eat and drink!
  • Have your bookshop open and giving a discount to any purchases made on the open day!
  • Get subject staff to provide prospective students with a booklist! The avid readers will love that!

If you have any other great ideas for open day visits, or any bugbears, do leave a comment in the comments box.

Thanks for reading!

Personal brand

Oh dear, I'm still thinking about cpd23 part 2 and haven't got round to looking into part 3 yet!

It's taken me until now to consider the title of my blog, and what effect that might have on people scanning a list of blog titles. Understandably, I would read it and say "Yay! That's right up my street!" but I'm sure a lot of people - librarians and information professionals included - will zip past it, either for being as boring as anything or not relevant to their area of the profession.

And I suppose they are right! I chose the name because it had a nice sing-songy rhythm to it - blogg-ing cat-a-logu-ing! However, if I want to write refelctively about aspects of my work and profession that aren't strictly to do with cataloguing, then I probably won't have many readers!

So, for anyone out there who might be reading this, my next posting is not going to be about cataloguing - so spread the word if you know anyone who might be interested in reading about university open days!

Monday, 27 June 2011

My personal brand

I have always been a bit of a wimp when it comes to divulging personal information on the internet. It took me a very long time to trust the internet enough to buy things online (and my purchases are still rather limited) and I have never gone in for internet banking. So, when I decided to create a wiki and a blog, way back in July 2007, I was determined to remain as anonymous as I possibly could.

Choosing a username can get very confusing for one so innocent of the ways of technology. Sometimes sites require your username to be your email address (now, which to use, work or personal?) and sometimes they request a unique username. Chances are, the one you want to use has been taken, so you start adding numbers to the end, or the site does it for you! Then comes the tricky issue of the password; do you use the one you always do, oh, no, can't do that it's not long enough or secure enough etc..

That is how I ended up with the name most people will now associate with me - by trying to be clever and not give away my real name so no-one could steal my identity! How naive! Anyway, you'd be right to say that Jerome was the patron saint of libraries, (and now also refers to a specific library research programme) but that's not why I chose the name. It had more to do with the photographer of one of my favourite photographs, the name of the author of my favourite book, and a couple of sentimental initials. What impression this creates for anyone who reads my stuff, I have no idea. It's a bit like trying to interpret a poem, a work of art or a piece of music; the artist knew what they meant, but that doesn't mean to say it will be interpreted in the way it was intended. But it seemed like a good idea at the time! Of course, I actually didn't want to use exactly the same name for all my web 2.0 sites (to avoid that identity fraud again!) - or was it just that some names were already taken so I ended up with a variation on a theme?

On the subject of photographs, I remember the uproar there was when a photograph of each member of our library staff was digitised and uploaded to the VLE for all our library staff to see - that's all our library staff, not all our insitution's staff, nor all the people in the world - a secure service for which we had to log on. People (and I include myself in that) were worried their pictures would be stolen and edited and implicated in all sorts of crimes. So, I chose a fairly innocuous photograph to upload as my picture on the blog and the wiki, which was also partly determined by lack of expertise with digital photos! This picture has stuck with me on all the sites I've joined, and like Tina has said in her blog on personal brand, I'm reluctant to change this as this picture is probably easily recognised as me by my select group of followers! The added advantage is the air of mystery it creates! Imagine going to a CILIP Executive Briefing on RDA having primed your new Twitter friend (in this case Celine Carty) with the words: "I'll be the one carrying the bar of Toblerone"!

Thanks to a couple of things (not least reaching the grand old age of 50 and wondering why I have a tendency to hide in the basement) and a couple of people (not least our new VC for encouraging all staff to shout about what they are doing, and Celine for being so encouraging when my confidence has waned), I have, however, decided to raise my head above the parapet (yes, I know this is the name of one of the bloggers registered for cpd23 too) and blog about my profession as a cataloguer. This has led to opportunities for me that I would never have thought possible, but my real name has now become attached to my web 2.0 identity.

Interestingly, I "attended" a lecture given by Dr Claire Warwick at UCL entitled: "Great 2 meet u :-) Twitter and digital identity" which talks about why people choose the pictures they do etc.. Well worth the listen.

Last week I discovered that Google search results are based on searches that you have previously made and it is most opportune that Phil Bradley has today tweeted a way round this! So, the following searches produced the following results:

  • Searching Google on IE and Firefox for Lynne Dyer resulted in 5,700,000 results of which my Twitter account was the 7th result
  • Searching Google on IE for "Lynne Dyer" resulted in 5,230 results of which my Twitter account was the 5th result
  • Searching Google on Firefox for "Lynne Dyer" resulted in 5,230 results of which my Twitter account was the 3rd result
  • Searching Google on IE and Firefox for "Lynne Dyer" &pws=0 brought back 4 results - none of which were me!
I would conclude from that that I am still pretty well hidden!

Anyway. good luck to all you cpd23 - ers out there!

Monday, 20 June 2011

It's time for - cpd23

So, it's Monday 20th June 2011, and today sees the start of the online "training" cpd23!

It's fantastic to see so many people registered and interested in personal development.

In my opinion, cpd is genereally work-related, and is the way forward when looking towards promotion, but it's not just about collecting paper certificates! To get the most benefit from any cpd activity one must learn from it, take something away from it and apply it to one's own situation.

For me, though, cpd has been about widening my horizons generally, and learning about things that interest me, not just things that are relevant to my work. This blog post isn't intended to be a self-promotion, but some of the things I have learned over the years, including gaining a first certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (basic knowledge about wine, wine production etc.), a diploma in feng shui, and an NVQ3 in Interior Design, none of which helped me one jot in my work, but have certainly kept my brain active, and my interests varied!

Today, however, we all use the web for a variety of reasons, whether they be for work, or play, and this cpd event represents for me a kind of cross-over between work and personal learning. I want to learn how to use the technologies that web 2.0 offers (like blogs, wikis, shared services like calendars, and social websites like Twitter and Facebook) as these things are useful for my work and also useful for my personal life.

The cpd23 programme looks as though it is going to give me some ideas on services to use and how I could use them, as well as, hopefully, connecting me with a group of like-minded folk.

This week, it's about creating and using a blog. I admit that when I first came across blogs I tried several (blogger, wordpress, posterous, tumblr), and evaluated them against certain criteria, before deciding which to use in earnest. I am hoping to learn a bit more about how to use blogs, especially things like how often to update (too often and I won't have time to delve too deeply into a subject and I won't give my readers (hellooooo - is there anyone out there reading this?!) time to digest what I've said), how to keep it relevant, and how to make sure I'm reaching those people that I think might be interested in what I have to say!

Anyway, time to get on with it! Good luck to everyone!


Saturday, 18 June 2011

Blog post on hvcats!

This month instead of putting a blog post on my own site I have contributed to the blog over at hvcats.

It would be naive of us to think that all librarians and library colleagues know what goes on in a technical services / cataloguing / acquisitions department, so over at hvcats I have suggested a brilliant way to increase our visibility by showing people what we do!

Pop over to hvcats and read about one way of organising open days to raise awareness of what you do. You don't specifically have to be a cataloguer to offer an open day to other staff; open days can work for any team wishing to showcase their talents to their colleagues!

Don't forget to browse through earlier posts too: there's some really good stuff over there! Where was that again? Over at hvcats!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Cataloguing across sites

At one time I worked in an institution that had about five distinct sites at various locations throughout the UK. Each site was responsible for its own resource acquisition, and four were responsible for all their own cataloguing and classification, whilst the fifth only catalogued and classified off-air recordings. It was obvious from early on that some kind of co-operation was desirable, if we were to produce good quality cataloguing, since all the bib records were visible on the same OPAC.


As a bit of background, three institutions joined with the largest of the institutions, while two were set up by the largest of the institutions. One of the joining institutions used the same LMS provider, so merging the two catalogues was quite easy, compared to the other two institutions who used a different LMS provider, so their bib records had to be converted and merged into the other LMS.

As for classification schemes, three of the libraries used Dewey, one used National Library of Medicine and, I regret to say, I can't remember what the other used, but I have a vague recollection it might have been BLISS.

Bringing it all together

In order to achieve some kind of cohesive system, a cross-site cataloguing group was formed, whose constitution included representatives from the cataloguing departments of each of the five sites, supplemented by representatives from other areas from the largest institution who were responsible for off-air recordings. This group met about once every term, to discuss standards, specific issues, etc., and to exchange experience.

Early decisions

Important decisions to be made from the outset included:

  1. Agreeing a minimum standard for bib records. The LMS supplier provided a cataloguing manual that outlined the minimum acceptable core bibliographic record, so this, in conjunction with the BIBCO standards, was used as a basis for discussion and an agreement was reached on what should be included in a basic record, and how a record could be enhanced.

  2. A consideration of the classification schemes in use, and the appropriateness if these. It was agreed that given one of the sites was specifically a nursing library, that NLM was the most appropriate classification scheme to be used at this site, although this did cause some confusion and clashes in the OPAC when copies of titles were held at any of the other libraries too. This was never satisfactorily ironed out, but at least it was possible to limit the OPAC search to just one site. The other site that wasn't using Dewey agreed to re-classify their stock and use the latest edition of Dewey. This proved interesting: the Phoenix schedule in that particular edition of Dewey hadn't yet been used in the largest institution, so when the time came to re-classify at the largest institution, class numbers for titles hald at both libraries could be taken from the re-classified copy at the smaller, specialist institution. There was also some conflict in the use of the Dewey schedules in the libraries that already used Dewey, for example, one used Option A for Law, whie the other used Option B; one library classified primary education in the education section, while the other classified it with the subject, using standard subdivisions. It was agreed that since the usage of the libraries was so different and the users' needs so different, that these adoptions of the classification scheme would continue.

  3. Training needs of staff. Immediate training needs included training in the use of the LMS for staff in those libraries that were using a different system prior to the mergers; familiarisation sessions with the Dewey schedules for those library staff who would be re-classifying; and cataloguing training for those library staff who were new to cataloguing.

The termly meetings

Each meeting of the group was held at a different site, which enabled staff from the various libraries to meet staff doing similar jobs, giving them a face to a name and thus encouraged them to network. It was also useful to see the different acquisition and cataloguing / classification processes in action. This proved to be an eye-opener, especially for those working at the larger sites where the processes were split into small component parts, of which they did one bit, and for those working in the smaller where one person was involved in many of the steps in the process. It also helped to streamline processes, as staff were able to comment on and discuss the way things were done, and come up with improvements.

The format of the mettings followed that of any normal staff meeting, with issued raised, questions answered and information sought. Following the meeting there was often an exchange of experience session, concentrating on an agreed topic of interest. These included, amongst other things:

  • video / off-air recordings cataloguing

  • conference cataloguing

  • use of series tracings (440, 490, 840 in those days)

  • authority control work

  • cataloguing of missing pages / offprint collections

  • art exhibition cataloguing

  • foreign language cataloguing

Whenever possible, these sessions were led by cataloguers involved in such work, rather than by the Chair of the group, and the sessions usually generated lively discussion.

Supplementary systems

In order to help members of the group communicate between meetings, an email group was set up (in the early days we used the predecessor of Yahoo groups) specifically for members of the cross-site cataloguing group. This ensured that all members of the group could be involved in the "conversations". There was also a shared files facility which was used by the group for uploading and storing agendas and minutes of the meetings and filing and retrieving training material, policy documents and other documentation produced in support of the group, for example the statement of minimum standards for bib records, notes from the exchange of experience sessions and any other useful information. The email group and the accompanying shared files were restriced to use only by members of the group, thus ensuring a degree of security and privacy.


Managing a geographically dispersed cataloguing operation could have proved difficult, but the co-operation between the library staff and the support from management of cross-site working, together with advances in technology meant that the system used was quite harmonious.

Apologies for the peculiar line spacings: I cannot get Blogger to do what I want today.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Why meetings?

Do meetings have a value?

Someone recently raised the question of meetings; why do we have them, why do we have so many, could a meeting be avoided by using some other method of communication – and so the list goes on! Made me feel a bit guilty having a meeting for the cataloguers whilst this concern was still live – although thankfully the issue wasn’t raised by the cataloguers themselves.

Our team of cataloguers is quite small and so we don’t find it at all difficult to discuss things with each other as and when we need to, as and when issues or concerns, problems or queries actually crop up, so you would be right to ask why we have meetings. The cataloguers work a variety of days / hours so it’s not always possible for every cataloguer to liaise closely with every other cataloguer so it is a legitimate way of catching up with what each of us is doing, especially when we have a variety of projects on the go, and when change is in the air.

We try and have a meeting about once a term and for each meeting we produce an agenda and a set of notes / action points. This ensures that we don’t wander form the point and therefore don’t spend more time than necessary away from the work of cataloguing.

I think the person who raised the question about the value of meetings may not have thought through just what exactly is the purpose of meetings. Sometimes meetings are to inform staff of where we are, other meetings are set up to discuss a specific issue and either make decisions or recommendations, whilst others are for getting a specific group of people together to talk about issues – to name but a few reasons for meetings.

The real value of meetings though is determined by what people get out of them, and this is often directly related to what they put in! Sitting in the corner quietly muttering about this meeting being a waste of yours and everyone else’s time ensures that it really will be a waste of time as you are not engaged in the what's going on. If you talk to your paper on a specific topic you can easily generate conversation and discussion by the meeting attendees and thereby take away with you a lot from the meeting.

Coincidentally, around about this time, Andy posted on the World Needs More Badass Librarians blog about the Five laws of library staff meetings: sticking to these should ensure that your meetings are worth the time spent on them! Brilliant stuff, the five laws being:

1. Ensuring that Meetings are for use(ful purposes)
2. Every staff member, the right meetings
3. Every meeting, the right staff members
4. Save the time of the attendee
5. The meeting is a growing organization

I would add to this the benefit of face-to-face communication which can often save time compared to protracted, often misunderstood email communication.

Of course, I suppose one could apply the same criteria to the value of external meetings / training sessions / briefing sessions etc. stressing the added bonus of a wonderful opportunity to network with a different group of people who will lead you to new ideas, new ways of thinking and new ways of developing. Invaluable.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

RDA overdrive!

These last couple of weeks seem to have been all about RDA!

Firstly, I accidentally came across the RDA listserv and joined up! This has been quite a revelation to me - the depth of feeling for and against RDA, and the volume of conversation that is taking place about RDA! I haven't been able to keep up with all the emails, but at least I know they are available now.

Then came the CILIP Executive Briefing on RDA held, last week at CILIP headquarters. Not sure that I'm allowed to say much about what was reported at that meeting as there is to be a discrete website for attendees, which will go into the full detail. So, as a taster for anyone who might be interested, here is the programme. For me it was a very worthwhile session to attend as it gave me an update on where we are with RDA, some useful pointers as to where we might end up, and a chance to see what others were doing in the field of RDA. I cannot remember the last time I went to anything at CILIP HQ but as a venue I thought it was excellent, and the lunch was extremely good. This was also a good opportunity to catch up with librarians who were interested in the same areas as me, and to meet some of my new Twitter friends as well as folk I'd previously met at the CIG conference etc..

At the beginning of this week the CIG held its first e-forum - on RDA! Two days of conversations around RDA - adoption, training, LMS supplier and book supplier positions were amongst some of the topics considered. As a discussion format this worked really well, as one was able to dip in and out over the two days, and either lurk or make a contribution.

Drawing from these three recent "events" I now have a better understanding of RDA and how to go about training the team to use recognise and use RDA, so thanks to everyone involved in any of the above things!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Using Twitter!

Ok, so I'm feeling a bit off at the moment! Travelled home for a week and weaned myself off using Twitter, but logged in momentarily today, just to see what I've missed. This got me to wonder why I'm so disgruntled. Read my thoughts about why to / why not to use Twitter!

Monday, 14 March 2011


Towards the middle/end of last week I “attended” the ALCTS-eforum on the follow-up to "2010: The Year of Catalogue Research". For those of us in the UK who might not be familiar with the organisation, the Association for for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) is a part of the American Library Association (ALA). On its website the ALCTS says it is

"the premier resource for information specialists in collection development, preservation, and technical services. [and is] the leader in the development of principles, standards, and best practices for creating, collecting, organizing, delivering, and preserving information resources in all forms."

So, having picked up notification of the e-forum via Twitter, I subscribed and waited for things to happen - and, goodness, did they happen! The invitation to subscribe put forward the purpose of the group as to look at some of the following issues around catalogue research:

"How important is cataloging and classification research to your everyday technical services decision-making? Do you find the library literature useful in informing your policies and procedures? Are you producing statistical studies that might help others in the field? How do you disseminate your results? Do you find reviews of the literature helpful? Do you have suggestions for future directions in cataloging research? Is it time to develop formal dissemination forums for metadata research that are separate from MARC cataloging?"

This was followed by an introductory message suggesting that anyone contributing introduce themselves, and describe how they keep up-to-date, any suggestions for best practice, and what research they might be doing in the field of cataloguing.

As you might imagine, there were a variety of library staff contributing to the forum, all reporting many and varied ways of keeping up-to-date, including using RSS feeds, iGoogle, single blogs (like planet cataloguing), wikis, Twitter, some really whizzy personally created sites and a whole range of other things! There was interesting discussion around the value of differing information resources - the web 2.0-type resources compared to the traditional published journal resources.

Another area of discussion was the interest in research into cataloguing. Several suggestions came up, including the use of user tagging compared to the use of controlled vocabulary (like LCSH), and investigating catalogue usage statistics to inform bibliographic record creation.

It was also suggested that the community involved in the discussions seemed to be falling into three distinct camps: RDF / linked data; xml / metadata / digital; MARC / AACR cataloguing. There was concern that there was overlap in the areas of work, but that there perhaps wasn't enough communication and cross-pollination between the groups.

Discussion also focussed on the education of new information professionals and the sometimes woeful amount of time allocated to cover the whole area of cataloguing / metadata etc..

Overall, the e-forum proved to be an interesting sounding board for many thoughts and ideas, a few of which are mentioned above. The ALCTS will be producing a summary of the discussions so it you have an interest in this area, do check their website regularly for this report.

Apologies if this report sounds a bit disjointed: For some reason or other my original post got lost in the ether so I did a re-write - and these just never seem to be as coherent as the originals!


Monday, 7 March 2011

Helping the team keep up with new technology

As promised, here is a description of how I have tried to introduce members of my team to what web 2.0 services (like blogs, wikis, social networking sites, as well as other things like new generation OPACs etc.) can do for them in a work context. Although this took place about 18 months ago, I think the article is still relevant today and I hope you find something useful in this.

Friday, 4 March 2011

To Twitter or to Yammer, that is the question

To Twitter or to Yammer, that is the question!

If you think that only birds twitter, that flicker is something your lightbulbs do in a thunderstorm, and you've never seen anyone use a sweet potato as a hammer, or if, like Microsoft, you think that wiki is a misspelling of wake, or blog of bog, or if you think word press presses words like a flower press presses flowers, or tic toc is the sound of your grandfather clock, and you don't know your wet paint from your peanut butter, then come along to our informative, illuminating and enlightening session ...
This was the billing for a staff development session on using web 2.0 services in our everyday library work. Check back on Monday for the full report!