Monday, 14 November 2011

The end of the 23 Things

the 23 Things for professional development is formally over now. Throught reading other blogs I have pretty much stayed up to date and have enjoyed learning about web based applications such as prezi, evernote, and still want to explore 'remember the milk'.

I have also completed (and passed) the ILM qualification I was working though, so am beginning to breathe a bit easier.

Work has been very busy - we have just recruited student shelvers, so I went through 90 applicants and interviewed 10 people in one afternoon. This fitted very well with thing 21 about writing applications which isn't always obvious or easy, particularly for students who are just beginning to learn about this particular skill. Several applicants asked for feedback so I was able to explain the process so that should help for the future.

Working so closely with the Exeter University students lead me to remembering by own student days. At one point I had 4 jobs to keep my debts to a minimum! Although some jobs I had as a student were not career related (such as waitressing, and selling double glazing!), I did a shelving job, and also volunteered at American Express. This was a valuable insight into the business world, and I spent a long time working with the files of information held there. Thing 22 recommends volunteering, and this was certainly beneficial in the early days to give my CV a bit more interest. However, 20 years (I can't believe it's been that long!) later, businesses are reluctant to take on volunteers - certainly I have not been permitted to use volunteers in the library even though there are several projects which would benefit from youthful energy, and the students would benefit having the experience. Perhaps it is a sign of the litigious time we live in and of higher expectations in terms of health and safety.

This blog will stay open, but I am not sure how often I will update it. I will continue to read widely from other bloggers in the field, and will continue to stay 'linked in'. Thank you to those people who structured the programme and made it easier to learn extended web applications and network.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

CPD 23 Things September

We are getting towards the end of the 'Things' now, and I have read masses since this all started. Am still not spending much time with Twitter, but enjoying reading blogs, and continue to sign up for more each week. I also subscribe to LISLINK, and have several emails from Linked In with threads I'm following. LISLINK is great to learn about events, courses and the like, and I'm keen to be a member of local groups, get out and network etc. However, the events seem to center around anywhere but Devon. Perhaps someone could give me a clue as to how else to find out about local events, preferable in the Exeter area.

Lately the blog reading has included learning about Prezi and the difference between Activists and Advocates. An internet search reveled no local groups for advocating or being a friend of our local public library. The children and I use the library regularly, and I can write reviews on the web praising the space and staff, but it all seems a bit limited. Even checking out Facebook for the Exeter Central Library shows a generic tag page with nothing else.

I guess the solution to all this is to network more specifically in the local area, to pursue finding a mentor, and use their encouragement to host my own event - will see if that works out....

Monday, 22 August 2011

Summary of Progress so far Week 10

It's hard to believe we're up to thing 18 already - life is happening so fast.

I think it's all become a bit confusing because I'm reading so much now. For example the Cam23 Things does not include mentoring, but CPD23 Things does. I am now not sure what I'm supposed to be following or doing, but even so, writing about all this has helped steam some of the confusion :-) I am now following so many blogs, that after my holiday the total of unread blogs was over 400. This week has been spent unsubscribing to many of these so it's all a bit more manageable.

Mentoring was something I was able to take advantage of as part of the ILM qualification I was working on. It was great to be able to talk to someone outside of the hurly burly of the Library, but who still understood the mechanistics of the University. I am thinking about asking another member of the University to mentor me to help with the people management side of my role. Professional mentoring would be great, but I'll have to improve my networking skills to find someone who's not too far away and who has the time and skills to help.

Doing these things has opened my mind to the library sector as a whole. I sometimes contribute to posts on LinkedIn as these are emailed and easy to read as a summary. However, Facebook has stayed as a social tool, and I still haven't made time to regularly connect with Twitter. not sure if the hours I work have something to do with this, or that fact that when I leave work I don't want to be looking at the phone for tweets (even if my phone was clever enough for that sort of thing!)

Apart from LinkedIn, I have signed up for Evernote, used Google Docs, and will get into saving bookmarks. I'm the type of computer user that likes multiple tabs and will save them for ages until they're completed. Evernote and Delicious will probably help with this which will be good and save some processing power on my PC. Thanks to all those who have taken the time to put together all the instructions for the Things.

Monday, 15 August 2011

August is a crazy month - it should be quiet and peaceful (especially for librarians working in academia) but it never is - taking some time out (went camping in the Lake District), and subsequent catching up takes quiet a lot of time. Tackling the list of jobs to do when it's quiet (numbering all 90 odd kick steps and getting them maintained), as well as getting in lists of books from academics who what them put in the core texts collection all takes time.

So am a bit behind with all the 'Things', and have promised myself that I will catch up with any missed steps, even if it's after the end of the project. Have just learned to get emails sent if someone is gracious enough to comment on my blogs - so sorry to have missed these and not responded sooner if you have been kind enough to comment.

Thing 10 is about being a librarian - the whys and wherefores - here's my story:
At the tender age of 13 I decided to become a librarian. This was partly due to the fact that school was not the best time of my life, but escaping to the library to help out made school so much more bearable. Also, my skills and natural aptitude may have helped (my mum says that I never really played cars with my younger brother, but just sorted them by colour!) Knowing so early on what my career path was to be, enabled me to make enough right choices to scrape past my GCSEs, into A-Levels and then scrape into Brighton Poly for a degree in Library and Information Studies. Along the way I worked in Libraries for work experience, summer jobs and even spring jobs. While studying I not only did the normal waitressing and telesales stuff, but also shelved books. After qualifying I worked in London and did lots of short term, library based roles, in the cut throat business world.

With all these temporary jobs my CV was starting to look very patchy, so I went for a job with Ericsson doing general admin, which progressed into a full time post (finally, I had stayed somewhere longer than a year!) When I was just starting to look back to library type work I fell pregnant with our son. 6 months after having him I was pregnant again, so I didn't leave Ericsson until I'd been there almost 6 years. We moved to Exeter for a bigger house and to be closer to my parents who were willing to offer us free babysitting :-) I then got a job in Exeter University, running the Engineering Library (I know nothing about Engineering!). Later the department merged with computer science, and a year later I was also taking care of the Maths Library. This meant quite a bit of shifting about to get all the books in, as well as re-classifying the engineering books from their home grown 'system' to Dewey. Some years later the library was merged into the main library on campus where I have been ever since.

It's great to be in a career type job I enjoy, which is close to home, and allows me to work part time. From being being more interested in becoming a business information consultant (very 80s) to working in Academia was a route I never expected to follow. When working alone in a smaller, quieter, departmental library I found I really missed the buzz of having people around, now I manage a larger team and really enjoy the people management side of my role. A few years back when gaining qualifications in reflexology and acupressure I wondered in Librarianship really was the right vocation for me, however a Myers Briggs test soon put me right - Librarianship and me are forever!

Monday, 25 July 2011

A Day in the life of Rachel Dawson, Shelving Supervisor (

I work in the Main Library on Exeter University's beautiful campus.
Today, instead of working the morning I am swapping my hours to the afternoon. Only doing 4.5 hours a day 5 days a week is a bit of a juggle fitting everything in, but my life outside of work is pretty full too, and I'm not sure what, if anything, to give up, so will continue juggling for as long as possible.

As shelving supervisor I am responsible for the team of part time staff who shelve the library books. Today an hours swop between two team members was successfully resolved, and I also did the usual line manager stuff of authorising Annual Leave, and reviewing the workload for the team. (Happily it's not too bad because most of the students are on vacation). I also spent some more time trying to divide the library fairly into sections for each team member - a lot of counting shelves, and trying to assess usage of the sections.

On my desk is usually a pile of books. Today I had a small stack of books which had been reported as missing, but the shelving team had happily located. These needed logging and the books needed to be placed on the hold shelf. The sharp spotters in the team do a great job of finding the majority of missing books, but those that are not found need to be assessed to see if they need to be replaced or just deleted off the system. Later I had a meeting with an Academic Support Consultant (subject Librarian) and a member of the Library Resource Development (Acquisitions) team to clarify the process of deleting and replacing these un-found books. I have already developed a centralised spreadsheet, but will tweek it further, and it may one day grow up into an access database.

Other books left on my desk are for Ready Text. This is our 5 hour loan collection, and books go in here if they are heavily used or on a reading list. I am looking forward to making use of Tallis Aspire, but in the meantime have to rely on a more ad-hoc method of getting the right books into this collection. This includes searching for modules on the intranet and getting emails from academics. Currently I only have a trickle of these (2 books today), but come September there will undoubtedly be a flood of requests.

Most of the library books are tagged with 3M triggers, but the Ready Text collection is RFID tagged. When the building work is completed (the library is at the hub of Exeter University's Forum redevelopment, and should be finished in December - can't wait) the DVDs will also be added to this collection. I had a quick meeting with colleagues about the progress of putting the tags on the DVDs and writing the process for the next stage.

Of course no day is complete without checking emails, and as I'm also doing cpd23 I have been trying to read blogs and stay connected with LinkedIn and the like. There were several emails from staff working at the weekend, including a useful summary of emails sent during the previous week. I also subscribe to LIS-Link and try to keep up to date with what is going on in the wider library world.

A colleague kindly did the Parcel Force side of sending Thesis off to the British Library for digitising, but I have a couple more of those to look up - finding the authors to ask if they don't mind the digitisation of their work, and then locating the hard copies and sending them off. That should round off my day pretty well.
This focus on Networking has made me think a bit harder about my career and other professionals around the globe. I am certainly supportive of networking as a goal, but have not taken it up professionally until last week. I have now joined with groups on linked in, and the LIS Network, but am debating the value of joining Professional Organisations. Colleagues I know don't always have the time to read the literature that they have paid for. If anyone has any input about the dilemma between the cost and value of such memberships I would be keen to hear from you.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Reflective Practice

The blocks of time dedicated to reflective practice are one of the things that attracted me to doing these 23 things. This is the first of the reflective practice sessions - an opportunity to plan -> do -> review (very familiar to me in IiP land) or the preferred phraseology; What -> so what -> now what.

So far I have found RSS feeds to be invaluable, pushnote to be forgettable, and twitter I'm still ambivalent about. The advantage of Exeter University is that I can access my calendar from any PC, so have not been swayed by google calendar. Outlook scheduling assistant (something that people who use outlook don't seem to be clued into) is better than doodle, but I can see the advantages. It's been good to read about what others in this profession are up to, but I'm disappointed that this part of the country (South West) is not very well represented in the 700 or so participants of the 23 things. Perhaps I will find I'm wrong about that in thing 7, and this will naturally follow into advocacy and getting involved.

It has definitely been worth getting into this so far, hopefully all the other members are taking useful things away too.