Category Archives: CPD 23

23Things : The 23rd Thing at last!

The final Thing at last!  I tried to complete this last year, and never made it, so thank goodness I’ve managed to put some time aside this year.
In general, I love how reflective the 23Things have been.  Like Chartership, they make you think about your own working practises and styles and how you might make adjustments.

And the 23rd Thing fits exactly with what I feel I needed right now – a new PDP.  It’s been a while since I had a written one.  There’s always been something vague in my head, but not necessarily on paper.  I want to include a personal PDP as well as a career PDP into it this time, as it’s for me, rather than CILIP, which includes things like “practise the concertina twice a week and share a tune at folk club” as well as “learn more about RDA”.  They all take up the same “spare” time so I can’t expect to do everything – personal and professional are going to have to balance and share for this to work.

I won’t share the whole thing here, particularly all the personal PDP, but a key element is keeping blogging, keeping tweeting and also getting more involved in advocacy.


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CPD 23: Thing 22 – Volunteering

Thing 22: Volunteering to gain experience

Volunteering can be, and should be, a wonderful thing which benefits both sides – the organisation and the individual.  I currently manage 154 volunteers.  Yes, really.  They’re not all active right now, some are seasonal (in the summer they do the gardening) and others were short term placements.  But altogether we had 12,000 hours of volunteer time donated last year.  Generally there’s about twelve volunteers in per day, but it varies depending on projects.  Some also do work from home, although this can be tricky to set up.

Most of them have a single project/task that they’re working on such as proofreading an OCR’d volume or scanning in Tracts or typing out members lists.  Others have progressed to something more technical like trying to find the duplicate maps and take them off the database.  A few have reached almost managerial roles in training other volunteers and checking which Tracts have been scanned and which are to be done.  Others require me to have done some work before they can do some work (i.e. if I don’t get some cataloguing done then the labelling volunteer and the shelving volunteer are redundant).  And a few of them like to do different things every week.  They are more work for me obviously because you have to train them in more things, and remember what they did last week.

Sometimes it does make my head spin.  Just remembering everyone’s name is quite a challenge, never mind remembering what they do and don’t like doing and what they weren’t terribly good at doing…

I don’t have any issues here with replacing professional staff with my volunteers.  There has never been any other paid staff here.  There is barely enough money to pay me and their expenses,never mind another member of staff.  And the fact we’re a registered charity sort of helps as well in my mind for some reason.  Also, the majority of the jobs they are doing are additional.  I’m not saying I would never do them as a professional, but the chances of me finding time to do them are slim to none.  They are all bonuses and although they can help the basic functions of answering an enquiry and cataloguing, they’re not actually dealing with the public, or, crucially, any of their personal data.  I think even many public libraries have had “heritage” volunteers for some time and I would say our roles are very similar.

I deeply wish I also had time to be a volunteer as well as manage them.  I had just arranged to volunteer at Seven Stories when I got this job, and I blithely said “Oh, well, once I settle in, I can still come and volunteer a morning a week on flexitime!”  Suffice to say, it never happened.  And six years on, I still feel guilty about it!  But I only just have enough energy to come to work, go home, go to choir and do a couple of evening classes a week.  I just don’t have anything else left in the tank at the moment.  Maybe one day.  Or maybe it will have to wait until retirement!

I do volunteer for things on a more occasional basis.  To help at one off events for NE CILIP.  To host events here at the Institute too.  And I go and busk as part of my choir for charity every year as well.  Once you include rehearsal and travel time, that’s actually quite a lot of volunteering hours per year.

One thing I would never volunteer to do is work for free in a public library which had been handed over to volunteers.  It’s just undermining everything we, and CILIP, stands for.  Besides which, I very much doubt the whole system would last long.

Volunteers are great as long as you don’t have to rely on them turning up!  Their work has to be additional to the basic services of the building opening and functioning because, quite often, volunteers get a better offer for the day and don’t turn up.  Or they’re ill.  Or their children are ill.  Or it’s snowing.  Or the bus didn’t turn up, so they went home.  Understandably, they don’t (all – I am generalising here) make the same amount of effort to turn up as paid staff do!. There isn’t any penalty to them after all, if they don’t and the other options of finding paid childcare, say, or getting a taxi aren’t affordable because, fundamentally, they’re not getting paid…

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CPD23: Thing 21 Promoting yourself in job applications and at interview

Thing 21: Promoting yourself in job applications and at interview

As someone who’s been in the same job for six years but only has a contract till Christmas, this is a very useful Thing.
Interests – Personal
Children’s Fiction (old and new)
Crime fiction
Folk music
Clog dancing (yes, really…)
National Trust/English Heritage properties

Interests – Work related
Rare books
Project management
So obviously my dream job would be managing a project to catalogue a collection of books which included children’s fiction and crime fiction….  Or a folk music library.  Whilst that might happen, I think I would be waiting a long time for it to come along.  Particularly with a location limitation of “north east England, preferably Newcastle”.
I’ve found that I can craft my existing job to fit what I love instead of trying to find a new specifically cataloguing focused job.  Instead I  have promoted the importance of cataloguing to my trustees and implemented a new system.  As part of this, they have agreed that I need to spend the majority of my time correcting the existing catalogue records and pulling them up to MARC standards.  Sadly I also have to find time to manage the volunteers and the digitization projects but at least now I can officially justify how I spend the majority of my time.
My CV database is very much a paper file, but I am good about updating it with the training I go on and events that I attend.  Blogging has been a huge help with that – if nothing else, I have the blog entry to remind me of what I learnt from each event.
Interviews on the other hand, I hate with a passion.  I still partly believe that I got my existing job because I turned up at the interview despite a severe kidney infection and a canula for IV antibiotics still in my arm.  The hospital let me out for 3 hours for the interview then I had to go straight back in.  I sweet talked the consultant into it…  (When I got the job, I did take the staff at the hospital a very large box of biscuits.  I felt they deserved it)  I think the staff here decided that I really, really wanted the job!
I have an additional decision to make with interviews as well.  Do I disclose as a disabled person?  With the right adaptations, and on the right medications,  most days I no longer “feel” disabled but I accept that if I tried to do the job without those I would feel extremely disabled to the point of not being able to walk at all, or do a very good job as I would be in far too much pain to think clearly.  Perhaps I’m lucky that (most days) I have an invisible disability, (MCTD) but it also means I have to make that choice at some point in the jobseeking process.  I didn’t tell my existing employers until I was some months into the job, and just quietly created my adaptations for myself, using equipment I had bought at university thanks to Disabled Students Allowance.

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CPD23 – Thing 20: The Library Routes Project

Librarianship was a fairly obvious career path for me.  I was organising my mother’s magazines by the colour of the cigarette advert on the back cover even before I could read.  (I should imagine this was very annoying for my poor mother who had to remember whether it was Marlboro or Silk Cut who had promoted the magazine with the pattern in she was looking for….)

I didn’t do much with school libraries (I was always too busy singing in choirs at lunchtime) but I was a regular visitor both there and at the public libraries.  Even the silly careers choice software thought I should be either a. librarian, b. archivist or c. curator.  So I went and did my obligatory work experience in an specialist academic library (a teacher’s friend was the libararian there…) and that went so well I got a month’s paid work out of it.  I also learnt about CILIP for the first time, and the different routes to Chartership.  Knowing about the end goal at the beginning was immensely helpful.  But it did mean being mature enough at fifteen to plan your career to twenty-five or so.

I think that work experience was hugely important to me.  It helped me decide that yes, this is the career for me.  I like organising things in order to help people find them.  That works.  I’m happy with ICT.  I can cope with awkward customers.  I even like the dull shelving.  Great.  Because of that experience, I am always happy to take work experience students in my workplace to give them that opportunity and “pass it forward” as they say.

Decided on a degree in English Lit and Lang (Newcastle) followed by an MA in Library and Information Management (Northumbria) then the plan changed slightly when I got my job immediately after finishing the taught modules.  Did dissertation part time over the next year and graduated a year late.  Immediately started Chartership (before I lost momentum) and got that a year and a bit later in April 2009.

I’m still in the same job six years later (I do love being my own boss) but I know it is also not the field I expected to end up working in.  I don’t have a particular love of mining or railways.  I quite like history.  That helps.  But I know very little about engineering which limits how well I can answer some enquiries.  My solution is to know lots of people who do know about engineering, and ask them for help with the technical stuff.

My own personal love is children’s fiction.  Not necessarily the children – I wouldn’t be a public librarian if you paid me (which these days is unlikely…) but the books themselves.  So I am very lucky that the National Centre for Childrens Books is here in Newcastle and I keep a good eye on their vacancies page and keep myself up to date thanks to the public lectures ran as part of their work.  I would love to have time to volunteer there but that’s Thing 22 so I’ll save that one!

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CPD23 – Thing 19: Catch up week on integrating ‘things’

Whew, thank goodness for a catch up “week” for those of us racing to catch the 30th November deadline!

Of all the tools in CPD23, the one which has really become part of my working life (apart from blogging itself) is definitely Twitter.  I use it a lot as a solo librarian to stay in touch with other cataloguers and special collections people and to keep up with what’s happening and ask them difficult questions!  Particularly since I have got a Smartphone, I find it so easy to stay in touch with it.

I need to set up more effective RSS feeds so that I keep up with all the many and wonderful blogs I have discovered.  I was using the functionality in Outlook on my work email but as I currently have almost 400 unread messages, I have to say that I don’t think that’s really working for me.  Some other feeds I have sent direct to my Yahoo (personal) email which is more successful.  I tend to read those in with my ordinary email and then delete or file as appropriate but if I had many more coming in, it would overwhelm the emails and urgent personal messages might get lost.  I did try Google Reader before I moved to a Smartphone and that didn’t work for me either.  Will try again now I can use that to read on the bus.  Saying that, I’m not sure anyone ever manages to keep up with all the blogs that they would like to, so perhaps I am being over-optimistic there.  There are only so many hours in the day!


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CPD23 – Thing 18: Jing / screen capture / podcasts

Another technical Thing!  I must admit Jing does sound useful.  I spend a lot of time creating instructions for volunteers in Word where I use print screen and then insert a lot of arrows and speech bubbles (which then inevitably end up pointing to the wrong thing when I change a margin size…)

Sadly I hit an immediate problem as Jing requires you to have Microsoft .NET 4.0 installed and apparently I don’t.  Whilst I do have an administrator password and I could override the system and install it, I think it’s a bit drastic for some screenshots (and my ICT systems volunteer might be a wee bit cross…)

So over to the alternative, Screen-o-matic and creating videos of your screenshots seems really easy.  Choosing formats to save them and share them is a bit more tricky for those of us not au-fait with moving images!  The YouTube solution is a good one though, although I’m not sure about showing my basic cataloguing tutorials to the world!

I will definitely give it a try for my next set of instructions for volunteers, but I think they will sadly still need a printed set to keep on the desk as well.  After all, if it’s step 8 that you’re not sure about, you don’t want to watch a video that starts at step 1, you want to flip to step 8.  Paper instructions do still have a place I think for reference.  Also, when I do my usual training with a volunteer where we run through the steps of adding an item to the catalogue, I can get feedback from them to see how confident they feel about doing this and they can ask further questions if they’re unsure so this wouldn’t work with a video tutorial.

Podcasts aren’t something I’ve used at all before, either as a user or a creator.  I did try to subscribe to one once, but I must have clicked something wrong…

I was very interested to see that there are careers podcasts for librarians (although the link has changed since the CPD23 page was made and they’re now here)  I will definitely be recommending them to my jobseeking volunteers (and potentially using myself in the future) particularly the “difficult interview questions” section.

Audacity is a program I have struggled with (and abandoned) in the past, so I am certainly going to follow up on Napier’s helpful Word doc on how to do the basics.

As for creating podcasts, perhaps we should be looking to record our lectures here at the Institute and provide them online?  But without the slides, would they make sense?  I think a video option would make more sense, but we have had endless problems trying to resolve that.

So much of the information here is visual that it is hard to use a purely audio based tool.  Perhaps as a walking guide is my only realistic thought.  One for a future project!

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CPD23 Thing 17: The Medium is the Message- Prezi and Slideshare

I will admit to never having tried any of these Things before CPD23.  But that’s the point of the programme right?  Learn new skills and all that.  So take a deep breath and step away from Powerpoint…

So Prezi sounds good.  I like the idea of a bigger picture then zooming in to see more specifics rather than just flipping to the next slide.  I have duly watched Ned Potter’s amazing Ultimate Guide to Prezi and produced this!

Slideshare is indeed very handy for searching other people’s presentations and it’s brilliant when trainers provide the slides on there after a session too.  I’m not sure I’m ready to share my own slides with the world yet…  Perhaps after more practise with Prezi!  The idea of using it to promote yourself as an online CV is also interesting.  If I was jobseeking, this would definitely be a route I would try, with a link on my paper CV.  I don’t think it would ever replace a paper CV – at least not yet!

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