I have neglected this blog of late so I have decided to officially put it on the back burner.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@Lady_PGD) or visit my other non-library blog:
I have neglected this blog of late so I have decided to officially put it on the back burner.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@Lady_PGD) or visit my other non-library blog:
Last weekend was my first ever trip to Dublin, actually it was my first trip to Ireland! It was also my first time as a solo flyer.
[FYI airports are even more boring on you’re own so make sure you have a good book or lots of smartphone or tablet charge]
Last weekend was also the first time I have presented at a library event! I am happy to report that I survived and I received some great feedback from attendees.
The event I presented at was NPD Ireland‘s SHowcase your Information Expertise event, which had the #npdishine14 – so please do have a look at tweets from the day. I had applied to present (& display my poster) so I was super chuffed to be asked to do both!
The event was held at the lovely Pearse Street Library
My poster & presentation covered the same topic which I will briefly outline now, it is the idea of a CPD (continuing professional development) diary. I know I am definitely not the first person to think of this (and I have blogged about mine before) but I wanted to share it with others, particularly new professionals as I have found it so useful in the first few years of my career to help with job applications; and I will continue to use it to help focus my CPD activities.
The basic concept is:
THINK – about your: skills, experiences, projects, abilities, qualifications etc. [they do not have to be LIS related]
WRITE – keep a record! [so you you can use it again] Choose the best format for you: pen & paper, MS Word, post-its etc.
USE – Remember it! Read it! Use it! [Reflect upon it – use it to identify any skills gaps, you can then target your own CPD]
See, it is common sense really!
Creating my CPD diary really helped with job applications because I could easily map my experiences against the personal specification for the post I was applying for, it really did save a lot of effort! I am now happy in my current post and not looking to move on but I still use my CPD diary to identify areas I may not have much experience in (or of) so I can development my own CPD goals.
So thank you to NPD Ireland for helping me achieve one of my CPD goals.
For anyone considering applying to present at a library event I would say GO FOR IT! I had a great time as everyone was so welcoming and supportive. Thanks again to the organizers and attendees for making it such a fabulous day.
[I will be making the slides from my presentation available as soon as I can, I will link to them from here once they are up.]
I have moved jobs again! I am now a Subject Librarian at the University of Huddersfield (UoH). I started at the very end of April so I have been in post almost 3 months now; so I thought it was about time for a bit of reflection (which I actually like to do). The subjects I am responsible for are: Law, Computing & Accounting – I have no previous experience with any of these subjects as a student but I did work with Computing & Accounting at FE level.
My view of my subjects – I do realize there are complexities to these areas that I will probably never understand.
Law is a completely new area to me, despite a few references to various Acts during my Sociology BSc, so I am still quite bewildered by the legal language and process (to be honest it terrifies me). But I love the challenge and in the short time I have been here I have already picked up so much. It also helps that one of my best friends is a trainee solicitor so can help me out with all her legal knowledge and insider info about life as a law student. UoH are really supportive too and they funded my attendance at the BIALL (British and Irish Association of Law Librarians) Annual Conference in Harrogate (and I am heading to Oxford in August for the BIALL Legal Research course). It was great to meet new people who also work in the legal world. I got to meet key publishers and content providers and as the “newbie” it was easier (but still daunting) to walk up to them and ask what they could do for our law staff and students. I haven’t had chance to do a write up of the conference but please check out #BIALL2014 for all the thoughts/ideas that came from the talks and presentations.
All the academics I have met from all 3 of my departments have been friendly and welcoming and are keen to use the library services and I have a lot of sessions booked in for the new academic year. They are all happy to listen to my ideas and proposals of the different ways I can deliver skills sessions for them and their students; it is quite empowering.
As I started towards the end of the academic year I have had some time to be fully introduced to the systems we use at UoH and also have had chance to meet a lot of staff within the library and my departments. In previous roles I have started in September which, in the education world is like jumping onto a moving train; so it is nice to start at a less stressful time. However, I do realize I have been lulled into a false sense of security and the mad rush of September/October inductions is going to hit me like a brick. Largely my role is that same as my last job – I connect staff and students to the resources they require and I also train them to access and use that information in an academic context. Well that’s the bread and butter stuff, there’s all the other facets to subject librarian work too: budget management, project work, department liaison etc.
As I have had such a good start, my confidence has grown and I have become more passionate about the profession as a whole. I have mentioned previously that I am not currently a member of CILIP and this is largely to do with the fact that I disagree with their subscription and pricing structure – for me at the moment £20 a month is too much – when I have other important things going on in my life i.e. attempting to get a mortgage! But I do want to become more involved with the wider profession; I am looking into SLA membership in the first instance as I think it is more reasonable and the SLA community seems really vibrant, exciting and vibrant. CILIP at the moment seems slightly lack-lustre but that it probably because I am SO out of the loop on what they’re doing etc. I do want to rejoin because I think CILIP has the potential to be more than it is, also with current issues and turmoil on the council I want to see how CILIP reacts to the situation before I invest my money and time in membership.
I am going to try to keep this blog reflective, as I tend to benefit from the process, so here are my goals:
As this has been quite text heavy here’s some pictures of the pets (don’t worry my tortoise isn’t a giant! He is only 7cm long!)
Jerry Sheldon and Freyja
OpenClips http://pixabay.com/en/law-liberty-scale-weight-balance-158356/ gsagri04 http://openclipart.org/detail/170263/cloud-computing-by-gsagri04 Ainali http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Analyzing_Financial_Data_%285099605109%29.jpg
I have been having a few thoughts lately…I know I ought to be careful…and I decided I wanted to share them will you all.
In my last post I mentioned I had a marketing project. I had decided that in the new year we needed to “push” the support we provide in the Learning Centres (LCs) so I decided to work on a new leaflet. Then I decided leaflets were boring and ‘old hat’ so I decided to put the content in a different format, that of an origami fortune teller!
I thought this would make it stand out a bit more, and obviously it would be interactive, which in turn may make it more memorable.
When I came up with the idea and mentioned it to immediate colleagues they all thought it would be a good idea, some even gave suggestions for topics of future fortune tellers. So I was very upbeat about the whole process. I worked out the fiddly design, wrote the content, decided on colours (very important indeed) and finally sent them out to be printed by our in-house print service.
We have multiple staff rooms at both sites so I got 70 printed and folded (all folded by myself – bit of a nightmare after a while) and I was really impressed with them. On 2nd January (a non-teaching day) I decided I would distribute them throughout the staff rooms, as mentioned in my other post – more tutors were in than I expected so I couldn’t leave the “fortune teller” in the strategic spots I had thought of: on PCs, by the kettle and in the fridge (these of the most used items in most staff rooms right?!). I had to settle for more standard places: on desks and in-trays. I did, however, hand one directly to each member of teaching staff that I saw. Most were impressed and “ooh, I remember these from when I was younger” was uttered more than once.
Being a hello-look-at-all-the-amazing-things-we-do librarian I also sent a “fortune teller” to each member of SMT, individually addressed with an individual, hand-written note. I like to make sure “the powers that be” fully understand the support we provide and the way were advertising them.
Sadly, I have heard absolutely zero (apart from the teaching staff I spoke to when handing out, and the few who I asked about it afterwards – FYI: they were all positive) from anyone. Even, SMT ignored all the effort I had gone too – I wasn’t expecting a prize or even a pat on the back but an acknowledgment email from a PA would have been nice. I guess they are just too busy.
I knew we wouldn’t suddenly get a surge of overwhelming support for the LCs or masses of requests for info skills sessions (we are level pegging with last year stats wise) but I did think there may have been a comment or two.
Never mind, at least we got our message out there in a new and different way – it is hard to measure the impact of marketing schemes. It certainly won’t put me off doing more of the “fortune tellers” – perhaps targeting at different departments, I also may include a reference to them in the service evaluation that I am hoping to do before the summer – so that may give us more of a picture.
Please don’t let this post put you off trying new ways of marketing; all good ideas are worth a try.
I have just (20th Dec) got around to adding my name and contact details to the individual subject resource pages on Moodle, it has only taken me four and half months!
The past four or so months have flown by, so I though it was about time I reflected on my second professional post and my own development.
In all my library jobs (apart from one temp ‘shelf-elfing’ contract) I have started at the beginning of a new academic year; this switch to FE (&HE) has definitely been the hardest. Due to a combination of things out of my control for the first few weeks of my job I felt completely lost, frustrated and annoyed but after airing my views and concerns with the necessary people, all of them have been addressed.
Speaking to my manager was the best thing I have done in this job, he now understands how unhappy I was at the start and is making sure I have enough work and the appropriate training for that work (where required).
I am now 100% more confident in discussing my “issues” with management and have even had a meeting with HR to discuss how they could have made my induction process better. I think being open is always the best policy. If you don’t tell people you are unhappy then nothing ever changes.
Also, this has given me the guts to suggest new ideas and to really “push” for things when I believe they are right, of course I listen to the other ideas too but if I feel strongly about something I am not going to let it go without feeling like I have tried my hardest.
I am the type of person that works better when I have loads to do, I quite like pressure – it makes me work faster and harder. So far amongst my “normal” responsibilities I have been given a couple of big (ish) projects:
1. Putting together a proposal for a redesign/ reorganisation of the LC Moodle pages – this was done in conjunction with a colleague but now I have the task of implementing the new format. This has developed my Moodle-related skills (I am now one of the ‘go to’ people for any staff with Moodle queries) and my time and work load management skills have also been tested and improved.
2. Marketing – I told my manager I wanted to do a marketing push in the new year to reengage staff with the service. I didn’t want to do yet another leaflet or to hold meetings whilst they are busy getting back into things; so I decided to redevelop one of my favourite childhood games/toys/trinket: the origami fortune teller. Instead of containing your future it has information about what services the LCs provide e.g. Info skills, drop-ins, Moodle support etc. I got them all printed and folded and they are awaiting the 2nd Jan when I will drop them in staff rooms across the college. On the outside of the ‘fortune teller’ there is none of the LC branding so I am calling it semi-guerrilla marketing! I will do a post reviewing it in the new year.
3. Reading list submission – this is very much a self imposed project, I got very frustrated about how lists would be given to us (if at all) so I am in the process of attempting to standardise and streamline the process to make it easier and more efficient. I will provide an update nearer Easter as that’s when we start the collection of lists for next year.
Overall, despite my grievances at the beginning I am really enjoying my work and finding it very rewarding. I think it has been a good career move as I have more responsibility, autonomy and have learnt many new skills. I work with a great team and I am looking forward to new challenges and opportunities that this role will provide for me.
Name: Penelope Dunn
Role: Learning Resource Specialist (LRS)
Location: Rotherham College of Arts & Technology
Additional info: approx. 12,000 students – FE & HE courses
Time in post: 12 weeks
[I chose to write about this day as I think it includes virtually every aspect of my role]
Thursday 7th November
08:30 – start work: check emails & cluster of post-it notes I left myself from the day before
09:00 – 09:35 meeting with fellow LRS and two Library & Information Officers(LIOs) to discuss drop-in workshops.
We run these from October half-term until Christmas, in all Learning Centres (LCs), they have primary focus on Personal Statements but anybody can drop-in with any query. Discussed structure and identified useful UCAS produced resources to use (here’s the link should anyone else need resources for this: http://www.ucas.com/how-it-all-works/undergraduate/filling-your-application/your-personal-statement). We also confirmed days and times.
10:15-11:15 – meeting with LC manager: discussed a long-term project for myself.
Creating a proposal about how to reorganise and modernise the LC Moodle pages. I was given this project as Moodle is one of my responsibilities (the student and staff training side NOT the techy stuff, although I can do a little of that) and as the new member to the team I have a fresh outlook on things.
I will be required to look at the information about the LC from all perspectives: college website, student portal and Moodle and try to create a cohesive message and format. I am hoping to make the LC Moodle pages more user-friendly by removing any jargon e.g. library catalogue. I hope to look at it through students eyes and focus on what they want from the LC (and how they’ll approach getting it) to make it more obvious where (and how) they can access resources and help.
I am looking forward to working on this as it will be “my baby” (my own little piece of strategic service development) until I put the proposal forward to colleagues where it is possible they’ll reject it. It also gives me the opportunity to explore different ways of delivering the information on our LC pages – I am currently looking at various online tools such as Padlet, Scoop-it and Popplet. I think by varying the ways we deliver information to students we can engage them more.
11:30 – 12:00 Information Skills session:
Planning and teaching information skills is the “bread and butter” of my role. This is the last of three sessions I have done for this particular group (BTEC Level 3 IT) – it was a quick session on ‘Academic Writing’ I started by getting each student to read two newspaper articles – the same story from two different newspapers (The Mirror & The Guardian) – then I asked them to tell me which one they preferred to read; largely it was The Mirror article because it was “easier and shorter”. I then asked them which they’d hand in for homework, most switched to The Guardian article because the language was “fancier” and “more formal”. We then discussed what made the articles so different and I talked them through some general tips e.g. use formal language, no slang, don’t overcomplicate it, don’t use first or second person etc.
I cannot take any credit for the newspaper activity – it is one I borrowed from colleagues.
12:00-12:50 check emails, respond where necessary. Double check presentation for later in the day, check which room the session is to be held in.
14:00 – 14:30 Meeting with colleague from Quality Assurance (QA) re: Staff training day
My colleague from QA and I are running three workshops on the next Staff Training Day (22nd Nov), they will be about Moodle. The college has produced a list of four minimum standards that every Moodle course should have (e.g. course handbook) – our session will aim to walk/talk staff who haven’t already reached the minimum standards through the process. It was quite a brief discussion as we have both ran sessions on this before.
I had prepared instructions for staff on how to add files etc to Moodle so we discussed any necessary ‘tweeks’ and sending it off to the college’s design and print team for branding.
15:00 – 17:00 Shift on LC reception desk.
I am required as part of my role to staff the reception and enquiry desks at the town centre LCs – this is organised via a rota and I normally only do it 3-4 times a week. I really enjoy having the chance to work on the desk because I get to build a rapport with students and also develop my skills in using the LMS Autolib as well as any IT troubleshooting and general enquiries. This particular shift largely involved: returning, renewing and issuing stock, but I also had to solve a few IT issues (mainly forgotten passwords). A student on the GCSE English course also came in wanting a book to help her with a descriptive writing assignment; it took me a bit of time to explain that we didn’t have a specific book on it but we have books with chapters on it (it always amazes me that students expect a single book to cover everything they need for one assignment) – so I got her the books and showed her how to look for specific information within it via contents page and index. She borrowed one of them and also took a poetry book so she could see how others use descriptive language and to extend her vocabulary.
Also on the odd time where it is quiet I get to work on other things, this time I ‘tweeked’ the Moodle guide and sent it to design and print.
17:00-17:30 I would normally go home at 17:00 but this week I had to stay to teach an evening group. I rang ProQuest (in the USA) to pay for some e-books via credit card.
17:30-18:15 Information Skills session:
Using Prezi for Level 2 Supporting Teaching and Learning Students, I found this session very difficult to plan as it was mostly going to be a demonstration session, and even thought I knew what topic the students would have to create their own Prezi on – I didn’t want to focus on that because I didn’t want them to copy me.
First of all I explained what Prezi is and how to get an account. I then showed them the Prezi “getting started” tutorial video – although the sound didn’t work very well so I had to talk over it. I then started a new Prezi, pointed out all the features about how it works e.g. frames and the path; we then started to create one as a group, using a template (I think the Prezi templates are great!). I showed them how to add images and frames and how to zoom in and out. I didn’t want to show them everything because it is pretty much impossible as the software is so flexible and also it would take longer than I had!
I rounded up the session by telling them to “play around with Prezi” before they have a go at their actual assignment and to come to the LCs if they get really stuck.
18:15 HOME TIME
[Any gaps in time are because I can’t remember or I blacked out from excitement]
On the 21st October I tweeted for a week as @VoicesLibrary my intention was to spread the word/raise awareness of the problems FE libraries are facing. I did this because in my time working in FE (granted this is my 12th week) I got the impression they sometimes get forgotten by those facing more pressing problems (e.g. public and school libraries) or by those with more money and resources (e.g. HE or specialist libraries).
I wrote about this in more detail here.
What I learnt from tweeting for Voices For Libraries for a week was that not many people knew FE libraries were having problems or what types of issues they are facing. some people were shocked as to how minimal our budgets are compared to universities, especially as we (at Rotherham College of Arts & Technology) support HE courses too. I hope my one-person tweet crusade raised awareness of these (and other problems).
Overall, I think I need to continue my little crusade in order to get FE libraries some distinction recognition of the issues we face, often we are lumped in with “academic libraries” (which to me means HE) – but I think this is wrong we are a completely different entitity with some problems that HE will never have (e.g. severe staff reluctance to promote/use the service).
I will continue to fight for FE libraries and I hope to post more about it in the future.
Thanks to the @VoicesLibrary team for giving me a chance to air my views.
I want to use this blog post to elaborate on my role and to explain a little more about why I chose to tweet for Voices for the Library. My last post on this blog explains some of the challenges I personally faced when starting this new job at Rotherham College of Arts & Technology (RCAT); this post may overlap slightly. I may also edit this during the week when new ideas arise.
I am one of three Learning Resource Specialists at RCAT (I am based at the town centre campus with one other, and the third works at our Rother Valley campus). My role is basically that of an Academic Liaison Librarian, but I do a lot of front line customer service work also. I love the job as it keeps me in touch with the service users but allows me to learn more skills as I organise, plan and deliver teaching – manage my department budgets and the electronic resources budget (for the college).
The biggest thing I am struggling with (and my colleagues struggle with it too) is that the budgets are TINY & we are expected to fund resources for all levels of courses (1-5). Expectations from students and staff are the same as those I experienced at working at a university; they expect damn close to one copy per student for core books – which is obviously unsustainable.
Since I started at RCAT (10 weeks ago) I have become an expert in managing expectations of students – when you explain to them that if we brought lots of one item then we wouldn’t be able to get the others, they understand and accept it. Some teaching staff are less accepting (and rightly so – I often agree with them) – they seem to expect us to hold some kind of protest (similar to those opposing public library cuts) in the finance managers office until we get more money! Obviously not an option.
The discussions I have been having with staff here at the college got me thinking – we often here about struggles facing libraries as a whole or a certain sector e.g. public or schools but colleges are rarely mentioned. This is where this “forgotten sibling” idea came into my head – if we don’t shout loud enough we are not noticed and forgotten?!
I think we (definitely me) are all guilty of forgetting all types of libraries are struggling too.
I do respect the fact that college libraries are more secure (funding wise) than public and school libraries but this doesn’t mean we can stop fighting budget cuts. In the LCs I work in there has been a traditional of “getting by” with whatever we are given, which to be fair has only been cut a small amount this year. But to me “getting by” isn’t good enough.
As I have not worked in the field all that long I understand that I may have missed FE college library campaigns and such like but I do feel on the whole that if they have happened they may be being a bit quiet at the moment. FE libraries need to protect their own interests as well as supporting campaigns wider in the sector.
FE libraries face a lot of the challenges that other libraries have:
I, personally, have made it a mission of mine to try to raise the profile of FE libraries, within RCAT I want to raise awareness of the services we offer and the struggles we’re facing (and how we tackle them) – I think this will help gain support when facing budget cuts and will further manage expectations. And I want FE libraries to add the solidarity of the save libraries campaign, tweeting for @voiceslibrary is my first step.
Five – six weeks ago I started working as a Learning Resource Specialist at Rotherham College of Arts & Tech (RCAT).
I basically do the same work as in my previous Academic Liaison Assistant role at The University of York (UoY) but I work with more departments (Visual & Performing Arts, Business, Computing & Education and Construction), have budget responsibility and I am a lean-mean-persuading/training-staff-to-use-moodle-machine. I do info skills teaching for students and staff, purchase resources and manage the eresources (as well as many other things); but what I particularly like about this job is I still get to do customer service work – I work on the service desk multiple times a week which I think is a really valuable exercise. The students get to know you better and feel more comfortable asking about more in-depth queries if they’ve already seen you issuing stock or troubleshooting IT – rather than being that woman in the office. I also, get to see and handle the stock, it sounds stupid but it is something I really missed at UoY.
Initially I found the switch from FE to HE very difficult (and I will probably wrestle with it for a while longer). But now I love it. I am still asking loads of questions because I do not really know what’s going on (or going to happen) because I started at the busiest time of the year but I work with a good team and they are happy to help. They are also happy to listen and take my suggestions on board.
The problems I have faced in this new role are largely logistical e.g. getting used to the 1 hour commute, struggling to find free/cheap car parking close to work (only 50 spaces at college for 500 staff – ridiculous), dealing with walking through the town to my car at night (one night a week I finish at 8pm and the town can be dodgey). I did have a few induction related issues – it didn’t go as smoothly as it should due to the hectic time of year (at times I felt like I was floundering) but I think I have a grip on most things now.
I do, obviously, have to deal with more challenging behaviour than that expressed by university students – teenagers love to ask inappropriate questions – but I enjoy the fact that they listen when you tell them to be quiet or to stop behaving in a certain way…and even if they don’t there is a clear structure of who I can rely on for assistance. But so far, my stern-librarian attitude and previous experience of working with young people have served me well.
This is my stern-librarian face.
Initially I was scared to move on from UoY – because change is scary – but I knew I’d have to move on eventually (temporary contract an’ all that) but I am glad I did. Some days I do go home frustrated because things don’t work the same way or happen in the same way but that is something I will get used to over time. And the only remaining issue is the weird parking situation. But that is also something I will get used to after time.
Sometimes I think it is easy to stay in a role because it is comfortable and you can do it, but if you don’t try to change you never know what you may learn or be capable of. My new job is providing my with a wealth of experience I wouldn’t have got if I’d stayed at UoY until the end of my contract so I am glad I jumped to another ship.
I think as this transition has been a little ropey (as I started at such a busy time) and I have managed to survive I think when it comes to moving on in the future I will be a lot more confident about my own ability to cope with change.