Monday, 19 November 2012

Thing 23

Reflection of boat on water
A Reflection of Hope by ecotist on Flickr
(made available under the Creative
 Commons Licence)
My "6 word story" to sum up how I feel about the CPD23 programme now that I have reached the last "Thing" is as follows;

Nervous, Challenging, Altered Self-perception,  New Horizons 

General Reflection
In terms of the "Things" that I have undertaken during this course I feel that I now have several new software "friends" including Evernote, Prezi, and Google Calendar, which I use on a daily basis. My professional networking is getting better especially in the use of the online resources that I have been introduced to during CDP23. I even feel that I am now less nervous about blogging than when I started on "Thing 1" all those weeks ago.

Mind the gaps!
I am not sure that I can see the relevance of creating something as formal as a Personal Development Plan (PDP) for managing my career development at the moment. However I have identified  the following gaps that I would like to address:

  1. I would like to have the opportunity to develop my social working skills since I feel that this is an area that is underdevelopment generally within my workplace.
  2. I also have my annual review coming  up at work and plan to ask about attending more conferences / external meetings in order to give my personal profile a boost, although I don't feel confident enough the present at them, well not just yet anyway.

Academic cap on top of a pile of  books
Cap on books by MomMaven on Flickr (made
 available under the Creative Commons licence)
So what next?
It's back to studying for me.I have deceived to embark on a Masters Research degree next year. (I am so committed that last week I even did a 10 hour round-trip by train to attend Aberystwyth University's postgraduate open day.

I feel that this is the right time to undertake a new course of study as opportunities to develop my career seem to be a bit limited at the moment especially with the number of job being cut both within my own organisation as well as in the library sector generally.

Thing 22

Variation of wartime poster of man pointing finger accusingly
Your library needs you by Phil Bradley
on Flickr (made available under the
Creative Commons licence)
On reflection I feel that volunteering has been and still is a very important part of my life, both professionally and socially (see my earlier post for Thing 21).  

Before I managed to secure a job as a library assistant I undertook a period of voluntary work in the library of a local primary school in order to gain some experience of working in a library setting.

Later when looking to move forward in my career I volunteered to help with numerous public library events and activities around the district, which included anything from serving the refreshments at author talks to helping to coordinate all-day youth workshops and reading fairs. These opportunities enabled me to work alongside librarians and other professional working the public library sector. and on reflection I believe that they allowed me to gain invaluable experience in how to run successful events. 

Subsequently I was extremely lucky in that I managed to secure paid temporary employment as an assistant librarian whilst still studying for my LIS degree. Fortunately this temporary post turned into something more permanent but I am convinced that this due in a big way to my flexibility and eagerness to learn, skills which I have developed as part of my volunteering.

I believe that volunteering is a good thing and under the right circumstances can have great benefits for both the volunteer and the employer. However it is important to remember that "volunteer" is not just another word for free labour. Within the library sector I believe there is a place for both the volunteer and professional librarian but it is important to remember that these two distinct roles should not be confused when evaluating and restructuring service delivery.

Thing 21

Group of red pencils with one green one raised
Odd One Out by c.a.muller on Flickr (made
 available under the Creative Commons licence)
Identifying your strengths; capitalising on your interests

Coming from an IT background into librarianship I believe that my computing skills are not only one of my strengths but something in my current job role that I find really interesting and am always keen to develop. 

I really enjoy working with others both colleagues and users and like my friend  Boundtounravel  I also enjoy a bit of detective work and get a lot of personal satisfaction out of helping students to search for information (although sometimes I think that a crystal ball might be useful). I like challenges and being given the opportunity to try something new, but have to confess that I find repetitive tasks boring (I suspect that this is because I find them lacking in challenge).

Outside of work reading is one of my biggest interests (surprise, surprise) and socialising with friends.I also spend a lot of time in theatres, both amateur and professional. Not only as an audience member but also as a Front of House volunteer, which links back to my "working with others"  interest mentioned above.

Applying for a job 
I have to confess that I am really bad at keeping my CV current, probably because I was required to complete an application form for my last three jobs. However I do agree that with the comment made in the post for this "Thing" that "a CV is a living thing" and I really like the idea of using Evernote to keep details of the courses and conferences that  I have attended, even if only to transfer the information into an application form!!

Interview tips 
Having read a number of the other posts for this "Thing" I feel that all the tips that I could offer from the perspective of an interviewee have already stated.

So having recently been "on the other side of the interview table" so to speak I thought that it might be a useful to offer a couple of tips from the perspective of the interviewer:

  1. Do your homework. Find out as much as you can about your prospective employer. As well as looking at organisational websites remember to check out local newspapers (most now have an online archive)  for any information that could be useful in the interview. If possible why not even visit the organisation in advance to get a realistic feel for the workplace. Remember that everyone is on their best behaviour during interviews, not just the interviewee!
  2. Remember for which job you are being interviewed, especially if you have a number of applications on the go at the same time. This may sound a bit stupid but I recently interviewed a candidate who spent the entire interview taking about how much she wanted to work in an HE institution, which is fine expect that the interview was for a job in an FE college!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Thong 20

Unfortunately the Library Routes Project website still seems to be down (other blog posts that I have read noted that the site was off-line back in October), so rather than waiting I’ve decided to blog about my library roots / routes here instead.
Image of a Singnpost
Know Where You Are Going! by sirwiseowl
on Flickr (made available under the Creative
Commons Licence)
I believe that my library roots go way back as I have been an avid reader since childhood. I always enjoyed my Saturday morning visits to the local public library with my mum who even let me use two of her library tickets as children were only issued with two (this was back in the days of Browne issue you understand). From these early experiences I harboured dreams of working in a library one someday.

An unsuccessful attempt at work experience in a local branch library whilst doing my A levels left me completely despondent. (I found that Browne issue, microfiche and a visual impairment were not a good mix.) 

So with all hopes of becoming a librarian dashed it was off to a job in the Civil Service fro yours truly for the next ten years.

2001- 2004
After working in IT as a Systems Analyst for twelve years, a job that I loved, I was faced with redundancy and no real idea of what I wanted to do next, except the certainty that I didn’t want to continue working in the IT sector anymore.

Now with the mortgage paid off by the redundancy money and realising that I had a range of transferable skills perhaps finally this dream could become a reality.

I applied for a job as a Library Assistant in one of the local public libraries and although unsuccessful on that occasion (due to my lack of library experience) the interviewer gave me some invaluable feedback. Acting upon the feedback I decided to undertake voluntary work in our local Scope charity shop and the local theatre in order to further develop my cash handling and customer service skills. This in turn led to my successfully obtaining a post as a Library Assistant.

At my first probationary review I was advised by my librarian that I would need to obtain professional qualifications if I wanted to progress in my library career. It was with her encouragement I undertook a two-year HNC, Library & Information Science course via distance learning with Edinburgh’s Telford College. Achieving this qualification helped me to get onto the next rung of the ladder as a Senior Library Assistant and also provided a gentle way back into formal learning after a twenty year gap!

2005 - 2011
But my dream had always been to be a librarian and so I applied to Aberystwyth University to study their BSc Econ Library and Information Studies course as it was offered via distance learning (a format that I had found with the HNC course really worked for me). 

It took six years to complete this course but I finally graduated in 2011 and during this time I had also realised my dream, having secured a job in 2008 as a subject librarian in an FE college library where I am still working today.

This year, as part of my continuing professional development, I have completed the new City and Guilds Level 3 Certificate in Learning Support course offered by my employers. I felt that this course was particularly relevant since my subject areas involve a higher-than-average level of learner support.  

The Future
When reflecting on the route I wish to follow sadly chartership is not a realistic option for me at the moment as it is not recognised by my current employers as relevant to my role. Therefore should I decide to go down this route at a later date it is likely to be without any workplace support.

However having said after I graduated last year that I would never study again, after doing the C&G  course this year the study bug has bitten me again. But this time since having a Master’s is not a requirement of my job I have decided to undertake the course of study for myself and am currently in the process of investigating suitable MSc research courses that I can undertake via distance learning.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Thing 19

Mother and calf by David W. Siu on Flickr
 (available under the Creative Commons Licence)
I am so sorry that in struggling to catch up I have even managed to be late for the catch-up "Thing"!

I found Jo Wood's guest blog about fitting professional development into your life really interesting. I especially liked  her comments about not trying to do everything and that it is OK to say "no" to people sometimes. Rather than being forced into doing something that takes up valuable time and doesn't really interest  me.

I am determined to attend the new Umbrella conference next July as Jo's comments about attending one really good conference rather than several average ones really hit home. Up until now it seemed that I was  only allowed attend anything that was a) local and b) free. Perhaps  I try to include it in my next development review as Jo suggested.

When reflecting on CPD23 on a personal basis I have to confess that being able to create my personal brand in Thing 3 was really exciting and is something that I want to develop.

Whereas I found that having the opportunity in Thing 17 to develop my Prezi skills has been the most useful to-date in terms of my current work role.  

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Thing 18

Apples used in making cider
Apples by soundslogical on Flickr (available
under the Creative Commons Licence).
A hectic few weeks at work followed by a well- deserved holiday (not far from where they make lovely Herefordshire cider)   has meant that I have fallen behind in doing the "Things". 

So I am determined to try and complete at least two this week, starting with Thing 18, which is all about screen capture and podcasting...


I really like the idea of screen capture tools and at work we already use a similar screen capture product from Adobe called Captivate to produce short video tutorials for the students as part of our induction package. I've had a play around with Jing but have not produced anything worth sharing and am not sure if I can justify using it at the moment. 


Audacity for Prodcasting

I've used Audacity in the past for converting / editing music files but have never gone down the podcasting route. I'm not sure that it is really me and since there is currently no requirement to produce podcasts in my workplace I don't feel that it would be worth spending time investigating this "Thing" further.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Thing 17

Spiralling stained glass image
Recursive Stained Glass by gadl on Flickr
(available for use under the Creative
Commons Licence)
 Like most people who work as part of a team I am happy to share resources but I have to confess that the overuse of Powerpoint presentations within the FE college where I work drives me crazy! 

Therefore being a bit short of time this week (the start of the new academic year is always stressful) I decided to concentrate on Prezi as I am already familiar with Slideshare.

When one of my ex-colleagues (Bound to unravel) decided to use Prezi last year in order to create a new presentation for our library induction I was really impressed and wanted to learn more. But as it always the case working in libraries there was never enough time to explore Prezi properly.

 Undertaking this CPD23 course has finally given me the opportunity to learn more about Prezi and its varied uses. In particular I found the tips and examples in Ned Potter’s “The ultimate guide to Prezi“ really useful.

As a result when it came to organising this year’s induction I have found that doing this “Thing” has enabled me to update the original presentations with confidence, even so far as to try out a few ideas of my own!