Tuesday, 30 August 2011

#cpd23, Thing 10: Routes into librarianship

Well, I really enjoyed the elephants in the last post. 'Graduate traineeships, Masters Degrees, Chartership, Accreditation' is rather hard to illustrate with animals, though. But maybe there's something I can do with it. It's all about our 'journey' (cue slushy music) as librarians, isn't it? And when I think of journeys, I think of nothing so much as the majestic bison wending its way across the plains (cue David Attenborough)...

'Bison herd' by Alan Vernon on Flickr
"Here, in the Hayden valley, Wyoming..."

Now, I've talked about my route into librarianship fairly recently, so if you want to know all the ins and outs I'll point you over here, and those that have already read the tale won't end up like this fellow:

'Sleeping bison' by Carl Wainwright on Flickr
What do bison dream about?

In this instalment of the story, I really ought to talk about Chartership, and my progress (or lack thereof) towards it. Having completed my part-time LIS MA in September 2008, by early 2010 I had pretty much got used to my not having essays to write in every spare moment, and thought I was ready for a new challenge. I also new that the job hunt would be looming in a year's time. These two factors combined to convince me to register for Chartership.  I'd been engaging in a fair amount of professional development since graduation (the nature of my job demanded it), so I felt that I had the material for a good portfolio.  I found a mentor, went to some Chartership course, and got involved in things to add to the portfolio evidence.  I set myself an ambitious deadline for completion. So far, so good.  But things have a habit of not turning out how you think they will.

'starting my qiviut lace scarf' by andreakw on Flickr
Did you know that you can turn bison into knitting?

The trouble is, that I got so involved with so many great things, that Chartership has fallen by the wayside. I made six months' decent progress: drawing up necessary development plan, meeting my mentor, writing up some of my experiences, and creating a beautiful portfolio template that just requires me to fill in all the blanks. Around about Christmas and shortly afterwards the job situation resolved itself (at least temporarily), my extra-curricular involvement stepped itself up another notch or too and Chartership really hasn't had a look in since.  Dear mentor, if you are reading this, sorry.

It's time I faced facts: I need to sort myself and get on and finish this.

'~ buff1 ~' by ViaMoi on Flickr
A face you can't ignore. (I should point out that my mentor looks nothing like this. This is mor a representation of my inner annoyance at letting Chartership drag on.)

Probably the first step should be to contact my mentor.  I've been putting that off and off and off not least because I feel I should have done some work first. So maybe I should do some work - draw up a plan, at least - and then get in touch.

Hopefully this public self-shaming will encourage me into doing something, anything. All encouragement gratefully received. Is anyone else in a similar position? Want to team up, and motivate each other together?

Yours, abjectly,


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

#cpd23, Thing 9; Evernote

...or Excuses for Elephants. Every good course needs elephants, I say.

The premise of Evernote sounds amazing. A way of tying together all those notes of cool things, to-do lists for different parts of life, documents, webpages and so on; and of accessing them from all possible platforms and devices. I should be leaning towards this like, well, like this elephant:

'balancing elephant' by paraflyer on Flickr
I ought to embrace Evernote

But the problem is, as I may have mentioned before, that I don't (yet) have a gadget with me at all times. Web-based solutions are great, as I use several different computers, but I don't have a smartphone, or even my own laptop, so a lot of my remembering still has to happen the low-tech way (pace my iGoogle to-do list). I imagine that eventually I'll follow the herd (see below) into the technological present and I'll be able to embrace this more fully.

Untitled by darnstotheradio on Flickr
Following the herd

So what can I do with this Evernote thingy?

'! danger elephants at Knowsley Safari Park?' by Adam Foster | Codefor on Flickr
What, indeed?

Well, I can write little notes, all formatty like a word-processor and tag them. And I can clip webpages, not just the URL but the whole thing if I want, and tag them up too. A quick search suggests that there are ways of getting Delicious bookmarks into Evernote if I wanted to transfer them across, but it doesn't seem that they would be so easily available to other people? There's a 'share notebook' function, so I could set up different notebooks and share some of them but not others. But is it possible to make individual notes private or shared? Sociability is much harder than these guys make it seem:
'baby elephant | playing in the water' by Adam Foster | Codefor on Flickr
Why isn't more of life like this?

'Feel me... touch me....LOVE me!' by ucumari on Flickr
The point. Geddit?
So, what's the point of this post? Apart from liking elephants a lot, I think the point is that I see that Evernote's something useful--I'm sure it could turn me into the productive, organised, efficient person I'm sure I really am--but I need to use to more to work out how it works. And I probably won't use it more in the very near future because of a lack of tech.

Friday, 5 August 2011

#cpd23, Thing 8: Google Calendar

I have so very little to say on this subject. Very little indeed. So I've included a lovely picture of a medieval manuscript, courtesy of the Walters Art Museum's Flickr stream. Hold your mouse over the picture for more information.

Calendar for August from a thirteenth-century psalter produced in the diocese of Augsburg.  Illuminated, and decorated with images of a tonsured man and a young woman, representing the astrological sign virgo. Walters Art Museum, MS W.78, fol. 6v.
Walters Art Museum, MS W.78, fol. 6v
I do have a Google calendar, in which I post a few occasional reminders (has the Council Tax money transferred itself? Don't forget that cool ehxibition ends next week). I have a couple of shared calendars (cpd23, TeachMeet), I'm aware of the book due dates sidget doo-dah from our Library (instructions here) - I see the use of all this, I really do.  But I don't have sufficient tech upon my person that an online calendar is more useful than a small diary I carry around with me.

That being said, there's no doubting that for an organisation, Google Calendar is a good way to share events, or for a group of people organising something - once the date/time/place are agreed, only one person needs to input the info and it will synch automatically to everyone's diary.  That ought to stamp out 'oh, I thought we said Tuesday...' and its ilk.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

#cpd23, Thing 7: 'Real-life' organisations and networks

On the subject of CILIP, and of belonging to organisations more generally, I can say nothing that hasn't already been covered most adeptly in the following three posts and their comments:
My personal attitude is to try and get involved for the greater good of all concerned. I'm a bit naive and idealistic sometimes.  But anyway, here are some more practical thoughts that may be of use:

Getting the most from CILIP

Did you know that your CILIP local branch and special interest group(s) can only communicate with you by email if you have registered on the CILIP site? Each group/branch can send a monthly email, though sadly I can't promise that they all do. No registration = no email = wondering what CILIP's doing for you. Here's how to register and check your settings (click on the images to enlarge them):

Go to http://www.cilip.org.uk/ and click on 'Register on this website'

After you've completed the registration process, check the 'Membership details' tab to see which branch and group(s) you're a member of.  Use the 'eBulletins' tab to sign up for CILIP central's various eBulletins.

If your branch or group isn't emailing you - get in touch with them (there should be contact information on their page on the CILIP site) and harrass them into communicating (or offer to help out!).

Useful organisations for the special collections librarian

Aside from the CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group (and you'll notice above that I'm not currently a member - I switched allegiances for bursary-application reasons), what's useful for rare/special folk?

  • The Historic Libraries Forum is FREE to join. They have a newsletter, an annual conference (last year's was very good), run training courses, they campaign on behalf of libraries under threat, and they've got a new mentoring scheme just starting.  Go and register.
  • AMARC is the Association for Manuscripts and Archives in Research Collections. Alison Cullingford recommends it, and membership is only £10.00.  They have two or three yearly meetings and a newsletter.
  • IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, has a Rare Books and Manuscripts Section.  I haven't managed to work out what's what regarding IFLA membership: I've heard more than once in the last year that CILIP membership gets you some sort of IFLA membership, too, and will post again when I untangle the mystery.  Anyway, the forthcoming Mid-Term Meeting, 'Ambassadors of the Book. Competences for heritage librarians', looks very interesting indeed, and is in Antwerp Where The Plantin Museum Is.
  • I understand that it's possible to be an overseas member of the American Library Association (ALA), which has a Rare Books and Manuscripts bit (RBMS). On its homepage it describes itself as a "Section [...] of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association (ALA)", and maybe that helps you understand why I haven't summoned up the wherewithal to find out more, and whether I can benefit from it at all. (The ALA website hurts my brain even more than the CILIP one.) I hear that other bits of ALA have all sorts of online training and events, but I don't see heaps of evidence of that on the RBMS pages. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong way. [4/08/11 Edited to add: a helpful tweeter points out that ARCL, the parent group does do e-learning things.]
  • There's the Archives and Records Association (ARA) for those for whom 'special' spills right over into archives.  It's a recent amalgamation of the Society of Archivists and the British Records Association.
  • In a slightly different specialist field is IAML, the International Association of Music Libraries.  As a librarian with a music degree, though no actual music librarianship experience, it has been suggested (you know who you are) that I should join to help keep my options open. International membership is 37 Euro, but I can't find the cost of UK & Ireland branch membership (it seems to get you less, so is possibly cheaper).
  • Finally, returning to the online networking business, here are a couple of Twitter lists of rare books/special collections/archives people:

Any useful groups I've missed?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

#cpd23, Thing 6: Online networks

Cooee, there are a lot of online networks aren't there? At the last count, I'm a member of at least all of the following, grouped according to my problems with them:

Stuff is going on but I don't keep up with it:
Some stuff is going on, though possibly not enough to warrant much attention, and that makes me even worse at keeping up with it:
'tangle' by Jenning Downing on Flickr
'tangle' by Jenning Downing on Flickr
As you may have guessed, I'm not very good at making the most of these sites.  My action point at the end of this Thing is to set up RSS feeds for forums and site activity so that I have more idea what's happening where.  At the moment I'm relying on Twitter to draw my attention to interesting things, but I don't really think this is necessarily the responsible action to take.

Not responsible? I think not. Relying on other people to bring me news of these communities is a bit lazy, and it also acts against the best interests of the communities themselves.  If they're worth having, then they're worth using in their native location.  I'm not, to be quite honest, perfectly sure that all of them do bring much to professional networking or anything else (I'm thinking particularly of event-centred communities), but I feel I ought to do more to helping the viable ones be viable, by contributing to a critical mass of users.

The CILIP fora, for example, were a good place to to have hustings for the councillor and VP elections last year - I feel like they ought to be a useful and successful space, but at the moment they're clearly underused. I would have thought that there's a need for a place for discussion that is less 'blink-and-you'll-miss-it' than Twitter, but maybe people prefer do interact that way in blog comments instead?

In conclusion: online networking = good idea, but having so many places to do it means that it's somehow harder than it should be. And I haven't even done anything (save put up a profile pic and check my privacy settings) with Google+ yet.