Wednesday, 23 November 2011
For this we have been asked to put together a personal development plan - to identify gaps in experience and what we want to do next in our careers.
We create PDPs as part of an appraisal process at work, so this is really a summary of that.
The first priority for me is to complete the Archives and Records Association's Registration Scheme, as I think I may now have enough in my portfolio to attempt this (especially now I can include CPD23). It's something I have put off for too long, pleading a lack of time. But it's more due to a failure to allocate time - there's no deadline, so it naturally keeps dropping to the bottom of the priority list. If I had spent as much time on it as I have on CPD23, it would be done by now, with time left over! So my plan is to break what needs to be done down into chunks and schedule some deadlines into my diary, just like CPD23.
My second priority is to try and get more experience of working with our rare book collections. Right now I'm lucky to be able to do a little of everything, simply due to our small number of staff. If this were to change in the future, I wouldn't want to end up in a role which limits me to working solely with archives simply due to my official job title. I've been concerned about this for a while now, even to the point of wondering if I should take a second PGDip, this time in Library Studies. Aside from the fact that I can't really afford to do this, it also seemed pretty pointless when a lot of the basics of working with 'information' were covered on my archives course, and what I have is a very specific requirement to learn about non-circulating rare book collections. When Aberystwyth University announced the release of two Rare Books Librarianship modules which could be taken on a stand alone basis by distance learning, I jumped at the chance to enrol. So far I am really enjoying the modules and I think they will stand me in good stead for the future. I want to make sure that what I learn on them is applied in a practical way in the workplace, and I need to spend some time thinking about how I can make that happen.
And that brings CPD23 to an end! I've really enjoyed the experience and have been recommending it to anyone who will listen. I've taken away a great deal of useful information and tips which I'll continue to put to good use. Thank you to all involved in organising, structuring, contributing to and supporting CPD23, you are all marvellous.
Monday, 21 November 2011
I have been fortunate enough that volunteering was never a route I needed to consider, though it's one I would certainly have taken should it have been necessary. At Special Collections and Archives, I'm on the other side of the equation, dealing with requests for volunteering, and training and supervising volunteers we take on.
We take on very few volunteers, and this is not due to a lack of offers - quite the contrary. I always find it very hard to turn away offers of help, since it is always needed, but we lack spare workstations and sufficient staff available to train and supervise volunteers on a regular basis. The problem with offering work which requires less training is that the volunteer gains little from the experience. We believe that placements should be mutually beneficial, and with this comes the need for time and effort from both sides. My experience of working with volunteers has been very positive - all have been tremendously motivated, talented and quick to pick up new skills - so we hope one day to be in a position to offer more voluntary opportunities.
Sunday, 20 November 2011
So to approach this Thing, I'll stick to looking at the questions which are posed as a jumping off point for thinking about our strengths and how to promote them. We're asked what we like doing, even how we spend our spare time, since what we enjoy is usually what we're good at, and the types of things we're good at can be extrapolated into more general strengths.
Well, I mainly spend my spare time:
- reading/studying (I enjoy learning about a wide range of subjects)
- crocheting (while on the surface this looks like I like working systematically through instructions - a pattern - in reality the pattern always needs a bit of creative modifying to get the end result you want)
- fixing my 1890s house up (learning new skills, problem solving, working with my hands, restoring heritage, and being creative)
- playing boardgames (the types I play, such as Settlers of Catan, usually focus strongly on strategic planning and resource management, so until I rule the world, boardgames are good practice)
Friday, 18 November 2011
Thursday, 17 November 2011
For Thing 19, we've been asked to write another post reflecting back on what has been covered in the course, now it is almost at an end.
The most significant outcome from my participation in CPD23 has been the establishment of a blog to publicise and promote the repository I work for, Special Collections and Archives. Prior to having set up my own blog for CPD23, the idea of a library blog had been an idea which had been tossed around, but none of us were sure how to go about it, and whether a considerable about of work or money would be involved. Once myself and two other colleagues had set up CPD23 blogs, we felt confident to take the idea forward, confident that blogs could be set up for free and maintained with no special IT support.
I'm really proud of our library blog, and I enjoy writing content for it, so much so that my own may suffer as a result, but I'll persevere to keep it up. I have to remember that my own development is as important as that of my workplace.
In terms of tools, I still use Twitter on a more or less daily basis and it continues to be a very useful source of information and an easy way to connect with others in the profession. I also plan to use Jing in the near future to create a visual guide to using our new archives catalogue.
During Thing 14, I casually mentioned that my essay writing days were behind me, so I had no use of citation software. Turns out I was wrong about this, because last month I began a standalone module from Aberystwyth University on Rare Books Librarianship. I've just finished an essay on the impact of technology on the book trade, and in my haste to get started, I neglected to take time to learn how to use any of these automated citation tools. Faced with the very real prospect of plugging in my footnotes and bibliography by hand, I'm somewhat regretting this. But there are more assignments to come, and time allowing, I will give them a go.
Special Collections and Archives is launching an archives catalogue in the new year - a demonstration video, showing how to explore the catalogue, would be incredibly useful and about a million times preferable than trying to describe buttons in words.
This is my first attempt at playing with Jing, to create a video briefly demonstrating our archives catalogue.
To my shame I have never listened to a podcast, let alone made one. The name is misleading and I always assumed podcasts were integral and restricted to ipods and ipads. Having resolutely rejected all things Apple, I'm pleasantly surprised to find that this isn't the case, and will have a go at following and downloading some to my MP3 player. Sounds like I need to take a good look at Podwhating, as I clearly don't know the first thing about podcasts!
Tuesday, 15 November 2011
I've seen Prezi in action at several events this year, and it seems a really interesting alternative to Powerpoint. We know that people think, and learn, in different ways, and I can see that the two tools allow for two very different types of approach - one linear and hierarchical, the other more free-form and mind-mappy. I'm always happy to try new things, but I strongly suspect that the archivist in me will always prefer Powerpoint. I know that you can import Powerpoint slides to Prezi, but this does seem to defeat the point of using this very imaginative tool.
For the time being, I'll watch and learn from others' use of Prezi, and hopefully it help me think about presentations more creatively.
I've used Slideshare in the last week - being required to host a workshop to music students at short notice, I had a dig around to get some inspiration. Although I found little which was particularly relevant to this specialist area, I found some useful introductions to using primary source material, and a link to a timeline builder, which will be very useful for a workshop I teach on the history of printing. Paul Dijstelberge, the Special Collections Curator at Amsterdam University and Associate Professor for the History of the Book, has produced and shared a timeline for the history of printing taken from all over the web - a very informative and well-researched resource which will be fun to explore in workshops.
I will certainly host presentations on Slideshare in future, and would recommend having a poke around - you never know what you might find.
Thursday, 1 September 2011
Thing 16 is advocacy, speaking up for the library profession. I'm not currently very involved in this, though I always sign petitions and (re)tweet positive library articles I see on Twitter. In a more casual way, I have to explain my job to people, who think I stamp books and say 'sssh' a lot, on an almost daily basis. I am very supportive of those who advocate more fervently, and will resolve to find out what I can do to get more involved.
Thanks to Lauren for flagging That's Not Online, which I had seen on Twitter but hadn't had the chance to fully investigate. I'm sure I can find plenty to contribute, seeing as only around 20% of our collections are catalogued.
Go libraries! : )
Monday, 22 August 2011
Friday, 5 August 2011
Monday, 25 July 2011
Friday, 15 July 2011
Wednesday, 6 July 2011
I signed up to Twitter two years ago, and tweeted a grand total of 5 times in the first six months. No one I knew used it, so I followed my interests - bands, events, venues, comedians, and general arts media. I glanced at it occasionally to see what was going on, a bit like the glossy supplement in the weekend papers, but I couldn't see where I fitted in. I later realised that Twitter doesn't make sense until you have followers.
My first use of Twitter at a library conference changed everything - and I would recommend it to anyone. It might take a while to get the hang of typing and listening simultaneously, but it is worth it.
Why you should tweet at conferences:
- Tweeting allows those who can't attend to receive a point-by-point feed during the presentations from those in attendance. I now follow all conferences that interest me from my desk, six or seven so far this year, whereas in the past I would have to be content with picking just one to attend, if I'm lucky. With budget restrictions tightening throughout the sector, this is a very welcome development.
- You know those indecipherable notes you take and almost immediately lose? The ideas, impetus and enthusiasm you had when surrounded by a forum of like-minded individuals which inevitably passes on returning to the daily grind? No more of that - you have an online record, not just of your own tweets made in the moment, but those of others. For anyone who has to draw up a conference report on returning to work, to justify the funds spent, or for chartership/registration purposes, this is invaluable.
- Develop an instant network of professionals working in your area - follow all those tweeting and they will usually follow you back. Now the conference can continue long after the event itself, and you will have made some valuable contacts.
After the conference I found myself with actual followers. Then it happened - the first time I was mentioned. I was hooked from then on - I was talking, people were listening, and talking back - a genuine multi-way network was taking shape. My followers were retweeting my content, and their followers began following me. I wanted to add to my numbers, and went follow crazy for a few days. When I realised I couldn't keep up with the feed, I dropped all the celebrity/media stuff, and retained solely library/information people who regularly conference tweet and are otherwise helpful and informed. I still purge occasionally, so if you've made the cut, feel proud! If you're new to using Twitter to keep up with library news here are some of the top people I follow, in no particular order:
RSS feeds - I must admit to being entirely ignorant of these until setting up this blog a couple of weeks ago. I'm using Google Reader, and have added a few blogs to it. It seems straightforward enough, but I'm not sure I'll remember to check it all that often - I think I'd prefer some sort of email digest which is forcibly pushed at me at intervals.
Pushnote - Hmmm. I don't get it. No one I know seems to be using it. Browsing some other CPD23 blogs, I don't think I'm alone in this. Though I felt the same about Twitter, so I will wait to be proved wrong : )
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
I like my name - so much so that when I married I set aside my feminist principles in order to obtain Harvey in exchange for Smith. Well wouldn’t you rather be ‘battle-worthy’ than the guy that makes the horseshoes? Unfortunately, since there’s a few Alison Harveys out there, and I didn’t want the username getting too long, a strategically placed underscores (the only symbol allowed), created @alisonharvey_. Alison Harvey has become my brand, thus also my blog domain name, which was luckily available. And if I write down it enough times, my Google search result position might even improve!
Which leads on nicely to the guilty pleasure of Googling oneself. Searching for just ‘Alison Harvey’ surprisingly finds me on the bottom result of the first page, underneath a chiropractor, business manager, biomedicine research fellow, immigration law practitioner, and a travel writer for the Observer. Unexpectedly, the result found is my Archives and Records Association profile. I only joined this in order to be able to contribute to a discussion, and had not populated it in any way, so I was very surprised at the high ranking of this page. I don’t feature in Google search results again until the bottom of page 4. The ARA profile was registered under the nickname, which was also in the URL, so I deleted it and created a new one registered as, you guessed it, alisonharvey. I also added plenty of detail to it – a photo, my location, position, blog address, and interests.
Friday, 24 June 2011
Now. I started at the participants page - opening blogs with good titles randomly, then stopped when I realised there are over 500 of us taking part in CPD23. There was so much I wanted to read, and so little time. The internet can feel like one giant conference, going on 24-7. It's very easy to feel overwhelmed and left behind by the sheer amount of stuff going on. This is not the first time I've encountered this - Twitter can induce a similar feeling of mild panic in me, of being incapable of keeping up with it all. Of course, no one can, and this is why as information professionals we of all people are best equipped to roll up our sleeves and tackle vast amounts of information carefully and systematically. So I thought about what I wanted to achieve. I wanted to take a look at blogs by colleagues, blogs by people who had commented on my blog, blogs by people I know via Twitter, and also try and find some fellow archivists/rare book librarians.
My colleagues darklecat and Helen Ceridwen are taking part, so I wanted to see how they were getting on. Darklecat is a cataloguing librarian, who edits the Staff Development and Engagement Newsletter, and I'm hoping she'll write a piece on her experiences of taking part in CPD23, and encourage others to take it up. Helen is also a cataloguing librarian with an extensive career, and blogged about how she hopes to use CPD23 to keep up with the latest developments in librarianship - having already witnessed and adapted to many a transformation of the library sector over the years! Apologies to colleagues I didn't get around to - I will endeavor to track you down and follow you, in a nice way.
I have virtual colleagues on Twitter - librarians I've never met but who tweet interesting links, helpful information, and participate in an engaging daily public dialog with their peers. Bethanar and Marie Lancaster had both left comments on my blog, and make regular appearances in my Twitter feed, so they seemed a good choice. Bethanar has taken the brave step of using Tumblr, a relatively new blogging platform, and her blog is looking super-professional. Marie Lancaster blogged about how she had decided to get involved with CPD23 to get herself up to speed on professional developments, having recently returned to work after maternity leave.
Finally, I used the very useful delicious list of bookmarked participants to find bloggers tagged with rare books, or archives, to find new contacts working in my specialism. Librarian Lou was, along with myself, tagged as 'rare' and 'special' on delicious, which I thought was rather nice. Headstrong Ways is a librarian working in an institution with archives - so I think I may be the only archivist taking part in CPD23? This makes me sad - if you are an archivist, make yourself known!
I've spent some time this week learning how to soup my blog up. I've added an email subscription widget and a twitter stream. You don't have to keep the BBC Micro-style black background and lurid green text it defaults to - there are options to change the colours to get it to suit your blog background. Other useful widgets for blogs here. I've also registered the blog with Google, to make sure it's found in searches. And finally... got my links in Blogger to open in a new window, by following the html instructions here.
Monday, 20 June 2011
As you can see I've figured out the how bit - I've chosen to use Blogger. As the owner of both a Gmail account and a Google branded phone, Blogger's compatibility with this internet Goliath is a major advantage. I've used Wordpress in the past, not professionally but rather for recording progress in the allotment! There doesn't seem much to choose between the two so I thought I'd try this out for a change. It was very straightforward to set up and even customise a little with an 'archivey' theme. The title will probably change but I couldn't stand to stare at the screen any longer trying to think what to call the thing. Like many archivists I work in a basement, and I like the nod to Dostoevsky, who probably gets out as much as I do.
I haven't written a professional blog before, though I do follow a few. Like many teenagers I was a committed diary-writer, but as I got older and less weird I fell out of the habit. The idea of recording thoughts and ideas online (as opposed to the odd photo of my runner beans) is something that would have horrified my younger self. However, I've been convinced by those in the know that blogging is a very useful tool for keeping track of your professional developement and getting into the habit of activitely and critically reflecting on your experiences.
And I sure need to.
I heard about CPD23 as I was making yet another attempt to write up Learning Outcome forms towards my Registration portfolio. (Registration with the Archives and Records Association is the archivist's version of Chartership with CILIP for librarians). For Registration, I need to come up 12 activities I've taken part in since qualification in 2008, and write - and I mean really write - about how they were of long term professional benefit. All the advice is to write up my Learning Outcome forms during or straight after the activity - be it training, study/research, work acheivements or contributions to the profession - but of course I haven't. So I found myself trying to describe and think reflectively about two or three year old projects, wishing I had made some notes at the time. CPD23 seemed like a really good excuse to set up a blog without seeming too self-important, and all being well it will grow into a space for me to use to record future developments, beyond the life of this project.
I read Ned Potter's post 'Everything you've ever wanted to know about blogging' with great interest and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in starting or promoting blogging. It includes some great advice of taking things further, and on my to-do list this week will be: adding feeds, integrating Twitter (@alison__harvey) and registering the blog. In a few days when we've all had a chance to get something written, I'll move onto Thing 2: investigate other blogs!
Tuesday, 31 May 2011
So why blog? I've decided to take part in CPD23: http://cpd23.blogspot.com/, which requires me to use a blog over the summer months to critically reflect on a number (23 to be exact) of topics/tools/skills related to professional development in the wonderful world of information, books and archives.
But no more spoilers! Week one starts on 20th June, where I'll be writing about my motivations for taking part in CPD23 and for starting a blog for work purposes.