Monday, 20 June 2011

Blogs and blogging

It's week 1 and we're looking at blogging - the how and the why.

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!


  1. Have just started cpd23 myself, and am finding several other colleagues are doing the same!
    Like the background to your blog, I'm still playing around trying to make mine look nice.

  2. Very interested to read about your Registration portfolio and thinking about the differences between archivists and librarians generally. You have more specific projects to write about which will make a long-term contribution to research, whereas our efforts are perhaps more ephemeral on the whole. I am new to blogging and still trying to work out what I am doing : mine is very basic at the moment!

  3. I'm another CPD23-er doing the rounds of blogs for Thing 2, and found yours as I browsed the special collections/rare books tag. I agree, your background is great, as is the title. And I like the idea of a blog as a CPD portfolio in embryo.

  4. Yay! An archivist! I've been really impressed with the range of people who've signed up - will be a fascinating glimpse into loads of different workplaces!

    I love your background too - are they photos from your archives?

  5. I'm delighted to be hanging out with the cool librarian kids - just wish ARA would drag themselves out of the last century and get more stuff like this off the ground.

    No, sadly this is way more arty than I could come up with, I'm tempted to have a go though. It's just one of the Blogger backgrounds. I love how you type your stuff in Courier, click Publish and it is instantly transformed into lovely colours, fonts and formatting : )

  6. Hi Alison,

    I was really interested in your blog and how you can use it to help you gain a qualification. I shall add you to my list of watched blogs!

    I'm new to blogging myself and would be interested to know how you get on integrating twitter with your blog.

  7. Hi Alison,

    I started following you on Twitter (I'm @girlinthe) a while ago after asking for archivist Tweeter recommendations, but I don't think I've ever said hello properly. I'm a special collections librarian in Cambridge (currently working with rare books, previously working with an archival collections).

    Have you heard about 23 Things for Archivists? It looks like it's got plenty more Things if you ever need more inspiration! I can't remember how I stumbled across it, but I'd like to get involved with that if only I had more time...

    I've definitely found blogging helpful with my work towards Chartership: my stumbling blog isn't that I can't remember much about things I've done, just that I can't motivate myself to write up my thoughts...


  8. Hi Katie, nice to put a name to a username! Yes I had seen 23 Things for Archivists, but I liked that CPD23 was running 'live' right now. Several of my colleagues are taking part, which I thought would help with keeping it up and benefitting from the shared experience. I think once CPD23 is over I might browse through the archivist's version and supplement the 'things' where necessary.