Wednesday, 23 November 2011

And finally...

The final thing!

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


Thing 22 looks at volunteering. In the days when I hoped to be a teacher, I spent many hours volunteering in primary schools, but I have never volunteered in the library sector. Unless you count being my school's 'lunchtime librarian' when I was 13 : )

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


Thing 21 is about promoting yourself in job applications and at interview. I should start by saying that I am in no way looking at applying for other jobs! I am astonished that I've been so fortunate in having arrived in my current position and every day I can't quite believe I've pulled it off - I have a job I genuinely love.

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)
So in job-application-speak I guess that make me a lifelong learner, a strategist, and a creative problem solver, who is not afraid to get her hands dirty, and who has a passion for heritage!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Library Routes

Thing 20 covers the Library Routes project, and wants us to write about how we got into the profession. I wrote about this at length for Thing 10, so I think I'll approach this activity by adding my link to the project, and exploring others' stories.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

More reflection

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.

Screen capture and podcasts

I'm *very* excited about the prospect of screen capture software such as Jing. This software allows the user to create a video of an activity performed on their computer - a perfect 'how-to' tool for those who learn visually.
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

Prezi and Slideshare

The prospect of writing about Thing 17, Prezi, has delayed me considerably on the CPD23 path, as I really wanted to have a go at making one. Unfortunately, no opportunities presented themselves over the summer, and now we're in the middle of term my feet haven't touched the ground. I think this is one of the Things I'll come back to when a presentation is called for.

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.