#cpd23 Thing 4 – Current awareness

Thing 4 explores Twitter, RSS feeds and Storify. I’ve used all these before, to a greater or lesser extent, so I will say briefly how and why I use them.

Twitter

I use Twitter pretty much everyday. I have it on my phone, which makes keeping up-to-date very easy, and I also receive notifications when someone @replies me. I don’t think I use it to its full potential; for example, I don’t use lists.

Although quite a lot of the time I do tweet about something inane, I do use it mainly for networking and for following interesting events and issues. I have gotten the most out of Twitter when I started using it more for following LIS people.

I have this blog set up so it’s posts to Twitter when I publish a new post. I’ve noticed from the site stats that a lot of my views come from Twitter, so this is clearly working!

If anyone would like to follow me on Twitter, you can find me @Kangarooth.

RSS Feeds

This is one I don’t use as much as I should. My Sheffield University email is hosted by Google, so I can easily access Google Reader. However, I set one up last year, so I’d rather not subscribe to the same things on a new reader.

I tend to forget about my Google Reader, then when I do remember, there’s no way I can read all of the new posts! It is, though, a fantastic way to aggregate all the blogs you enjoy reading, rather than searching each one out, and having to remember them. I really must get back in the habit of using it to read blogs.

Storify

Unfortunately it doesn’t work on my laptop. I’m going to have a play around and see if I can’t get it working. But for now, I’ll just say that I have used it very briefly once before, and it seemed a very straightforward and intuitive tool, that I hope to investigate more when I’m able. I can see the benefits of it for getting information across, and there are some great examples out there, such as this one for CPD23 Thing 4!

When I can get it working, I’ll have a play, and perhaps post it to here as a supplementary blog post 🙂

24 Hour Opening – Some Thoughts

There’s some very interesting discussion going on over at the fantastic blog Don’t Call Me Miss about the merits/issues of 24 hour library opening hours. I commented on the post with some of my initial thoughts, and my experience of the Information Commons (open 24/7, 365 days a year) here at Sheffield University, but I wanted to write a longer musing here.

For me, this issue goes back to that old chestnut: student expectations.

Students are paying higher fees than ever before. Unfortunately, this doesn’t actually mean the universities are getting any more funding; these higher tuition fees are subsidising lowered Government funding. However, all the typical undergraduate sees is that they are paying more, so they expect more from the service. This includes being able to use the library whenever, and however, they want. I realise I sound quite negative, but I don’t mean to be. Library staff have always had to struggle with user expectations and what the library can realistically offer.

I feel I am personally in an interesting position right now, as I currently have a dual position as a librarian (or near enough…) and as a current student. I can see both points of view (not to say librarians don’t see the students’ point, of course!).

The Information Commons

Personally, I am really not the pull-an-all-nighter kind of person, but a lot of my friends say they work better in the evening and at night. The library is somewhere they can go to revise that isn’t full of distractions.

The IC – open 24/7, 365 days a year. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/0742/

The Information Commons (IC) is one of the libraries here at Sheffield, and has been designed for all learning styles. As such, it caters for the night owls; there is a cafe, comfy seating, and even showers! This is obviously good in some ways, but I feel it doesn’t necessarily set a good example for students by perpetuating the idea that one should cram all night.

I also think in some ways, the IC is setting an example for other libraries. The IC is often praised for its innovation and style, but 24/7×365 is part of that; perhaps saying other libraries should follow the lead? I don’t know, its hard to make a judgement like that, so I’ll leave it as an open question.

#cpd23 Thing 3 – Consider your personal brand


Thing 3: Consider your personal brand

  • Name used…

Both my blog and my Twitter name are Kangarooth; somewhat random but vaguely related to my actual name, and not particularly library-related. I joined Twitter yonks ago, and used it for personal, rather than professional, reasons. It was only really when I started as a Graduate Trainee (or around that time) that I started using it more for networking and professional purposes, and by then it was too late for a name change! Oh well, I don’t want to change it since I’ve had it for so long, it might confuse people, and anyway, I like it!

Similarly, when I started this blog, it was just for personal reflection. I actually just called it ‘Ruth’s Blog’ at first, but after reading this excellent post by Sam Wiggins, I decided to change it to match my Twitter handle.

  • Photograph…

Again, my photo on this blog is the same as my Twitter avatar. My picture for Facebook tends to change reasonably frequently, but I only use Facebook for personal stuff, like sharing stupid links with my sisters. Since Twitter and this blog are both more ‘profersonal’, I made a conscious decision to include the same picture.

It could be improved, as I am quite teeny in the picture, but I think consistency it more important to me than my face being immediately recognisable.

It is, however, a recent photo, so hopefully I will be recognisable in the flesh.

  •  Professional/personal identity…

I am keen to keep up a professional identity on Twitter, as it is where I do the majority of networking, but I also inject quite a lot of my personal identity into my presence there too. Looking at my tweets from the last year, I feel it reflects my ‘profersonal’ approach:

There’s nothing really negative there (and it’s unsurprising to see ‘cake’ in there!).

I also think my Twitter bio reflects my mixture of professional and personal use of Twitter. I want people to know a little about me as a person.

  • Visual brand…

    This is something that has been on my mind this week, actually. Earlier in the week, I ordered some business cards to take with me to the SLA Annual Conference in July. Ideally I would have liked some cards I could customise; I played around with having the flower banner of my blog as the background. However, these cost a small fortune, and in the end I felt some plain(ish) blue ones, with my contact details and a short snappy sentence about me, would suffice. We’ll see how that goes in July!

    I have tried to create consistency in my online presence. The flowers in the banner here are similar to my Twitter background (though I’m not sure how much the latter gets seen).

    My Twitter profile

  • Vanity check…

Vanity check: I just searched for my name in Google. Not all that much came up, so I added ‘library’. This was a bit more relevant:

Hmm, I don’t work at Loughborough University, and my Twitter isn’t @rjlib. Usurper! I had a bit of a snoop, and turns out she did her MA at Sheffield too. Small world!

I knew there was another Ruth Jenkins librarian around, so I wasn’t too surprised. That second result is me, but it’s fairly old, considering I wrote it at the start of my traineeship in 2010. I don’t mind though, as it’s relevant to me as a librarian, and I wouldn’t mind if a potential employer/colleague saw it.

  • What will I change?

I’ll definitely bear in mind the importance of a consistent visual brand. For example, if I decide to set up a new blog or an account on a new social media, I’ll make sure to link it visually to the rest of my online presence.

It might also be worth setting up a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn pages tend to rank highly on Google search results, and as such it would give me a guaranteed ‘professional’ presence on the first page if someone did search for me on Google. I’ve explored LinkedIn before, but perhaps it’s time to give it another shot.


Are we there yet? A review of the second term

This week is the final week of the taught part of the course. All the undergraduates are finishing up and getting ready to leave, but I’ve still got til September before I finish. From now until then, it’ll be a countdown to D-Day… Dissertation hand-in.

So here follows a review of the second term, I hope it isn’t too long for you. My review of the first term of teaching can be found here. I figured potential and upcoming students might find this particularly useful.

The modules…

Management for Library and Information Services

This module carried on over the two semesters. It was greatly improved this term, not least by moving to a different classroom – one where we weren’t having to fight computer screens and concrete pillars for a view of the front. The topics covered this term have included marketing and branding, communication in organisations, financial planning, and evaluating the social impact of services. Some of these also involved practical activities; with financial planning we worked out a budget from this year’s spending, using what seemed to me a very complicated spreadsheet! Some of the stuff was very clearly relevant, some of the others a bit too theoretical.

Assessment: 1. Literature Review; 2. Reflective Journal; 3. Service Quality Evaluation – group presentation & report

Research Methods and Dissertation Preparation

Having studied social sciences for five years before starting this course (A Levels in Sociology and Psychology, and undergraduate degree in Sociology), I was already fairly very familiar with a lot of the content of this module. However, that is not to say it isn’t useful, as many of my course mates are not from this kind of background – the majority have studied arts or humanities. It’s also good to have formal preparation for the dissertation project.

Assessment: 1. Initial dissertation proposal; 2. Critique of a previous dissertation; 3. Final dissertation proposal

Libraries, Information & Society II: Academic & Research Libraries

The emphasis is very heavily on the academic libraries side in this module, but there were some really fascinating sessions on a selection of special libraries. Lots of guest speakers also taught on this course, which helps shake things up a bit, and offers a chance to see potential career paths and find out about different areas of LIS.

Assessment: 1. Group presentation on Open Access; 2. Evidence-based briefing paper

Libraries, Information & Society II: Public Libraries

This is one of my smaller classes, and really benefited for it. Discussion was a lot easier in class, and it often felt more like a seminar. Again, there were many guest speakers on this module. However, unsurprisingly, things were often a bit doom-and-gloom, particularly when one speaker informed us of a wonderful project he’d worked on, then proceeded to tell us how there is no chance we’d ever get funding for something like that, and there are no jobs anyway. Perhaps not the best way to inspire future professionals…

Assessment: 3,000 word essay

Archives and Records Management

Another enjoyable module. An introduction to the basics of archives and records management, and quite evenly spread between the two. Best session? Rescuing poor drowned books by constructing a wind tunnel. We also were able to go on a couple of visits in Sheffield, including the city archives and university special collections.

Assessment: 1. 1,500 word essay; 2. Archival/Collections research project

The course overall…

Three negatives

  • Late hand in/feedback turnaround – Turnaround is meant to be two weeks, but for one particular assignment we waited approximately 6 weeks since handing in for feedback. We get penalised 5% for late submission, but the department have no penalisation for late return.
  • Deadlines – I know that time management is an important skill, but with six pieces of work due on the same day (and that’s in no way all of my deadlines this term!), the lecturers could cut us a little slack?
  • Theoretical focus – Some more practical application would be beneficial, perhaps through the organisation of placements, or shadowing.

Three positives

  • Wide range of module choice – Picking my modules was so hard, and I think everyone changed their mind at least once! Sheffield gives the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects, and explore your own interests.
  • Continuing professional development – The lecturers really encourage this. In particular, there is a Facebook group where staff and students post interesting opportunities and events, and these often get emailed round too. That’s how I found out about the SLA ECCA award, and I am sure others have benefitted from the staff’s enthusiasm about CPD.
  • Guest speakers – I said it a couple of times earlier in the post, but I really did enjoy these sessions. A wonderful mix of new professionals, often former students at the iSchool, and more established LIS professionals, whose expertise is obviously gratefully received.

#cpd23 Thing 1 & 2 – Blogging

Thing 1: Blogs and blogging

Why I’m taking part in 23 Things for Professional Development

I have started writing a lot more reflectively since studying on my MA Librarianship course, and actually it was one of the assessments for the Management module to keep a reflective journal. Now this assignment is finished, I want to continue my reflective thinking, and blogging is a great way to do this. Cpd23 will be a way to get me to blog, and reflect, regularly, and learn some new things along the way!

What am I looking forward to?

Having perused the schedule, I think I am probably looking forward to week 20 the most, the Library Day in the Life and Library Routes/Roots part of the programme – I do love a good snoop!

Also, Prezi, which always looks so impressive when done well – I want to do that!

What am I not looking forward to?!

Probably the latter stages, when I am trying to complete my dissertation, job hunt and move house, when I will have no time for blogging! But I will endeavor to do my best.

Thing 2: Investigate some other blogs

Firstly, a reciprocal shout out to fellow library schooler Leanne, who has recently started blogging, so I’m looking forward to following her posts.

And here’s a blog, Just Mich, which combines me favourite things, librarianship and cooking!

Leadership and mentoring

A session on leadership and mentoring, as part of my Management module, has prompted me to reflect on what I see as a good leader, and on what I learnt and what I will do differently in future as a leader as a result of this session.

Leadership

We learnt there are three broad styles of leadership;

  • Authoritarian/Autocratic: The focus of power is with the manager
  • Democratic: The focus of power is with the group. Leadership functions are shared within the group.
  • Laissez-faire: The manager observes things working well, and makes a conscious decision to pass the focus of power to the group. Doesn’t interfere unless necessary.

Many people in the class had experience of all these styles, and it was interesting to hear their anecdotes and examples.

As part of the preparation for this class, we were asked to watch the following TEDtalk, and reflect on the lessons about leadership it contains.

 

For me, the theme that struck me most was that these conductors are on a wide spectrum, from autocratic to laissez-faire, but each style is legitimate (though it obviously depends on the situation at hand).

Along with a discussion of the video, we also identified a leader we admire, and considered their personal qualities which we feel are the most significant in making them a good leader. Our team came up with the following as characteristics of a good leader:

  • Vision
  • Effectiveness
  • Supportive
  • Approachable
  • Communication

Mentoring

The second part of the class was a discussion with Christopher Cipkin, Arts and Humanities Team Manager at the University of Reading, about the benefits of mentoring.

Mentoring is not something I had previously given much thought. The only knowledge I had was that it is part of the chartership process, something I plan to do in the future. I was surprised to learn about how it can be used for other forms of professional development. The main benefit of mentoring, it seemed, was the formalisation of achieving goals; it provides an infrastructure of defined meetings and action points in which to achieve clearly defined goals, with the help and guidance of another person’s experiences and knowledge.

What have I learned? What will I do differently?

Leadership, in some form, will definitely feature in my future career, whether I like it or not! I tend to shy away from taking the lead of a group or team, but actually, it doesn’t have to be as scary as I think. I am going to try to improve my confidence in this area by taking on more leadership roles when I can.

Disaster strikes!

The past two sessions in the Archives and Records Management module have been concerned with preservation, conservation, and, this week, emergency planning and disaster management.

Last week we had Teresea Januszonok from the Sheffield Conservation Unit come to speak with us, and this week involved a tour of the records centre at the university with Records Manager Matthew Zawadski, where there has previously been some flood damage. On this tour we were able to see the space in which the university’s records are kept, and some of the problems and issues that they have encountered. A few years ago there was major flooding in Sheffield, and as newly set up in this building, the team did not have a disaster plan in place. Needless to say, they have one now! This visit was also a chance to find out from others on the course if they had experienced any flooding or similar emergencies in the libraries in which they have worked. One issue was that their library as Grade 1 listed, and as such there were often difficulties with the building in terms of the pipes and guttering. 

Planning for disaster recovery and salvage is important in avoiding escalation of the damage, by improving response time with a standard procedure to follow – reducing panicking and dithering time!

There are four stages;

  1. Raise the alarm
  2. Assess the incident and control it
  3. Containment
  4. Recovery
Wind tunnel

Our wind tunnel to dry water-soaked items

The second part of the session was a fun, messy practical concerned with the third and fourth of these stages, involving salvaging flooded materials, and building a wind tunnel in which to dry them. Although the items had only been in the water for a few hours, some of them were completely saturated. It was these we decided were too wet to dry in the wind tunnel, and were wrapped in bandages and bags for freezer storage. It was really surprising to see just how water-logged and degraded materials could become in such a short amount of time, which really rammed home the importance of disaster management planning and procedures, so one can stay calm and work effectively in such situations.

This practical session was refreshing, as a lot of the course often seems quite theoretical. It is something that is relevant to all libraries, archives, or records collections. It’s definitely one I will remember for when I am working professionally!