Great news – My first professional post!

Just a quick note to you all, to announce some great news!

I’ve been lucky enough to be offered a professional librarian post. In mid-September, I’ll be starting my role as Trainee Liaison Librarian (Business & Social Sciences) at Reading University.

The role also has some marketing responsibilities, something which I am very keen to get involved with.

I won’t lie, I’m a little nervous! But I’m really looking forward to starting.  I’m sure I’m going to learn a ton, so I’ll be sure to post about my experiences and you can read all about them. Wish me luck!

#cpd23 Thing 12 – Social Media

I’m afraid this post is a bit of an ode to Twitter. But I can’t help it. Twitter, I love you.

I love using social media, and in particular Twitter, to keep up to date with the library world. I follow quite a lot of library and info pros, so it’s very handy for news, links, and blog posts, among many others.

When using Twitter, I’ve tried to bear in mind that it’s a conversation – that’s why it’s social media. It’s very tempting to just make announcements, rather than interacting and engaging with others. When I first started using Twitter, I probably did tweet too often about my lunch. But now that my Twitter feed has more of a focus, I engage more, and as a result I get more out of it! I feel part of an online community.

I’ve also been very aware, since Thing 3 on my online brand, that people on social media can only build their impression of me from what I put out there. By interacting, rather than just having opinions on topics but perhaps holding back from getting involved in discussions, gets my name out there and people interacting with me too. I tend to shy away from voicing my opinion on topics on the Internet (because this), but library people do tend to be a good bunch!

Interestingly, there was this Guardian article recently, asking whether Twitter is just an echo chamber. It can be to an extent, but I’d much rather we were discussing library/info issues in a potential echo chamber*, than refraining from exploiting and engaging with such a rich medium.

*The concept of the echo chamber, by the way, is very frustrating – once you start thinking about it, you start to see it everywhere!


Sheffield: the best bits

Not a librarianship post, but this may be of use to upcoming Sheffield library-schoolers.

My housemates and I have started to compile a bucket list of things to do in Sheffield, so thought I’d share, in no particular order, a few of my favourite places in Sheffield.

The Winter Garden

Image credit:

The Winter Garden is a beautiful and impressive building. It’s a lovely place to stroll through when you’re in town, or to cower in to avoid the rain!

This lovely indoor botanic garden is in the centre of the city, and also has access to the Millennuim Gallery (and a Fancie cupcake stall; see below!).


So many flavours!

There are three Fancie shops in Sheffield (and I noticed the cafe in the Students’ union has started selling them too). I usually visit the one on Sharrow Vale road, but the one in Meadowhall shopping centre is very convenient too!

These beautiful cupcakes are so delicious, but be prepared; you may feel a little sick after finishing a whole one!

Revolucion de Cuba

Prohibition style cocktails

If you like cocktails and you like tea (I’m assuming you’re probably a librarian, so let’s say you do), this is the place for you! Prohibition style cocktails served in teapots – what fun!

This bar is also well located, as it’s close to uni and just off West Street, probably the centre for student night life.

The Peak District

View from Treak Cliff Cavern in December

Sheffield is so well located for getting to the beautiful Peak District. Buses and train go regularly, so it’s easy to explore and enjoy the wonderful scenery.

This photo was taken when my housemates and I visited Treak Cliff Cavern in Castleton at Christmas, for carol singing in the caves. Buxton’s also lovely – and on a very bouncy bus ride from Sheffield!


That’s me!

Climbing is huge in Sheffield, I suspect because of its proximity to the Peaks.

One of my housemates went indoor climbing regularly, so I recently had a go to cross it off the list!

It was a lot of fun, and I’d definitely go again if I get the chance. There are climbing societies at the university, so that’d be a great way to get involved or to try for the first time, which I highly recommend.

Sheffield Botanical Gardens

Image credit:

The gardens, which are free, are a lovely place to have a wander. Try to find the bear pit!

The Gardens are close to the student villages, so are easy walking distance and a great place to go when you have visitors (or build snowmen in the winter!).



Feel free to comment with your favourite places in Sheffield if you’ve visited before, or ask any questions about it if you’re thinking of coming here to study.

#cpd23 Thing 11 – Mentoring

I wanted to leave this post until after I had returned from SLA Chicago, as I would come back with some experience of having a formal mentor, giving me something on which to reflect for this.

As part of my Early Career Conference Award (ECCA), I was assigned a SLA Europe mentor, who could give tips and advice about preparing for the conference. My mentor was great in the run up to the conference. She very kindly arranged for me to snoop around visit her workplace and learn a little about what she does, and visit some other SLA Europe members, which was a great glimpse into special libraries.

I found having a mentor was a really nice touch to the ECCA. It was comforting to know there was someone just an email away if I was having a panic about what sessions to attend, or what I should bring.

Luke was lucky to have two mentors – Yoda and Obi Wan – in his career development as a Jedi Knight

In terms of other mentors, formal or informal, I’ve not had much experience. I’ve had managers who have been really supportive of my professional development, but I haven’t really experienced that specific relationship a mentor and mentee has.

It is something I plan on exploring in the future, however. Not least because it is required for Chartership, but also to support my own professional development.

Just reaching out to people in the profession and getting their advice can count as mentoring, and this is something I think we can all see ourselves doing, whether we think of it as mentoring/being mentored or not.

Marketing for the Rest of Us – SLA 2012 session write up

The session Marketing for the Rest of Us: a guide for introverts, with speaker Mary Ellen Bates, was standing room only, so I hope that writing up my notes from it will be useful for those who couldn’t attend. The slides for this presentation can be found here.

Marketing, both our services and ourselves, was a theme that cropped up in a few sessions. This presentation focused marketing techniques and advice for the introvert personality type, which I am sure is very common among librarians (I know I’m one!).

I wanted to write up my impressions from this session, as it was inspiring and really got me reflecting on my own marketing/branding etc. Here are some of the ideas and tips that I found most useful and interesting.

‘So, what do you do?’

Mary Ellen started the presentation with some interesting examples of how simple it is to transform an answer to “what do you do?”. Think about what it is you do that’s unique, that’s what your organisation needs. It’s also important that you’re not making the other person do all the work; in other words, it’s my responsibility to make sure I’m communicating the value of what I do. This reminded me very much of elevator pitches, which I later discovered Mary Ellen ran a workshop on at SLA last year!

She also pointed out the importance of talking about benefits, not features. This is something that Ned Potter also spoke about, a few months ago, and is something I am wholeheartedly behind. As soon as it was pointed out to me, I now see people talking about features everywhere, and have vowed not to do myself!

Promote, don’t defend

By taking on a defensive approach, it’s an uphill battle, since you’ll probably be going against your user’s prior experience. Saying Google isn’t reliable, for example, contradicts, for the user, all those times they used Google and found what they wanted.

I think this has some interesting implications for teaching information literacy, and engaging people in wanting to gain these skills; if you can show them how to make the most of Google, rather than saying DON’T USE IT DON’T YOU DARE, they’re more likely to get the most of the instruction because they feel it’s relevant and useful to them.

Build up your brand

Social media is a great way to develop your personal brand, but you can also add value to your profile by doing things such as live-tweeting a conference, blogging, or sharing your slides from a presentation. I’ve been trying to keep my personal brand in mind after reflecting on it for CPD23, but the idea of adding value hadn’t occurred to me. It makes a lot of sense though; I’d rather be contributing than lurking.

I was also tweeting (adding value!) during the session, and I created a storify of my tweets, which should hopefully build you a broader picture of my impressions. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to embed in wordpress, but please visit the link below:

[View the story “Marketing for the Rest of Us, with Mary Ellen Bates” on Storify]

Were you at the session? What were your take-home messages from it? And if you weren’t, what tips do you find helpful for marketing as an introvert?

SLA Chicago: A surreal and wonderful experience

So it’s been about two weeks since the SLA Conference in Chicago ended, and I still don’t think I’m quite over it. What a completely wonderful, overwhelming, indescribable experience it was. But I will try to describe it.

However, the experience was just too huge to put down in only one blog post, so I will be writing a few posts with different focuses. This post will be an general overview of what I got up to across the pond, and my impressions of the conference, and I’ll blog in more detail at a later point. Also check out Simon’s excellent post on the run up to SLA 2012.

I was lucky enough to win an Early Career Conference Award to attend this conference, co-sponsored by SLA Europe and the Business & Finance Division, and I’ll be writing about my experience over on the SLA Europe blog soon.

The Journey

This was to be my first solo flight, a prospect which did make me anxious, as I sometimes get nervous during take off (my first flight was only four years ago, so I’m inexperienced!). However, those of us flying from Heathrow had arranged to meet up, which settled some nerves!

The view over Downtown and Lake Michigan

The evening of our first day involved a tour of the highlights of Chicago, which I attended with the other ECCA’s.

Despite a very long queue, made all the longer by our creeping jet lag, we ascended to the Skydeck of the Willis Tower. The view… Wow, what an introduction to Chicago!

The Conference

First impressions of the conference centre? ‘It’s so big! They said it’d be big, but it’s so big!’

My many ribbons – quite a talking point!

The most enduring memory of the conference is just how friendly everyone was, and how much fun I had. I would put this down to it being my first conference, but honestly even seasoned SLA conference-goers were excited to be there, and excited to meet first timers.

We first timers were, incidentally, easily recognisable, by both our deer-in-headlights expressions and our handy ribbons.

I was impressed with how ‘connected’ the conference was. Sessions often had their own hashtags, and there was a Social Media Lounge where laptops were provided. I used this quite a lot, since I’ve had my smartphone for two years and still don’t really know how it works.


Like I said at the start of this post, I’ll be writing in more detail about the conference later, but here are just a few highlights of my time in Chicago.

  • Receiving my award at the Business & Finance annual business meeting breakfast. Standing in front of a crowd whilst details of your career thus far are read out is a strange experience, but it was very nice to be made a fuss of!

My beautifully framed certificate survived its transatlantic journey

  • Getting to know my fellow award-winners and SLA Europe members. Although we all did try to make the most of the networking opportunities, it was nice to socialise and do some touristy things together too, like eating pizza and experiencing Macy’s.

    The ECCA’s, L-R: Giles, Sarah, Marie, Simon, and me.

  • The Open Houses, Receptions and Dance Party. The conference wasn’t just limited to the day time. There was always something going on in the evenings. These were great networking opportunities, but also great fun, as the atmosphere was more informal. I haven’t included a photo for this one, as the only relevant ones I have are of us all in 1920’s fancy dress, and I’m not sure how pleased the subjects will be if I post them for all to see!

So that’s a very brief overview of the craziness that was SLA 2012 and my ECCA experience. It was a surreal, wonderful whirlwind. I will definitely be posting more in future, hopefully with a bit more focus than OMG IT WAS AMAZE 🙂