Considering my digital footprint, and my authentic self


Many, many footprints

I’ve just finished week two of three of the Digital Footprint MOOC run by the University of Edinburgh. It’s my first MOOC, so very interesting from that point of view, and I am learning a lot about my own digital tracks and traces.

The second week’s assignment involved a short reflection, and this has spilled over from the MOOC into here. We were asked to consider how we manage our online tracks and traces, how that might change in future, and the motivations behind that.

Authentic self

This concept is something I’m really interested in. Having just moved to a new city and started a new job, right now I’ve very aware of my ‘Self’. I’m meeting a lot of new people, and naturally I want to make a good impression. I’m aware of how I’m presenting myself.

One of my favourite social theorists (yes, I’m a sociology dork) is Erving Goffman. He introduced dramaturgical analysis, or the idea that we enact different ‘selves’ in everyday life, depending on whether we are on-stage or off-stage. And this extends to our lives online. Goffman actually got a name-check in Week One of the MOOC, in a discussion about presenting an authentic self online.


Off-stage or on-stage?

I was pleased to hear the emphasis on an authentic self online. On Twitter, I follow a lot of librarians and information professionals, so the account is as my librarian self, but most of those librarians I follow will post enjoyable nonsense. In this way, it has a mixed professional-personal role. My authentic self is a mixture of both of those, so my Twitter account is too. For example, I may live-tweet from a conference, but I also posted a lot of photos from my travels last year.

Some people prefer to manage their Digital Footprint by keeping their spheres separate, and some people reach multiple audience types in one place. I think I do a bit of both. The important thing, in my opinion, is not to refrain from being your authentic self. Be sensible in what your digital footprint says about you, but you don’t have to try to be someone you’re not. Yes, think about who your audience is and what’s appropriate, but more importantly, be you.

The on-stage and off-stage dichotomy is blurred in the online world. That might make it more difficult to manage. It also has implications for introverted personalities, if you are ever more on-stage. It was an unexpected concept in the first week of this MOOC, and one I’ve been mulling over the last two weeks. I look forward to the third and final week of Digital Footprint.

New city, new job!

After a few months off travelling, I’m returning to the world of work – in Edinburgh!


Edinburgh from Calton Hill

Tomorrow I’ll be starting as an Academic Support Librarian for the Medical School. It’s a return to a university library service, and I’ll be primarily based in one of the hospital libraries, so this is going to be a pleasant mix of my last couple of jobs.


The summit of Arthur’s Seat, and views over the Firth of Forth

The last month has been spent zipping up to Scotland for interviews, flat hunting, flat contract signing, and moving in. I’m looking forward to exploring more of Edinburgh – today I climbed Arthur’s Seat in the sunshine – and I can’t wait to get into the surrounding countryside. I’m excited to live and work in such a beautiful, friendly city!

Though I’ve been away for several months, I was sure to visit some libraries abroad to keep my hand in…


The Public Library of New South Wales in Sydney 

A new chapter!

After a little over two and a half years as a healthcare librarian in Reading, I’m leaving my job to take a break to go travelling. I’ve loved working here and I feel I have achieved a lot in the role. But it’s time to move on from Reading and try somewhere new; with an extended jaunt to the Southern Hemisphere first.


I’ve been in this job since January 2014. Since then, the library has changed its look, we’ve rationalised a lot of processes, and I’ve got a whole lot done. When I started, the NHS was a new environment for me (I still don’t understand a lot of it!) and I’ve enjoyed working with such dedicated and compassionate colleagues. Being a workplace library, our library users are our colleagues and I’ve enjoyed that dynamic.

I’m really proud of some of the things I’ve done in this role. I introduced Twitter workshops and reflective reading groups for nurses. I’ve contributed to our outreach activities to increase the visibility of the library service. The number of literature searches has rocketed, and I’ve kept up this momentum even when we have been a librarian short for 6+ months. Most of all, I’m proud of getting myself known around the organisation as someone who can help. My legacy, however, is the bright orange tables I insisted we purchase.

Library 2

Orange tables are always a good idea

I have also had some personal achievements over the last 2.5 years, including passing my driving test, and cycling to work – 5 miles each day and all uphill to work. Cycling has saved me well over £350 in bus fare, so I’m chuffed with that one!

It’s scary to leave my comfortable, permanent, full-time job (eek!) but I’m so excited to be seeing more of the world.

So this blog may be a little quiet, but I’ll be blogging my adventures over at Kangarooth Crossing if you’d like to follow my travels 🙂


Designing and delivering reflective reading groups

When you’ve put a lot of work into something, it’s sometimes hard to accept when it’s not the runaway success you hoped. My reflective reading groups for nurses have been hit and miss. When they go well, it’s elating, and everyone agrees it’s a great thing to pursue. When no one turns up despite six bookings, it is disheartening to have put in hours of preparation for nothing.

However… Overall? It’s been a valuable learning experience, and I am glad I have stuck with it. As I said before, when it goes well, I feel over the moon. And even if people book but no one comes, they at least know the library exists when they might not have before.

So what are reflective reading groups?

As of April 2016, nurses and midwives undertake revalidation to maintain their registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). One criteria of the revalidation portfolio is evidence of 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD), of which 20 hours must be participatory. To support this, I introduced reflective reading groups for nurses; roughly one-hour guided discussion to reflect on an article with other nurses.

stationary cropped

There’s a lot of preparation involved. I use the SRLA Tool in Collins et al (2015) Using reflection on your reading for revalidation, which I discovered from LIS-MEDICAL, to structure the discussion questions. The article is emailed in advance along with some questions to prompt reflection. I try to pick articles that can apply to a range of nursing areas; such as telehealth, apps or compassionate care.

Although I send the article in advance, not everyone will have read it or read it in full, so the first ten minutes or so are spent running over the key points. This works as an icebreaker too, since those who are more reluctant have some time while I’m talking. The discussion is more about the themes of the article and how it might apply to nursing practice, rather than a critical appraisal of the paper.


My role is a facilitator, so I encouraged the discussion to be led by the nurses, but guided by myself with prompt questions or follow-up. Sometimes the conversation dies down, especially if it’s a small group, so having a facilitator is valuable here.

The groups have been a lot of mental effort, not just in the group itself but with the preparation of articles and reflection. As a non-expert, reading articles on nursing and thinking of discussion points has been challenging and interesting. I haven’t read articles with such scrutiny since my Masters degree, so although it’s sometimes demanding, it’s a good brain workout.


Of the six groups I’ve scheduled, five have gone ahead, but two of those had only one person turn up. More people were booked to come but didn’t show on the day, so it’s difficult to rearrange in that circumstance. It can be disheartening when so much preparation and time has gone into it, but it’s important not to take it personally – nurses are incredibly busy people, and the feedback for the groups that have gone ahead is positive, so it’s not me!

The hope is that we’ll attract new people to the library, who may not have used the service before, by aligning with a national change.

Personally, I have learnt a lot about developing a program from scratch, promoting it, and evaluating it. I’ve had to tweak things, and deal with the unexpected, but I’m proud despite it occasionally not quite working.

Let’s get this library show on the road

Over the last two weeks, the library team has been zipping up and down the M4, visiting our Trust’s hospitals for our Library Roadshow.

Working for a community health NHS Trust means our staff (and therefore our library users and potential library users) are spread out all over the county. We put a lot of effort into outreach activities, which has really paid off, and the latest of these was our Roadshow. We wanted to physically represent the library outside our base hospital to raise the profile of the service. In hindsight, we wouldn’t have chosen the week we all needed to have our annual reviews!

RJ at Roadshow

Ready to roadshow

We kept things fairly simple, as we’re a small team so we don’t have a huge capacity. Two library staff went to each Roadshow date, taking place over lunchtime, with a display stand, leaflets and freebies. Strawberries were a lovely, slightly unusual (and seasonal!) freebie. We also ran a prize draw for a £20 Amazon voucher – entry was just filling out any of our forms (registration, current awareness bulletins, comments slip). One of our library assistants printed out new registration forms on purple paper, so we could identify any that came back to us afterwards, which was a very smart idea!

Of the five dates, I manned two, both outside the hospitals’ receptions/cafes which was a good location for ‘passing trade’. I made a conscious effort not to just list everything the library does, instead focusing on one or two things that might pique interest for particular types of staff. For example, the way nurses revalidate changes earlier this year, so I could promote my nurse reflective reading groups. Or if someone said they don’t have time to use the library, I talked about our literature searching service and that we can send items out in the internal post. Also just telling people about why we were doing a Roadshow worked well too – I hope it made people feel more included and valued.

I was unexpectedly fine with approaching people to chat. I put this down to having to drive to the venues. I’ve only been driving for about a year and I’m still a little nervous. But I’m too busy being nervous about driving to worry about public speaking! I just need to find something worse than driving to conquer my nerves on the road…

Top tips for a Library Roadshow

  • Don’t just list everything you offer. Focus on what’s particularly relevant to that member of staff and show them the benefits.
  • If your stand is over lunch, stealthily eat something throughout, or you’ll end up driving back hungry with a library assistant merrily chomping away in the passenger seat  😦
  • Keep your box of refill leaflets tidy, so you’re not rooting around under the table awkwardly while someone waits for a flyer on laptop loans.
  • Use coloured paper for forms your handing out for a simple way to track them coming back in afterwards.
  • Relax and be yourself – people will respond to that and will be more inclined to stop and chat.

Solving one of those little annoyances – Saving Publisher booklets as single-page PDFs

You learn something new every day, and on Friday it was how to save multi-page booklets from Publisher as PDFs which display single pages at a time, crucially in the correct order.

When you create a booklet in Publisher, the pages are set up to print 2-sided, so they are laid out next to each other on landscape A4. With your back page first, next to your front page. If you do a straight save-as-PDF, it keeps this order, which isn’t much use to people reading it on the screen!

Happily, I discovered the hidden option to rectify this. Now we have PDFs that display each page of our booklets individually, in the order they are intended to be read.

Step 1 – Save your booklet as a PDF, but before you hit Save…

Step 2 – Click on the Optimise for… Options… button which should appear when you choose PDF

Save as PDF

Step 3 – The Publish Options window should open. Click on Print Options in the bottom-left corner.

Publish Options

Step 4 – Select One page per sheet, and save your document.

Print options 3

It will help to make your booklets look that little bit more professional!

5 PowerPoint tricks

Some cool stuff you can do with PowerPoint

I use PowerPoint so often, I forget about all the little tricks I’ve learnt along the way. There is a lot out there on how to make great slides and what to avoid, so I won’t go into much detail about that; my tips below are small things that you can use to help this.

  1. Set the slide background to a picture

makes moving things around on the slide a lot easier

Right click on the slide and choose Format Background. Select Picture or texture fill and choose the image from your documents. This is useful for things like screenshots, or if you’re just simplifying the amount of objects you have on a slide.

format bckgrd               format bckgrd choose picture

  1. Highlighting part of the screen with semi transparent box

Looks so much better than a just a circle round it

twitter highlighted

I use this technique in my Twitter workshop slides, when I’m showing everyone what Twitter looks like before they’re let loose on it. I highlight and explain some parts of the home screen, so I use this technique to break up the screen a bit.

Add an image as your slide background, as #1. This is important! Then add a box over the slide, make it grey and semi-transparent (use right-click, Format Background).add box semi transparent

Insert a box over the area of the slide you would like to highlight, and right click to format background and select Slide background fill.

slide background fill

  1. Gridlines

Help you space your objects

A small thing, but I find using gridlines really helpful when I’m putting my slides together. I use it to evenly space objects, or get a rough idea for things like the rule of thirds.

To turn them on, click View in the ribbon and tick Gridlines.

  1. Using artistic effects on pictures

Make things a little bit different

Twitter pencil

Some of them are naff, let’s be honest. But I use artistic effects to change up my images a little bit. For example, I use the Twitter bird logo a couple of times in my Twitter workshop slides. To change it up a bit, but still retain continuity (repetition is a key feature of graphic design, it implies relationship) I used an artistic effect built into  PowerPoint to make it look like a pencil drawing.

I’ve found artistic effects work best with images with strong defined lines, or recognisable shapes (eg a colourful hot air balloon works better than pale spindly flowers)

Add your image and select Picture Tools > Format from the ribbon. Click on Artistic effects and choose the one you want. You can also play around with shadows, soft outlines etc. I like adding shadows to give my slides a bit of physical depth.

  1. Make your own theme

slide layouts

Your slides won’t look like anyone else’s

I can’t remember the last time I used an in-built PowerPoint theme, I almost always build my design from scratch. It might take longer, but I can build it around the content of my presentation, rather than the other way around.

The simplest way I’ve found is adding shapes and text boxes to the slide and duplicating that colour scheme, font and layout throughout the slide deck.

I learn a lot of PowerPoint tricks from the eLearning Heroes community, and from looking at designs and trying to replicate them. I’m not particularly creative, but I enjoy the challenge of replicating good design that I’ve seen.