#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!

 

#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.

#cpd23 Thing 10 – Routes into Librarianship

I think in many ways my route into librarianship has been fairly ‘textbook’; graduate traineeship, full-time library Masters, but actually the textbook route isn’t the most usual one.

There have already been some excellent posts about this, I particularly enjoyed reading Siobhan B’s and Jen Gallagher’s.

Graduate Traineeships

As an undergraduate, I had a bit of a panic about what to do when I grew up. My friends seemed to have vague ideas of what areas they wanted to go into; NGOs/charities, publishing, postgraduate study… but what about me? No idea!

But it was staring me in the face. I already worked at a library. I had worked for two years previous in a different library. And I loved it. I just didn’t know librarianship was a thing. After some internet research and a friendly chat with my subject librarian, I was ready to go! After many applications, and a few interviews, I was successful in getting a graduate trainee position (the one I really wanted too!), at the Bodleian Social Science Library at Oxford University.

The year was amazing. The SSL was a really lovely place to work, and Oxford was a lovely, if expensive, place to live. The trainee scheme also involved weekly training sessions, and there were about 18 or so of us; a ready-made network of colleagues and friends. I really feel my trainee year set me up fantastically for library school, but if I had decided against PG study, it was a great set of experiences and skills for working in a library or elsewhere.

Working on my Graduate Trainee project

I recommend graduate traineeships as a way into the profession, but I am well aware they are very competitive. It’s important to remember that, yes while they are a great path to becoming a librarian, they are not the only path. I’d say roughly half, or maybe not even that, of people on my course were trainees before starting the Masters.

Which leads me on to…

Masters degrees

I’ve blogged before about my Masters degree at Sheffield, and you can find my reviews of the course here and here.

I went straight into full-time study for my Librarianship degree, but a lot of my fellow trainees decided to do it part-time (or not do it at all). I think it all just depends on your own situation. I was successful in my application for AHRC funding, for which I am incredibly grateful, as it has allowed me to do the course in one year, and to move to Sheffield to do so.

Though, again, funding is very competitive, and I’m fairly sure the number of awards is reduced year on year. This, combined with ever increasing fees, I am sure will result in fewer people embarking on a library degree, or more choosing to combine part time study with employment.

Chartership

This is definitely something I intend to do in my future. However, right now, my thoughts are turned to finding a job first, preferably a professional post. Once that’s sorted I can think about the rest!

#cpd23 Thing 9 – Evernote

Credit: http://dft.ba/-2_2o

I hadn’t used Evernote before, and have since installed it on my computer. I think this is one of those tools that work best when you integrate it into your routine. Having read some other CPD23 posts for this Thing, it seems it’s a very useful tool, and a lot of people have praised it.

I don’t use other devices to access the Internet, so my need to aggregate web content into one place is small. This limits my need to use Evernote somewhat. However, when I am working after library school, it is highly likely I will be using a computer for a large portion of the day, and Evernote will use useful to store content and notes, and share these between my work and home computers.

As such, I will have a further play around on Evernote, and see if it can solve any of my problems, and become part of my routine!

#cpd23 Thing 8 – Google Calendar

I had a play around on Google Calendar. I can see why it is popular, as I found it very straight-forward to use. A benefit, too, is that it can be accessed from anywhere so long as you have an Internet connection, and you can share it with others.

We used something very similar at my previous library (I can’t remember which application off the top of my head), which was so, so useful. Being able to see when others were away on annual leave, or out for a meeting, meant less time running around the library trying to find them to answer a phone call, when they’re potentially not even around! It was also used to arrange the desk rota, which was helpful as it was built around your schedule, rather than the other way around.

Two calendars – Over-organised?

A calendar like this is definitely something I would consider introducing if my organisation didn’t already use it.

However, I won’t be using it for myself, as I already have a trusted system; two calendars and a diary!


#cpd23 Thing 7 – Real-life networks

I have decided to use this post as a reflection on why I haven’t joined CILIP (sorry!).

Firstly, I just want to say it’s not because I don’t think professional organisations are worthwhile. I think they are, and I am happy to be a part of them (I am a member of SLA Europe).

My main reason is far more practical… Money.

As a Graduate Trainee last year, I was in no way earning nearly enough to be living in Oxford. I was lucky enough that my boyfriend moved to Oxford just before me, so we shared a flat. Even splitting the rent between two meant I rarely had much left over at the end of the month. Paying for CILIP membership, even at student rates (which you can do as a trainee apparently), sadly wasn’t really my priority with my disposable income.

Right now, it’s a similar situation. I am extremely grateful in that I was awarded funding for my Masters, but I have to spend a lot on train tickets to see the boyfriend in Oxford (train travel is so overpriced, damn you privatisation!). Again, CILIP isn’t really a priority; though I must add I have thought about joining many times, and hope to join when I am working full-time.

That being said, I haven’t really thought it through. If I had joined in September 2010, I would have paid student rates and would have already been a member for nearly two years. As it is, I will now have to join, if I wait til I’m in full-time employment, a much higher rate.

I feel the jump in membership fees between student rates and the other categories is huge. This is hard for those of us just starting out, potentially not earning that much. You can see the membership fees here.

Maybe somewhere under there, subconsciously, I feel it’s not value for money. But I can figure that out when I join!

#cpd23 Thing 6 – Online Communities

For this post, I will focus on LinkedIn and LISNPN, as I have spoken about Twitter in previous cpd23 posts, and I don’t use Facebook as a professional network (though I do follow some libraries on it, such as The British Library and the Bodleian).

LinkedIn

I set up a new profile, and the next day the LinkedIn leaked passwords were all over the news. So not the greatest of starts!

Currently I only have my library work experience on my profile, but I will be adding more to it when I get a bit of time. I also tried importing my CV, which seemed to work well, with some slight formatting issues, so this might be a good way to fill out my skills, interests etc.

To be honest though, I don’t feel I will be using LinkedIn for the groups. I don’t feel it offers much that I don’t already get from other sources. However, I will be keeping my profile, as LinkedIn generally ranks highly in Google search results, and as such offers a guaranteed professional image if someone were to Google me.

LISNPN

The LIS New Professionals Network is a great idea, as it gives a place for us all to come together. Though, I must admit, I do not use it to its full potential.

I found the anonymous Library School reviews very useful when applying for Masters courses, but I don’t tend to utilise the forum features. I am more of a lurker, which I imagine is the case for the majority of its users.

I’m going to try to use it more. I think I’ve been quite lucky in that my first proper library role was as a trainee at Oxford, where there were about 20 or so of us – a ready-made network and support structure! If I had been more isolated when starting out, and perhaps this will be the case in my first professional role after library school, LISNPN would be very useful for connecting with other new professionals and sharing ideas.

Online networks I don’t currently use…

  • Google+ – haven’t tried it, because I haven’t heard great things about its privacy settings. Perhaps I’ll give it a go in the future, but right now I’m in no hurry.
  • Pinterest – I do use Pinterest, a sort of online mood board where you ‘pin’ things from around the internet to various boards devoted to a subject. For example, I have a Recipes to make board. I find it useful for collating recipes, but I definitely don’t use it for networking, and I’m not sure whether libraries need to be on it (NB I found this article which discusses libraries using Pinterest). I think a focused social media strategy that concentrates on a few tools is far more effective than one which tries to keep up with the flavour of the month, perhaps to the detriment of quality.
    But in terms of my own social networking? No, I won’t use Pinterest for that. I enjoy it, but I see it as quite flippant and fluffy!