Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Am I improved?!

On Monday 19th we had our College Staff Improvement Day. To begin with we listened to a keynote speech given by Professor Bill Lucas entitled: Making more even in challenging times: developing adaptive intelligence in resilient organisations. In it he spoke about his 8 rules of change.
Rule 1: Change is changing; which essentially means that change is becoming more frequent and the previously believed models of how change occurs amongst people are outdated.
Rule 2: Real change is internal not external; I agree with this point - a 'real' change is not going to fully take place until all the individuals involved complete a transition process and become willingly accepting of the change.
Rule 3: Slow down; don't dissolve into panic at a time of change but control the process and manage the change instead of allowing it to manage you.
Rule 4: We can all change the way we see the world
Rule 5: We can all learn how to change more effectively; view change as a positive force rather than allowing it to have a negative impact on your outlook which can, in turn, endanger your views on other areas of your life.
Rule 6: No one can make you change; but, despite putting up a fight, over time, you often come round to accepting the change anyway.  I see it in my colleagues and I know I'm guilty of it, much to the frustration of my fiance!
Rule 7: Sometimes it's smart to resist
Rule 8: Use the brainpower of those around you; work together and change will be more effective!
Further discussion about these rules of change can be found in Bill's book: rEvolution: how to thrive in crazy times.

I think as an LRC team we manage change pretty well. However, within the organisation I have seen instances of sudden reaction to change rather than taking the time of effectively manage the change process. I would not like to be in the shoes of our senior management team - trying to calmly and effectively manage change across an organisation of our size must be very daunting!

My first workshop of the day was led by our Director of Student Services and was called Motivational dialogue and target setting. Aimed at teaching staff he facilitated a group discussion about how to get more out of their one-to-one sessions with students and how to improve the likelihood of the student reaching their targets. A large part of the session, however, was given over to discussing study skills: what skills to our students need, whose job is it to teach them those skills and when should they be taught? It was very interesting to hear the views of our teaching staff. For example, the assumption that students come to us having learnt these skills at school, whereas in reality this is often not the case. A lot of the tutors feel that study skills is a whole subject in itself and that they don't have the time within the syllabus to teach it. Some tutors, for example those who teach A level, feel that it isn't their responsibility when the students have their own group (form) tutor. I can understand this argument - as an A level or GCSE student you wouldn't want to be taught the same study skill by each subject tutor as it would be confusing. It would be better to be taught centrally within your form.

Whose role is it then? Is it the LRC's? We go so far as creating online interactive guides using Xerte on a range of study skills. They are designed for students to use independently or tutors can recommend them as ways of helping achieve targets, such as improve personal organisation. I was lucky enough to have an opportunity at the end of the workshop to demonstrate our Xerte guides and they went down well with the tutors - most likely because they helped take the onus off of them. To create them we read advice on particular study skills from books and sites of other colleges and universities. Does that now make us qualified to teach study skills? We need to reach a whole-College decision about how study skills are taught - does it happen during induction or at regular times throughout the course and who is responsible for delivering them?

My second workshop on UCAS did not end up having the focus we thought it would. Therefore, the only thing I came away with was an amazement at how inconsistent the application process is between the different faculties and the way in which certain parts happen so inefficiently (such as printing out the electronic form at one stage to pass on only for it to become electronic again at the final submission!) just because it's always been done like that. (The purpose of the session, as it turned out, was to devise a logical timeline to be adopted by the whole College that governs when each stage of the process happens, how it happens and by whom.)

My third workshop looked at the way that KC Online (our internal site created using Microsoft Sharepoint) is going to go forward. It was basically a feedback session to find out what works, what doesn't and what we'd like to see happen. The one shining point was that our LRC blog on KC Online was used as an example of good practise of sharing information :)

On Tuesday 20th we had divisional training comprising of a workshop on behaviour management led by my colleague Catherine Taylor. We discussed the student behaviour guidelines and, in groups, came up with ten reasons why we roam. My group came up with the following:
  • to provide a safe environment
  • to provide assistance to students
  • to encourage enquiries
  • to maintain a quiet environment for study
  • to keep the LRC tidy
  • to ensure LRC rules are adhered to
  • to build a rapport with students
  • to support the help desk
  • to look approachable
  • to ensure efficient use of resources
To finish we each gave our tips for successful roaming. These included going in with a smile; being friendly; being open-minded and tailoring interactions to different students. One that I didn't mention is that I always begin an interaction by addressing the students as ladies and gentlemen (to show my belief that they can behave as such) - the more they prove me wrong the more they are addressed as guys and girls! It's very subtle so I have no idea if any of them notice! The tip that I'm going to implement is taking a moment to stand still and listen - take stock of the environment to identify what's going on at the beginning of your roaming session.

After all that training, what's the only thing that could happen next? ... ...Christmas party!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The usefulness of social media

Here's a very brief case study of the usefulness of blogging and tweeting!  Last month CILIP held an E-books Executive Briefing.  There were several speakers from FE, HE and public libraries.  Unfortunately we were unable to attend, however I was curious to find out what kind of issues were discussed and if anyone had some innovative tips for promoting their e-books.

First I contacted CILIP to see if there was an official write-up of the event or whether any of the speakers had made their slides available.  They pointed me in the direction of Sarah Burton and her blog post: eBooks: Absolutely Fabulous?  She gave a great summary of the event and the speakers.

Her post also mentioned the #ebooks11 tweets she had read on Twitter. Finally I could see the purpose of Twitter! In July I blogged as part of CPD23 about my VERY brief encounter with Twitter and how I couldn't see the benefits of using it. However, the #ebooks11 tweets directed me to another great write-up of the event by Nicola McNee. From both Sarah's and Nicola's posts I have obtained a good overview of the topics dealt with by the speakers and can make a more informed decision about whether I want to contact any of them for further info.

The Twit has now been converted! Whilst I shall never be a regular Tweeter I have proven to myself just how beneficial it can be!

Monday, 28 November 2011

CPD23 Thing 23: all things considered

In terms of what I would like to do our organisation does encourage personal development plans and we review these twice a year.  As I mentioned in my Thing 10 post I am interested in taking the CMI management course that some of my colleagues have completed.  One of my own personal development targets is to try and become more involved with the profession outside of my organisation. This builds on the themes of personal branding from Thing 3 so I will try and make my presence visible in larger circles.

I have found the CPD 23 Things a valuable training experience. Not only does its set up allow complete flexibility in the way you complete each segment, the topics cover a range of subjects and tools on very up-to-date issues. I spoke in my Thing 19 post about the most significant things I'll take from CPD23 and these still hold. Keeping up with other blogs

I have very much enjoyed this experience I look forward to the next 23 Things!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

CPD23 Thing 22: volunteering

I undertook some voluntary work during 6th Form before I went off to study my undergraduate degree. I had already had some experience as I chose to work in the County Library for my 2 week work experience placement in Year 10. Both  experiences helped confirm to me that libraries were where I wanted to work. As a volunteer I worked in my local public library on Wednesday afternoons for a little under a year. I began by manning the Summer Reading Challenge desk, giving children their stickers when they had reviewed their next book.  Not very challenging in terms of my work, but very rewarding seeing the enthusiasm in the children. After that I was posted on the issue desk and shelving. Already an enthusiastic library user I didn't learn much from shelving but my turns in the issue desk gave me an insight into Library Management Systems and customer service. If you have the time and can afford to take on voluntary work I think it's a great way to gain experience and fill gaps in your skill set.

CPD23 Thing 21: promoting yourself in job applications

I found Maria Giovanna De Simone's Thing 21 post really useful and have taken several things away from it. I tailor each CV to the job I'm applying for, finding evidence for the requirements they advertise. I do each one from scratch, however. This means I often lose sight of my bigger skills set. I am now going to do what Maria suggests and indentify all my strengths, interests and skills, matching them up with my training and achievements in a separate document. I can then draw from this when fulfilling a job/person specification.

I'm also taking on board Maria's advice about how to demostrate your compatabiluty with the job description and person specification within my CV: "The requirements listed under job description must be address in the work experience section ... The person specification requiements must be addressed in the space reserved for additional information [either in] ... the paragraph that more or less says "tell us why you are applying, plus something you haven't told us elsewhere" [or] ... in the cover letter."  Whilst I do have separate sections for work experience and personal profile I often mix and match job and person requirements within them making them difficult for an employer to easily identify.

Finally, I found the CAR acronym a really good idea for answering interview questions - Context, Action, Results - and will be looking at her suggested Further Reading (Jobseeker tips; Open cover letters; and What's the key to a good interview) for tips.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

CPD23 Thing 20: Library Routes

I already blogged about my journey into librarianship in Thing 10 and I've now linked to this in The Library Routes project for all to see. It is interesting to me the number of people who chose librarianship as their Masters following their first degree. I wonder if this says something about the way the profession is promoted - why didn't more people consider it as a first degree option? I know that sadly, due to the lack of undergraduates in the subject, several courses, including my own BA (Hons) Library & Information Studies at Brighton University has had to be closed down.

CPD23 Thing 19: catch up

During my Chartership application my mindset was reflection, reflection, reflection. However, as soon as I handed in my portfolio I stopped. Writing my own blog has really helped me get back into the habit. So, instead os simply describing things I am now beginning to think 'so what?' and 'now what?'. The most significant thing I have taken from CPD23 is reading the blogs of other professionals. I check my updates from these (and the CILIP LinkedIn group) everyday and find it a really useful way of finding out the current issues and discussions within the profession. The number of blogs I follow has grown from 4 to 14! Reading and commenting on these has opened up a new community to me and keeping up with these, as well as my own, is definitely something I'll continue.

I've done a little to help develop my online presence by setting up a LinkedIn profile. This, and my blog, now mean that I turn up on the first page of results following a Google search of my name - woohoo! This will improve the more active I am - something I plan to work on.

Although I'm not using them as part of my regular work I do like the functionality of the following tools that CPD23 has introduced and will keep them in the back of my mind: Evernote; Google Docs; Wikis; Prezi; and Slideshare.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

CPD23 Things 17 & 18: presenting information

I like Prezi. It looks fantastic and is a great up-to-date alternative to PowerPoint. We have a lot of PowerPoints on our shared workspace that we use to help deliver inductions. They are looking tired and, because we have a policy not to use animation within them, they aren't very engaging. Even if we couldn't harness Prezi's full ability I think it could help refresh our content and help keep students interested. (However, the cynic in me does wonder how long it will be before we get the Prezi overkill!) I have found Slideshare quite useful in being able to access PowerPoint slides that were used during an event - being able to deposit them all in one place is a much easier solution than emailing them round to everyone.

After being promoted by our E-learning team we have used Jing a lot to create screen capture guides for both students and staff.  Examples include guides on how to search our Online Catalogue and ebooks for students and demos on how to use and create material in Moodle (our VLE) for staff.  We have also created a suite of podcasts that discuss judging the quality of websites, better internet searching, what is plagiarism and an introduction to library terminology for students where English is a second language. They are a great way of presenting information in an audio of visual format for learners.

Monday, 21 November 2011

CPD23 Things 15 & 16: getting involved

I cannot claim to have any experience of organising events or presenting at them.  My role now is very practical-based so I'm even struggling to come up with a topic that I could speak on. I have, however, attended a variety of different events.  These include:

Roadshows and showcases: British Library Document Supply Service Roadshow promoting their new service development and ordering interface; Heritage Open Day promoting new developments and features in the Library Management System; RSC London eLearning Schowcase promoting the innovative work of organisations in the field of e-learning; London Dawsons Day.

Meetings: Heritage User Group meeting; CoFHE LASEC (Colleges of Further & Higher Education London And South East Circle) meetings; Kingston University Partnerships Day.

Training events: Copyright for beginners run by CILIP; Teaching information literacy in HE run by CILIP; Upskilling frontline staff run by NIACE; Dealing with distressed/angry people run by Kingston University.

I would like to have attended CILIPs' eBooks Executive Briefing.  There are a couple of speakers from Colleges and would have been interesting to hear how they have been promoting and using e-books. Unfortunately, we do not have the budget for someone to attend. Therefore, I am relying on a write-up or materials being available after the event. I think that in a time where many people are finding that they can no longer afford to send staff to events it is vital that materials are made available online afterwards so that those unable to attend can at least have access on some level to the discussions that took place or services that were showcased.

On a local level every day at work involves some form of advocacy, whether it's interacting with students and promoting the benefits of using the resources available to them, or whether it's compiling promotional material or reports to show the rest of the College the importance of the LRC and our impact on the College's success. It's also interesting to see that the International Baccalaureate programs advocate information skills and the presence of libraries in educational establishments.  It is vitally important that the important role of information professionals is out there but out there in a way that makes us relevant to the people we're advocating to! When we deliver a induction to students on using LRC eResources, before we give any demos, we cover "What's in it for me?".  Services and professionals need to directly show how and why their impact is relevant.

Having said that I have to admit that I have done nothing towards advocating librarianship as a profession other than explaining the importance of my role and the service I work in - I tend to speak from my 'Librarian Corner' instead of coming out and yelling in the centre of the room!

CPD23 Things 13 & 14: sharing and referencing

Google Docs is an excellent tool. Whilst some institutions may have software on their internal network that does the same job, Google Docs makes this feature possible across locations. Dropbox appears to offer the same functionality as Google Docs - which one you use, I suppose, is down to personal preference. Why do different providers feel we need duplicates?! (Reading back this appears to be an ongoing niggle of mine!)

Wikis, I also believe, are great online collaboration tools. Prior to Wikis I believe the only tool available with similar functionality would have been discussion boards - not always an appropriate format. We used a Wiki at work to host our thoughts on a particular centre development. It proved really useful in allowing us to intersperse our own comments in with those already posted.

I am a self-confessed long-hand referencer!  Personally I could never convert to an online reference management system. At work, part of our study skills induction offering includes teaching students about plagiarism and how to do Harvard referencing.  Many of the students who we deliver this session to are on courses affiliated with a university.  The universities use Harvard, specifically following the guidelines in Pears and Shields' Cite them right. Therefore we discourage the use of either built-in or online systems so that students can ensure they are handing in work referenced exactly how the markers wish to see it.

Friday, 18 November 2011

CPD23 Thing 12: putting the social into social media

I can see huge benefits of using social media in terms of opening up an ocean (never mind avenue!) of potential contacts, advisors, broadcasters and friends.  However, I do think that a whole-approach view needs to be taken.  For example, my professional networks currently include the following:
LISLink JISC mailing list; CoFHE JISC mailing list; LinkedIn groups; blog contacts

Often individuals posting a LISLink post will post a duplicate on CoFHE with the statement "apologies for cross-posting".  This is because a large number of users are on both.  I know that there are far more professional networks out there for librarians - how many people are on several / how many people are on some but not others?  How many times are you unknowingly reaching out to the same individuals because they happen to be in both networks?    I think that the number of profession-specific networks needs to be carefully managed so that we can still have the potential to reach a wide-range of professionals whilst not having to sign up to 20 different networks in order to do so!

Susie Dunn commented on Thing 12 raising concerns about whether online communities can create the same kind of relationships as face-to-face interactions.  I share her point and also feel that online communities can only really have any chance of forging relationships if its users regularly interact.
Personally, I have found that setting up my blog as part of CPD321 has enabled me to expand my knowledge and reading by following other blogs and therefore given me an insight into varying professions.

A rush to the finish

Although I have completed the full 23 Things I have been very lax in keeping my blog entries about them up to date (hanging my head in shame).  I really do feel that CDP23 has been a valuable development experience.  Therefore, I would like to be able to get my certificate to show the work that I have done.  So I apologise in advance but soon following will be a rush of posts discussing Things 12 - 23 so that I can hold my head high and say I have completed CPD23: 23 Things for Professional Development!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

How does my role impact teaching and learning?

In preparation for a staff meeting this week we have been asked to think about what we would like to measure in the LRC this year, preferably that impacts teaching and learning, and what qualitative feedback would we like to obtain from our work with students.  That got me thinking about how my role in resources and content impacts teaching and learning in the College - what impact does my work have and how can I measure it?

To help answer this I outlined what my role entails, what we currently measure and anything new that I could record:

1. Responding to stock requests, placing orders and looking after existing stock: stock requests often come through teaching staff so I would like to look at usage stats for ordered items - how much are they being used?  I would also like to know from students what type of resources they would prefer to support their individual learning styles.

2. Several institutions attempt to measure usage through browsing - they encourage students to leave items on desks, or return them to a designated trolley, rather then returning them to the shelves.  Staff then record each time they are used. Figures from these could be amalgamated with our issue and renewal stats to show a fuller picture of resource use.

3. Managing our online presence in our VLE (Moodle): I already track visitor stats to our different pages but it would be interesting to hear a student's perspective - what do they think of it?

4. Monitoring usage statistics for our e-resources: I already record usage statistics from our e-resources.  A frequent response in our annual student questionnaire is that they don't know about their LRC eResources.  This suggests that either we aren't promoting them enough or we're not promoting them in the right way.  As part of our student focus groups I would like students to think about how they would like their resources marketed to them.  What can we do to remind them often of specific and relevant resources and what formats should we use to make most impact?

5. Promoting resources through physical display and online advertising: we already record usage of display items (items used in the online advertising are more often than not the items that are also used in the physical display).  Usage for a lot of displays is appallingly low, however (see my previous post discussing displays).  The most successful has been our display of revision guides.  This suggests that either we're not displaying material that students want to borrow, or they don't feel that they can lift them off the display stand.  We've also tried to promote resources to help teaching to tutors when there have been national events, such as Anti-Bullying Week for example.  However, they are just as reluctant to come and borrow related items.

6. Housekeeping for our LMS (Heritage): I already record statistics for issues, renewals and returns and can pull numerous reports from Heritage.

7. Delivering inductions: we record the number of inductions delivered and the students who receive them.  A colleague is looking into how we can measure their impact by relating their results against whether they received an induction or not.

A lot of our work involves making assumptions on how we think students and staff want to use and hear about resources and services.  One thing is clear - we need to make sure we maintain ongoing communication with our users (students and staff) to discover what they want and how they want it.  We then need to see if they're using what they want and, if not, find out why!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

British Library Document Supply - new and improved

The length of time that has passed since my last post is only indicative of how busy it has been since the beginning of term!  I am really behind in my cpd23 exercises - my time has been taken up with desk sessions, inductions, Moodle and a lot of display work.  I am afraid to admit that I haven't even opened my blog since my last post.  I will need to come back to cdp23 in time, but I was prompted to return following a visit to the British Library last Friday.

On Friday afternoon I attended a roadshow given by the British Library Document Supply Service (BLDSS).  They have just completed a £6m 2 year project to upgrade their Document Supply interface and service (partly funded by HEFC).  The presentation was given by Barry Smith (Head of Commercial Services) who introduced the developments and Anthony Troman (Project Manager) who, despite technical difficulties not allowing him to show us the end product 'live', demonstrated the interface.  The main benefits of the new service are:
  • Quicker and higher quality copies: delivery time will be reduced from 5 days to 4 (although most are already turned around in 48 hours).  All documents will be sent in colour as standard.  Also on offer are 'Get it for me' and 'Find it for me' whereby the DSS will track down a copy if not available through them - this is offered at an additional charge.
  • Better searching: one search box which will search on any bibliographic data. Improved keyword searching at article level with more articles being included.
  • Better communication: the ability to track orders 'Amazon style', and accept or decline orders if the interface is made available to users for them to place orders.  Dispatch/delivery dates and costs are provided at ordering stage.  Problems and cancellations can be reported via the site rather than ringing customer services.  The 150 ARTemail codes have been reduced down to 23 and you can opt to receive plain Enlish emails instead.
  • Four-stage order process: confirmation of item selected; delivery details; review order; shopping basket of ordered items.  Items are given a unique British Library reference number to use with correspondence (you can also add your own reference number).
  • Statistics: can provide stats through their reporting facility.
  • Enhanced administration features: a separate desktop icon for administrators that allows you to control accounts, delivery details and contact information.
Despite the updated functionality they did admit that there are still issues with the Document Supply service as a whole.  Due to a number of reasons their fulfilment rate had fallen in past months but is now back on a rise from 65% to 71%.  Electronic delivery still causes problems for some users who are unable to install the required software onto their networks.  Due to copyright agreements, unencrypted delivery is only available to universities and pharamceutical organisations.  Whilst the new interface will be an improvement to most it does require Flash (and therefore Internext Explorer 7 or later) which will cause problems for some users - this was raised during the roadshow and the response was that it is being looked into.  Another question raised was whether the BLDSS are looking into supplying e-books - the response to this was that a suitable platform hadn't been found considering the type of material that the British Library tends to supply.

Migration has begun with 2 customers already on the new interface at the time of the Friday roadshow.  Customers are being migrated in batches and all customers should have been migrated by February 2012.  (Existing orders will not be shown on the new interface so there may be a short transition period to complete any outstanding orders.)  Users should start to see the difference before they are migrated however, by November/December everyone should be receiving better quality colour copies quicker and plain English emails.  By December there will be full administration functionality and by January/February the full ability to search and order.  Throughout the process all customers will receive full communication from the BLDSS as well as the opportunity for both institutional and online demonstrations.

Barry finished the presentation by outlining the next developments they want to look at:
  • Integrate Document Supply with other services, such as journal databases, via a popup.
  • Manage Digital Rights Management online so that customers of electronic delivery do not have to visit the library to sign the copyright declaration form.
  • Improve electronic delivery whereby a software installation is not required.
  • Increase the number of digital copies from suppliers to improve the quality of copies supplied.
  • Providing Document Supply to mobile technologies - the current issue remains that iPads, for example, do not disaply PDF documents.
Overall I was impressed.  The new interface looks much more up-to-date with functionality, such as the order tracking, that is commonplace now in many other ordering systems.  A lot of the processes have also been simplified, such as the ARTemails.  Lack of communication had always been my main frustration with the current system so I am pleased to see the thought that has gone into the information that will be provided for each order and the ability to look back at open and past orders.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Getting displays off the stand and into hands

Before the weekend I held an impromptu meeting with my colleagues where we discussed and planned our display ideas for the year.  Last year I recorded issue stats for display items in the main centre to see how well they were borrowed.  Stats were not good - the most successful was our revision display (see image on right) whereby we displayed a total of 156 items across our 3 month revision period.  From that 57 different items were loaned out - around 37%.  I recorded stats for a total of 13 displays last year and none of the others reached a loan percentage of above 25%.  Four of them didn't even have a single, solitary loan.

What is it that makes a display good?  I always make sure that the books I choose are in a good condition with an eye-catching cover and the display stand is placed next to the help desk. Our displays are predominantly theme-based rather than relating directly to course study but are relevant to either College events or national events.  In a College of our size it can be hard to create displays related to courses whilst trying to be fair to all.  National Science and Engineering Week takes place next March and I'm hoping that our display for that will be well used.  It's a shame there isn't a National week for all the different subject areas!  I know we could make one but I know the students whose week takes place at the end of the year will only go: "we needed that earlier!".

Any good tips you have for getting display items off the stand and into hands are very welcome.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Oodles of Moodle

Image from
This summer my main project has been creating the LRC's pages on our new Moodle 2 Student Portal.
Our previous web page had been created using Microsoft SharePoint so now, not only do I have the challenge of transferring content into a different topic structure, I also have the design limitations of Moodle to contend with.  For example, Moodle is designed as a student VLE and one of its primary features is to provide a course area with a list of topics or weeks.  Once you begin populating each topic or week you inevitably end up with a long, scrolling page.  My challenge here as been to organise our content so that scrolling is kept to a minimum, if needed at all.  I have been able to achieve this by creating buttons and inserting sub-pages.  The only areas which contain significant scrolling are our page advertising the different centres (which is a list) and our page listing the LRC eResources - for this I am going to investigate using bookmark links at the top of the page.

I am really enjoying this project as I have been 'let loose' in terms of creating the style of our pages.  Furthermore I am building up a bank of knowledge in terms of how best to display and organise content within Moodle.  The LRC has just taken over administration of Moodle so we shall be able to offer tutors a complete package of guidance from admin to creating content and offering advice on design and layout.

Friday, 19 August 2011

IS Oxford Open Day - 18th August 2011

Yesterday I got in a car, two trains and finally a taxi to arrive at the lovely chapel in Littlemore, Oxford, that is the home of the IS Oxford offices for their Open Day (unfortunatley the weather decided it wasn't going to be lovely!).  IS Oxford run the Library Management System Heritage.

The morning began with some good old mingling!  I spoke to a couple of librarians, both who singularly staff their service, so our conversation drifted into the differences between education provision on a small and large scale.  We also briefly discussed stock retention (it being A Levels results day I was asked how much of our overdue stock I thought would be returned by our A Level students), and I was interested to learn that one of the organisations had no security system in place, despite being single staffed.

At 10.30 we walked over to yet another grand building - the SAE Institute - for the main presentation.  Emma Duffield (Sales Manager) began by highlighting some of the interesting features of Heritage.  For example, using Enquiry Groups to provide different OPAC displays to different users; setting up search hints; and OPAC usage details for individual readers.  She was followed by Neville Jones (Development Manager) who demonstrated Heritage Cirqa - a new online version of Heritage that can be accessed anywhere.  IS Oxford also offer to host Heritage Cirqa for you so that your own IT department need never be involved again!  Neville showed us some of the improvements to Heritage that have been made as a result, such as the improved scheduler and catalogue record search, the ability to queue reports (which run super-fast!) and changes in the way report settings appear before running.  Eoin Garland (Support Services) finished the presentation with a very reassuring guide on how best to approach global changes and a quick look at managing user logins and audit logging for file areas.

The presentations gave me a lot to think about.  I like the impact that using Enquiry Groups to manage OPAC displays for different users can have, for example, our EFL/ESOL or Pathway students might benefit from a simpler view.  However, allocating students to particular enquiry group seems a very big job - possibly a global change job?! - and I'm not sure it's something we'd be that keen to implement.  However, I am keen to suggest setting up search hints to the rest of my team.  I think it could be a really easy and effective way of promoting other resources, particularly hidden resources.  For example, for a search that includes 'GCSE' or 'A Level' we could add a hint suggesting that the student may also be interested in the exam papers available and the online revision help in their e-resource Examstutor.  Or for a search that includes 'Biology' we could suggest the magazine 'Biological Sciences Review'.

I found the information about Heritage Cirqa very interesting.  The option for IS Oxford to host Heritage for you does sound very appealing I must admit!  Furthermore, after several recent instances of having to log on to another PC, access our Heritage server and run large, still quite slow reports from it, I also like the significant increase in speed which they seem to promise as well as the improvements to the reporting area.

I used the word "reassuring" when talking about Eoin's demonstration of global changes earlier, and it was.  I have never run a global change myself and the thought of doing so is very scary!  However, Eoin's suggestion of running a report to check how much data will be affected and having a practice run first on a copy of your data is very sensible and allows you to make mistakes safely!  I still don't think I'll feel comfortable doing anything in Heritage that involves the word 'global', but I'll be happier knowing I can have a trial stab at it first!

After the presentation we walked back to the Chapel for a good lunch and another chance to mingle as well as meet some of the support staff - it was good to be able to put some faces to names.  I spoke to some more librarians and gave some advice on how e-books work within Heritage.  Then at 2.00, those of us that had opted to, got on a coach and were taken into the centre of Oxford.  My group were dropped off outside Keble College where we walked into their Chapel and saw Holman Hunt's painting 'Light of the World'.  We then walked via Blackwell's Broad Street bookshop to the Ashmolean Museum.  I decided not to go in, but headed back to the train station to begin my journey home having soaked up some useful nuggets of information about Heritage as well as lots of rain!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

CPD23 Thing 11: what it means to be a mentor

I read Meg's Thing 11 post on mentoring with interest.  My experiences of mentoring have been thus:

1.  On beginning work in the LRC at Kingston College I was assigned a mentor who would monitor my training and be my go-to person with any questions and problems.  After a non-specified period of time, once settled, that relationship comes to an end.  I have also been a mentee to two new employees in the LRC but felt uncomfortable under that label.  I felt more like a 'buddy' just making sure that training was completed and they got settled in well and nowhere near experienced enough to be labelled as a 'mentor'.

2.  As part of chartership you are required to have a mentor to guide you through the process.  I found my mentor's help extremely valuable as she was able to suggest things for me to do, ensure I was writing evaluatively (see my earlier post!) and making sure I was generally on the right track.

I think a true mentor is hard to find.  You could say that a good line manager is a mentor as they help you by guiding your work, presenting opportunities and encouraging your development but I think a lot comes down to the personal relationship you have.  Meg used the word 'comfortable' to describe a relationship between mentor and mentee and I agree - I see a mentor as not only someone who can provide you with all that guidance and support but also some you're happy to sit down and have a cup of coffee with.

CPD23 Thing 10: "...and what do you want to be when you grow up?"

I didn't always know I wanted to work in a library.  During primary school I wanted to be a writer and, for a long while, an archaeologist (thanks Time Team!).  However, once I reached middle school I knew I wanted to work in a library.  At middle school the work I loved the most was when we were given a research project to do - we'd be given a topic, for example rainforests or the Tudors, and be expected to research it (I would use the school and public libraries as well as Encarta on our PC at home) and write it up.  Mine usually consisted of pages of writing (mostly plagiarised at that age!) and hand-drawn pictures held together with treasury tags and I loved it.  Also during my time at middle school I was one of a few students who were allowed to help out in the library at lunch times and oh, the excitement one day when we were allowed the afternoon off lessons to tidy up the shelves from beginning to end!

My love of libraries continued.  I would regularly borrow fiction from our public library.  At high school when we had to complete 2 weeks work experience I chose to work in Ipswich Public Library -the main one for the county.  During Sixth Form I volunteered in my local public library in Stowmarket on Wednesday afternoons.  My first job was running the Summer Reading Challenge on those afternoons then, when that came to an end, I worked on the help desk and shelving.  When the time came for my meeting with the Careers Advisor at school there was only one career option on my mind.

I applied to three universities: Brighton, UCE Birmingham and Manchester Metropolitan.  Brighton got the large seal of approval and I graduated in 2006 with a 2:1 BA degree in Library and Information Studies.  I then settled down into my first professional job.  Chartership was always at the back of my mind but it wasn't until 2009 that I decided to begin my application.  I have been a chartered librarian for a year and am not sure what to do now.  A couple of my colleagues have completed a PTTLS (teaching course) and a CMI (management) course and I am interested in the latter.  However, it would be interesting to know if there is anything else library-related that is recommended.

CPD23 Things 8-9: a helping hand in organisation

I really like the way some organisations have used the Google calendar as a way of communicating with their users, for example to manage opening hours.  It wouldn't be logical to implement one in my organisation, however - our OPAC (Heritage) has a built in calendar as does our student portal (Moodle) - and between staff we use Outlook for our personal calendars and for a shared LRC calendar.  One of the tools I really like on my Outlook calendar is the tasks.  I enter every job/task/bit of work I need to do on it, assign it a priority and a to be competed by date.  Previously I used to have a Word document containing my 'to do' list but I found that I was forgetting to update it.  Using Outlook means by task list is open all the time and I can easily manage it by amending the status to completed when a job is done.  The archive then allows me to record all my work for use in reviews - brilliant!

I also really like the idea of Evernote although I'm not sure it's a tool I would use very requently, maybe more for when I'm researching something.
UPDATE: just found a brilliant use for Evernote, albeit it not work-related at all - collating things I've seen for my wedding!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

CPD23 Things 5-7: reflecting, networking and professional organisations

I completed my chartership last year so became a dab hand at reflection.  However, as soon as I handed in my portfolio it seemed to fly out of the window.  It doesn't seem to come very naturally.  I'm pretty good at describing, but, in the words of the many school essays I had marked, I lack evaluation!  I really like the 1970 Borton model posted on the information for Thing 5 so my task now is to make sure I think 'So What?' and 'Now What?'.  Hopefully having a blog will help me to do this - I want to fill it with postings so I shall have to be reflective about something!

I like things simple.  Therefore I have a Facebook profile for my personal presence and a LinkedIn profile (thanks to CPD23) for my professional presence.  And I'm happy with that.  I may be tempted to join another network if it's for something specific, i.e. librarians or family historians, so I shall have a look at LISPN and CILIP Communities and see what I find!  I do however subscribe to some of JISC's mailing lists, for example LisLink and CoFHE.  These are a great way of networking with other librarians, getting help and sharing good practice.

I remember during my university course we had tutorial whereby CILIP came in to get us all to sign up there and then.  I can't remember if I did at the time or whether it was a little bit later but I have been a fully fledged CILIPer for a few years now.  What do I get out of it?  I find the training programme beneficial as not only a way of developing skills but a good networking tool.  Also, during my chartership year I attended most of the CoFHE LASEC meetings and got to meet other local College librarians.  I receive Update (although I do have to force myself to read through it) and have signed up to their blog and LISJOBNET alerts.  That's about it though.  I would be very interested to hear from anyone who finds other benefits from being a CILIP member.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

CPD23 Thing 4: the short tweet

I set up my Twitter account yesterday afternoon ... ... then deactivated it this morning!  I had to talk myself into setting it up in the first place.  I couldn't see how I was going to find it useful - I would rather use my blog to write about anything I find interesting and would rather read other blogs than trawl through lots of short Tweets each day - I can hear the 'tuts' across cyberspace now!

I intially thought that I could set it up, follow some organisations, then set up a Twitter RSS feed in my blog so I only need to open the one.  Then I found that Twitter no longer run RSS feeds so my plan fell dead in the water and I deactivated my account.

I love the purpose of an RSS feed, though, bringing information together in one place and have added CILIP's RSS feed to my blog as well as a feed from - this one at least should mean that I have my blog open every day!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

CPD23 Thing 3: keeping me current once I'm out there!

I have just finished setting up my new profile on LinkedIn and it's got me thinking.  How many tools do we really need to advertise ourselves in and how many are duplicating the other?

Do people keep a mental list of all the things they're signed up to (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, etc.) and make sure they tick off each one whenever personal information changes?  I am a bit of an organisation freak so I would ideally like one tool that I use to store and publicise all of my professional information.  Why do I need to spread myself across all these tools?

CPD23 Thing 3: getting me out there

I have searched for my name in Google and the top results include: a female voice-over artist; an actress; four LinkedIn profiles (none of which are me); a couple of Facebook profiles (one of which could be me) and; a Twitter account (which definitely isn't me).  Not very impressive.  However, if I did create a Twitter account, or a LinkedIn profile, how would I differentiate myself from the few that already exist in my name?

I then searched for my name and my place of work - a little more success here!  This time the first few entries do refer to me: the first is one of my postings in the LisLink mailing list archive; the others relate to CoFHE LASEC meetings I have attended.  If I searched for the name of my blog it turns up third in the list - I think I should be able to help bump this up by adding the name of my place of work to my blog.  To help develop my online professional presence I can investigate creating a LinkedIn profile.

One of the things you need to consider when developing your online brand is how other people are going to be searching for or finding you - remember to include keyword labels such as library, or your name or place of work to try and make sure you turn up in any search you feel you ought to.

Monday, 11 July 2011

CPD23 Thing 2: exploring other blogs and enlightenment

I've been having a look around other blog postings using the Delicious list to try and help filter the many down to the slightly not so many!

When trying to select which blogs to follow from this vast community I found that a blog's name and the design of the page really influenced my decision whether to even read the postings.  If I'm coming back the blog regularly I want a nice clean page that's easy to read and I'm afraid I was put off a few by really bad design.  After that, I found that a lot of the blogs are still newly established without much content beyond the cpd23 tasks which made it difficult to decide who to follow.  However, I am now a proud follower of four other blogs: one is by a colleague (although I found it through another blogger's recommendation), two are picked from the FE college librarian commnunity, and the last is Phil Bradley's blog - surely can't go wrong there.

Looking at these various blogs has made me realise how little I really think about things going on in the library and information world.  I tend to bury my head in the sand a bit and just focus on what affects my day-to-day work.  I'm looking forward to the fact that having the responsibility of producing an interesting blog will force me to take more notice of what's happening and new developments - CILIP's update will not be making such a quick journey to the bin anymore!

CPD23 Thing 1: the excited wiggle!

When I first saw the outline of the cpd23 things I had one of those internal excited wiggles!  Here is a course that is set up in weekly segments - and therefore appeals to my strong need for organisation! - and covers a diverse range of topics.  After completing my Chartership last summer I've been experiencing a bit of a cpd drought so this couldn't come at a better time.

Although I'm a bit late in starting I am really looking forward to working my way through each week's activities - starting with my very first blog posting!