Thing 23: Making it all Work Together

I have often wondered how people manage when they are in charge of running multiple social media accounts for work / on committees but hootsuite seems like a good way around it. I like the fact that you can have separate streams for mentions / retweets/ messages etc.


At the moment my personal needs probably don’t justify using a tool like this though I can see how it would be massively beneficial for social media managers. I’ve enjoyed having a flit around checking some of the features out but for me, I like keeping all of my social media accounts separate – in my mind I can distinguish each network as each one is used for a slightly different purpose. Having them all in one place would probably just confuse me!


I never really gelled with flip board the first time we explored it in thing 8 so I didn’t bother doing it this time (particularly as it’s public to all and I don’t want my twitter and Facebook mingling). It’s useful to bear in mind for future instances though as I enjoy using twitter and I’d love to do it for a special interest group or committee as I think there’s actually quite a lot of scope for creativity (just look at the Orkney Island Library’s twitter account for an example of this).


I can’t believe this is the final “thing”! I just want to thank all of the librarians who have devoted their time to making this a stimulating and educational experience. I’m so glad I made the off the cuff decision to take part as it’s been really rewarding and I’ve learned so many new things.


Thing 22: Mobile Things

smartphone-431230_1280Considering the fact that I’m a product of the mobile generation, I was a particularly late bloomer. This was due largely to the fact that I was banished for an entire four year period from owning a mobile device. Before you pity me I can only highlight at this point that this was wholly accountable to my own stupidity.

When smart phones became available at a reasonable price on contract I went straight to the shop and emerged with a shiny new phone which I had no idea how to use. Within the space of a week I had gone out into town and had come back phoneless – I won’t go into detail but all I’ll say is that the truth of what actually happened versus the embellished story I used to explain the situation to my parents were somewhat at odds with each other. In the latter I’d featured as the downtrodden victim of a facetious criminal who had targeted me with nothing but malicious intent whereas the former (more realistic) version featured a pair of high-heels, a shiny, alcohol laced floor and a spread eagled Jordan Murphy whose inebriated brain could only focus on one operational task at a time, the consequences of which led to a considerably extended window of time for fellow dance-floor inhabitants to seize as yet, unclaimed scattered handbag items.

As if this story were not terrible enough, after waiting painstakingly for the two year contract I had signed to end so that I could finally be on par with my, by this time, much more technologically advanced peers, I walked into the shop, re-emerged with said desired smartphone and repeated the same process all over again. Four years after the beginning of this woeful tale began, I experienced a “third-time-lucky” situation and you’ll be glad to hear that my wiser and much more sensible self has had the self-awareness and organisation to be able to hold onto my smartphone!

By the time I finally had such a device, apps were already a well-established phenomenon and it has taken me until now to fully feel comfortable with and actually enjoy using them. I have in fact crossed to the other side and can now say “I couldn’t live without my I-phone”.

Some of the apps I’ve found really useful, aside from the obvious social networking sites and other tools we’ve covered in this course are Evernote and Google keep which are great for personal organisation, facilitating what I essentially consider my own personal database of files which can be accessed anywhere on any device. Though an internet enabled sign-in is required on PCs, the app on my phone allows me to access documents without the internet. Evernote allows users to create “Notebooks” in which any type of file is stored. For instance I have a travel notebook in which I keep a tube map, train timetable, any ticket booking confirmations and also quick notes I’ve jotted down about how to get somewhere. I have a recipe notebook, a work notebook and a “Tickets and confirmations” notebook. The free version has been more than adequate so far for my personal requirements as I only use it for current documents and delete any I no longer need. I suppose it’s nice to know your files are saved in an additional place which is easily accessible that requires no internet connection.

A very useful feature was the provision of an email address for my evernote account which could be used to email documents to although this is limited and I have now reached my capacity. All in all though a very useful app.

I also love functional apps such as mobile banking and the BBC weather app because, well, I have to live up to the British stereotype of constantly checking the weather despite the fact that one can be pretty safe in the knowledge of grey, cold, wet.

I will also check out the GUM app and see what happens with my copy of John Green’s novel which I’m fairly certain is sitting on my bookshelf.


Image courtesy of Pixabay

Thing 21: Creating Infographics

So here’s my inforgraphic! I hope you like it. I’ve used this tool once before but I think improvements have been made since then as there seem to be lots of additional features, templates and graphics.

I’m a big fan of conveying information in this format. I’ve read a few articles about just how effective it actually is for our brain to digest data in this way.
My end of term assignment for the “information studies” module is to produce a bibliography for a research enquiry. One component of the assignment is to produce a concept map of the topic and I’m really glad I’ve been reminded of these tools as I’m definitely going to give this a go.

I’m very pleased with pictochart; it looks professional and sleek and will be an invaluable tool in future instances for a variety of purposes.

Thing 20: Presentations

team-720291_1280I remember being truly horrified at university when a fellow student had the audacity to suggest an alternative to power point in a project we had to present. How dare they? I truculently reasoned that we had enough change to deal with when Microsoft updated their packages, why on earth would we inflict more strife upon ourselves? Prezi was a relatively new tool and I was resistant to computers back then, never mind new applications on computers that was just one step too far. 

I had taken one look and knew instantly by the professional veneer of it all that it was far too advanced for me. Years later, bad attitude amended and fear of technology semi-subsided, I return to my old nemesis and am surprisingly delighted to find a user friendly application that looks pleasingly polished. 

Having overcome the slightly nauseating slide transition I'm coming to the conclusion that Prezis are in a format that's very conducive to expressing conceptual ideas.

I watched the "learn prezi fast" presentation which did what it said on the tin and away I went. I just used some notes I've made for my course as the content, just to get an idea. 

It seems quite simple but one thing I haven't yet quite conquered is how to change the dimensions of a text box if it wasn't already pre-inserted to the template. The thought has just struck me however that perhaps I can copy and paste one of the text boxes I can seem to change. I did have a look in the searchable know how box but this didn't seem to be covered.

I've enjoyed this "thing" and would be inclined to use prezi in the future for sure.

My presentation is rough around the edges due to the textbox issue I've mentioned but finished is better than nothing - you have to draw the line somewhere! Here it is!

Image from (License CCO)

Thing 18: telling stories through pictures

Of all of the Web 2.0 tools I’m a fan of, Instagram and Flickr have always presented a few problems for me. Until now, when I hear the word Instagram I can’t help but think of hipsters with their artisan ciders and carefully trimmed beards, health freaks snapping their “gluten free, chai seed blueberry muffins” and “it girls’s” selfies of Botox filled lips and HD eyebrows with the inevitable flash of Micheal Kors watch and handbag. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s all so “look at me, look how cool I am”, yeah well you know what, I eat blueberries every morning for breakfast but I just don’t feel the need to brandish this around for all the world to see.

Ok so perhaps I’m being slightly hyperbolic here. A little. Maybe. But I see how music videos and popular culture filter in through their mass medias and then I see Instagram pictures desperately trying to replicate this “ideal world” where people seem to prance about with Indian chief headdresses in vintage convertible cars with tribal tattoos and fringed leather jackets… I could go on and on and no, this isn’t a personal attack on Lana Del Ray or any of the celebrities and artists that I can’t help but notice people methodically (yet oh so nonchalantly) trying to replicate. I have just tended to feel in the past that image sharing platforms like this are perpetuating the desire for attaining perfection and young people are probably the demographic with highest exposure whilst simultaneously being the most vulnerable. When I was fourteen I remember been hypnotised by the beauty of the models in vogue and Elle but it didn’t make me feel good, it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough and never would be like them. Obviously what happened next was that I grew up and realised that actually it’s not natural to have a “thigh gap”, I noticed that actually no human beings really looked that insanely perfect because air brushing could only be performed on media generated images. I just fear that if I felt the damaging presence of these images of perfection ten years ago, what must it be like for young girls now? They have to contend with a constant barrage of content which they’ll inevitably be comparing themselves to. Perhaps I’m being over the top and I realise how conservative I sound but I don’t like this culture of vanity and comparison that has irrefutably evolved at a cataclysmic rate due to platforms like this. I just know if I had a daughter I’d have to think very carefully about how I’d have her interact with these applications.

I really hate to sound negative and I accept that there are probably many societal positives to come from this as well as the bad stuff. For instance, I don’t think I ever even knew about the Creative Commons project but I think it’s incredible. For all of the7548442648_761a493a2a_h issues presented by the very history we are making being under threat by superseding technologies, it’s great to know that such a grass roots project has been Bourne to document our 21st century world and not only that but it’s being supported by so many cultural institutions. I love how, once registered you are invited to make the commons richer by sharing your knowledge, its a library democracy! I lost myself for about two hours last night just ogling the amazing images that have been captured from space and planets to plants and wildlife and finally old images of places i’ve lived or been to. This is truly a gem of our time.

I can see how photo sharing is an invaluable resource for libraries and museums, particularly as technologies emerge and threaten old media formats with extinction; I’d hope that projects like the creative commons will allow photograohs to be carried through change and remain protected. One of our biggest threats is losing important pieces of history which seems more of a problem now than ever before. I tried to download the instagram app last night but my laptop wouldn’t let me for some reason but I’m also quite glad. I hope I don’t get reprimanded for not taking part in this aspect of the task but I just don’t quite feel too comfortable with using this yet. I also have the fear that apps like this automatically sync your personal images from your phone and that’s something I just don’t want to have to deal with! I am however glad to have come accross flickr, I won’t be using it in a personal or professional capacity at the moment because it’s not too relevant for either but I’m a happier chappy knowing the commons exists. It’s also given me chance to dig up an old picture of Trinity College Dublin from The National Library of Ireland’s commons account.

(Image taken from The national Liibrary of Ireland’s Creative Commons account Flickr)

I hope some one will tell me if I’m not attributing this correctly!

Thing 17: Reflective Practice

photoI first saw the Rudai23 things blog through another participant’s blog whom I was already following. Aside from looking fun and interesting I thought it would be a great way to really push myself to learn about all of the Web 2.0 tools that can enhance learning, professional development and personal organisation / current awareness. I spend 90% of my time at work keeping lawyers abreast of the developments in their industry so why should I not strategically plan how to do the same for myself? Additionally I thought it would be a great way to ease me in to the routine of learning and evaluating right before starting my masters next week (eek!).

My main concern initially was the practicality of whether or not I had time to commit to this; one of my pet hates is people committing to something without being realistic about what is involved and then flaking out halfway through. My reasoning here was that if I’m going to learn how to fit a master’s degree around my full time job then I should be able to time manage this relatively small to medium personal side project. Another preconception I was fostering before beginning the course was the worry that I would be held back by my questionable state of affairs regarding technology and money (or lack of) in order to complete all tasks but the course has been constructed to allow pretty much any one with access to a computer to participate so that this really hasn’t been an issue. The only time I have been slightly let down was my inability to participate in the Google hangout. I don’t have broadband at home and rely on coming into work early to use the computers in my pre-work “breakfast power hour”. I do have an I phone to my advantage though and have found it an invaluable device throughout the process; it means that I can maximise my efficiency and work on tasks en route each day. As a person who spends roughly two hours every day commuting it’s crucial for me to use this time effectively.

I feel really positive about the time management skills I have honed and have found a routine that works for me which allows me to incorporate spending time each week on the “thing” at hand. There have been some things that I’ve felt very confident with; as a product of the social media generation, I have been reminded throughout both my educational and professional career how important building a good professional brand is. Recruiters and employers alike have advocated the integral nature of, not only to having a “clean” profile but also one that demonstrates your interests in the profession. I’ve found that my increasing interaction with online professional networks and my gradual cultivation of my professional brand has now left me in a position where despite my status as a (for now) unqualified information worker in an assistant role, I still feel that I have valuable opinions that are worth sharing across professional networks. To put it plainly, my participation in this course has really boosted my confidence.

In the weeks where we’ve explored things like library advocacy and membership to professional bodies / attending professional events my perspective has changed. For the handful of events I’ve attended prior to now, though I’ve enjoyed them and done my best to reflect proactively and learn from the experience, I’ve always had the sneaking feeling at the back of my mind that I’m not a fully fledged professional yet and therefore I’m cheating by being there. I’ve worried about my cover being blown and that people will find out I’m not a “real” information professional and the game will be over! Being a part of the Rudai 23 community has made me realise not only how friendly librarians are but what a diverse bunch we are;  different job roles and different levels of experience make for the most interesting conversations! As a newbie I may lack the experience that many others possess but sometimes a fresh perspective can be just as valuable. In future I hope to remember this and remind myself if I’m ever feeling a little vulnerable in a professional context: it’s so much better to put yourself out there for the gains rather than justify keeping your mouth shut for fear you’ll look weak.

Specifically I’ve enjoyed learning about some quite technical things which I probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to do without being prompted; the creation of your own augmented reality campaign is something I’ve been massively inspired by and i’m waiting for the perfect opportunity to put it into practice. The screencast software was a great thing to get to grips with too and whilst I doubt it will prove relevent in my job, it’s great to know it’s out there as you never know what you might be doing in the future. Podcasts have opened up a whole new world to me; I was aware of its existance but I’ve now been exposed to one more way to digest specialised and interesting content. Cumulatively one of the biggest benefits of learning about some of these platforms is that in addition to the learning process of the course, I feel like I’ve done a “digital audit” of my general online life and I’ve done a spring clean – I’ve got rid of the services / accounts that I feel no longer serve me and I’ve consolidated my favourite online content (whilst simultaneously discovering new stuff to) into an organised format that works for me.light at the end of the tunnel

I’ve identified that one of my downfalls is paying attention to liscencing terms regarding images. I hope I don’t make too many enemies out of admitting this (I know it’s a hot topic amongst librarians) but I’m still relatively new to being conscientious about what images I use and exactly how I accredit them. It’s duly noted as something to work on and I’m sure I’ll learn all of the intracies with my masters in Information Management.

In broader terms I think I’ve realised throughout the hours I’ve put into this course that the more you put into something the more you get out. There have been certain tasks where I haven’t put too much time into it and I’m the first to admit it, I can at least counteract the negativity of that by saying that this has been an active choice – time is a valuable resource and we should be mindful how we use it. Everyone has constraints and the more we’re aware of that the more we can mindfully choose how we distribute what we do have. For the “things” that I was already very familiar with (like Twitter, Facebook, Goggle) I put more time into the reflection and the blog post than I did the actual exploring of the platform but still I didn’t over-do it. For the weeks where everything was new to me I was far more generous with my time, I wanted to make the most of the opportunity I had (“opportunity” being 260 other librarians all pushing their oars in the same direction paddling unified into the current of th unknown!”).

I’d like to add that this very “thing”, thing 17 has actually been one of the tasks I’ve put the most effort into. Stephanie’s detailed evaluation of how refelction is a strategic self improvement proccess really motivated me to use this opportunity to assess my learning on a deeper level. I think this can be applied to anything we learn in life. I’ll round this off with a lovely little anecdote about a TED talk I listened to the other day; It was John Green talking about his novel Paper Towns (which I believe is being made into a movie right now). I certainly wasn’t drawn to the podcast because of the author or the book; I’ve never read any of his books but it was the title that hooked me “John Green: The Nerd’s Guide to Learning Everything”. Ok so spoiler alert – listening to this podcast will not teach you how to learn everything i’m afraid. Instead Green gives a brief introduction to the origin of the title of his book. He talks about a map that The General Drafting Company of New York made in 1937. He aludes to a trick that mapmakers use in order to identify breach of copyright – he explains that they make up the name of a place which doesn’t exist and if they see it on another map they know that person has copied their map. The Gernal Drafting Company used this on their 1937 map of New York and created a fake town called Agloe. Decades later a guy caled Rand McNally makes a map with Agloe and it seems he’s caught red handed. But it turns out that what had happened is that so many people had seen this famous map and visited this spot that Agloe manifested itself as a real place, an actual town – businesses, shops and cafes sprung up around this once fictional coordinate that it turned from being fictitious to reality. After musing a while about his own experiences of learning Green argues that cartography is like learning; we sail to a land and absorb it and then we’re curious about what is over the next small part of ocean so we sail over there and add this new place to the map and progressively we start building our own map of knowledge. I used to think at school that there was a capacity of information in the world, that one day If I worked hard enough I would know everything there was to know and I guess if I tie this to the map metaphore, I thought that the map was already in place and that all I had to do was visit everywhere eventually. But knowledge is a beautiful yet slippery thing and as John Green metaphorically says (yes, if you’ve made it this far I promise the map metaphors will be over soon) we are all cartographers of our own unique learning maps.

Well Rudai23- thanks – I’ve really enjoyed the journey.

(You can watch the full talk here).


Thing 16: Collaborative Tools

Chain made of colorful paper clips on white background

Chain made of colorful paper clips on white background

Tools like Google docs were just about in existence during my time at university though it was the very early days where caution and suspicion we’re exercised before “signing up” to things and “creating accounts” willy nilly. I could count on one hand the sources that were incoming to my inbox and for as long as I could I stubbornly clung on to this ideal.

Things have changed however and as I acclimatise to the increasingly invasive nature of maintaining any sort of digital presence, I finally feel that the exchange of a few of my basic details for the advantage of clever collaborative tools and online resources is almost fair (when I put the fact that these basic details are being aggressively culled into one big melting pot of data which will inevitably be used to my own disadvantage by corporate companies for the perpetuation of the capitalist machine – yes when I put that to the back of my mind I can just about deem it a fair enough exchange).

Google Docs has been hot in the press recently with its new features set to rival Microsoft Office. I read a great article here  about Google Docs’ easy to use templates, spreadsheets and voice typing – it all sounds like pretty eciting stuff. I like how the platform works seamlessly with word to allow interchange between the two applications and I feel that as my University course gets underway I will find this an invaluable tool. As a distance learner I imagine that collaborative applications will be my best friend and as a stringent believer in everyone pulling their weight in team projects, it’s good to know that there will be no excuses for flakes! Dogs can only eat homework in paper format thanks very much! I’m looking forward to using some of the templates which I think will be helpful for some of the less traditionally academic aspects which I am less accustomed to like report writing and audits.

Scarily I was the first one to comment on the Rudai 23 collaborative document so I hope I’ve got it right!

I’ve used Docs twice before in a acollaborative way; I once added a question to a UKLIBCHAT discussion and I’ve also used them in the context of a lifestyle blog I used to contribute to; each week the list of article titles would be available for all the writers to access and each perosn would choose two or three titles that they would cover. It worked very practically in this way and I would certainly use it again for projects in the future.

Doodle looks like another convenient tool though I assume you have to have an account in order to use it. I have created an account but aren’t sure if you would be able to invite people to events if they don’t have a profile. If I ever do need to organise a proffessional event in the future I will bear it in mind but I doubt it would be useful at work as the company already has its own collaborative share point and all meetings are scheduled on Outlook calander. It’s all useful stuff to know though!


Thing 14: Augmented Reality

imagesCAGW7D8P I’m absolutely blown away by this week’s realm of exploration – a fitting description I feel for something that is literally an extension to the “real” world. I’ve had a good read of the user guide to Aurasma and have set up an account which I hope I will be able to use to possibly create my own campaign in the future. Though I’ve spent a fair bit of time looking into it all I decided against creating a campaign for now as it seems like a lot of work for something which won’t be put to good use, having said this I’m hoping that my masters, which begins in September, will potentially give me an excuse to create a campaign at some point in the form of an assignment (and I will inevitably feel smug for my creativity and genius). Unlike other sites like pinterest or Twitter that we’ve looked at – Aurasma is a lot more involved, however you get to create your own unique augmented reality experience; a product which I think is worth the hard work.

There are so many contexts in which this could be useful – if being used in the context of promoting library services I would say that this is something that would work really well with children. Lots of children are kinaesthetic learners and thrive off of “doing” rather than sitting and reading or writing. AR could facilitate some really fun learning experiences where children can actively participate in a task which is both physically and mentally involving which they are far more likely to find engaging and remember. I also like the idea of AR physically helping library patrons identify books on the shelves and guiding them to the correct area. Often library users can feel embarrassed to ask questions or perhaps feel they’d rather do it themselves, using AR as a guide is the perfect bridge in-between.

I find the concept of technologies in libraries particularly interesting and have found Lyn Robinson’s Blog very informative, she’s the head of library and Information Science at UCL (London) and is interested in:

  • The nature of library and information science as a discipline, and the implications for education and research
  • Information resources, the nature of documents and communication
  • Information behaviour and use associated with creative works including: multimedia, fan fiction, fashion and art


I saw her present at a conference for graduates interested in studying the library qualification and was instantly captivated by her passion. She talked about the evolving discipline of information science and emphasised how “publishing” as we know it is being completely radicalised and new types of documents are being created, particularly digital documents whereby hybrids or “mash-ups” are being created and the power of authority that once lay completely in the hands of the publisher’s is being shifted to the public. Then she moved on to talk about AR. She said we are moving from interacting with information to becoming immersed in it. She advanced that immersive documents are a result of three factors; 1) networked and mobile devices becoming pervasive (through things like Bluetooth and NFC technologies), 2) multimedia becoming multisensory (wearable technologies like “google glass”, smart eyewear) and 3) participatory media as a development of interactive media.

The exciting scope for innovation is perfectly illustrated by UK initiatives to encourage experimentation; in November The Writing Platform announced plans to offer two bursaries worth £4000. The main stipulation for the brief is that each “team” who wishes to compete for the grant (which is being offered in partnership with Bath Spa University Creative Writing Course) must comprise of one writer and one technologist to produce a fusion of the two disciplines. I will be keeping my eye on the outcome of this interesting project in the New Year.imagesCA7N39KD

Lyn pointed out that this is not just confined to books, there are various ways in which the immersive experience is becoming the norm such as online gaming and participatory theatre; the increase of activities like this illustrate the consumer’s demand for a more enriched, all-encompassing experience and it is the devices that are enabling this. As a reader of time-out magazine in London, I can safely say that the immersive experience is just about as trendy as a super-food salad here. I’m forever seeing articles about interactive dining evenings which fuse theatre with food and active audience participation – it’s hard to define these modern experiences but they’re all the rage. Readers are now receiving texts and emails from book characters or gaming characters and the lines of reality are becoming ever more indistinguishable as the emergence of new technologies allow for more comprehensive means of engaging the consumer with the text.

I’m also going to talk about one talk in particular which I saw at the E-book conference I spoke about last week.

Offering a slightly different perspective than that of the average librarian, Javier Celaya’s presentation had a very technical element. Interestingly, he is the founding partner of dosdoce, a Spanish company which analyses key trends in the cultural sector, offering management consultancy services, research services and training in digital skills to professionals across different sectors including publishing, museums, and libraries and retailers.

The presentation explored upcoming digital experiences in libraries, all delegates were given a laminated “digital roadmap for libraries” that had collated some of the research dosdoce had conducted. The roadmap reads as an inventory for the emerging technologies which Javier perceives to be an enhancement of library services. He emphasised the importance of libraries moving “beyond the physical building”, envisioning a library service where the virtual and the physical experience are inextricably interconnected.

dsc_0432He explored the use of beacons; relatively low cost “micro-location” technology that relies on Bluetooth signals to send messages to app enabled smart phones. The messages can contain information to personalise and enrich user experience. For instance when a patron enters the library and walks past a beacon, a message could be sent to their phone alerting them to new books or new services. They could also be installed outside of the building, strategically placed in nearby bus stops or tube stations giving people directions to the library and promoting its services. Beacons are very much set to be part of the future with brands like House of Fraser and Asda testing them out in flagship stores. They are thought to be a similar but modified version of near field communication which works in similar way but transmits data through radio waves rather than the more smart-phone-compatible method of Bluetooth. Whilst devices must be within at least 4cm of proximity in order for NFC to work, beacons can be as far apart as 50m. It is debatable which is the preferred technology, though in my opinion it depends on the intention of the user. NFC requires opted for participation so this may be useful if, for example, I wanted to share a music file from my phone with a friend. Beacons are more commercially useful and if used well, could help inform library users of things that would be of interest to them based on past transactions. Though I can’t deny the innovation of such advancements, I can’t help but feel that equipment like this will inevitably be exploited for commercial purposes eroding the sanctity of a life where we aren’t consistently inundated with the unyielding, greed-fuelled propaganda of profitable interests.

Javier mentioned the usual suspects, facebook, twitter, pinterest and goodreads, briefly explaining how web applications and social networking sites can help create a faculty-patron relationship. He also mentioned the concept of augmented reality; devices that allow a digitally enhanced view of the real world which can be as simple as making use of QR codes which are already a popular tool amongst mercantile enterprises. There were some very futuristic, sci-fi inspired digital technologies too including facial recognition systems, robots and movement sensor carpets, all of which are designed to monitor user behaviour patterns like how long users spend in certain areas and at what times. It was articulated that technologies like this could give insight that would facilitate a more user orientated service but there certainly comes a point, in my opinion, where technology is being created for the sake of technology being created and things are invented to do things that would be better done by humans!

He spoke about the controversial topic of drones (described as unmanned combat vehicles) to transport books to less able members and even wearable gadgets like the virtual reality glasses currently being developed by the likes of Google. The conclusion from Javier was that the library is no longer an analogous activity hub but one which is shared with technology.

Four words: Bring on the Future!

Thing 12: Conferences

italian inst

As a still “not-yet-professional”, I’m very fortunate in that I have managed to attend a couple of conferences. This was due to the generosity of my employees at The London Library who worked hard to ensure the overall experience offered the most rounded view of the profession possible.

Last November I attended the e-books conference which was held at The Italian Institute and organised by the EUROLIS group of CILIP. I won’t write in depth about the content of the conference because I already did that and you can click here to read my post; what I’ll do here is analyse the experience in a critical way, as suggested by Caroline.

Anyone who knows me will probably describe me as confident, bubbly and talkative which is all true but as I strode through the ornately detailed door and my shiny little shoes struck the polished wooden floor my calm exterior was a fraudulent mask for the chaos within. My heart was in my mouth. It didn’t help that upon arrival there was the obligatory confusion over my being a lady, not a man. No matter, I was adamant I would ace this day. I located an uncharacteristically yet highly conveniently placed tipex in my handbag and erased the “Mr” from my name badge and strutted on: “this can be a funny anecdote I’ll tell to the crowds of people who will inevitably be gathered around me by the end of the day drinking in my wisdom and laughing manically at this hilarious situation”, I thought. However as I approached the cavernous room with a heart full of fear, excitement and anticipation, a curious reaction manifested within resulting in the complete eradication of all of my brave resolve and grand intention. I skirted over to a corner and failed miserably to arrest the attention of the few attendees who were already safely enveloped in beautifully sized groups whereby the chemistry and dynamics fostered the perfect environment for each of it’s participants to thrive in professional conversation. Had they have looked at me, I would have telepathically received the message from their eyes that “Sorry, this circle is full, we can’t run the risk of allowing an extra person to disturb the equilibrium of our pow-wow”. So I did the obvious thing and ran to the bathroom (which I hadn’t noticed until now that I was debilitating desperate for anyway).

When I returned to the room a few more people had arrived and I scurried to a seat next to some one who looked as lonely and out of place as I did. She was very shy and quiet and I had to contend with my cursed poor hearing (just to amplify my well established repertoire of problems!) which was a shame because her job sounded really interesting, she worked in a legal library. Polite conversation filled the gaps until the conference began and I was ousted from my seat by a hustling group of Italians who were having far too much of a good time for nine thirty in the morning. I later realised the source of their joy and was overcome by it too – I’ll talk about this later but for now let’s just say the Italians really know how to put a good event on (I’m talking the best coffee, food and wine you ever did taste).

The talks rolled out one after another, they were really engaging and I massively enjoyed the fact that I was getting an overview of e-books not just in this country but across the whole of Europe. There was a nice mix of talks; some had more meat than a Turkish mezze (in which instance my pen scrawled at a hundred miles an hour in an attempt to keep up) and others provided a little respite and were more conceptual. I stuck to the good old fashioned method of taking notes which can be tricky as it’s hard to keep up, I think next time I attend a conference I would consider taking my laptop (which would allow me to tweet without looking too rude). After the first two talks, there was a coffee break. This wasn’t an English “two-minute-break-then-back-to-work” kind of coffee break, this was an Italian “coffee-is-more-important-than-anything-else-in-the-world-so-for-a-generous-half-hour-all-other-matters-are-suspended” kind of coffee break. I milled around the refreshments table for as long as was respectably acceptable then accepted my fate and boldly strode into the “networking” room.

Within a minute a friendly librarian had introduced himself to me, we chatted for a while and oddly enough we’ve been friends ever since! Whilst talking to other people I couldn’t help but worry about the part where they ask me what I do and the ugly truth that I was a lowly graduate trainee would have to surface. People were generally very friendly though and in a lot of cases we were so busy discussing the topic at hand that we didn’t even get onto what we did. I’ve found Caroline’s post extremely useful regarding all of the tips about how to manage the contacts you accrue throughout a conference. I stand by business cards being the best way forward here but I didn’t (and still don’t) feel like I warrant a business card – I often wish I had one as it would be useful to quickly pass over my contact details but as an unqualified librarian in an assistant position I can’t help but think it would be slightly laughable.

I realised throughout this process that my people-skills still require A LOT of fine-tuning. Just because you’re confident and find it easy to talk to people does not mean this situation isn’t a mine-field for you. My main problem is my memory, I sometimes find it difficult to remember the small details about people and quite often I can’t quite hear what their name is for instance or exactly where they work and then I feel to embarrassed, ten minutes into the conversation to ask them to repeat it. I generally scrape by without these details but I think in future, one of the things I’m going to have to proactively work on is methods of committing the essential details to memory or as Caroline suggests just write it down. If I’m not confident with what I’ve spoken about with some one, a follow up conversation can be extremely daunting so it’s best to make things easier for myself by taking a few small measures in the first instance.IMG_0331

The next round of talks rolled by, and these were followed by the most exquisite lunch I’d ever had served by a handsome fleet of Italian waiters who were eager to inject delicate, crisp wine into the equation too which I was more than happy to appease. The lunch hour was easily filled with conversation, I spoke to my (then) new friend David Rose some more, he ended up inviting me on a tour of his school library which coincided nicely with a visit from a children’s author and journalist K. A. S Quinn (You can read about that here). I spoke to other librarians and practised the art of networking and as the lunch hour began to wind up I actually wished it could continue for longer.

All in all it was a very positive experience that made me feel a part of a wider community – watching people who had been motivated to run campaigns and conduct research was a massive inspiration and it made me see how important it is to apply yourself not just to your job but to the profession as a whole. I will keenly look out for other similar opportunities though I am somewhat restricted at the moment as I can’t really afford any professional events and it seems unlikely I would be offered any support from my employees. I would certainly consider applying to receive conference funding in the future and as I continue in my career I hope to apply myself to any opportunities that arise for me to demonstrate my genuine interest in order to help future application processes.

There is one free event in November which I am considering going to, though it is in Huddersfield which is far way from London (yet close to my parent’s home) and it is an event for postgrads to showcase their dissertations. I think this would be really beneficial for me to see the types of things which I may learn about on my course, the guest speaker is due to talk about how to submit articles to professional publications which would be useful. I’m the first to admit that it can sometimes seem like making the time to attend these events is more hassle than its worth, however you never know what you’re giving up by not going. I may set myself a goal of attending one professional event every three months and see how I go.


Thing 11: Reflective Practice

imageNothing says “reflection time” like golden hay bales swimming in slanted shadows cast by a setting sun right? Well that’s exactly what I thought when I stumbled upon this beautiful scene during my run last Friday night and thought it would be perfect to accompany this post! I love this picture because not only does it portray the beauty I’m lucky enough to live so close to (and yes! I do work in central London, this is called having your cake and eating it!) but I think it was very symbolic to see the sun setting on a very chaotic week and it was the perfect opportunity to spend some time reflecting on how everything is going so far.

It seems to have all tied in quite nicely that the Google hangout was on Sunday and after participating in what I’ve considered to be some rather challenging tasks it’s great to step back and evaluate the bigger picture. As Siobhan has pointed out in the Thing 11 post, time management is one of the key skills to this (or pretty much anything of this nature). One of the decisions I made at the beginning of this course was to spend more time on the things I’m less familiar with. It’s easy to write like a maniac about the applications that already well ground in to your daily routines or weekly current awareness practices but for me, the most rewarding thing has been to look at new things like storify, screencasting podcasts and streaming (though I admit I was a less active participant in the latter due to lack of resources).

Though I’ve felt slight pressure on the tasks I’ve found more challenging I’ve also felt the most rewarded. I’m aware of a point that Wayne reinforced during the hangout on Sunday, that there are is no wrong or right way to experience this course, it’s all about the journey of discovery – this reminded me that any pressure I had felt throughout the course so far has been largely self-imposed. If perfectionism was a queen, I would be chained as a slave in her dungeon; I used to pride myself on this relationship but I now see that it can be a barrier as well as a gateway to success. Another gain I’ve made throughout this course is all of the amazing content available through the medium of podcasts which I was unaware of before now. When speaking about one of her books on the Green Light podcast, Elizabeth Gilbert (one of my favourite authors) addresses perfectionism as a curse – she says her mother always drilled into her as a child that it’s better to produce something that’s a little rough around the edges than forever strive for perfection and produce nothing. In the podcast Gilbert is being interviewed by Rebecca Mead who has written a book about my favourite novel, Middlemarch and she draws the comparison here between perfection and Mr. Cassaubon who strives so laboriously to produce his masterpiece, “The Key to all Mythologies” but his work is never produced, he dies in the process of tirelessly indexing, alphabetising and conducting further research in his dusty old books. The lesson here is don’t die amongst dusty old books in the quest for perfection! Realise when its time to let it go and put your work out there – its through this process that we can allow development to take its true course.

I have struggled with time management a little but I’ve been realistic about what I can achieve, there have been times when I know it just won’t be possible to apply myself fully to every option that is listed. In this case, I think about what I do have time for and work towards that. In other weeks when I’ve had a little more time I’ve taken advantage of the ability to explore all of the options, I do therefore really appreciate the fact that each “Thing” has multiple options. It allows me to be in control of the learning process. I’m not sure whether an hour long commute each way to and from work is a blessing or a curse but I’ve turned it into a positive, using train time to read others’ blogs and write my own and walking time to listen to podcasts.

So far what I’m doing has worked well for me. Every week I look at what I have coming up and identify the snippets of time that I will have free and utilise this as a rough guide for how long I realistically have for each task. I’m starting my masters next month and I’m really glad this course has given me the opportunity to brush up on time management skills! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when commitments start piling up: there’s the preventative measures (I.e don’t take on more than you can handle in the first place) but there’s always a way to manage what is to be done whether it means reshuffling your schedule or just having to accept that you will have to spend less time on something than you originally planned. And one last tip – 10 minutes of meditation before bedtime (Spoonful of sugar optional).