Thing 15: Advocacy for Libraries

untitledAs a child my first choice of Christmas or birthday present would irrefutably be books every time. I can genuinely recall more banal details from the short yet exultingly sweet period of my life that coincided with kellogs cereal giving away free Roald Dahl books (aged around six) than any other time (and I went on the Disney Cruise Ship). Thanks kellogs, it was a magical time.

 

I’m going to take you back in time now, back to the days of rationed goods. No, I’m not talking about the war, I’m simply referring to the days where things had to be tracked down, the desire for a particular thing, and we’ll run with the idea of books here, demanded a meticulously planned traipse around the shops. Even after marching around your local shopping centre like a military maniac, said desired item was never guaranteed to materialise, especially if it was perhaps an older or more obscure title. Some several attempts later one would be reluctantly forced to call off the mission and would consign the title to the wish list of the mind and if the searcher was lucky enough, perhaps a year or two down the line, their beady scavenger eyes may gracefully skim it’s surface in some unexpected situation. Oh the joy one feels, the utter exultation when a yearned for treasure falls into one’s hands – “I’ll take it” – we greedily exclaim in a mad moment of pure triumph where all reason goes out of the window and no cost could deter this book lover from their well earned reward.

 

Though amazon and ebay have made the process of sourcing our beloved books so much quicker and easier, I can’t help but mourn the loss of the serendipitous ubiquity of books. Despite this romantic process which elicited both the depths of despair and the highest form of joy there was one big event in my life that offered stability and consolation throughout and upon it’s discovery, it was slightly like when you fall in love with a delicious man and you know from that point on, as long as this man is by your side forever you can never be truly unhappy. Things just can’t be that bad as long as you have each other. To me, that was how I felt when I was introduced to the public library.

 

“So basically you can take any book you want and all you have to do is keep it safe and return it when you’re finished?” I asked in disbelief. The real shocker was when I discovered you could order books in from other libraries if you’re local one didn’t have what you wanted. I was in awe. I no longer had to contend with the unpredictable cycle of unfulfilled desires. After a rather convoluted introduction, this beautiful moment of realisation is when I became a library advocate. As a child from a more fortunate background (don’t get me wrong there were no lamborghinis but there were also no empty cupboards) libraries weren’t a necessary service for my family however once I discovered them I was bound for life.

I love that Niamh’s post highlighted that advocacy doesn’t have to refer to regimented campaigns and structured groups (which of course are fantastic) but that advocacy can simply mean spreading your passion to as many people as possible. there’s nothing as convincing and contagious as a person who is passionate about something. This is amplified when that person is some one we look up to or perhaps some one who has been helpful – enter the librarian! And its true, it wasn’t until towards the end of primary school that I discovered the power of libraries thanks to a friend’s mum who was a librarian – I had never really cared for them and hadn’t seen what they could do for me. Her zealous affection encouraged me to go and find out what it was all about and I was a convert instantly. I couldn’t agree more with Niamh that we need to shout about the power and strength of libraries, particularly those that lay at the heart of communities serving vulnerable members of society and nurturing our future generations, enabling a democratic education.

I have long been a follower of most of the organisations, charities and campaigns that were mentioned in Niamh’s post on Twitter and it’s inspiring hearing about the work they put into fighting cuts and advocating libraries. Particularly impressive is the campaign run by EBLIDA which fights for copyright reform to be revised, allowing a much more sufficient and sustainable way for libraries to provide e-book services amongst other things. I have also followed the Sieghart story avidly and felt grateful that influential people will back important causes like the library provision of Britain.

Like a child is a sweet shop I often greedily eye up all of the ways I can get involved with my local community to endorse libraries and have recently found some excellent opportunities however I’ve had to remind myself that working full time and doing my masters alongside leaves very little room for much else. It’s a sad realisation but it’s imperative that I recognise this before over-committing. This week’s task has been a positive reflection on why I was initially interested in this career path; at this point I would like to say to myself that once I have downsized my commitments (i.e. finished my masters) I will strive to devote my voice to the cause of libraries in some way. As a corporate librarian, my job can be stimulating in so many ways but I believe that one derives an exclusive sort of pleasure from the type of unpaid work which millions of angels carry out in our country every day. Advocacy campaigns and local initiatives can achieve so much for communities and resonate with people on a much deeper level. Let’s infect as many people as possible with our passion for libraries.

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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

(From http://thelynxiblog.com/)

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 13: Professional Organisations

untitledI’ll start by saying that I’ve really enjoyed reading this blog post, it’s great to see a round up of all the professional bodies in one place. As a graduate trainee I’ve had the privilege of free student membership for the past 12 months though this is due for renewal soon and I won’t be granted this advantage (even though now I actually will be a genuine student whose earnings are significantly eaten into by tuition fees)! I’m hoping I may be able to bag another free year through work and have made enquiries but I know that I’m a temporary member of staff who may not be eligible for the same privileges that the rest of the department are.

My experience of CILIP membership had been largely positive though the one thing I slightly regret is the special interest groups I signed up to. It was the first thing I did having got my first library job and therefore I wasn’t too clued up on exactly what my interests were. I went to an AGM of the academic research libraries special interest group and it involved some interesting talks, such as Jason Webber’s (British Library) presentation on internet archiving. I would love to be more involved with this side of things and actually applied for an opening on the committee as social media person but lots of other people wanted to do it too (confusingly, three of whom we’re all called Vicky). I decided to step back and allow others to take the opportunity who we’re perhaps more suited.

In my previous post on conferences I expressed my resolve to aim to attend more professional events and here, I repeat it. Not only does it give you the opportunity to network but it inspires you with fresh ideas you could perhaps apply at work. If professional communities didn’t exist then how would new ideas or technologies ever spread? And who knows, you may just be the one who introduces something great at work due to gathering ideas from events. Be like a library magpie, seek and collect ideas from everywhere!

I would love to go to the biall conference one year or the cilip one but I also think that perhaps a little more experience in my field might help me to really get the most out of such an event. I must remind myself that I’m still at the beginning of my career. I suppose it’s sort of like the way I’m glad I didn’t go travelling straight after college, yes I would have enjoyed it at the time but with more maturity and knowledge under my belt I know I’ll get more from the experience now I’m a little older.

I also discovered a London based group for information professionals so I’ll be keeping my eye out for events from them in the future.

At the moment, I’m running a really tight ship over my finances as I’m on an entry level wage in London and am paying for my masters which is pretty crippling. However, once I’m qualified I think I’ll aim to be a member of at least one body. The price seems expensive now but when I have a little more to play with it’ll be worth it, plus if I make a habit of doing it from as soon as possible it will be money I won’t miss hopefully.

Like anything in life though, the more you put into your membership the more you’ll get out of it. With all of the things I’m juggling at the moment I’m happy to wait a little before committing to active membership.

Thing 7: Podcasts

soundwavesHaving skipped thing 7 initially I’m back to readdress it and I have to say my morning commutes have been all the richer since I started delving into the bountiful cornucopia of podcasts!

In my enthusiasm for this element I had really wanted to make my own podcast but just didn’t have the confidence or knowledge to make an interesting enough edit so in the end I resolved to write a short story and eventually record it as a podcast. This is proving to be a time consuming task that I don’t foresee nearing completion for quite some time amongst all my other commitments though I hasten to add that I still have every intention to do this eventually. As I’ve been cumulatively listening to more and more of these amazing sound bites my reluctant awareness of my shoddy memory urges me to write my post sans completed podcast because as time advances i’m realising that for every compelling thought and comment that occurs to me, another one slips out the back door.

I’ve written in a previous post about how inspiring I found the “liboncon” interview on the circulating ideas podcast. I find it highly motivating that people would give up their spare time and push themselves to unnatural levels of stress in order to help others develop professionally (just like the Rudai23 team)! In a practical sense it’s also great to hear about the technicalities of such a project; the method of management, the things that didn’t quite work the first time and all of the logistical and technical details.

On a level of personal interest I’ve also been listening to some great literary ones and I love the BBC 4 series “history of ideas” and also “history of the 20th century”. Sometimes my eyes feel too tired to read on the train so it’s perfect to just close my eyes and let the historians do the talking! If I’m feeling like I really deserve a treat I allow myself to listen to serial which I’m rationing to myself in small bursts.

As a huge fan of music, soundcloud has been a close friend of mine for quite some time now but I never realised that there was such a breadth of content before, having mainly used it for electronic music mixes. In a totally nerdy librarian way I’d just like to digress for one second to comment on how interesting I find the way that the sound recordings are “catalogued”. I use quotation marks because I’m pretty sure that whoever the tech gurus are that are responsible for organising the clips don’t class themselves as cataloguers yet I suppose, in a 21st century, technological way that’s what it is. I’ll add that I’m not too familiar with exactly how this is done and maybe it’s down to the creator of the sound recording to choose what genres and other categories to use as their metadata but it’s interesting all the same. For books and information there are very specific rules about the categories and subjects you would add to a record but with new platforms showcasing images and sound (like Instagram and soundcloud) these traditional rules become subservient to the creator’s intentions and will. If we consider that the creators of the media are responsible for the “cataloguing” or tagging of the metadata themselves, the grey areas of cataloguing which have always existed but have been exercised with caution in the hands of professionals have now spilled out into vast oceans of grey area that are policed by no one with any particular authority. Chaos! Bedlam! I hear you exclaim. But actually it makes for some really interesting interpretation. I love observing how different people refer to different genres, how these terms metamorphosize and transcend and particularly with more underground or niche types of music, how hybrid terms become labelled and having being labelled, become a genre within their own right. With online communities sharing, naming, and breeding these interchangeable words and sounds that characterise music it is evolving with impending velocity and depth all the time. I spoke to my colleague at work about this and she also finds this interesting in the context of instagram – she’s a keen photographer and she said that similarly, she loves to see what terms people have tagged their pictures with and we got onto saying that in this sense, one can almost analyse this from a psychological or even a philosophical level.

Well that’s enough philosophising about cataloguing for now, welcome to the inner working of my crazy mind! So in addition to my digression I think my final point here will be that I love podcasts, they offer a new way to ingest information and as librarians I think we should be all over that!

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).

#Thing 10: Live Streaming

winter-stream-8x10-black-and-white-landscape-photography_2Last night I watched the google hangout and was really impressed at how smooth things ran; the team did a great job of hosting the chat and despite a few crackly bits, it all came off rather seamlessly considering the fact that it was an international stream. As part of the task for thing 7, I listened to one of the suggested podcasts, “Circulating Ideas” and heard about how Gwyn Stupar and Barbara Alvarez had organised the library onconference in America. I did feel that a lot of the topics they covered weren’t too relevant to me, however I was really inspired to hear about how ordinary librarians had identified that there was a need for people in their profession to discuss ideas without the often heavy price of a conference. I feel that this is what is being similarly achieved with the Rudai 23 course.

I love the innovation in a lot of the initiatives that have come about as a result of librarians identifying a need in their profession; there’s the Rudai23 course, UKLIBCHAT and another example I found just over the weekend is the LISDIS conference which has been organised by three recent library postgrads who feel that library student’ dissertations offer a wealth of quality research which is perhaps neglected once it has served its initial purpose, hence they are organising an event for people to present their work.

In my current role as information assistant at a law firm I can’t see how live streaming would ever fit the remit of the services we provide, however, I think that they’re great for professional development and sharing ideas. I think it’s always going to be important to stay connected to the wider profession no matter what stage you’re at in your career.

Stephanie did a fantastic job of leading the session and made it look really easy though I think if I were in charge of something like that I’d be slightly overwhelmed by the responsibility of overseeing the smooth running of the session, not to mention the twitter feed she was simultaneously keeping an eye on. It was also great to see the faces of our fellow coursemates.

The concept of periscope is extremely interesting, I had a quick flick around on it and in a way it’s quite scary that we’re advancing to capabilities of this nature as a human race- all sorts of things could happen! Inevitably once my head hit the pillow the other night my mind wandered to the things that had occurred during my day and I found myself concocting some crazy situations using periscope as the framework: imagine if a soldier infiltrated enemy ranks posing as an insider and filmed top secret proceedings, imagine if some one was on the verge of death with mysterious symptoms and their lives were saved because of a medically knowledgable viewer… I must stop myself before I get carried away. The point is that this is a technology that could well be the opening of the flood gates to pandemonium. What an interesting time to be alive; I do think that all of this unparalleled freedom is perhaps the most extreme it ever will be and as time progresses we will become more restricted by the rules that inevitably will be imposed.

#Thing 9 Screencast

During the first few “Things” of my Rudai 23 experience I drifted down the lazy river, mojhito in hand nonchalantly commenting on the pleasant scenery, occasionally mooring up on the riverbank for a short while to examine the few and infrequent alien flyingyacht43wildlife which I could easily determine the species of after a little closer inspection. Thing 9 sneaked right up behind me and pulled my  little yellow raft right out from underneath my frilly, polka-dot encased, sedentary little behind and slapped me square in the face with it. I hasten to add, before my fellow R23 participants exclaim in protest – “But where is my complimentary cocktail and why was I not introduced to this luscious yet fictional haven of a lazy river” – yes I hasten to add that of course I am speaking metaphorically here. What I mean to say is that though some concepts were new to me before now, most of them I’d at least heard of and though I’d been forced to use them in different ways and explore them on a deeper level my heart rate had, until now, remained calmly below any erratic level. And then came the Screencast!

I did however really enjoy doing this because it made me feel like a wizard! My screencast is very short, a little blurry and the integration of the subtitles to the actions on screen is about as synchronised as Cheryl Cole on stage (It’s ok Chezza – we know you can’t sing but you’re beautiful enough to get away with it).

I chose to use Screencastomatic purely on Wayne’s recommendations though considering the fact that this was based on the time constraints imposed by the other software, I don’t think my 1 minute 44 second video would have been too much of a match. I was really quite daunted by this task and therefore I hope that no one reprimands me for the length or quality of my video. I may be speaking negatively but my jove I feel victorious regardless! I’m not aware that I have any microphone capacities on my work computer (which is where I did the deed) and after fiddling around for ten minutes I couldn’t seem to determinate any sound so I resolved to add subtitles afterwards (which in my opinion was the hardest part – some things happen for a reason).

The context of my video was entirely simple –  it was a short demonstration on how to access the catalogue from our intranet, how to search for books and how to borrow and return them. This sounds incredibly simple but my goodness, you wouldn’t believe the amount of lawyers here who don’t know what it means to “check a book out”, they slip through life stealing them off the shelves only ever to return them after being prompted by desperate plea and even then they’ll sneak it back on the shelf while no one’s looking! I digress. I knew that to attempt anything too complex would be absolute foolishness and I’m glad I took this decision. As Wayne said, it was very easy to upload to youtube and once I had done this, I watched the video on how to add subtitles.

This is where it got crazy. Firstly I got a little confused and was adding “Speech bubbles” and “Labels” which I suppose would have done the trick but they weren’t subtitles. I deleted what I had done and started again. Considering the short length of my video it certainly took me long enough to add all of the necessary subtitles. What I struggled with was pinpointing the right drive-inmoment for the subtitle to appear. I also wish I could have found out how to make each subtitle stay on screen for a longer time bracket. I’m sure there is a way which I will look into if I ever need to do this in future again. I did feel myself getting the hang of it more and more towards though and once I’d finally finished adding them I was quite impressed with my work. Of course its completely underserving of this pride but, you know – the small things in life… Unfortunately the video came out a little blurred – all I can think is that perhaps my screen is too zoomed out or too large?

I won’t be going crazy to push this in people’s faces as its boring as hell and not great but the important thing here is that I’ve learned how to do it and I think it’s a useful tool which I will bear in mind for the future. In my previous library we had a new catalogue designed and when it was launched all hell broke loose amongst the members who were predominantly pensioners. I had to calm a sea of angry perms every day for weeks as the team and I spent hours and hours training and providing guidance and printing leaflets and how-to guides. This would have been a great idea for the poor confused souls!

I’ve really enjoyed this task and feel that it is acceptable to add “film Producer” as a skill on my LinkedIn profile. I shall celebrate with a chocolate mousse tonight. Amen!

Click here to see my video. Can be used as an alternative to sleeping pills. Use at own Risk. Please note I think you have to actively turn the subtitles on to see them!

#Thing8: Curation Tools

Thing 8 is a librarian’s (is wet too rude?) dream: exploring the best resources to display and present information in a variety of different ways… erm “hello, somebody called?”

I’m already a huge fan of pinterest, It’s such a simple idea i’m secretly seething I didn’t think of it first. I mean well of course I did but then the idea was stolen right out of my hands and then some one injected me with memory loss serum… Anywho, I’ve always been an advocate from day one and use my board religiously for recipes, books and pretty much anything I find Screenshot 2015-08-18 15.32.46interesting. What’s worse is that I’ve pushed family members into similar addictions and all I can say is, Lord only knows what the living room is going to look like next time I visit my parents’ house… all because of pinterest! I think it’s the simplicity that speaks volumes; I use it as a personal curation tool but I can also see it as an incredible learning tool for classrooms and as information boards for libraries.

As a child me and my nerdy little friend – I won’t drag him into my sorry state of affairs by naming him – used to love making “Information pages”, we would choose a random topic, research it and then present the information on a beautifully presented plaque (usually cut from the back of a cereal packet). I even remember choosing cereal based on the size and sturdiness of the box all in the name of my beloved information pages! Can you imagine if a time traveller knocked on our door and presented us with pinterest!? I think I would have cried with joy for at least 7 consecutive days (Though I admit I was the girl who preferred the boxes more than the presents that came inside them on Christmas day). Unfortunately the bond with my friend never progressed past junior school; we both went to different high schools and he drew a questionable self-portrait of himself which was eternally printed on our “Class leavers tea-towel” and it forced me to ask if he thought of himself as a cockroach. Children are harsh critics. So our relationship ended here but my relationship with information was just beginning.

Pinteresting is a very visual tool and I think we all know from the infographic craze that our brains digest information more easily when it is presented in a visually pleasing format. It’s a perfect brainstorming tool and easily allows you to create your own moodboard on any topic. I’ve seen everything from dinosaur classroom project boards to oddly shaped furniture boards. All you can do is marvel at the ingeniousness of a six foot bookshelf in the shape of Great Britain!

I decided to explore Storify for this “thing” as I had never used it before and flipboard looked like a similar concept to other applications I’ve used whereas storify offers a slightly unique way of presenting information. Having used it, again, I can see it being a great tool for learning. It’s incredibly easy to use and would be good for anything chronology based. I’ve seen #uklibchat’s storify of the August twitter conversation; although it worked well I found it a little too similar to the original twitter chat itself (with some of the creases and overlaps ironed out of course) but I think I prefer the good old fashioned write-up.

The only annoying thing I noticed was that when I went back to correct any spelling mistakes I had made it kept automatically changing back to the incorrect spelling again, I’m not sure why this was but it was very irritating and therefore my storify probably has mistakes in it which, after three attempts at changing I just gave up and moved on.

 

Imaginitively, the theme for my Storify was “My Rudai 23 Experience so far”. Click Here to see my storify!

I’d also like to address the fact that I have cheekily skipped thing 7 but I’m creating the content for my podcast which is time consuming so I’m treating it as an on-going side project.

 

 

Thing 6: Reflective Practice

library imageone week into my Rudai23 course and already the signs of addiction are apparent; compulsive social network checking; shameless glazing over of the eyeballs when partner steers conversation in any other direction and of course an awareness that all I can think about is my next fix- what adventures will the next task bring?

A few of the tasks so far have probably been a little easier for me than for those of us who haven’t utilised the platforms we’ve been introduced to before. It’s been great to readdress things or explore different features which have helped add further dimensions to applications which, already of great use, now seem even better than ever (yes twitter, I’m talking about you with your cheeky little lists).

Reading other people’s blogs, I’ve enjoyed the different stories people have to tell and despite massive variations, my eagle-librarian-eyes have observed some glaring congruities amongst each of the unique experiences:

  1. Many librarians seem to be straddling this polarising rift where on one side they must prove their worth in an age of spending cuts and austerity but on the other (and this is the side of the valley that our window looks out into) they are actually more relevant than ever. If a librarian is a disseminator and distributor of information – doesn’t it make sense that the more information is available, the greater the need for their services?
  2. Librarians are a resourceful, creative, helpful, passionate bunch of people.
  3. The role of a librarian is evolving at a cataclysmic rate BUT we’re cool with that. We’ve looked down the barrel of the gun, gulped a little nervously, then smiled confidently knowing that, though the future isn’t quite crystal clear, we can keep up with the pace of change and adapt.

As a young un’ who isn’t yet qualified, it’s quite scary jumping into a career which I love and find rewarding but which seems to require constant justification to people. I’ve enjoyed the parts of people blogs where they discuss outsider’s opinions of exactly what a librarian does. I read a CILIP endorsed blog a couple of months ago (shamefully I can’t seem to find it again so can’t give due credit) but the advice was to think carefully about how we explain our job to other non-librarians. It’s beneficial to have a good two to three sentence summary about what we do up our sleeves because who wants to sell themselves short? I’ve found this very useful advice as I find people don’t quite know how to react when I explain that I’m a law librarian.

My job title is “Information assistant” and not too many people outside of the profession would really know what that means. When I mention the word librarian I’ve had a mixed bag of comments ranging from “Oh wow – didn’t you used to be really clever in school… what happened?” to “Haha. No really – what do you do?”. I’ve felt quite angered in the past at reactions like this but when I evaluate it on a deeper level, it’s just an overall ignorance about what is involved in my work. I’ve let my emotions get the better of me in the past but now I’m always ready with a scenario appropriate response to shut them right up. At a party some one responded sort of negatively then luckily snidely asked “So what exactly do you do then?” and I told them about the ocean vessels I have to monitor to track piracy and fraud and legal research for big cases involving corporations which are “carry more weight than the royal family” (their words, not mine after I’d talked them round) *grins from ear to ear at small yet significant defeat*.

We all know that part of librarianship is the advocacy that comes with it – which is why I’m really enjoying Rudai23. It’s great to see what others’ experiences are and being entertained by all of the blogs.

(Image from SOURCE: http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/p480x480/374134_10152256469725287_753848333_n.jpg)