Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Sell Yourself!

CPD Thing 3 was to think about your personal brand:

I never really thought of myself as having a brand! But then again I never really enjoyed the whole recruitment process where you have to go out and “self yourself” either. Partially a self esteem thing I’m sure but then you get told to put your name into Google and it turns out that the top three entries are actually you... that’s scary!!! I then realised that I would probably be the only person that ever googled myself and calmed down a bit.

I liked what Jo Alcock (@joeyanne) said in the lay out for thing 3 on the cpd23 blog about having a “profersonal” presence online and I have already talked about taking this approach in an earlier post although I didn’t realise it was a buzzword at the time! I use the main social networking medias – Facebook on a personal level, Twitter on a “profersonal” level (@Lady_Libris) and a blog along the same lines and a LinkedIn page that is totally professional – that might be why I don’t look at it very often. I’m going to confess now that I am not the most die hard Librarian, I don’t live, sleep, breathe librarianship (shoot me now if you wish). I try to keep as current as I can but most of the time I am catching up on new ideas – I’m not spontaneous, I’m cautious with new technologies and new social medias and this may harm my brand.

Taking the time to think about my brand has made me head back towards LinkedIn and update my profile, having had such a busy year with management restructuring and working with staff cuts like every other local authority hasn’t left much time for focussing on my own brand but I have realised this should be a priority when thinking about future opportunities. It has also made me wonder how colleagues see me at work and other professionals when networking at conferences and on social networking sites. This is definitely something I feel should have more time devoted to it and I will try to maintain an up to date online presence which reflects my “profersonal” persona. Now that I’ve put it in writing hopefully I can stick with it!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Catching Up with Blogging Colleagues

Thing 2 is all about blogging and finding out who else is in the CPD23 programme, what they’re up to and how to establish contact and keep in touch with colleagues electronically. From trawling through CPD blogs on Diigo I’ve noticed that although we may all be using the same programs and talking about the same profession, blogs can be as individual and unique as the person that writes them. The best in my opinion are those that balance personality with content, but with such a diverse profession comes a wide range of topics to blog about.

There are those that are obviously very in touch with current events but I’ve always been one of those people who finds things out from someone else... in that way I think blogs are a good way to keep up with news and views but I’d like to know the tools these people use to be able to share information with the world as soon as it happens... it can’t just be a matter of being ties to your laptop 24/7 so what’s the secret?

The other thing I noticed whilst looking through is the different lengths of people’s blogs. I suppose the beauty in blogging is that it can be as short or as long as the creator has time to spare to share their views. Commenting on people’s blogs can be quite a nervous experience and I find myself drafting comments and editing them. It’s like turning up for your first day of work and getting the balance right – I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets paranoid about these things but as you can probably tell by now I’m not the most articulate or spontaneous of people so I worry about this kind of thing! That said I have commented on a couple of blogs and hope I haven’t made too much of a fool of myself!

Looking at other blogs has given me ideas for new entries and I hope that this could lead to networking with a range of professionals from different sectors.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Visit to the Bodleian Library

A couple of weeks ago I was one of a lucky handful of CDG members to visit Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Being the nerd that I am Oxford has always been a place of pilgrimage for me and the Bodleian Library my own private Disneyland. The Library is one steeped in the history of England from being used as a House of Parliament by Charles I during the English Civil War to providing a back drop for the filming of the Harry Potter films in recent years (see – nerd!).

The collection held (second to the British Library) was established by Sir Thomas Bodley at the turn of the 17th century and it was his agreement with the Stationer’s Company of London that is responsible for the size and breadth of the collection. This agreement ensured the Bodleian Library received a copy of every book published in Great Britain and Ireland. With 15,000 linear metres of archives and manuscripts the mind boggles as to the treasures held within.  During this visit we were lucky enough to attend an ongoing exhibition (open to the general public) entitled “Treasures of the Bodleian” giving the library a chance to share a handful of the wonders they hold within their stores. These include a copy of the Ashmole Bestiary (early thirteenth century), a beautifully illuminated scroll of the Bhagavad-Gita (eighteenth century), and an original manuscript of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel The Watsons (c.1805).  

The visit was broken up into a superb tour of the library followed by a Q&A session with three members of the Bodleian Library staff. The tour of the library combined the history of the library, along with anecdotes of Harry Potter filming and comments of the many treasures the Bodleian has within their collection. Walking around on the tour you can see how the Bodleian has adapted to the needs of academics and students. The most obvious example of this is the newer Gladstone link library found in the basement of the main humanities library. This is named such as it links the old Bodleian library with the reading rooms in the Radcliffe Camera. This area has been developed into a study space with flexible seating, computers and holds high use items on open access shelves.  The link provides a contemporary space built to recognise the changes in the way students work with space for group discussion and internet access and no strict silence code. This is a popular area for students and was being well used as we walked round.

One of the most interesting things to note about this visit was the balance the library staff has in terms of providing a comprehensive library service to students and academics whilst working as a living museum and tourist attraction. The day we visited was a wet Thursday morning and the entrance hall was full of students entering the reading rooms, tourists waiting for the next guided tour and twenty overly excited (on my part anyway) CILIP members! This precarious balance of use also became apparent in the Q&A session after our tour where time was spent discussing the need to apply for funding for ongoing projects and balancing the archiving and storage of the collection whilst also publicising the treasures within it.

A lot of the discussion at the Q&A focused on the Bodleian’s efforts to digitise their collection and the issues that surround this. Projects such as the digitisation of collections are subject to funding from different charities, commercial enterprises and arts councils. The other big question is accessibility to the collections once they are digitised. As this is still a relatively new area of conservation there is no one model or successful precedent to fall back upon. The Bodelian staff spoke about how they embraced digitisation relatively early but the challenge is now consolidating the many different programs used and providing consistency across the board. The real question is whether everything will become open access in time and if this happens how do libraries and museums fund the maintenance and conservation of these collections.

Being able to visit the Bodleian Library and speak to some of their staff gave me an insight into a truly unique working environment. I’ll leave you with a comment that one of the staff giving the tour said to us – I’m paraphrasing here because my memory is quite a sieve but she mentioned the need to pause every once and a while just to remember how lucky she was to work in such a hallowed building surrounded by the history of the nation. It was humbling to hear this and realise how hard the staff work to keep the traditions of Sir Thomas Bodley alive in their curation and development of collections whilst providing today’s students with current technologies in line with other academic libraries around the country and the world.

Thanks to CDG for organising a brilliant visit to an amazing institution. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

To Blog or not to Blog?

I’ve always thought about writing or keeping a blog... the adult version of a journal/diary you get at Christmas, write in all through January and then find down the back of a drawer somewhere in eight months time. So, what I’m trying to say is I was never sure whether I’d keep up with it, I know it doesn’t have to be written in regimental fashion but all you need is one thing to happen and it gets pushed to the bottom of a to-do list.

Think the other reason I was apprehensive about blogging is that I have this idea that blogs need to be current, provocative, taking on controversial issues and I’ve never been that kind of a person. I’ve always been cautious, I find out things through the grapevine and who wants to read thirty blogs on exactly the same topic. I realise everyone has their own views and opinions on a situation but there are those who are more articulate than me and can sum up my thoughts quicker and more succinctly then I can. It all boils down to a self confidence thing, something I’ve always suffered a lack off and do I feel that I can really make a difference?

If I could I would try and keep this blog strictly professional but I know that this is a pipe dream, the line between personal and professional has always been blurred for me. That’s not to say I’d blog about the latest argument with a boyfriend or confess any number of sins but I will warn you now... if you’re reading this you won’t just be reading about “Laura the Librarian”, the personality comes as part of the package and that includes mild insecurities as well.

So, if that’s ok with you I’m going to try and do this and we’ll see where we end up!

A bit about me and cpd23

So I realise I’m a bit late to the party here but I have been meaning to get my cpd23 started since the New Professionals Conference in June which seems like a lifetime ago... nearly 6 months later with a successful Summer Reading Challenge behind me and recovery time taken I feel ready to embark upon the journey, being able to give it my full attention.

I knew nothing about cpd23 until I listened to the amazing presentation given by Helen Murphy that fateful day in Manchester and realised that I needed to take my professional development seriously. I have always been quite lax in self improvement without some kind of push or motivation and since graduating from Library School in September 2009 I have half-heartedly looked at my CILIP Update when it has been delivered without really taking much in... quite a confession I know but with the developments in the profession of late I feel that if I don’t get involved now it may get to the point where it’s all too late and all your left with are the “what ifs”.  

So basic information, I always knew I wanted a career involving books. My first job was in Ottakar’s, a brilliant chain of bookstores that have since been taken over by the giant that is Waterstones. But this Saturday job cemented a love of books. After a predictable undergrad degree in English I was at the junction where most people are; graduating Uni but having no clue whatsoever with what I wanted to do for the next fifty years. I toyed with publishing or going back to book retail but after some research on trusty t’internet I found the brilliant world of Library School! An application and interview later I was off up north to lovely Sheffield for the best year of education in my life. If I was unsure before about my new career choice this intense year and my fellow library students blew all the cobwebs away. With the long summer of dissertation behind me I went out into the crazy world and tried to find my first professional post... in the middle of a recession!

I suppose the next question is why did I choose the public sector? I have always enjoyed working with the public, which I realised from my days of working in retail and I knew the world of public libraries more than special, academic or health libraries anyway. Better the devil you know I suppose... still in the last eighteen months I have learnt so much more than I thought possible and realised that although I hate the stereotypes of the public libraries; the grey building, low lighting and silence I have also been taken in by some myself. I enjoy the unpredictability of my days, you never know what enquiries you will be involved in and I enjoy having a job where you can be the heart of the community, working in a place where you meet different kinds of people and can see the difference you make to a community.

I’m hoping CPD23 will give me confidence in using social media and give the boost to keep myself updated with current issues in the profession, new technologies and will give me networking opportunities. I am also starting work on my Chartership this year and feel that combining the two will really help keep me focussed on my professional development.

So this is me, feel free to read, comment or criticise (constructively please!)