Friday, 22 February 2013

Reflections on the CPD23

I made it... WOOHOO! It’s been a long slog and I know I haven’t kept to the timetable but I am very happy to have completed the CPD23 course. It has been an invaluable tool in CPD learning about different applications that I otherwise may not have heard of.

The beginning of the course, working out a personal brand and finally getting my blog up and running has been really helpful. Realising how much of an online presence I have really shocked me and so I have changed the way I interact on certain social media to maintain a professional  persona if you will (as much as I can). Social media has also helped me to network in ways that wasn't possible ten years ago and have meaningful discussions with colleagues I may not otherwise ever get the chance to meet. A course like this gives you the push you need to look at yourself in a professional light and work out where your strengths and weaknesses lie. It’s also very interesting to see other professional’s views on subjects that in turn influence your own. This programme has pushed me to look at online tools such as dropbox and Google docs which I have heard about but never made the time to explore properly. 

What I need to make sure now is that I keep up with new applications and theories by actively following colleagues’ blogs and keeping up to date with publications such as CILIP Update.

Thank you to all the CPD23 bloggers who have made the programme educational and fun, bringing their own perspectives to applications and programmes and sharing their knowledge with the rest of the profession.

What’s next for me? Well I am working my way through chartership and am ready to start pulling my portfolio together so watch this space... and who knows what might happen at work... every day is a challenge but one I’m ready for!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Strengths, Interests and Volunteering (Things 21 and 22)

Strengths and Interests

As part of my chartership I have been looking at my strengths and interests to make sure that my CPD is going in the right direction. I conducted a SWOT analysis whilst writing my PPDP and asked my line manager to contribute as well... very open to constructive criticism.

Since studying at Sheffield and writing my dissertation I have taken a keen interest in reader development but this seems to be the part of librarianship that is slowly dying. If you look at organisational charts of ten years ago you would see a full time post of reader development librarian but these roles have now been watered down and folded in to librarian positions. I spent a day shadowing Wiltshire Council’s library operations manager who as part of his role is responsible for reader development from everything to reading lists to the running of the six book challenge, author events and more. I have written about this before and so will not go into too much detail here (Reflections on Shadowing). I have been very lucky that since this shadowing experience an expressing an interest in reader development, colleagues higher in the library service have given me opportunities to work in this field; creating reading lists, helping with stock selection and working  on the national reading well campaign collection (part of the four core services set out by the SCL).

Interests outside of librarianship have helped to influence displays and events including dramatic readings of favourite poets and read the film displays. Looking at your strength and interests and updating your CV whilst in a positive mood can be very beneficial. In terms of interview tips the best I can say is be yourself, prepare well and don’t act your way through an interview. Remember it’s as much about making sure it’s a good fit for you as much as the company you’re interviewing for.  

Volunteering Experience

In the blog post for thing 22, Bronagh McCrudden spoke about the idea of experience catch22 and she could not be more right. Especially in this job market young people are finding it harder and harder to get breaks into employment and not everyone can afford to volunteer for free.

A lot of the experience I have in the library sector has come from volunteering opportunities. When I went to library school I had no specific library experience and felt that I was going in behind everyone else. I have volunteered in a local studies library and a public library whilst studying and job hunting and it was not until I had these experiences that some of the theory I learnt made sense.

After a talk given by David Smith of the Hull Local Studies Library as part of my degree studies I approached him about work experience at the library. This was at a time when the library was moving into its new facility and so a lot of my time was spent cataloguing stock. At this time the library wasn’t open to customers which was a shame but I learnt a lot about the different stock the library held and anecdotes about research undertaken on behalf of customers. I spent a day a week at the library for six months before having to focus on my dissertation.

I strongly believe that the six months I volunteered at Catford Public Library helped me to get the job I have today. By experiencing the day to day running of a library I had a database of knowledge at my disposal for interview scenarios. Again this was a day a week in which I got to shadow library staff, take part in baby rhyme times and activities, learnt weeding policy and helped with school assemblies. This was invaluable experience that helped me talk more openly during interviews and gave me the confidence to go after jobs that I thought I was ill qualified for previously.

I am a strong believer in volunteering as work experience and giving people the opportunity to learn more about a profession that they are passionate about. As staffing gets tighter and budgets are cut it gets harder to find the time to devote to younger professionals who are the future of librarianship but it is one of the easiest ways to promote the profession to a younger generation.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

An Overdue Apology

So I started my CPD23 journey back in November 2011 (OMG) and it's fair to say that I've had quite a languid approach doing bits and pieces here and there but I am determined to finish it by the end of this month (it's in print now... I have to do it!)

One of the issues (apart from my hideous lack of commitment and laziness) is getting to grips with these applications with a laptop that belongs in the 80s. It unfortunately has given up the ghost and the secure network at work does not let me download programmes and applications so it has made it difficult to explore these tools. 

With this in mind I'm going to skip on over to thing 20 and explore the library routes project and hopefully come February 28th I'll be able to reflect on what I believe is a truly great programme of CPD . Thanks to all involved in the CPD23 project and may I take this moment to recommend working through the programme to any who haven't embarked yet.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Cotham School Library, Bristol

After attending a career’s event at UWE in November I arranged a visit to Cotham School Library in Bristol with their Librarian. I’ve always been interested in school librarianship but the idea of lone working frankly scares the bejesus out of me (self confidence thing - I'm working on it though). Much like public librarianship I think there are hidden depths to the variety and scope of school librarianship that people don’t realise. This was affirmed after spending the morning in the library. The librarian works in a small team with two other library assistants on part time contracts but the running and maintenance of the library and the stock are ultimately her responsibility. Along with this there is also the need to liaise with teaching staff and the chance to teach information literacy sessions and other library sessions in the library and out in the school.

On the Cotham School website it says "The Library aims to be a whole school resource, providing materials for all aspects of school work as well as for the development of personal interest and recreational reading." The collection is very impressive and in my opinion lives up to it's aims. It also includes a staff collection with the latest development textbooks and a small adult fiction selection. The main library is a main floor and a mezzanine. The latter is a quiet sixth form study area which has a mezzanine collection of post 16 fiction along with a bank of computers and tables. This was very well used in the morning that I was there as it was exam time and free lessons can be spent here. The main floor has a bank of twenty computers, a large non-fiction collection and fiction collection including graphic novels. I was impressed by the range of the collection – the fiction collection runs from the predictable Jacqueline Wilson, Robert Muchamore but also has George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones and Philippa Gregory novels. I asked the librarian about the mix of junior, YA and adult fiction and there are age guidelines on the inside cover of the older spectrum. All issues and returns are run through the counter which means that staff can supervise what is issued. It was also interesting to note that the librarian doesn't use just one supplier and actually has reps come in to see her on a regular basis.

At break time the library becomes a hive of activity. Although there is a strict silence rule enforced there is a general hum of productivity with students using online facilities, printing homework or just sitting down to read for 10 minutes in between classes. Teaching staff are also timetabled on to supervise in the library during breaks and at lunch and there is a strong sense of discipline. The library is open both before and after school and student's are given every opportunity to use the facilities in the library during opening hours.

I know that one of the harder issues in school librarianship like academic librarianship is gaining the support and respect of the teaching faculty and making sure that the library’s voice and message is getting through to students. There is no better way of doing this than advocating your worth and value to staff. The librarian admitted she is very lucky in that she has a lot of support from both the head and deputy head of the school and weekly staff briefings are actually held in the library making it a vocal point of the school. There is still an issue though which to those outside the profession may not seem a big deal but to those who do the differentiation between librarians and library assistants is significant. Selling the value to libraries and their staff to teaching staff and parents is almost as important as selling it to the students themselves but it can be an uphill struggle. Workshops have been held with parents of year 7 students to support reading for pleasure and dealing with book recommendations but with mixed results.

Being here for just a few hours dispelled a few myths for me. It also taught me that maybe I could do this some day. It is a role with many different threads, it requires creativity and the lateral thinking and I truly believe school librarians in general must be some of the hardest working in the profession. I am not ignorant to the troubles this sector is having at the moment and the idea that schools, especially secondary schools could lose this invaluable resource is maddening and worrying in equal measure. 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

January Book Reviews

Bit heavy on the YA front this month but it was after Christmas!

I've always wanted to read a Maggie Stiefvater and went for this one purely on the cover art - I know... not best way to choose but that's how I roll! I can honestly say I enjoyed it but am so confused about what actually happened!

Blue lives in a family of psychics but has no supernatural ability herself - she has been told from as young as she can remember that if she kisses her true love she will die - bit harsh when you're 15. This doesn't seem a problem for Blue until she meets Gansey, Adam and Ronan... the Raven Boys, each with their own plethora of problems.... what ensues is a search for more supernatural enmeshed in angst from all characters trying to solve problems beyond their years.

The final instalment in The Caster Chronicles series... Ethan and Lena now live in different worlds after Ethan's sacrifice at the end of Beautiful Darkness. But, like teenage love... nothing can separate this couple. As Ethan tries to make his way back to Lena he encounters the demons and angels of the otherside. Lena hasn't given up either and she and the rest of the gang including Link, Liv and Ridley help each other to bring Ethan back where he belongs.

The latest offering from Pittacus Lore sees the garde of Lorien learning to use their legacies and work as a team to defeat Setrakus Ra.... The action doesn't stop in this third instalment, those that are following the series will not be disappointed especially with each garde member trying to work who is in fact Pittacus!

Moon Over Soho picks up with the story of our lovable bobby on the beat DC Peter Grant. The story literally begins a couple months after the events of Rivers of London and Peter is still learning the magical craft from Nightingale but it doesn't stop him from investigating the murders of the jazzmen of Soho... not a normal serial killer by any means. The joy in these books is the simplicity of plot movement, there is always something going on and we see much more to Peter than just the copper!

An anthology of poems from the last 60 years collected by Poet Laureatte Carol Ann Duffy to celebrate the Queens Diamond Jubilee. Now I am by no means a poetry expert or necessarily lover but I was surprised at how few names I recognised in this anthology. Of course you have poets such as Roger McGough, Wendy Cope and Simon Armitage but more often than not I turned the page and thought who? This obviously doesn't stop the enjoyment although there it does not leave you feeling overly jubilant. This was a reading group choice and it was interesting to note that others remembered subjects from earlier years.