Monday, 8 October 2012

Thing 23: What Next? A Final Reflection

The final note on the CPD23 course is to write a six word 'story' on my experience. So here goes:
Interesting, informative, steep learning curve.  I have found the whole experience enlightening and useful.Some of the tools are now part of my everyday working life, others I'm sure I'll get to in time. I do want to build on this knowledge as I'm a fiirm believer that you have to 'do' to learn, and if you don't use it you'll forget how. My employers are still undecided about using social networking from a departmental point of view but clearly use it far marketing purposes. Is this a bit of hypocracy, or am I wanting to run before I can walk?

I've put all of this into my Personal Development Plan. A wish list that you can aim for instead of drifting into things. I can see some gaps in my knowledge and they are in there too. The process of doing the plan is a bit like putting your CV together in reverse. Firstly, by identifying what you're good at and then what needs more work. I've tried not to be too ambitious because I know from past experience that plans rarely follow the route you want them to and have to be revised along the way. Time and money are significant issues, and opportunities tend to materialise where you least expect them.

In all the course has shown me that you're never to old to learn, and that you shouldn't be scared of technology and trying new things. After all the 'digital natives' take all of this in their stride.

Thank you CPD23. Can we do this all again in a couple of years time when things will have moved on even more? One request is that you do a 'thing' on teaching/training skills, not just presenting.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Thing 22 Volunteering

Yes volunteering is a good thing if you can afford to do it. In my school library I couldn't do my job without volunteers. My employers haven't taken on enough staff to do the job properly, and so I'm having to use volunteers more and more. However, I do agree with the premise that there should be payback, and that valuable experienced should be gained by those volunteering. I do my best in difficult circumstances. From my point of view, it's great to get an outsiders view. New eyes often hightlight issues that I may not have thought of. I train my volunteers to do the basics and they choose the hours that they can commit to. If they have particular skills such as artistic/creative abilities I use them to the full. I do try to make sure they aren't given all the boring jobs in order to keep them interested. Unfortunately, they do move on quite quickly, and the investment of time training is then lost and I have to start again. From the volunteers point of view, there are many hurdles still in place that have to be jumped over before they can work in our school. Not only do they have to the CRB check (as a given), the school insists on them filling out a FULL employment application form and then undergo an interview with senior management. I personally think it's a bit over the top and will put a lot of people off. Surely this red tape can be reduced for people who are doing us a huge favour?! But policy seems to be set in stone. As a means of gaining work experience I'm all for it. It shows intitiative, commitment to the profession and willingness to move forward. It bumps up the CV no end. So go for it!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Thing 21: Job Descriptions, Interviews & Self Promotion

I have updated my CV in the past 2 years due to the threat of redundancy. Everything noted on the CPD23 webpage is very apt. Really reading the Job Description closely and targeting your CV or application to those key qualities or skills is a bit like doing an exam question. As out teachers always said, read the question 3 times before putting pen to paper.

I firmly believe in keeping a running profolio, not just of good work and skills aquired, but a diary of whenever someone within the organisation actually says thank you, or well done! Sadly, these comments don't come often enough. Not because the work isn't up to scratch, but because people just don't seem to say thank you anymore. Instead, senior management rely on the old adage: 'You've all done very well' a phrase coined by Young Mr Grace in Are you Being Served! I believe a more personal approach has far more effect on anyone in the service industry let alone Libraraies.

As far as job seeking is concerned, where are the jobs?! We can prepare as much as we like, but there are so many of us going for the few jobs that appear, that its going to be tough out there. I have been lucky enough to be shortlisted 4 times in the past year for professional posts in school libraries. I must be doing something right. Then it's down to the interview. Employers seem to be very cautious about what sort of person they are actually looking for. If your face doesn't fit, then no amount of preparation will help. Although employers are obliged to give you information about why you have been rejected, again it's couched in very general terms that aren't particularly helpful. I also think that employers are ageist still, even if they don't admit it. Younger people are cheaper and they are looking at the economics as much as the person. I think it's a bit like going on a blind date! So much of the interview/date is about chemistry that you can't take things too personally if it all goes wrong.Ned Potter's blog post is fabulous advice. Prepre a many of those tricky questions as possible!

What about all those other interests? I for one have very little time running a home, family and a full-time job, so watching my son play sport at the weekend doesn't look that great! So a little bit of stretching the truth to go back to a time when I did have time is all that I can muster. However, by doing a bit of research on the organisation can help: If it's a forward looking employer with lots of technology that gives a few clues, as does a tradition set up. Volunteering shows a bit of commitment, and helping to run an organisation such as a football team shows leadership skills. As Tesco says "every little helps".

Friday, 21 September 2012

Thing 19 Catch Up & Thing 20 Library Routes

A short autobiography of my life in Libraries. Where to begin. At my advanced age, my career in Libraries has been varied. At 16 my school was reoorganised into a tertiary college, where for the first time the library was a big deal. I was drawn to the space and the staff and had my first incling that this would be a good place to work. The summer before I went to Universtiy to study History, I worked as a summer relief person in Richmond County libraries, so had a taste of the Public library sector. I loved the variety of work and community spirit of the branch libraries, but hated the regimentaiton of the large County Library (this was in the 1980s!). All through University I had no idea what to do once I qualified. Careers information wasn't that great. Many of my contemporaries went into teaching or accountancy, neither of which I thought was for me at the time. So I signed up for a Postgraduate course at North London Polytechnic as it was then known. Computers had only just been intorduced, so this was an interesting time. I had my pre-course placement at University of London, Senate house library and during the course went to a Special Library in a computer services firm, where my first computer was a PC with 10mb hard drive! After qualifiying, I finally got a job with the same computing firm in London. I'd obviously made an impression! It was here I really started to learn my trade, dealing with enquiries, learning about online searching, new technology and moving an entire library from London to Milton Keynes, involving re-designing the space. During this time I became a Chartered Librarian with the then Library Association. Then came children and it was hard to find work which fitted kids hours, so I ran my own peripatetic music teaching business, whilst volunteering at my kids primary school as librarian and parent 'listener' helping youngsters to read. Finally, I landed a job in a local secondary school, which was a huge learning curve getting up to date with all the changes that had happened in libraries during my absence. The CILIP library was really helpful in lending items on new and current trends. Again, the library was transformed during a re-building programme. After a few years I moved from the State sector to the Independent sector, where I am now. I'm undergoing a big development project at my current school over the next few months with a few to transforming not only the Library space but the services that are offered to make our department worthy of a 21st century facility and to support our community in the way that they want to work.

As to advice to those joining the profession, don't go into it for the money! I think we'd all agree that it's poorly paid and doesn't receive the recognition and status that it should. In these days of information, you'd think that the Information Professional would be heralded, but no. Unless you can prove a direct link to profit outcomes, it's not. It is however, a satisfying and fulfilling career that can overtake your entire life if you let it. In my experience the fault is with management who do not take the trouble to find out exactly what we do.. They just expect it to be done. Often we are so complying and people pleasers that it is hard to avoid being taken advantage of. Our multi-level and lateral range of skills are rarely acknowledged. On the other hand it only takes one successful conversation pointing a user in the right direction to make a huge difference to that person on many levels. It's those small things that make it all worth while. I had a member of teaching staff actually say thank you last week, and I was emotionally overwhelmed because it was such a rare occurrance. It's a professional I take pride and joy in doing, but others need to go in with their eyes open.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Thing 19 Reflection

Well some time to reflect at last! It's part of our new school 'Values' which we are working on, so very apt. This course has been extremely useful in pointing me to tools that would help in my daily life. My favourite tools, some of which I already use, are: RSS, Twitter, Dropbox, Prezi, Evernote and learning much more about blogs. Many of the other tools I well come back to as my working life gets far more complex. I have signed up to communicate online with many librarian type groups as well. The problem here is finding the time to keep up with it all. I have completed many Prezi inductions this week and am getting used to the ebb and flow of the software which is indeed much easier than Powerpoint to control, but takes longer to put together a 'profesisonal' looking presentation. Dropbox has proved invaluable for not only accessing my documents anywhere, but also in sharing documents. Some tools seem to be blocked by the school network or unavailable except on Firefox, but at least there are plenty of alternatives. RSS is a quick and easy way to stay up to date without getting too involved in other online groups. My question is how do these librarians have the time to be constantly posting? I want their jobs! Even Twitter is becoming alarming to keep up with and I will need to 'weed' the groups I am following in order to reduce the number of posts I have to plough through. I need to spend time sifting in order to black out so much 'white noise' and make life a little simpler but more productive. I hope the links to all of the web 2.0 tools will stay on the CPD23 wepages for a little while after the end of the course in order to revisit them when time and circumstances dictate. If nothing else, having the knowledge of what's available and the confidence to explore is a huge step forward. As a digital immigrant as apposed to the natives under 20, this has allowed me to keep one step ahead. I've become a bit of a school guru to whom some members of the teaching staff come to for advice, which is always a plus in my book as it creates a stronger relationship with other departments in many ways. What we need next is more information from Librarians on the next generation of tools used on mobile technologues such as ipads. It's all very well getting Apps designers to 'sell' their wares, but reviews from those on the ground would be very useful!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Thing 18: Screen Capture and Podcasting

I love the idea of screen capture videos.  I can see some wonderful applications for screen capturing use in the LRC such as: How to access the catalogue and do simple searches; how to access our subscription databases; how to find a physical resouces in the library. These can then be stored on our VLE. I have experienced problems downloading the software at school because of permissions, so I'll attempt plan B and ask for the firewall to accept this tool. I can see this as a useful training tool for student helpers as well. Our ICT teaching department has used this kind of tool in conjuntion with Youtube to teach staff how to develop and use GoogleApps documents.

As for Podcasting, I've experienced many of these myself when exploring new technologies. Is this the same as Webinars that appear in various websites? I suspect this is the American terminology for a Podcast on the web. For my own CPD these are very useful. However, I have tried to use them in school and they have fallen on 'deaf' ears so to speak. Our students prefer the visual element to keep them engaged. We have looked at purchasing a service called 'GCSE POD' which is very expensive. Itunes U also have some interetsing and free podcasts, but again the videos are preferred. My attempt to get students to record their book reviews for others to hear was a complete failure. Somehow our students (aged 11-18) only think of 'listening' on MP3 players or iplayers in terms of music, not school related things. Maybe it's an age thing? Kids don't listen to 'talk' radio either! I can see it working in Higher Education, especially where lectures etc are missed, or for revision. However, for the visually impaired, it may well be a fabulous development! Occasionally, there has been something book or library related on the BBC radio podcasts which are easy to download. However it's usually only 2 or 3 minutes that are relevant, and you can't edit the BBC podasts yourself, so you need to capture the entire thing. Somewhat limiting. Our languages department uses Audacity software to record students practising their language spoken exams. As a coaching tool I can see this being of great use. In short, if podcasts are going to be used as part of my learning resources centre, we have a big job to persuade the students to actually use them. I suppose it's worth trying to change this attitude, but it's way down the list of priorities.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Thing 17 Prezi, Slidehare

And so to slideshare. This is a great way of viewing other people's slideshows, but as yet I haven't produced anything for others to follow. I'm concentrating on Prezi and all it's machinations which is automatically available for others to view. I've viewed some of the slideshows and presentations from the CILIP SLG conference and some fabulous display ideas for our LRC. It could be a way to show off remorselessly because you can stop 'copying' by others and allow viewing only. This isn't a new tool, but has been around for some time in the background. Those who belong to the SLN on Yahoo groups will know and love it well. The slideshare on Presentations from last weeks Thing was brilliant. I also agree that it can become your own personal online protfolio. So here goes. I'm off to experiment!

Prezi is a wondrous tool tha keeps developing and getting more sophisticated every time I look at it. I use for Induction sessions to all new students and for the basis for my Information Literacy lessons with year 12. The school are starting to encourage students to get going on Prezi too. My only complaint that is that to make a good Prezi, an awful lot of time has to be taken up in planning. I suppose practise makes perfect. I have uploaded old powerpoints into Prezi, but I'm afraid they still look very stilted in comparison. The tips listed in Thing 17 are very useful. I wonder what the next big thing in presentations will be? 3D perhaps?