Monday, 23 August 2010

Online Book Clubs

I like the occasional dabble with online book clubs, mostly because my local library's bookclub meetings are held mid afternoon on weekdays - immediately ruling out membership to anyone with a full time job.

One site I've stuck with is Readit Swapit. My boyfriend read about it in the Daily Mail back in April and I've been an active member ever since!

It's basically one huge swap shop for books. You create an account and list all the books you've got which you no longer want. You browse other members' lists (or search the site for particular book titles) and when you've found something that takes your fancy, you initiate a swap. The other member chooses one of your books and hey-presto, you both pop your goodies in the post and await the fun!

There are loads of other features to the site which extend its value to the avid reader, and I really do recommend it. The site is free to use and the whole precedure is hassle free. I've just completed my 14th swap and have absolutely no complaints. Look it up, folks!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Library day in the Life (R5)

I've mentioned in earlier posts, I've been looking out to take part in the next round of 'A Day in the Life' wiki. If you haven't come across this yet, it's a fab wiki where library folk blog about their day at work on a given date. It's a great way of sharing good practice and having a nosey into the working lives of others.

The date of round 5 was set for 26th July 2010 but this was after the end of the term so we'd already broken up for the Summer holiday. I don't think it'd be of much value if I blogged about going in to work for 3 hours to put new stickers in books and then pottering about at home (which is what I did on that day). So... I'm going to have to wait for the next round again!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Summer Holiday 2010

It's been a few months since my last post. Things at work have been very chaotic and I just haven't had the time (or inclination, I'm afraid)...

The school in which I work is currently merging with another, meaning workloads have gone through the roof. We are both under-performing schools and the government deems this is the best solution. Anyway - Manor Foundation and Menzies High School are officially no more, and September sees the birth of the dual site Phoenix Collegiate.

It's a worrying time for all staff. Teachers from both schools have had to been interviewed for their own jobs and have been in competition with each other. The same is due to happen with support staff this forthcoming academic year. Everything will be different - procedures, schemes of work, examination boards, KS2/3 changeover, line management responsibilities etc. There's a fair bit of negativity flying around, especially from the other school. Menzies is slightly above Manor in the leage table and therefore feels it will be dragged down; the other school has made it clear from the start it would rather not have anything to do with Manor. Tough luck I say. It isn't the other school's decision to make and in a perfect world we'd rather not have to merge either, but change can be good so I'm focussing on the positives. It's going to be an extrememyl challenging year for everyone involved, but you just gotta roll with the punches!

The new headteacher has specified he doesn't want any references to the old school names anywhere, so over the summer hols I'm having to go to work (unpaid, I might add!) almost every day to catch up with the extra workload this has generated. There are approximately 10,500 books in the library, all of which carry a Manor sticker. This has to be covered with a new Phoenix sticker. Very tedious but it has to be done before September. Joy. At least I can listen to my iPod and keep an eye on the aquairum while I'm there.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Editorial Panel Meeting

Last week I attended my first meeting Editorial Panel meeting for Cilip’s Update and Gazette magazines. I must confess I didn’t really know what to expect and I was a tad nervous.

It was attended by 5 people from Cilip and 6 people from the panel. I thought there would have been more people there but a lot of people couldn’t make it as the meeting fell the day after the General Election. The majority of the panel’s duties are carried out online via forums, so it was nice to finally meet in person and put faces to names.

We were emailed an agenda and several documents beforehand, and the primary focus of the meeting was the recent digital launch of the two publications and the readership statistics / feedback this has generated. There was also a call for more contributions / articles from readers.

With all this to discuss it is a very exciting time to be on the panel! Remember the blog post I wrote back in December 2009, about whether I should apply for the panel and how naff I felt my application was? I’m soooo glad I did it! I’d recommend it to anybody wishing to become an active member of Cilip.

I should also say that Cilip put on a marvellous spread for the buffet!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Cilip's Gazette needs YOU!

Hi Folks,

As some of you may already know, I'm on the Editorial Panel for Cilip's Update / Gazette magazines. I started a three year term in January and so far I'm really enjoying it.

Whilst Update has writers on staff to produce articles, Gazette consists mostly of voluntary contributions from readers. We're now looking for people to contribute to Gazette's 'Library Heroes' column. That's right - Gazette needs YOU!

You can choose to write about anybody from the information / library world, who you admire / think has made a valuable difference. It's a flexible column so the person you write about can be either famous or non-famous. The article should have a word limit of between 400-600. It's an informal column so it doesn't have to be written in a particularly formal / academic style.

Previous Gazette issues can be viewed online at Cilip's website if you want to browse past examples - such as my attempt to write about my own Library Hero (Issue date: 8 April 2010, p15)!

Should anybody be interested, please message me.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Race For Life

This post has absolutely nothing to do with work or libraries or books or literature or school or reading, but...

On Thursday 17th June I will attempt a 5k run for Cancer Research UK. Not an easy task for me but I feel it's something I have to do. If anybody out there would like to sponsor me (I'll be forever grateful!) please click on the following link:

Monday, 5 April 2010

Fishy Wishes to You All!

It’s Easter half term which means I have two weeks off work. I really appreciate the generous holidays of working in a school, but… I keep thinking about fish.

Just after Christmas, we bought a tropical aquarium for the library. I was a little apprehensive when the idea was originally pitched to me, but I’ve surprised myself by how attached I’ve become.

A group of pupils formed an Aquarium Team (AKA ‘The Fish Club’) and the idea is that they maintain the tank. Of course, I supervise, but never having kept an aquarium before it has been quite the learning curve! Last month the chemical analysis of the water was tested and I was told it was ‘practically perfect’; this is no mean feet for a beginner and I was so proud!

We have mostly Mollies, but other species include Platy, Danio, Gourami and (my favourite) Siamese Fighting Fish. There are 15 ‘adult’ fish in the tank, which has a Sponge Bob Squarepants theme. There are also several snails (urgh) which reproduce at an alarming rate!

We had babies in February, which was quite a shock as we didn’t realise we had a pregnant fish – such was our lack of knowledge. I have since come to the conclusion that a Dalmatian Molly must have been pregnant before she came to our tank. Having now learnt about live bearing fish, I started to suspect that our Leopard Molly was pregnant, and we became proud parents once again in March. We currently have approximately 50 Molly fry living in two nursery nets inside the main tank. Due to various fishy deaths, we now have one male Molly to four female Mollies and my fingers are crossed as I hope against hope that we have no more Molly babies; the tank has become a den of sin and I don’t know how we’ll cope with any more additions to the family.

Friday, 2 April 2010

April Fool's Day

Yesterday was 7 years to the day that I first started work in a library.

Happy anniversary me!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

UK Library Blogs

A while ago I discovered a wiki called UK Library Blogs. It’s run by several prominent library-bloggers and aims to compile lists of all library-related blogs within the UK. What a great idea! I’ve found several interesting ones by accessing the wiki. I love reading library blogs and enjoy ones that have a personal feel to them. Some focus on professional issues whilst others have a more informal tone, but I soak them all up.

This month saw the unlocking of the wiki, meaning anybody is now free to add a blog to it. I added mine earlier this week and since then it has - for the first time - had hits from other countries.

This simple idea really is a great way to share knowledge, communicate with others and raise awareness. I can’t praise it enough! If you author a library blog, what are you waiting for? Get it on the wiki!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Campaign for the Book

In the current issue of Library and Information Gazette (11 March 2010), the front page story summarises the ongoing battle between school libraries and Downing Street. As I work in a school library this is something I feel very strongly about.

The Campaign for the Book, under the leadership of Alan Gibbons, submitted an e-petition to Downing Street asking for school libraries to be statutory, which was unfortunately rejected. The Government’s reply stated that a school library is a ‘key resource’ and left it for schools themselves to make the decision of whether they have libraries. Talk about sitting on the fence! This, I feel, is hugely hypocritical of the Government. Legally, schools have to provide careers information but do not necessarily have to provide any other sources of information. This makes me wonder, how on earth can a place of learning not possess a library? There is a startling trend which sees schools disbanding libraries because they are costly to source and the emphasis is now placed on Google as an all-knowing research tool. Indeed, in the borough in which I work, this has happened to several schools.

Grrrrr! I feel so passionately about this issue and it makes my blood boil that the Government does not feel it important. School libraries are statutory in Scotland and public libraries are statutory throughout the whole of the UK – how dare Downing Street say that school libraries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are less important. If I ever bump into Ed Balls or Gordon Brown I’d give them a piece of my mind!

I didn’t want this blog post to become an outlet for my frustration and anger regarding the Government’s narrow vision; I’m really having to curb what I type, otherwise it would be. In fact, I fear it is already too late! I just can’t help myself! My original intention was to simply state how nice it is to see so many different organisations lending their support to the campaign by lobbying the Prime Minister. However, these bodies are mostly institutions that are connected to school libraries, for example the School Library Association. Whilst there are non-school bodies that have verbalised support, for example several authors, it would be nice for support from other sectors to be more forthcoming. I can’t help but wonder, would this campaign have received more support had the government been as flippant towards libraries in other types of educational establishments, such as colleges or universities. A library is just as crucial in compulsory education as it is in further or higher education. School libraries are where the profession grabs library users of the future – that alone should give them importance.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Library Day in the Life (R4)

Grrr! Am well cheesed off!

Have just realised I'd forgotten all about round 4 of Library Day in the Life. I was hoping to take part in it this time round - I guess I'll have to keep my peepers peeled for round 5 instead! I'm thinking it might be July 2010?????

On other matters, it is a sad day today. We lost a fish in the library's tropical tank. Nothing overly unusual about that, except this fish had no eyeballs. Slightly disturbing and a tad gross. RIP Molly Number Two, you will long be remembered.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

LSA / Teacher / Librarian

At the start of the week, An ICT teacher I work closely with asked if I would do a one-to-one session with a pupil in his class, regarding exam technique. The lad didn’t do anything in a recent exam and it transpired that he didn’t have the knowledge to do the first question; it didn’t occur to him to flick through the paper and choose which questions to tackle first. We booked a time and I didn’t really have much of a plan in my head as of what to do, but we played it by ear. I enjoy the learning support aspects of my role as I find such moments give me a short break from books! I felt it went well (to say I hadn’t put any real thought into it) and the pupil asked for a follow up session. I took that as confirmation that I’d been on the correct path and the pupil had found it useful and (reasonably) enjoyable. Success! At the end of the session, the MFL teacher (camped in the library at the time) told me he’d had half an ear on our session and thought it ‘very informative’. With these compliments flying round, my head was beginning to swell and I’m now toying with the idea holding formal exam technique sessions for pupils.

I’ve held lessons on library inductions for year 7 pupils and referencing skills for pupils of sixth form age, but the concept of exam technique lessons never really occurred to me before. (Which I can’t quite believe considering I am an exam invigilator and often answer questions on what pupils are ‘supposed’ to do in the exams.)

Last year I attended a day’s training on SEAL practice. This covers Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning and the various barriers pupils are faced with. I learnt classroom management techniques for creating an atmosphere conducive to learning in an environment where content has to be differentiated. Library staff are often expected to teach lessons but people forget that we aren’t trained teachers; if any of you ‘out there’ has the opportunity to attend SEAL training, please take it up – I really do recommend it.

Incidentally, I have a college interview later this month for a course in post-16 teaching (PTLLS). All local residents qualify for one free course and this was the one that interested me the most. I’m really looking forward to learning the finer points of lesson planning. I quite fancy trying my hand at FE libraries one day (again), so you never know when such a course may come in handy!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Andrew K. Shenton

Hello again library fans,

I had some pretty amazing news this morning.

Over the past several years I have read numerous articles in various library-related publications written by Andrew K. Shenton. His work often concerns school libraries and the researching habits of young people. He appeared several times in the bibliography for my library dissertation and I've always regarded him as a Famous Librarian. (Phil Bradley is another of these FLs and I was in awe when I attended a seminar of his last year, but anyhoo - I digress...)

A letter awaited me at work this morning - Dr. Shenton has quoted me in his latest paper! This marvellous article is entitled 'Modelling-through-reaction: its nature, implementation and potential,' and is in Library and Information Research, Volume 33, Number 105, pp51-61. I crack a small mention on p52.

I am thrilled beyond belief! Who'd have thought it? Certainly not me! Thank you Andrew.

Friday, 26 February 2010


Can't believe I didn't think to blog about this at the time...

The chartership examination board met on January 27th and awarded me chartered status. I couldn't be any more chuffed! I am now BA(Hons), MSc, MCLIP. I know it's vulgar to self-promote but I really don't care; if you can't rejoice amongst firends who can you rejoice amongst eh? Woo-hoo! Yay is me! Yippeeee! (Feel free to join in...)

It's been quite expensive, this whole chartership lark. Cilip membership costs £184 (I think) per year, MCLIP portfolio registration is £55 and there's a further payment of £20 for the honour of joining the professional register. Not to mention the cost of travelling to regular sessions with my tutor / mentor and the cost of having three copies bind. It really makes my blood boil when I think of it that way. Of all the professions, that of information science is one of the lowest paid. Chartered librarian posts do not command wages equivilent to that other professions of a similar standing (for example a chartered accountant or a chartered engineer). Despite this fact, Cilip, the professional body for information scientists / knowledge managers / librarians (whichever you choose to call us) has one of the highest membership fees of all professional bodies. I really have to bite my tongue on this issue. It is ridiculously expensive when viewed in comparrison to the wages of the profession, yet I still choose to pay it. I do this because I fear my career would be held back and suffer if I did not. My boyfriend, for example, is a member of the professional body for cast metal engineers. His annual membership is roughly a third of what I pay for mine. Grrrr! Cilip often attempts to justify the costs via various blogs, forums and printed publications. There's nothing I can do to alter it so I may as well just grin and bear it.

Anyhoo, I must move on from this negativity, this blog posting is meant to be one of rejoicement. Where was I...? Oh yes. Yipee! Congrats! Who's the champ! etc.

Thanks for reading.
Love and kisses from
Cara BA(Hons), MSc, MCLIP.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Most Popular Authors

Thought I'd tell you all what our most popular authors were last year.

1. Jacqueline Wilson
2. Darren Shan
3. Stephenie Meyer
4. Roald Dahl
5. Meg Cabot

This is Stephenie Meyer's first appearance in our top five, and it's interesting in the fact that it has pushed JK Rowling out. Is Harry out of vogue? Are vampires the 'in' thing? It would certainly seem so at the moment.

Personally, I am a huge HP fan and late last year I also became a huge Twilight fan. I become so engrossed in both series of books that it's difficult for me to say which I prefered. Having said that though, I do agree with Stephen King when he said he felt Rowling had the edge over Meyer in terms of writing technique.

Good to see Darren Shan in the top five again, despite the recent film release being panned. I enjoy his books and would hate to see him slip down.

Monday, 4 January 2010

HaPpY nEw YeAr!

Can it really be 2010, already?

First day back at work today after two weeks off for Christmas. Spending it tidying up lose ends from last term - finishing off the statistical report and hand-covering the last of our new stock.

Had a meeting with the library helpers at lunchtime. They are to do a wall display focusing on new year's resolutions. Will they finish it in a week? When they all get together they're so loud and full of beans, so the jury's still out on that one. They made a new year promise to me today that they would all concentrate on working well together - maybe keeping promises is their team resolution...