Monday, 21 September 2015

Webinar wonderings

In recent months I have viewed 4 webinars, which is a fairly new experience for me. I attended a webinar back in 2011, and presented one in 2014, but other than that I’ve never given them much thought. When I changed jobs earlier this year I became a solo librarian, meaning it is not easy for me to attend CPD events in person. I needed to think of alternative activities I could engage with, and this is where webinars have proved useful.

Good and bad.
Image by Carl Carpenter. Used under a CC licence.

Monday, 7 September 2015

HE versus FE: my top 5 observations

Still learning.
Image taken by Chelsea:( Used under a CC license.

Last week I passed the probationary period in my new job. I felt uneasy with the direction FE was heading, so I was glad when changing jobs meant leaving the FE sector and joining the HE sector. I loved working at the college, but had long wanted to try my hand in a university library and was excited at the chance to do so. Now that I have been here almost six months, I have had chance to reflect on the differences between libraries. My initial top 5 ponderings are below:

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Evolving CPD needs

Attendees at #hugsm15. Image by @HeritageUsers
Back in June I attended the Heritage User Group (HUG) meeting. These meetings are twice-yearly - this year’s Winter Meeting was held in March and the Summer Meeting held in June. I started attending meetings in 2011 and haven’t missed one until this year. (Previous HUG blog posts are here.) Due to changing jobs, I was unable to attend the March meeting. I was really disappointed by this and was glad to attend the next meeting in June.

Looking back, I can see that over the years the meetings have been of benefit to me in various ways. When I first started using Heritage the meetings were an incredibly useful source of information on how to use the software. I was thirsty for knowledge and the HUG meetings satisfied this need. Over the years, my knowledge of the software increased considerably and as a result my development needs changed also. Last year, I presented at a number of external events for the first time, one of which was a HUG meeting. I felt confident enough to deliver presentations exploring Heritage usage. By accepting the opportunity to present at HUG, the meeting met my development needs but in a slightly different way to how it usually did. I really enjoyed presenting and would like to continue doing this on occasions.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

MCLIP revalidation

Last week I received an email telling me my chartership revalidation was successful. I originally chartered in 2010 and this was the first time I had revalidated. I attempted to do so back in 2012/13 but it didn’t get off the ground. Gathering evidence was time-consuming and knowing it was optional meant I didn’t prioritise it.

The new regulations are far more user-friendly and an online portfolio is much easier to maintain. I originally found CILIP’s VLE difficult to use but with perseverance I now have no trouble navigating it. Since submitting my revalidation I have continued to log CPD activities online in preparation for my next revalidation. I much prefer this new way, the process is less hassle and as a result I aim to revalidate annually.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Lecture time!

I recently enjoyed the opportunity to attend a university lecture for the first time since 2006. This was the last time I was a university student and things have certain moved on since! I remember endless sessions where the lecturer would deliver a presentation and students would spend the lecture hurriedly scribbling notes on a writing pad. Interrupting the lecture to ask a question was a rare occurrence and as a result it was easy to ‘drift off’ and allow your thoughts to wander.

Attending a lecture as an observer rather than a student was an interesting experience. I wasn’t distracted by the need to absorb content and was therefore able to focus on elements such as structure, delivery, interaction etc. There were approximately 40 people in the room, excluding myself and the lecturer. It was far more informal than I remembered lectures to be, with more of a seminar vibe in the air. Questions and interruptions were frequent and encouraged, and as a result, students proactively engaged with the content of the session. I am new to working within the HE sector and I don’t know if this way of delivering lecturers is now the norm in all institutions, but it seems to certainly work well for our students.

A lot of students had their mobile devices to hand – tablets as well as phones. I have recently left he FE sector, and in the college the use of personal devices during sessions was discouraged unless it was part of a BYOD initiative. It differed from group to group, but some FE lecturers preferred students to not be distracted by such devices during the main part of the session. I can understand this in compulsory education and FE. Is it the same in HE? Perhaps. I don’t know yet. At first, I presumed the devices were being used to browse social media or send text messages, but when I sneaked peaks at a few screens, I could see students were mirroring the actions on the big screen at the front of the auditorium. Instead of watching the lecturer demonstrate a website, they were following along on their devices and learning kinaesthetically too. One student even used his phone to photograph the printed resources the lecturer used, and later visited the library referring to these photos as the starting point for his research.

A few students used laptops to make notes, but in general, handwritten was the most common form of note taking. Incorporating modern technology into lectures is interesting and can be advantageous, but it is comforting to know scribbled notes are still the order of the day! I will soon be delivering lectures myself, assisting students with research techniques and assignment preparation, so it is important for me to know the format of lectures in my institution.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Six Book Challenge

My completion certificate
This year, I completed the Six Book Challenge (6BC) for the first time. I am already a regular reader, so why did I take part?

The 6BC is a well-established project, supported by the
Reading Agency. It promotes reading for pleasure amongst adults, particularly those who may have low reading levels. The 6BC is offered in various types of establishments, including colleges, and generally works pretty well. It involves reading 6 books and writing a short review of each one in a reading diary. Small rewards are encouraged to emphasise the fun elements of reading.

I attempted the 6BC last year, having signed up in the college in which I work. This was the first time we had offered the scheme and I think we learned a lot. We were embedded into the scheme of work for foundation learners, but they didn’t manage to progress through 6 books within the allotted timeframe. As much as I wanted the project to succeed, even I failed to complete 6 books. There was a lack of ownership and none of us really had the time to dedicate to it. The momentum ran out pretty soon, unfortunately. So much so that this year, the library hasn’t offered the 6BC at all.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Folded book art lives on!

I've spent the past six months working in two separate FE colleges. Last summer a college restructuring activity deemed that my role should become a shared role between the college and its partner college. Such a change was implemented to many staff, and working in such a way was not without challenges. However, there were also positives... such as the saving of time by recycling various projects.

For the college's Green Week 2014, I (along with a library assistant) spent numerous hours creating an extensive display of folded book art. It was very popular and an enjoyable thing to be a part of. (I blogged about it here. It also featured as 'letter of the month' in the October issue of CILIP Update and the May issue of the CoLRiC Newsletter.) For Green Week 2015, we were able to recreate the display in the partner college I had recently started working in. The concept of folded book art was entirely new to this college so we were able to recreate the display without any additional work. It was well received by both staff and learners, and it was a lovely opportunity to re-live the buzz created by the book art. Here is a photo of the Green Week 2015 display...
A selection of my folded book art

Friday, 13 March 2015

ARLG conference: Newsletter reflection

The following text featured in the ARLG national newsletter, February 2015. It is a short reflection of my attendance at the ARLG 2014 conference, enabled by ARLG's Alison Northover Bursary.

I was thrilled to be the 2014 Alison Northover Bursary recipient. This funded my attendance at the 2014 ARLG conference, entitled ‘The final frontier: to boldly go where you have never gone before’. I had never been to a conference before and was very excited about attending. Looking back, I was not disappointed…

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Interview Qs

Image created using Wordle
Within the past six months I have attended two job interviews, one to work in FE, the other HE. After each interview, I reflect on my performance and how I approached the questions. I find this helps identify my strengths and weaknesses, as well as anticipate possible topics for discussion in future interviews. 

Monday, 16 February 2015

CILIP WMMN Members' Day

My entrance ticket
Last week was the Members’ Day for CILIP’s West Midlands Members’ Network (WMMN). I hadn’t been to this for a few years so was quite looking forward to it, especially as it was held in Birmingham and quite local to where I live. I hadn’t been to the Priory Rooms in Birmingham before, and it seemed quite a nice place to hold such an event. A silly thing, but several delegates commented on the size of the mugs – so much better than the small teacups usually available at these types of function! 

* The opening presentation was by David Ball and discussed open access issues. My career thus far has yet to be involved with such issues, so this particular talk was less relevant to me personally than the others. It seems quite a complicated topic. 

Sunday, 8 February 2015


Time for an inspection! Image taken by thom
I have worked in school and college libraries since 2003 and during this time I have worked through 6 Ofsted inspections. During these inspections I have held various roles ranging from learning resources assistant, school librarian and systems librarian. Each of these is a different rung on the ladder and has differing levels of authority, and I can see how my contribution during inspections has differed accordingly.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Apprentice success story

*Not* the library apprentice!
Image by Loren Javier
In 2012, the library in which I work appointed an apprentice. I'll admit that, back then, I was hugely sceptical. I felt the government was trading on the well-respected reputation of apprenticeships from decades gone by; my father, for instance, completed a 6 year apprenticeship to become a master craftsman. I wondered if a modern-day apprenticeship could offer a valid comparison. I was also concerned about the salary offered as it was much lower than that of a standard library assistant. I didn't want the apprentice to be short-change financially. However, I had no valid knowledge of apprenticeships and I am pleased to say my preconceptions were wrong.

During 2014, the apprentice completed her two year contract and was offered a permanent position within the library team. We were not obliged to offer a permanent post after the end of the contract, but we submitted a bid to do so which was accepted by HR. She had become a fully-contributory team member and of great value to the library.