Thursday, 17 November 2016

12 Apps of Christmas

Today I enrolled on the 12 Apps of Christmas course and completed the pre-course survey. It is offered by Regent's University London and is hosted on Blackboard.

I first heard about the course in June, when I attended a workshop at the ARLG 2016 conference. I'd never heard of it before then, and to be honest I'm not quite sure why. Because I'm relatively new to HE libraries? Because I'm a solo librarian and my networking is limited? Or does the course have a low profile? I don't think it's the latter, as hundreds of people have completed it over the past few years. When you change sector it can take a while to find/establish new links and I think that may be why I hadn't heard of this course previously.

Anyhoo, as soon as I did hear of it, I was hooked! I really like the idea. I have little knowledge of using apps in education and am keen to learn more. An added bonus is the ability of communicating with other participants via the Twitter hashtags (#RUL12AoC, #12AoC); it's interesting and fun to see what other folks are up to. Plus, I have little experience of MOOCs, so this is a good way to dip my toes in the water. The only online course I've ever done was CPD 23 Things, back in 2011. I really enjoyed it, so if this is even partly similar, I'll enjoy this too.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

2016 reading challenge

Considering my job, it probably comes as no surprise that I enjoy reading. It relaxes me and centres me after a stressful day. I have built a career around reading and the empowerment it provides; I value it so much that whenever I go abroad to a non-English speaking country, the feeling of illiteracy I have scares me; losing the ability to read makes me feel vulnerable. As a librarian I consider it my duty to read widely in my spare time and I like to cover different genres. I used to take inspiration from the Richard and Judy Book Club or the Six Book Challenge, but this year I came across the 2016 Reading Challenge, which I have just completed. 

I’ve no idea where the challenge originated, but a friend mentioned seeing it on social media. I decided to omit one element of the challenge – a book you have previously abandoned. There is so much great literature out there (whatever your definition may be), and life is too short to spend it reading things you don’t enjoy. I’ve only ever abandoned a few books and the possibility of revisiting them felt like torture.

Thursday, 8 September 2016


Earlier this summer, my employer held a staff party. Staff awards were distributed during the event and I am pleased to say the library won the ‘annual recognition award’.

We were presented with a shield and a bottle of champagne each. The decisions were made after senior management studied feedback from the annual staff survey and also the regular end-of-semester student surveys. I’m not sure what comments were made about the library but they must have been good!

It feels great knowing the library and the work we do is appreciated by both students and fellow staff. It’s nice to see people appreciating a library service, a provision which is traditionally often overlooked. In my previous employment, the library was often side-lined but here we have support from senior management and that feels good. It allows us to develop the service and for this I am very grateful. 

Monday, 15 August 2016

Chartership coincidence

In 2011 I started a job in a further education college and met my new line manager, Ihar Ivanou. We have both since moved on to other jobs; we now work for the same private provider of HE but are based at different campuses, approximately 120 miles apart.

Anyhooo, the other day I was having a clear out at home and came across the copy of CILIP Update (April 2010) which announced my original chartership. I glanced down the list of names and spied a coincidence; it was the issue Ihar’s original chartership was announced, too!

Spooky? Destiny? Who knows???

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Heritage Cirqa Flagship Programme

In Sept 2015, IS Oxford – the developers of Heritage, our LMS – launched theHeritage Cirqa Flagship Programme. This was a series of 10 monthly assessments designed to utilise a variety of functions within the software. I registered as soon as I heard of the course and was really chuffed to be within the first wave of ‘graduates’ announced in June. The main aim of the programme was to encourage library staff to make use of functions they may not already utilise. Each month saw a different task – here is a basic list of each topic covered: 

Friday, 22 July 2016

Reval :)

At the end of June I had an email announcing my second cycle of chartership revalidation had been successful. I often think about revalidation and much prefer the current regulations to the previous regulations. I chartered under the old regs but never revalidated under them; I tried, but the demands just didn’t fit into my busy working life as a long distance commuter. I have since revalidated twice under the new regs which proves how much more convenient they are. This is my first revalidation whilst working in HE. I blogged about my first revalidation (2015) here and also my original chartership (2010) here.

I submitted my portfolio on 27th April and received the result exactly 2 months later. Although I was anxious to know whether my portfolio had been accepted, I found 8 weeks an acceptable wait. I’m happy revalidating every 12 months and feel a quick turnaround with the results is a key part of this.

Monday, 18 July 2016

'UXLibs in a Day'

Earlier this month, I attended ‘UXLibs in a day’, facilitated by Andy Priestner. I was lucky enough to have been given a place sponsored by CILIP West Midlands Member Network.  It was held in the library at Aston University and there were 25 delegates. It was brilliant, by far the most enjoyable and interesting library session I’ve ever been to. I was completely new to the concept of UX and this day was the perfect introduction. We learnt so much – it is impossible to recount it all within the confines of a blog post, but below are a few of my ponderings from the event.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

HUG Summer Meeting 16

Last week was the annual Summer Meeting of the Heritage User Group, held at Conference Aston in Birmingham. I am a solo librarian and do not have many opportunities to meet other library people. I go to the HUG meetings once a year and really appreciate the networking opportunities it creates. This year, it seems networking opportunities are like busses – you wait ages for one and then two arrive at once! The HUG event was the day after the ARLG conference.

I attended my first HUG event in 2011 and they are always useful and interesting days. As always, the morning session featured a member of staff from ISOxford, the LMS developers. The latest information regarding the upcoming My Cirqas app was both interesting and useful. Although the app is free, usage will require Heritage licences so this is something for us to look into. We have long been considering upgrading out licence size and this may be the additional evidence required for our 'business justification' to be approved. 

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

#ARLG16 part 2: Attending

Last week I attended the ARLG 2016 conference, held at Conference Aston within Aston University. I attended for just one day, Tuesday 28th July, and this blog post will record which sessions I attended and the overall experience of being a conference delegate.

The morning keynote speaker was Peter Kilcoyne, ILT director at Heart of Worcestershire College. He outlined a large scale project regarding blending learning within FE. Colleges are encouraged to participate in blended learning as a means of combatting teacher shortages, but creating online resources on a mass scale is expensive and time consuming. HoW college leads a consortium, which colleges may join for a fee. The idea is all member colleges will create resources which will be shared amongst fellow members, thus saving time (and therefore money) in the creation of online resources. The project was outlined from IT and senior management perspectives rather than a teaching perspective and this was reflected in the content. Coming from a college background, I could see the value in the project and it was interesting to learn of it, but at times I felt this particular presentation’s relevance to librarians was limited. Saying that, it was good to see a keynote session coming from an FE perspective – the majority of sessions appear to be aimed at HE practitioners. 

#ARLG16 part 1: Presenting

Recently, I have been lucky enough to present a workshop at the ARLG 2016 conference. This came about as a result of my winning ARLG’s Alison Northover Bursary, which I used to attend the 2014 ARLG conference.  I had such an amazing experience attending the conference that I was determined to contribute to the next one.

I kept my eyes open for the call for papers, submitted a proposal in December 2015 and in January 2016 found out it had been accepted. I was thrilled! The proposal was based around a book folding workshop, to be co-presented with an ex-colleague, Fran Heap. In the past, Fran and I had both used book folding to lead various library initiatives to engage users and raise the profile of the library. We felt we could share these experiences in the hope that other library staff may be interested.

Thursday, 18 February 2016


My course textbook
For the past few years I have been interested in gaining a qualification in project management. In my previous job, there were a few times I felt a knowledge of project management principles would have benefitted me and prevented several moments of panic! In 2011 the library moved into a new build and although we were only a small part of the overall project, I was intrigued with how it was managed. A few years later in 2013, I was the library lead on a year-long project involving our online authentication provider and whilst it went fairly smoothly, at times I felt I wasn’t quite sure of my next step. Whilst not crucial to these projects, an understanding of project management concepts may have given me a little more confidence that I was moving in the right direction.

Two months ago, I finally attended a PRINCE2 course. There were about 20 of us in the class and I was the only one from a background completely unrelated to project management. From the offset I felt like the class dunce! The Foundation course is pretty intense and the handbook is quite hefty for a 2 day course. At the end of the first day I studied the materials and the concepts started to make sense. I did two hours of practice exams and was pleasantly surprised at my marks. This gave me confidence for the second day of the course. I no longer felt intimidated by the other delegates, especially when we compared marks for the practice exams and our scores were evenly matched.

I was worried about the exam as it had been 15 years since I last sat a formal one. I’ve done practical assessments for first aid and an observed micro-teach for PTLLS, but that’s as near as I’ve been to an exam since 2000. During my degree back in the late 90s, I used to enjoy the challenge of an exam and knew I could trust myself not to panic. As soon as I entered the examination room I was relieved to find that old fighting spirit returned! My score was 86% and apparently this is good enough to progress to the next level – the Practitioner course. I have decided not to do this as I only wanted a general grounding in the concept of project management, not anything too in-depth.

I enjoyed being in a classroom again and had almost forgotten how much I enjoyed learning. The course was interesting and the PRINCE2 concepts are based on common sense, so the course is quite achievable for people without a project management background. I know of a few librarians who have attended the course but I’m not sure how valuable it is in their daily roles. The course content isn’t particularly relevant to me in my current role, but I am glad to have consolidated my knowledge on this topic. It would have been useful when working on previous projects and will give me confidence should I ever lead such a project again in future. Also, this course was a reminder not to allow myself to be intimidated and that I should trust my own abilities more than I do.