#libcampuk11

I’m sitting on the train heading back to London from #libcampuk11 in Birmingham, writing this on my phone. Now, first off, I have to say thank you and well done to the organisers, I had a fantastic time and I am astounded at how smoothly it went!

I was a little skeptical about the whole unconference thing at first but it was great, I felt like I got far more out of the sessions than I have at a normal streamed conference because I had been involved both the selection process and then because the sessions were conversations and not one way info flows.

I didn’t take as many notes as I’d like as I was too involved in following the conversation but I feel like I remember far more than I would’ve with notes. Certainly the level of enthusiasm was infectious (as well possible the colds – the shivers I have now better be cake withdrawal!) and I really enjoyed hearing what people had to say!

I’m glad that a) people came and b) enjoyed mine and Mark’s session on open source in libraries! Thank you again to Mark for teaming up with me! I am always happy to talk about OSS in libraries so feel free to drop me a email/tweet/comment etc.

I’m not sure how cohesive this entry is as I am home now and suffering from a combination of hungover/cake withdrawal/possible libcampuk11 death flu, which means my head seems to have been filled with cotton wool but there we are. I shall endeavour to return to the subject when less fuzzy.

Thank you once again to the organisers and all the marvellous providers of caaaaaaake!

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Another easy coding resource

Continuing on with my theme of easy ways to learn how to code…, I’ve come across Codecademy, which is a nicely interactive method for learning code and concepts.

I’m still going to sit down and do more in-depth looks at the various code resources I’ve already linked but I quite enjoyed testing this one out. You gotta love something that gives you badges for successful completion of the lessons!

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CPD23 – Thing 14: Citation, Citation, Citation.

I’m a lot like Dumpling with this one. I’m not in a situation currently where I need to store references for work (nor do I have any users who do as I deal with KM/Intranet issues) and I am thankfully long out of writing anything academic personally.

Which is not to say that I won’t need the services in the future but I’m already fairly competent – both my dissertation and my thesis were referenced with Endnote and I had to wrangle Refworks in my previous role as well as exploring adding Zotero to our LMS. I also already have a fairly comprehensive reference collection living in my delicious account from when I did deal with academic writing.

If I go back to academia – I would like to do a non-job related qualification but have to a) kill my MSc. debt and b) stop twitching at the thought of essays again – then I’ll almost certainly revisit the services and see which one would be more appropriate for me at that time.

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CPD23: Thing 13 – Wikis, Dropbox and Google Docs

What, is that a light at the end of the catch up tunnel or just a new CPD23 thing at the other end? ;)

Google Docs:

I use Google Docs a lot and I am constantly sharing documents. Things I use Google Docs for, a short list off the top of my head: sharing the spreadsheet that my flatmate and I use to track our bill payments, my saving tracker spreadsheet, any cover letters or personal statements that I have written in the last year (I get my flatmate to edit – which was hilarious when we were both applying for the same job! – and I edit hers). I have also used Google Docs to store/write/edit most of the fanfic I wrote between 2005 and 2009, along with the spreadsheet that kept track of my wordcount (one year, I managed to write over 31k!).

I also use it for committee work – for example, the CILIP in London’s CPD23 event. All the attendees went in a Google docs spreadsheet that I could then share with my fellow organisers. Next time, I will probably try using the form function to save me copying and pasting between emails!

I find it extremely useful and when I’m at home, I rarely open Word, preferring to open Google Docs if I need to write anything down.

Dropbox

Another tool that I use so often that I forget I once never had it! I can’t remember the last time I used a USB stick (I still carry one) because Dropbox has replaced it. Of course, like Google Docs and everything else cloud based, I do back it up frequently but it is such a useful tool. I’ve used it to share all sorts of files and it has been a life-saver so many times, when I’ve been somewhere and had to get something – as long as I have internet access, I can just log in online and snag what I need. I kept back up copies of my thesis in it while I was writing that and my partner and I frequently use a shared folder in it for passing photos etc. back and forth.

Top tip for Dropbox: If you log in online and click on the ‘Getting Started’ tab, there’s a few “quests” to do, which will a) show you how to get a lot out of Dropbox but b) will net you another 250mb of space. Hooray!

Wikis

Now, Wikis are probably my least used tool. Oh, I contribute to a few – Library routes for example – and I use them as backend tools (the enquiry database I worked on at The King’s Fund has a wiki backend) but they’re not my go-to thing. I’ve worked in places that sort of used a wiki to store information but without buy-in from the whole team, it became less useful.

It probably also doesn’t help that where I currently work, we try to move away from people storing information in wikis as we want them to use our own internal communities of practice.

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CPD23: Things 10 & 11: Routes and Mentoring

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts and my Library Routes, I came to librarianship from an extremely technical background.

My BSc. was in the InfoComms department at Manchester Met, so I was lucky enough to be taught by some excellent information professionals as part of my degree and they were also the reason I discovered Graduate Traineeships when I started panicking slightly about what I was going to do next. I applied to just about every traineeship going, I think and ended up interviewing for six, mostly law but I did also interview at the V&A, which was pretty awesome.

I ended up being offered one of the two positions at The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn in September 2006, which was a fantastic year – it’s a very small team and the graduate trainees were the first port of call for *every* enquiry, so our work was extremely broad. We were also lucky that because it was an Inns of Court library, we had access to resources that as a law librarian later on, I would miss greatly! We got a firm grounding in how to do paper based enquiries as well as how to do them through the electronic resources, which was invaluable when things went down!

I’ve mentioned before that I wish I had been more involved with CILIP but I did get involved with BIALL that year and it was also the opportunity to see if it was what I wanted to do without increasing my student debt. Of course, I then did go on to increase my student debt as it turned out that, hey, I enjoyed being a librarian! I started my MSc. at City University in September 2007 and graduated in May 2009 – I had to take some time out of my full-time degree for family/health reasons, so submitted my thesis in the January round.

While I did my degree full time, I also effectively worked full time, including a stint as a Barristers’ chamber librarian, a Knowledge Management assistant, a publishing front-half assistant (surprising amount of info retrieval!), evening work at Gray’s, evening work at an academic library and finally, while writing up and after thesis submission, as the solo librarian for a large US law firm’s London office. After that, I took my first full-time post-qualification job as a systems librarian in the health sector. I’m playing library sector bingo, you see… ;)

I’m currently working in Knowledge Management for a global engineering company, which is pretty awesome.

Of course, after qualification, the next – optional – step is chartership. Now, if you’d asked me two years ago, I’d have probably told you that no, I wouldn’t probably charter but as I’ve become more involved in my professional organisations, I have started to change my mind about chartership and I will be looking at starting the process in the next year or so, once I know more about what I’ll be doing next.

which, in a way, leads on the Thing 11 – mentorship. I don’t have an official mentor at the moment but I have been very lucky to work for some people who have been extremely free with their advice and I have been very grateful to them for that. I also consider my peer groups to be unofficial mentors – I have had so many amazing and excellent conversations with people (normally with a glass of wine…) that have been very useful.

Obviously, if/when I start the chartership process, I will have a more official mentor but for the moment, I am happy with the opportunities I get now. I also hope that at some point, I can provide the role of mentor to someone else!

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CPD23 Thing 8 & 9: Google Calendar and Evernote

I actually don’t know how I survived before Google calendar, which, okay, is a bit of an exaggeration. It is probably my most frequently used Google tool (aside from my email) and has been, since they released it. I used paper calendars for a long time – Moleskein academic planners to be precise – and until I got my first Android smartphone, I ran the two together, at least for primary appointments.

At the moment, I have 10 calendars in my google calendars, plus another 3 or so that I don’t have set to display. They include: my general appointments, stuff that is shared with my flatmate – i.e. house related stuff, joint events -, gigs I have tickets for, days when irregular direct debits go out, birthdays and one for putting interesting events in, if I happen to be free nearer to the time.

I have the CILIP London events calendar, a meal planning calendar (again, shared with my flatmate) and a calender for the occasional evening work I do in an academic library in my not-always-displayed list.

So, yes, a lot of calendars and a lot of uses. Since getting a smartphone, I have stopped keeping my general appointments in a paper calendar as well because I almost always have my phone with me. I don’t sync my work outlook calendar with it, partly because fighting with Outlook is not high on my list but also because unless it is something before my usual working hours (I do some times have early or late meetings to account for global offices), I keep it at work.

So, that’s Google Calendar! Evernote, next.

I wish I could love Evernote more but I do find it difficult. I use the app on my phone fairly frequently for taking pictures of things I see that would make good gifts or as a reminder for later and I take pictures of all the business cards I get and any notes I’ve made on them but that’s about it. The Windows version drives me insane and I rarely clip websites, partly because they just never seemed to display in a useful manner. I don’t keep my todo list in there either because I either keep a paper one – I like the actuality of crossing something off on paper – or I have a longer term/computer based on in Todo.txt on my phone.

I should sit down and poke it again but uh, yeah, that would involve time and if I had that, I wouldn’t be writing backlogged posts1 ;)

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CPD23: Thing 7 – *sidles sheepishly in*

Oh my, a month since I last updated and what feels like a million things on CPD23 have slid past me. Uh. Oops!

I moved flat recently and BT managed to cut off our phone line a fortnight before we moved, which unsurprisingly, was not when we’d asked them to do so! But the move went smoothly – if you’re ever moving in the London/Brighton area, I thoroughly recommend Green Man and Van, who tetrised the hell out of all my flatmate and I’s stuff and moved us swiftly from West London back to South-east London. Of course, then there was the unpacking, the waiting for the new internet and then my main project at work kicked up a notch. All of which meant limited time for writing blog posts.

But here is a quick catch up of a few Things Thing of weeks past!

Thing 7: Face-to-face networks and professional organisations

Now, there have been many excellent posts on this subject and the whys and wherefores of how they can help you, so here’s my thoughts.

I am currently a member of two professional organisations: SLA and CILIP. I have also been a member of BIALL when I was in the legal sector. CILIP was the first one I joined and well, I mostly only joined because Gray’s Inn paid for it as part of my graduate traineeship. I had used LISJobs and the CILIP website prior to getting my graduate traineeship as a method of getting info on those (and indeed, that is where I saw the Gray’s Inn job advertised) but I did not get involved, which with hindsight, I regret. Some of this was that at the time, I did not feel that CILIP were representing my sector and as I was working in a sector with an active professional organisation (and with people who were active in that org) I was more active in BIALL first.

Now, joining BIALL was excellent and I would very much recommend it to anyone joining the legal sector. Not only did it allow me to meet people who worked in the many different libraries that populate the sector at social events, it also allowed me to attend two very good conferences, I went to the annual conference in Sheffield in 2007 on a partial bursary and again, this time on a full bursary, to Manchester in 2009. It was also where I joined my first committee – the Web Board – at a very exciting time (i.e. when we redesigned and launched the website), which gave me a lot of useful experience, chief among which was working with team (Gray’s is very small and close-knit but after I left Gray’s, the majority of my legal jobs were as a solo librarian) but also included policy writing, meeting organising and (related to meetings) invoice wrangling.

I was still a member of CILIP but was still not really engaging with it while I worked and studied. I joined SLA at the prompting of Laura Woods shortly after I left the legal sector and moved into the health sector, working at the King’s Fund. I really enjoy the events that SLA put on, they’re often of a social nature and I have met a lot of people through SLA that I consider my library cohort, being all of a similar age and level of experience. I am also on a committee there (see again: Laura!) which is the Digital Communication team (you can see a theme here, can’t you? Well, as I say, if it ain’t baroque, don’t fix it!) and applied for the EECA last year (I wasn’t successful but there’s always next year!)

Finally, I made the decision that I either needed to engage with CILIP or stop being a member (helped also by the fact that I said to Phil Bradley that if he was elected, I would actually pay full membership – was still on student fee, oops! – and get more involved.). So, he did and I did and I am now involved with CILIP in London (the regional branch) – this time I blame Tina! – where I do social media and tech (I know! You are all shocked by my…lack of deviation from my theme…) and recently, I helped organise the CPD23 event we hosted in London (unfortunately, right when BT killed my phoneline), which was an extremely enjoyable evening (from all accounts!) of mingling, alcohol and CPD.

I guess, if there is one thing that I have taken out of all this is: getting involved – even if it’s just on a small-scale – and interacting with my Professional organisations (attending events etc.) has given me skills, contacts and opportunities that I would not have got if I had either not been a member or had chosen to not engage. Your professional organisations are what you make of them, not what they make of you.

Okay, so much for a round-up of things I have missed! Stay tuned for further wittering on tools and social networks at some…point in the future. Yes. *sidles away again*

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