Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Bookish Confessions

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started by The Broke and Bookish that I love but rarely contribute to.  This week's theme caught me though as it isn't just another list of books, but is a lot more personal!

So my bookish confessions:
1. I get bored reading grownup books and worry that it is because, having read so many children's and YA books, I've lost all stamina!  Nothing to do with the quality of the writing, but books for teens generally have a much faster pace, with less scene setting and more interest.
2. Even though I've always worked in libraries I quite often have overdue books!
3. I get sent so many books, and pick so many up at conferences, that I will never have time to read them all :-(
4. I always go to see the film version of a book I love even if I know it will only disappoint or anger me, and I avoid seeing films if I know they're based on a book I haven't read (even if I know I'll never find time to read the book!).
5. I don't buy many books, I'll read a library copy and only buy it if I'm getting a signed copy and/or particularly love it, but will always pre-order Terry Pratchett.
6. I prioritise library books on my tbr shelf because I know they need to be returned, so if I own a copy of something sometimes I'll borrow another from the library just so I can justify bumping it up the pile!
7. The folding down of pages, or when kids fold a book in half to read it, pains me...I suffer a lot at school!  But that is why I have a wedge of bookmarks next to the checkout for them, grr.
8. I don't like lending people my own books and sometimes I don't even want to take them out of the house myself in case they get damaged in my bag.
9. I feel guilty reading something that I've picked up just because I fancy it - I should be reading new releases because it is hard enough to keep up - and I never make time to re-read anything
10. I have a list of first editions that will be the first thing I hunt for if we win the lottery.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

#cpd23 Thing 16

Thing 16: Advocacy, speaking up for the profession and getting published

Advocacy is hugely important, now more than ever before.  It is about making sure as many people as possible, within and outside of the profession, are aware of important events and given an opportunity for involvement.  In a sense it is something I do every day at school - it isn't only about attracting a new audience but about engaging with your existing one - something that sometimes librarians need to be reminded of so as to not alienate people that already support them.

Public libraries have come more into the limelight thanks to regional and national campaigns against all the cuts and closures happening lately, taken on brilliantly by Voices for the Library and others.  In February was a highlight of this: a week of events, including the friday dedicated to school libraries (see my post), leading to National LoveLibraries Day on Saturday 4th.  ASCEL, The SLA and CILIP wanted to bring school libraries to the attention of the public and the media as well with the SHOUTABOUT school libraries/sls campaign that I've supported by using the hashtag for school related tweets.  I'm supporting the Mass Lobby for School Libraries that will happen on 29th October 2012 - I've written to my MP and I will be attending the march on the day.  Attempts have been made by librarians and authors to get school libraries made statutory in English schools, as they are in Scottish schools, but so far have been unsuccessful.  I've not been on a march before, because I feel very uncomfortable with the idea of hooligans joining in just in order to cause trouble, but I think something organised by school librarians should be far more civilised!  It isn't a huge march, just a crowd of people heading to the Houses of Parliament to meet with MPs.  I don't yet know whether my MP would be available but actually I'd almost prefer it if he wasn't because I think I'd forget what I needed to say with the pressure :-/

Activism aside, as far as pure advocacy is concerned I am getting better at it as I gain confidence in my skills and importance - it includes sharing library related information with friends and family, and blogging about libraries but a hugely important use of advocacy is far more low key - keeping my school community aware of me and what I can provide.  Talking in a whole staff assembly was brilliant advocacy.  Creating a termly newsletter for staff and contributing to the parents' newsletter, talking to individual teachers and departments, regularly putting things in the staff bulletin, putting posters all over the school, talking to pupils...all of that is advocacy.  On a wider scale, getting information to people that have no real connection to my world and 'out of the echo chamber', it is much harder to get messages across.  My blog helps, or will as the follower count increases (hopefully), as do the articles I've written for Information Today Europe but of course they'll always be read by people who are already interested in libraries to some extent.  Further afield: I haven't yet tried!

Friday, 17 August 2012

#cpd23 Thing 15

Thing 15: Attending, presenting at and organising seminars, conferences and other events
I really enjoy attending events - author events organised by publicists/bookshops/librarians, skills training organised by CILIP or the SLA, networking events organised by CILIP YLG.
Money: Although a lot of them are a lot of money, especially for training, every month there are free events somewhere. Living in London makes it easier to find them, and being on the YLG London committee means I get invited to some fun things. In 2006 I applied for and got sponsorship by YLG London to attend the annual national conference so that's a good way for new professionals to get to these events if you keep your eye out for such things (although now I'm part of the London committee and know we can't afford to sponsor people any more). This year the joint SLA, SLG and YLG conference was during half term and on the off chance I asked my Headmaster whether the school could pay a contribution. He said as I was going in my own time (I'm term time only) the school would pay it all! I wasn't expecting that at all but if you don't ask you don't get! All companies/schools have funds for cpd for each employee so if you make a good enough argument for something you have a good chance of getting it.
Making the most: I don't think I can put anything better than the conference advice linked to in the #cpd23 blog - I did all these things for the joint conference apart from making time to visit the local area as I thought being away from home alone for the conference was long enough. I have very slowly got better at the networking aspect - finding people I 'knew' from twitter was a good start, as well as the YLG London committee members that came too of course! I've met a few of the publicists a few times now as well so it is nice to catch up with them, but this is only because I take advantage of as many free evening events around London as I am able to get to.
The idea of speaking at an event is slightly terrifiying, I'm fine talking in front of a group of pupils but talking in front of grownups is a completely different kettle of fish. It is definitely worth plucking up the courage though.
What to talk about: One of the things I've put in my PPDP is to do a session at one of the YLG London training days about the regular library lessons I've had with year 7s and how to fit them into any structure. I had a 10minute slot in a whole staff meeting at school last term and rushed through my presentation, a good number of the staff knew beforehand I was nervous, but it was really well received and boosted my confidence in public speaking. The purpose of the slot was to remind teachers of the role of the library in the school, how I can support them and how I need them to help me with promoting reading across the school.  I think it really had an impact.
Applying: As far as those two events are concerned, as part of the committee I can suggest it in a meeting, and at school it was through a line manager. For other organisations though, maybe one day! One of the break out sessions I attended at the last conference made me think 'I could do better than this' so who knows, as my confidence grows it'll be a future as a consultant perhaps ;-)
Presenting: I prefer to work from notes, in fact I have a terrible habit of writing exactly what I want to say and just reading it out, but I try to look up and do it from memory and glance at the script as a safety net.  I don't trust myself to remember everything I need to say, no matter how many times I rehearse it I will panic on the spot, and I'm pretty good at writing in the way I speak so it doesn't sound too much like I'm just reading an essay...hopefully! [After I wrote that I read Bethan's post about using a script - that is exactly what I do]  I did have a powerpoint for the staff meeting, no moving images or clipart, just some key statements and pictures. I reckoned if they're looking at the powerpoint they're not looking at me!   I always use Arial font because it was ingrained in me in public libraries that it is the most legible font so carrying it between operating systems should never be a problem.  I also had them rolling in the aisles with laughter, honestly!  I didn't want it to be serious and boring, I wanted them to pay attention all the way through, so I enjoyed putting my sarcastic self deprecating humour into the presentation.  I like Phil Bradley's closing paragraph to his post about public speaking:

"People won't remember what you said. They won't remember what you taught them. They remember how you made them feel. If you're enthusiastic, keen, interested and having fun, the chances are very high that they will as well"

All through this Thing I've talked about YLG Committee membership - but how else does one get experience in helping organise professional events? Saying that, at school I have organised a number of author events, the library's contribution to open evenings, and a couple of events in the library about reading for pleasure for adults associated with the school (parents/staff/governors). It hasn't been too terrible, as long as you keep on top of things, just make sure everyone that needs to know anything knows it with enough notice, and prepare the scene and props well! I'm sure the larger the event the more stressful the planning but just keep calm and carry on...

#cpd23 Things 13 & 14

Thing 13: Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox
I have a small amount of experience with Google Docs (Google Drive), having been involved in creating collaborative documents in public libraries, but at the moment I don't really have a use for it.  It is good to be aware of though, and as I have gmail I always have access to it if I need it.
One of the librarians in another school in my borough set up a wiki just for the group of us that attend the borough meetings, to share files and ideas, but we don't really use it very much.  I think school librarians tend to be so good at working alone that they forget that other people might have already done something that would make their life easier.  Things like wikis have made it much easier to support and share with one another so I'll make a concerted effort to use it a bit more next term.  Hopefully if I do then the others will too as there's no point just one person updating these things, otherwise it might as well just be on my own blog.
I looked at Dropbox and thought there's no point trying it out, but then it occured to me if I put my chartership folder in there I can add stuff at school or at home, genius!  So I've set that up on my laptop.  I doubt I'll be able to download it at school but I'll see what it is like going through the website next time I'm there.

Thing 14: Zotero//MendeleyCiteULike
I always quite enjoyed the pedantic nature of referencing when I was doing my BSc and MA and, not wanting to sound like a luddite, want to continue to do them manually with my chartership portfolio.  The only electronic tool I use, other than typing things up obviously, is Word's ability to insert footnotes into the appropriate pages.  I'm not sure it would be worth introducing 6th formers to zotero or mendeley as they don't need dozens of references yet and will forget about these things by the time they reach uni.  CiteULike could be useful to them if their teacher sets up an account and shares useful references with them along with me, but as the blog post says it is similar to delicious which I already point them towards.  I do teach them basic referencing skills and think it is best for them to do them the traditional way, to get a good understanding of their purpose and use, while they've not got pages of references to deal with as they will if they progress with education.

Two slightly uninspired responses from me, but just you wait for Thing 15 - it is turning into an essay!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

#cpd23 Things 10,11+12

I am so far behind!  I blame everything but myself ;-)

So anyway, Thing 10 - Qualifications and the variety of routes into Librarianship.
As the cpd23 blog says, most people get a first degree in an unrelated subject and then carry on to do a Masters in Library and Information Studies after at least a year's work experience.  This is what I did, in fact when I did my first degree (in geology) I'd forgotten I wanted to be a Librarian!  When I decided I did, I thought I'd want to work in a science/museum library (ideally in the Natural History Museum) but to start myself off I volunteered in a public library during one summer.  Having enjoyed working on the Summer Reading Challenge so much I decided to change my path to public libraries and so applied for a real job in the library that I volunteered in, and a graduate trainee scheme at a neighbouring borough.  I was offered the real job the week before the interview for the trainee scheme and went for that because I liked the library.  In hindsight that may have been a mistake - a graduate trainee scheme would have given me experience in more aspects of the library than being an assistant did and would have helped me get further in public libraries after finishing my Masters.  As it was I had no management experience, just a qualification that seemed to mean nothing to the authorities I applied and I was stuck being an assistant for another 18months.  At that point I got so fed up with having to be a non-specialist - I wanted to be a children's librarian - that I decided to find a school library.  I guess that might not have happened if I had gone down the graduate trainee scheme route so, as my Mum always says, everything happens for a reason.  In the school that finally employed me (I had a lot of "you were great but there was someone with school library experience" type feedback) I started as a 'Library and Information Centre Assistant' - still didn't need my MA but I guess it helped get the job - but am now 'The Librarian', 5 long years after finishing the Masters.  As far as the school is concerned I needn't have bothered getting the MA but I know that a lot of schools do care and I have never regretted spending the time and money on it.
The next step is Chartership.  Now that I've been given a professional job title as well as professional qualifications I feel I'm ready and so have started the process; I wrote my PPDP just last week in fact.  Even if future employers aren't interested, although job ads often do mention it, I want to do it just to prove that I am continuing to develop and I am dedicated to Librarianship.  If I hadn't done a Masters, for time or money's sake, I could have gone down the Certification route to get to the stage at which I could Charter.  I think that probably requires a great deal more stamina and motivation than having the deadlines a Masters provided!
Thing 11 - Mentoring
I have only recently asked someone to be a formal mentor to help me through the Chartership process.  Looking through the lists of available mentors on the CILIP website I was really pleased to see an ex-member of the YLG London Committee for whom I have shed-loads of respect, and even more pleased when she said she'd love to mentor me!  We've had two meetings so far and she's given me some very helpful directions for getting as far as completing the PPDP and what to include in the portfolio.  I wouldn't have had the confidence to start without her.
Informally though, I would say I've had a couple of mentors throughout my career - the Manager of the branch library I worked in before and during my MA was an inspiration and my decision to leave and work elsewhere (even though it was still as an assistant) was partly down to the fact she handed in her notice and I couldn't face working there without her.  More recently, the Federation Librarian for my school (who has now gone back to her other library full time as the Federation ended) has been a great support.  With 40years of school librarianship behind her she was able to give me ideas, about how to manage a budget for example, something I've never had experience of before.  In September I'll be a solo-librarian and I am looking forward to the challenge, but I know I wouldn't be as good a school librarian if I'd started alone and I will keep in touch with her.  As the post says, the mentor and mentee should both get something out of the relationship.  I like to think I've given her some good ideas about how to enthuse teenagers and keep the library busy.
Thing 12 - Putting the social into social media
Haha, this one gives to a chance to use Thing 5, the reflective practice Thing that I put off for later and still haven't done...reflect on how you put the social into your social media use.  I probably err towards the lurker on SLN, but that is because I only comment when I feel I have something to say that is of use or interest!  I get the digest of messages and a large proportion of them are not useful (imho) and on occasion it feels more like a social network than a professional one.  I interact more on Twitter although I do push out/retweet information more often than I respond to it.  I think it is time constraints more than anything else, I often read something and think I should respond to it but by the time I get round to it it feels a bit too late.  I did manage to write a blog post about age banding on books when there was a bit of a furore about it, but again that's me just stating things and not commenting directly on other peoples' posts.  I should get out there a bit more, not only to let commentators know that their things are being read and found interesting, but also to become more widely known myself...I now have confidence that I am worth listening to occasionally, and so when I write something that I think is important it can reach more people.  I do stick to reading about school libraries, schools, public libraries and YA/childrens' publishing.  Not so much because it is the "comfort zone" of my own sector but because it is what I am most interested in, hence choosing this career, and time is money people!  Terribly insular I know but I don't and won't want to work in a legal library or medical library or manuscripts library etc so if I'm short of time then they're the articles I will skip.  I generally read everything in CILIP's Update, does that count?  As part of my CPD for the Chartership I intend to visit a few different types of library so hopefully that will spark an interest.
That will do for now, I'll catch up with 13-16 later!