Thing 6 – Online networks

After reflecting on the online networks covered this week, I realise that this is an area that I don’t get involved in very much. I use Twitter – a bit – and I make contact with other professionals via mailing lists, but other than that, I don’t seem to “do” online networking.

I do have a Facebook account but it is purely for personal use, and to be honest, I hardly ever visit it these days. I don’t have a LinkedIn account and at the moment I can see no real advantage to having one. If I was particularly ambitious or if I was looking to move jobs, I could see that it might be useful as a way of networking, but at the moment it doesn’t feel necessary. I also had a quick look at LISNPN and CILIP Communities, but neither of them seemed to offer much of interest to me either.

I think my reluctance to get involved in these social networks is partly due to maintaining a balance between the time involved in taking part versus the benefits of taking part. At the moment, I don’t feel that the benefits will outweigh the time factor, although I guess that’s hard to judge if I don’t put the time in to start with! But I feel that I spend enough time on work-related activities when I’m at home anyway (CPD23, for a start!) so for the moment, my involvement in online social networks will stay pretty limited.

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Thing 5 – Reflective practice

Image

Now, let me think…

In some ways, I consider myself to be good at reflection – some might even say that I do too much of it – but I am also aware that it’s all too easy to go to a workshop or event, or read an interesting article, and then forget about making use of what you’ve learned.

When I attended courses many years ago, I found that having to write down “one thing that you’ll do differently when you get back to work” was such a chore and  I often wouldn’t put much effort into it. But now that I’m older and wiser, I have learnt that if I don’t put some effort into doing that, I might as well not have gone on the course or read the article in the first place! I can’t say that I’m always as diligent about this as I should be, but I know the theory and try to put it into practice as often as I can.

As far as the tools that I use, I am a great believe in pen and paper and find that I think best with a pen in my hand (a uni-ball eye micro, if you must know – it makes all the difference!). I try and make some notes as soon as possible after attending a course or other event and will often do this on the train on the way home.

More recently, I started transferring those notes to my OneNote notebook. OneNote, for the uninitiated, is part of the Microsoft Office suite which I discovered when I was doing my library degree a few years ago. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a bit like having a whole load of sheets of paper that you can jot notes on and then organise into folders and add tags to make it easy to find things again. I also use it for making notes while reading something online, or even putting a copy of a document, such as a pdf, onto one of the pages and annotating it as I read. It’s a great way to store these reflective jottings and it makes it easy to refer back to them at a later date.

I like the simple mantra of “What? – So What? – Now What?” and will definitely incorporate this into my reflection in the future. It’s short, it’s snappy, and will really make me focus on what I’ve learned. The other thing that I’ll take away from this is that reflection doesn’t always need to take a lot of time – it’s better to do a quick postmortem than let the moment pass and do nothing.

Taking a look at this from the other side, it’s also good to think beforehand about what you’re hoping to get out of an event or meeting to focus your mind on the issues that brought you there in the first place.I found this incredibly useful when I went on a “Getting Organised” course a while ago. Thinking through my particular issues beforehand allowed me to revisit them afterwards and see what I could apply from the course to solve them.

Needless to say, I’m not convinced I can ever get as organised as I’d like to be!

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Thing 4 – Current awareness

Keeping up to date in libraryland is definitely one of my priorities. As a relative newcomer to the profession (and rather later in life than many others), it feels even more important to know what is going on outside my institution so that I can put my decision-making into some sort of context. As a cataloguer, I’m aware that sticking to standards is getting ever more important in a world of shared and linked data, and knowing how others approach the issues that I face day-to-day is a big help in figuring out the way forward.

Of the three Things to be investigated this week, I use RSS Feeds the most for current awareness. I subscribe to loads of blog feeds, using Outlook to manage them. The feeds come into a folder in Outlook and I can easily have a quick look through the list first thing in the morning and catch up on all the news.

Allied to this are all the Mailing Lists that I subscribe to, again using Outlook to organise them. Each mailing list gets put into its own folder so the messages don’t clutter up my Inbox and I can read them at my leisure when I have a bit of time. Again, I will have a quick whizz through first thing in the morning, and then periodically throughout the day when I need a break from whatever else I’m doing.  I’m really happy with both these methods and feel that they do a great job in keeping me up to date.

Twitter, on the other hand, I don’t find so useful for current awareness, in spite of what a lot of others say. I have been on Twitter a while now but have yet to really feel comfortable there, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. I really haven’t got the hang of the etiquette, such as when it’s ok to join in a conversation and when that would be perceived as ‘butting in’ – I often feel that I am eavesdropping on a conversation that wasn’t intended for me to listen to! Its usefulness for current awareness isn’t helped by the fact that I don’t look at it during the working day and by the time I look in the evening at home, I’ve missed a whole day’s worth. However, one thing that I did pick up on Twitter recently was that CPD23 was running again, so maybe it does have its uses! I know I need to persevere with it and try to be a bit more pro-active about sharing useful stuff on there myself, so I’ll try and make more of an effort in the future.

I hadn’t come across Storify before, apart from vague references to it on Twitter (hmm, beginning to see that Twitter is keeping me up to date more than I consciously realised!). Having had a quick look at it now, I can see how it might be useful for presenting an overview of a particular event or current topic, but I am not sure how often I would actually find it useful. Maybe next time I go to a workshop or conference?

I also had a quick look at Scoop.it and Paper.li which look interesting, but to be honest, it’s got a bit late tonight to do more than acknowledge their existence. Again, I don’t think they will feature heavily in my life as a cataloguer!

Final thoughts: I was surprised Mailing Lists weren’t on the list (they might be old technology but if you subscribe to the right ones, they are buzzing!), and I need to get a grip of Twitter and stop being a scaredy wus!

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Thing 3 – Personal brand

This ‘Thing’ is all about looking at and evaluating my online brand – how others perceive me through my web presence. Like a lot of other cpd23 participants, I find the whole idea of a personal brand rather daunting, probably because it has a whiff of a self-promotion, something that I am not particularly comfortable with. However,  I do have several presences online and I can see that from a professional perspective, it would make sense to try and get them to ‘join up’ in some way. I’ve started using the same photo of myself for starters, once I’d found one that I was reasonably comfortable with. And I tend to use my real name most of the time (although why I thought a Twitter name of nckyrnsm was a good idea, I’m not sure!)

As far as the professional/personal divide goes, I prefer to keep the two separate. In the professional half, most of my online presence comes from my involvement with ARLIS (the Art Libraries Society) and on various library-related mailing lists, plus a web site on image use that I set up in a previous employment. In the personal half, I have a Facebook account, a daily photo blog, and a website for my textile art. This is all pretty easy to keep separate until we come to Twitter; like many others, my Twitter account is a bit more ‘profersonal’ and I’m not entirely sure how well that works. More of that in a future ‘Thing’!

Googling myself brought up the usual suspects – my textile web site, my Facebook page, some mailing list postings, web pages from my current university’s web site, and several references to a JIBS prize that I won for my dissertation a year or so ago.

The thing that surprised me here was the number of mailing list postings that are visible. It never occurred to me that a message to a mailing list will end up on Google for all to see, and I’m not sure that I am entirely comfortable that it does. Knowing this will probably make me more careful about what I write in the future (at least for the first week or two until I’ve forgotten about it!) and I’m not sure it is a good thing to feel so self-conscious about what I write. It’s made me realise that I am the sort of person who is happy to have a conversation one to one, but I don’t necessarily like everyone else to overhear that conversation.

Having said all that, I know from what colleagues have told me that I come across in person as a very confident and capable individual, in spite of my inner doubts. I wonder how I come across online – I know it was suggested that we ask others for their opinions on this, but I’m not sure I’m brave enough for that!

It’s been an interesting process to look at this topic, and maybe I’ll come back to it again when I’ve had time to mull it over a bit more. Although, to be honest, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do first!

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Thing 2 – exploring blogs

I’ve spent a while this morning looking around the blogs of some of the other participants, seeing what they are up to.

I looked at a few recent starters (glad to see I’m not the only slow starter!) …

  • http://hblanchett.com/ who summed neatly up what myself and many others seem to be struggling with: “This blog is actually for me. But if others find it interesting then that’s a bonus.”
  •  http://lornaslibrarythoughts.wordpress.com/, particularly her post on branding, which is my next Thing and one that I’m looking forward to exploring.

… a few who also work in higher education…

… and finally, a few who are also cataloguers (but there don’t seem to be many of us) …

What I learnt overall is that I can spend a LOT of time reading other people’s blogs, that I have blog theme envy (the style of mine may well change, again), and that there are a lot of  people who have a really nice and chatty way of writing. But maybe that is something to consider when I move onto Thing 3.

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cpd23 – Thing 1

Prayers at the Toshogu Shrine, Nikko, Japan

So, here I am – at last! I’ve been rather slow to get going with cpd23 because I went on holiday to Japan to visit my son just as Week 1 was starting, and it’s taken me all this time to get back to reality and make a start.

I missed all the hype about cpd23 last time until about halfway through the process, and by that point I decided it was too late to join in. Plus every time I thought about it, it seemed as though I’d never have the time to do the work. But when it was announced that it was running again, I decided that I had to give it a go, and make sure that I made the time. As someone once said to me, if you want to do something badly enough, you’ll find the time.

I’m actually feeling a mixture of excitement and anxiety as I embark on this project. I’m really looking forward to finding out about new tools that I haven’t used and ideas that I haven’t thought about, as well as reflecting on my role as a fairly new cataloguer and how I can improve on what I do. And it will also be good to be in touch with others who are doing the course and hearing about how they are getting on.

At the same time, I’m also feeling a little nervous about doing this in public, about blogging in an interesting way, and making sure that I don’t get too far behind!  I’m pretty computer-savvy and tech-minded already, but the social media side of the internet is not one of my strengths (to be honest, I’m not the most outgoing person in RL either), but hopefully this course will help me find my voice in the online world. At the end of the day, I guess I just need to remember that I’m really doing this for my benefit, and if anyone else finds my thoughts and comments of any interest, then that’s an added bonus.

A bit about myself. I am a ‘mature’ entrant to the library profession, only graduating from a distance learning course about 2 years ago. Shortly after that, I got my first ‘professional’ post as the lead cataloguer for an arts university. I didn’t do much in the way of practical cataloguing in my course (well, none to be perfectly honest), so it’s been a steep learning curve – which still feels pretty steep! However, I have found that others in the profession have been very generous with advice and I do try to attend lots of training and networking events to learn as much as I can.

Here we go then! Moving on quickly to Thing 2.

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