Posts Tagged ‘Training’
Earlier this month, I organised a one day training event on behalf of the CILIP Career Development Group North Eastern division committee. The day was entitled ‘Marketing Libraries : Strategic and Creative Communications for Information Professionals’. When the committee first came up with the idea of running an event on marketing, I found myself accidentally volunteering (one of my favourite hobbies) to take the lead on organising the day. Given that my job centres around communications and marketing, it seemed a little unfair not to help out!
Someone suggested the University of Sunderland’s strategic marketing workshop, and I was keen for the rest of the day to cover practical areas of library marketing and look at some of the toolkit steps being used creatively in different library contexts. So I contacted speakers, organised a venue, developed the programme – and co-ordinated other members of the committee who handled advertising the event, the booking process and payment.
And you know what? Marketing Libraries was the first time I’d done any of that stuff. I’ve organised training sessions before – I do it pretty much weekly at my Brownies group. Organising events is part of my role (I’m currently juggling six separate induction fairs over the next two weeks! I might try to blog about that). But I’ve never organised a professional development event before on that sort of scale.
So how did it all go? Well, the preparations for the day took longer than I expected. You know, organising the timings and writing the programme for a training day actually takes quite a while, because you have to make executive decisions on things like how long each session will last, when people will want breaks, which order the presentations should go in, etc etc. And then after you’ve done all that you still have to make sure the booking process and costs are sorted, write some vaguely attractive sounding blurb and make sure all the speakers are happy with how you’ve presented them and their session, before you can even tell potential participants that the event is taking place!
This ‘not really accounting for the time things would take’ thing continued into the days before the conference, when I suddenly realised there were lots of little jobs to do, like making sure the room was correctly laid out, buying gifts for the speakers, printing the event handouts, finding name badges… there is a lot of work that goes into a training day that you just don’t realise as a delegate attending. I think at future events I’ll definitely be more appreciative of the effort that goes on behind the scenes.
On the day itself? Well, everything went well on the whole (apart from when the projector decided randomly to time out twice throughout the day – why does technology never behave?). Although I was concentrating on making sure the event was running smoothly, the sections of the workshops and presentations I did catch were really interesting. Myself and Aude, the committee’s Secretary, shared the job of introducing the speakers throughout the day, which was probably the most terrifying part of all – having the confidence to speak to large groups of people is something I need to work on.
All in all, I get the impression that delegates seemed to enjoy the training day and took some useful information away from it – job well done. And the CDG North Eastern committee are satisfied that the event was successful and profitable, so I’m happy about that.
All that’s left now for me to do is look at the course feedback, and write a review for CILIP about how the day went. So I haven’t finished organising Marketing Libraries just yet!
Back in 2010, when I drafted my initial PPDP for CILIP Chartership, I identified the training and development needs to ‘understand the theory of librarianship’ and ‘understand the principles of cataloguing and classification’. So, almost two years after I noted this on my initial Chartership plan and a whole new job later, I undertook a module from a LIS Masters to address this (and see what the whole ‘postgraduate librarianship qualification’ thing was all about). From January to May 2012, I spent a lot of time thinking about Organising Knowledge, a subject about as far away from communications and marketing as you can possibly get…
What did I learn?
Well, actually, I did learn quite a few things that I didn’t know before. I now have a very vague understanding of a) what the acronym RDA stands for, and b) what it is. I also have more of an idea about the distinctions between cataloguing, classification, indexing and retrieval, for example.
But I also learnt that actually, I seem to have magically imbibed lots of information and knowledge about this area just from working in a library and being around librarians. I know how to search databases effectively now, apparently. I might not be able to actually catalogue something, but I’ve got a pretty good idea of what a catalogue record should look like, the types of information you might find in one and how to search through them to find the material you need. The Masters module didn’t teach me any of those things, but it taught me that I knew them.
I also found that getting my hands on the right information, quickly, is much easier for me now. I know this because the first assessed piece of work was a task around literature searching, and I decided to cover the same subject I studied for my undergraduate dissertation. When I did my dissertation in 2009, my main method of finding information was by finding a book or article on the subject, reading it, and then getting my hands on every single interesting item in the bibliography (and repeat). Not particularly advanced, but at least it was pretty comprehensive. This time, I was far more selective; I used citation tools to find out the most influential research, I used filtering to find out the oldest material on the subject. And I went way beyond the requirements of the task – ‘you much include one of each of the following: a book, a newspaper article, a journal, a journal article, a conference paper and a web site’ – I found exhibitions, blog posts, YouTube videos, teaching resources and dissertations. I don’t think I’d necessarily have written a better dissertation then if I could find information the way I can now, but it certainly would have made things much quicker.
How would I rate the module?
Well, I thought that the course was well organised and administered, but that the course materials could do with some updating. I would have liked to see more content about new, online technologies, which felt like it was added as an afterthought in some of the sections.
This was also the first course I’ve done via distance learning, and I found the teaching style (booklets, with required reading and activities) quite difficult to get to grips with. I’m not used to being told what to think about when I’m reading an article, or answering prescribed questions to check my understanding. I think I probably would have preferred studying this module if I had been on a full or part time course, with lectures, workshops and seminars.
And what about my performance?
I’ll admit – I didn’t read every page of every booklet. Bad Rachel. But when you’re studying alongside working full time, to go through all of the material comprehensively is tricky to fit in. I also feel like I need to work on writing reports based on the first assignment (I’m an excellent waffler).
So will I finish the MA?
No. Not right now, anyway. I probably have a more positive view on LIS qualifications than I did prior to studying the module, but I’ve learnt more about Organising Knowledge from working in a library (and in a completely different area than that covered by the course) than I would have done from this studying this module. So for me, an LIS MA still seems like an unnecessary, expensive and time-consuming hoop to jump through.
Did this course help me master Organising Knowledge? Not by a long shot. But it gave me a good overview of the history of this area and some of the theories and issues involved.
This post has been hanging around in draft form for a while now, lost somewhere in the Tatooine desert that is my work desktop. IT skills is an area for development I identified on my original PPDP for CILIP Chartership, where I proposed to ‘learn to use Adobe Illustrator using online tutorials and information’ so that I could ‘take over the updating of Library floorplans’. So when I started playing with the Library floorplans back in May, I started writing this post. It’s now August, and since that point I’ve not only learnt how to manipulate Adobe Illustrator, I’ve also taught myself to use Adobe Premiere and I’m currently dabbling in Adobe Flash/SwishMax as well…
Why did I use it? I’m creating a testimonial video to promote our institutional repository, and I found screencasting and video editing software Camtasia Studio limited. Having created a first draft of the video in Camtasia, I used Adobe Premiere to create the final version of the video.
How did I learn it? Mainly through using online video tutorials. I have the CS4 version of Adobe Premiere, so I watched a lot of the Getting Started guides on the Adobe website. I also consulted online forums when I had trouble exporting my video.
What worked? I created a video from scratch, which I’m quite proud of. I was also able to adjust the brightness of the filming and use overlays using Adobe Premiere, which I couldn’t do using Camtasia.
What do I need to work on? I need to try to remember to save regularly, as I got quite frustrated when I lost an hour’s work when using Adobe Premiere. Also, the video camera I used to film the footage, which was borrowed from our IT department, is pretty old and this means that the quality of the finished video isn’t great, despite my best efforts at editing it.
Why did I use it? To update the Library floorplans, which were already in Illustrator format
How did I learn it? When this responsibility was passed to me by my line manager around a year ago, he went through how to make basic changes to the floorplans using an older version of Adobe Illustrator. I already use Adobe InDesign and Photoshop, and the menu structure of Adobe Illustrator is similar, so I mainly used trial and error to pick this package up. Although I was making fairly significant changes, I was also working to update a document which already existed, which made this task a lot easier.
What worked? I managed to pick up the programme quite easily and created professional-looking maps for two of the University libraries which are undergoing major redevelopment work over the summer.
What do I need to work on? I tend to try and find quick and efficient solutions to problems. However, in this case, it meant that when I was trying to ‘grey out’ unusually shaped staff areas, for example, I’d go for the primitive method of just colouring those areas in with a paint brush tool. This doesn’t affect the way the finished plan looks, but there’s every chance I’ll be using Illustrator for other projects in the future and I should take some time to pick up more advanced tools and features.
I’ve got to say, being able to add ‘familiar with the Adobe Creative Suite’ to my CV makes me feel like a graphics Jedi. The force is strong in this one…
I’ll admit it before I even start – this is sort of a cheaty post. Before I sail off into the sunset (well, before I spend most of August messing around in boats, at any rate!) I thought it might be good to reflect on how I’m doing with my CILIP Chartership work and professional development activities. And coincidentally, Thing 7 of the 23 Things for Professional Development programme is about professional organisations. It’s nice when things work out like that, isn’t it?
Last week, I had a meeting with Jackie, my CILIP mentor. We discussed my progress on my Chartership work - I’m not tackling everything on my Personal Professional Development Plan (PPDP), but I have added lots of things I hadn’t thought about at the start of the process, of which CPD23 is one! And the way I see it, your initial PPDP is a guide, rather than a definitive structure. I’ve got lots of things planned over the next 6 months as well – I’m attempting to keep up with the CPD23 programme, I’m tackling an Institute of Leadership and Management Award in Team Leading in November (another professional organisation!), organising possible work experience placements in public libraries, there’s a module of a Masters in Librarianship course in January… so I’m keeping myself occupied!
I just need to make sure that I remember to record and reflect on all the things I’m doing. Taking part in CPD23, I’m finding it tricky to keep up with everything Chartership-wise alongside work and general life. Jackie suggested that when I don’t have time to write an in-depth reflective piece, it’s ok to make notes – then, if I want to use that piece of evidence for my final portfolio, I can go back and write something more formal at a later date. As I go along, I’m creating an updated version of my PPDP and noting down actions and evidence, so I’m going to add a new column on this document to record my initial thoughts about training sessions and development work.
We also talked about organisational structure and how to reference aspects of the library’s strategy when I’m putting together my portfolio next year. Linking your training and development to the overall aims of your organisation was something I picked up on when I recently attended a Building Your Portfolio course. Having ploughed through the 20+ page library objective document for the next year, I was struggling to see how I could effectively include this in my submission. Jackie and I decided that I should include first two pages, which outline the library’s mission and five main goals, and then drill down into individual objectives as appropriate to each piece of evidence, so I’m feeling happier about this.
The other thing I’ve been a little bit concerned about is the level of reading required of Chartership candidates, which Jackie’s going to look into. I haven’t done a Library MA, so I haven’t read a huge amount of academic texts about librarianship and information management. It’s not that I don’t read, but I generally read CILIP Update, the odd journal article, lots of blogs, newspaper articles… is that enough?
And at some point, I’m going to have to draw a line in the sand, pause on the development activities, and start working on my portfolio. I think I’m going to aim for June 2012, after the exam term tails off. Almost a year away. Or less than a year away, depending on how you look at it…
If there’s one thing you should learn about me, it’s that I don’t really do easy. And I don’t think that CILIP Chartership is an easy qualification, which is probably why I’m really enjoying it. Working towards Chartership is making me think, it’s making me reflect on what I do, and it’s making me take responsibility for my personal development as an information professional.
My Chartership journey is also challenging me to have a go at things I never thought I’d do. I can now add the words ‘accredited customer service trainer’ to my list of professional achievements. Flashy, isn’t it? But not at all easy. I want to use this post to reflect on my journey to becoming a customer service trainer for the library and what I’m learning from it.
The journey begins
Improving the customer experience of the library service is a key part of the library’s strategic plan for the next five years. As an organisation, we’re exploring various ways of doing this, including looking into Customer Service Excellence status and ensuring that all staff members undergo customer service training. Providing a great level of service to my customers is something I see as a priority in my role, so when the opportunity came up to become a customer service trainer and deliver training courses to my colleagues, I threw my hat in the ring…
Train the trainer
I was excited to hear that my head of service had chosen to put me forward for training and assessment to become a customer service trainer, along with three other colleagues. I hastily scrambled together a training-focused version of my CV, and went along to a ‘train the trainer’ session. At the time, I sketched out my thoughts about the day in my Chartership art journal (please excuse rubbish phone camera images!):
On the left hand page, the trainer, ‘Deborah’, discusses great and awful customer service, surrounded by the training materials we’d be using. I felt that there was a lot of information hurled at us during the 5 hour course, after which we would be left to deliver customer service training sessions to our colleagues. My confusion about conveying the course content is expressed on the right hand side of page one.
Page two, and it’s my turn. I’m in the spotlight, delivering the ‘Excellent Customer Service’ course to a faceless audience. And back in March, with the only training I was going to receive under my belt, I felt distinctly uneasy about that.
I didn’t feel that the train the trainer course was enough to thoroughly familiarise myself with the course materials, and actually, the course materials themselves weren’t all that relevant. The customer service training programme we’re providing was originally designed for the tourist industry – there are sections about increasing customer spending, the importance of tourism to the local and national economy, and so on. My workplace, a university library, doesn’t operate in the arena of tourism. We are not a commercial business. So there was a lot of preparatory work to be done between the trainer briefing and the first sessions, which were arranged for June, to ensure that the training we were going to deliver would be useful.
I met with the other three in-house trainers to organise the administration of the sessions and plan how we were going to deliver the training. It was decided that we would split down the day-long course into two half-day sessions. Two of my colleagues took the first half of the course, and I worked with another member of the academic liaison team to deliver the second session, which included providing information to customers, meeting specific needs and handling complaints.
What were the big challenges for me? Well, I actually found getting to grips with content I hadn’t written quite difficult. Normally, if I give a presentation or deliver a session, I’ve put the content and activities together. And I think that’s the way I learn and remember things – by creating and doing. It was important for me to look at the course content in quite some depth to really understand what I was trying to get across, and what I was asking the course participants to do.
Something that I’ve definitely taken from the experience is the importance of communicating with my colleagues. There were a lot of emails going back and forth between the trainers about what arrangements had been made, issues arising and adapting the course content. When I tailored activities to make them more relevant, or added in new slides to illustrate a point, I had to ensure that I kept my colleagues up to date and explained the rationale behind the changes I was making. Keeping up with the correspondence amidst one of my busiest periods in the academic year (the exam term, Library 24/7 and the start of the redevelopment work at the main library) was tricky, and next time round, I’d hope to improve on this.
And the session itself?
I’m never very good at accepting compliments, but the feedback from participants was positive. A number of participants highlighted the second session, and some of the sections that I led, as the parts they found most valuable about the course.
In terms of how I felt about the session; the course participants were a really nice bunch of people and were generally enthusiastic about thinking and talking about customer service. The session was quite relaxed – we presented sitting down, and there were lots of opportunities for discussion. I had been quite nervous about leading the training session, even with one of my colleagues by my side, and the participants’ attitude and the general atmosphere definitely made me feel more confident.
We’ll be running a second set of sessions over the summer, and next time I’ll be concentrating on the first section that I’m presenting, which I feel was the weakest part of the material I delivered. This was partly due to ‘start of the training session’ nerves and also because I had spent less time looking at this section. We also slightly overran the three hours we’d allowed for the session, so my colleague and I also need to think about timings and whether we need to cover less material, or cut one or two activities.
Providing customer service training courses to my colleagues has also been an important training and development activity for me. I’m directly contributing to a key aspect of my organisation’s strategic goals, my increased knowledge of customer service is feeding back into my front-line duties, and on a personal level, it’s been a great opportunity for me to develop my communications skills in a range of ways.
So not easy, but I don’t do things because they’re easy.
If you’ve followed my posts for any particular length of time, you may have picked up that I’m relatively new to the library and information profession. So I was really pleased when my line managers said that they’d support me to attend this year’s CILIP New Professionals Conference, held on Monday 20th June. After a bit of a mad journey, which involved getting thoroughly confused with the Manchester bus system, I did finally arrive at Hulme Hall at the University of Manchester to meet other new professionals, listen to the speakers and participate in the workshops. In this post I’m going to try to pick up on what you could describe as the incidental things; the running themes, the throwaway comments and the things that were missed. And I’m going to tell you what I thought, and what I’m taking away from it.
Social and online networking was mentioned a lot
Helen Murphy talked about the cpd23 programme, which I’ll be taking part in over the coming weeks and months and involves using social media for professional development. Ka-Ming Pang and Jo Norwood suggested starting up hacklibschool-type web chats for UK LIS students, Voices for the Library representatives talked about Twitter flash mobs as activism. Yet when I looked around, there were a number of people who didn’t include Twitter names on their delegate badges. And Rachel Bickley’s survey suggested that some experienced professionals see online new professional communities as cliquey. I’m pretty pro social media as a communication and networking tool, but I think it’s important to be inclusive; you shouldn’t need to have a Twitter account to be fully involved in a professional conference.
Engagement seemed to be a key theme emerging throughout the day. Alice Halsey and Simon Barron discussed engaging with people to advocate libraries and information services and prompt change in society. Katie Birkwood and Naomi Herbert talked about special collections outreach and engaging the local community. Megan Wiley discussed engaging with colleagues – ‘don’t assume that your colleagues know what you’re doing. Tell them’. This engagement theme was linked to issues surrounding threats to library services and articulating our value as information professionals. Maybe engagement is part of the answer, and as I find the activism thing difficult, maybe that’s where I can make a contribution towards the #savelibraries cause.
The old meets the new
There was lots of talk of the old and the new. One of Rachel Bickley’s survey respondents questioned, ‘why can’t the new profs just get involved with the old profs?’. In Nicola Forgham-Healey and Franko Kowalczuk’s workshop, we were asked to think about old and new professional skills. Katie Birkwood and Naomi Herbert discussed ‘teaching old books new tricks’. I got the sense of new professionals perhaps struggling to find their place within an old, established profession, or the traditional profession of librarianship trying desperately to grasp the new. One or the other, or maybe both. I haven’t quite decided.
Question: Why do so many new professionals end up floating into the library and information profession by accident?
When asked why they chose a career in libraries and information services, 4 of the conference speakers confirmed that they sort of ‘fell into’ the profession. Answers on a postcard please…
I really hope that CILIP types amongst the delegates were taking notes
There were some important points raised about the way CILIP caters to its new professional members, and potential members. In terms of marketing the profession to potential new professionals, why aren’t sixth formers hearing about libraries and information services as a career choice? Why does CILIP charge the same subscription rate for everyone earning above £17,501, when a new professional’s salary is so vastly different to that of a library director? And can CILIP do more to attract student members?
The speakers blew me away
Massive admiration. They were very brave to talk in front of lots of people (something I need to improve on… I’ll be blogging about it soon after my upcoming public speaking jaunt on Friday). And they had interesting opinions, they talked about diverse subjects. I learnt about some areas of information work, such as careers information and special collections outreach, that I haven’t really encountered before.
The standard routes into the library and information profession were really reinforced
Which for me was a sad thing. From what I could gather, all of the speakers at this year’s New Professionals Conference either had a CILIP accredited Masters, or were in the process of undertaking one. In a time of downturn, an MA isn’t a possibility for everyone. I would have liked to have seen more engagement with the idea of non-typical routes into the profession.
And the issue of unemployment was skirted around
The title of this year’s New Professionals Conference was Professionalism and Activism in a Time of Downturn. Although recent news on unemployment figures has been quite encouraging, it’s still a tough old job market at the moment. What happens when you’re new, and you can’t even get into the profession?
All in all, I found that there was a lot to take away from the New Professionals Conference, and I met some great like-minded people. It might not be a detailed account of all the papers I heard (as evaluating is ‘not describing’!), but these are my thoughts, for what they’re worth.
Yesterday, I abandoned the library for the afternoon to attend a Building Your Portfolio workshop at Northumbria University Library. Attending a portfolio building course is a requirement of CILIP Chartership, so that was chiefly why I went (I didn’t bother when I was working towards Certification). However, the afternoon was actually pretty useful and the presentations from Michael Martin, Jackie Dunn, Patricia Crosier and Annie Kilner helped me to gauge how I’m getting on, what I’m doing right and what I need to think about a bit more.
One liners #3: Pearls of wisdom I gleaned from the Building Your Portfolio workshop
CILIP Framework of Qualifications designed to meet the needs of people at different levels/stages
Framework progresses from Certification to Chartership to Revalidation to Fellowship
Choose a mentor outside your workplace for objectivity, freedom when talking about work issues
Evidence of mentoring relationship can be used quite creatively, e.g. mentoring log
Initial PPDP: It can’t be wrong! It’s all about the candidate and their development needs
Completed PPDP can alter from initial PPDP as your job, priorities and ambitions change
Evaluative statement: Think of this as an executive summary of the whole Chartership application
Portfolios: Useful when preparing for appraisals, job interviews
Portfolio organisation: We’re information professionals! Should be well structured/organised
Electronic submission of portfolios is currently being investigated by CILIP
E-portfolio systems could be used to organised material, such as http://foliofor.me/
Chartership criteria 1 may be split in two… must demonstrate both aspects of this criteria
Chartership criteria 4 is the criteria which most applications fail on
Chartership criteria matrix can be useful to match development activities to criteria
Skills audits and CPD audits can be useful to look at/include in your portfolio
Don’t… include lots of material written by other people. Abstract or summarise
Attribute collaborative work
Be aware… of data protection and copyright
Your portfolio is about you. Should reflect your personality
Reflective writing skills: Lots of applications, relevant in a number of work situations
Evaluation is ‘not describing’
Never let documents stand on their own – annotate them, reflect upon them
Slide in reflection wherever you can
Your challenges can be the things you develop through most. Include the difficult stuff
Think deep and find ‘the rich veins of experience’, the activities you got the most out of
Link your development and experience back to strategy; team, library, organisational
Show awareness of the impact of national and global issues
Cross-reference the documents in your portfolio, it helps to signpost your evidence/reflection
Address future training needs/developments. What happens next?
One of the things I’ll really take away from the session was the importance of reflecting, analysing or evaluating all of the activities and evidence included in the Chartership portfolio, and making sure the evidence you include meets all of the Chartership criteria. This is the point of this blog, really, and I think writing about my development activities and experiences is a good practice to keep up.
The session also made it very clear that the organisational strategy and your individual contribution to it, as well as the contribution that your library service makes, needs to be at the heart of your application. I might have delivered an effective marketing campaign, which meant increased usage of a service, but how does that link into the strategies playing out around me? If I’m benchmarking our e-resource packages against our comparators, how does this contribute to the achievement of strategic plans? This is something I’ll be thinking about more over the coming weeks and months.
Lastly, I’ll need to begin thinking my last ‘one liner’ – I’ve got a year or so left to go, but what happens next? What am I going to do after Chartership? At the moment, I don’t know. This means I need to start to be strategic about where I’m headed, and what I need to do to get there.
Time is a funny thing, and it’s odd to think that around this time last year, I was starting to construct my portfolio for Certification. And that this time next year, I’ll be starting to put my Chartership portfolio together. It’s going ok, but I need to keep building.
Up here in the North East, there’s a saying about trying – ‘shy bairns get nowt’. This is a philosophy that I very much subscribe to in life; if you don’t ask or put yourself forward for things, you won’t get all that far (I also extend this theory to the practice of buying scratchcards, somewhat less successfully). And I tend to think that if you knock on enough doors, then generally after a while one or two will open.
So it is with this in mind that I have been applying for opportunities recently. I’ve been trying my luck at a few different things, applying to speak at conferences, for secondment opportunities and for postgraduate courses. With varying degrees of success, it must be said. I have absolutely no experience of writing conference proposals, and perhaps unsurprisingly, my proposal wasn’t accepted. I’ve had an unconditional offer for a place on a postgraduate Masters in Librarianship course (I’m only taking a token module, however!), and I’m waiting to hear back from another university. I was excited to be shortlisted for the internal secondment, my first interview for a professional level post, but unfortunately I didn’t get the job. Although again, I wasn’t too disappointed, being the youngest candidate and the only candidate without postgraduate qualifications.
BUT: although I didn’t get to speak at the conference, the organisers provided me with some feedback. I put in an interesting proposal, apparently, but ‘a number of people put in similar papers, so you had a lot of competition’. Fair enough. They also provided comments on my proposal, so I could see the things the organisers liked about it and the areas which needed some more explanation. Hopefully when I next answer a call for papers, I can learn from the comments I was given and use this experience for the better.
AND: although I didn’t get the job, I was also offered feedback on my interview. I got some useful pointers on my presentation technique and interview answers (including ones I already sort of knew. I need to stop fiddling and talking with my hands…). And I got the chance to prepare and present a short teaching session on an academic database, which has been a great experience and has given me a taster of this sort of library role. As I said, I really appreciated just getting shortlisted, as that shows me I’m moving in the right direction. And maybe next time, I’ll get the job.
Shy bairns get nowt. I’m not a shy bairn – I do stick my head above the parapet, professionally speaking. And sometimes things work out, and sometimes I get knocked down, turned down, which the last couple of weeks and months have proved. And I’m learning that for the time being I just need to keep going, keep working hard, and keep trying. I’m not saying that I’ll try at librarianship forever, because I’m not an idiot, and I have a timescale in mind in terms of how long I’m willing to try. But I know that the act of trying for things, and even being rejected, has its own value.
You can always get back up, dust yourself off, and try again.
Last week, I visited Newcastle University for the afternoon to attend the inaugural Toon (lib)TeachMeet. A TeachMeet, for those who haven’t come across them, is a kind of ‘unconference’, where teachers meet to discuss ideas and share experiences. A library TeachMeet is a meeting of people who teach within the context of library and information services. The first (lib)TeachMeet was held last year in Cambridge, and since that point they’ve spread - as well as the Toon (lib)TeachMeet, there have been meetings arranged in Brighton, Liverpool, London and Huddersfield. Library TeachMeets involve a mixture of 2 and 7 minute presentations and anyone can present. The structure and agenda for the meeting are decided at the event and TeachMeets offer a great opportunity for discussion and networking with peers.
The Toon (lib)TeachMeet started off with the organisers, Helen Blanchett and Kirsty Thomson, explaining the concept of a (lib)TeachMeet, before a game of library bingo as an icebreaker(!). I didn’t volunteer to present at the meeting, but several others had prepared short presentations…
Anne Marie Laws told us about a project that was looking to bridge the gap between information skills teaching in schools and universities. The project aimed to explore the teaching skills of library staff and the embedding of information literacy within the curriculum, with the aim of creating an online skills toolkit.
Lucy Keating of Newcastle University described how she was trying to ‘zing’ up her teaching by making her information skills sessions more interactive, moving away from a standard presentation format. Lucy told us about the sessions she had recently conducted for new History undergraduate students: instead of giving students step-by-step instructions, she had suggested a range of resources for the students to explore. She challenged the class to work in pairs to find specific information using these sources, such as ‘the exact result of the Parliamentary by-election in Newcastle in 1908’ and ‘an example of 18th century advertising for a cough remedy’. The session became more hands-on and opened the eyes of the students to the range of resources Newcastle University subscribe to. The usage of key history databases had also increased by 60% in the months following the sessions.
Presentations by Julia Robinson and Kirsty Thomson discussed keyword searching; Julia used big post-it notes to get the class to think of synonyms within essay questions, which demonstrated the number of keywords that they could use to find information. Kirsty used keywords that her students came up with to discuss truncation and Boolean operators.
Lucy Carroll talked about working with students from her institution’s arts and media department to create library induction videos, whilst Helen Blanchett told us about the Librarians as Teachers Network, an online community for librarians involved in teaching.
Tracy Totty and Claire Donlan from Middlesbrough College presented a session on teaching academic staff about what the LRC had to offer. They created a Prezi to give their presentations to departmental meetings the ‘wow’ factor and promoted all of the different services the LRC could offer to academics. Following these meetings, the LRC has seen a surge in requests for follow-up sessions to train academic staff in using e-books and digital technologies, as well as increased usage of these resources.
So why didn’t I present? Well, teaching’s not exactly a large part of my role at present, and there was nothing that sprang to mind when I was booking my place. But now that I’ve attended and seen what a (lib)TeachMeet is all about, I may well store up some ideas that might form the basis of a short presentation in the future…
This was a really enjoyable event, and I got a lot out of it in terms of learning about other librarians’ teaching experiences, and ideas to use in my own training. I’d really recommend this as a worthwhile event to attend and hopefully this will be the first of a number of (lib)TeachMeets in the North East!
This blog post is so entitled because I feel like that is exactly what I’m doing at the moment. I recently had a week off, due to a horrible cold/flu/chest infection, and on arriving back in work this week I’m finding that there’s a lot going on and my brain is still slightly like mush. So as I can’t quite keep up with all the things I’ve missed, the things I’m in the middle of and the things I’m organising for CILIP Chartership, I thought I’d write a sort of ‘this is where I am’ post to get myself up to date.
The few weeks before I was ill were really positive in terms of progressing with my Chartership work. I had my first meeting with my Chartership mentor, Jackie, where we talked through my draft Personal Professional Development Plan and discussed how I was going to monitor and record all the actions I’m taking in working towards Chartership. Following this meeting, I submitted my initial PPDP to CILIP, and I also sent the document to my line manager and the head of the library service. We had a meeting to discuss the activities I had proposed, and I found that the Librarian was happy to support pretty much all of my development aims, suggested some ideas, and committed to supporting my training activities both from a financial perspective and in terms of work time. This left me feeling secure in the knowledge that my employers were behind my professional development, and was a fantastic outcome to the meeting.
A few days later, however, and I had to take sick leave. I’d just started a blog post reflecting on some of the training activities I’ve already undertaken – I’ll attempt to finish it soon and get it up. I also started writing a letter to my MP in support of Save our Libraries day, but again this fell by the wayside. While I was off, I missed a couple of quite important sessions: I was due to go on a Mentoring training course, run by the University, which would mean I could mentor new staff during their first weeks and months of working at the Library. It’s not the end of the world, as there will be another session organised sometime later in the year, but it would have been a good thing to cross off this month. I also missed out on interviewing candidates for the employability award run by the University’s careers service, which would have fed nicely into my Chartership work on management skills and University strategy.
Whilst I was away, the Library Services manager contacted me to confirm a work experience placement student was coming in at the beginning of March. I’m going to act as the supervisor for the placement during the student’s week with us – this is a fantastic opportunity and will fulfil part of my Chartership training aims. However, it’s a challenge to arrive back in work with a flu hangover, to be faced with catching up on all the work that was dropped while I was away, and think about organising an appropriate and interesting timetable for the student – but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
The other thing that’s happened in the past few weeks is that I’ve confirmed the work experience placement that I’m going to undertake at a local FE/sixth form college in late March, with the aim of gaining a better understanding of what it is like to work in another sector of librarianship. I’ve also got some work to pull together for the placement, because as well as learning about how their library operates, I’m also going to present sessions to the college library staff about how our reading list process works and what we do in terms of student support.
So that’s what I’ve been up to, and not been up to – and it feels much better to see it all written down and not floating around in my cotton-wool brain!