Archive for January 2011

Library Day in the Life Project, Round 6

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This is the second time I’ve taken part in the Library Day in the Life Project. In Round 5, I tweeted about my week. In Round 6, I’ve decided to use Twitter to document my working week, but on Bobbi Newman’s advice, also incorporate these into a blog post.

So here is my round up of #libday6…

Monday 24th January 2011

9.22 AM New week, new blog post: http://bit.ly/f0rcbX Thoughts on my Chartership PPDP and my first mentor meeting later this week. #libday6

9.41 AM My day starts with opening the Education Library, uploading a new blog post http://bit.ly/f0rcbX and dealing with new book requests #libday6

10:41 AM Organising my diary for the next few weeks, the service desk rotas are v tight due to staff turnover & it’s difficult to find cover #libday6

12:59 PM Scanned some journal articles on the world’s clunkiest scanner for an intersite copy request for the other university campus #libday6

1:04 PM Just emailed the Librarian about appearing in a promotional video for the institutional repository, and now it’s time for lunch! #libday6

2:38 PM Although most of today I’m on service duties, have some spare time this afternoon to work on e-resource benchmarking exercise #libday6

4.36 PM Just planned my travel to see my Chartership mentor tomorrow – looking forward to meeting Jackie and seeing Teesside Uni Library! #libday6

5.03 PM Ended my #libday6 trying to solve a procurement conundrum around cancelled printed marketing materials – but it’ll keep until tomorrow.

Tuesday 25th January 2011

9:38 AM #libday6 Arrive, check emails, add agenda items for AS team meeting, phone printers, email procurement, check Library’s facebook & twitter

12:05 PM Spent an hour on the Collections desk issuing laptops & sorted the procurement mix-up with the printers of our marketing materials #libday6

12:10 PM Put in training form to attend next North East repositories group meeting, now I’m off to catch a bus for my CILIP mentor meeting #libday6

Wednesday 26th January 2011

12:28 PM Positive meeting with my Chartership mentor yesterday at Teesside – need to get my PPDP sent off now #libday6

12:30 PM Busy morning spent digitising book chapters and sorting out emergency cover for our instant messaging service for the next few days #libday6

12:32 PM There’s a film crew in shooting a video to promote the Library – trying very hard to keep out of the way so I don’t get roped in! #libday6

Thursday 27th January 2011

8.25 AM Saw band of horses last night – excellent gig, although pretty tired for my early set up shift this morning #libday6 #inneedofcaffeine

11:26 AM Spending most of my morning on current e-resource benchmarking project, almost through all of Glasgow’s databases, almost… #libday6

3:40 PM Had lunch with my friend Nick, an engineering PhD student, and then into a meeting assessing our new book request service #libday6

Friday 28th January 2011

About 5 hours ago Last day of #libday6 and one filled with service desk shifts, as providing cover for colleagues. First up, Enquiries…

About 3 hours ago Next I am off for my weekly shelving hour, then onto the Collections desk…. #libday6

7 minutes ago This afternoon, to complete my day of back & forthing & never being at my desk, I’m on Enquiries, then Meebo, then Collection desk #libday6

And that about sums up my week… for the next round of the Library Day in the Life Project, I might even manage a proper blog post!


Written by missrachelsmith

January 28, 2011 at 13:45

Posted in Librarianship

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PPDPPDPPPDPPDPPPDPP (Or: thoughts before my first mentor meeting)

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CILIP Chartership checklist:

1: Ensure you are eligible to register as a Chartership candidate. Register for Chartership by sending in registration form and appropriate fee – tick.

2. Find a Chartership mentor – tick.

The next task, according to CILIP’s handy 5 steps to Chartership webpage, isn’t quite so straightforward. Writing a Personal Professional Development Plan (often abbreviated to PPDP, which, like the words “anemone” and ‘Ivanišević’, I find a bit of a tongue-twister) is proving more challenging than I thought it might be. And with my first meeting with my Chartership mentor swiftly approaching, I thought I’d take the time to think about what exactly I’m finding difficult.

To put this in context – I’m quite proactive about my professional development, and having decided to work towards CILIP Chartership, I have sort of thrown myself into it. I’ve already started this blog, for example, to document my progress; I’ve also almost finalised a work experience placement at a local FE/sixth form college for March. So in my usual style, I have actually already put together a full first draft of my PPDP, which I’ve sent to my mentor in advance of our meeting later this week.

But if I’ve already completed a draft of my PPDP, before having even met my mentor – it must be a walk in the park?

Not really. Firstly, and I’m guessing this might be an issue for other Chartership candidates, there isn’t a huge amount of guidance out there about what exactly should be included in a Personal Professional Development Plan, how it should be structured or how long it should be. This makes it more difficult for Chartership candidates, but is probably intentional on the part of CILIP – by keeping it open-ended, candidates and mentors are asked to interpret the guidance given, and I would assume that the completed PPDP might indicate to the Chartership panel the kind of candidate they are assessing.

I’ve seen a couple of other Chartership portfolios already, and I’ve looked through the examples on the CILIP webpages, so this gave me an idea of the length of your typical PPDP and the amount of development activities I should try to identify. Next though, there’s the question of what development activities to include and in what areas. This, from what I can gather, seems to involve a complicated combination of identifying activities that will meet the criteria that all Chartership applications are assessed against, unfamiliar areas of the CILIP Body of Professional Knowledge and areas of weakness that you personally would like to improve on.

So far, so tricky. Then I have a couple of added difficulties; firstly, I don’t have a taught Librarianship masters (as explained in my last blog post), which is not in itself a problem, but it does mean that I have a bit of a gaping hole in terms of my theoretical knowledge of most areas of librarianship. Secondly, there’s the problem that my current post is not, on paper, a “professional” one. I am a Library Assistant – that is my job title. However, to apply for CILIP Chartership, you have to be working at a “professional” level. Obviously, I would argue that a lot of the time, the work I do meets this standard. But it means that I have more restrictions than most Chartership candidates, in that certain tasks and activities are seen to be “beyond my grade” or inappropriate due to my position.

To sum up, as I composed the PPDP draft I’ve sent to my Chartership mentor, I therefore had to consider five key factors when outlining my proposed training and development activities:

–          Does this help me to meet the Chartership criteria?

–          Have I covered all areas of the CILIP Body of Professional Knowledge?

–          Have I made sure I’ve covered all of the areas I would like to develop in?

–          What can I do to make sure I know about the theory behind this area?

–          Will my managers see this as an appropriate activity for me to be engaged in?

I’m also not sure whether there are other factors involved that I’ve overlooked, that I haven’t thought about. And conversely, there are other questions I’d like to know the answers to, such as, ‘to what extent can non-librarianship things be included?’ And, ‘what if I give my PPDP to my managers for their comments and they veto all the things I have proposed?’

Maybe I’m over-thinking it a bit.

But whilst I’m really very prepared for our first meeting, my mentor and I will definitely have a lot to talk about…

Written by missrachelsmith

January 24, 2011 at 09:19

Posted in Chartership

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Plan B: Library (and Chartership) Routes

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I think it’s human nature: when any new relationship begins, you want to know something about the person you’ve just met. As you’re reading this blog, I feel that I should probably say ‘Hello, I’m Rachel’, and tell you something about myself.

I’m not going to use this post to give you a condensed curriculum vitae, or a life history. I’m also not going to bother necessarily with a long-winded job description (at some point, I will hopefully attempt an ‘About’ page, and anyway, as I’m attempting to use this to record my Chartership activities and thoughts about librarianship, I would hope that I’ll get round to covering some of this over the coming weeks, months and years).

But, as I’ve been following posts about the Library Routes project for some time, I thought I’d contribute to the discussion by telling you how I’ve ended up where I am now, starting to work towards CILIP Chartership. And I am going to attempt this through the medium of the flowchart.

Picture the scene…

I’m 20/21 and I’m working flat-out on my degree as it’s my final year. If you talk to final year university students, you will realise that amidst the coursework/revision/exam panic, there is also that big question hovering ominously overhead; ‘what am I going to do when I graduate?’.

When I thought about this, I considered a few different options – postgraduate study, both taught or research, different kinds of jobs and careers. If my decision-making process at this point in my life could be organised into a logical progression, it would look something like this:

Let’s unpack this a bit further. At this point, I was in full-time education, which had been the case for about 16 years, so my first consideration was whether I wanted to continue down this route. And I could have done – I’m fairly capable academically, and I was interested in both research and taught options. I even applied successfully for a place at the University of Sheffield’s MA in Librarianship course. But as you might be able to make out from the numerous “No”s around this option (I think when I put the flowchart together I was thinking Bohemian Rhapsody…) I wasn’t too keen on the prospect of postgraduate study.

Why? Well:

No – I felt I needed a break from education.

No – I’d already amassed around £20k of student debt under the new top-up fees introduced the year I went to university, and I didn’t really want to add any more to that total.

No – Research, although intrinsically valuable, wasn’t going to necessarily make me better equipped to enter the job market, or the world of work.

No – A taught masters in librarianship? Not a bad idea – I had worked for one of the University’s college libraries throughout my undergraduate degree, and since getting involved in the management of the library, I was beginning to think about working within the library and information sector. But I wasn’t completely sure I wanted to be a librarian – certainly not sure enough to pay yet more money and spend more time studying without clearing that up. I also had my reservations about the quality of the courses available and the impression that the LIS masters course were sort of a tick-box exercise (since working full-time in the sector, my opinion hasn’t changed).

No – I had personal reasons for wanting to stay in the North East. At the start of my final year, the personal reasons were my partner, who worked locally, and my attachment to the area. It was going to be easier to get a suitable job in the area than find the right postgraduate course, but initially I was willing to move within a couple of hours of Newcastle, which gave me some flexibility. However, by the time I graduated, in summer 2009, the circumstances I found myself in meant that I needed, if possible, to stay exactly where I was. I won’t go into details, but it was pretty much literally life or death.

Determined to get a job, I had applied, interviewed for and subsequently wasn’t offered graduate management trainee roles by a couple of major department stores (it wouldn’t have suited me, anyway, in hindsight). It was just after my finals when a Library Assistant post came up at the university library. I decided to apply and I was offered an interview. I went into it knowing that (due to what was going on else I needed to get the job – I think I almost said as much to the panel that interviewed me. I was offered the position a few weeks before I graduated, and I remember getting the phone call from the Deputy Librarian and dancing around the kitchen through pure relief.

It’s strange how these things happen. In the end, although there was a solid decision-making process behind it, one that I can even document through a flowchart, the reason I ended up being a librarian was through necessity – the job came up in the right place, at the right time. Necessity, or coincidence, or maybe it was just meant to happen.

And Chartership? Well, I’m never one for standing still… approaching a year in my current role, I decided to work towards CILIP Certification. As I’m based within the academic liaison team, my role isn’t exactly a typical library assistant post, and I would argue that a lot of the work I do is at a “professional” level. So after my application for Certification was approved, working towards Chartering seems the next obvious step.

It might not have been exactly what I intended, and it may not be forever, but for what it’s worth Plan B is working out pretty well.

Written by missrachelsmith

January 14, 2011 at 16:11

Blogging v. microblogging

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So…  blogging. As those of you who follow my missrachelsmith twitter account will know, my attempt at microblogging is not always entirely successful. I say this because there will often be days, sometimes weeks, without a twitter update, particularly when library life is busy (which is most of the time). And even when I do post something, I often feel like I don’t say anything particularly enlightening.

Given my inconsistent background in online professional networking, you might question whether a blog is really for me. I’m not sure quite yet, I’ve got to say – I guess we’ll see! But these are some of my reasons for giving it a go:

  • I’m much better at writing in big. I am slightly in awe of people who can condense complex ideas and discussions into teeny mini posts. Unfortunately, however, I find that having a lot to say and liking proper sentences is tricky in less than 150 characters.
  • I subscribe to a number of blogs and I enjoy reading them! So maybe this is a sign that I will get on well with writing one.
  • I don’t have time to write lots of posts every day, really, but I do have time to put something together every now and again. So I think the combination of twitter and blog might work for me.

I also have a specific purpose for my shiny new blog – that of attempting to document my professional development activities as I work towards CILIP Chartership (more about the background to this in post two, hopefully!). I want to use this blog to record what I’m doing in order to achieve Chartered status, to reflect on my developmental activities and discuss what I’m learning with other people who might be interested.  As Chartership is all about developing professionally in quite a wide sense, I’ll also use posts to touch upon broader issues and things I find interesting about libraries and information.

Wish me luck!

Written by missrachelsmith

January 4, 2011 at 13:50

Posted in Chartership

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