Archive for July 2011

Library Day in the Life Round 7

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This week, I’ve been taking part in the seventh round of the Library Day in the Life Project, where librarians and information professionals around the world tweet and blog about what they do. As I’ve been stretched for time this week, both in work and out, I haven’t had enough time to blog properly, but here is a round up of my #libday7 tweets for your perusal…

Monday 25th July

Spent my first two hours of my day on the helpdesk, serving customers and ploughing through a history reading list #libday7
Sorting out attending North East Communications and Marketing Group meeting and ILM Award in Team Leading training in Oct/Nov #libday7
Amended designs this year’s induction freebies for Freshers Fair and emailed printing company for revised quotes #libday7
Investigated and followed up on user’s query about broken PDF links #libday7
Spent most of my afternoon scanning book chapters about Thatcher, urban decay and sex work. Not all in the same chapter! #libday7
Blitzed through a chemistry reading list in double quick time… #libday7
Just blogged: CPD23: Talkin’ about Things http://t.co/oDqvJ9F #libday7
Tuesday 26th July
Started my day by editing and sending off our news from member libraries submission for the next issue of SCONUL update #libday7
Proofed inserts for our handy guide wallets for new students #libday7
First attempt at using SwishMax to create slides for our new digital signage… now looking at opening hours guides for next year #libday7
Review meeting of our customer service training this afternoon – met with the other trainers to discuss and tailor sessions #libday7
Finishing my afternoon on the returns desk… and then home! #libday7
Wednesday 27th July
After quickly catching up with my emails, starting my day with a spot of scanning, dabbling in digitisation… #libday7
On the returns desk for an hour before lunch. Usually very quiet so I’ve brought an English reading list with me #libday7
So busy this afternoon that I forgot all about #libday7 tweeting! Sorted two Chartership visits/work experience placements…
Spent quite a bit of time mocking up a testimonials page for repository and attempting coding (badly) #libday7
And rounded off my working day by finishing draft of opening hours guides for 5 library sites and sent to library services manager #libday7
Thursday 28th July
Started my day dealing with quotes for wall planners, as well as raising a requisition for our door dial freebies for freshers fair #libday7
Just finished checking an English reading list, onto investigating using Google Calendar to manage our opening hours webpages #libday7
Quite a successful library treasure hunt planning meeting with @victoriahedley1, now time for tea! #libday7
Met with Library Services Manager to discuss instructions/publicity for new photocopiers, opening hours & the new reference library #libday7
Just blogged: CPD23: Organising opening hours http://bit.ly/qqGqQD and the end of my #libday7 Thursday!
Friday 29th July
Just edited webpages, wrote news story & blog post, updated social media and created & distributed notices about new photocopiers #libday7
@_froglette_ It’s Library Day in the Life Round 7 (or #libday7) – librarians around the world are tweeting/blogging about what they do!
Quickly proofed our A5 Handy Guide, which is just about to go to print #libday7
Followed up on actions from yesterday’s Treasure Hunt planning session #libday7
Spent two hours on the help and information desk, mainly fielding special collections questions, as the network is down! #libday7
Spent the last hour or so of my #libday7 tying up loose ends – re-editing opening hours guides, editing testimonials page, reading lists…
Followed up a missing book query from a customer earlier and wrote to do list for when I arrive back from my holiday #libday7
A busy week!

Written by missrachelsmith

July 29, 2011 at 17:05

CPD23: Organising opening hours

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The problem:

I’ve mentioned this before – I’m not a big fan of the library’s opening hours pages. They’re not particularly user-friendly, from a customer perspective, and they are horribly difficult to update.

The problem-solver:

Could be Google Calendar, which is what Thing 8 of the 23 Things for Professional Development course is all about. Over the last week, I’ve been investigating using Google Calendar as a interim fix to our opening hours pages problem. I have a Google account, so I’ve set up my personal Google calendar as if it were the library’s opening hours calendar. I’ve inputted some data as if we were undergoing a time where opening hours were changing from vacation, to term, to 24/7 opening hours. And this is the result:

Having not used Google Calendar before, I found it quite simple to schedule appointments, and you can set events so that they repeat on certain days of the week, or for a certain length of time.

There are certain problems, however, when you’re using it less as a diary and more of an opening hours database. When I scheduled appointments to reflect the times the Library was open, they only displayed the start time on the final calendar, like this:

Which looked quite odd. I couldn’t really find a way to get around this, although it might be just a case of digging deeper into the calendar settings, so I ended up scheduling everything as an all day event, and then manually inputting the times, i.e.:

But then this also has some limitations, because Google Calendar wants to order all day events alphabetically. I ended up changing ‘Help and Information Desk Opening Hours’ to ‘Service Desk Opening Hours’ to make sure information about the times at which full library services were available followed the information about the library’s opening hours.

Anyway, I meddled a bit with the display settings, and then Google produced some code so I could embed it into a webpage.

So, it didn’t take any technical wizardry whatsoever – and it should hopefully be quite easy to embed this into the university’s Content Management System. However, if we decide to go down this route without any technical work by the library’s IT team, it will be a bit of a dirty fix and we’ll need to be careful about how we input the data.

It’s not perfect, but it could be a better way of organising this information, particularly if we can add in Library events as well. Watch this space.

Written by missrachelsmith

July 28, 2011 at 17:27

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CPD23: Talkin’ about Things

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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…

Written by missrachelsmith

July 25, 2011 at 21:30

CPD23: Working the net

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This week’s CPD23 Things are all about networking, online and off. I’m going to take a look at Thing 6 today, which is about social networks.

Social networking

My first real experience of social networking was possibly myspace. Although the renamed ‘my____’ now pitches itself at ‘a Gen Y audience’ of music types, it was once a veritable museum of awful amateur web design (my first flirtation with HTML). Next there was Facebook, which I signed up to during my Freshers week at university in 2006. Unlike myspace, I still have a Facebook account. I barely use it and the only reason I haven’t deleted my account is that I need it to check and update the library’s Facebook page every day.

In fact, I’m not sure I get the concept of a social network. Why? Because I find them a bit anti-social. I actually quite like seeing my friends, talking to my friends and writing to my friends without being limited to 140 characters. If you’re from my primary school, and I haven’t spoken to you in person since I was about 10, you’re not really my friend, are you? You’re not actually part of my actual, real life, social network at all. I can’t be bothered to pretend that I have 193 friends (the number of friends I have on Facebook) when that is blatantly, blatantly not true.

Online professional networking

Ok, Facebook rant over.

Social networking just doesn’t really work for me, I guess. But online networking does. I get quite a lot out of my professional online network. I was persuaded to use Twitter after attending the CILIP UC&R and CoFHE conference last year, where I found that everyone was talking about tweeting. I use my Twitter account to discuss professional issues and talk about things that are going on at work, and I follow people who do the same. The support and information I get from my peers on Twitter is really invaluable.

I’m also part of LISNPN, the network for new information professionals. You can take a look at my profile here if you so desire. This is a brilliant initiative and it’s particularly good for longer, in-depth discussions about professional issues.

New networks

And this week, thanks to CPD23, I’ve started to explore 2 new networks. I’ve finally had the push I needed take the plunge with LinkedIn. I’ve been putting off creating a LinkedIn profile for ages, but I’ve finally done it. Take a look, and let me know what you think!

I’ve also started exploring Google+. After my tirade against Facebook, you’re probably wondering why I’m even bothering. Actually, its not that I dislike Facebook in itself, as a platform. The reason why I don’t use my Facebook account is because it represents me back in 2007, rather than me today (which is very much my own fault, and I can’t help thinking that at some point I should give it another chance, a la Cheryl and Ashley). So why have I created a Google+ profile? Because I’m curious, that’s what. And if it ends up being a big player amongst the online networks, it’s kind of my job to know about that. I haven’t done much with it yet, but I’m interested to see how I might use it.

I think online networking is beginning to work for me.

Written by missrachelsmith

July 22, 2011 at 17:05

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CPD23: Reflecthing

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I have mainly one thing to say about Thing 5 of the 23 Things for Professional Development programme, which is all about reflective practice. And that is read my blog. This whole CILIP Chartership thing means I’m all over it. Oh yeah.

Ok, gloating over. I thought I’d use this Thing to briefly reflect on what I’m getting out of CPD23, and what I need to concentrate on in order to get the most out of the rest of the professional development Things coming up over the coming weeks.

So far, CPD23 has prompted me to revisit and review how I’m using particular online tools for personal and professional development. I’ve been trying to look at my online presence objectively and I’ve come up with some actions to help me get the most out of blogging, Twitter and RSS feeds, amongst other things. It’s also exciting to explore new tools, like Pushnote and later this week, LinkedIn, and I’m hoping by the end of the programme, I’ll be starting to use some of these.

The other positive about doing this is that lots of other people are trying these tools out at the same time. I’m enjoying reading about what other people think of online professional networking, and what’s working for them!

What I really need to do now is use these reflections to inform my actions and interactions, and get on and do the stuff I’m suggesting. The most difficult bit of the CPD23 programme for me is just keeping up, because the weeks and Things seem to move really quickly. However, I’ve subscribed to the single feed of all the CPD23 blogs set up by Shannon Robalino (I want her surname), and it looks like I’m not the only one out there who gets a bit behind from time to time, which is reassuring! And the way I see it, I can always look back over my posts after the CPD23 course finishes and spend some more time on some of the Things at my leisure.

The other thing I’m slightly concerned about is progressing with my Chartership work at the same time as taking part in CPD23. There’s definitely professional development activities I’ve been doing over the last few weeks that I need to spend some time reflecting on. Work and life doesn’t stop, after all!

Written by missrachelsmith

July 18, 2011 at 12:35

CPD23: Feed me

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Ok, so I’m already slightly behind on the 23 Things for Professional Development programme, despite being only a few weeks in. And the theme for Week 3, somewhat ironically, is Current Awareness.

I think that one of the most useful things about social media is that it helps me to keep up to date. Now, I tend to find out about industry, national and international news first through the people I follow on Twitter – the 140 character posts can’t give me all the details, but often link to further information. Before newspapers and television came word of mouth, and I think it’s interesting that things seem to be coming full circle in terms of the way news circulates.

And I totally love RSS feeds – I’ve supported teaching sessions for academics on using RSS feeds to keep up to date with new research, so I’m pretty familiar with RSS technologies. Subscribing to blogs and news feeds means that I don’t have to go to lots of places to find out information, or repeat searches – instead I can sit back, and relax, and current awareness material comes straight to me.


I’ll admit it, I’m just plain lazy with the way I manage my Twitter account and the RSS feeds I subscribe to. Are things in useful folders or lists to keep my different interests organised? No. Do I ever go through and weed my RSS feeds, or the people I follow on Twitter? Not really. Do I try and match up the Twitter accounts I follow to the blog RSS feeds I subscribe to? Nope, although it sometimes happens by accident. I’m like a kid in a sweet shop – I just gobble up all the information I can get my grubby mitts on.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realise that as an information professional, I sure could do more about organising all that current awareness material. I do not want to become the information equivalent of Audrey Junior (the man-eating plant from the Little Shop of Horrors).

So I’m going to use Thing 4 to:

  • Attempt to follow a few more organisations and other libraries on Twitter to keep up to date with current news
  • Investigate my Twitter followers and followees – do any of them have interesting blogs which I haven’t explored?
  • Audit my RSS feeds in Outlook. Which ones do I actually want to read every day alongside my work emails?
  • Look at my Google Reader account, which I rarely log in to. I’m going to try to use this to organise most of the RSS feeds I subscribe to. I also want to create folders so I can find things more easily.

Feed me, Seymour…

Written by missrachelsmith

July 11, 2011 at 13:45

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(I watch far too many reality TV cooking programmes.)

I’ve been thinking about service levels and customer service quite a lot recently. I’ve always been passionate about good customer service – I began my working life on a bakery counter aged 15, and I learnt that being polite, friendly and informative in my approach to front-line services gave the customer a better experience and made doing the job a whole lot more worthwhile. Granted, there are differences between selling doughnuts and finding academic information, but in essence, the way I went about serving customers then is more or less exactly the same now I work in a library:

Rachel’s Golden Rules of Customer Service

–          Make eye contact

–          Smile

–          Greet your customer (I think the word ‘Hello’ makes the world go round)

–          If you can deliver on their request – that’s great.

–          If you can’t help, but someone else in the library can, make sure you pass your customer on to the correct colleague (make sure you know who knows what). And follow it up – did your colleague respond to the query? Or do you need to consult someone else?

–          If your service can’t meet a customer’s request, suggest an alternative. An example of this – as a library, we don’t buy used textbooks from students. But I know that the academic branch of Waterstones do, that some of the college libraries do, and that Purple Books, a website set up by some of our students, does. So I make sure I know about local services so that I can point my customers in the right direction.

–          It might seem obvious, but when a customer comes to make a comment or complaint, make sure you listen. And make tell your customer what you’re going to do in response to their feedback, and follow through on that.

–          Try to end the transaction on a positive note

–          Say thank you, and smile!

The only thing I’d add to this model, which sets information services apart from retail environments, is that working on a library service desk, try to assess what your customer needs, not necessarily what they want. Your customer might come to you wanting to find out how to access a particular article on their reading list. But they might need to know what an academic journal is, how to find these on the library catalogue, how to find their reading list online, how to find full-text e-journal articles… and you need to try and judge what level of information they need when they’re asking you for assistance.

And actually, I don’t think that good customer service is very difficult. I don’t stray far from my golden rules, even on a really bad day (and I’m having enough of them recently to safely say that). As a customer, that’s the level of service I expect to receive. And if I can do it, you can do it!

Written by missrachelsmith

July 5, 2011 at 17:37