missrachelsmith

Archive for September 2011

CPD23: The best Thing

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Taking the negative view, I am now so behind with the 23 Things for Professional Development programme I am very unlikely to catch up with everything before we hit Thing 23. But the positive person that I am, I have decided to take this as an opportunity to change Things around a bit. So in this post I’m going to discuss Thing 13: Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox. And the simple reason that I’ve decided to go for this Thing next is because 13 is my lucky number, which makes Thing 13 the best of all the Things. Of course.

Google Docs

I thought that I’d never used Google Docs before. But Google seems to be gradually taking over my life – I’m sure it reads my emails, and now it seems to have started to squirrel away the documents I download from my Google Mail account. So upon logging into Google Docs for the first time, I was quite surprised to see that I had a number of documents there, all of which were not very useful and were promptly deleted. Now that I know I have an account though and can use it to share and collaborate on documents, I might start to utilise this more.

Wikis

Wikis are something I do have some experience of. I’ve contributed to a few, such as the Library Day in the Life Project, which I’ve taken part in for the last few rounds. I also thought I’d contributed to the Library Routes Project wiki, but turns out I hadn’t. So as part of this Thing, I added my Library Routes blog post. Excellent reminder.

At the moment, I think I’m content with being able to add information to wikis. However, in the future I could explore setting up a kind of test wiki, so that I get to know this software better.

Dropbox

And actually, I’m also using Dropbox on a regular basis. I share an account with my boyfriend and it’s installed on our home laptop, and both of our work computers. Paul uses this for SERIOUS WORK BUSINESS. I mostly use Dropbox for something much more fun… I’m writing a children’s book. It started off as a kind of distraction, because lots of nasty serious things are happening in my life and I needed to take my mind off them. I’ve nearly finished the very first draft of it now, and I know that when I have finished it, I will be amazingly proud of my achievement. Whether it sits on my mantlepiece as something to read to my future children, or whether it’s good enough to be published.

But if it got published? Now that really would be the best thing.

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Written by missrachelsmith

September 21, 2011 at 17:41

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In the clink

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Prison is one of those places I never thought I’d go to. I don’t really fancy life behind bars and I hope I’ll never have cause to visit any of my family or friends there either, you know? But some librarians work in Her Majesty’s Prisons around the UK. In fact, the closest library to the library where I work is a prison library. A Category B men’s prison, the jail serves the local courts and has a high prisoner turnover rate. I arranged to visit for the day to find out more about what prison libraries and librarians do…

Security

Perhaps it’s a bit obvious, but the biggest difference that struck me about my time at the prison library was the importance of security. In prison, everything revolves around it. Walking to the library, we travelled through pairs of locked doors every few metres around the prison buildings. Alongside the librarians, prison officers assigned to the library were present at all times to ensure the security of both library staff and prisoners. Due to their customer group, stealing of library property was an issue and prisoners are unable to access the internet, word processing software or printing facilities. Security issues also extended to the stock that the library offered. There are a number of banned items and subjects which you won’t find in the prison library’s collection, from the obvious – books about bombmaking, for example – to the ones you wouldn’t have thought of, like the Igguldens’ Dangerous Book for Boys.

Customer journey

This heightened awareness of security stretched to the customer experience of using the library. The customer journey begins when the prisoner fills out an application form, or ‘app’ to visit the library. Each wing has appointed times when library officers collect those who have filled out an app. The prison officer takes the men to the library for around half an hour and then the group are escorted back to their accommodation or their next activity. I found it interesting that the customer experience of using the prison library begins sometimes days before their visit. This had its own unique set of problems – sometimes when called to go to the library, the men are busy, for example. If prisoners forget to fill out a library app or are unavailable when the library officers come to collect them, they are unable to return their books on time. These were issues that library staff were debating on the day I visited and I hope they continue to investigate ways to resolve this.

Prison libraries and public libraries

Something that I found surprising was the close relationship between the prison libraries and the public libraries in the area. The library service, like the educational provision in the prison, is tendered out. The county council currently provides library services to the prison and the library staff are employed and managed by the council. Therefore, there were a number of crossover points – one of the part-time librarians working at the prison also works for the main public library in the city and the prison and public libraries use the same library card system. The prison libraries in the county use the same library management system as the public libraries and borrow books from there. This close relationship between the services means that data protection is paramount. Library Orderlies (prisoners who work within the prison library) can use the library management system, but can’t access any information on patrons within the public library network. Similarly, only very basic information – surname, current cell and prisoner number – is held on the library management system about the prison library’s customers.

Although I wasn’t aware that the two systems were so closely linked in my area, it appeared that this had a number of benefits – the library is able to provide access to a wide range of material, and there is continuity between the service provided within the prison and libraries within the local area.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I turned up at the prison gates, but I found the atmosphere within the prison to be calm and controlled, and the prisoners seemed to respect and value the service that the library offered.

I’m not sure that prison libraries are for me, but it’s not so bad in the clink.

Written by missrachelsmith

September 15, 2011 at 09:44

CPD23: Things undone

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It’s kind of terrifying to realise that since my last post about Thing 8 of the 23 Things for Professional Development programme, a month has passed, and now Thing 18 has appeared from nowhere. How has this happened?!?!

Well. I went narrowboating. I explored a crazy alternative reality volunteering as a Cook’s Assistant on a tall ship for a while. I survived Brownie camp and a visit from my mother. You could say I was taking a break (but it’s blatantly not true). September is not less busy than August. Life is sort of something that is happening to me at the moment, and I’ve given up bothering with trying to keep up.

BUT:

In an attempt to gain some sort of hold on all the good work I was doing before I was so rudely interrupted by life, I thought I might return to the world of blogging and CPD23 by jumping a Thing to muse on Thing 10: Graduate traineeships, Masters degrees, Chartership and Accreditation.

Certification: It’s now around a year since I found out I’d been awarded CILIP Certification

Graduate traineeships: by the time I was able to add the letters ‘ACLIP’ after my name, I’d spent 3 years working in my university college library on a part-time basis as an undergraduate, and a year doing what I initially thought was my equivalent of a graduate traineeship. Another year on and I’m continuing to extend my ‘trainee year’ as a Library Assistant based in the academic liaison team at an academic library in the North East.

Chartership: The next step on for me is CILIP Chartership. I’m halfway through now, and I think it’s going well. I’ve got placements with prison and public libraries in the pipeline. The induction period is coming up at the university, and I’m doing some interesting things at work. And then…

Masters degrees: as part of my Chartership work, I’m just about to enrol myself onto one module of Northumbria’s Library and Information Management Masters course. I’m taking the Organising Knowledge module, which I’m hoping will fill some of the gaps for me when it comes to more ‘traditional library’-type skills.

I think I’ve got Thing 10 covered.

Written by missrachelsmith

September 7, 2011 at 19:20

Posted in CPD23

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