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Dear librarianship,

We began our affair back in the heady days of 2006, when I was a young and naive graduate trainee. You opened my eyes to the delights of information provision. I’ll never forget the buzz I got from our simplest activities together. Even adding titles to reading lists took on a magical glow. I woke up every morning with bluebirds blithely singing in my head. ‘I love libraries!’ I would think. ‘And they love me!’

We took our relationship to the next level, and I committed to library school. I was certain that I wanted to spend my whole life with you, that you were the one and only profession for me. I was filled with curiosity to find out more about you, to know everything there was to know, and with each new discovery my love grew.

My first professional post came in 2008, and I bustled around making it nice and cosy and comfortable, a place where we could be happy together. I carried on learning new things about you, and although we settled into a routine, there was always something exciting happening, something to make me think every so often ‘I love this profession!’

But, over time, things have become a little stale. Things don’t thrill me as they used to. You’re still a big, important part of my life, but something’s changed.

Librarianship, I’m cheating on you with writing.

I didn’t mean it to happen. Writing was my first love, but I thought it was just a childish crush, something that could never happen in the real world. Then we met again recently on the internet, and we just clicked.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done this, and I worry about my techniques. Am I being clumsy? Too clichéd? And will writing ever love me the way you do? But I just can’t help myself. I’m writing every day, and I could sing for the joy of it all.

I’ve tried to keep you apart. Librarianship fills my day, and writing my evenings. But I know one day you’ll collide, and I thought it was kinder to tell you now.

It’s not you, it’s me. And I would never have dared think of it without the opportunities and challenges you’ve given me. You’ve given me the strength to dream that this might be possible.

I’m not planning to commit to writing full-time. Probably never. But I felt it was only fair to let you know that you’re not number one in my heart right now. It might be a fleeting madness. I may come crawling back, looking for committee-posts to fill my fiction-less evenings. I hope that you’ll find it in your heart to forgive me.

I’ll always be interested in what you’re doing, and I honestly wish you well. I hope we can still be friends.

And we’ll always have twitter.

XOXOXO, Bethan

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I had a PDR today. For those of you outside whatever sectors this particular acronym has infiltrated, that stands for ‘Performance and Development Review’. It’s basically a big yearly appraisal, where you get to talk about what you’ve done over the past year, triumphs and disasters, and hopes for the future.

You get a nice (actually, fairly horrible) form to fill in, that prompts you to reflect on various things from over the last year. Want to guess what I did? Headed straight for the ‘what didn’t go well?’ section, scribbled away for a few minutes, then dried up. It’s a good job I have a very nice line manager, who found entries such as ‘I can’t remember what I did before this!’ and ‘Aarrgh!’ mildly amusing, and not a reason to have me dragged off to occupational health tout suite for a sanity check.

While I found it difficult to remember what I’d done, I could trawl through previous calendar entries and old to-do lists to jog my memory. The real challenge came when I tried to reflect on what I’d learned – or even how I felt. I simply couldn’t recapture my response to things. It came down to ‘My talk at ILI went well and I was pleased’. I bet you’re all astounded by that insightful bit of reflection, eh?

I think what’s at the root of this is that I haven’t been reflecting. I’ve been busy, and I’ve let various demands on my time tip me over from ‘reflective practitioner’ to ‘full-on panic-mode zombie’, who just deals with the next crisis to cross her desk, and then immediately forgets about it when she’s done. Who, in fact, purposefully puts some things out of her mind – ‘Phew! that’s over with, don’t have to think about it any more. Next!’

This is, of course, entirely the wrong way to work. I can tell you much more about what I did, what I learned and how I developed professionally in 2009 than I can for the last 6 months. Why? Because I was preparing my Chartership portfolio in 2009, which forced me to reflect. I kept up some of my reflective work after it, but with no demands and no deadline, nothing I feel I can legitimately put on my to-do list, it fell by the wayside and was forgotten.

Which means most of my learning has been forgotten too. I’ve had an especially busy 6 months, which should be keeping me in professional development material for years! Instead, by not stopping to reflect I’ve effectively wasted most of what I’ve done. What should have been a fantastic time for my PPD is instead a flatline.

And it shows in so many areas! I’ve been sadly neglecting my blogging. I’m not connecting with Twitter in the same way I used to – rather than being part of the community, and involved in Biddy Fisher’s lovely notion of ‘professional generosity’, I’ve been swooping in, asking for help, and then swooping away again. Not matter how busy I am, that’s not really on. I need to make time to develop myself, and I need to remember that one of the all-round best ways of doing this is through helping to develop the community.

So I’m starting to look at CILIP Revalidation. You can’t revalidate until you’ve been chartered for 3 years, but I’m hoping you can sign-up during those 3 years, and commit to start gathering evidence. I won’t be revalidating to prove anything to CILIP or the community. I won’t be doing it as a step on the road to Fellowship. I’ll be doing it because it seems that I need a structure in place to help me manage my PPD, and Revalidation supplies that.

Doing this will require extra time, which I don’t feel that I have to spare! But I think it will make me a more effective worker – five minutes of reflection can save me hours, by stopping me making the same mistake twice! It may be painful at first (I do feel like I’m skimping things rather, which is one reason I’m not so keen to dwell on them), but it needs to be done. And who knows, I may decide I’m not doing so badly after all 🙂

Wow! Nearly a month between blog posts! And this one’s going to be a bit of a cop-out… An update on the things I’ve been doing that have kept me from blogging 🙂

Voices for the Library
The VftL campaign has been steadily gaining momentum! As we’re losing two of our members to CILIP council in the new year (congrats Katy and Phil!), we’ve been having a think about how we can sustainably take the campaign forward, without losing our agility, or burning-out any of the team… With this in mind, we’re having our first in-person board meeting in Jan. While we failed abjectly to find a date that everyone could make, we are going to have most of the team there, and I can’t emphasise enough how utterly fab it’s going to be to have people together! While we’ve done fantastic jobs (yes, I’m biased!) working together online, a face-to-face sit-down-and-have-a-good-chat-then-go-to-the-pub is going to be really constructive and energising – and, knowing the VftL crowd, an awful lot of fun too 🙂

SLA Europe
We’ve recently announced the calls for two SLA Europe awards: the Early Career Conference Awards (ECCAs), and the European Information Professional award (IP). There’s still pots of time to get your applications/nominations in for these, and I’d really recommend you do so! Having won an ECCA in 2009, I can wax lyrical about the brilliant opportunities it gave me – if it wasn’t for the ECCA, my career would have been very different! (and probably a lot more boring).

A book!
I’ve been talking to Facet publishing recently about the possibility of producing something for them for their 2012 catalogue. It’s all a bit at the ‘eek!’ stage at the moment, but watch this space for updates 😀

Mimas
Yes, I do have a day job as well ;p It’s so easy to get caught up in all the other professional stuff I’m doing outside work, and to forget that I have a fantastic job, which I love doing! Some really exciting stuff going on at the moment, too. I’m learning all about linked data for the LOCAH project, and am just about to start converting the diagram of the proposed Copac linked data structure into a proper specification. This makes my head hurt a lot of the time, but fortunately we’ve got a good team on the project, who are helping me through. Discussion appears to be one of the key things in working this stuff out – I can sit and stare at it for hours without getting anywhere (except tied up in knots), and then make loads of progress on the basis of a short discussion. I’m really pleased to be involved in the project, and hopefully at some points the moments of revelation will come to equal the moments of *headdesk*.

We’re also finalising the new libraries load list for Copac for 2011, and there are some corkers on there. We try to have libraries at all stages of the loading process, so we can keep the work flowing nicely, which means I’m always talking to libraries to arrange loads, processing data, and preparing information pages. I do content development for the Archives Hub as well as Copac, so at any given point I’m likely to be elbow-deep in MARC, EAD – or both!

When I’m not wading through data, they occasionally let me leave the office. I was down in London for the Online conference, working on the Mimas stand, trying to attend some floor sessions, handing out VftL flyers (thanks Credo!), doing fun things with SLA colleagues, networking, smiling, and drinking wine. The conference was a bit quieter than last year, but I’m still very glad I took a long weekend to recover.

ooh, and although I haven’t been blogging here, I did do a guest post for the utterly-fab Librarians with lives blog. I’m finding all of the tips for fitting CPD into an overstretched time-budget really useful 🙂 Now I just need to figure out how to fit more blogging in too!

Ahh, the age-old topic of work/life balance. We’re always being told to take more time for ourselves, that we’ll regret working so hard. And it’s easy to argue that modern technology is making it easier than ever to overload on work. Left an important document in the office? No worries, you’ve probably got a copy in Dropbox. And now you have a smartphone (you do have a smartphone, don’t you darling?) it’s no longer just checking work emails from home, but on the bus, the train, the plane, the holiday cottage, that little bar in Tivoli with the wonderful wifi connection.

Now that’s not to say that working outside work hours is always a bad thing. It can be very productive – some people work best in the evenings, or without the distractions of colleagues – and for people with non-work professional commitments (committees, campaigns, mentoring etc) it can be the only way to get everything done.

But what if you don’t actively choose to work? What if you’re actually trying to have an evening off, without thinking about anything work-related? The prevalence of ‘push’ notifications often means you can’t escape. Work related items will be cropping up in your RSS feeds, your Facebook notifications, your Twitterstream. Sure, you can shut all these down too. But what if you don’t want to? After all, they form part of your social life online too.

This is something I’ve been trying to deal with for a while. I separated out my ‘work’ and ‘leisure’ RSS feeds quite a while ago – and then did nothing useful with the work ones, leading to me being weeks behind on blogs and news. I had brief moments of regret that I’d given out my personal email address for professional-related activities – not because I didn’t trust people or want them in that space, but because it meant it was very hard for me to tune out. It meant that while emailing a friend late at night, I might spot an email with an action in, or a question, leaving me telling myself ‘It’s ok. You can answer it tomorrow. It’s ok. No-one really expects an answer tonight. Don’t worry about it.’ But, of course, I did worry. Even when things don’t need acting on immediately, just knowing that they’re there and that there’s another thing you’ll have to think about tomorrow can be stressful.

So, this week I’m trying to take control. I’ve taken my unused professional google account, and set myself up with an iGoogle page with my work related reader feeds and my work emails. I’m forwarding a number of professional emails from my personal account to my professional one, and skipping the inbox in my personal account. I know I haven’t got all my filters set up correctly, so it will be an odd hybrid for now, but I’m persevering, and it’s already better. This means I have a place I can use as my social media/internet hub at work, and when I choose to work at home.

But there’s still one big challenge. Yes, it’s twitter. I really don’t want to class twitter as being purely work-related. I don’t want to filter it out of my personal life. The people I follow on twitter don’t – shock horror! – post on purely work-related stuff. They also tweet funny, interesting things about life, the universe, and everything. They’re my friends, and I don’t want to shut them out. But they are still professional contacts. they do still tweet about professional things – even in the evenings! And that’s not even counting the US-based tweeps I follow, who are hard at work just as I’m trying to relax.

So what do I do? I can bookmark articles and favourite tweets to come back to later, when I’m in work-mode, and sacrifice being part of the immediate discussion. That works to a certain extent. But it doesn’t quite help with the sense of guilt, or professional shame. Yes, that’s right. When I see people tweeting about the great blog posts, articles, campaigns etc they’ve been doing in their spare time, and I’m sat there with a glass of wine, a bag of toffees, and Swallows and Amazons, well… I feel a bit ashamed. And yes, yes, I know – I work hard, deserve some time off, no-one can work all the time etc. I know the shame and guilt are ridiculous and unjustified. I just don’t quite know how to avoid them. Besides getting a more positive self-image, can anyone suggest how to manage this?

The NoWAL Exchange of Experience event yesterday (hashtag #nmee) was hugely enjoyable! Most people spoke about how they were using social media in the workplace, but I’d been asked to do something a bit different, and talk about how I used social media for my personal and professional development. Not one to waste effort, I’m posting my talk here as a blog post. (NB – this isn’t exactly what I said. I can’t remember exactly what I said. But it’s the script that my notes were based on, so it’s pretty close. Apologies to those of you who already know my social media story!)

From pretty much the start of my career, I’ve lived my professional life in the public eye. I first joined Twitter in March 2008, when I was a library student at MMU. I realised no-one I knew was on it, and did nothing with it for about 6 months, when it started being talked about in the media. So, I started following my friend Kendra, and Stephen Fry, who at that point had a mere 50,000 followers or so, and followed everyone back. Well, I was so overwhelmed that Stephen Fry was following me on Twitter that I promptly ran away again, and didn’t dare tweet for months.

I started using Twitter as an information professional in Feb 2009. Looking at my followers list, it starts off slowly, with colleagues, and then a few external contacts, and then gradually my followers build up and up and up – and most of them are people I’ve never met. My very first tweet – which said ‘Bethan is discovering that no-one she knows is on Twitter, which makes it kind of pointless’ couldn’t have been more wrong. I now rely on Twitter for a large amount of my professional interaction and networking, and I have to admit that I can’t really remember the early days!

I started blogging in October 2009. At this point I was reading a lot of library/information professional blogs, and I was also in the process of chartering. I decided to start blogging to force myself to take time to reflect – something which I was having real problems doing. I don’t think I ever really expected anyone outside my immediate social network to read my blog – but they do! I’ve got 79 subscribers and – more importantly – people who engage with the blog, comment and start discussions. It makes me focus on issues, and put my thoughts in a coherent order. Reading other people’s blogs gives me an insight into a) what they do and b) what they think.

I’d like to tell you a couple of stories about social media, and what it’s done for my – and others’! – careers.
Firstly, some of you may have seen an article recently about what I do in CILIP Gazette. That article is a result of my use of social media – I’ll take you on a journey to it 🙂

Earlier this year, I was named as a Rising Star of SLA. This is an award for SLA members in the first five years of their career, who show ‘exceptional promise of leadership’. No, I don’t know what I did to deserve the award. I’m pretty sure I didn’t do anything that other people aren’t doing – but what I did do, I did visibly. I got involved in the debate about the proposed SLA name change, writing several blog posts, and talking about it on Twitter; I started a ning for SLA Europe – all things that are obvious and available online.

When the announcement of the Rising Stars came through, I didn’t tweet about it. I didn’t need to – my peers did it for me. I find my twitter group wonderfully encouraging and supportive – always ready to tout any triumphs that peers and friends have had. So, my twitter group tweeted it, and SLA and SLA Europe blogged it, and soon I got a message on twitter from Debby Raven, editor of Gazette, saying ‘congratulations’, and asking if I’d like to be interviewed for Gazette about the award. I said ‘yes’, told her my email address, and it went on from there. I’d never met Debby, and our original point of contact was purely social media based. Of course, once the article was published I didn’t need to promote it either – again, my twitter group promoted it for me, and I gained loads of exposure – and a reputation for modesty!

Another story – and one, I’m afraid, which doesn’t have an end yet, is that of Ned and Laura. They met through blogging, and set up the Library Routes project, which is a wiki to collect stories of how people became librarians. This now has over 130 entries, from librarians in all sectors, and from across the world. It has been promoted through social media, in articles, and at conferences.

Not satisfied with this success, they started a debate on twitter about how to get discussions by/about libraries and librarians outside the echo chamber. It started as a hashtag: #echolib, and grew into blog posts (by them and others). From this, it grew into an article, and a presentation, and now they’re submitting a proposal to turn it into a book chapter. All of the ideas that have fed into this (you can see them on the presentation) have come through social media – tweets, blogs, videos, and the LISNPN social network. The tweets tagged with #echolib are stored on twapperkeeper, and Ned and Laura are updating the presentation on Prezi as new ideas and suggestions come in.

The #echolib idea is being picked up by leaders in the profession in the US, too, and has the potential to have a really positive impact on the profession. It’s fantastic that the genesis of this idea has taken place in social media settings, under the public eye – you can chart the growth of it through twitter and blog posts, see what has influenced it, and how it has evolved. And it’s great for Ned and Laura – they are directly connecting with many of the leaders in the profession, getting their names and ideas recognised.

I brought a lot of these stories together in my presentation earlier this year at the CDG New Professionals conference. I was presenting on ‘proving the value of peer networks’, and gathered all of the information for the presentation from my peer networks – mainly my social media networks.

I decided that I needed real-world data to make the presentation of value, and so I put together a questionnaire, and asked people on lis-link and in my twitter network to fill it out. I got 104 responses, many of them very detailed, which was fantastic. My definition of peer networks was ‘contact groups consisting of fellow Library/Information professionals, workers, or others associated with the profession. These may include groups such as work colleagues; fellow members of an association; members of a social group such as a ning or facebook group; conference attendees; twitter followers; and other groups with whom you interact on a professional basis.’

I included social networking via the web on the same level as more traditional, face-to-face networking, and didn’t ask any questions specifically about web 2.0 social networking. However, a number of respondents specified that they used social networking tools, with twitter, facebook, linkedin, nings and forums on various sites (library and non-library related!) all getting a mention.

One question which I did ask was ‘has being involved in peer network contributed to your career? (eg have you become involved in a project/found a job through peer networks?)’. 50% of respondents said that it had, and again a number of them mentioned social media in their answers. Respondents using Twitter said that they had been invited to speak at events, become involved in committees, written articles, given presentations and become involved in projects – directly through their use of Twitter.

Twitter, blogs, and social networks are mentioned as keeping people up-to-date; providing quick & easily accessible sources of good information; providing a wider perspective on the profession; being great places to make friends and meet like-minded info profs; helping with CILIP Chartership and Fellowship; finding out about resources, projects and events.

One quote which I particularly like:

I’ve only recently started to feel properly connected to a peer network -and this is really due to twitter and blogging. Funnily enough I ‘know’ more new professionals this way than I do in ‘real life’ in my own region. So I find a sense of community in this online network and that helps me to feel motivated and engaged with professional issues; to feel that I am a librarian rather than someone who just happens to work in a library. I’ve become more reflective about my professional activities and I think I’ve also become more ambitious because I am tapped into the interesting things my peers are doing. I’ve started to blog more, and I’ve ended up joining the CDG in my area (which has in turn has allowed me to meet other new professionals).

Social media gives you easy ways to help others in their professional development, as well as helping yourself. My Chartership portfolio is available online – on my blog, on the LISNPN network, and on CILIP communities. Having my portfolio available gives other Chartership candidates another point of reference – beyond the 3 official examples on the CILIP website. It also means that I’ve been forced to look at my portfolio after submitting it – rather than just stick it in a drawer and forget about it, I’ve had to go through and make sure that there was nothing confidential that needed removing before I made it public. This, of course, made me groan with horror, as I thought ‘ugg! Could have done that better’ – which means I’m already thinking of ways I could have improved my – successful – portfolio.

This use of social media also means that I can track my own growth online – which is fantastically useful for appraisals, applications etc. My professional development is archived and searchable! And, of course, I’ve made loads of good friends 🙂

You’d have thought, from the fuss I was putting up about nerves before my presentation at NPC2010 on Monday, that it was the first time I’d ever been called on to speak in front of an audience. Well, it wasn’t – not quite! The Rising Stars/Fellows roundtable at the SLA conference in New Orleans came first.

The roundtable was the first time I’d spoken in front of a LIS audience, without being the deliverer of specific training. To put it bluntly, it was the first time anyone had ever listened to me speak about what I thought. Gosh, I’m glad I didn’t think of it like that before the event! I’d have been paralysed by terror. As it was, I was pretty nervous. But it was a different kind of nervous than the presentation nervous at the New Profs Conf, for a totally different kind of event.

The roundtable was organised by Webb Shaw of J J Keller, who sponsor the Rising Star awards (nb – the webpage hasn’t been updated yet. If you want more info about this year’s class of Stars, see this video). Webb did a fantastic job of organising the event – firstly, he organised it! as anyone who’s tried to get librarians/info pros all moving in the same direction – across continents and timezones, no less – will know, that’s a pretty good feat.

Webb also gave us a list of topics to choose from, and then paired up Stars and Fellows to discuss each topic. This, may I say, might just have been a stroke of genius! I was paired with the lovely Dee Magnoni to discuss how we proactively deliver information to our users. Not only was the topic one on which Dee and I had very different, but complimentary experiences, but I knew that if I completely broke down, went silent, went mad, Dee would be there to calmly pick up the pieces of my dignity, and save the show. I’d love to say that I didn’t need her to, but…

…At one point during the questions to the panel at the end of the session, I signalled for the microphone, got it, and promptly forgot everything. Not only did I forget what I’d planned to say, I forgot my fellow panelists names and – pretty much – how to speak at all. I spluttered, Dee hugged me, laughed and said ‘it’s ok!’. I got back on track. I simply can’t describe how important that reassurance was. Much like Adrienne smiling at me throughout my NPC2010 presentation, it was a vital human touch that reminded me that librarians are nice people. Generally.

If you were at the roundtable, you’d remember that quote, which was greeted with gales of laughter, and which may haunt Amy for years to come. Oh yes, there was a lot of laughter! all through the panel. From Jill’s strict rules on the propriety of handwritten thankyou notes, right through to the rousing birthday song for James (my word! can’t Libby just *sing!*), the panel was *fun*. An excellent positive experience to kick-start my speaking career 🙂

view of the SLA 2010 stars/fellows roundtable

all 10 roundtablers - and Webb. Note the 3 laptops...

Unlike Chris, Amy, and James, I didn’t manage to tweet from the roundtable! While I meticulously – some might say obsessively – tweeted the other sessions I attended, I’d never dreamed of tweeting while I was on stage. But it seemed to work well – if that’s how you engage with a session, why should it be any different when you’re sat on a panel waiting your turn, than when you’re in the audience? I’m not sure I’d recommend it for all events – if people can’t cope with the audience tweeting, how on earth would they react to the presenters or panel doing so?

For straight-forward presenting, I like Ned’s idea of using FutureTweets to schedule tweets relevant to his blogging workshop. I think that’s a good way to engage with more than one audience – especially, perhaps, if you know your audience is unlikely to be tweeting, or if you have links that you’d like to share. But I don’t think this concept would work for a panel discussion, where you don’t know what your fellows are going to discuss in advance. Hey, if you’re anything like me, you might not know what you’re going to discuss in advance…

So, two very different speaking appearances at two very different conferences. Do I have the bug? Am I trawling through list-servs, looking for other conferences I can submit papers to? No(t yet). I think I’ll always be more comfortable communicating in writing, but I do now see that speaking can be pretty darn good fun too!

I have a confession to make: I really, really enjoyed the New Professionals Conference yesterday. There were a few nervous moments about my presentation and my Twitter workshop, but overall? had a whale of a time! It was fantastic to see so many people – some completely new, some known from Twitter, some met before – and hear some brilliant presentations. (I say ‘some’, not because the presentations weren’t all brilliant, but because I didn’t get to see them all.) And you know something else? SLA2010 was pretty darn ace too. Thoroughly enjoyed it. And I’m really looking forward to the SLA Europe Summer Soiree tomorrow.

‘Hmm’, I hear you say, ‘not exactly the juiciest of confessions. You went to some good conferences and enjoyed them. Do you have very little on your conscience? Are you not supposed to have fun?’

Well, it’s not so much ‘not supposed to’ as ‘didn’t really expect to’. Surprised now? Hopefully, you hadn’t noticed that I tend strongly towards ‘shy’, and that face-to-face networking has been, at times, quite excruciatingly painful for me. I have a tendency to be rather of the Groby Lington persuasion:

He was a good-natured, kindly dispositioned man, and in theory he was delighted to pay periodical visits to the wife and children of his dead brother William; in practice, he infinitely preferred the comfort and seclusion of his own house and garden, and the companionship of his books and his parrot

Or, to put it in the words of someone I met at SLA2010, when discussing how various people engage with the association ‘I guess some people just don’t like coming out from behind their desks, and meeting people in the real world’. ‘That’s me!’ I thought. ‘That’s true!’ I said. Of course I didn’t tell her that I felt like that. I haven’t told anyone. Until now.

I was inspired by Eleni Zazani‘s presentation at npc2010, where she said that being enthusiastic is a choice. And a choice that you have to keep on making. She emphasised that you have to search for the positive, and embrace it once you’ve found it. Keep the good reasons why you became an info pro at the front of your mind, and keep them there in the face of all discouragement.

I felt that Eleni had found words for what I’d been doing. I knew that going to conferences was hugely important for my career. I knew that meeting people face-to-face to form peer networks was vital for my personal and professional development. I knew that I would find these events valuable and rewarding, and that I would gain a huge amount from them. But on many levels, I’d still rather have been at home with my books (alas, I do not even have a parrot).

I didn’t hide away. I made myself be enthusiastic about conferences and training courses and networking events and other events where I’d have to – *gulp* – speak to strangers. I made myself leave my comfort zone, and look at the positive aspects. I focussed my reflections on those positive aspects. I drilled it into myself – you will go to this, you will enjoy this. And I didn’t tell anyone how I felt. Why? Because that would be focussing on the negative.

So why am I telling you today? Well, take a look at my opening paragraph again. I’m telling you today because it has become a positive. I made myself be enthusiastic, and have become genuinely so. I made myself focus on the positive aspects of these events, and now that’s all I can see. I have remoulded myself. And, goshdarnit, if I’m not actually pretty proud.

It does help, of course, that I now have friends at these events, who I look forward to seeing. How did I meet those friends? By social networking, and attending conferences and training courses and networking events and… you see? It builds a positive feedback loop. There will, of course, still be events where I don’t know anyone – but that’s ok. I’m sure they will be just full of lovely people, waiting to be my friends 😉

So I’m sorry that this post hasn’t been a review of NPC2010 or SLA2010 – those posts will come! And I can say confidently and happily that reviews of many more conferences will follow them.

I blogged recently about what CILIP Chartership – by which I really meant the process of putting together my Chartership portfolio – meant to me. Well, as of yesterday, it means that I am now a chartered librarian! Hurrah and jubilation etc etc 😀

Once the excitement had died down a little, I started to think about what being a Chartered member of CILIP means to me. It’s something I’ve been working towards my entire career – I can’t remember if the statement ‘I intend to work towards CILIP chartership’ was on the application for my graduate traineeship, but it’s certainly been on every application form and piece of professional assessment since.

So, now I’m there. What do I do with it? Is this the pinnacle of my professional achievement?

Hopefully not! After all, there’s still Revalidation, and Fellowship somewhere in the misty future. And I’ve expressed an interest in becoming a Chartership mentor, so there’s plenty of room for personal and professional development within the CILIP framework for me yet.

But what does it mean in practical terms? Am I, as @mariekeguy suggested, now ‘always expected to know what I’m talking about’? Do people expect more from Chartered Librarians? Does it have an impact on how you behave professionally? Or on how people expect you to behave? I guess I’ll find out for myself soon enough – but any insights you want to share in the comments are very welcome!

One immediate effect, by the way – a huge rush of affection towards all my wonderful twitter peeps, who were (as always) so immediate and unstinting with their congratulations. Did I mention at any point that you guys rock?

Well, the portfolios are done, bound, and in the post, and it’s time to reflect on what Chartership and the chartering process have meant to me.

Several people have asked me about this already, and I think I’ve tended to be fairly vague and desultory – ‘well, it’s something you’ve got to do, isn’t it? just a few hoops to jump through… but not too bad overall’. But do I really feel like this about Chartership? And, if so, why did I do it at all?

Now, my mentor was a lovely, lovely lady, who I really enjoyed spending time with, but this doesn’t tell the whole story of why I found the mentor relationship to be by far the most valuable facet of the Chartership process. Why? Because of the huge importance of simply having someone to tell me that it’s ok – nay, required! – to say good things about yourself.

I have problems with this, probably a result of an upbringing in which there was no middle ground between becoming modesty and vulgar boasting, but I’ve been getting better over the years, and have generally come to manage to admit when I’m not so shoddy at summat. So why do I – and others! – still have this problem when it comes to saying that we’re actually really quire decent info profs?

Well, guys, I’m afraid it’s all your fault. Yup, this is one I’m putting squarely on the shoulders of my peer group and social networks. Not because you’re mean and horrible, but because you’re just all so darn good at things!

We measure success, not against some abstract ideal, but from a concrete comparison of our achievements with those of our peers. As the general level of achievement rises, so do the criteria considered to denote “success”. and boy-oh-boy, are you lot a load of over-achievers 😉

Just from memory, and in the last few weeks alone, people in my Twitter network have won prizes and awards; have got exciting new jobs and promotions; have given papers and written articles; have got distinctions and started PhDs. My peer group is enthusiastic, intelligent, active, engaged. They serve on project boards, plan conferences, and write manifestos. They write ridiculously thoughtful and erudite blog posts. They edit journals and run workshops and make websites and implement innovative services and oh my guts and garters do these people ever sleep?

And yes, ok, I do some of those things too. But they’ve become the norm, which in some ways is such a brilliant, wonderful, inspiring thing that it makes me want to cry a bit and give you all a great big hug. But it also means that it can be easy to overlook the smaller achievements; to count yourself as insignificant among this gallery of stars, and we need the positive reinforcement of feeling that we have achieved to continue achieving.

So that is what Chartership has done for me. It has given me a still, small place outside the glamour and pressures of my peer group, and allowed me to measure my achievements against myself. It’s given me the chance and the encouragement to say ‘I done good’, and to remember that, sometimes, it’s about what the profession can give me, as well as about what I can give the profession. There may have been some hoop-jumping involved, but those hoops have helped to strengthen and affirm my sense of place within the profession. So there may have been swearing and grumbling and groaning, but I’m glad I did it. [DISCLAIMER: I reserve the right to edit/delete/throw a hissy fit if I don’t pass ;)]

I’ve been mainly doing my day-in-the-life updates through twitter, but decided you deserved a proper blog post today 🙂 Apologies if you know all this already!

I got into work slightly earlier than usual (9:45 instead of 10! I’m not a morning person, and prefer to work later if possible), as a colleague was borrowing my phone to record an interview with a Copac user, and needed to be shown how to use it as a voice recorder. We’re interviewing users of Copac, the Archives Hub and Zetoc at the moment, to gather evidence about how our services are being used by researchers and educators. I always enjoy talking to our users – it’s great to hear how much they value the services, and how they are using them. It’s also interesting to hear about people’s research areas! Among the topics so far we’ve had mosquito mating; the history of Scottish shawls; 12th century views on magic; and African border disputes (my sincere apologies to anyone whose research area I’ve just totally misrepresented! This is all filtered through my limited understanding.)

I spoke to an Archives Hub user at 10:30, which meant I missed out on a Mimas institution – coffee morning. This is a legacy from when Mimas staff were spread over a number of locations, and didn’t have much contact with each other. We’re rather more collegial now (down to only 2 locations!), but it’s still nice to meet up on Weds morning, for coffee and a chat.

After the interview, I posted a blog post I’d written earlier. I’d asked an SLA E colleague to read it, to make sure that I wasn’t dragging the good name of SLA Europe into disrepute, and posted it once she’d given me the thumbs-up (yes, I can be quite paranoid!). Then to transcribing the interview, which – as always – took far longer than I expected!

Just before lunch, time to arrange a visit to Chetham’s – always a treat! they’re a Copac contributor, and are interested in contributing their archive records to the Archives Hub. I’m going down to talk them through exporting their records from CALM and uploading them to the Hub EAD editor. In their supreme loveliness they’ve offered to buy me lunch if I go in the morning 😀

Then to trying to work out why the file from the first interview this morning would play on my computer and not Lisa’s. I’m fairly sure it was a codec problem, but I didn’t really have time to identify exactly what the issue was, so I just downloaded a freeware converter, and converted it to .avi. Thankfully, that worked.

Lunch, and drafting this post to cover my morning. After lunch I set up a trial access to the RLUK database for a potential new customer, which involved everyone in the office trying to remember where we’d put the documentation, and which login to use (we don’t do this very often!). That task successfully conquered, I emailed a contributor whose descriptions are being added to Copac very shortly, to ask for some information and a photo so that I can make them a Copac library page.

Then a news blog post and a tweet about the new Copac iGoogle widget that one of our talented programmers has produced.

Then back into the murky world of IT-ish things, as the xslt I needed arrived from Adlib. I soon realised that I didn’t actually know what to do with the xslt – I knew I needed to apply it to the xml file somehow, but how? After being very scared by the results of a Google search (‘simply build this in basic!’ ‘applying xslt transformations in asp.net!’), of one my colleagues pointed out that my xml reader should have the necessary software built in. It did, and I managed to find the right menu options all by myself! For me, this counts as a victory over technology 🙂

Before heading home, I decided to finish off the blog post I started yesterday, to be a follow-up to this post on the Copac Developments blog. This post deals with the format of the Copac records, and how we de-duplicate, so I’ve sent it off to be checked by people in the know, to make sure I’ve got my facts straight.

Other things I’ve done today? the usual email checking (including a wry smile of amusement at the discussion on the lis-web2 list about whether discussions should take place on the list); catching up on a few lib/info related RSS feeds; and admiring the new artwork around our offices.

This is the result of a Mimas photography competition, and I’m really pleased that my favourite picture (by Copac’s very own Ashley) is right outside our office.

Photo of a photo...

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