Saturday, 30 July 2011

Library Day in the Life #7 part 2

It’s back to normal again today, as I don’t manage to make it in before 8.30 so I try and power through the basement corridors to get up to the library on time.  It’s funny to think how easily I used to get lost walking about the museum basement.  For the first few weeks I used to have to be escorted to and from the library otherwise I would have got lost en route, the basement can be a bit of a maze when you’re new.

I head over first thing to do some shelving in one of the department libraries, I prefer doing things like that early as it means I can trundle through the galleries with my trolley and not have to worry about the noise being a disturbance.  I also do a bit of tidying while I’m there departmental libraries rely on the ‘trust’ system for loans, staff fill in a loan card and place it on the shelves in the spaces occupied by the books or journals, and sign them back in afterwards, removing the loan card.  Because it’s a ‘self-service’ arrangement the shelves can get a little messy, so every now and again we go out and put them in order, although to be honest it’s not something that has to be done too often, staff are pretty good at keeping the place neat. There is no limit on how many books a member of staff can borrow at one time, nor how long they can keep them for, I’ve seen loan cards for books signed out from back in the 1980s.  As we are primarily a reference library it’s not really a problem if someone else wants a book already on loan, as you just check the name on the card and pop over to their office to ask if they’ve finished with it.

We are a great deal quieter today than yesterday; we have no external visitors, only staff members in, and one of the Museum Friends doing research for the art tours they do around the art galleries.  It’s not surprising to find staff up here simply using the library as a quiet place to work, plus if they need to spread their work out then we often have more space for that than in their offices.

Because we were so quiet after lunch I was able to get on with some accessioning.  Every book, complete journal volume and annual report that we hold has its own unique identifying number – an accession number.  These are generated manually; we have a list and mark off each number, in order as it is assigned.  These are then inputted into the corresponding catalogue record, and written into the front of the book, they act in exactly the same way as barcodes.  On a regular basis these numbers and the records attached to them are printed out in a list which is stored for future reference, should we ever need them.  We have accession register books dating back to the founding of the museum library; although those ones were all hand written (usually in beautiful copperplate handwriting).  They do still provide a useful point of reference if we are having problems finding an item.

Before heading home I have a look through some old photos of the museum we have in our photographic archive.  There are some lovely ones of the library from the early 1950s, and apart from the fact that there is more clutter and we all have computers, the library hasn’t really changed all that much.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Library Day in the Life #7

I'm a part-time library assistant working in a museum library.  I’m taking part in the Library Day in the Life project this time because although I used to enjoy reading the posts in the previous rounds this is the first time I've had a blog of my own.

The library I work in has been part of the museum since it was built in the early part of the 20th century.  The initial collection moved in the 1920's into a purpose built library, but as it rapidly outgrew that space material moved out to form a number of smaller, unstaffed departmental libraries. The original room, where we are based, is now known as the Main Library (or ML).

Because I am only part-time my week doesn't start till Wednesday, I try to get in fairly early, I aim for 8.30 but it is often later before I manage to arrive.  However, today for some reason I make it in for 8.20, which does leave me with the unsettling feeling that I’ve forgotten to do part of my normal morning routine.

When I arrive in the morning I tend to make my way up to the library through the art galleries, it gives me a chance to be nosy at what exhibitions they have.  At the moment a number of cases are being cleared as a temporary exhibition is moving on so I am looking forward to seeing what will be replacing it in the coming weeks.

It’s always very silent when I first come in, but at 10.00am when we open to the public there will be an explosion of noise in the main hall.  We are at the top of the building up above the public spaces and the sound really echoes.  Mondays are the only days we are closed to the public, and I’ve often wondered what it would be like working here then, as I imagine the silence would be quite eerie.
When I first get in I work through my emails, I get a variety including order status reports from our book suppliers, feedback on queries that came in the previous week, and details of any visitors we have coming in.  Although our main purpose is to provide information resources for the museum’s staff, we also accommodate researchers requiring material that is not easily available in other libraries.  These are usually by appointment only and we tend to require that visitors know in advance what they are looking for.

After clearing the backlog of emails I head out shelving and tidying, both in the main library and in one of the departmental ones.  The advantage of having our libraries spread throughout the building is you do get the opportunity to get out and about a bit; in fact there are some days when I am barely at my desk at all.  I’m less enamoured of shelving in the main library stacks, as I have a real love/hate relationship with them.  On the one hand I appreciate that they are originals from when the building was designed, and that they are unusual because they are pull-out stacks rather than static shelving or roller racking.  However, their disadvantages are that they were obviously designed for small books, the shelves themselves are not very wide, and all the stacks are too close together, and they are really heavy, particularly when full.

This morning I also made time to sign up for Library Camp UK 2011 in Birmingham, I’m really looking forward to it, and particularly all the cake that seems to have been promised.  I checked Twitter and my RSS feeds to see what people are talking about in the library world today, and I finally got round to posting Things 6 and 7 of my cpd23 things, I’d written them earlier, but hadn’t yet published them on my blog.

After lunch I’m checking back in journals and auction catalogues that have been down in the various departments.  Much of the stock we have either stays in the ML or heads down to its permanent home in the departmental libraries.  However, we have a small portion of the collection that goes on circulation before finally returning to be housed in the ML.  We keep a check list for things going out and coming back in, and one of my jobs involves recording the safe return of these items, or chasing up any outstanding ones.

We are unusually busy today, as well as a member of staff working all day in the library we have had visitors in both the morning and afternoon.  We are normally much quieter, and particularly so during the summer months when staff tend to be away.  Many of our outside visitors tend to be postgraduate students from the nearby universities, particularly the conservation, archaeology and museum studies courses, but as it's the summer holidays we have not seen so much of them recently.  We also have our volunteer with us today; he is currently working through shelves of pamphlet material, checking their details on the card catalogues and then inputting them onto our cataloguing system.  We started using a computerised catalogue back in 1999 but the job of putting all the old stock on to it is so vast we are still working through it.

Towards the end of the day it gets a bit quieter and I’m able to work for a bit on the library e-newsletter.  We decided last year to start producing an electronic newsletter to circulate to all staff.  I act as the editor (although the Head Librarian always has the last word!) and content tends to include details of resources we have purchased, interesting new acquisitions and library announcements.

By then it is time to head home, and I realise I’ve been so busy today I haven’t even had time to make myself a cup of tea!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Thing 7 - face-to-face networking and professional organisations

I sent off my application for CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) membership two weeks ago.  I'd been in two minds about whether it was worth joining for some time.  We have an institutional membership at work, so I was able to read the various publications they produce, attend training events and all the other benefits of being a member any way.  And I'd been following the various discussions on whether CILIP membership was good value for money on blogs such as Phil Bradley's and the CILIP Communities forums.  However, prompted in part by the thought that I may want to become chartered at some point I've decided to join, we'll see how it goes!

ARLIS (Art Libraries Society) is another one that we have institutional membership to, and so begs the question as to whether it is worth paying for individual membership.  I'm still undecided on this one, although I suspect I will probably decide to join.

As mentioned in the Thing 6 post, I'm a member of LISNPN and am trying to make the effort to attend any events organised in (or near) my area.

Cardiff Libraries in Co-operation I've been part of this organisation since it's inception, although lately I haven't been very active.  CLIC puts on regular training and networking events for people working in libraries in Cardiff.  Some of the training events have been incredibly useful, though by far the best thing about them have been the behind the scenes looks at the various different libraries in Cardiff.  And, for a while I was the website administrator for the CLIC site.

Last, but not least, I went to what I hope will be the first of many CPD23 Cardiff meet-ups last week.  It was great meeting people I had been communicating with on Twitter (which along with blogs helped to coordinate the meet up).  We were lucky to get the yurt almost entirely to ourselves and had a very sociable time, although we didn't really talk about cpd23 that much!
                                                       Photo courtesy of

Thing 6 - online networks

I'm still quite new to the idea of networking as it is something I don't really feel that comfortable doing.  However, online networking seems to be a great way to introduce yourself to it in a (relatively) pain free way.

I've had a look at LinkedIn, and it is definitely something I plan on joining, although I haven't got round to doing so yet.  I think it might well take me a while to fill in my profile.  I haven't been good at keeping my CV up to date, and it's been quite a long time since I last had to fill in a job application, so putting together a decent profile will need more thought than I have time for right now.  But it is something I plan to work on before the end of summer.

I've been on Facebook for a number of years now.  I only joined because so many of my friends were on it and it seemed such a convenient way to stay in touch with the ones that lived far away.  I don't go on it that much, and to be honest I really don't think I like the idea of using it for work purposes.  I would much rather keep my professional and personal life separate.

I joined the LIS New Professionals network about a year ago (I think) and so far have found it really useful.  In fact it was through LISNPN that I first heard about CPD23 and decided to take part.  I also went to the first face-to-face networking event I'd been to in ages through LISNPN when I attended the Bristol meet-up back in June.  It's been great seeing how many more people have been joining it as a result of doing the CPD23.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Thing 5 - Reflective practice

I don't know why I keep putting this one off; I should be well used to writing reflectively as it was an integral part of my art qualifications, both written reflection and also (horror of horrors) verbal.  I still remember the dreaded 'crits', standing up in front of a group of your peers with a selection of your work and talking about it, sheer torture.

So, for some reason I shy away from doing reflective writing now, but it is a valuable tool.  A number of people have already pointed out that if you are thinking of doing chartership then it's going to involve reflective practice, and as I have been umming and ahhing about becoming chartered, I should perhaps get into the habit now.

But even without the impetus of chartership, reflection makes sense as a tool to help career development.  You identify strengths and weaknesses, learn from your experiences and approach problems from a number of different angles to gain a better understanding of how best to deal with similar ones in the future.

So, the upshot of my reflection has been - I am bad at reflection.
And, the actions to deal with it - stop being a baby and just get on with it.

One way to help me with this process is to design some evaluation forms, something with relatively quick questions just to get me into the habit of noting down my thoughts.  Often the hardest thing about writing is the blank page (or screen) staring at you, so some prompts might help kick start the process.  I managed to find a template here it was originally prepared as part of a Clinical Educators Resource Kit by the Queensland Occupational Therapy Fieldwork Collaborative.  A couple of tweaks will turn it into a very handy reflection aid.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Thing 4 - better late than never

The problem I am having with cpd23 is I am doing the things, I'm just not making the time to blog about doing them.

I joined Twitter @KrisWJ, and have already found it incredibly useful.  Like a lot of people, my impression (quite wrongly) of Twitter was that it was just full of celebrities tweeting about what they'd just had for dinner.  Well probably there is a lot of that but it's also an amazing tool for professional networking, and I'm hooked already.  I think it is the immediacy (is that a word?) of it that is so appealing, the exchange of ideas is much faster than any forum I've experienced before.  And the 140 character limit is not as restricting as you would think, particularly as so many people use their tweets to link to blogs that can explain their point more fully.  Plus, I can access Twitter on my phone so it is very straightforward to keep up to date on the move.  When I first joined I was a bit nervous about how to proceed, but I found the following post from thewikiman really useful.

One of the things I'd been a bit overwhelmed with during Thing 2 was the sheer volume of cpd23 blogs out there, and how to possibly find the time to check them all out.  How to choose which ones to read seemed a bit like a lottery, you could use Twitter, recommendations from friends or serendipity, but there was always the chance you would miss out on someone whose blog would be of real interest to you.  The RSS feed bundle put together for the cpd23ers is really useful for that.  I can scan through recent posts and pick out the ones that catch my interest, much more informative than trying to pick from a list of just the blog titles.

Honestly I just can't be bothered with it (sorry).  I've tried to see the point of it, get enthusiastic about it, try it out, but it just doesn't appeal.  Probably not the best attitude to have.  Perhaps I'll give it a second chance later in the course, but for now I'd rather get on with the other 'things'.

And finally, thanks to Twitter I found this great post all about Thing 4 via Alan Rickman Genius!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

South Wales cpd23 meet up

The cpd23 meet up for South Wales will be happening in Cardiff on Wednesday 20th July from 5pm in the yurt at Milgi on City Road (near the Albany Road end, not the Newport Road end).

More information is available on and or on Twitter

Hope to see you there!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Wales's National Museum of Art, or shameless promotion of my place of work

Not strictly cpd23 things related but it's all most of us at work can think about at the moment.

Amgueddfa Gelf Genedlaethol - Wales National Museum of Art is opening to the public this weekend.  It's a really big deal and includes the unveiling of the brand new contemporary art galleries in the west wing of the building, which had been closed for refurbishment since 2007!

I was lucky enough to look around the galleries a few months ago, after the refurbishment was finished but before any art was installed, and thought they looked stunning.  They've done an amazing job, somehow managing to make it look modern but at the same time still in keeping with the age of the building and the other gallery spaces.  They had originally seemed like small rather dark spaces, but the team has opened everything out and they are now spacious and full of light.

On Wednesday we got the chance to see them with all the art works installed, and I have to say they looked great.  Amgueddfa Cymru is known for its impressive collection of Impressionist works, but it's clear that our selection of modern and contemporary art is pretty strong also.  One of my favourites was a Richard Long installation in the very top gallery.

And the best thing is, it won't be a static display; the art department is committed to rotating the works on display on a regular basis!

So if you happen to be visiting Cardiff you should definitely make a point of coming to see the new National Museum of Art

Thing 3

Personal Branding
First things first, I Googled myself (as suggested in the cpd23 Thing 3 post, not because I am weird).  I didn't appear on the first page, contrary to my long held belief that my name is spelt unusually (I've met loads of Christines but never another Kristine) it actually seems there are loads of us out there.  Got slightly side-tracked looking at the other Kristines, particularly and  Knew I should have registered my name as a domain ages ago, even if I was never going to use it.

Finally found myself (ha-ha) on the third page of results, on my employers website.  Of course that makes total sense; I'm not really 'out there' in terms of publishing or activity online so it would be unusual if I did appear at the top of the list.  Other than that, the only other result was my Facebook page.

I'm a little wary of the idea of 'branding', it seems very corporate, but if I join more social networking sites then it would be wise to have some sort of cohesion.  I'm keen to make my blog look a little more personal, but I feel I want to take a little more time to decide what to go with.  I've already changed my blog title a few times since first setting it up due to indecision over what to call it, so I'm not sure I want to commit myself just yet.