Sunday, 27 May 2012

Thing 4 - current awareness

This post primarily focuses on Twitter, inspired in part by a number of conversations I've had lately. I’ve only been using it for about a year (I joined as part of Thing 4 last year) but I thought I would share my experience of using it so far, which may be helpful to people getting started.

Like a lot of people I had a perception of Twitter, as something mainly used by celebrities and people tweeting about what they had for breakfast, so I wasn't that interested in it.

But really I couldn’t have been more wrong, as was pointed out in a recent event we held on Social Media “Twitter is what you make of it”. I tend to use it for work, 90% of the people or organisations I follow are in the museum or library sector. Most of those people tend to tweet a mixture of personal and professional (the ‘profersonal’ approach). They share links to blogs and articles, recommend tools and resources, report from conferences and discuss issues in the profession.

There is a bit of personal thrown in there too, so they come across as real humans rather than crazed, workaholic robots, but primarily I use Twitter as an information resource, and to create and strengthen links with others in the library sector.

Whenever I talk to people about using Twitter there seem to be three main questions/problems that arise; “how do you know who to follow”; “I’m not sure I have anything to say”; and “how do you fit it all in/keep on top of it?”.

So here's how I tackled those areas.

Who to follow;

It can be difficult to know who to follow, thankfully you can usually check out a person's profile first, looking at their tweets can help you decide (plus you can always ‘unfollow’ if you change your mind!).

As I joined as part of CPD23, I of course followed @CPD23 and some of the contributors such as @Girlinthe or @Annie_Bob

I also followed organisations and institutions like @CILIPinfo (plus the CILIP sub groups @CILIPRareBooks  and @CILIPCIG); @AmgueddfaCymru@NLWales@HVCats@LISNPN; @LibraryCamp and of course @CLICLibraries!

There were a number of ‘uberlibrarians’ I thought worth following, as you can count on them to draw your attention to useful blogs and online tools. People such as @Philbradley; @theREALwikiman (author of the Library Marketing Toolkit); @librarianbyday (responsible for the Library Day in the Life project) and  @bethanar (author of the LIS New Professionals Toolkit), they are of course many more, but I can't list everyone!

I also created a network of local librarians; including the CILIP Wales officer @Minimorticia, and a Cardiff list featuring @Darklecat; @helbader; @Ceridwen339; @Gemma_DS; @alisonharvey_; @MathomHouser; @glambuslib; @glamlaflib to name but a few!

Also look out for #ff (Follow Fridays) when people tweet their 'follow' recommendations.

What to tweet

I had no idea what to say for my first tweets and 'lurked' for a while, until I had the courage to say something. Another option is to start by retweeting things that are of interest to you.

Alternatively you could take part in a scheduled conversation, such as @uklibchat (Tuesdays 6.30-8.30pm GMT). The agenda is always on their blog in advance, giving you a chance to see the questions and start composing your replies. All replies need to contain the hashtag #uklibchat, meaning they can be grouped together and afterwards a summary of the discussions is posted. It’s a really great way to start taking part in conversations on Twitter, without the pressure of trying to compose tweets off the top of your head.

Or there are the chartership chats for people doing (or thinking of doing) chartership, or those already chartered who would like to give advice and support to others. Chartership chats happen on Twitter on Thursdays and are organised by Jo Alcock (@joeyanne) using the #chartership hashtag.

How to avoid becoming overwhelmed with tweets

This can be a tricky one. I'm lucky that I can access Twitter on my phone, as it means I can check it when I'm waiting for the bus or while I'm watching TV. I often save hashtags as columns, allowing me to see any tweets containing that hashtag, which can be very helpful if you are following a conference.

You can also divide up the people you follow in to lists, and just view what people from a particular list are tweeting. That way if you are a bit pressed for time you can pick and choose what type of tweets you want to look at that day, for example I might choose only to look at tweets from my list of CLIC librarians one day, and tweets from people about their #cpd23 progress the next.

Another good tip is to save things and come back to them. If tweets contain links to interesting blog posts or online articles, but I don't have time to read them immediately, I'll often bookmark them on my phone. Jen Gallagher (@medievaljenga) recommends using Pocket, and Evernote is another handy alternative, and you can log in to your account on any PC to view what you've saved.

I think the main thing though is not to worry to much about it. It's impossible to catch everything, and if something is really important/useful it will be retweeted so much that you'll catch it eventually. A lot of people archive tweets, or use Storify, meaning even if you're not aware of the conversation initially, you can still catch what was said at a later date.

Wow this post contains a lot of hyper links!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Cocktails in Cardiff (CPD23 meet up)

Last week the CLIC (Cardiff Libraries in Co-operation) staff development group organised a meet up for library staff in Cardiff who were thinking about doing, or had started, CPD23. I'd done the course last year, and one of the best things I got out of it was meeting other participants in my area, first through Twitter, and then at the face-to-face meet ups for Thing 7. Meeting up can really help if you find yourself struggling with any aspects of the course, and you'd be surprised how often other people tend to have exactly the same concerns as you.

Photo courtesy of Squirrel Library
Karen talks a little on her blog (dark-side-of-the-catalogue) about the time management concerns that a lot of people had. I really liked the suggestion of banding together with colleagues, maybe for an hour after work each week, to work through the 'things' and spur each other on!

We had a lot of people attending who had started the course last year, but not come to the end yet. Some of them were feeling a bit guilty that they hadn't finished, but I think as more people admitted that they hadn't finished either it was quite reassuring. The best thing about online courses is that you can work at your own pace, but if you don't know many other people taking part you can end up with the misconception that everyone else is way ahead of you. Meet ups can be very helpful to show that often the other participants are actually in the same position as you.

Photo courtesy of @SiobhanWGLib
A few people expressed their nervousness at blogging, and the feeling that they never know what to say. I could definitely sympathise with that, I had never blogged before taking part last year, and I'm not much of a writer, I think my early posts reflected that. The best advice I could think of for overcoming that issue is to take a look at what other people are writing, they're often not blogging all that much either. I think once you make a start and get over that mental hurdle of 'what to write' it does become easier. Like anything, the more you practice the more comfortable you will feel about it.

Another concern that was raised focused on Twitter, and as we look at Twitter for Thing 4 I thought I might talk about it in a little more depth then.

It was a great night, the 2-4-1 cocktails were an unexpected bonus (I hadn't known about them when I booked it!) and I'm hopefully it will be the first of many such events.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Thing 3 - consider your personal brand

Thing 3 is all about building your personal brand, a hot topic in library circles at the moment.

Like a number of people who took part in CPD23 last year, I was initially quite reluctant to engage with the idea of creating a personal brand. I had the perception that it was a bit cynical, and wasn’t too keen on the idea of ‘selling’ myself. I wonder if it is the terminology that is off putting, it’s difficult to get past the impression the word ‘brand’ tends to conjure up. Perhaps referring to it more as building or directing your reputation would be easier to engage with?

I think the most important thing I’ve learnt since then is that there are many different ways to develop a brand, many approaches will seem not appropriate or relevant, but it’s actually quite easy to find one that sits more comfortably with you. At the recent CILIP New Professionals Day Ned Potter discussed the 5 ways you could influence your brand. The thing that stood out for me most from his talk was that creating a brand should not be your end goal; it should be more a happy result of pursuing the interests that are important to you.

I think this method allows you to create a brand in a more organic, natural way, rather than as something you’ve ‘constructed’. It also allows for flexibility, as you pursue your interests and ambitions it’s likely that they will change and develop. Hopefully that means that your ‘brand’ will also develop, rather than feeling like a rigid thing you have to stick to.

So with this in mind I had a look at some of the ways in which I manage my ‘brand’, and to be honest I don't do much and it hardly takes up any time.
  • I use the same profile picture for all my online accounts, it's a photo of me, which helps when meeting people face-to-face.
  • I try and keep the design of my blog and Twitter account relatively consistent, I use the same background image for example. Although I regret not using matching names for them when I first set them up.
  • My full name does appear somewhere on my online accounts, and a small bio. While I don't want all my personal details 'out there', I'm also not comfortable with the idea of being totally anonymous either, I think people will connect with you better if they know something about you.
  • I'm not keen on the idea of merging my professional and private lives, so Twitter, LinkedIn and my blog are for work-related stuff, Facebook is for social.
Out of interest I also decided to Google myself, I did this last year, and was not particularly surprised to discover I didn’t rank very highly in the search results. Well, what a difference a year makes!

My Twitter account (@KrisWJ) is second in the listings, and I suspect I am one of those 15 professionals listed in LinkedIn. I haven’t done much with my LinkedIn account, perhaps if I did I could get it working a little harder for me!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

CILIP New Professionals Day 2012 part 3

The final part of the day contained talks from Bethan Ruddock and Phil Bradley.

How to assemble your New Professionals Toolkit

Bethan introduced us to the New Professionals Toolkit and the 5 tools we need;
  • Tool 1 - networks - you probably already have one, people you know at work, met at college etc. You can also create networks using social media, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or join groups such as LISNPN
  • Tool 2 - mentors - scarily she suggested that there is a chance we could be mentors ourselves, without even knowing it! (I worry for sanity of anyone who would choose me)
  • Tool 3 - resources - there is so much out there it can be hard to know where to begin, but you could use your networks to help point you in the direction of resources that would be beneficial to your career
  • Tool 4 - a plan - Where are you now? Where do you want to go? How can you get there? You could do a skills audit, and keep an eye out for job adverts for your dream job, you can check on any gaps in your skills and experience and start working towards filling them now
  • Tool 5 - a voice - think about the kind of contribution you want to make to the profession (time and skills allowing)

She finished off with advising that we remember to keep our balance and conserve our energy!

Social Media now and into you Future Career

The final speaker was Phil Bradley, who began by stating that social media is information, and as information professionals we deal with information in all its formats.

"We don't have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we DO it" Erik Qualman (Socialnomics)

He suggested we all make sure we are engaging with social media, and showed us that Google searches now routinely return social rather than traditional media (websites) results. Using social media brings the information you need to you, no longer have to go out looking for it. "Less search, more finding"

However, when he started listing all the various tools you could use, and the many social media accounts he engages with, I started to feel a bit overwhelmed. It was a long list, and I'm not sure how he manages it, I barely manage to keep on top of the few that I currently use. I wasn't the only one who was feeling this way, one of the questions put to the speakers at the end was whether it was better to try to spread yourself thinly over all areas, or just focus on a few which you can use in more depth. The general consensus seemed to be that while you should spend some time trying everything out, so that you are aware of them and can recommend them where appropriate, it may be better to restrict your own use to only a few social media tools.

CILIP New Professionals Day 2012 part 2

During the mid-part of the day we attended three workshops, pre-selected from a choice of nine, you can see a full list of the workshops offered here.

Continuing Professional Development Adventures. What? Why? How?

The first I attended was Continuing Professional Development Adventures from Emma Illingworth (wearing some amazing printed leggings).

We started off with a discussion of the barriers and benefits to CPD, Emma asked us all to jot down an idea for each on a post-it (there were a lot of post-its in evidence at the various workshops, is CILIP sponsored by Post-it?) and we stuck them to some sheets on the wall. Time and cost won by a landslide victory over any other barriers, and the benefits were a more even mix of developing new skills, widening horizons and gaining employment.

Emma gave us a guide for how to plan a CPD journey
  • What do I want/need to learn
  • What will I do to achieve this
  • What resources or support will I need
  • What will my success criteria be
And gave us an exhaustive list of resources we could use to help plan and achieve our CPD goals, which you can access in her slide show presentation here.

The session finished with a brief look at reflection (an integral part of most CPD activities) and I really liked her suggested reflection questions;
  • What did I do
  • Why did I do it
  • What did I learn
  • How have/will I use what I've learnt

 CyberLibrarians: Information management jobs in the digital age

The second session was CyberLibrarians by Lisa Hutchins and Richard Hawkins, I was really looking forward to this particular one, I had no idea what to expect as it was so different to the type of work I do day to day (which was primarily why I picked it!) but I felt really inspired by the end of it.

The session began with Lisa and Richard explaining their backgrounds and the type of work they do. They defined Information Architecture as 'the underlying structure of a website or e-resource, the way in which its content is organised and navigated'.

One aspect of this type of work is how common freelance work is. Lisa described how the cons (job instability and lack of security) weighed up against the pros (opportunities to work on exciting projects), and some of the personality traits required such as, patience, the ability to see the big and small picture, people skills and hearing what people don't say as much as what they do. She also described how you have to be mentally tough enough to market yourself and the value of what you do.

The take home message was;
"An entrepreneur is someone who is a taker of opportunities, apply an entrepreneurial spirit to your career".

The full Prezi for the workshop is available here.

Have you tried logging out and then in again?

After lunch (the much anticipated burritos!), the final workshop I went to was on managing e-resources with Simon Barron and Abby Barker (who was wearing amazing red high heel shoes, Abby that is, not Simon!).

Courtesy of @usernametaken10

After explaining the winding ways in which they became e-resource librarians they started explaining what it is they actually do, including some of the types of queries they tend to deal with (and a clip from The IT Crowd to illustrate).

Then it was our turn to have a go at answering some (apparently real life) queries. I think what came across most was that rather than having some kind of amazing tech abilities, what an e-resources librarian really needs is good people skills.

Check out the full presentation here.

CILIP New Professionals Day 2012 part 1

There is simply too much information to share in just one post (or it would be so freakishly long no-one would want to read it) so I'm going to break it up into parts.

I headed down to the CILIP New Professionals Day on the 11th May, the first time I'd ever been to one, and coincidentally the first time I'd ever been to CILIP HQ! My train was at a horribly early time (I am not a morning person) so I was very thankful to the lovely cabbie who took me to the station, and was very helpful even though my brain clearly wasn't switched on, and apologies to the staff of Upper Crust whose crisp display I destroyed (I have nothing against crisps, I'm just clumsy).

Arriving in London, I negotiated my way to Ridgemont Street just in time for Annie Mauger's welcome.

The first speaker of the day was Ned Potter, who discussed influencing your brand. In the past I lacked real understanding of the usefulness of creating a brand (see Thing 3, from CPD23 last year) but the more I learn about it, the more I think it is 'a very good idea'.

Ned kicked off his talk with four points;
  1. Don't panic, it will be fine
  2. You already have a brand
  3. You can never fully control it
  4. Don't panic

He then got us to submit our definitions of brand via Twitter, using the #npdbrand hashtag, and we could see them pop up up on the screen in front of us.

The purpose was to distinguish the difference between 'brand' and 'branding'. He gave us the definition that a brand is 'the sum total of everyone's perceptions about what a service is or does' that it is 'in the eye of the beholder' and quoted Jeff Bezos 'your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room'.

Once we'd establish what a brand is, Ned shared his advice on how to influence it (in 5 ways!).
  1. Get online - he recommended Twitter as a good starting point for those who are not already online
  2. Publish something - try something like In the Library with the Lead Pipe or check out the Library Writer's blog for writing opportunities
  3. Organise something - join a committee & help out with events, or if the kind of events you like aren't happening in your area, organise one yourself (eek!)
  4. Share something - some of the most popular blogs seem to be the ones that share advice & resources that can be helpful to others in the information profession
  5. Present something - apparently after the first time it becomes less scary (hmm)

He pointed out that it is not realistic to promote yourself as a 'super librarian' 24/7, or to worry too much about what other people are doing, it's not a competition. You only really need to compete with those that are pursuing exactly the same career path as you, and as there are so many different ones to choose from, the chances of you having exactly the same as anyone else are relatively slim.

I think the most important point I took from his talk was to 'focus your brand on what your goals are', that basically your brand needs to be relevant to your chosen profession. And that ultimately 'the brand is not the end goal it is just a by-product of pursuing your own issues and passions'.

Ned ended his talk with the following messages;
"Just do something, anything! If you have an idea, try and make it happen"

You can see the full Prezi for Ned's talk here, and better write ups than mine are available from Annie Johnson, Siobhan B, The Neon Librarian and Lady Pen (Penelope Dunn).

Monday, 14 May 2012

Thing 2 - investigate other blogs

I'm always on the look out for blogs by other people working in special libraries, and particularly museum libraries, so the first thing I did was have a scan through to see if I could find any. As usual there weren't that many, but perhaps as the course goes on more will feel inclined to take part.

As I'm organising a CPD23 meet up in Cardiff I also went through looking for any participants in my area. I've already started to put together a list using Delicious to find any tagged with Wales, which will hopefully grow as people start setting up their blogs.

However the best ways I've found to keep up to date with who is taking part in CPD23 is to subscribe to the CPD23 single feed on their website, and to save the #cpd23 hashtag as a column in TweetDeck on my phone.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Cardiff CPD23 meet-up

With the CPD23 course running again this summer, CLIC has decided to organise an informal meet-up for anyone starting the course or thinking about taking part, based in the south Wales area (or close by). Although CPD meet-ups are often organised as part of Thing 7 (see the Cardiff #yurtup), we thought it might be nice for people to get to know each other prior to then.

Barocco in Wharton Street, Cardiff
 It will take place in the upstairs section of Barocco in Cardiff city centre from 6pm-9pm on Wednesday 16th May. A number of CLIC members who took part in the course last year will be on hand to talk about their experiences and offer tips and advice on any aspects of the course. You can check out a presentation made by Karen Pierce on her CPD23 experiences at a recent CLIC event. Parking is available not too far from the bar (click the link to see a map of nearby car parks), and Barocco does really nice food!

You can pop in at any time, it's an informal event, more a chance to have a chat than anything else, and if you need any more information you can contact me via this blog or my Twitter account @KrisWJ

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

CPD23 2012

The 23 Things for Professional Development course is running again, and even though I took part in it last year I decided to sign up for it a second time. A lot of the 'things' introduced to us during the course were very new to me and that, combined with the fast pace we worked through them, meant I often had to resort to just skimming the surface rather than looking at them in any depth. My mantra started to become "I'll go back and look at it in more detail when I have time".

Since then I have not had a chance to do any of that further investigation that I promised myself, and I wondered if it was because the motivation had lessened. So, my plan is to do the CPD course again, but this time cover more of the aspects that I didn't have a chance to do first time. For example, last year when we did 'Thing 4' I was new to Twitter, so I primarily focused on setting up an account, finding people to follow, and sending my first Tweets. This time around, now that I use Twitter on a regular basis, I'll look more at organising Twitter feeds and creating lists, so that the volume of information I get in my timeline feels a little less overwhelming (something I have been meaning to get around to doing for a while now anyway!).

Hopefully by the end of the course I will have explored the tools introduced last time to the extent that I have a greater understanding of them.