CPD23 Thing 23 (!): Time for reflection

Child looking out to see on Cornish beach

Looking to the year ahead

CPD23 Thing 23 post

I can’t believe I’ve finished CPD23! Well beyond the deadline, and not quite by my self-imposed end-of-year deadline either, but I made it anyway. I’m not always great at seeing things through, so I’m proud to have got this far. What am I going to blog about now?!

I’ve written a PDP for Chartership, so I’ve drawn on that as well as CPD23 for this exercise.

What have I learned?

CPD23 has been hugely helpful. I’ve said it before, but in a shrinking department with limited budget there aren’t many opportunities for career development or discussions. The programme has introduced me to a new network of career-minded info pros, as well as tools and techniques I wouldn’t have come across otherwise.

Gaps in my knowledge

  • Digital skills (I have the basics but don’t always know the best way to harness them, or the best tools for the job).
  • Promoting the department (internally and externally – must do more).
  • Getting involved in the profession more fully (through face-to-face groups and events, and online).


My main goal for this year is to charter. I’m in the process of compiling my portfolio, so there’s a lot of work ahead but I’m hopeful!

Beyond that, I want to get involved in the profession and address some of the other gaps identified above. 2012 is going to be a year for career development!

CPD23 Thing 22: Volunteering

Jo’s Thing 22 post: Volunteering to get experience

I’ve never taken on a volunteering post in the library sector – I worked full time until my children were born, and now my days off are full of child-related things. I like the idea of volunteering at a public library or archive, but I don’t think the toddlers would be welcome! To say nothing of the ethical arguments.

The moral question of volunteers in libraries is one I find hard to pin down. On the one hand, I don’t want to see volunteers replacing trained librarians as a cost-cutting exercise. I think a library run solely by volunteers would spell disaster. I wouldn’t take a volunteer role if library posts had been scrapped there.

But I do think we need to be realistic about the current lack of funding for libraries. I would much rather a library continued to provide a service for a local community, staffed by volunteers, than be closed entirely. And it seems daft to ignore the experience and knowledge some volunteers could bring to a library.

I have friends who have gained experience in their chosen field between jobs, and their CVs are much the richer for it. I would certainly consider volunteering to bridge a gap, should the situation arise. I’ve volunteered as a reading assistant in the past, and found it incredibly rewarding.

When my children are older I’ll look into volunteering on weekends or in the evenings (when they have much more interesting things to do than hang out with me!). For now I’m going to see if I can get some experience with the archive team at work, and volunteer that way.

CPD23 Thing 21: Promoting yourself in applications and interviews

Maria’s Thing 21 post

I’ve been fortunate to have been in my current position for nearly a decade (I know some people would hate that but I appreciate the security!). The upside is I’ve not had to go through job interviews (which have now become the most terrifying thing ever in my mind). The downside is that I’ve never been forced to update my CV, and it’s more than a little out of date.

I need to improve it for my Chartership portfolio, but I’ve been putting it off because I don’t know where to start! Maria’s questions proved really helpful.

What do you like to do?

Watch television, go to the cinema, take photographs, read books, write, blog, tweet, use digital archives, make crafty things, research family history, spend time with my kids (this list is obviously in no particular order!).

What do you dislike?

Working with people who don’t give 100%, or who don’t have any passion or particular interest in what they do. Using technology or social media for the sake of it, rather than with a purpose. String cheese.

Do you remember the last time you felt that feeling of deep satisfaction after creating, building, completing something? What was it about?

Entirely non-work related, but it was the Christmas Curiosity project – which I’ve blogged about elsewhere, but basically involved compiling a box of festive goodies for a stranger. I included a few handmade items, and it was satisfying to create something from scratch that wasn’t too shabby. I don’t often get involved in something which is wholly me and me alone – from inception to completion, coming up with ideas (my pal Holly was invaluable for brainstorming) and executing them, and by the deadline too! As someone once said, I love it when a plan comes together.

What skills do you need to do the things you like?

Patience, creativity, being able to research, search, filter, write and edit, use technology, manage projects.


What surprised me about the exercise was the focus on the creative – whether it’s making Christmas decs or writing blogposts, it’s the side of things I enjoy most but that I don’t do enough of at work. I probably need to fit more creativity into my social life though, rather than try to convince my manager we need library-branded mug cosies and the like.

It’s interesting looking at the list that I found it really easy to identify things I like to do and relatively hard to find things I dislike, or at least that were vaguely work related! It’s not as important for writing my CV, but if I’m facing interviews in future I should probably revisit the questions to help prepare.

As Maria suggests, I’ve built a spreadsheet (ah how I love spreadsheets) of activities that demonstrate these skills, and I’m going to use that as the basis of my all-new CV.

CPD23 Thing 20: Library roots/routes (everything will be all right)

Laura’s Thing 20 post

Library Routes

I’ve already written about my path into librarianship, and my route through it, for Thing 10, so I’ve added myself to the Library Routes wiki.

Reading through the other recent posts (I resisted the urge to just look at people I know!), what strikes me is the passion everyone has for their role.

Whether they came to it by design or by accident (I definitely fit into the accidental category), and regardless of the field they work in, each and every one of the Library Routes librarians is passionate about what they do.

I’m sure there are librarians out there who aren’t inspired, who hate the nine to five, but if the Library Routes wiki is representative of even a small section of the industry I think we’ll be okay.

CPD23 Thing 19: Bit of a breather

Workman takes a break

Source: National Library of Ireland (NLI Ref.: P_WP_2946)

Jo’s Thing 19 post

I’ve been ploughing through CPD23, and the end is in sight, so it’s nice to have a break to reflect, sit down with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit and really think about what I’ve learned and how I can use it.

Things I’ve integrated already

Networks – I’m not as involved as I’d like to be but I’ve been going to more events since Thing 7 (face-to-face networks) and trying to be more involved online (Thing 6).

Google Docs, Google Calendar – I already use these at work but it was useful to consider their wider application; I’ll be using them when I get further on with Chartership.

Wikis, screen capture – I’ve been playing around with the software and once I’ve discussed it with colleagues I’ll hopefully incorporate them into the way we work.

Getting involved in events – I gave my first talk in, like, forever a few weeks ago, and while my technique definitely needs work I’m pleased to have done it.

Things I need to work on

Reflective practice – This is my main area to work on, it’s vital for Chartership but also just good practice generally. If I don’t reflect and apply what I’ve learned how will I ever progress? (That sounds a bit sinister but you know what I mean.)

Reading, reading, reading – I have the modern affliction of relying too heavily on Twitter for my professional knowledge, and applying a Twitter-like attention span to anything new. I signed up to Google Reader fully intending to check it every morning and read every new post. And then I forgot about it. As it happens Google Reader may not have been the best choice of RSS software, but I am determined to incorporate more reading time into my day (and I don’t just mean the Mail Online gossip feed – I know, I know! I hate myself but it’s horribly addictive).

Looking back over the course so far, the Things that really stand out aren’t the nifty bits of software and sites I didn’t know existed, but the ones that made me examine why I got into librarianship and where my path could go from here.

It’s reminded me why I’m passionate about my profession, and given me a new drive that was lost somewhere beneath piles of dirty nappies and the daily grind (not literally, that would be gross). So thank you CPD23ers!

CPD23 Thing 18: Jing, screen capture and podcasts

Maria’s Thing 18 post


I love the idea of Jing, and other screen capture software – being able to record a How to… would be of huge benefit to bossy old me (and any of my colleagues who have had to refer to a seemingly endless list of bullet points I’ve written).

Directing colleagues and users to a short video would save me from running through the same processes time and again, and would be a really useful tool for marketing the department (back to advocacy!). It certainly has potential.

The unable-to-download monster has reared its head again, but yay! there’s a non-downloadable option too (thanks Maria).


I had a quick go of recording a How to… – how to upload the From the archive column to the website. I made a bit of a schoolboy error – the recording box wasn’t big enough so every menu selection happened off screen. I didn’t record sound either, although I don’t think I’d use sound anyway (far too camera shy!).

The recording process is fairly intuitive though, and I’d definitely consider using it for all our how to… type material, once I’ve practiced a bit more.


I’m not ready to record my own (and I’m not sure our users would be ready to listen to me either!) but I’m going to have a listen to the arcadia@cambridge podcasts, and ask around (okay, ask Twitter) if there are other good library podcasts out there. Anyone know any?

CPD23 Thing 17: The medium is the message (Prezi & Slideshare)

Ange’s Thing 17 post

I should say right off that my experience of using slides is very new (as in, I created my first PowerPoint slide this afternoon for a presentation tomorrow – I’ll let you know how it goes in the comments!). Reading Ange’s suggestions, and browsing SlideShare, (hopefully!) helped me to avoid some of the pitfalls of using slides.

Being new to presenting, I’m not sure I’m ready to use advanced software like Prezi. I can see the advantages (and I’m sure the audience would find my talk much more interesting) but I find it hard enough just getting my points in the right order, without playing around with the screen as well.

I will be taking a fuller look at Prezi once I’ve delivered my talk though – as a tool for sharing a presentation online it looks like it’s streets ahead of my boring PowerPoint slides. If I manage to revamp those I’ll post a link.

CPD23 Thing 16: Getting your voice heard

Thing 16 post: Advocacy, speaking up for the profession and getting published

Advocacy is so important in the current economic climate, when public libraries are facing closure or severe cuts and other libraries are under threat too. Support roles are often the first to go when a company is looking to make cuts; we’re a prime example, having dropped from six, to three and a half, and now three full time research positions over the past couple of years.

Johanna Bo Anderson’s blogpost Activism, Advocacy and Professional Identity was really interesting. I agree that advocacy and activism are closely linked but separate; that advocating for libraries is something that should be done continually, regardless of your sector – advertising your service, attracting new users, making sure existing users are happy with the service you provide. As Johanna says:

Advocacy is gentle coaxing and stroking (please do not take that literally, I do not want anyone to get arrested!) whereas activism is “vigorous”, sometimes loud, and sometimes controversial. If you are talking about activism now is not the time for coaxing and stroking. It is time for rolling your sleeves up, getting stuck in and taking action.

We don’t engage in anything we would label advocacy at work, but we do try to promote our services as much as possible. We’re revamping the intranet at the moment so launching that will be one way to bring new users in. Marketing the library is one of the goals of my chartership, so I’ll be looking at our strategy more closely in the coming months.

I went to my first advocacy event last week, at the British Library – three of the shortlisted Booker authors talking to book groups and showing their support for libraries. I tried to write it up for the Books blog but no joy! I wrote it up for this blog but I don’t suppose that counts as being published.

It was great to hear what they had to say, and soundbites help keep the story of library cuts in the press, but words can only go so far. What I’ve found more inspiring this week are the reports from the Library Campaign Conference (tweeted by @tomroper and others) about direct action against closures (like the vigil at Kensal Rise). That’s when the line between advocacy and activism blurs.

It made me question my own inaction (though my local library thankfully isn’t under threat). First step – check out Voices for the Library and see how I can get involved. I think I need to become more of an advocate and an activist.

CPD23 Thing 15: Getting involved in events

Katie’s Thing 15 post


This is the part of professional eventing (that sounds a bit horsey!) that I am particularly good at; in fact my only involvement in events so far! Conferences and other similar events are a great way to find out what’s new in your sector, and to expose yourself to lots of different things at once (as opposed to, say, a training day, which is much more focused).

I’ve struggled in the past with getting funding from my employers to attend conferences (the only AUKML conference I was able to attend was the one in London, when I didn’t need to stay over). In the current financial climate that’s understandable (although perversely it’s a little easier to get funding now that there are fewer staff members). But you can pick up all sorts of new info even if you’re just attending the free exhibition side of things (for example at Online, which hosts some very good free seminars).

Every time I attend an event I gain a little more confidence in talking to people I’ve not met before. Part of it is having more confidence in myself, and part of it is recognising people from Twitter!

Whereas a few years ago I would have loitered by the tea and biscuits or hung out with my colleagues at a conference, now I’ll approach exhibitors and start conversations at snack time. In the past year I’ve even, shock horror, attended a couple of things (like the CILIP Umbrella conference and LIKE events) on my own. I know, I’m so brave!


I’m hoping this new-found confidence is going to help me get over my next big hurdle: speaking at an event. I’ve always hated public speaking, I avoided most presentations at uni and the thought of addressing a room full of knowledgeable delegates at a conference fills me with dread. So I’m going to start slowly, by talking about my working day at a Graduate Open Day for trainee info pros later in the month.

I attended the open day when I was a trainee many moons ago, and I’m hoping they’ll be nice! I just pray nobody livetweets my nervous pen clicking and fierce blushing.


In a strange way, helping to organise an event seems less terrifying to me than speaking at one! With two small kids and Chartership underway, now is not the time to add events organiser to my CV, but certainly I’d consider getting involved in future.

CPD23 Thing 14: Zotero, Mendeley and citeulike

Isla’s Thing 14 post

As usual I’m hampered by my inability to download software at work (the problem of working for a big company that thinks it can meet all your IT needs, without asking you what they are, grumble grumble*). So I’m skipping Zotero and Mendeley, and focusing on citeulike.

It’s hard to try the site out thoroughly because there isn’t an obvious application at work, but it was quick to get started and seems easy to use. It could also come in handy as a new resource for finding articles, as well as recording ones I’ve found elsewhere.


At the moment, I don’t need a citation tool, but I’m really impressed with the ones on offer so if I need one in future (Chartership portfolio?) I’ll definitely take a closer look. Like Isla, I really wish they’d been around when I was at uni!

*I’m being unfair, but it is frustrating when you don’t have control over the tools you use!