Monday, 28 November 2011

CPD23 Thing 23: all things considered

In terms of what I would like to do our organisation does encourage personal development plans and we review these twice a year.  As I mentioned in my Thing 10 post I am interested in taking the CMI management course that some of my colleagues have completed.  One of my own personal development targets is to try and become more involved with the profession outside of my organisation. This builds on the themes of personal branding from Thing 3 so I will try and make my presence visible in larger circles.

I have found the CPD 23 Things a valuable training experience. Not only does its set up allow complete flexibility in the way you complete each segment, the topics cover a range of subjects and tools on very up-to-date issues. I spoke in my Thing 19 post about the most significant things I'll take from CPD23 and these still hold. Keeping up with other blogs

I have very much enjoyed this experience I look forward to the next 23 Things!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

CPD23 Thing 22: volunteering

I undertook some voluntary work during 6th Form before I went off to study my undergraduate degree. I had already had some experience as I chose to work in the County Library for my 2 week work experience placement in Year 10. Both  experiences helped confirm to me that libraries were where I wanted to work. As a volunteer I worked in my local public library on Wednesday afternoons for a little under a year. I began by manning the Summer Reading Challenge desk, giving children their stickers when they had reviewed their next book.  Not very challenging in terms of my work, but very rewarding seeing the enthusiasm in the children. After that I was posted on the issue desk and shelving. Already an enthusiastic library user I didn't learn much from shelving but my turns in the issue desk gave me an insight into Library Management Systems and customer service. If you have the time and can afford to take on voluntary work I think it's a great way to gain experience and fill gaps in your skill set.

CPD23 Thing 21: promoting yourself in job applications

I found Maria Giovanna De Simone's Thing 21 post really useful and have taken several things away from it. I tailor each CV to the job I'm applying for, finding evidence for the requirements they advertise. I do each one from scratch, however. This means I often lose sight of my bigger skills set. I am now going to do what Maria suggests and indentify all my strengths, interests and skills, matching them up with my training and achievements in a separate document. I can then draw from this when fulfilling a job/person specification.

I'm also taking on board Maria's advice about how to demostrate your compatabiluty with the job description and person specification within my CV: "The requirements listed under job description must be address in the work experience section ... The person specification requiements must be addressed in the space reserved for additional information [either in] ... the paragraph that more or less says "tell us why you are applying, plus something you haven't told us elsewhere" [or] ... in the cover letter."  Whilst I do have separate sections for work experience and personal profile I often mix and match job and person requirements within them making them difficult for an employer to easily identify.

Finally, I found the CAR acronym a really good idea for answering interview questions - Context, Action, Results - and will be looking at her suggested Further Reading (Jobseeker tips; Open cover letters; and What's the key to a good interview) for tips.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

CPD23 Thing 20: Library Routes

I already blogged about my journey into librarianship in Thing 10 and I've now linked to this in The Library Routes project for all to see. It is interesting to me the number of people who chose librarianship as their Masters following their first degree. I wonder if this says something about the way the profession is promoted - why didn't more people consider it as a first degree option? I know that sadly, due to the lack of undergraduates in the subject, several courses, including my own BA (Hons) Library & Information Studies at Brighton University has had to be closed down.

CPD23 Thing 19: catch up

During my Chartership application my mindset was reflection, reflection, reflection. However, as soon as I handed in my portfolio I stopped. Writing my own blog has really helped me get back into the habit. So, instead os simply describing things I am now beginning to think 'so what?' and 'now what?'. The most significant thing I have taken from CPD23 is reading the blogs of other professionals. I check my updates from these (and the CILIP LinkedIn group) everyday and find it a really useful way of finding out the current issues and discussions within the profession. The number of blogs I follow has grown from 4 to 14! Reading and commenting on these has opened up a new community to me and keeping up with these, as well as my own, is definitely something I'll continue.

I've done a little to help develop my online presence by setting up a LinkedIn profile. This, and my blog, now mean that I turn up on the first page of results following a Google search of my name - woohoo! This will improve the more active I am - something I plan to work on.

Although I'm not using them as part of my regular work I do like the functionality of the following tools that CPD23 has introduced and will keep them in the back of my mind: Evernote; Google Docs; Wikis; Prezi; and Slideshare.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

CPD23 Things 17 & 18: presenting information

I like Prezi. It looks fantastic and is a great up-to-date alternative to PowerPoint. We have a lot of PowerPoints on our shared workspace that we use to help deliver inductions. They are looking tired and, because we have a policy not to use animation within them, they aren't very engaging. Even if we couldn't harness Prezi's full ability I think it could help refresh our content and help keep students interested. (However, the cynic in me does wonder how long it will be before we get the Prezi overkill!) I have found Slideshare quite useful in being able to access PowerPoint slides that were used during an event - being able to deposit them all in one place is a much easier solution than emailing them round to everyone.

After being promoted by our E-learning team we have used Jing a lot to create screen capture guides for both students and staff.  Examples include guides on how to search our Online Catalogue and ebooks for students and demos on how to use and create material in Moodle (our VLE) for staff.  We have also created a suite of podcasts that discuss judging the quality of websites, better internet searching, what is plagiarism and an introduction to library terminology for students where English is a second language. They are a great way of presenting information in an audio of visual format for learners.

Monday, 21 November 2011

CPD23 Things 15 & 16: getting involved

I cannot claim to have any experience of organising events or presenting at them.  My role now is very practical-based so I'm even struggling to come up with a topic that I could speak on. I have, however, attended a variety of different events.  These include:

Roadshows and showcases: British Library Document Supply Service Roadshow promoting their new service development and ordering interface; Heritage Open Day promoting new developments and features in the Library Management System; RSC London eLearning Schowcase promoting the innovative work of organisations in the field of e-learning; London Dawsons Day.

Meetings: Heritage User Group meeting; CoFHE LASEC (Colleges of Further & Higher Education London And South East Circle) meetings; Kingston University Partnerships Day.

Training events: Copyright for beginners run by CILIP; Teaching information literacy in HE run by CILIP; Upskilling frontline staff run by NIACE; Dealing with distressed/angry people run by Kingston University.

I would like to have attended CILIPs' eBooks Executive Briefing.  There are a couple of speakers from Colleges and would have been interesting to hear how they have been promoting and using e-books. Unfortunately, we do not have the budget for someone to attend. Therefore, I am relying on a write-up or materials being available after the event. I think that in a time where many people are finding that they can no longer afford to send staff to events it is vital that materials are made available online afterwards so that those unable to attend can at least have access on some level to the discussions that took place or services that were showcased.

On a local level every day at work involves some form of advocacy, whether it's interacting with students and promoting the benefits of using the resources available to them, or whether it's compiling promotional material or reports to show the rest of the College the importance of the LRC and our impact on the College's success. It's also interesting to see that the International Baccalaureate programs advocate information skills and the presence of libraries in educational establishments.  It is vitally important that the important role of information professionals is out there but out there in a way that makes us relevant to the people we're advocating to! When we deliver a induction to students on using LRC eResources, before we give any demos, we cover "What's in it for me?".  Services and professionals need to directly show how and why their impact is relevant.

Having said that I have to admit that I have done nothing towards advocating librarianship as a profession other than explaining the importance of my role and the service I work in - I tend to speak from my 'Librarian Corner' instead of coming out and yelling in the centre of the room!

CPD23 Things 13 & 14: sharing and referencing

Google Docs is an excellent tool. Whilst some institutions may have software on their internal network that does the same job, Google Docs makes this feature possible across locations. Dropbox appears to offer the same functionality as Google Docs - which one you use, I suppose, is down to personal preference. Why do different providers feel we need duplicates?! (Reading back this appears to be an ongoing niggle of mine!)

Wikis, I also believe, are great online collaboration tools. Prior to Wikis I believe the only tool available with similar functionality would have been discussion boards - not always an appropriate format. We used a Wiki at work to host our thoughts on a particular centre development. It proved really useful in allowing us to intersperse our own comments in with those already posted.

I am a self-confessed long-hand referencer!  Personally I could never convert to an online reference management system. At work, part of our study skills induction offering includes teaching students about plagiarism and how to do Harvard referencing.  Many of the students who we deliver this session to are on courses affiliated with a university.  The universities use Harvard, specifically following the guidelines in Pears and Shields' Cite them right. Therefore we discourage the use of either built-in or online systems so that students can ensure they are handing in work referenced exactly how the markers wish to see it.

Friday, 18 November 2011

CPD23 Thing 12: putting the social into social media

I can see huge benefits of using social media in terms of opening up an ocean (never mind avenue!) of potential contacts, advisors, broadcasters and friends.  However, I do think that a whole-approach view needs to be taken.  For example, my professional networks currently include the following:
LISLink JISC mailing list; CoFHE JISC mailing list; LinkedIn groups; blog contacts

Often individuals posting a LISLink post will post a duplicate on CoFHE with the statement "apologies for cross-posting".  This is because a large number of users are on both.  I know that there are far more professional networks out there for librarians - how many people are on several / how many people are on some but not others?  How many times are you unknowingly reaching out to the same individuals because they happen to be in both networks?    I think that the number of profession-specific networks needs to be carefully managed so that we can still have the potential to reach a wide-range of professionals whilst not having to sign up to 20 different networks in order to do so!

Susie Dunn commented on Thing 12 raising concerns about whether online communities can create the same kind of relationships as face-to-face interactions.  I share her point and also feel that online communities can only really have any chance of forging relationships if its users regularly interact.
Personally, I have found that setting up my blog as part of CPD321 has enabled me to expand my knowledge and reading by following other blogs and therefore given me an insight into varying professions.

A rush to the finish

Although I have completed the full 23 Things I have been very lax in keeping my blog entries about them up to date (hanging my head in shame).  I really do feel that CDP23 has been a valuable development experience.  Therefore, I would like to be able to get my certificate to show the work that I have done.  So I apologise in advance but soon following will be a rush of posts discussing Things 12 - 23 so that I can hold my head high and say I have completed CPD23: 23 Things for Professional Development!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

How does my role impact teaching and learning?

In preparation for a staff meeting this week we have been asked to think about what we would like to measure in the LRC this year, preferably that impacts teaching and learning, and what qualitative feedback would we like to obtain from our work with students.  That got me thinking about how my role in resources and content impacts teaching and learning in the College - what impact does my work have and how can I measure it?

To help answer this I outlined what my role entails, what we currently measure and anything new that I could record:

1. Responding to stock requests, placing orders and looking after existing stock: stock requests often come through teaching staff so I would like to look at usage stats for ordered items - how much are they being used?  I would also like to know from students what type of resources they would prefer to support their individual learning styles.

2. Several institutions attempt to measure usage through browsing - they encourage students to leave items on desks, or return them to a designated trolley, rather then returning them to the shelves.  Staff then record each time they are used. Figures from these could be amalgamated with our issue and renewal stats to show a fuller picture of resource use.

3. Managing our online presence in our VLE (Moodle): I already track visitor stats to our different pages but it would be interesting to hear a student's perspective - what do they think of it?

4. Monitoring usage statistics for our e-resources: I already record usage statistics from our e-resources.  A frequent response in our annual student questionnaire is that they don't know about their LRC eResources.  This suggests that either we aren't promoting them enough or we're not promoting them in the right way.  As part of our student focus groups I would like students to think about how they would like their resources marketed to them.  What can we do to remind them often of specific and relevant resources and what formats should we use to make most impact?

5. Promoting resources through physical display and online advertising: we already record usage of display items (items used in the online advertising are more often than not the items that are also used in the physical display).  Usage for a lot of displays is appallingly low, however (see my previous post discussing displays).  The most successful has been our display of revision guides.  This suggests that either we're not displaying material that students want to borrow, or they don't feel that they can lift them off the display stand.  We've also tried to promote resources to help teaching to tutors when there have been national events, such as Anti-Bullying Week for example.  However, they are just as reluctant to come and borrow related items.

6. Housekeeping for our LMS (Heritage): I already record statistics for issues, renewals and returns and can pull numerous reports from Heritage.

7. Delivering inductions: we record the number of inductions delivered and the students who receive them.  A colleague is looking into how we can measure their impact by relating their results against whether they received an induction or not.

A lot of our work involves making assumptions on how we think students and staff want to use and hear about resources and services.  One thing is clear - we need to make sure we maintain ongoing communication with our users (students and staff) to discover what they want and how they want it.  We then need to see if they're using what they want and, if not, find out why!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

British Library Document Supply - new and improved

The length of time that has passed since my last post is only indicative of how busy it has been since the beginning of term!  I am really behind in my cpd23 exercises - my time has been taken up with desk sessions, inductions, Moodle and a lot of display work.  I am afraid to admit that I haven't even opened my blog since my last post.  I will need to come back to cdp23 in time, but I was prompted to return following a visit to the British Library last Friday.

On Friday afternoon I attended a roadshow given by the British Library Document Supply Service (BLDSS).  They have just completed a £6m 2 year project to upgrade their Document Supply interface and service (partly funded by HEFC).  The presentation was given by Barry Smith (Head of Commercial Services) who introduced the developments and Anthony Troman (Project Manager) who, despite technical difficulties not allowing him to show us the end product 'live', demonstrated the interface.  The main benefits of the new service are:
  • Quicker and higher quality copies: delivery time will be reduced from 5 days to 4 (although most are already turned around in 48 hours).  All documents will be sent in colour as standard.  Also on offer are 'Get it for me' and 'Find it for me' whereby the DSS will track down a copy if not available through them - this is offered at an additional charge.
  • Better searching: one search box which will search on any bibliographic data. Improved keyword searching at article level with more articles being included.
  • Better communication: the ability to track orders 'Amazon style', and accept or decline orders if the interface is made available to users for them to place orders.  Dispatch/delivery dates and costs are provided at ordering stage.  Problems and cancellations can be reported via the site rather than ringing customer services.  The 150 ARTemail codes have been reduced down to 23 and you can opt to receive plain Enlish emails instead.
  • Four-stage order process: confirmation of item selected; delivery details; review order; shopping basket of ordered items.  Items are given a unique British Library reference number to use with correspondence (you can also add your own reference number).
  • Statistics: can provide stats through their reporting facility.
  • Enhanced administration features: a separate desktop icon for administrators that allows you to control accounts, delivery details and contact information.
Despite the updated functionality they did admit that there are still issues with the Document Supply service as a whole.  Due to a number of reasons their fulfilment rate had fallen in past months but is now back on a rise from 65% to 71%.  Electronic delivery still causes problems for some users who are unable to install the required software onto their networks.  Due to copyright agreements, unencrypted delivery is only available to universities and pharamceutical organisations.  Whilst the new interface will be an improvement to most it does require Flash (and therefore Internext Explorer 7 or later) which will cause problems for some users - this was raised during the roadshow and the response was that it is being looked into.  Another question raised was whether the BLDSS are looking into supplying e-books - the response to this was that a suitable platform hadn't been found considering the type of material that the British Library tends to supply.

Migration has begun with 2 customers already on the new interface at the time of the Friday roadshow.  Customers are being migrated in batches and all customers should have been migrated by February 2012.  (Existing orders will not be shown on the new interface so there may be a short transition period to complete any outstanding orders.)  Users should start to see the difference before they are migrated however, by November/December everyone should be receiving better quality colour copies quicker and plain English emails.  By December there will be full administration functionality and by January/February the full ability to search and order.  Throughout the process all customers will receive full communication from the BLDSS as well as the opportunity for both institutional and online demonstrations.

Barry finished the presentation by outlining the next developments they want to look at:
  • Integrate Document Supply with other services, such as journal databases, via a popup.
  • Manage Digital Rights Management online so that customers of electronic delivery do not have to visit the library to sign the copyright declaration form.
  • Improve electronic delivery whereby a software installation is not required.
  • Increase the number of digital copies from suppliers to improve the quality of copies supplied.
  • Providing Document Supply to mobile technologies - the current issue remains that iPads, for example, do not disaply PDF documents.
Overall I was impressed.  The new interface looks much more up-to-date with functionality, such as the order tracking, that is commonplace now in many other ordering systems.  A lot of the processes have also been simplified, such as the ARTemails.  Lack of communication had always been my main frustration with the current system so I am pleased to see the thought that has gone into the information that will be provided for each order and the ability to look back at open and past orders.