Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Thing 11: mentoring

I don't have a formal mentor, and I don't really have an informal one either. I do seek a lot of advice from my line manager, which is possibly a little too close to home to be a truly effective mentor relationship, but I certainly respect her and really appreciate her support at this early point of my career. She's great at helping me make sense of random ideas and generally helping me with stuff I don't have experience in. I think she appreciates my enthusiasm for things, so it works well. As I've mentioned, I'd like to start the chartership process after I graduate, and I know there's formal mentoring within that. I've looked at the list in the past and there was one locally, but we'll see what happens nearer the time.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Thing 10: routes into librarianship, or how I was always going to be a librarian

Considering this thing has made me realise that I've been working in libraries now for over ten years, which makes me feel pretty old! For six of those years it was a part-time job, for one it was temporary, but it's only really the last three that I could call a career choice. I actually intended not to work in libraries!

So how did I get here? When I was young both my parents worked in public libraries, my dad as a children's librarian and my mum as a library assistant, which is how they met, fell in love and had me. (I won a fancy dress competition dressed as a book, courtesy of my dad, when I was very small, and no, I don't have a photo to hand!) When I turned 16 I looked for an indoor part-time job after doing a paper round for a year, and started as a peak-relief assistant in my local branch library where my mum was working. I was a big library user as a child and teenager, also volunteering in my school library, and liked the idea of seeing behind the scenes, I think. I started working in different branches as well and worked evenings, weekends and holidays throughout sixth form, virtually full-time for half of my gap year, and during all my university holidays, sometimes in three different branches in one day depending on what hours were available! All for the money really.

I think I did always love it, and I got to do a lot of different stuff, but when I was thinking about what to do with my BA in English I just wanted to do something different from my parents, to make my own way in the world a bit. I was keen on the idea of publishing, and did a short course and got a few weeks' work experience, but nothing came of any of the graduate traineeships or jobs I applied for. My dad spotted my current job in an academic library, which was maternity cover at the time, in the local paper and suggested I apply. I was incredibly lucky to get it, and it wasn't long before I knew that I really did love working in libraries and was desperate to stay. I'd always liked helping people find the information they needed, which I get to do more of now, and generally trying to make sense of the world we're living in.

I got to stay, on the condition that I did my MA part-time, which I'm just coming to the end of. I'll write another post about that when I've finished though. I was a little worried when I started that I wouldn't have as much experience as people who had done a graduate traineeship, or at least not the same experiences, but that turned out to be ok as everyone could share what they knew and bring different ideas to the table. I plan to stay put for a bit now, partly because otherwise I have to pay back the money my employer put towards my course fees, but mainly because I think there's still more to learn and lots more I can do in my current position, and I'm really happy doing what I'm doing. I do want to charter though as I think it looks like a good challenge, and possibly do the PTLLS course (but no more degrees!)

It wasn't mentioned in the cpd23 post for thing 10, but if you haven't come across it before the Library Routes wiki is a great collection of blog posts on how people came to be in libraries - their roots and routes.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Thing 9: Evernote

I haven't used Evernote before and have been having a play. I do like the idea of storing images with the notes - the look of a webpage might stick in my mind more than just a title or some text by itself, so it's good to have both. Plus the web can be so changeable, so it's a nice idea to have something saved permanently (assuming the permanence of Evernote itself, that is, which I suppose could disappear any day). I've played around with Diigo in the past, but I didn't actually end up using it much, even though I like the idea of it. One to revisit perhaps, and compare with Evernote. I've also recently started using Read it Later to save articles I want to come back to at a later date (funnily enough), which I quite like too.

I also like the way you can group notes together to keep multiple sources together according to a theme or event. The sync worked perfectly between the desktop version, web version, and the iphone app which I downloaded, and the web clipper extension for Firefox did what it was supposed to on my test notes. All pretty easy. I'll be playing around with this more I think to see how it could work for me. It appeals to my desire to organise stuff and remind myself of things to do (again to aid the worsening memory).

Monday, 1 August 2011

Thing 8: Google Calendar

I use my Outlook calendar to organise myself at work and, combined with the tasks feature, I wouldn't be very organised without it. I've used it since I started working here and definitely wouldn't go back to a paper one. It's brilliant for a visual representation of what each day holds, and I use colour coding for different types of things, so I can easily see when I have meetings, or am on the enquiry desk, or am at a different site, or whatever it is. I have it side by side with a shared calendar where we book in sessions or inductions in the teaching area, so all members of staff can see who needs it when and what's going on. We have a third shared calendar showing when staff are off which is really useful too.

So far, Google Calendar seems to do much of the same stuff, with options for reminders and adding descriptions, and much more no doubt that I could spend many hours fiddling with (you can't put a price on good organisation!) I can't see myself using it as my main work calendar though, because I'd just be duplicating everything from Outlook which I need to use to able to respond to invites etc.

I still use a little paper diary for personal stuff, totally contradicting everything I've just said! I might put something personal on my work calendar if I need to remind myself to go to the dentist after work or something, but generally I use them independently. I can see Google Calendar being useful as a mainly personal calendar potentially, particularly if I can use it on my phone which I haven't investigated yet. I find the iphone calendar a bit clunky which is why I've still stuck to paper, but I desperately need reminding of things because I have an appalling memory. If I forget to look in my diary, which is quite likely, I'm screwed! Switching to something like Google Calendar would mean not buying a pretty new diary annually in Paperchase though, which would be sad.

This year's Paperchase diary of choice

I can't see myself sharing my calendar with friends generally, but I can see the use of it for particular periods of time, like a trip involving several people, as suggested by Growth of a Librarian. I do like the idea of using it for library events. My library possibly doesn't have enough to warrant it, but it's a nice idea. Linking it to an LMS sounds complicated, and we've only just started using email for overdue books. I think as all our members are required to check their college email anyway that will probably do for now. I think it's definitely something I will play around with more though to explore all its potential.