Thursday, 30 December 2010

What I've been reading in 2010

 I've been reading a lot of 2010 roundup posts recently. I thought I'd steer clear of the "what have I learnt in 2010?" type post as it would probably just come out sounding trite and clichéd. Instead, I'm doing a roundup of the most interesting things I've read this year. Hopefully this might also be useful to people applying for graduate trainee jobs for next year!

One thing that became very obvious is how I've got a lot better at bookmarking things as I've gone through the year!

Applying for graduate trainee jobs:

The Times, How do I Become...a Librarian? (From 2006)

Librarians Who LibraryThing, "I want to be a librarian because I love reading"

New York Times, A Hipper Crowd of Shushers (From 2007)

NPR, Will an Apple Tablet Heat Up E-Book War?

Marilyn Johnson, This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All (Harper, 2010)

Starting out at Newnham, applying for Masters:

The Wikiman, Essential Advice for New Professionals

Neon Librarian, CILIP New Professionals Information Day 2010 - Embracing the Future

Librarian By Day, So You Want to be a Librarian? A Guide for those Considering an MLS, Current Students and Job Seekers (A lot of links to good advice on The Degree, The Job Search, General Professional Advice and Skills.)

Girl in the Moon, Some Thoughts on the LIS MA

N Page, The Librarianship Qualification

Swiss Army Librarian, Notes on Reading Resumes

Tony Horne, Evening Chronicle column November 26 2010

and a rebuttal to Horne's column: Thoughts of a [wannabe] librarian... "Libraries are dead" says little known regional radio bloke

The Wikiman, Libraries & Stealth Advocising!

Lauren Pressley, So You Want to be a Librarian (Litwin Books, 2009) (Shamefully I still haven't finished reading this book!)

Coming towards the end of the year:

Neon Librarian, End of Term Round-Up!

Girl in the Moon, Brown Bag Lunch: Is the Physical Library Redundant in the 21st Century?

Musings about Librarianship, My Information Consumption Habits or How Having a Smartphone has Changed the Way I Work

The Wikiman, 10 Online Tools I've Found Useful in 2010

Monday, 20 December 2010

A flock/swarm/plethora/______* of libraries! (*Insert favourite collective noun here.)

In the past week  or so I've barely been in the office, being out and about touring around some very different kinds of libraries with the other trainees.

The Friday before last, we went to the Parker library at Corpus Christi College, followed by a visit to the Conservation Consortium which is based at Corpus. It's a shame that Corpus don't have a trainee this year, because it would be an pretty cool place to work! The Parker library houses the College's historic collections, while the shiny new Taylor library for undergraduates was just across the courtyard. One of the first things we were shown in the Parker library was their fireproof vault. (There's just something about a fireproof vault that's very cool, no?) Upstairs we saw the main part of the collection. There were a mixture of manuscripts and early printed books, everything from maps to bibles to cookbooks. Next up was the Conservation Consortium. We were shown various ways of binding and repairing books and manuscripts. Although I doubt I'll be specialising in rare books it was still very interesting to see!

I had a couple of days back at Newnham before our trip to Norwich. As most of us had never been to the city before, luckily we had Charlotte there to be our tour guide! First stop was Norwich Cathedral Library,  one of the largest theological libraries in East Anglia. The library has a modern theological collection of around 20,000 items, and a historic collection of around 8,000 items, as well as ephemera such as service sheets and parish newsletters. I was surprised the wide range of material available, as there were volumes on poetry, medicine and mythology (to name but a few of the subjects covered) in addition to the works on theology. And the other thing I have to mention is their Christmas decorations!

Knitted tree!

 After lunch we made our way to the Millennium Library. The Millennium Library is in a vast glass building called the Forum, which is also home to BBC East, a restaurant, a cafe and a shop. This building was opened 6 years after the original library building was destroyed in a fire in 1994. Catherine Wymer, the locality mangager, showed us around the library, which for the last 4 years has been the busiest public library in the UK for both the number of visitors and the number of issues. Although our visit was on a "quiet" day, the library was being well used! Catherine gave us an example timetable of the events that are held at the library, which ranged from sessions on researching family history, to a Yu-Gi-Oh duelling club! It was impressive to see activities and facilities to suit all ages. No knitting was in evidence at the library though...

The Forum

View from the top floor of the library.

And then, on Thursday we went across town to Addenbrookes, to see the Laboratory of Molecular Biology's library and the Medical Library at the Clinical School. The LMB library was quite different from most other libraries in that there were very few books, but a lot of journals and access to many online resources. We also saw their archives, which holds collections of photographs, video recordings, and newspaper clippings about the scientists who work at the lab, along with a real live Nobel prize medal! Over at the Medical Library Isla Kuhn gave us a quick tour then we sat down and had a cup of tea and a chat about library stuff. As all of us trainees are humanities and arts graduates it was nice to get a different perspective. (As well as music I did biology, maths and chemistry in sixth form, I wonder if I'd have ended up being a librarian if I went down the science route? I suspect I'd probably have got a better paying job! :P)

That's the last of the library visits until February sometime, so a fairly quiet few days left at Newnham until I'm on holiday. We had our Christmas lunch on Friday, vehr nice! (Didn't win anything on the raffle though, *sniff*!) This is probably my last post until after Christmas, so hope you all have a fantastic holiday :)

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Guest post on MusiCB3 blog

MusiCB3 is a blog about the music and libraries in Cambridge, co-written by librarians at the Pendlebury Library and the UL. This week I've written a guest post for them, suggest y'all check it out here!

Friday, 10 December 2010

If they'd let Lusty in, it would have been a VERY different cartoon.

Here's another dose of "fantastic names I've come across in the library".

Thomas Masterman Winterbottom
Wynkyn de Worde
Ervin Nutter
Oz Shy
Ivor Hickey (no, really.)

Brilliant surnames: Clutterbuck, Peebles, Jelley, Snodgrass, Bybee.

Dwarves that didn't make the final seven?
Bossy, Smellie, Modest, Moody, Lusty.

And finally, sometimes you come across a name that really suits the title of the book, and this must be one of the most perfect:

The Search for Useful Knowledge in Early Modern London by Malcolm Thick.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Arcadia seminar: Changing the BBC

On Wednesday night I went to my first Arcadia seminar, which was Simon Andrewes on the subject "Changing the BBC: From Castles to Communities". I won't go into too much detail about what Simon said as he was speaking off the record (which made me feel like I was in the West Wing. Just call me Annie Concannon.*), but the general theme was of the BBC's move from "castle" style teams working seperately on different programmes (and the radio, web and television teams all being in completely different locations), to a more open, collaborative and cohesive newsroom.

The Beeb is a huge cultural institution, with a complex organisational structure, and it has to respond to changes in culture. I think an obvious parallel can be drawn with a university like Cambridge, rather than our "castles" being different programmes or media, they are the colleges and faculties that make up the university.

Simon mentioned the following points as being key to keep in mind during the change of the newsroom, and I think these apply equally well to library services:
  • Focus on audience
  • Sharing of as much content as possible
  • Simplicity
  • Efficiency
  • Enough flexiblity to react to an unfolding digital landscape

The issue of cuts came up - one audience member pointed out that you tend to get more creative ideas and changes when faced with cuts. Something has to drive change and propel it through the inertia of a large established institution. Well I guess that's one silver lining. Is there anything else that could give such a kickstart to change or does it always have to be something bad like a slashed budget?

Simon finished up by saying that you can change big organisation effectively. A big organisation can't afford to not be efficient, or to be no more than the sum of its parts. Be bold and be radical!


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

...and now I'm on vacation. No wait, that's the students.

I've now had my first taste of a Cambridge end of term! Last Wednesday was the fixed due date for all books that had been borrowed during the term, and it was also the day when the students could take out their vacation loans. So, a busy day! We came in early to kind of get ahead of the students who could start taking out books from 8.30am. I spent quite a lot of the day reshelving, and felt a bit like the wizard-sweets lady on the Hogwarts Express ("Anything off the trolley dears?") when I was taking medical textbooks upstairs and students were taking them from the book cart before I'd got chance to put them on the shelves :D It was a pretty fun day really, and nice to help lots of people get the books they needed for the vacation. We had a lot of requests for books just before the vacation so Debbie has made several trips to Heffers and we've been doing lots of speedy processing. I think we managed to please most people!

An aside: I don't like the word vacation! Probably because my head of sixth-form used to say "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Christmas period is not a holiday, it is a vacation. You are VACATING the building. You will still be working!" I guess that's what Cambridge are getting at too...

Another aside: I realise I keep announcing words I don't like. I should make some kind of dictionary of dislike.

Back on topic: As well as the frenzied borrowing, we were also running our booksale. The sale was very successful, we had several people who came back every day to see what new books we'd put out, and we had several people from Lucy Cavendish, and a book-dealer from the market drop by (The book-dealer bought £50 of books ^^). We raised £289 to add to the travel scholarship fund, woop!

I finished off the week by having nine librarians and librarian's-boyfriends round for dinner and film, which was good fun though I think we scared my house-mates into permanent hiding :P Then on Saturday Rory and I went to the Mill Road Winter Fair. Erin and Becky were there with Lindyhop, so I'll leave you with pictures of dancing librarians!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Life of a Graduate Trainee, one term in!

So we've have the Christmas carol concert, there are Christmas trees by the porter's lodge and we've hung the baubles on the hatstand. Cambridge Christmas is definitely here, and that means that amazingly, my first term at Newnham is almost finished. (How did that go so quickly?!)

In the last three months I've learnt loads. I've been on all kinds of courses from AACR2 to the manual handling course I went on on Monday (lift with the back, it's the strongest muscle in the body! ...oh wait.) In the library I've been ordering books, cataloguing and processing them, and I've been teaching myself to catalogue sheet music which has been very interesting. Also now I can answer 99% of photocopier questions which were my nightmare when I first started!

I've still got lots to look forward to though, trips to Norwich Millenium and Cathedral libraries, to the library at Corpus, the Conservation Consortium, and the medical library and that's all before Christmas (real, not Cambridge)! Then pretty much straight after the holiday is the Libraries@Cambridge conference where the trainees will be doing a presentation. We had a get-together tonight to put all the bits together for that and it's coming along really well :D And besides all of this at some point I'll find out whether my library school applications were a success...

This week is a fairly busy one in the library, all the book currently on loan are due back tomorrow and then vacation loans begin, and we've also decided to have another book sale! If you're around Newnham pop in at some point this week and do your Christmas shopping pick up some cheap second hand books!

Merry Cambridge Christmas everybody!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Catching up with the rest of the world...

So for about 3 months now I've been the proud owner of an Android phone.* Before September I'd been very happy with my old reliable, a Samsung that did nothing but call and text. Okay that's a lie, it took pictures and I think I could have used the internet on it, but if it did these things I didn't want to know about it. But I'd found myself playing with friends' iPhones and then feeling sad when it was time to hand them back to their impatient owners. Long story short, I figured it was about time for me to stop living in the dark ages and accept that doing EVERYTHING on your phone was actually a really good idea!

3 months in, I'm still discovering really cool things I can do. Like today, I downloaded the Gmote server on my laptop, and now I can use the Gmote app to turn my phone into a remote for my laptop! WAY cool. I've been sat right next to my laptop for the last quarter of an hour playing with it and I can see myself doing that for quite a while longer!

Google Goggles seems like another nice app to play around with. Taking a picture of a Lee Mack DVD brought up the DVD no problem. Same with a Converse logo on my shoe, it came up with Converse. (Whether or not it would have been quicker to type Lee Mack or Converse into the search engine is a different point altogether!) I was feeling quite impressed with this, but then taking a picture of Daniel Radcliffe from the cover of the Radio Times came up with this:


So maybe there are still a few kinks to iron out with that one. But by far and away the most frequently used apps are the twitter and facebook ones. What did I do before I could check twitter on my phone?! (Admittedly being on one side of the room with the laptop at the other side of the room and checking twitter on my phone instead of walking across to my laptop makes me feel a *little* lazy, but nevermind!)

This being a blog about me being a trainee librarian, I should say that I've installed LibraryThing's Library Anywhere app, although so far Keele University is the only representative of the UK on there. Looking at the US though, you can let the app find your location for you, or browse by state, and find libraries nearby, then do things like view their opening hours, log in to view your account, and for some libraries use their "Ask a Librarian" feature. I haven't seen any libraries that have a mobile catalogue up there as the LibraryThing website suggests you can do, but still it all seems pretty useful and user-friendly, so will be nice when more UK libraries appear on there!

So those are the new toys I'm playing with at the moment. Are there any other really useful or fun apps that you love? Please tell me about them!

*Proud that is, except the time it was broken, when I was a filled-with-rage-owner of an Android phone. Oh and that other time it was broken. But we're past all that now, me and the phone are good friends once more.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Passion, Persuasion and Persistence: CILIP East of England Branch Event

The CILIP branch event today was very interesting and I've definitely come away with lots to think about! The theme of the day was word of mouth marketing and front-line advocacy.

The morning session involved a lot of group discussion, we were all divided into random groups so that we could exchange ideas with people in different sectors, but unfortunately 4 out of the 5 librarians in my group were from Cambridge colleges and faculties! Still, we had a good discussion! One of the group activities I really liked was this one:

We had to come up with things our library is or does that we were proud of. Each idea was written onto a post-it and then at the end we all stuck our post-its up onto the big library heart *awww* There was some duplication, but not a lot really! My favourites included "one-stop-shop", "spaces" and "treasures".

The group activities in the morning were mixed in with some slides on word of mouth marketing.

  • Tell one person about your services in such a way that they will tell ten people.
  • However if we don't deliver excellent services to meet people's expectations, we risk alienating two to three times as many people as we could have gained as advocates - people tell more people about a bad experience than they do about a good one.
  • We need to be ethical and demonstrate integrity. No stealth marketing! (Okay, abandon the plan to pay Paris Hilton to tweet about our library.)
There were a few quotes that I liked but didn't write quickly enough to get the sources. When the slides are put on the website I'll add in who said what.

"Getting people to talk often and favourably to the right people in the right way is the most important thing you can do."

"No advertising is as trusted as the spontaneous testimony of delighted customers."

"Get someone else to blow your horn and the sound will carry twice as far."
Just before lunch we had a tour of the library (we were at Cambridge Central Library by the way!) including seeing behind the scenes of their cool automatic sorting machine, and the BFI Mediatheque which I'll have to go back to play with!

After lunch was the CILIP East AGM, then we into the afternoon session on front-line advocacy and being ambassadors for our library. I generally don't like it when libraries try to be too much like retail (hence I have a problem, I don't like using the word "customers" for the people who use our library and "patron" sounds too stuffy to me) and the start of this session where we were told to think about what lovely things the Apple Store Gurus do made me go hmmmmm... However there were a lot of really useful points made during the course of the afternoon, so I guess as a business model it isn't toooo bad :)

Jenny Salisbury, Library Locality Manager for Essex Libraries gave us a presentation on front-line advocacy, using Essex libraries as a case study. She had a lot of good things for us to think about:

  • Think about the customer - what do they need/want? Don't think about what YOUR problems are with what they're asking you.
  • Continuous reinforcement and refreshment is important for staff. They need to know why they are being told to do things so that they don't get "ideas fatigue" with being told to do different things all the time!
  • Importance of retaining core values "in light of never-ending change"
  • Don't just satisfy your users, delight them! Give them more than they'd expect.
  • Choose your attitude - i.e. passionate, responsive etc. Many people are competent at their work but lack this attitude.
  • Difference between Output and Outcome - E.g. "35 people came to story-time" - that is the output. The outcome is "3 of the parents who weren't library members have now signed themselves and their children up for library cards."
  • Branding the library as THE place for information. E.g. co-location with careers services at Central, and with council services in Essex.
What I found particularly interesting was Jenny's two types of library user, the hunter and the gatherer:

Hunters - come into the library knowing what they want. If they can see where to find the item and it is there, then they don't want to have staff pestering them!

Gatherers - want a social experience using the library, browsing, having a chat to staff, sitting down to look at books. They may well want to know more about library services.

A few more points:
  • We need to be completely indispensable! Think over our unique selling points, e.g. free wi-fi, late night/weekend opening hours, partnerships with other services etc.
  • Front-line staff may get asked difficult questions such as "are all the libraries going to close down?" Could be helpful to compile FAQs and if necessary, scripts so that staff know what line to take when answering these.
  • The expectation in an academic library is often that users know, or should know, how things work - however we shouldn't make these assumptions. Yes, they may have been shown how to do something in their induction, but this was likely early on in term when they were being told all sorts of things.
So lots to think over! Lyn Bailey was tweeting pretty comprehensively during the afternoon session, so that's worth a look, here's the feed.

Aaaand that's me finished with this post just in time to pick Rory up from the station! Ciao for now!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Today feels like a good day to teleport!

Or just a good day in general really!

The music section in our library is fairly small, but in the basement there is quite a bit of uncatalogued, unclassified sheet music. Sooooo, guess what my project is? It's great for me, I get to put my music degree to good use and is good practice in case I end up working in a music library one day! I made a start on it today. I was working on vocal music, most of which was printed in the late 1800s/early 1900s. It was a bit of a mixed bag, some a bit mouldy, some falling apart, and then there was some vocal and piano music by Saint-Saëns with a beautiful green and gold title page, and a book of Mendelssohn songs with red and cream marbled flyleaves, that I opened and went "ooooh!" I like working with pretty things ^^

Today was also a good day for Ned Potter, the slide deck I embedded yesterday has rocketed into existence with a bang! You can read about what's happened in the last 24 hours here.

Hope you all had a good Tuesday too :)

Edited as in my enthusiasm for pretty music I had written a paragraph that was basically one long rambling sentence...

Monday, 8 November 2010

Breaking out of the Echo Chamber

Ned Potter, AKA thewikiman, started putting together a list of essential careers advice for new information professionals. This was a really helpful list of things to think about, made even better by the large number of people commenting and adding their thoughts. Ned has now turned this advice into a slideshow, which in his words will serve four purposes:

1. It’ll be of interest to existing and new professionals, maybe create some debate or heighten awareness of certain issues
2. It’ll entice more dynamic peoeple into considering librarianship as a profession, by righting  a few misconceptions
3. It’ll put off some of the meeker people who may labour under misapprehensions as to what librarianship is really like (I’m very happy with this ambition – we have too many over qualified pros as it is, so why not head people off before they waste time and money in a profession that isn’t like they thought it would be?)
4. In the course of 2 and 3 it may increase awareness as to what Information Professionals do these days

Ned wanted to get his presentation out of the "echo-chamber", that is, not having it bouncing around librarians who already know how cool we all are now *nods* but getting the news out to non-librarians as well! As I know that at least....three non-librarians read this blog, I'm doing my bit to scratch at the walls of the echo-chamber with a rusty spoon.

So without any further ado, here's the slideshow!

Saturday, 6 November 2010


This week the trainees took over running the Cambridge Trainee Librarians' Online Group or CATALOG for short. (I'm not sure where the second A comes from, but nevermind.)

It's not completely up to date yet, we are going to put in a little bit about where all of last year's trainees are now, and then start a diary of all the trips we go on, but all of the 'Current Trainees' section is up to date, so you can go off and find out where we're all from and how we ended up here in Cambridge doing the Graduate Trainee thing.

Other news, the graduate trainees put together a proposal to do a group presentation at the Libraries@Cambridge 2011 Conference on the 6th January, and we were successful so if you're coming to the conference you'll see us all there!
After the really helpful session we had on Library School applications, I've sent off for prospectuses from Sheffield, UCL and Aberystwyth, and will need to start applying for the courses very soon! Wow that came around quickly. Didn't I just apply for my Graduate Trainee job last week?

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Not funny in the slightest. Nuhuh. Nope. *Chuckles*

Dear unknown patron,

Please desist from sticking hats and glasses onto the monkeys in the Primate Societies textbook. It's hilarious very wrong.

Best wishes,
The Graduate Trainee Librarian

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Library website features, show me what you've got!

In my last post I mentioned our library website getting a facelift. Since there was a big design change we wanted to get that live and make sure it worked before adding fancy features. In the future we're thinking to add some more features, in particular a search form for the Newton/LibrarySearch catalogues. I just wanted to throw it open to see what you especially like about your library website. I think "ask a librarian!" chat boxes can be a great feature, but for a library of our size (3 librarians) not practical. Making our New Acquisitions list an RSS feed is something I would find useful as a user, but then I'm not sure how many of our students would actually subscribe to it... I definitely want to get us on twitter and have a library blog and our librarian seems pretty receptive to that but the idea needs to be run past the Library Committee first. So hopefully before my trainee year is out you'll see us tweeting and blogging!

Patrons using the library computer in 1994, photo by Bill Dennison via Flickr

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Skip to the end if you're a sucker for a wedding...

First up a quick plug - my library's website has just been revamped:  I like the new design, a definite improvement on the old site. From now on I'll be the one editting it, I thought I would get to use my new found html skillz but nope, the admin interface uses Drupal so it's very easy to make changes and doesn't require any html knowledge at all!

Last Wednesday I went to a CLG meeting on the 23 Things project. I was meaning to write something about it but haven't got around to it, but Katie Birkwood has written an interesting post on one of the subjects that came up, online anonymity. A few people at the meeting voiced the opinion that they would rather people had blogged under their real names rather than under a pseudonym. Like I've said in my comment, I'm quite happy for my real name to be attached to what I'm writing, and I'd like people to be able to find me easily online, but I understand absolutely why people might prefer a bit (or a lot) of anonymity. Katie sums up the pros and cons very well so I guess I don't have to :)

I've had a very celebratory weekend. Today is my Mum's birthday, so a big internet Happy Birthday to you Mum! Yesterday was the big day when my friend Laura got married to the lovely Kit. The hen weekend seems like ages ago now, but the wedding day finally came around! The whole day was just so sweet and perfect, and they are a great couple. Congratulations again guys! I'll leave you with a picture of the very happy couple:

Saturday, 16 October 2010

University Library tour

Yesterday afternoon we had a break from giving induction tours to be given a tour ourselves, of the University Library. This was the first time we'd got together with the Anglia Ruskin trainees, but unfortunately I didn't get a chance to talk to them much because I had to rush off near the end (sorry guys!).

Our guide, Colin, seemed to know absolutely everything about the UL, and started off by giving us a quick history of the library. If I ever told you proudly that the UL has a copy of every book published in the UK then I'm sorry but I now have to correct that and proudly tell you that the UL has a copy of almost every book published in the UK, apparently when the legal deposit system was introduced, publishers didn't think that it was worth the effort to deposit all their academic titles, instead depositing their novels, many of which the UL took one look at these and said "oh no, thats rawther too vulgar for our students", and sold them! So there are gaps in the collection, but today they get a lorry-load of books delivered every week of everything printed in the UK and Ireland. As a result, the library is constantly being extended to make space for new materials.
I can't say the UL is the prettiest building I've seen, but it's certaintly impressive, and designed by the same architect that designed Battersea Power Station, and, bizarrely, the red phone box! It was big enough that I was pretty thoroughly disorientated by the time we'd gone down and up a few sets of stairs, but then again, I have barely any sense of direction!

Because of my phone playing up *mutters darkly* I missed the end of the tour to rush off to the O2 shop before it shut. I was sad to miss the trip up the tower, but should be able to see it later in the year with the CLG. Good news about my phone though, it's all parcelled up and sent off to be repaired, finally!

Tonight I'm off to Stansted Hall and Elsenham Cricket Club's dinner dance with Rory and his family, if the previous years are anything to go by, it'll be a very fun evening (and we may even win a gym set on the raffle again...)

Have a good weekend folks!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Things I never expected to do today, No. 1

Donning a surgical mask to hoover down a colleague covered in photocopier toner.

Today was definitely a Monday.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

...and the anthropomorphisation continues!

I received a mysterious parcel at work, with no sender's name or address, inside the parcel was a short fat plastic bottle with a a strange orange and white lid made out of spongy plastic. It took me a while to work out what it was, a thingy to moisten labels instead of licking them (I'd ordered one a week or so ago), but once it's purpose was decided upon, Jo moved onto the next most important decision.

"Looks like a Mrs Pepperpot to me!"

Thus the label moistener joins the growing cast of characters in our office, along with the old label moistener Mrs Goggins (named after the character in Postman Pat!) and the air con. unit Mr Slim (no idea about that one!)

The resemblance is uncanny!

In other news my html class clearly paid off, as this stunning bit of web wizardry proves:

(Note: for the benefit of Rosie and anyone else who may wonder, that is not my real CV...)

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Brb, going on a spending spree, kthxbai.

Tomorrow we're having a book sale from 10am-4pm, with all proceeds going towards a travel scholarship. Bringing the books up from the basement stacks earlier today I've already been picking out the ones I'm going to try and snap up in my morning break if they haven't been sold already! Most things are going to be £1 or less, with some hardbacks £2, so if you're around Cambridge tomorrow get down to Newnham College Library and grab yourself a bargain!

In a spending spree of a different kind, I've been ordering medical textbooks today and spent over £1100... (to the more experienced librarians out there this is probably nothing to write home about but made my jaw drop when I saw the total!)

The students are back now, so the enquiry desk is a lot busier, and I'm spending about an hour a day reshelving the returned books instead of the 5 minutes a day it was before this week! We've been running library induction tours, we've done 7 so far, running them bucket-line style so Debbie shows them round the library then passes them on to Jo who shows them how to use the self issue machines, then on to me to give them a reader's ticket each.

I've got an 'Introduction to html' course on Thursday, 'Html - beyond the basics' next Tuesday then 'introduction to AACR2' next Friday, and if I've got any space in my brain to take in anything new after all that I get to go on a visit behind the scenes at the UL Friday afternoon :)

So here's to a busy couple of weeks, now if you'll excuse me I have an episode of House to watch!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

CILIP New Professionals Information Day 2010

There was so much to take in yesterday that I'm not going to attempt to cover everything, just going to give a quick round up of my impressions of the day!

First task was deciding what workshops to go to, the afternoon was a repeat of the morning which meant we could go to 4 out of the 6 that were available. Hopefully someone who went to the two that I didn't go can tell me about what I missed out on :D

The first thing I went to was the lovely Irfan Master talking about his non-conventional route into LIS in a workshop titled The No-Holds Barred Profession. Irfan seems to be a guy full of ideas, most of which are ways of getting libraries more involved in the local community, whether it's with local 6th form colleges, WI groups, working men's clubs or the Premier League (take a look at this video for Kick into Reading). Irfan's main message was for information profs to think in creative ways, as he put it, "don't think outside the box because there is no box."

Next I went to hear Ned Potter (@theREALwikiman) whose workshop was called TechnoGeek - All you need to know about libraries and technology. This was one of the highlights for me, not just because of the whizzy map and muffin giveaways ("I'm not going to resort to bribes...but there's cake in that bag."). I feel fairly technogeeky myself, but his talk reinforced the fact that we have to keep constantly reinforming ourselves about what technology is needed. One great tip was to get the job descriptions for both the next job you want to go for, and for the job you ultimately want to end up in, so you can plan ahead and gain the skills needed. Then he brought out the whizzy map showing all the roles in a library and a rough guide to the techy skillzorz needed for each. Edit: I've now embedded Ned's Prezi below. It was a relief to hear that Ned didn't know what a lot of the software/protocols/who knows what else was, as most of that was just acronyms to me! (Got a lot to learn...)

The keynote speakers came next, Phil Bradley (@Philbradley) and Maxine Miller. Both were great speakers in different ways. Phil's presentation Around the World Twice on a Library Degree gained my stamp of approval from the moment he said "now is the best time ever to be an information professional!" *click*
The reason now is such a good time to be an information prof is that we can, in Michael Caine's words, "use the difficulty". Phil said that libraries are about power, which comes from our reputation, which we now have to increase by giving away information rather than holding on to it, knowing how to arrange it etc. He then went on to talk about how much we need to stand out and self-market ourselves (ego-checking on google! I get an indie rocker and a picture of a boat...)

Maxine, despite not having learnt to touch-type, was an excellent speaker. She works at the Tate Britain (what a great job!) and her emphasis was on doing what you love, and learning from each experience. She joked that now she'd heard Phil's talk she now realised that it was the power that she actually was in love with, but that being a librarian is only a powerful position if we listen to our users and ask "how can we change it for you?" She made the good point that when we interact with people we help move them along, but also move ourselves along as we learn from the experience.

After all of this in the morning it was definitely time for lunch, which was a good chance to chat with some of the other new professionals. Librarians are such a friendly group of people! It was really helpful to chat to trainees at other universities, people who were in the middle of library degrees, people who'd finished library degrees recently, CILIP staff etc....

After lunch I headed off to hear Katie Fraser's (@katie_fraser) talk Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway - Working with people at all levels. I felt I definitely needed this talk! Katie talked about her experience working on CILIP's Defining our Professional Future project, where she was working in a mixed team, mostly with more experience than her, which would be a bit overwhelming for anyone! But as it turned out, as all the members of the team were librarians, all interested in the same things, and all willing to help each other out, it wasn't as scary as it seemed at first. In fact, although others had more experience with recruiting etc, Katie had more experience with social media, which was a big part of the project. She went on to the idea of 'the infinite activities of others', where it always seems that other people are doing a lot more than you are. She got us to turn round and talk to the people around us and tell them about the new things we've done in the last few months, starting new jobs, new projects, learning new skills etc. She ended by talking about the 'echo chamber' effect, where LIS professionals are excited about a new development, so we tell each other about it...whereas we should be telling people outside the profession as well! Probably only people really interested in LIS will have had the willpower to read this far down this post, so I guess that's true!

The final workshop I went to was Nicolas Robinson-Garcia (@nrobinsongarcia) who talked about The Global Profession - the overseas perspective. I have to admit I was flagging a bit by this point after getting up at the (for wussy little me) ungodly hour of quarter to six, but it was still really interesting to hear about how the LIS network works in Spain. I also learnt about the International Federation of Library Associations which I didn't know existed, despite (as I now know) being a member of it! Nicolas then explained about embedded librarians (again, didn't know anything about this) - librarians who work 'in the field' with their users instead of in a library, for instance in the lab with the chemists who need the information. This is pretty cool, and is apparently popular in Spain and we're just catching on.

Whew, I tired myself out all over again thinking about everything as I was typing this post! Hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did, and if you went to a workshop I missed out on please tell me all about it!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Ironically, I can't think of a name for this post.

Working in a building containing tens of thousands of books, authors' names and book titles are in front of me every day. Maybe I'm childishly simple but when I'm checking through a reading list sometimes some names make me stop and smile. Some of the most awesome names I've seen this month:

Sluglett, McPhail, Blinkhorn, Colin Yallop, Mugglestone, Scoffin, Odd Arne Westad (poor old Arnie, he never had a chance...), co-authors Scnhackenburg and Schneewind, and my absolute favourite first name ever..*drumroll please*....FRISBEE C. C. SHEFFIELD.

A moment of silence please for the awesomeness of that name.

Thank you.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Banned Books Week

This week is Banned Books Week, so a good time to celebrate our freedom to read, and try a controversial (or in some cases seemingly innocuous) book that has been banned at some point. Here's a handy wikipedia list of many such books, and a list of the 100 most banned books as recorded by the ALA.

The times, they are a-changin'.

I think I can say that the quiet, vacation library I've known for the last 3 weeks is going to be gone starting tomorrow. On Monday some workmen are coming in to install wireless (yay!), on Wednesday we have a film crew coming in, and meanwhile we will be starting doing induction tours for the new graduates. All this will be going on, but actually I'll be missing most of it to go on my first course in MARC 21 which is a 3 day course, and then on Friday I'll be off to London to CILIP's new professionals information day (which if you're not going to you can follow along on twitter: #NPID2010).

Last week I spent making the graduates readers tickets, trying to get some cataloguing practice in before the course, putting my first CUP order through and being shown how to lyfguard paperback books (although when the person showing me how to do it finishes sticking and cutting and says "there!" *turns the books over to the other side* "...oh god.", I'm not filled with hope for when I actually do it myself!) Lyfguarding is basically covering the book with protective sticky-back plastic, a la Blue Peter, and as I've found out, newly lyfguarded books have very sharp corners! (ouch...)

As this weekend was Alumni Weekend, we had several alumni in on Thursday and Friday to look around the library, and two of them seperately commented on how warm the library was compared to how chilly it was when they were studying. One lady said to me "this used to be a two-jersey-and-a-coat library!" I'm glad times have changed...

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Bits and bobs from today

An update on the archaeology dig - it turns out that Newnham College was built on a previously unknown Roman village, very exciting! You can read the article here.

This morning we closed the library office and all went to a talk at Wolfson College on the university's medical library. Anna Jones who organised it had asked if one of us from Newnham could take notes, and I'd volunteered so I was scribbling away! Peter Morgan, the librarian, gave us an introduction to the medical library - as part of the UL they're getting a constant stream of new journals from the legal-deposit system, but they're taking up a lot of space and are barely being used so they are trying to get rid of any that are unused or duplicated in electronic copy (amazingly they got rid of 18,000 journal volumes in 2008, Peter showed us a picture of the massive skip that they filled twice). After a biscuit break, Isla Kuhn, reader services librarian, showed us some of the online resources medical students would be using, mainly PubMed. She also quickly ran through a demo of EndnoteWeb, which I wish someone would have told us about at Nottingham! Seems like I've wasted many hours writing out bibliographies and footnotes...

This afternoon I've been doing some cataloguing for a bit of practice before my course next week, and Sarah came by to visit us before she starts her Masters at UCL. I also got my university card! YES. Finally after 3 weeks!

(Also, yesterday I posted about it being the Hobbit's birthday, but I failed to mention that it was ALSO Stephen King's birthday. Happy birthday Mr King, I'm sorry.)

Aww come on, don't be mad.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Not quite eleventy-first...

...but the Hobbit was published 73 years ago today. Just thought I should let you know, with the name of my blog being what it is and all.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Aquabrowser and Archaeology

This morning I went to a presentation on the university's new catalogue search tool, Library Search, which uses the Aquabrowser interface. While it's not going to replace our old search tool, Newton, straight away, it sounds like it's going to be phased in over the next year or so. I was pretty impressed with the presentation, and although they made it clear that there are still some problems with it and it's not perfect by any means, there are several things that I think are going to be really good about it.

One of the main aims of Library Search is to promote discovery when using the catalogue, so it uses some kind of word association to nudge users towards books on similar topics, and there's an optional word cloud which will hopefully do more than just look pretty.

The MyDiscoveries feature sounded great, users will be able to tag books themselves and comment on them, and you'll be able to see comments not just from Cambridge libraries but from any other libraries using Aquabrowser (including Harvard, Chicago, RICE, and York universities). Apparently it's bringing in tags, comments and also star ratings from LibraryThing too which will be cool. I like the fact that when the first Cambridge students start using this, there will already be comments, tags and ratings up there.

The main bad news for me is that just after learning to use Newton I now need to learn how to use Library Search, but I guess everyone will be learning to use that together.

I met Jen, the Murray Edwards trainee, at the presentation, we didn't really get a chance to talk but we're all meeting up on Tuesday after work so that will be good to get to know the others!

After the presentation we came back to the library, did some work, had lunch, then went outside to look at the digging going on in the gardens!

In World War II when they were digging to put in an air raid shelter, they found some human skeletons. Throughout the week, about 20 sixth form students, as well as some archaeologists from the college, have been digging two trenches where the shelter was, to try and find any more skeletons, or anything else interesting! So far they haven't got deep enough to find skeletons (they've only dug out 18 tons of earth, the slackers!), but they have found lots of bits of pottery of all shapes and sizes going back to Roman times, tiles, bricks, glass, and several bits of bone including one possible human finger bone! I took a few pictures, trying out my phone camera which turned out to be not great but not terrible either *shrug*.

There were two trenches a few metres apart from each other, and it was quite interesting to see the difference between the things dug up in trench 1 and in trench 2. You probably can't see in these pictures though!          

I might go back on friday to see how much deeper they've got and what kind of stuff they've uncovered by then!

Tomorrow I have a Cambridge Library Group meeting after work, then Rory is coming to stay for a couple of days, before we both go back home at the weekend, I'll be lending my *ahem* sharp young mind *ahem* to the parents' quiz team hehe :)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Open Cambridge

Open Cambridge was days ago sez you, better late than never sez I. (Also I'm waiting for an episode of House to buffer.)

So last Friday was the first day of the two day event Open Cambridge. Loads of things normally closed to the public were opened up for the two days, all sorts of things that I didn't get a chance to go to like the fire station, the behind the scenes bits of John Lewis and the crematorium (which my brochure handily told me was unsuitable for those of a nervous disposition!). However luckily for me, this also included loads of the university libraries, and Debbie suggested I take the morning to go round a few of them. Just across the road from Newnham is the Sidgwick site, and as three of the libraries on the list were there, I decided to visit those three.

First up, the Radzinowicz Library of Criminology. I went on a walk round the library, which has loads of art on the walls that's been done by prisoners, which was kind of half "bowl of fruit and a bottle of wine" type still life, and half the kind of art Phoebe from Friends would make. Then I went over to look at the display they'd put out for the open day, they had a collection of letters from the serial murderer John George Haigh, also known as the "Acid Bath Murderer". Being a somewhat macabre person I found these really interesting, heheh.

Next, I moved on to the Modern and Medieval Languages Library, which was basically next door. They didn't have any displays but the librarians there were more than happy for me to wander around and ask them questions. When I (eventually) get my university card I should be able to get books out from faculty libraries so I'll maybe be getting some more french books out from here!

On my way out of the MML library I saw a figure in the distance waving at me which materialised into Sarah, who had just been to the Pendlebury Library of Music where I was headed, and was on her way to the two I'd just done. The music library was nicely familiar*, and I gave a mental wave to George Grove as I passed his 29 volume dictionary! Chatting to the music librarians was very helpful, as that would be something I'd be interested in going into. I also gathered up a load of concert season programmes and leaflets so I'll have plenty of things to go to (if I ever end up being in Cambridge at a weekend that is!)

Finally I went back to Newnham to get ready for our own Open Cambridge. We were doing more of an organised tour kind of thing, people booked places on a tour round the college and gardens, and stopped in at the library on the way. We (mainly Jo) had made a display of books by Newnham authors, including Sylvia Plath, Germaine Greer, and my own favourite, Emma Thompson. Anne had put out some archive photos of Newnham, and of course there was the ring with Charlotte Bronte's hair in...

Ignoring the fact I'm totally biased, I'd have to say we put on the best Open Cambridge of all the libraries I saw on Friday! Can we collect our prize now? No? Oh well. I'll just settle for watching my House :)

He was an Emma Thompson fan too, if you know what I mean.

*On a side note, speaking of things being familiar, I went to reshelve a new Miles Davis book I'd just finished processing, and found the right place on the shelf, just next to a book by Mervyn Cooke! It's like I never left Nottingham...

Monday, 13 September 2010

A valid question.

What one or two of the tickets may have looked like.
*A situation that will probably arise in early October*

New Student: "Why does my readers ticket look like it was made by a drunk two year old?!"
Me: "Because I made it when I was still knackered after an AWESOME weekend!"

This weekend was my best friend from primary school, Laura's hen weekend, which was incredibly fun, and very silly, and involved a kind of scavenger hunt with challenges and games along the way all around Canterbury and the surrounding woods and beaches :) Someone described it as being like Challenge Anneka but with crammed into small cars instead of helicopters! (We didn't have jumpsuits but we did have silly hats - it was a Where's Wally theme!)

Laura's friend Rosie had made some cool clues which Laura had to follow from place to place around the city and then out towards our hostel, and at each place there was a challenge such as:

Seeing who could make the most bubbles brushing their teeth...

 Making beautiful wedding dresses for the bride and the maid of honour out of toilet paper...

And doing a real life Where's Wally, AKA hide and seek in Blean Woods :) Then all off to the beach, hurray!

 The evening was really fun as well, with a BBQ, and then when it started raining, lots of games in our room at the hostel. On sunday morning we had a walk in the woods around about, and then drove to the beach and had fish and chips for lunch :) (using fish in the most general term, as I certainly did NOT have fish).

And then a horrendous drive back where it took us AN HOUR AND A HALF to get the 8 miles to the M2...

....but it was totally worth it! Now roll on the wedding!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Once you do something, you never forget. Even if you can't remember.

Go and watch some Miyazaki films :D
I'm going to watch the Hayao Miyazaki film Spirited Away tonight, one of my favourite films. When I've watched anime films, I prefer having the English voice over dub rather than have it in Japanese with subtitles which would be Rory's choice. I find it distracting otherwise. But then I've been reading Harry Potter in french which I've found surprisingly easy, and after the first couple of sentences I've forgotten I'm reading in french and it's fine. I guess I didn't forget as much as I thought ^^

I'm getting very impatient to get my university card now, not just so I can get in the carpark and get out of the building at night but because I need it to check out library books and I keep seeing books at work that I want to borrow! Hurry up tutorial office!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

In which they let me loose with purchase orders!

This week so far has been pretty interesting, I've learnt to do a lot of new things at work, and I'm slowly but surely getting used to the layout of the library, I'm still being quite slow at reshelving books but I think I'm getting the hang of where most things belong!

Yesterday after work I went with Debbie and Jo to the University Library for the launch of a new video explaining how the library system in Cambridge works. There were a lot of other Cambridge librarians there and we met up with Sarah (last year's graduate trainee). There was wine and nibbles, all very civilised ^^ I actually found the video really helpful, as it is kind of confusing with so many libraries! The video is here if you're interested. (There, doing my bit to plug it!) It was also good to be going to the UL as I'm going to be having a few training courses there, the first one in a couple of weeks time, so now I know how to find it!

Apart from that, this week I've learnt how to: order new books from the bookseller Dawson, process new books that have come in (getting them ready to go out on the shelves), and today Jo and I were adding all the new college undergraduates to the Voyager cataloguing system. This was a pretty slow process, and the system seemed unneccessarily complicated! But we finished just before we went home today so that's good. Just the post-grads to do now!

I had a great weekend in London, saw the cast of Hair in all their last-night glory, met some 'interesting' characters in the queue for the prom, and got to see Rosie's new flat which is very nice. Rory came up on the train last night which was a nice unexpected treat :)

I entered this in Pioneer Woman's funny photos competition today, what do you think?

Saturday, 4 September 2010

It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door... step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to. (Bilbo Baggins)

And that's roughly how I ended up writing my first blog post in several years.

I started my graduate trainee programme at Newnham College library on Wednesday, and I heard all about the Cam23 programme that Debbie, Jo and Sarah had been involved in. (Well done Sarah for the best blog title award for A Delve in the Shelves). To complete the programme, each librarian had to blog as they learnt about each new Thing. It sounded like a great programme and I hope they run it again at some point. (I'm aware I said the word 'programme' over 9000 times in that paragraph. I just hope I got the right spelling.)

Adding the new blogs I discovered from Debbie's recommendations, I'm following about 50 blogs on my google reader (mainly foodie blogs including the incredible Pioneer Woman but also a fair few librarians including the Swiss Army Librarian and one of my favourites, Love the Liberry). So I figured it was about time to start my own! has been very good so far, even managed a little party with cake and wine for Tony, the head gardner who turned 60 on Thursday :D I've been going through the reading lists sent to us by all the faculties and checking them against our catalogue to see whether we have the books in the library, if not finding out the prices and sending them back to the DoSs. Free lunches at the buttery means I'm just having a sandwich or some soup for dinner, spending less money at expensive waitrose! *fist bump*

This afternoon I'm going to London, not to buy a Heat magazine but to see Rosie, go to see Hair and I've been told there's a distinct possibility I'll be dancing on the stage with flowers in my hair? We'll have to wait and see. Depending on whether we feel like queueing we might go to the afternoon prom tomorrow. Good weekend times ahead!