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-Saƫns 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?