Wednesday, 30 March 2011

(lib)TeachMeet 2

camlibtm logo by camlibtm on Flickr
Last night I drove across town to the Schlumberger Research Centre, did a wonky reverse park and grabbed my lanyard and human bingo card for the second Cambridge Librarians' TeachMeet. A TeachMeet is an informal, sociable meeting with mini presentations on the themes of techie tools and teaching tips. There is a good explanation of the origins of TeachMeets here. I didn't go to the first TeachMeet back in September, and then was really regretting it after hearing all about it afterwards. So I was really looking forward to yesterday, and happily I wasn't at all disappointed!

There were around 60 people attending (the places had filled up within hours of the booking opening!), and so along with many familiar faces there were many people there who I hadn't met before. Enter human bingo! This turned out to be a fun way of getting to meet everyone very quickly (and finding out if they were ever on TV, whether they catalogue in Voyager, and please oh please tell me they speak British Sign Language?!?)

The main part of the evening was the presentations - a mixture of 5 minute micropresentations and 2 minute nanopresentations. All (and I mean all) of the following presentations were really interesting, and there were a lot of ideas that I am definitely going to try myself. The videos of most of the presentation have gone up on the TeachMeet site now so I've included the links here:
I made a start today by signing up for TeuxDeux, hopefully this will stop me from rewriting my to-do lists so often when they get too illegible! I really liked Nicky's presentation on bringing research skills into the classroom, and her cartoons on her slides are just brilliant. It was also interesting to hear from Laura about her use of QR codes to promote NHS ejournals - we have QR codes on our posters advertising our twitter account, but I've never yet seen anyone scanning them on their phone! During the break we nabbed one of Sarah's essay tips jigsaws and had a go, all in the name of research of course.

Erin and Becky get stuck into the jigsaw

A few people including myself were live tweeting the event, and the hashtag we were using is #camlibtm. I was quite impressed with myself because this is the first time I've actually managed to live tweet something the whole way through, wifi issues and my slow typing on my phone keyboard have meant I've always given up in the past! With the presentations each only being a few minutes long though, it was fairly easy to keep up!

The whole evening was really good fun, and a big thankyou to all of the organisers and all of the presenters for making it so good!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

There and back again: our Oxford trip

Yesterday I visited the beautiful city of Oxford for the first time. We hitched a ride with the Cambridge College Libraries Forum who were going for a conference, and Erin had organised a day of library visits for the trainees. We had a tour around the old Bodleian by Verity, who is a reading room supervisor and a former trainee herself. Then we visited St John's College library where we gave ourself a tour based on their librarian's helpful emailed notes! (He was off to the conference.)

After a yummy lunch at G&D's (bagels and icecream), we met up with the Bodleian trainee, Becci. Next stop was Corpus Christi, where Erin showed us around the library, this being her college when she was at Oxford. We met the archivist, Julian, who showed us some really interesting items from their collection of manuscripts, including a letter from Henry VIII to the Vatican, enquiring after his divorce proceedings! Julian also is the archivist at Merton College, so he took us over to Merton to see their archives as well. The setting for Merton's archives couldn't be more different from our archives at Newnham, ours being built a few years ago, and the materials being stored in rolling stacks, Merton's archive building dating from 1264 and with carved wooden cupboards housing the records.

My usual tendency would be to write a mile long post about a day like this, unfortunately (or fortunately more likely) a lot of good stuff is going on this week and next week, so I don't have time! I hear your sighs of relief.

Edit: While I was writing this, Erin posted her account of the day, which is very much better than mine and will tell you all the ins and outs of what we were doing!

Rather bad picture of the Radcliffe Camera, which is AMAZING inside

View from outside the Bodleian

St John's College

Corpus Christi College

Chapel in Merton College

Garden in Merton College

Monday, 28 March 2011

What I've been reading in March

I was in Oxford today, and will write a post about that at some point in the next couple of days, but in the meantime, here's what I've been reading this month!

I've picked up a few books that people have recommended as pre-library school reading - have read Buckley Owen's Success at the Enquiry Desk (very clear and helpful), and have Broughton's Essential Classification and Bowman's Essential Cataloguing on the shelf waiting for me to get around to them!


Sarah Houghton-Jan, The eBook User's Bill of Rights

Cory Doctorow, Ebooks: durability is a feature, not a bug (YES. This.)

BBC Click, Do eBooks Spell the End of Lending Libraries (Interesting video, though the publisher guy advocating a model where you have to physically go to the library to check out an ebook is SILLY.)

Phil Bradley, Further Thoughts on eBooks


Kate Sheehan, You Know, I Know, Don't Know (Overcoming technophobia - "Librarians are professional problem solvers and those skills don’t stop working when applied to technology.")

Michael Wilson, Survey of the use of social media by a selection of Cambridge libraries

Laura Wilkinson and Emma Cragg, 23 Things Oxford

Claire McAffrey, Peter Reilly and Helena Feighan, 23 Things @UL: a web 2.0 learning experience for faculty and staff at the University of Limerick

Miss Information (Closed Stacks), Social Networking Best Practices 

Junko, Heibergert & Loken, The Effect of Twitter on College Student Engagement and Grades

Matt Buchanan, What the Amazon Kindle Tablet Might Look Like 

Miami University Augmented Reality Research Group, Augmented Reality App for Shelf Reading (Very cool!)

Save Libraries

Voices for the Library, Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 (Another month, yet another thing...)

Library School

Julia Glassman, Apprenticeships: A Model for Library School?


LFairie, "Threw his book on the table" : My first teaching session

Professional Awareness

Lauren Gibaldi, Know Your Literature - Keeping Up With the Kard... uhh...New Books.


CĂ©line Carty, CILIP Branches & Groups: Some Thoughts

User Friendliness

Darlene Fichter and Jeff Wisniewski, Practical Website Improvement Face-Off (One of the articles being discussed at this month's Brown Bag Lunch)

Erin (User-Centered Cataloger), What "Fix the Catalog" Might Really Mean  (Now if only there was an augmented reality app to help me do this...oh wait.)
Andy Priestner, Advertising Space

The Future of Libraries

Justin Hoenke, Thank you Harper Collins (for making the path forward a little clearer)

Ned Potter, The Future of Libraries is Transliteral

Simon Barron, The National Digital Library: A Personal Quartet 

Lots of people, Tweets from the Personalised Library Services in Higher Education Symposium

Emma Cragg, Personalised Library Services in Higher Education

'Illuminated Keyboard' by Connect7 on stock.xchng

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Crowdsourcing and practical interview tasks (and YAY!)

I am very very happy this week for my friend Rosie, who had an interview at the Bodleian on Wednesday and got the trainee job at the Business School library! Yay!

I just wanted to share with you something I think is quite useful that came up when I was thinking about her going for this interview. Part of it was going to be a practical task, but that was all the detail given beforehand. I thought I'd do my best to help by asking the friendly library-folk on twitter what kinds of practical tasks they had experienced in interview. I thought I'd get a few answers back, but thanks to some retweets, I got loads of responses, many beyond my own network of followers. (I shouldn't be by now, but I am always surprised and very happy at how well twitter networks work in gathering information!)

There were some interesting tasks coming up, as well as the core few which kept cropping up. It's a handy little list to have so I thought I'd share it now that there's no danger of giving hints to the competition ;)

So here's the crowd-sourced list of interview tasks:
  • Sorting books by classmark - 9
  • Cataloguing books/edit catalogue record - 5
  • Finding works in the catalogue - 4
  • Give a presentation - 2
  • Searching databases - 2
  • Look up subject headings
  • Give an example instruction session
  • Find details of a print article from a bibliography
  • Write a blog post to teach students something about RSS
  • Fill in a referral form based on a transcript of a phone enquiry
  • Edit a text for spelling and punctuation
  • Copy typing (to demonstrate attention to detail)
  • Prioritise items in an in-tray
  • Compile a reading list using any of the library's resources
Obviously some of these wouldn't come up in a trainee interview, which is good because I can keep hold of this list and now I have some idea of what to expect in future interviews!

    Wednesday, 9 March 2011

    Grand designs: Fitzwilliam and Murray Edwards College libraries

    I went on two library visits with the other trainees yesterday, to the libraries at Fitzwilliam and Murray Edwards colleges. These two libraries made a nice "library design" themed afternoon, as Fitzwilliam's library has recently moved into a new building, and Murray Edwards are planning a redesign of their library layout. So this was something a bit different from the usual library visit format, because as well as the usual tours we had the opportunity to find out a bit more about library planning and design.

    Reading tower, Fitzwilliam libra
    When we arrived at Fitzwilliam, first we went up to the old library, which was a single room above the college hall. Pictures of it in use showed it being absolutely bursting with books, with desks and chairs squeezed into all of the available space. Then we went over to the new library (about a year old) and had a look around, and then a chat with the librarian, Chris, about the challenges faced when planning a new library building. One of the great things about the building was the variety of study spaces available - from group study rooms and reading rooms with large tables, to the reading tower (a spiral staircase with individual desks in alcoves - great view!). Chris pointed out the importance of not relying too much on an architect knowing everything! A lot of the study spaces which had been designed to have 2 students studying side by side turned out to be too cramped, and so have been turned into single study spaces. Obviously none of us had much experience of library planning, so this was something a bit different, and good to know if we ever end up having to project manage a library move!
    A motley crew exiting Fitzwilliam library

    Then we popped round the corner to Murray Edwards College, and after some tea and biscuits, Jen gave us a tour around the library, beginning in the basement which feels a bit like a den or someone's living room, with squashy sofas and rugs! The main part of the library is totally different, with the other 3 floors being very open with big arches and pillars. Luckily we came on a really sunny day which made it absolutely beautiful - somewhat like this, since I didn't bring my phone into the library:

    Rosemary Murray Library, from Murray Edwards website
     After our tour, Kirstie (the librarian) did a session with us on evaluating a library's flaws and coming up with solutions. Murray Edwards are planning to reorganise their library so that students can enter through the original main entrance on the ground floor, rather than coming in through the basement. While this might sound like a simple change, there are a lot of knock-on effects that need to be considered - for example, the OPACs, self issue terminals, and library office are in the basement by the entrance, so when the entrance is moved the ideal thing would be to have all of these transplanted and moved to the ground floor. The library is a grade 2* listed building, so that makes it trickier as well! Kirstie and the other library staff have come up with a plan, and it has been sent off to English Heritage for approval. If all goes well the work should be done over the summer and the library will be ready in it's new layout next September.

    It was very interesting to see both the finished product of a library planning project, and the initial planning stages, as well as simply going to visit two very different, very lovely libraries. Our next trip will be to Oxford on the 28th March, which I'm very excited about as I've never been to Oxford before!

    Wednesday, 2 March 2011

    At the halfway mark

    So, incredibly, I've been in Cambridge for six months which means I'm halfway through my graduate trainee year! Needless to say, it's gone by very quickly, and as I think you can tell from reading my blog, I'm still really enjoying myself. Exciting news - I had my letter of acknowledgment back from UCL at the weekend, so I will most definitely be off to London next year for my Library and Information Studies MA!

    Also, this means I've been blogging and have been on twitter for six months too!

    In the space of about a week at the end of August I went from creating my twitter account because it seemed like something I should be doing, to knowing it was absolutely something I should be doing. For me now it's the number one way of keeping up to date with library related things. I tend to catch up with my friends outside of work on facebook, and use twitter to network and chat to other librarians, with a little bit of crossover between the two. Number one on my 11 Things for 2011 was to tweet more frequently instead of being a passive listener. I've definitely been tweeting more since then - whether I'm saying anything worthwhile is another matter!

    Keeping this blog has been useful in several ways. It's great to have a record of what I've done this year that's more detailed than the Excel spreadsheet I'm keeping at work. It's made me part of another group (the echochamber of library bloggers!) that while it's great to break out once in a while, it's also brilliant to be "in the tent" with other like-minded people. Thirdly I've just enjoyed writing, and I think I'm getting better at it as I go along.

    I think I've said before that librarians as a group are one of the most welcoming, friendly and (obviously) helpful bunches around. Online and offline I felt straight away like part of the profession - there's no exclusion because I'm just a noob while others have been doing it their whole lives. So thanks everyone :)

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