Sunday, 28 August 2011

[CPD23] Thing 14: Zotero

Argh. It was such a frustrating thing to learn these existed just after I completed my undergraduate dissertation, which had over 100 footnotes and a 6 page bibliography. I had the style guide by my side and went through and typed out each new reference in the right format, and then there was a lot of copying and pasting going on. So when I first heard about reference management tools earlier in the year I downloaded Zotero straight away and vowed to get to grips with it now so I'd be a pro by the time I had to write my MA dissertation next summer. And then...I forgot all about it.

Thank goodness for CPD23 reminding me about that little button sitting on my toolbar, and prodding me into exploring how it works. I've had a go at adding references for books from our library catalogue and from Amazon, which worked well. As you'd expect, Zotero could fill in more fields from our library catalogue than from Amazon, where I had to look up where my book was published. I added a couple of websites to my test bibliography, but for these I had to fill in several of the important fields such as author and date. Even though you might have to put some of the details in yourself, the genius of course is that all of your references are stored in one place, can be organised into collections and can be made into a bibliography at the click of a button, in various different citation styles.

Some of my test references
It's good to know there are several different reference management tools out there with various features, but I think I'll stick with Zotero for the time being. We'll see how it works out when I'm using it "for real" next year!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

What I've been reading in August


#uklibchat, Summary - Thursday 4th August 2011 eBooks Discussion (I've been finding the fortnightly Twitter chats very interesting and fun to take part in. Every other Thursday, 6-8pm!)

Aaron Saenz, Pixar Ex-Designer Creates Stunning Interactive Book for iPad. Blurs Lines Between Books, Film, Games

William Skidelsky, The True Price of Publishing

Library Marketing

Andy Woodworth, Marketing & The Donated Book

Save Libraries

Francis Bennion, Public Libraries are Protected by Law  (Full letter to The Times from the man who drafted the Bill which later became the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964)

Johanna Bo Anderson, Activism, Advocacy and Professional Identity

Social Media

Jill Walker Rettberg, Blogging (Cambridge: Polity, 2008) (Really interesting book on the history and culture of blogging)

Phil Bradley, Twitter for Librarians (A very long list of Twitter resources that could be of use to librarians) 

Robert Sharp, Always link, even to your enemies

Jez Cope and Geraldine Jones, Connecting Researchers at the University of Bath

Nathan Jurgenson, Augmented Mobs: Riots and Cleanup On and Offline


Mike Ellis, QR isn't an end, it's a means (I found the final four paragraphs particularly interesting)  

Mary Mallery, Tales of Technology Innovation Gone Wrong (or rather, how to learn from mistakes, plan ahead and fit the right technology to the job in hand)

Relationships with Library Users

Social Justice Librarian, How Academic Libraries Annoy Academics (Some of the comments on this are pretty astounding, and not in the good way)

Katie Birkwood, Doing It Wrong (Excellent commentary on the above post)

Rebecca Halpern, Ethics in LIS

Information Literacy

Lauren Smith, The Three Rs: Reading, wRiting and Rioting 

Steve Kolowich, What Students Don't Know

Library School

Hack Library School, Best of the Summer Semester

Job Applications

Laura Wilkinson, Tips for Applying for Library Jobs


#uklibchat, Summary: Thursday 18th Aug 2011: Breaking down barriers within the profession

Friday, 26 August 2011

End of Graduate Trainee year round up

Today was my last day as a graduate trainee. Wait, what?


The year's over?



Wow. That went incredibly quickly. I guess that shows how much I've enjoyed myself this year! I won't bore you with an in-depth, blow-by-blow account of the whole year - I've blogged about most of the interesting parts anyway so I will just take the moment to remind myself (and you, poor thing) of them!

I've learnt the basics of being a librarian, and for the first time seen all of the workings of an academic library throughout the entire year, as opposed to just during term time. Along the way there's been funny times, stressful times, and "oh crap" times. I've been to read-ins, seminars, conferences, and been on more library visits than you could shake a stick at.

I've dipped my toe in the world of library advocacy and was lucky enough to win a place at the New Professionals Conference as a result. I've seen how, spurred on by one of the papers at the conference, #uklibchat has sprung into being and I have thoroughly enjoyed taking part in this each fortnight.

This year I've helped to organise a rerun of the Cam23 programme for librarians in Cambridge, and CPD23 for information professionals worldwide. Both organising and taking part in these programmes have been great experiences, though pretty much consumed all of my librarian-energy for a while, especially back in May!

And I've met (whether in person or virtually) a ton of lovely people, both in Cambridge and beyond, who are mostly responsible for getting me involved in all of the above!

In a few weeks I'll be off to UCL to start my Master’s degree, meanwhile I'll be staying on at Newnham as a part-time library assistant.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

[CPD23] Thing 13: Online Collaboration

Over halfway through now, and this week's Thing is exploring tools for online collaboration and sharing. I already use the three tools that Jen highlighted, some more frequently (and to better effect perhaps) than others.

Google Docs

This is the tool I use most often for collaborating with others. We've been using it a lot to organise CPD23, with Word docs for planning who on the team was doing what and when, and a big big big spreadsheet of everyone taking part. Just thinking about how big that spreadsheet is makes me so thankful for Google Docs! There are well over 700 people taking part, imagine if we had to manually add these to a spreadsheet? I love living in 2011 :)

I also use Google Docs if I'm going to be working on something at home and at work, or if it's the sort of thing I'm going to want to add to whenever I get a bit of inspiration. There is an app which I have downloaded for my phone, but I use this to read Docs rather than write them mostly, as I find typing on a phone keyboard fairly tedious.


No more of this! Image by Craft*ology on Flickr
I'd been hearing about this for a while before I started using it. I didn't immediately think I needed an account, as I don't often share big files. However after hearing quite a few people recommending it as a life saver, I thought I'd try it and see what the fuss was about. When I realised that there was an Android app and I could share files between my phone and my laptop, I was totally sold. Now instead of rooting out the cable that has got itself inextricably tangled up in a million other wires and cables, or faffing about with the fiddly micro SD card, I just upload my photos or docs to Dropbox, and 30 seconds later there they are on my laptop! Definitely recommend, for this purpose alone!


As Jen says, the graduate trainees in Cambridge use a wiki to collaborate on our group website, CATALOG. Since there are seven of us managing the website, we keep a rota, keep a note of changes we have made or need to make, and upload backup files to a password protected wiki. Our wiki is hosted on the university's VLE, and while it doesn't look particularly pretty, it does the job well. Apart from this and my little contributions to the Library Day in the Life Project, I don't use wikis that much. However, I've seen some nice examples of pages set up for particular courses at the university. One example which I liked and thought could be used in a library setting was where a lecturer uploaded the reading list for a course, and then got the students to edit it, annotating, adding their own suggestions and striking out any resources they didn't find useful.

So while I use all three of these tools, I don't actually use Dropbox for collaboration. We aren't allowed to install it at work, but as I never find myself needing to share large files I don't see it would add much to my work-life even if we could. Perhaps when I'm doing my Masters next year it will be handy for sharing presentations etc., although Google Docs can be used for that anyway! Much the same with Wikis - I don't use these in any particularly exciting way...yet?

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

[CPD23] Thing 12: Putting the 'Social' into Social Media

Quite an open topic for this week's Thing, so I'm going to blog about something that's been annoying me for the last couple of days. I'll try to keep the rantiness to a minimum.

Watching the news on television over the last few days has been a depressing experience. For those readers who aren't in the UK, we've now had 4 nights of rioting, looting and vandalism in London and several other major cities. Watching the news it is very easy to feel that everyone in the country has gone completely mad.

Most of the news reports I've seen have mentioned something along the lines of "...the riots, often being organised through social networks..." Gah! Yes, some of these idiots might be planning their next move using BlackBerry Messenger or Facebook or whatever. But what I'm seeing in my Twitter feed are messages of support for those living in the riot spots, updates on where is safe/dodgy at the moment, #riotcleanup and #operationcupoftea trending both UK and worldwide, evacuation operations for the disabled and elderly being organised...I could go on.  When I log onto Facebook I see an invitation to the Operation Cup of Tea event which currently has over 200,000 people attending. 99% of us are decent people! Some people are always going to do stupid, mindless things, but this would happen with or without social media. Meanwhile, many people are using social media to do good deeds, or just to chat and catch up with friends, which is a jolly fine thing to do in my opinion.

Bringing this post vaguely back to CPD23, I think the last few days have proved that the advantages and disadvantages of social media are entirely dependent on how you use it, as is whether or not you create a sense of community. Personally I've found my Twitter network is a really strong community, while LinkedIn for example is much less so - mainly because I haven't really got into it yet. As for whether I will be continuing to use social media in some form or other for professional development, the answer to that is a resounding yes!

Keep yourselves safe, keep doing good and keep being totally awesome.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Chocolate-banana cake

For Rory's birthday last week I asked him what flavour cake he wanted. "Banana!" he said. I hadn't made banana cake before but had a quick hunt for recipes. I found a lot of variations - plain banana, banana with walnuts, coconut, raisins or chocolate chips, with cream cheese icing, buttercream icing etc. Going back to check with the birthday boy, he thought chocolate chips would be good. *Fist pump* that's what I wanted to make too! Can't beat chocolate and banana as a dessert combination.

Here's the recipe which I adapted from the BBC Good Food website:

170g flour
170g caster sugar
140g margarine
3 eggs
2 ripe bananas (after tasting the finished cake I might change this to 3 bananas next time to amp up the banana-y-ness, but it was fine with 2)
200g chocolate, broken into fairly big chunks (who wants wimpy little chocolate chips? BIG CHUNKS!)

Preheat the oven to 160 C

Mash up the bananas, and mix everything together in a bowl (BBC website say use a food processor, I don't have one so used a wooden spoon, worked perfectly).

Pour into a cake tin (I was using a heart shaped tin that's about 10" across, and had enough batter left over for 4 cupcakes) and bake for an hour. Serve on its own, or with custard!

This was really yummy and easy to make. I'll definitely be doing this again. (I may bring one along to #cakecamp!)

Friday, 5 August 2011

[CPD23] Thing 11: Mentoring

I haven't had an official mentor so far, however if I was to go by Meg's description of a mentor being "someone who takes an active interest in your career either by sharing advice and knowledge or by facilitating professional opportunities," then I have had a few unofficial mentors, in particular the librarian and senior library assistant at Newnham. Additionally, as I'm something like the 16th trainee they've had at Newnham, there's a whole succession of people who've been in the same job, and who are very helpful when I ask them for advice!

Next year I will have a mentor at the Stationers' Company, which I'm really looking forward to. I've been told they usually put Librarianship students with librarians, but "in my case" (i.e. I burbled a lot about social media in my interview!), it might be someone in Digital Media which would be very interesting. I think this will be pretty darn helpful while I'm doing my MA, and I'm going to try my best to be a good mento mentee and cultivate the relationship.

Right, off to read those mentoring articles!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

[CPD23] Thing 10: Graduate Traineeships and Masters Degrees

I've spent the last few days getting stuff sorted out at our new flat (which is starting to look rather nice!), and haven't got the internet set up yet so I've put my Cam23 2.0 blogging on hold for a while. However this week's CPD23 Things aren't internetty Things so that works out well!

As you may be able to see if you zoomed in on photo on the CPD23 blog, I am currently a trainee at Cambridge (I'm second from the right!).

Once I decided librarianship was what I wanted to do, I started applying for the Graduate Trainee positions that were listed on the CILIP website. This was in December-January time, and most of the posts being advertised were in academic libraries. This suited me just fine as I'd got a bit of experience working in the music department library at university and enjoyed that environment. I had three interviews in very quick succession, of which Newnham was the third, and they offered me the job. Funnily enough, this was the interview that I didn't think went as well as the others, so just goes to show you can never tell!

After I knew I had the trainee job, I turned my attention back to exam revision and looming dissertation deadlines, and didn't go back to the CILIP website much until the start of this year. As I'm more in the "library loop" now, I've found out about all kinds of other trainee jobs that exist as well as the university library ones. Some that went up this year after our post had closed included posts in hospital libraries, school libraries, and the V&A.

My trainee year has been really interesting, a massive learning experience, and good fun too! It's great there are seven trainees in Cambridge, as there's a group of us going through similar learning curves. I'd really recommend trying to get a trainee position if you're thinking of going into librarianship. As well as learning the practical skills involved in a Library Assistant type role, there's the added benefits of extra training, visits to other libraries, and quite probably more chances to go to library conferences and events (A caveat: all trainee jobs are different!).

Some of us trainees on one of those visits. Photo by Erin

Next year I'll be off to UCL to start the MA in Librarianship. While I'm a bit sad my trainee year is coming to an end, I think next year will be very exciting. I've been very lucky to be awarded the Stationers' Company postgraduate bursary, which also gives membership of the Stationers' Company and a mentor (which would lead on nicely to the next post, but who knows when I'll get chance to write the next one!). Meanwhile I'll still be popping back to Cambridge regularly as I'll be working part-time at Newnham as Library Assistant.

After UCL I will start thinking about Chartership, but at the moment there's more than enough to think about!