Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"This one time, at Library Camp...."

So yesterday, I was browsing Twitter at lunchtime, and Jo Bo Anderson posted that she was going to something called Library Camp in Birmingham in October, and wondered who else was interested in attending.

The actual content of the day so far is totally vague and woolly, but that also means that no-one is excluded by it being too sector-specific, and I started seeing lots of people I'd love to get to meet in real life post on Twitter that they were signing up to attend. There's no way with most of these people that our paths would ever cross at professional events otherwise, so this seemed like a great chance to get together with a wide range of information professionals from across the country. And it was free! And on a weekend, so there were no clashes with work! And in not-London, so therefore travel and accommodation were reasonably affordable! And there was to be CAKE!

So, in the course of an hour I had signed myself up to attend, booked train tickets, found myself a roomie for the hotel room I booked, reassured my partner that I wouldn't be killed by any of the random people from the internet I'd be meeting, and suggested my boss attend too.

And, amazingly, in less than 24 hours, the whole event has sold out!

The official hash tag is #libcampuk11, if you want to follow discussions about it on Twitter.

Really, I think that one of the major selling points (apart from the chance to network with people across the whole of the profession) was the promise of cake. And as is well known, librarians and cake are a very happy partnership.
To add to the sugar rushes, I'll bring homemade tablet too, if there's space in my stuff.

Also...there will be no flutes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Reluctantly professional

I try and pretend I'm not, and keep it well hidden, but actually, I can be quite Grown Up and Professional. So much so that I'm going to be Revalidating my Chartership this year - ohhh, get me, eh?

But...I am not-so-good at saying why I'm fabulous, or keeping up with collating my evidence of professional activity nice and accessible in a voluntary way, so I've got two things that are going to help me with Revalidation. The first is my employers internal appraisal system - as our Library service's work is entirely internally focussed, it's important to be able to demonstrate that we're still maintaining a high standard of professionalism and awareness of activities and developments both in and outside our specialist fields. The appraisal system allows my boss and I to set realistic targets and activities, keep track of them, and update them as progress is achieved. All of which works nicely with the Revalidation process!

And second is teaming up with someone externally, to act as my informal mentor and Glamorous Cheerleader. The lovely Bethan Ruddock and I had been chatting online, and somehow the idea of us having a wiki to work together on to (initially) put our thoughts and writings into some sort of coherent order as good practice developed. We agreed on a wiki provider (PBWiki, my favourite one), and started cobbling together a vague plan for the layout - what were we doing this for / what did we want to get out of it / what had we done up to that point / what were we doing as we went along / what did we need to be doing. Then we started filling it with content (and occasional complaints), and working with each other to refine things.

A month or so into this, it was agreed that Revalidation was now an active appraisal goal for me this year, so suddenly the work on creating and populating the wiki that had just been Quite Useful was now Really Useful, and has continued to be so, as I've focussed my attention on Getting Things Done.

As a professional development tool, it's been working really well for us - I get great feedback on the material I'm producing, help to refine ideas, suggestions on all sorts of stuff, and in return I get to pick on...erm....help Beth to organise her activities, focus on what she's doing and why she's doing it, and give feedback on her materials. Also...there may be a system of chocolate gifts for getting things done when they're meant to be ;)

And, since we're such nice, sharing gals, and Revalidation seems to be seen by quite a few people as quite a vague and woolly concept, we decided to create a publicly viewable version of our wiki, in the hope that it'll maybe inspire people, and show that Revalidation's not a Terrible Thing...especially not if you have a buddy to cheer you on in doing it. Of course, we removed any swear words or attached/sensitive documentation (it's like Vegas - what happens on the wiki, stays on the wiki...)

So here it is, CPD For Manatees (so named by Beth because I am still firmly of the belief that the Chartering process involves a Manatee being overseen by a Mental).

It will be updated alongside our private wiki, so you can see how things come together...hopefully! And if you're considering Chartership or Revalidation, I'd definitely recommend this as either a formal or informal mentoring tool - leave a comment or email me directly if you'd like to discuss anything about what Beth and I have been doing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Calendar juggling - Thing 8

Righty, we're on to organising tools then, and this one is Google Calendar.

Now I have to say, I'm not going to be doing this Thing, for various reasons. Mainly, I don't really have a need for it in my life.

Work
I have a personal work calendar, as does my boss. We can both access each others calendars when needed, and see what each person is up to - this is useful if my boss is unavailable and people want to check with me whether they could schedule a meeting with her, or when she has a gap in her day. Our calendars allow us to easily book meeting rooms in our firm, and keep track of events and plans.
This is the only calendar I have any need to share the information on with anyone, and this is already possible.

We also don't need to publicise anything to our users: we're here during core service hours, and sometimes beyond, and if either one of us is not at their desk (holidays etc) we put up signs on our monitors, put on out of office emails, and generally make it clear that the other member of staff will deal with enquiries at that time.

Personal
My brother at one point tried to schedule my trip with him around New Zealand using Google Calendar. We quickly gave up, as I was never in a Google account to see his changes, so he'd have to email me on my normal email to tell me to log in to another email account to look at something he could have just told me by email in the first place....if you don't use Google as your email service provider, it's just a hassle rather than a help.
For other personal planning, I use the calendar in my phone, and a paper version, although I've not used that much in the last year. I need to get back into that habit, as when my current phone gets replaced, my last two years of activity will get vaporised - not good if I'm trying to keep track of what talks I've been to, what events I've attended, and use these for my Revalidation submission!

Other reasons
I tend not to want to trust to much of my online life to any one service (for good reason), so I try and keep things reasonably separate. Since I have multiple email accounts, and multiple Gmail/Google accounts (work-related or personal ones), then for this to be useful for me I would have to be consistently using just one single account, and be logged into it at all times. And that's not going to happen. So for now, Google Calendar isn't a tool I feel I need.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thing numero seveno - professional networky stuff

So, for this Thing, I'm looking at my professional networks and organisations.

CILIP / CILIPS
I was never a student member, and only joined in the first place because 1) my employer paid the fees, and 2) my line manager at that time was heavily involved in the Scottish branch. The same pretty much applies now as the reasons for me maintaining my membership! Oh, and also because I'm Chartered now, and if you leave CILIP, you lose the Charter (which is fair enough - there's no point having a qualification that shows your commitment to your own and others professional development if there's no-one checking you're doing what you say you're doing) .

What do I get from CILIP/CILIPS? Well, currently, not much. As a Chartership candidate, I attended a session on the process, and I've attended occasional events organised by CILIP, where I could squidge them to kind-of fit with my internal Appraisal goals. I get the CILIP info email on library related news, but as my job involves keeping up to date on most news, I've usually already read the articles that are linked to by the time it comes in, and the journal is almost always of no interest to me, as it's seems to be just about public and academic libraries. I know they do lots of good things, but none of them are currently of any real use to me. I think the lack of relevance of CILIP for me at the moment is because I work in a specialised sector, and other groups already fill the role for me that CILIP seem to do for public and academic librarians.

However, I'm planning to register as a Mentor for Chartership candidates soon, so by being involved in that process I may feel that I'm both more useful to CILIP, and that they are to me. As Loopy says, CILIP's one of those things that you get back what you put in. For me, I've mainly not been putting anything in with CILIP.


BIALL
BIALL (British and Irish Association of Law Librarians) is an excellent and very active group.  I'm a member because my workplace pays for my professional fees, which is great, as it allows me access to the Journal of Legal Information Management (lots of articles relevant to legal information professionals), the newsletter (updates on BIALL and supplier activities), salary surveys (great to pass to Higher Ups, to show where your salary sits when compared to other professionals with similar responsibilities and experience), and there's also an email list. The email list does often seem to be the backup plan for people posting initially on lis-law, in order to try and get as many responses as possible to queries, rather than the first port of call, but this is probably because not all legal information professionals are BIALL members. Finance issues mean I've not been able to attend a conference since 2008, but when I have been able to attend, the conferences have been informative, fun, and given me a great chance to make contacts outside the Scots law field, and to put names to the faces of the people whose names I've seen around the internet.

Hopefully, I might be able to attend the next conference...or is it my boss' turn? I may have to suggest a game of Stone, Paper, Scissors to settle matters...


SLLG
The SLLG (Scottish Law Librarians Group) group is, for me, the most useful of the professional groups that I'm a member of. Plus, I'm on the Committee, so I have no choice but to be heavily involved*! Again, my employer pays my memberships fees for this group, but seeing as it's only £15, I would be a member of this group regardless of who paid the fees.
It's aimed at trying to fill the need for legal-sector specific training for information professionals in Scotland, has a quarterly newsletter, a members email list, and additional regular social events to encourage face-to-face meetings. Which is lovely - letting you put a face to a name....as long as you're better than me, and can remember which face goes with which name. This is not my strong point! Name badges are often my salvation.
Since it's a small group, it feels quite friendly and approachable, and the email list allows members to ask each other for help on topics which may be specific only to Scots law.


Side Points
According to a Twitter post from CILIP Info earlier this week, my CILIP membership also means I'm a member of IFLA. I had no idea! I think I'm also a member of some CILIP Special Interest groups, but they can't have made a big impact on me, as I can't remember which ones they are!


What Do I Get From It?
So, those are my "formal" professional groups, and I definitely get different things from the membership of each one. I suppose it just shows that no professional group can ever be able to do "everything".

I'm quite happy to be a member of all of these, although my involvement level varies significantly between none with BIALL, some (and soon to be increasing) with CILIP, and total with SLLG. I also see that, as I have progressed in my career, I've become more involved in the organisations I feel I can be useful in: first, with the SLLG, and now also with CILIP as a Mentor.

It's also meant that my CV, which might otherwise just have shown very little other than the work I do in my firm, could now show me with extra professional qualifications (yay for gaining extra bits of the alphabet after my name!), the skills to organise training events, lots of great contacts throughout the legal and general information profession, and a commitment to helping others develop the skills they need to progress in their careers. Quite a change from "I do this at my desk all day" I think.


*Also, I'm therefore contractually obliged to report that it is The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread. And actually, I do pretty much think that. Apart from the fact that we don't usually have any home baking activities in the SLLG. Yet.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Edinburgh New Town plans

The excellent Edinburgh Blogger has posted about the fact that the original plans for Edinburgh's New Town will be returned to display (under special conditions) in the Museum of Edinburgh.

Now, for a girl who often functions as an unofficial tour guide for any friends or acquaintances visiting Edinburgh, I thought I knew quite a lot about my adopted home town. Who the King, Queen and Princes are that the New Town plan is based around. Where the remnants of the old city walls can be found. Where John Knox's grave is. Why students rub the toe of the statue outside the High Court of Justiciary before exams. Why people spit on the Heart of Midlothian. Where Deacon Brodies workshop is (and the name of the literary character he inspired). Where the most active poltergeist is. What building a mummified cat was found inside the walls of during renovations. Where Jacobs Ladder can be found...

But I didn't know about the Museum of Edinburgh.
I've walked past that building so many times, yet I never knew it was a museum! Right, that's it, I've got to go investigating!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Spot the stereotype

So, Channel 5 have got a new TV show (originally a Japanese game show, and then an MTV show) called Silent Library.

Can you guess what elements are involved?


  • Sexy-but-prim female Librarian: glasses, hair in a bun, in both human and cartoon form?
Check


  • Librarian standing behind an issue desk, piles of books around her?

Check

  • Irritated librarian shhhh-ing people in the library when they make noise?
Check

  • Large "Silence Please" sign?
Check

  • Librarian aggressively using stamp and ink pad?

Check


My, what an exciting and novel idea they have here...not.

The Production team had a similarly inspired approach to asking for contestants

"Do you think libraries are dull? Can you suppress your laughter and hold your nerve whilst all those around you are losing theirs? Do you want to win up to £2000 in cash? We are currently producing a new TV series for Channel 5 based on a cult Japanese game show. We are looking for fearless, game for a laugh, up-for-it teams of six mates for a TV challenge like no other... Do you think you can avoid cracking up in the face of physically challenging, irresistibly silly pranks in the one place where the universal rule of SILENCE applies - a library?"

The one place with a universal rule of silence, eh?  They've obviously not set foot in a library for a long time then!
I can think of other silent places, with a similar response of "official disapproval" when too much noise is made...why aren't they trying this format in a monastery? A church? A temple?
Oh wait: no chance to show an obviously-must-be-a-bit-repressed-but-she's-still-sexy female librarian for those places, eh?

I can understand this show being acceptable in Japan (gameshows there are notoriously sexist), or even on MTV (not exactly known for its highbrow programming), but what made Channel 5 think this'd be a wonderful show here?

Perhaps we should campaign to Channel Five for some equally patronising programme for other stereotypes... anyone want to make any suggestions?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The confusion of the Public Data Corporation

This press release was posted by the Land Registry yesterday, and it's left me a bit confused.

  • What are these Public Data Organisations (PDOs) the Government is creating? I had never heard mention of these before.
  • The Met Office, Ordnance Survey, and Land Register are moving into this PDO? Why?
  • The Land Registry was part of the Ministry of Justice? Really? 
  • The Land Registry will be part of the Department for Business, Innovations and Skills - that seems like an odd combination.
  • Why are there no links to any of the supporting materials mentioned in the press release. The "previous work on the Feasibility Study"? The "findings reported to ministers"?
  • Why was this not announced earlier than on the day it actually happened?
  • Why is the enabling legislation coming into force after the change happens - why was it not made and in force in advance of this move?

So...the moneymaking Government departments are being hived off into a mysterious body called a PDO, which there are no links to the justification for, there's no information on what it will do, and a consultation will happen "in the summer" (we're halfway through it now, so they'd better move fast!) which will establish "membership, structure, and commercial strategy" based on the consultation, "later this year"...this just seems a bit chaotic, vague, and thrown together!

And these new PDOs.. they sound like they're all going to be commercial enterprises, to exploit the data the Government agencies produce...what does this mean for the public trying to access this data?

Anyone know more about this stuff?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Digging about in the library

Libraries are great places to dig about to find unusual items...and even more fun is doing it using the European Digital Library (Europeana). There's information on all sorts of interesting things held in libraries, museums and archives all over Europe to be found on there.

I decided to go on an online animal-themed hunt: after all, animals (apart from the obligatory Library Cat, or occasional dog) are not generally encourage in libraries.

So, you can find this mongoose in Sweden, this Canadian octopus in the UK, this frog in Italy, a confused sloth in the UK, a deevloping axolotl in Italy, an aye-aye in the UK, a marmoset in Romania, and a miraculous quail in Shrewsbury.

And of course, some African wild ass, which is actually found in the Netherlands.

What's the oddest thing you can find on there, animal or otherwise?

Dumpling in a maker?



So, I'm a dumpling in a hanky....

Perhaps, with the help of Lidls fine offer on Thursday, I should convert to being a dumpling in a maker? Apparently, they're actually multifunctional strange-plastic-devices. Not only do they do dumplings, but they're handy for ravioli too.

Spinach and ricotta filling for my ravioli, please.

Ta!

Thing 6, online networks, and how I'm using them (or not)

Okaaaaaaaaaaay, Thing 6 is it then!

Of the various networks suggested, I'm a member of Facebook, LinkedIn, LISPN, and CILIP Communities...please note though, that there's a big difference between me being a member, and me actually participating in all of these!

I have to confess up front, that I don't ever actually go onto either LISPN or CILIP Communites.

LISPN I signed up to when it was first launched, as I wanted to help build the momentum to get it going, and be involved, but it moved way past me needing to be there as an encouraging body long ago! Also, it's not really a network that I feel I need to be actively involved in at this point - I feel I'm at a stage in my career where I'm experienced, established in my role, and happily settled in my workplace. This means I'm not greatly in need of the resources available there, which are more suited to those moving to/from library school, first/second/third jobs/contracts, and trying to establish professional networks and contacts. The "new" part is perhaps something I've moved beyond.

Oh lordy: I'm old.

CILIP Communities is also not something that it ever occurs to me to visit - I know that there are interesting discussions going on over there at times, but I only find that out when links to them are posted on Twitter by other info professionals. I find it quite hard to navigate, and I don't like having to be "me", rather than the semi-anonymous me I can be here and elsewhere.

Facebook, I'm pretty much solely personal on there. I don't allow current workmates to add me (apart from my boss, but that's because we have more of a Friendship With Occasional Line Manager Aspects When Needed relationship than a Strict Boss Supervising Daft Minion At All Times While Using Stern Face thing going on), other than a few of the people in work I am closest to, and am happy to let them see me personal life. I don't talk about my work on Facebook, or any of the people there. In fact on Facebook I don't list: my full name; my date of birth/age; my place of birth/hometown; any of my educational history; my employer; what city I live in; my relationship status etc...basically, I give FB as little as I can get away with. I also never post anything serious about me or my life on Facebook: I post (hopefully) amusing status updates, and comment on other peoples stuff in a lighthearted way. This is my entirely personal and unprofessional world.

I do allow people to add me on FB that I have got to know through other means - friends who I met via this blog, or Twitter, mainly. They are the people I feel know me, and that I'm comfortable with having access to my photos, silly status updates etc. Many of the people I've added in this way are also professional contacts on other networks like Twitter, so there's an element of "I first knew them elsewhere, but I like them enough to let them see how I really am" ;)

The other extreme of this is LinkedIn. This is the only place, anywhere where I am purely "grown up, work me". My employer, job title, responsibilities, work and educational history and professional groups membership/activities are all listed there. I am connected to workmates throughout my firm, from all different departments, and I have connections in all sorts of professional fields.

My LinkedIn profile does link to this blog, which I quite often swither about - this is quite an informal blog, but my LinkedIn profile is quite formal. Do I want workmates following that link and seeing how daft some of my posts are? Do I want them knowing I have this blog at all? I don't say anything terrible about my work or workmates, but will they assume any oblique references are about them? Currently, I've gone with "well, most other professional contacts can read this, so workmates should be fine", but I'm frequently considering whether to de-link this blog from there - is it a good or a bad reflection on my "purely professional" LinkedIn profile to have this semi-professional blog associated? Is it better to give an idea of the real me from a link to this blog, or leave it as plain and professional?

Hmmmm.

But, despite having joined a couple of years ago, my profile LinkedIn still isn't fully complete: I don't have a photo. Photos - yuck! I don't have many "proper, grown up" me photos, and it's not like I can use the "official" work photo - that's 6 years old, and I look a tad different now. I'm still debating with myself whether I ever want one on there, because, to be honest, I only have a LinkedIn page because I feel like I should have somewhere that the Professional Version Of Dumpling could be found. I'm not looking to move employer, I don't need a professional recommendation, I don't use it to advertise my expertise,  I don't use the groups (other than joining them, and then forgetting they exist), or ever contact anyone through it for help in something they're expert in. If I wanted my friends help (which is what most of my non-workplace contacts are), I'd just ask them directly. It's not really much use for me, to be honest.

So - I'd say LinkedIn is definitely the place that I'm still most unsure about how to best "be" on there, but otherwise, I hope the division between entirely professional (LinkedIn), semi-professional/personal (Twitter) or entirely personal (Facebook) networks is clear enough for people to see.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dumpling does a drawing #4

The "head slumped onto looseleaf binder, while carefully avoiding impaling face on spine spikes" pose is standard when looseleafing.
Looseleafing.
A word to strike fear into the heart of even the very bravest of librarians.
An activity designed to shatter any illusions a librarian previously may have held about there being order and sense in the world.
The thing we do when we want reminded of the shortness and utter futility of human life.

Thing 5 - mirror, mirror

For Thing 5, we've to reflect: on what we did, what we learned, and what we can take forward from it.

So...what have I learned so far?

To be honest...not a huge amount, yet. As an active blogger, Tweeter, and user of RSS feeds, the only thing new to me that the programme has thrown up so far is Pushnote, which I decided not to trial for the reasons I stated before.

Is this a bad thing though?
No - every new activity needs to build up its participants from basics, and I knew when I signed up that the early stages were unlikely to provide anything new for me. It's the later Things that I expect will be more relevant to me, so this will still develop into an interesting activity to be a part of.

Although I have noticed that I've already slipped back into "minimal commenting" mode again - after the second cdps23 post, which encouraged comments on posts, I've not really been posting many comments. This is probably because I don't really have time to do much more than skim through them in my feed reader during breaks - it's only posts that really catch my eye that make me click through to the actual blog in order to make a comment. But that's fine with me - I've now got more interesting library feeds in my reader than I did before this, and they're a manageable amount for me.

But, how am I at being reflective anyway?

Although the material from it doesn't appear here,  I do already take part in my employers appraisal system...this involves identifying me and my service's development needs, deciding how to meet them, and providing regular updates on my progress towards those goals. This system supported and helped me to manage my activities when compiling my Portfolio for my Chartership submission, and is also helping me as I work towards Revalidation. The need to identify issues, act on them, and produce supporting documentation on the outcome (including any problems) mean I'm constantly assessing where I am, where I should be, and how I'll get to where I should be .

I'm also working with Bethan Ruddock on a wiki we set up to allow us to informally mentor each other (for Revalidation for me, and eventual-Chartership for her), and help manage our professional activities....and make sure we manage to schedule in time to reflect on what we're doing professionally (or not doing!), why we're doing it, and we write up the evidence of the process soon after we do it. Working like this also allows the other wiki participant to give suggestions and feedback, which can be incorporated into further professional activities and materials.

So, I feel like I've got both a formal, employer-based system that encourages me to reflect in order to provide evidence of participation in that system, and an informal, voluntary system that does the same.

And with the informal system, I get chocolate when I've been a good girl  ;)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The original Kindle

The original Kindle
Christies sold this travelling bookcase back in 2000: the Kindle of its day, allowing the secure transport of multiple, valuable books in the 17th Century.
And it sold for under estimate too...a snip at only $47,000.




Via Bookshelf

What Dumpling Learned Today, #3

Bareboat charter and bottomry bonds are both terms relating to ships, not dodgy “adult” films.

Dumpling does a drawing #3

Poor thing.
Old books can be delicate. Their bindings get dry, their pages become fragile...they need treated with a little care and respect, if they're to have a chance of surviving for another hundred years.

So what do they get? Post-it attacks, bent covers, and broken spines.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Securing EuroMillions

Methinks the Scottish Government have got themselves a bit mixed up here., with this "Bid to secure Euro millions" thing

In order to "secure Euro millions", you need to buy a Euromillions ticket. And, of course, there's no guarantee they'd be a winner...it's a lottery, after all....

What Dumpling Learned Today, #2

Runrig isn't just a "Scottish Celtic rock" band.*


*Dumpling did actually know this before, but she regularly forgets. Dumpling thinks it's some form of self preservation against terrifying music.

Monday, July 11, 2011

More mysterious book sculptures in Edinburgh libraries

Another one in the mysterious series of art books has turned up, this time in the form of a dragon in an egg, nestled into a copy of Ian Rankins Knots and Crosses.

I love it, the dragon looks amazing...but I'm a bit concerned that staff are said to be "devouring Rankin's Knots and Crosses". 
Surely that can't be good for the digestion?

The phantom law librarian

*checks mirror quickly*
Yes, I'm definitely here. I exist, I have a reflection (and am therefore also not a vampire, which is reassuring), but it seems I am actually a phantom.
An invisible law librarian.
If you look for me, I am not there. Search my employers website - I don't exist.
And I'm not alone.

Look on the websites of law firms...I know those other law librarians are out there: fee earning, creating bulletins, researching for clients...so where are they? They're not on the online staff lists, there's no images of law firm librarians looking dazzlingly smart and intelligent while leaning against the shelves of books that they've carefully sourced and selected for their Library (a favoured pose for lawyers in corporate photos: books = smart, apparently).
But we're just as essential to the health of the firm as any other members of staff, who get a shiny profile and "look how fab and experienced our staff are" blurb on the website.

So...why are we hidden away by our employers? Do they think that by admitting that they have employed experienced professionals to deal with specialised information, that they're weaker than their competitors in some way? Surely it's a great selling point to clients, to be able to say that they have people dedicated purely to finding the answers needed for all the questions that could arise?

Or do we suffer from the same problem as all other librarians: once we've handed over the work that we've done, it's immediately forgotten that it was us that did it? That case/report/book/database just magically appeared when it was needed....

The phantom law librarians, pale ghosts in the law firm machine?

The fourth thing....eventually.

Ok, I'm late, but I was on holiday last week - I reserve the right to pay not the slightest bit of attention to work-type things while I'm meant to be relaxing. Or in this case, painting, birthday attending, painting, sanding, painting, cleaning, painting, carpet shampooing, painting, and home-for-sale-listing.
I was a bit busy.

So, Twitter, RSS feeds and Pushnote, eh?

Twitter
I think I've pretty much got a good grip on Twitter - I've been on there 4 years or so, and have built up some good relationships through meeting people on it. From the start, my account has been a protected one, so only those who I approve can read what I tweet, and I don't use my real name, or identify my employer. I did this deliberately - I don't want the personal account that I created (where I am very informal, and more "personal" than anywhere other than Facebook) to be linked to my workplace. I like to have a slight disconnect from my work life: you can find this blog from my Twitter bio, but not the other way around, so you can't find me professionally (here) and then try and know me personally (Twitter).

This means the people I have a relationship with on Twitter are those I feel I can trust, and I can get on well with.

So, when I get follow requests, I go look at their profile, and assess a few things:

  • Do they have a picture? 
No picture, they're just a faceless blob/egg? Marked down!

  • Have they filled out their bio?
Have they given me some sort of information to say who they are/what they like/if it's a work or personal account?

  • Do we share contacts?
If we have mutual contacts, I'm far more likely to allow a follow request, as they've effectively been vetted by others first.

  • Do they actually tweet?
Twitter's a social tool. If the requester's only posted 3 tweets in a week, how am I meant to develop any sort of interaction and relationship with them? If I'm not online when they tweeted those occasional tweets, I'm never going to get the chance to start to chat to them.

  • Do they have a sense of humour?
I talk a lot of nonsense on Twitter. If people want to follow me, they can't be too serious, or they'll end up unfollowing me in irritation at my waffling, and then I'll find out weeks later when I do my occasional check if I've been unfollowed (no point in talking to people that you don't realise can no longer read what you're saying), and I have to unfollow them. Easier to save all that effort by just rejecting the initial request.

Twitter's excellent for me in terms of picking up information: I immediately know the top news and political topics, I follow various useful local information accounts, and I have asked for (and got) some excellent help when needed...but it's not where I go for my professional and in-depth information. For that, I use RSS feeds.


RSS Feeds

I've been using RSS feeds for a few years now, and I pretty much spend a large amount of my day working with them. I currently use Google Reader, after the demise (and too-late rebirth) of Bloglines. I currently have 76 work-related feeds, 40 library feeds (with more library feeds in a second, non-work RSS reader account).  Monitoring and using the information from the work feeds takes up a large amount of my work time, as this information forms the basis of our internal Current Awareness service, a supplement to those provided by the subscription services we purchase. After my week off, my unread items count is sitting at 1000+ (Greader stops listing at 1000, so I have no idea how many actual unread items there are above that), so keeping on top of them is a demanding task.

The feeds are split into Government (a priority to deal with), Legal (second priority - covers Law Society news, legal reporting and discussions etc), Intellectual Property, and Library. Library feeds are read only in bursts, or in breaks - the work items come first. That's also why I moved some Library feeds into a personal Greader account that I use at home...but by the end of a day wrangling feeds, I don't tend to want to look at more at home, so I've started shifting these back to my work Greader account.

I am always looking to find new, useful and reliable source feeds to add to my RSS subscriptions, but I also have to be careful about how I manage them. When I do manage to get it down to zero unread items, within minutes a new item will have appeared, so the temptation to sit and do RSS feed material non-stop to keep the unread items count clear is strong. I have to make sure I don't spend all my time dealing with the constant influx of information there, and ignore it once I've done a certain amount in the morning, and again in the afternoon. In this case, there's no option for me to "mark all as read" (which I do in my personal Greader when they get overwhelming) - I must check all these feeds for relevant information.

RSS feeds are great...as long as you remember not to let them overwhelm you!


Pushnote


To be honest, I'm not even going to look at Pushnote in any detail, it just doesn't have any appeal for me. I'm not a big "work related" websites sharer: perhaps this is a tool more suited to an academic library environment, rather than a commercial one, where the emphasis is on getting things done fast rather than sharing reading material.

I also don't like the idea that Pushnote could share my comments via my feed on Twitter or Facebook. If I occasionally post a link in Twitter or Facebook, it's usually for light entertainment. I don't look at the Shared items option in Google Reader, and I get irritated when other users start bombarding Twitter with their shared items. If I want to know what things and webpages other people like, I'll go looking, or ask them - I object to others choices being foisted onto me, and have unfollowed people on Twitter who did that, so I sure as hell ain't going to start "pushing" my recommendations on anyone else.
I've also read that it's hard to get your account deleted or removed, so for someone who likes to shut down unused accounts, this does not inspire confidence or trust in me. So sorry, but no ta!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Bring your own badge

There is a little part of me that hopes that, after appointment to this post, the new job holder is taken aside for a private moment, when they are quietly presented with a shiny, star shaped badge, and told to keep it safe....

It's a Charter, or nothing, apparently

A friend of mine* recently saw a advert for an interesting library post. She's always open to trying new things, and she wondered if it was worth her applying...she ticked a lot of the boxes for the skills that they wanted, and was willing to learn whatever new skills were were needed for the role - she's done it before.

But then she saw the fateful words..."Chartership essential".

Now, she's worked in various libraries, including special libraries, and Charterships are not particularly recognised or often supported in these sectors, so it's not something she currently holds. But she is a professional, qualified librarian with a wide range of experience, an involvement and interest in the wider profession, and an enthusiasm and willingness to learn, and gain Chartership if a role requires it.
  
So she decided to phone up and enquire if they were flexible on the Chartership aspect, before possibly wasting her time filling in an application. 
Apparently, if she doesn't have a Chartership, they wouldn't even look at her application! It didn't matter what her other skills or qualification were - it was a Charter, or nothing.
So, what happens if no-one with a charter applies, she enquired?
If they didn't receive an application from a Chartered candidate, they would just readvertise until they found one.

Now to me, this is a very odd, and bizarrely shortsighted approach to recruitment.

I can understand why those recruiting for certain senior positions would like to be able to say the candidate would have to be committed to high levels of professionalism in both themselves and their staff, and that the Charter is a mark of this.
But, if your personal situation means you haven't have the chance to Charter, is it fair to exclude those applicants on the basis of a qualification that is entirely optional within the profession?

What if you were Chartered, had a career break (leaving CILIP and also therefore losing your Charter), then came back to work...seems like you wouldn't get a look in for this job.
If you want to move from a sector where Charterships aren't valued into a new sector, you wouldn't even be looked at twice in this case. That's not doing much for mobility between areas is it?
And what if your Charter was gained 20 years ago, and you've done nothing since, such as Revalidate. Is the person with an old Charter really better that the person without, but with the willingness to learn and gain one? 

Is this a case of the requirement for an applicant to hold a Chartership (no matter what) blinding management to the skills of those without a Charter, or is it just some very odd people approaching recruitment very strangely?

* - Not a convoluted way of saying it was me, and trying to pretend it wasn't, honestly. This really did happen to a friend of mine. And it's true, I do actually have friends!
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