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Reinventing the wheel

I noticed an advert on the TV during the summer, and while watching it, I found myself becoming increasingly more irritated by its content as it went on. Then, not long after that, I saw another advert along the same lines, for the same group. I was reminded of my reaction to viewing those adverts last weekend, when I attended Library Camp Glasgow. One of the sessions I took part in covered advocacy, and what can we do to better promote the profession. The existence of these adverts is evidence of, to me, why we need to continue to work hard to show the wider public that "librarian" does not (and never has) equal "timid person who stamps books and says shhhh a lot".

So, this is one of the adverts that so annoyed me, for Barclays Digital Eagles:




Now, I'm not disputing the fact that the concept is great: Barclays are funding people specifically to assist those who don't have the skills needed to make full use of the internet, and the many opportunities it off…

Fighting for access

This is a follow up to my post on Open Access in May.

A few times recently in work, I've been asked if there's a publicly accessible version of an academic article available. This wasn't because we wanted to get a hold of a copy of the articles: we already had them through our subscription services, and the solicitors had read them. What the solicitors were wanting was a free, public version of the article, which they could direct clients and other contacts to, saying "read this, it's important/relevant/well written". They wanted to highlight that the content of the article was useful, and that the author was a reliable and authoritative source.

Sadly, I wasn't able to get a hold of a copy of any of these articles, because the authors hadn't deposited a copy of their work into their institutional repositories. That meant that the solicitors couldn't direct their clients and contacts to read the useful materials written by those authors, and the au…

Taking the fun out of LinkedIn

I think it's almost standard now that most types of professionals these days have a LinkedIn profile. It effectively works as an online CV, allowing contacts to easily review your skills and experience, and lets you gather many disparate facts about you into one place, such as your non-work skills and experience.

One element of the LinkedIn offering is that colleagues and contacts can "endorse" your skills, allowing you to build up a list of your abilities that have been verified by others. On the face of it, this is a handy option - people who know you and your skills are able to vouch for you, and allow others to get an unbiased view of what you can actually do. Skills would be selected from a pre-approved range of options. It all sounds sensible, and useful.

However, the reality was a little different in practice. It turned out, those pre-defined options were actually quite wide ranging. And in some cases, somewhat odd. I've attached a screenshot of the current en…

The Referendum experience

I don't know if you've noticed, but something big is happening in Scotland at the moment. A long-promised referendum is happening on the 18th of September, asking one question of the populace: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Now, I've made my decision, and I've voted already (the joys of a postal vote), so I can watch things ramp up in the last week or so of campaigning with a certain level of detachment. I'm a voter - I've always voted, and always will, as too many people fought too hard for me to gain that basic right of self determination for me to give it up because of silly issues like the polling station being inconveniently located, or because it's raining. But there's something different about this referendum, that sets it apart from all the previous elections of all types that I've voted in.

The difference is, that people now seem to think they have a right to know what your choice has been, and it's not the peopl…

Time flies when you're having....a lot of stuff going on!

Phew, it's been a long time between blog posts here, huh?

Mainly, this has been because I've been super busy at work, between settling in to my role, and working hard with our intake of summer students. Settling in, and having people get to know me (made much easier now by the fact that the Information Services team and our Library have been located on one of the main office floors since mid April, so we're far more visible to staff) means that the fee earners have become more comfortable with asking me for research help, and passing research tasks to me to deal with, so my day-to-day workload has been picking up. Plus I've been checking over and altering the training materials I inherited from my predecessor...and testing them out on the Summer Law School students!

The Summer Law School at my current workplace is partially similar to the one which was run by my old employer, but it's also substantially more involved. Unlike the previous 2-sets-of-students, 4-weeks…

The UK Supreme Court and a Yes vote

The House of Lords Constitution Committee has published its eigth report, "Scottish independence: constitutional implications of the referendum".

Within that, Sections 79 to 83 discuss the effect of a potential "Yes" vote in the upcoming referendum, with the following result:

If an independent Scotland were to have its own supreme court, justices with experience of Scots law would no longer be appointed to the UK Supreme Court. However, given their UK-wide remit, serving justices with this experience should continue to sit on the Supreme Court until their scheduled date of retirement.

Open Access and the law librarian

Unofficial Open Access logo

Last year, I sector hopped a bit, going from a law library, to the academic sector, and on to a public body. During my academic sector interlude, I was working with Open Access publications, sourcing academic materials in the appropriate formats and versions, and uploading them to the institutional repository. Now, to anyone working in academic libraries, that sentence probably needs no further explanation, as they know exactly what it relates to. However, outside the academic sector, the topic of Open Access and the institutional repositories holding OA materials isn’t something that’s very familiar. In the special libraries catering for sectors such as law and health, library staff are used to having to pay (usually huge sums!) to access materials behind paywalls, and although there are some good initiatives to give wider public access to certain materials (e.g. www.legislation.gov.uk), there are very few resources which we can access for free. You’d think…

Learning ALL THE STUFF..and showing people we know about it

Because my new role means that I'm regularly asked do to legal research, it also means that I need to make sure that my level of general knowledge of a wide range of legal topics is pretty high, and that it stays high. Helpfully, my employer runs in-house training sessions on all sorts of things, for all sorts of departments, and these seminars are also open to a range of staff. That means that my colleagues and I can take the chance to get some excellent information from speakers on relevant topics, both drawn from our own staff and from external experts. I've been learning about land law, employment/company law, and there's some environmental training coming up soon too.

These sessions are interesting on multiple levels - it's great for me to be able to have access to the level of professional training that the solicitors have, which helps me get my knowledge up to a higher level, but it's also allowing me and my colleagues to get out of the library and meet sta…

What if you don't get back what you put in?

I am, as you may know, a member of CILIP, the professional body for information professionals. There are two main reasons I'm a member.

I am a Chartered librarian, and I take my commitment to maintaining this visible badge of my professionalism seriously. I have revalidated my Chartership within the previous assessment system, and I have submitted my Revalidation within the new system. To continue being a Chartered librarian, I must be a member of CILIP (although currently the commitment to continue to revalidate my Chartership is voluntary, and has been so for the length of my membership since approximately 2001). So I continue to be a member.I am a registered CILIP Mentor, and I help to guide those information professionals who are keen to be professionally qualified through the Chartership/professional qualifications process. I could not abandon midway through that process the people who are looking to me for guidance in their professional development. So I continue to be a m…

Wicked-pedia?

There's been all sorts of publicity about Wikipedia since it first appeared, and opinion among the librarians I know has swung from "that's potentially useful" to "that's a bit dodgy, I don't think I can trust it", and finally on to "that's a good start for finding information on all sorts of stuff, but I need to be aware of its shortcomings".

So, I know Wikipedia's handy, and I know I have to be wary of certain stuff (it's notorious for being maliciously edited on pages covering contentious topics, and amusingly Wikipedia has a page on malicious edits/vandalism on Wikipedia), but I don't know how to look into the workings of it and assess it properly. I know the editors are volunteers, but how do they become volunteers, and how exactly do they edit pages? And what are the systems in place to stop or flag up unreliable edits? If I'm going to explain to my service users why they should or shouldn't rely on a Wikipedi…

Secret librarian tendencies

Who would have thought that Eminem secretly yearned to be a librarian? Is the life of a rap star not exciting enough for him, that he wants a career change to a more cerebral calling? In fact, it seems that he not only wants to be a librarian, but he wants to be the BEST librarian, as the lyrics of his recent song with Rihanna show:



At 1.36, he proudly declares:

"but it was confusing 'cause all I wanted to do is be the Bruce Lee of loose leaf."
Bit odd, really, seeing as most librarians loathe looseleafing with a passion, but to each their own, I s'pose...

CPD overload

Last year, I accumulated almost 230 hours of Continuing Professional Development, or CPD, hours.

This total includes:

The time spent attending professional eventsThe time spent managing the development of the Informed websiteThe time spent creating content for Informed, my blog, and other locationsThe time spent providing professional training to othersTime spent mentoring Chartership candidates
While I was doing this stuff, I also:

Lost one job suddenlyStarted two new jobsApplied for 100 jobsPrepared for and attended multiple interviewsCompleted the time consuming renovations of my houseRead 67 books
This isn’t a humblebrag, it’s just an example of what’s actually achievable in terms of professional activity and involvement, with a bit of motivation and organisation. My total is well in excess of the average professional body CPD requirement of 20 hours annually (prospectively, 20 hours annual CPD will be a requirement for Chartered CILIP members, to Revalidate and maintain a Charters…