Monday, 24 October 2011


I thought I would not complete it this time. I have started late and was late all the time, more or less two weeks behind schedule (and I still am, more than two weeks behind now). Somehow, however, I managed to go through all 22 of the Things and I suppose I feel professionally developed, at least a bit more than before summer. As in the previous year, I am very grateful to the cpd23 team for organising the programme and proud of myself that I undertook it and finished it, perhaps not on time but I did it. Well, almost. Just these final thoughts are left to be blogged about (they were thought through already, just a question of dressing them up with the right words).

This year's programme was based on a different idea from last year's. There were fewer new THINGS to discover (less revelations), more to think about and reflect on - a good exercise for professional development, preparing a portfolio etc. All the advice on CV writing, applying for a job and attending the job interview will definitely be very useful in the future. Even though I had got a job before those THINGS (21 and 22) came up in the programme, nevertheless good advice is always greatly appreciated and may become handy in the future.

However there were also some more practical THINGS in the programme which I have already made use of, or may in future apply for professional or private purposes. One of them is definitely the Dropbox - a great tool for team working but also when one works on the same document from different locations, much better than the Google Docs. The others - iGoogle, Google Calendar, TeuxDeux, Doodle are just a few that I will continue to use. The most wonderful thing about THINGS like Dropbox is that they are "floating in the air" and are available from everywhere through various electronic devices, not necessarily a computer. One day when I am sipping an exotic cocktail somewhere in the far tropics I will be able to pop into my Google Calendar, check/add notes in EverNote, amend my collection in the LibraryThing and all this will not disappear (like paper notes often do) when I come back home. Just dreaming... about tropics that is.

It is time to end the REVELATION chapter in my journey through the e-world. The POST-REVELATION era will be rather Blog- and Twitter-free (at least on a personal level), but it should be more open to searching for and perhaps to applying new online gadgets and useful applications. A big THANK YOU again to the organisers of 23- and cpd23 Things and GOOD BYE!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

"Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, it's off to work we go"

I do agree that being a volunteer is a good way to gain experience, especially for young people who quite often cannot get a paid job because (what a vicious circle!) they do not have any experience. So if they want to get experience, that is the easiest way to do it (if they can survive financially). However, it is not always certain that employers are happy to take a volunteer on. It might be a security or safety problem, it might be some bad experience from the past. The question is how to treat a person who offers to do some work and not be paid for it. Is it realistic or is it an employer's dream only? How much can employers expect and how much may they demand from a volunteer? Can a volunteer be treated as a contracted employee or should the boss be grateful for whatever the volunteer offers? How reliable are they, if at all? I suppose those who are volunteering at whatever job, perhaps out of a sincere enthusiasm for a particular profession, could be a great help in any enterprise, including libraries. This may be especially useful for realising particular short term projects or jobs which otherwise would have to be postponed or not done at all. Sometimes however training a volunteer may take a long time and it might not be worth having one at all.

In my working life I have had rather positive experiences with volunteers. They were mostly enthusiastic, reliable, learning quickly and good at what they were expected to do. But I always was asking myself - how much should I expect and demand from them, after all they are only volunteers, they may say "no" and/or "good bye" at any time.
I have never been a volunteer myself, but I considered it as a real possibility when a few months ago I suddenly lost part of my full time post. I thought that there is nothing so bad that it cannot be turned to good. If I volunteer in this or another library, with all the experience I have already, I might be of help to someone and I may gain more experience myself. Perhaps getting a paid job would then be more realistic. I did not do it because I was fortunate to get a job offer which I have taken and at the moment have no more time to spare (a day is still only 24 hours long!) . But this may change again, who knows... And touch wood!

I've got a job!

Yes, I have got one! Strictly speaking - two of them. Finally I must have done something right! When my primary post was cut down by one third, I was looking for an additional job to fill the gap. Several months, four attempts and three failures later I was given a chance - an interview and, after a couple of hours, a job offer. Hurray!

Analysing the process of applying for a job, interview techniques etc., it is easy to give advice and recommend this or that when all goes well. I do not want to be arrogant or patronising but I must say that it is so much easier when one stays calm and collected in the process. Of course the first and very important thing is to have a good updated CV and/or an application form filled in, which includes all that the job description and person specification require. When those are done properly, there is a much better chance to be invited for the interview. And this is already half way to success. Then the homework has to be done i.e. finding as much information as possible about the employer to-be. Think not only about what they may ask you but what you should ask them (this will show your interest). During the interview try to think that it is they who want to employ you not you who desperately wants the job (even if it is just the opposite) . Being yourself, not pretending that you know more than you really do, but also not showing that you lack confidence or are too shy, might also be helpful in making a positive impression.
I will never forget what one of my friends told me about his way of getting a job as a student. When asked at interviews if he had ever done that particular job he always replied with a charming smile - "Of course, I have never been doing anything else in my life!". He was very successful in getting jobs (those of a rather simple sort, as students do), but I am not sure it would work in every situation. The truth has this peculiar feature - it likes coming out.

I found (and successfully applied) very good advice about preparing CVs and on interview techniques, with lots of examples, on the Sue Hill's recruitment website.

Whatever and however you do it when applying for a job

Friday, 30 September 2011

Per aspera ad astra

There are still a few more thorns (hurdles) on my way to librarianship before I reach the stars.
I have described my route so far in one of the previous blogs: Ces't (la)ma vie.
Not much has happened since then - I have not found a mentor, I have not started preparing my portfolio. But there has been one significant development.
I have got a new, additional, job!
It is in one of the University faculty's libraries. New people, different students, new things to learn. It's so exciting! I started last Monday morning and most importantly I arrived on time. I like this new place and new people and I want to do my best. Probably I will have less time to blog and to work towards the chartership, but I will be learning new things and gaining more experience every day (and earning more). This also counts, doesn't it? And at the end of the road I might, in future, become finally a retired (and a bit tired) chartered librarian.

P.S. I am going to add the link to this blog to the Library Routes Project wiki, however it might not be the most interesting route (and/or blog).

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Prezi... Presents? Presentation!

Presenting anything to a group of students, conference participants etc. can be very challenging, especially when the speaker is not able to capture listeners' attention. Enriching the presentation with any form of illustration, slides, overheads, PowerPoint or Prezi could be a great help to both - the presenter and the audience. Could also be a disaster if the material is not exactly on the subject, not eye catching, or if something (computer, projector etc.) is not working as it should. Prezi seems to be definitely eye catching and even more - it may cause "eye dancing"! What I like about this type of slide show is that when there is a need to refer quickly to something shown earlier it is easy to find the right point in the presentation and enlarge it quickly. A very useful feature, perhaps not as much during the presentation as during the follow up discussion.
On the Prezi website, under the button Beyond English, I have discovered a very good and simple instruction, in Prezi, on Prezi - Learn Prezi in 15 min - in my own language! I don't need it at the moment but I will try (perhaps "How to use the LibrarySearch"?), and it is good to know that both Prezi and lots of help online exist. Just in case it is needed.

Slideshare - another friend from last summer's course. Lots of them online, and not extremely difficult to produce one's own, exactly as one needs it. At the moment one does not.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Catch up and reflect

The late summer holidays caused a short break in the continuity of my continuous professional development (cpd23). However it has been good to have a week (week 19, actually extended to week 20) off from new things and have some time to catch up with those Things that came earlier and were waiting to be looked at.

Thinking about the cpd23 programme so far I must admit that at the beginning I was not impressed by having to repeat some chapters from the last year or to reflect more on Things rather than learning about the new ones all the time. But now I have changed my opinion. Learning about too many Things would probably cause an information overload. Looking at some of them again and finding out about just a few new Things, was a good reflective thinking and writing exercise. Blogging about Things and thoughts on different subjects is not easy, not if it has to be done in a foreign language. Some thoughts may be expressed better in one's own, but it's been a good exercise in learning the English language. It is also good training for people like myself thinking about proceeding towards the chartership (portfolio!).

As for the THINGS we have learned about, not all of them can be used, not by everyone, not in every library. Some can be of value for personal use only, some only in professional activities, some in both. For me RSS, Dropbox, Evernote, Zotero are the most important discoveries - REVELATIONS during the course of both e-summers, the last year's 23Things and current cpd23. I believe they'll stay with me for ever, the iGoogle page will be my computer homepage for years to come and the Google Calendar with patiently remind me about THINGS and things always.

Jing the Thing

Jing the Thing needs more investigatING (I hope Dr Seuss would like this rhyme!).
I have downloaded the programme and tried to use it. The easiest option available in it, the screen capture, was not a problem but the same effect can be achieved by using the Print Screen button and further editing of the picture using e.g. PhotoScape application. As in Jing's screen capture, all extras - arrows, text, text boxes and balloons etc. can be easily added. I used this way of illustrating leaflets on Newton catalogue searching, checking the library account online, on how to borrow and return books using the Voyager circulation self service system. I appreciate that Jing offers more than screen capture, but at the moment I have not investigated beyond this point.

Screencast-o-matic lookes like a very useful tool. Among its uses it may be very effective way to answer various questions posed by our library users in emails etc. Over the years, since the automated library systems (catalogues online, computerised circulation etc.), I had countless inquiries on how to use Newton search, how to renew books online and recently also on how to use e-resources. It takes rather a long time to describe in detail all the actions which should be taken. It is so much easier now when on our intranet library pages there are links to short videos explaining everything in an active, animated and narrated way. It is as simple as pasting a link when replying to a user's email. These video-like instructions are a wonderful help for all, but especially for distant learners. However during library inductions I think a live presentation is more effective at keeping the users attention rather than showing a "film". I will however recommend these short videos to our students. I would do these screencasts myself, I tried at home, but my accent...