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...

Love books!

Unfortunately too often we hear and read (or even experience) sad news about difficulties regarding the library services, not just in the UK. Libraries are being closed, funds limited, staff hours cut and people made redundant. It is definitely a situation calling for action. But how to advocate in this subject, what can be done? Will just a collection of signatures under all sorts of petitions help? Will protesting on streets help? Not many of these have helped before in similar or even more serious (e.g. war on Iraq) cases.
The Women's Institute runs a campaign Love Your Libraries calling to sign their petition . That is, of course, a positive action against cuts and threat of closure of some 20% of the UK public libraries. But shouldn't we rather start campaigning with something like LOVE BOOKS action and address it to the youngest, the school children or perhaps also to their parents and these who decide about school curricula. The spectrum of titles which children are presented with at school and obliged to read is shockingly narrow. The young people, when leaving school, have never read any of the classics, never heard even the names of the greatest creators of the world's literature, know little or nothing about reference books and the only source for information for them is GOOGLE (with all due respect to it). Even if I exaggerate a bit, I don't think I am very far away from the facts.
The example at home (parents seen with a book in hand instead of being in front of the TV all the time), good school libraries with professional staff encouraging children to read and respect books could definitely help to appreciate the irreplaceable value of books in life and the value of libraries. All sorts of them - public, school, academic etc. Books are and should remain the best friends for us - in good and in bad times, in work and leisure, always. So yes - let's run campaigns, let's shout about all that is important for us, but let's start there where it really begins and hopefully it should fruit later in everybody's life.
The participation of well known people - celebrities - in actions like this might be a great help. Probably their voice is better heard than thousands of signatures collected on the petition or even a march of librarians on Oxford Street in London. Someone like Joanna Lumley perhaps? She proved that she can be heard!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Speaking up, writing down

I have been there, done it all, participated - passively and actively - observing and presenting, helping in organising conferences. And publishing, a lot. All in my past academic career.
No one doubts the importance of conferences, meeting people who we have only heard about, read their publications, spoke on a phone, or followed online. Conference is like the icing on a cake - the finale of year's (or longer) work in science or any other subject. It is an opportunity to learn and to teach. It's an experience that cannot be replaced by any other method of communicating news, results and thoughts. Personal contact, even by listening to what others have to say or through discussing matters of common interest, cannot be substituted by reading reports, articles and proceedings. I used to go to conferences, national and international, both as a presenter of my own scientific work and as a passive participant. In fact, through meeting people at conferences I was invited to England some (long!) time ago and this is why I am here now.

Unfortunately participating in conferences is not easily available for all. Mostly because of the cost of this participation (often including long and expensive travel and accommodation). That is why taking part in the annual conferences libraries@cambridge for all of us who work here is such a great opportunity to keep up to date with all that is important in a library world. TeachMeat sessions are also very valuable "micro" conferences. Training sessions, occasional talks and presentation, visiting other libraries (thank you Cambridge College libraries who organised tours this summer)- all are very much appreciated and valuable possibilities to learn new things and meet new people.

It would be good to go to London sometimes or to other places where CILIP organises its conferences. For example there is one this week on reclassification, something which in my library has been a long term project and in which I have taken rather a substantial part. It would be good to hear what others have experienced in this subject and what their thoughts are. However I cannot afford it. There is an e-forum on this subject which will follow the conference. I might register for this, but it will not be the same.

Publishing it is also something I did a lot in the past. Blogging is the only form of publication I "produce" now. And it is not easy, oh no! It is good however to write down one's thoughts on various subjects even if they are not going anywhere beyond the www.blogger ...

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Zotero oh Zotero!

Together with GoogleDocs, Delicious and a few others, Maestro Zotero was one of the great revelations of 23Things last year. I am still full of enthusiasm for this programme and wish all who need to write whatever - an essay, a book, a dissertation, an article, knew about this programme's existence. I do mention Zotero during inductions to students, especially those more advanced like MA's but haven't found that there was much interest in it among them. It would be good to be able to offer some special training courses to the students on these wonderful, time saving programmes. Ironically, there is no time to do it!
Mendeley looks very similar to Zotero. I will have to look closer at it, create an account and compare the two. After the holidays perhaps?
CiteULike - also later, hopefully...
All three are wonderful tools for researchers, writers, students. I may only regret that these tools did not exist when I was working on my essays and dissertations. Today I can only recommend them and try to explain how to use them (after I have learned more) to those who might need such help in their work.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Documents in the Air

Having documents available online, with the possibility of working on them from different computers and sharing them with work colleagues, has been a dream of mine since I first started working in the library. Especially in this specific library where I am employed. There are nine different locations housing the collections. Access in all of them to the documents created in one place would be perhaps not essential, but very convenient. And so much better than emailing these documents to myself and to my colleagues, copying them on memory sticks and then transferring to the other computers, creating a number of versions of the same thing - a recipe for confusion (sometimes).
There are many aspects of our work where sharing and editing documents online would be very useful. For example all sorts of lists which need constant amending (reading lists, users lists, leavers lists, overdue fine lists) or indexes to classification systems (in our libraries almost every collection has its own classification system and indexes either do not exist or are not very comprehensive).
Discovering Google Docs, thanks to 23Things, was a highlight of last year's course (for me). Unfortunately as soon as I learnt about that, had created the account and started investigating it, a big disappointment came. Docs did not work as I expected!
I blogged about the Google Docs last year. Having read this text today and looking at the documents placed there I do not think that much, if any, has changed since then. Still, formatting of the documents (both in Word and Excel) is different to those in the usual office programme. Still, downloading documents from the computer files (if it is more than a couple of pages in Word or a very simple spreadsheet in Excel) takes a long time. And sharing them - even longer.
With high hopes I looked at this year's Thing 13 (!?) - the Dropbox. At first sight it looks more promising than GoogleDocs. First of all the documents which are "dropped" to the Box from existing folders are uploaded in the same format and with the same features and facilities of working on them as they are in original. As the GoogleDocs, they can be shared with work colleagues who are able to edit them, add to them, create together. But... This is where the "BUTS" start. First "BUT" is that documents can be edited only in those computers (or other e-devices) which are added to the account and have Dropbox files installed. An IT officer may not agree to this (I haven't asked yet). The second "BUT" - the programme is not completely free (only basic and small box of 2GB is free). The third "BUT" - the whole process of "dropping", opening, saving documents is not straight forward. If the document is to be worked on and the changes saved, the document has to be opened from the computer Dropbox folder, not online. If it comes from the online box then changes cannot be saved. There is of course a way- first the changed document has to be saved somewhere in the computer and then dropped to the Dropbox online, but it will not be the changed version replacing the old one but an added second (third etc.) document. A bit similar to memory stick or emailing new versions again.
I have tried this programme using my two home computers and I liked it but if I am not allowed to install Dropbox in five library computers in my workplace, the whole idea would be lost. Back to emails and memory sticks.
The best would be to have a combination of GoogleDocs with Dropbox - the docs online only, with a possibility to amend and save them from anywhere at any time and of course free!
Just dreaming...
Wikis had been looked at and blogged about in the 23Things programme last year too. I do appreciate the idea and all the possibilities which this application offers. Privately - yes, I do use the Wikipedia, as a source of quick and mostly reliable information, no matter how much criticism it receives. Also the idea of contributing to it is appealing, e.g. in cases when one can add the information about events which one has experienced or people who one knows or knew.
At the moment however I cannot identify any particular case in which Wiki(s) may be used at my work except for, of course the Wikipedia - a quick reference "book" without the necessity of going to the the shelf where Britannica lives.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Some thoughts on social networking (in pictures)

Social networking may begin as an individual activity, face to face with a computer, at work, at home, in the internet cafe (seems rather lonely).

The ideas behind Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. of improving communication between people, increasing cooperation among professionals, sharing ideas, meeting more people and making friends online are great and ...

... all these may continue as a social event (usually agreeable).

But sometimes, unfortunately, may end like this (totally antisocial).

Whichever social media and whatever the aim and result of using them, time is a limiting factor. Twenty four hours per day is rather not enough to read, write and comment in Blogger, Twitter, Facebook and all the other social network sites, when one has to eat, sleep, work, watch all favourite soaps and read books too.
I commented on some blogs and tweets I read, I received a few comments on my "creative blog-writing", but I cannot say that the circle of my friends has increased significantly due to these activities. Nobody's fault, just lack of time.

Also, some people prefer more traditional means of communicating and socialising.

To save some time when writing this blog, I have illustrated it more than usual. I believe all the images here express my thoughts better than words (universal language, no spelling and grammar mistakes!)

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Wise and trusted

Parents, school teachers, university lecturers, bosses - they are all people who teach us, are our leaders, our MENTORS, those who we look up to and try to follow their example.

My first mentor was my university teacher, the head of the department I studied and worked at, the supervisor of my MS and PhD thesis. Professor Franciszek Witczak had not just a deep professional knowledge but also all the moral and cultural values which I, and I believe my colleagues too, have learned from him - objectivity, accuracy, reliability, responsibility in all we do, both in private life and in professional activities. All of these qualities, I hope, will stay with me forever. Thank you Sir.

In my second and still developing career, librarianship, I have also been very lucky. From my present boss I have learned all I know so far about this profession (starting from one of the first lessons - putting books in line with a shelf edge, I would never have thought about it before!). I also admire her knowledge, enthusiasm, ability to look at things from different angles, seeing various aspects of problems.
I have started to think of taking my career in librarianship further (beyond a library assistant) thanks to two great ladies, whom I might call my informal mentors. The first of them is my present boss and the second - the leader of the City and Guilds training course in Library and Information Services, both have very much encouraged me to continue on this route, giving shiny examples of how interesting and fulfilling it can be.

After I had become a member of CILIP, the next step was to find a formal mentor. Finding someone who could help on the route to professional librarianship - this was a TASK. The list of mentors, published on the CILIP website, is not short but to find someone who one thinks one would get on well with and who is available when needed, has been, so far, impossible in my case. The first attempt unfortunately did not give any result. The second was equally negative. All mentors were "taken"!
Since then I have hanged my formal PD (professional development) on the hook and continued just working, working and working even harder, participating in as many training courses and local conferences as possible. Now it is time to find a mentor again. Before it's too late!

In the meantime I am continuously and gratefully learning from my boss, my informal mentor, who is not only a very professional librarian, but also a great teacher. Hopefully the skills and experience I have gained under her friendly wings will take me further along the professional route until (and also when) I find a formal mentor to continue the task.

C'est la (ma) vie

Everyone has their unique story to tell. Mine is probably no more unique than those of others.
I started my professional life as a research and teaching assistant at Warsaw Agricultural University straight after finishing my MS in one of the departments there and continued in this career for the next 15 years. I hope I was liked and also respected by my students, I achieved some recognition (conferences, publications) and completed my PhD. Nothing to do with librarianship, not very much with libraries either, shame to admit it - places where I rather went to borrow than spend time studying.
Then I had a 10 year break in my professional life, unless being a housewife and mother can be considered as one of the steps in achieving a higher degree in life sciences.
After that, when the children were ready to let go of my skirt, I started thinking more of myself. The first step was to do some computer courses (done), then to find a job. I found one without much effort (those were the days!) however not in my previous subject but as an assistant in one of the Cambridge libraries. Being more precise - in seven of them at the same time (this is how many of the bigger and smaller libraries were then in the colleges within the Cambridge Theological Federation). I had become a library assistant working for just 12.5 hours a day, climbing up on the ladder on the route to librarianship slowly but steadily. During a little over 11 years of working in the same institution, the number of working hours grew to full time, I finished a 2 year course, completed with the certificate of the Level3 Progression Award in Library and Information Services. Then I became a senior library assistant, worked also part time in another library (in one of the University departments, not a theological one at all), participated in a number and variety of training courses, gained lots of new skills and experience under the very professional and friendly eye of my boss, grew to love cataloguing and really being very fond of everything I have been doing in this job.
A few years ago I had become an affiliated member of CILIP and started thinking about further progress. This thinking developed into contacting CILIP and being almost approved as a Chartership candidate. At that point all career progression stopped. My fault only.
Now that my full time post has been reduced I hope I will have more time for all sorts of activities and I really, really would like to do something more about it. Not long ago I participated in a couple of meetings organised by the Career Development Group of CILIP on career progression and building a portfolio. I think I know what to do now, the only hurdle is just to start. I hope that being a part of cpd23 is also a step in the right direction.

Monday, 1 August 2011

External memory

Evernote, Pushnote, pin a note, write a note ... Notes are very useful things in whatever form we have them. Providing we do not have to many of them and we remember where they are and that we made them in the first place!
Evernote seems to be the answer to it all. Notes are stored in one place, they can be sorted, filed and the best thing about them is that they are available and accessible anywhere and through most of the electronic devices - computers, iPads, mobile phones etc. As Evernote describes itself on its website it is infinitely useful. All sorts of notes (including random thoughts which come to mind in the most unexpected moments) can be created and stored there. Planning trips or events, snapshots of white (or black) boards with important information on them, PDF files, results of internet searches, etc., etc. - all will find their space in an Evernote account.
What convinced me ultimately was the suggestion of keeping a record of favourite wines by snapping a photo of the label instead of trying to take it off the bottle (recently I tried, and tried and had to give up, why didn't I think of taking a photo myself?).
I have signed up!

This is what is so great about all these smart Things - they are accessible from anywhere (all you need is a computer with internet connection, this includes also smaller newer electronic gadgets, which you can carry with you all around the world). Not being an elephant (some people have this sort of memory, sometimes I suspect they make things up, telling us stories, they can do it because we do not remember anyway), I do appreciate any help in remembering things. An "external memory" like Google Calendar, TeuxDeux or Evernote are really great inventions. And they are free!

Reading through the pages of the Evernote website, I came across another online task manager - the Producteev. It seems to be a crossbred between Google calendar, iGoogle, Evernote and probably some more online gadgets. Unfortunately only the basic version of it is free. Subscribing to any of the more sophisticated varieties (bigger storage, better security, email and phone support) has to be paid for.

I am not sure I will use Evernote very extensively at the moment, but I see it's positive sides, not just one more set of ID and password to remember.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Next week ... holiday!

I know it (thanks to 23Things 2010), I use it, I recommend it to friends and colleagues. I do not have to remember to look into my diary, turn pages in it or ask someone to remind me about things. Google Calendar emails me always on time. It's a real friend. Together with another wonderful invention - TeuxDeux (thanks to TeachMeet), I finally remember all of the events, things to do or to deal with, people to meet or call. Unfortunately I will not be reminded about things which I do not remember to put in there :-(
I definitely have not forgotten about next week's event and hopefully on Friday my Google calendar will email me to remind me of my holiday. Hurray!
I am not going to any exotic, tropical, sunny, warm etc. destination. Let's hope it's not raining in my garden. And if it is, there is a chance that I will finish reading all the books piling up on my bedside table, have a chance to play canasta or shop during more customer friendly hours. Everybody can dream ...

Sunday, 24 July 2011


This is a second career in my lifetime but not yet professional in the sense of having registered and approved qualifications. My first career was very professional, with all the extras attached to it, including belonging to professional organisations. Being there enabled meeting people, participating in conferences, being sent on sabbaticals, and all these with the advantage of lower membership cost. I was able to visit many places, to work with wonderful people and achieve what was possible at that time. Then I chose to change all in my life and had a 10 year break in professional activities. Finding it too difficult to resume the previous route, I discovered that I actually can do something else. This is how I have become a library assistant and then a senior version a few years later. Having some ambition to progress in this career I quickly found out that it would be possible only if I "belonged". I then joined CILIP and became an affiliated member. This status is a status quo so far.
I know all the theory of what CILIP offers, I had a nice exchange of emails with the Qualifications and Professional Development adviser and I know that I can progress towards chartership in a straight forward way, requiring however more time and involvement than I am devoting to it now. It is just a matter of finding a mentor, having a plan of personal development and producing a portfolio. Easy peasy!!!
In the meantime I read most of the emails from the groups I am a member of. These are Cataloguing and Indexing and Career Development groups, only two because of the cost, my employer doesn't pay for my membership. Also I have found out recently that CILIPUPDATE publishes many interesting articles (not just titles that I used to glance at before without looking deeper into their texts). Apart from this I am rather a "dead soul" in the organisation at the moment, but this may change since I will have more time (not just better motivation) being recently made 1/3rd redundant from my present post. I will probably join LISNPN (it's free!) and possibly the CILIP Communities (since I am paying already the CILIP fee).
And that's all folks (on this subject and at the moment)!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Living in the E-world

Q: What would Egypt be without the internet? A: Gypt! (as heard on television)

Participating in the 23Things programme last year and some personal experiences in online networking has not changed my skepticism about being involved in, linked in and faced with all the different "eyes" in the world wide net. The world used to be so different, really "social", meeting people through traveling, visiting, participating in conferences, talking (I mean really TALKING) face-to-face or over the phone, or even writing letters. We then evolved into e-mailing creatures and now we are computer chair-bound and computer screen-glued E-people. With all the advantages of this stage in the development of the human species (speed, comfort and number of things we can share and learn), isn't it a little bit sad that for some of us it seems to be enough? That there is no urge to go out and meet some real human beings from time to time? The Social network film shows really clearly how the whole idea of social networking grew in the mind of an antisocial person.

As my homework for the Thing 6, I went through most of the recommended readings online. It took much more time than I really should have spent on it - links coming one after another are dangerous traps. Time - our friend and our enemy. Where to find more than 24 hours in a day? Do people who net-work so much, tweet so often and are linked in and to so many sites, have time for doing anything else? It is interesting, of course, and educating, and much more, but it cannot be the substance of life, even of the life of a professional librarian or a paraprofessional library assistant. Even if this paraprofessional individual wants to become professional.

I didn't want to be as critical as it came out. There are great things about the internet and networking. Facebook seems to solve lots of difficulties when contacts with people who are far away are to be kept, LinkedIn - for the same reason but on a professional platform. Easy ways of finding out about things, getting quick answers to all sorts of burning questions from the comfort of your own home or office, no matter the distance and weather, is simply delicious (sic!). But it cannot and should not replace personal contacts with people. After all there is a life outside of the computer. My daughter just called me and asked if I had seen the sky tonight. I looked through the window - the sky was pink like raspberry ice cream and beautiful. No, I didn't see it until she asked me. Of course not - I was looking at the screen and the keyboard for most of the evening!
Having said all the above, I am going to join the LinkedIn and the LISNPN possibly too. I have Twitter and Facebook accounts and in my library our work Facebook account is being created. We hope that our library users will visit it more frequently than the institutional intranet site. Also it will be strictly on library matters and will not be "buried" among any other tabs on the site. So the conclusion is - there is no escape from the internet and networks. Perhaps we do not exist (xist?) without internet? We just need to be more selective choosing sites and online groups to join. Once more - time is a limit.

P.S. Talking about Facebook - I have just recently learnt about Google+. It seems to have some interesting features (e.g. the circles which allow to share different things with different people) but will it be successful in replacing Facebook - the social network giant? Will Facebook users be happy to transfer their virtual life to a new site? Perhaps these two forces should merge? Also, the name - Google+, is it good enough to catch on?

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

This and that about Things and thoughts

When I get up in the morning and see the first reflection - my own in the mirror, I do not like it. The second reflection is - I do not like my blogs. But I like other people's blogs, and love RSS's, Flickr and some other Things - that's the third reflection, the positive one. Third time lucky!

* * *

Looking back to the past four weeks and my four blogs posted during that time, I suppose I have been a reflective practitioner all the time. With every new Thing I do consider how they might be of use both for me personally and in my job. Would they be useful to improve my service to library users or to them directly? If the answer is YES then I would look for more information and try to apply what seems good in everyday practice.

This year's Things have been mostly repeats of last year's Things so far, but looked at from a slightly different angle. And it has been good because it helps to look at them again and in some cases I have, or might, change my mind about using or not using them. I suppose this is what learning and discovering new things is about - to find out about them, to study them carefully, to understand them, accept them if they are good or dismiss what doesn't seem to be right, apply in practice and then evaluate the results of this process. Reflecting could lead to further discoveries and improvements in whatever we do. Hopefully this is what happens also in the process of going through the programme of cpd23. Undoubtedly it is a great experience even if only a small percentage of what we are learning is to be applied.

Reflecting on things and writing up these thoughts is also very useful practical training for those who would need to produce a portfolio if they wanted to progress in their professional career
(hear, hear - this comment concerns me too!).

Some brief reflections on THINGS:
  • Blogging - good practice in creative and reflective writing, a good tool to communicate thoughts, news, policies in any field in more words than just an announcement however laborious and time consuming, both when writing and reading (sometimes when trying to understand too).
  • RSS - GREAT! In every aspect of this Thing - short, quick, easy to apply and use, lots of private and work related uses, it is a time saving "device".
  • Twitter - also called "micro-blogging" and for this reason has similar limitations to its Big Brother, mostly time consuming when following it (lots and lots and even more to read).
  • Pushnote - I am not sure about it, seems to have some potential but could it be useful in libraries? I do not know yet.
Do I use THINGS now or will I use any of them in the future? Definitely YES to RSS (privately and at work). A smaller YES goes to Blog and Twitter and only as useful tools in my professional development process rather than for communicating to and with the library users, at least not at the moment. Our students did not show much interest in any of the two in a survey carried out recently. MAYBE - I might say to Pushnote (after further investigation).

A few final and rather untidy reflections, not completely on the subject

When talking about reflections one particular question pops up frequently - do we need libraries? I was not surprised seeing the article by Laura Swaffieldin published recently in CILIPUPDATE (July 2011) : Everyone needs libraries, so let's close lots of them, OK?. Isn't it just obvious? A sarcastic question, but what are we to think hearing all the bad news about public libraries, cuts and restrictions in academic ones and being personally affected by this trend. On the other hand, we see masses of books published every day, countless catalogues containing long lists of new releases, we hear (read) politicians (not only in the UK) complaining that people cannot read, or do not read enough, or do not read what they should. Still, according to many of those who decide, we do not need libraries!
Today I have learned of the reward winning enterprise called Bibliocreatio - a reader's advisory enterprise. Two young enthusiasts create customised libraries on demand, advise online what to read, which book could be an appropriate present for someone (books are still a favourite among Birthday and Christmas presents).
We need books. We love books. Not every book is available in e-version, they are not popular with everyone. Also very few can afford to build a big home collection. Both books and readers need libraries! Just visit some of the newly built, refurbished, extended or redecorated Cambridge college libraries! They are amazing. Would all this expensive work have been done if we did not need libraries?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

... and the books are still not shelved

Although I am still rather skeptical about Twitter, I do follow some tweets, not just cpd23 but also BBC News, CILIP and some private accounts too. My own account, which was created last year, flew away somewhere into the air, probably because I have completely forgotten the password or as a punishment for not using it apart from three or four tweets when participating in the 23Things program. Those old tweets are still online but I do not have access to that account. This year, as a part of cpd23, I have created a new account (under a new name and new password) and used it to tweet twice to the world and two or three times as a response to the posts of my work colleague who is a very keen twitterer. When I posted those personal tweets (sitting in the the same room as my addressee) I realised suddenly that we could just talk! But my colleague said that it's 21st century and this is how we exchange views now. Sad. Hopefully not exactly true.
Despite all the skepticism, I do appreciate that Twitter might be a very useful tool for inter-people and inter-library communication, but...
Almost every serious tweet (not the one like "I am bored today" or "I ate to much for dinner" sort) contains at least one link which leads usually to another one, and another, and another, and so on. Sometimes this chain is so interesting that one can spent hour after hour, day after day or even night after night, going through the net. Also - how much time needs to be spent first to find all the interesting things which then can be shared via Twitter or Facebook?

And the books in the libraries are still not shelved!

That's my main worry - becoming addicted to Twitter and having no time for other things (apart from the 23). The number of tweets is growing at a scary speed - it's not exponential but extra-exponential, or worse, growth these days! One needs a very selective approach to avoid being buried under this information overload. But I must admit - the chemistry is there.

RSS - little time savers!

Not being very enthusiastic about Twitter, I do use RSS feeds a lot. I fell in love with this great gadget from the first site, i.e. from the Thing 2 in the 23Things programme last year. It's so easy to follow all the most important or interesting sites via RSS's. World news (not the News of the World), job vacancies, library news, blogs and many, many more. The RSS logos have their place not just in my iGoogle page but on the toolbar of each computer I use. This includes also the RSS feeding the information of recently catalogued books in the libraries where I work. This particular RSS is one of the not so old additions to the LibrarySearch online catalogue in Cambridge domain. It's a great tool which should be recommended to students so they can easily find out about their own library's new additions - not everybody visits a library every day, but almost everyone opens their internet more than once a day.

Pushnote or Pinnote?

I haven't heard about Pushnote until the Thing 4 in the cpd23 - the first revelation this season! I hoped that Pushnote would allow me to comment on all the sites where and when I would like to do so without registering separately on each and every one. This is really annoying - the registering (however understandable). Annoying, because before one goes through a registration process, one might forget one's brilliant idea of a comment. I read the instruction, went to the website, watched the video advertising this gadget. It did not seem to be what I expected. I might be wrong, perhaps I haven't read it all carefully enough or did not understand correctly what I read . Then I saw the small print next to the website title - Beta. I think I'll wait until it becomes an "Alpha".

Saturday, 9 July 2011


To E-be or not to be at all?

In the past I googled my maiden family name a few times but rather to look up what was there about my parents (who as actors were more likely to be mentioned) and yes - I came across my own, tiny, presence there too (to my great astonishment). In my "previous life" - pre-English one, I would have more to show if the internet existed then or if I lived somewhere where archives were well kept and someone cared enough to publish them online. In those pre-internet times, the only computer I saw (once) was a room-size machine in one of the industrial research institutes. A scientific calculator was the most advanced piece of technology I used . I brought it from Canada where at that time computers were already common and as one of my colleagues nicely described "used as saucers under cups of tea" . So to find my name among billions present online was a surprise. Until the cpd23 Thing 3 instruction to look up my own name on the internet, I never checked if I did exist there as a new edition of "me" - the English version. Encouraged by the cpd23 "command", I found over 7o pages containing my name (the combination of my not English first name and very English surname). One of "me" lived in the 18th century, another in the 19th - grave memorials may be viewed online, links are provided (I didn't dare!). Someone else with my name runs yoga studios in Paris (and originates from Brazil!) . Another one is a secretary of an international magic corporation. I wish I had her magic wand! Well, these people are not me, or I am not them. The real me however exists online too, thanks to a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogger and of course because I am employed (still, despite all the cuts and global crisis). I haven't found anything compromising about myself, and not much very exciting either. Hopefully it's not too late to make a more interesting mark. It's high time to think about ... I have a brand?

I started with reading the articles on personal branding, those suggested by the cpd23 blog and more publications linked to them. Lots to take in, to consider and to apply. So - do I have my own brand? And what is that really? A name? No, I am not Coca-Cola or even a yoga studio. I did publish some scientific papers but that was then - in my previous life. I post blogs under the name of Revelation23. It seemed relevant to discoveries I was about to make embarking on the 23Things program last year. This year not all the Things are revelations any more but my blog name has not been changed (no better idea so far).
I use my real name on Facebook and this year also on my Twitter account (last year it was Revelation24, Twitter did not want to accept the 23!). I have however replaced a picture of a rose (my very own) with the photograph of a real me in my profile on Twitter but still have a Cat in the Hat picture in my Blogger profile. No consistency at all! Completely against the rules that are suggested in all the articles read. Also my bio is not exactly informative and is different on each site. Lots of room for improvement!

I think I will leave the "Cat in the hat" in my Blogger profile - much more photogenic than myself.
Also I have a mascot Cat in the Hat attached to the bunch of library keys as my personal mark - a brand? My colleagues and students would hopefully know who to return the keys to if I loose them (touch wood and avoid a black cat - it has not happened yet).
Reputation as a brand - I'd like to think that my colleagues and library users could describe me as friendly, patient and helpful. I would like these attributes to be my professional brand. And the cat? He was friendly and helpful. And he did know the Things, at least Thing One and Thing Two.

Friday, 8 July 2011

The Jolly Blog Reader: or Other People's Blogs

Which parent doesn't know this great book for children The Jolly Postman: or Other People's Letters by Janet and Allan Ahlberg... Reading other people's blogs is a little bit like reading this book. There we were discovering letters hidden in envelopes, here we find out what's hiding under all these mysterious titles. Last year (23Things Cambridge) I admired the wonderful and very effective (winner of the Best Blog award) ruminations of Miss Crail (Miss Crail's Ruminations) . A great view of the world and its libraries, together with a very helping hand, was delivered straight from the Moon by a certain girl (Girl in the Moon). The Lizard Lounge - what a great title! Opening this "lounge" feels like entering a mysterious cave full of surprises. I still follow these blogs and enjoy reading them. Recently I have looked at other "letters" in the "Jolly blogger" bag. So far I found very interesting views and lots of information in The Cat's Eye blog. Straight from "Cluedo", Miss Scarlet in the Library has arrived - with a blog, not a dagger this time. I also (of course) follow the blogs of my work colleagues. MyDay often makes my day with her comments, and Meandering the Bookshelves takes me along the winding corridors of the library-relevant thoughts of our new(ish) staff member. I rather try to read them after I post my own creations, so I am not influenced by what they write. I discovered however that quite often we have similar ideas and views and come to similar conclusions. Team work!

When the cpd23 program was announced I promised myself that I would read other blogs more and write less myself - just a few sentences and one or two pictures (I love Flickr-ing) for each Thing. This way I would have more time to read about what others think and do. It didn't work so far, neither with writing nor with reading. Still, this morning I spent some two hours reading blogs, and this afternoon another 2 hours reading more and writing my own blog. Plus all the things outside THE 23 which needed to be done... Some have not even been touched. Some books need shelving...

The Delicious bookmarks link, published in cpd23 Thing 2 instructions, made it easy to browse the participant list and choose some blogs for further reading. What an impressive number of cpd23 bloggers! I was a bit disappointed however that among the international blogging cpd23 community there were none from my home country. I need to investigate further in (do they know about cpd23 there at all?).
In the meantime - let's blog!

Sunday, 3 July 2011


The 23rd of June seemed like a perfect day to start blogging about the new 23 Things. Of course what I really mean is not to start but to re-start after almost a year's break. However not having been very well recently, I could not face the computer screen and its keyboard on that particular day and for the following two weeks.

I was grounded at home, not able to cook, iron, tidy up, do gardening or even to feed my cat. I finally had the time to simply sit and read or watch daytime television. Chained to the TV, I have learned almost all about the crisis in Greece (what a beautiful catastrophe, as Zorba the Greek would say), also followed the changes in the Swiss frank exchange rates and found out how much the military action in Libya costs - horrific!. I also helped Lewis to solve a murder mystery in the Bodleian Library in Oxford and admired the most beautiful 'Boeing 787, the Dreamliner' landing in Warsaw. This plane changes colours depending on the time of day! I can't wait to fly on one like this!

I couldn't face the computer but I faced the back-story of Facebook in watching the David Fincher's film The Social Network. It could have been because of my poorly condition or the gloomy, rainy day outside, or dark colours ("colors" really, because it is an American film after all) in that movie, but all those together did put me off visiting Facebook for a while. I liked one scene in the film, however; one of the characters says, "Drop the "The", just "Facebook". It's cleaner". I totally agree - all the articles in the English language are just little traps for native speakers of the Slavonic language to fall into.

Any way, intentionally or not, watching that film was like a prelude to the new 23Things at Cambridge. Like a bridge between last year's things and the new beginning.

The cpd23Things! Continuous professional development - great! Having my full time post reduced (crisis) I should be able to spend more time doing all sorts of things - also 23 Things. And developing professionally. Why not?!