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?!