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!

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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?

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