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 ...