Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Thing 23

What next?!

I think this programme has helped me in several ways:

1. Getting me to actually write something
Writing isn't one of my strongest points, but I hope that getting me to actually put my thoughts into words has been very useful. As I progress through my masters I know that putting pen to paper is a huge aspect of it, and starting by just by writing a few paragraphs on here has to have been beneficial, even if not one of the aims of the programme!

2. Getting me to think
Mostly about what I am doing in my career, and where I hope to go, but also about the wealth of free online resources available to me. From Prezi to Mendeley, I feel I have learnt a huge amount about how many clever things there are on the internet, and how I can use them to make my life easier!

3. Getting me to consider my future
And how reflecting on what I am doing is vital to keeping a track of what skills I attain at work and outside, and how that can help me in my career. This is where I hope to do more work and actually try to keep a folder of what I have done and what it means - something they try to get you to do at school when it feels irrelevant and time consuming. I will start by making a list of all the day to day activities I carry out, and see what skills I gain from then, and then move on to 'extra curricular activities'. Already at work we have 6 month PDRs which help me reflect, and I complete evaluation forms for every training event I have been on, to help me remember exactly what I gained from the session.

I think working in a college library has given me vital experience but I appreciate that elsewhere I need to have different skills, such as maybe moving into the 'information society' a bit more! From looking at job specifications I know that getting my masters will be incredibly useful (in a couple of years when I've finished).I think it could be useful to me to gain experience in different types of libraries, and maybe the option of volunteering in a public library should be one to consider. But at the moment my masters and a full time job are pretty time consuming, and something for me to focus all my efforts on for the time being.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Thing 22

Volunteering to gain experience

I don't think I could be where I am today with having worked voluntarily. Having no idea what to do with my life after university, and not wanting to spend my spare time doing a job that would get me nowhere in the end, I was eager to be able to get work experience at my university library. It was definitely a positive experience, and encouraged me that it was something I really could do. It gave me confidence, and helped we learn just what the job of librarian could mean, something you never really know until you experience it. Today I sometimes feel amazed that I now get paid for the job I do - having spent so long volunteering and never having had a (proper) paid job before it still seems surreal.

I spent my summer between third and fourth year doing this, plus volunteering at a local hospice and Durham's Botanic Gardens. Even though less relevant to becoming a librarian, I still think you can get a great deal out of doing something where you are meeting new people and trying something you haven't done before. Without all this experience I have no doubt that I would not be doing what I do now - having a decent degree is great but you need to have more! Since I've been in Cambridge I haven't done anything like I did that summer, and sometimes I think it would be a great idea. I can definitely see how it can fill gaps in your experience - the mention of teaching is something I have only observed, and I think some experience of that could only be a good thing. But now I am studying such a large amount of my time has disappeared, and what I have left I just want to do nothing and recuperate a bit! So maybe in a couple of years... I would love to do something involving children or maybe even just with a slightly different target group to most university libraries.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Thing 21

Job Applications and Interviews - eek!

This is not my favourite thing to talk about, most likely because of my lack of experience. But the time will come soon to start thinking about it all again, and giving some thought to it now is probably a good idea.

Thinking about what I like doing at work - I love organising. Although I don't do it naturally, the satisfaction I get from it is enjoyable! When I worked at Darwin College in the summer I loved making sure all the shelves were in order with their neat labels. Although I hope that I can progress to higher things (this is definitely the case back at John's!), fundamentally I know I love sorting and perfecting things. My work with the biographical office definitely requires this, updating records and researching people for enquirers. I also love the feeling when I've had a really busy day and I've achieved so much. Having had a productive day, arranged my day well and done things to help others is truly satisfying. I love having a project and following it through to the end. I think the skill of time keeping is something I definitely built on whilst at Durham, and continue to do so especially now as I have to study and work.

Surprisingly another thing I have enjoyed since I arrived in Cambridge is doing tours and talking to students. Usually really shy, I thought this would be an aspect I would hate. But I have to say I think it is the biggest thing my work at John's has given me - confidence in the work place. I have also been lucky enough to attend lots of training sessions during the past year, from HTML and cataloguing to the everyday stuff like Microsoft Office. I am really interested in the IT part of working in libraries, and all this has helped me further,

Outside of work I love cooking and baking, especially without a recipe book (when the end result is good!). I think this shows that although I love ordering things it is in the end product that is important, not how you get there. Being out in the open air working, planning my route and reaching the top of a hill which was a challenge is when I'm the happiest. I guess that also comes from loving to organise things. It also shows how I like to keep work and home separate - I do not want being a librarian to take over my life. I love what I do now, but it is a job to me, I enjoy the fact I don't need to think about it outside of work (hm, although I guess I am a little now!). Finally, I love food, and going out for dinner and a glass of wine is such a treat. Not sure how that goes with anything work related...

I think the one thing I will take away from this - I need to keep a CV 'file'. At school you always had your personal development folder, and I guess despite laughing at it at the time it is a useful thing to do, especially now I am learning new things every week. I need to try and remember everything I have achieved since I started working - which is helped by the fact we have to review every training course we have been on in a big file at work.

In terms of interview tips I always think just being yourself is the best you can do - it's not just what you can do that's important, it's who you are and whether you will fit in in that work environment. I always like to plan profusely, if only to calm myself - usually everything you 'revised' beforehand leaves your head the minute you walk in and you have to improvise! Smile :-), and probably ignore what I've said as I am very inexperienced in all this! Read someone elses blog :-).

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Thing 20 - From Physics to Libraries

The Library Routes Project

As seems to be the case with everyone (and hence not terribly interesting!), I fell into libraries for no good reason. And who knows if it was I will do for the rest of my working life? I was in my penultimate year at Durham studying Theoretical Physics and pondering what to do after my graduation. A close friend suggested volunteering in the college library where she did, for only an hour a week. I thought there was nothing to lose, so I signed up and whilst there saw a flyer for getting work experience at the university library. After a short chat with the staff there I found myself going in two days a week over the summer (2010), and getting to know what working in a library was all about. And I really enjoyed it! The people there were so friendly, and I really enjoyed what they asked me to do. I experienced all elements, acquisitions, processing, serials, academic support, working on the desk with students and much more.

With still no idea of how to use my degree directly in a job I would enjoy I decided to give it a go getting a job in a library, believing my scientific background would block me straight away. But I was lucky, and got a place as a graduate trainee librarian in Cambridge. The year was so interesting, I learnt so much and gained confidence, and I enjoyed my work so much. Now I have returned to St John's as maternity cover in the position Projects Assistant, and have begun my masters in Information and Library Studies at Aberystwyth by distance learning. At the current time I am just about to submit my first two assignments after my initial study school back in September, and so far I'm finding it really interesting. It is a lot to fit in but I think it is good to challenge yourself from time to time. Going from writing lab reports and equations to essays is quite a step for me but hopefully I'll make it through. I would love to find myself in a job where my science-y background was useful, I do miss maths a bit! But at the moment I'm just plodding along :-)

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Thing 19

I've been having a long think about this thing - at least that's my excuse! A lot has happened in the last month, and time has just flown past. I've turned a year older, moved into a new house and started my 'new job'. I've also started studying with Aberystwyth by distance learning, and that is taking up a fair bit of my spare time. It's a different kind of study to anything I've done in a long while (actually having to read something?!) but it's turning out really interesting. My first essay is on censorship which to be honest is not something I have ever given a great deal of thought to, but now I am worried about how I am going to keep to the 3000 word limit! I have begun using Mendeley, and I hope it will of great use to me over the next couple of years.

I don't know how much more I have to talk about, but one thing that is definitely relevant has been the starting of a St John's College Library twitter account. Proposed at our recent 'Away day' we (YiWen, the new Graduate Trainee and I) worked towards having it up and running for the start of term. Tweeting a minimum of once a day, I hope we provide useful information to students and others who are interested. We also invite visitors to follow us on the College Library website http://www.joh.cam.ac.uk/library/ with a mini live feed appearing on the right hand side. So far the number of followers has gradually increased and I do hope that as people realise how useful we could be to follow the numbers will go up even more (follow us - StJohns_Library). I have to say that this project has made me use Twitter more to keep up with what is going on.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Thing 18

Jing/screen capture/podcasts (making and following them)

1. Jing

I could have a lot of fun with this! Taking only ten minutes to download and create my first video (very basic!). I can see a multitude of uses for Jing, if only to start with helping my grandad to do things on the computer himself, without me having to be there! It is so simple to use (I didn't read any instructions) and the option of adding a narration over the top is particularly important. From what I could tell you can only add captions if you  download more software (Camtasia Studio) which does have a free trial, but I decided not to venture that far. With the sound recording option I don't think it is required, but may be useful for a business to make their videos particularly clear. To conclude I think this is a great tool, and being free I will definitely try it out in real life situations!

2. Podcasting

It is a long time since I have listened to any podcasts, my first experience of them was listening to those by New Scientist journal, on my ipod during sixth form. I found them a great way to find out about popular science topics without having to lug a book around on the train. I used iTunes to download the series automatically, and chose which ones appealed most to add to my ipod. I know that the arcadia seminars programme was published as podcasts, and I think they are a very useful way of distributing your information. A little like iplayer in a way, allowing the user to listen at will! I am yet to create a podcast, but I can see the many ways it could be used in a library. At St John's it could be implemented to create guides for students, however I do think visual options are best, or for example to allow people to listen to talks given as part of the Samuel Butler events (see http://on.fb.me/QgWcCu or http://bit.ly/Q7MLqx).

Monday, 20 August 2012

Thing 17

The Medium is the Message - Prezi and Slideshare

I have to say I have gotten quite excited about this thing - and have just spent an hour playing with Prezi, trying to get my head around it! I thought I would start by trying to create a basic presentation about the steps to applying for a graduate traineeship (nice and easy, don't need to think too much about the content!). I am one of those people who just jumps in without reading the instructions so I just went straight away to use a basic template that they offered - and I really liked the look of the footsteps one. I love the way you can zoom in and out of the different parts of the presentation, it looks so much more interesting than PowerPoint. I think one great way this could be used, for fun, would be to create a presentation for yourself of holiday photos. You could either use a timeline format (I love making timelines, after all the time I spent preparing the Johnian Physicists exhibition at St John's!) or as a keen OS map user when out walking, maybe a large map of the area you had been with the key places you visited and the photos you took. Maybe this is not quite what it is designed for, but I think it's a nice idea! In terms of concentrating on its uses in the real world, I can see how invaluable it would be to be able to share presentations and allow others to edit it, wherever you are in the world. I found it a little disappointing that you have to pay to allow your presentations to be kept private, but I guess that is to be expected. I also had some difficulty using the options, such as putting photos into the presentation, but I think this is something that could be solved by actually following some of the tutorials beforehand, and this is what I aim to do!

This thing is definitely going to give me something to fill in any bored moments I have over the next few weeks! I haven't even tried Slideshare yet...