How many things? Only 23.











{November 2, 2012}   It’s all over now, 23Things

I made it to the end, woo! Cue celebration time!

So, it got a little ropey in the middle (timewise), but I managed to get back on track and mostly keep in sync with the programme.

This final thing, Thing 23, is more reflecting, considering, moving on, and we’re asked to do various things. One of which is to write a six word story about our experience. Here’s mine, which I came up with in the shower this morning:

CPD23Things: learnt stuff, made (re-)connections, useful.

So, what did I specifically learn then? Well, I went through the list of 23 things and these are the ones that I learnt the most on, or have taken on board:  Scoop.it (part of Thing 4), Prezi (Thing 17), and most definitely screencasts (Thing 18). There were a couple where I think I would have possibly found them useful in work, if they worked in work (eg Evernote, Google docs/drive, and Dropbox). Also, a top tip I picked up from Green Stone Librarian was using online reference tools for keeping a list of research reports read etc. This is something I would like to follow up and actually put into practice.

Because of my age, where I am in my career and my future short, mid and long term plans, I found some of the Things were aimed more at ‘new professionals’ and so a little less relevant for me, but that isn’t really a problem, and it meant they were a bit quicker to complete!

I did personally find there to be a bit TOO much reflecting, pondering or thinking about your past, at times – I would have maybe liked more time on some of the things where several useful tools were crammed into one e.g. Thing 13 or Thing 4, but other than that, I can’t really fault the programme at all.

It was excellent to be able to proceed at one’s own pace, and see how others felt about the same tools.

Thing23 suggests we look not only at what we’ve learnt, but also any potential gaps, and also link it into a personal training programme. Where I work we have a performance management programme which includes a document with your five SMART objectives for the year, and your training needs to achieve those. We have a mid-term review (just had it – all fine) and an end of year review. This 23Things was in my training programme.

What do I want to do next? Well, in the short and medium term I’m planning to stay in my current post, all being well! 23Things has helped me specifically with communication tools and I am wondering if that’s an area I want to explore more.

I will definitely be keeping my library blog going, but not this one. I will also be keeping my yoga blog going, but that’s part of my other life! I’ll also keep on twittering (@libalyson), and using Scoop.it.

Finally, I couldn’t end without a reference to a great comedy line that I’ve been thinking of since Thing23 was posted. At times during the 23Things I thought ‘Oh no, I’m not going to make it.’ And now, on reaching the end I can say, ‘I made it, hurray!’ Which, for those of you who have watched Flight of the Conchords will remember as a similar line from their music pastiche on LOTR – it’s at 1:10-1:16 in this clip (I believe you can link directly to a spot in a video, can someone teach me this please?**). This pastiche is my very fave version of LOTR, mainly because it’s less than 2 minutes long (rather than 12 hours), and is hilarious.

(BTW, the title of the post is a reference to the Bob Dylan song “It’s all over now, Baby Blue” which probably isn’t about online training programmes, but then, who knows what it’s about?)

(Who knew I could do several cultural references in one blog?)

The End!

**Ok, have been instructed, so here’s the link going direct to the correct place.

 



Well now, I’m almost done here, just two more things to go. Here’s one I should have done a few weeks ago, but was a little bit busy at the time.

Thing 17 is all about presenting, looking in particular at Prezi, but also Slideshare for tried (tired?) and tested Powerpoint slides.

Let’s start with the positives, cos I’m feeling relatively happy. I’ve been using Slideshare for a wee while (a year or so?) and it’s been useful to have somewhere in the public domain where I can place public talks I’ve given to groups of people, or talks at conferences etc. I also found out that it can be used to host documents as well, which I did for my sample business case for requesting a social media presence. I like being able to see how many people have viewed or downloaded my presentations in Slideshare.

One of the few downsides is that in order for someone to print or download a presentation in Slideshare they need to have an account. My line manager has cottoned on to the fact that I have an account and now sends me emails asking me to download and email him this or that presentation or print this or that one for him. Not a problem for me, but a bit of a barrier for the general user, especially if I’m off on my hols for two weeks! Another slight downside is mainly a problem within where I work as I can’t upload into Slideshare, so I have to email myself the .ppt to home and upload it from there, which is not really a problem as I also have to email it home if I want to put it on a memory stick to take to the conference/workshop anyway…

If you take a look at any of my presentations you’ll see they’re all a bit dull, and a bit samey. They break most of the presentation/powerpoint ‘rules’. And most are on the same sort of topic (CyMAL, libraries in Wales). I’m not sure if we have a Very Fixed rule in work on .ppt but we do have a template we’re meant to use. I try to liven it up with videos and images where possible, and I hope my presentation style is such that people aren’t bored in my talks. (Although seeing students texting or checking their smartphones during a lecture is very disconcerting. Am I (a) that boring, or (b) are they that important that they have to check for messages every 5 minutes? Wouldn’t have happened in my student days, I can tell you, not least because we used pen and paper to communicate … )

I’ve been wanting to liven my talks up for a while and have seen Prezi in action during the last couple of years, so Thing 17 was a great opportunity to finally make myself give it a whirl. But oh dear me what a disappointment! Although to be fair, it’s not really all Prezi’s fault. For some unknown and inexplicable reason, Prezi LOOKS like it’s working on my computer in work, but is infact, not working at all. It merilly let me do hours of work on my presentation but failed to point out that it wasn’t actually saving it! So, I go home at the weekend, all excited about showing my partner my new Prezi, and we log-in, and there’s nothing there! Oh the disappointment. And frustration. later, after repeating the work, it happens again so I ring the IT people in work but as it’s a 3rd party application they can’t (won’t) support it (ie won’t investigate what the problem is). I look at online forums (fora), and others seem to have the same problem – it cannot save. The suggestion of copy & paste into another tab just does not work. Prezi offers no explanation of why it’s not saving some prezis. We noticed at home that the version I was viewing in work was different from the one we accessed at home. Why? Is this a browser thing?

Anyway, I tried, I failed, but I had a bit of fun in the process. I think Prezi will be useful to get away from a boring linear talk and to present ideas more graphically. However, unless I’m allowed to do them all at home, and if I can ensure that I don’t give myself motion sickness in the making (playground roundabouts, lifts in buildings and being swung around in a ceilidh all give me sea sickness), then I will return to Prezi.

I looked at a couple of the resume (CVs) in Slideshare, and they looked fun. Nice idea.

Oh, as an aside – the name. I was chatting to a fellow librarian at a conference and I mentioned that I liked so-and-so’s Prezi – they thought I was just being uber-cool in calling the presentation a “prezi”. And at home my partner said ‘Shall we look at the prezis now?’ and I immediately thought we’d got presents for each other. What a disappointment. (Especially as my Prezi wasn’t there – see above.)



[Why have I waited so long to do this Thing? Well, I wanted to spend some time on it, and see if it would be possible to use these things in work, but I kept on running out of time, and in the end I found out they aren’t possible anyway, so I’ve finally written the blog post!]

Sharing your work is great (not in a plagiarism, can-I-copy-you at school sort of way), but sharing documents if you’re working on something with a group of people, possibly remotely from each other as well. (Thing 13.)

Unfortunately, in work, Google Docs/Drive is disabled, and we cannot install software like Dropbox onto the thin clients. Although there are occasions when I would like to make a document available virtually for a select group of (external) colleagues for their edits, it’s currently not possible in work. Internally, an electronic records management system was introduced last year so now we can view all documents and edit them, from one central place, which is much better than before.

I don’t really do home working so I don’t really need to work at home on a work document, so having Dropbox at home wouldn’t really help anyway.

I actually looked into sharing documents online about a year ago, not for my job/work, but for my yoga life. I have a range of typed handouts I wanted to make available to anyone, and looked into a number of different options, including Dropbox and Google docs, but the one I liked most was minus.com. It is simple, free, uncluttered, doesn’t require installation, can be accessed from anywhere and does all that I needed. (Admittedly it’s not really designed for multiple-author editing.)

You can see my minus profile here, and download any of the yoga handouts you want!

And whilst I have used various wikis, I’ve never created one. Not really seen the need to do that yet.



Volunteering in libraries has been (and still is) a contentious issue, especially in the last 12 months or so, principally around the areas of staff losing jobs and being replaced by volunteers, or library branches closing and being re-opened by volunteers. I’m  not even going to begin to discuss this as it’s a huge minefield. Anyway, this Thing is all about me, not the wider world. (Sorry that sounds really ego-centric!)

So, for Thing 22 we’re tasked to reflect on whether we’ve undertaken volunteer work, how it was, did it further our career etc.

For my library career I have not undertaken any volunteering that I can think of. Or for my researchy career prior to this.

I have undertaken quite a lot of voluntary work however, in areas of personal interest. Whilst this hasn’t ‘furthered my career’ as the Thing blog post discusses, it has increased my skills, knowledge and experience in general. And I’ve met people who are now friends.

None of it was ever on a formal capacity (good volunteer programmes will have an agreed plan or document of understanding so everyone is clear about expectations etc.) and essentially centres around groups I’ve joined in my local area which I have some affinity with.

These include being a member of the volunteer committee who oversee Honno Welsh Women’s Press for a few years, a position I took up after finishing my (paid) work for them; also taking on various roles in the (now defunct) local LETS scheme; taking on various responsibilities in a local literature festival that ran for a few years in Abersywtyth (called Rich Text), and currently being a trustee of a  group of local yoga teachers called Yoga I Bawb (trans. yoga for all) who work towards taking yoga out to particular groups and making yoga more accessible. I also run some lunch time de-stresser sessions twice a week at work – just 15 mins  but it’s amazing the difference it makes!

 



We’re nearing the end of 23Things (how on earth did that happen?) and it’s time for some more reflective thinking about ourselves.

Thing 21 is all about promoting yourself at job applications and interviews, CVs and personal strengths.

I’m slightly disadvantaged as I have been in this post for seven years now, and haven’t prepared a CV since then. A couple of years ago I applied for a temporary post as a secondment (using their standard form, not a CV) and had an interview but didn’t get the job, which looking back, I’m now glad about!

CVs

Despite not having really updated my CV for some time I do have a ‘full CV’ document. In this I have put everything down that I’ve achieved (even certificates at school sports days!) and all my jobs and education. However, I know I haven’t really kept it up to date in the last seven years and I’ve given a lot of talks, written articles and completed training that are not recorded in this ‘full CV’ document. This may be because in my current job I have an annual performance management plan and so quite a few of the work related achievements are in that. It’ll be a bit of a big task to go through the last seven years of these documents, but it’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. Something for over the christmas hols perhaps?

From this ‘full CV’ I then can create a specific short one for any job that I might apply for.

My interstes/activities

Through recent work activities, and to some extent some of the things in 23 Things, I have a growing realisation that I like ‘comms stuff’ (communication). Whether it’s a strength of mine I don’t know – others will need to answer that!

Interview tips

I agree with most of the ones on the Wikiman’s blog post as referenced in Thing21. Here are a few tips I’ve gleaned, either from being the applicant, or, from being on the panel.

  • be yourself – if you give a false picture of who you are you may find you don’t fit in later on
  • first impressions count – be smart, punctual and smile as you enter the room
  • make eye contact with everyone
  • plan, plan and plan some more – I have a document with loads of sample interview questions in and would prepare sample answers to them so that I wouldn’t have to think of something on the spot
  • always have an example of something you’ve done for every type of work/activity mentioned in the job spec
  • have a spare pair of tights (if you’re wearing them).


This thing is all about library careers – how you got into librarianship in the first place (roots), and your library career path (routes). The rue is my own which I added because I think things sound better in threes.

Roots
The roots project wiki website with other library roots stories was down when I was writing this two days ago, but I will look at it later as it’s back again.

View of exterior of Grantown on Spey library

Grantown on Spey library, where it all started. I particularly like the turret.

When I was a wee bairn my Mum would take me to the town library where we lived (Grantown on Spey, Scotland). This summer I went back there and walked past the library but couldn’t go in as it was closed for the afternoon. We left Scotland when I was under two, and I grew up with Leominster public library in Herefordshire. We’d go every week and would get the maximum number of books. Sometimes I would have read them all by the end of the weekend! The lovely staff there allowed my sister and I to progress from the children’s cards (three brown tickets) to the adult’s (six white tickets) when we were still teenagers – it was great to have six books a week each!

When I was under 10 my sister and I played libraries. Yes, I know! My parents made us the slips of paper for the front, and we had a date stamp with red ink. We had a good collection of books and I fondly recall playing libraries. I had no plans for the future at this stage.

Later (much later), I did a week’s work experience in Leominster library. (Do schools still do work experience weeks? I went to the Centre for Alternative Technology for my second one.) And then when I was 17 I got a Saturday library assistant job at Leominster library. My sister had also worked as a Saturday library assistant. I worked there for two years whilst doing my A levels, and I distinctly recall, on my last Saturday before setting off for the dizzy heights of university, one of the staff asking me if I thought I would go into librarianship. Despite enjoying the work I said ‘no’. I can’t remember my reasons, but I didn’t see it as my career. Not that I had any clear career in mind at all!

So, I got my degree, using lots of libraries in the process (I was in Oxford – I frequented at least 6 that I can recall, and I joined the public library) and finished my degree in June with no idea of what I was doing or where I was going. I got a temping job for a bit and then applied and got a library assistant job at Lincoln College library in Oxford. It was a two year post and I enjoyed it. As I wasn’t one of the official graduate trainees in Oxford I didn’t take part in their programme, though my manager did get me onto a couple of the talks. For the second year she managed to persuade those who ran the scheme to allow me to join in fully, so I attended the seminar programme and visits as an imposter and made some friends, some of whom I’m still in touch with. At some point during these two years I must have made a decision to go into librarianship because then I applied to do a master’s degree.

Routes
I completed my Master’s degree in library and information studies at DIS (or, DILS as it was back then) at Aberystwyth University, and then have had a roundabout route to where I am now. I was interested in research and consultancy and one of the lecturers (Prof Hywel Roberts) asked me to be the research assistant on a couple of short-term projects which lasted about 4 months. One was looking at the new establishment of Re:Source in England (remember that? MLA precurser) and if there was scope for a similar organisation overseeing museums, archives and libraries in Wales. And the other was with an inter-library lending scheme in Wales (Cydfenthyca Cymru – Interlending Wales). The significance of these two projects is that I am involved with both of them still, 12/13 years later.*

The research work finished and I then got a part-time job working with the lovely Honno Welsh Women’s Press. Still in the book world. I did marketing, the website, sales data (creating lots of Excel charts!) and other bits and bobs. To make up my hours I also started picking up some part-time research work in DIS for different lecturers. Then, I had a conversation with Hywel Roberts and he suggested I look into research properly and advised doing a PhD. So, I got accepted onto the new Research Training Master’s degree that the department was offering, completed that, and then completed the PhD (under Dr Geraint Evans). I also did a small amount of lecturing in the department as well. I didn’t have a fixed view as to what would happen once the PhD ended, but, one week in the summer as I was writing up the thesis, a job was advertised for CyMAL: Museums Archives and Libraries Wales, a new division of the Welsh Government, that had just been established a year earlier in Aberystwyth. I applied, and got the job. Jobs are relatively rare in Aberystwyth, especially library/book/research related ones, so this was excellent timing.

As of two days ago (21st Sept), I will have been in post, as Libraries Development Adviser, for seven years. This seems remarkable, and slightly strange. Especially as I am now a civil servant and the one job I knew I definitely did NOT want to do was to be like all the other Oxford graduates and go to London and work in the civil service (or management consultancy, finance or other ‘city’ jobs.) Oh how I laughed for the first few months in my job, every time I remembered I was actually working for the government!

Rue
Do I regret anything so far? I miss working in an actual library sometimes, the daily bustle and dealing with all the customers. And I actually miss shelving books. I have had to stop myself when I find myself re-shelving misplaced books in my local library when I’m browsing the shelves.

Sometimes I feel I’m becoming less in touch with what’s important to real librarians. I have thought about doing a week of library visits in Aberystwyth, spending five days with a different librarian each day. I could go to a school library, hospital library, public library, university library and the National Library. All in Aberystwtyth! I would also like to go back to Leominster library and say “Look, I am working in librarianship, sort of. Thanks to getting my library career off to a good start!”

I am aware of the Library Day in the Life project, but have not contributed in the past. Maybe I will if it rolls around again. Although I’m not a librarian in the real sense, it could still be interesting to show what I do as I think there’s some level of uncertainty as to what CyMAL ‘does’ other than award grants.

*The Welsh research led to the establishment of CyMAL. The interlending work I now deal with is with CatCymru and various inter-regional schemes which CyMAL funds. Full circle.



This week’s thing (well, strictly speaking, the thing from a few weeks ago, thing 19), focuses on integrating what we’ve been learning in 23Things and if we’ve been able to integrate this into our work or professional lives.

Stand out things that I have definitely learnt and integrated into my work are: Scoop.it magazine for gathering and re-publishing news on a topic (thing 4) and screencasts (thing 18). With both of those I have now started using them in work. My scoop.it is on e-books and libraries and I am trying to promote that and also wrote a blog post on my use of Scoop.it on my main library work blog.

Learning how to do a screencast was great and perfectly timed with a presentation I was able to deliver via a screencast, saving 9 hours on a train! My screencast is on social media and organisations and I was asked to focus on two particular things. If you’re interested you can watch it here. I also blogged about this in my work blog, trying to raise the profile of this really useful software.

Things I would like to integrate but haven’t found the time yet include citation tools for keeping references of research reports etc (thing 14) , and streamlining my RSS feeds and making a public page for those (thing 4).

And there are some things which I haven’t completed yet but could well become useful to me (filesharing – thing 13 and Prezi – thing 17). I’ve been asked to deliver my usual lecture to the post-graduates in the Department of Information Studies at Aberystwyth University – it would be great to see if I could wow them with a Prezi!

So I feel I’ve gained a few new skills, and updated existing ones (such as blogging, brands, advocacy, networking etc).

Given where I am in my career, and my current job, these ‘learning something specific’ things have been the most useful for me. Some of the more ‘early career’ considerations are slightly less useful, in terms of learning, in that it’s been a wee while since I started in librarianship, although it has been nice to reflect on these matters.



Well, isn’t 23Things fabulous? I needed to make my first ever screencast, and that very week the thing to learn was … screencaptures! Prior to this I had seen a couple of screencasts in the making, and also taken part in a RSC Wales lunchtime bytes webinar on making them, but hadn’t made one myself.

Both Thing18 and the webinar focus on Jing, but Thing18 also mentioned a few others including Screencast-o-matic. The downside of Jing (and some others?) is that it requires downloading and installing, which is not possible where I work. Screencast-o-matic is not only free but also allows you to make your screencast directly, with no installation required (although you can install a version if you wish).

So, the exciting thing is that I made a trial screencast of only 30 seconds, and then I made a full feature length (15mins!) screencast! And I’ll tell you for why. Links are at the bottom of this post – either read the whole thing or skip to the bottom!

The request

I was contacted a few weeks ago by colleagues who run a knowledge information management course for my organisation. The forthcoming module was on communication and they were covering social media and asked if I would be able to give a 15 minute presentation on this, in Cardiff. Now, here’s the thing. I live in Aberystwyth which is 4.5 hours from Cardiff by train – so I would be spending 9 hours on a train (well, 4 trains), for a 15 minute talk! I suggested that this wouldn’t be the most effective use of my time or very sensible and so offered them a screencast instead (at which point I’d never done one before but I sounded confident in the email…!) They agreed and told me the two learning outcomes they wanted me to cover in the 15 minutes.

So then I set to learning how to make one.

Trials & tribulations

The path to making a screencast doesn’t always run smoothly. Screencast-o-Matic requires Java plugins, which aren’t installed on the work desktop so I had to use our non-networked laptop with WiFi. The WiFi kept dropping so I would be in the middle of recording my screencast flicking from website to website and then would have to re-enter the WiFi password every so often. I prefer using Firefox and set up all my websites I was going to visit (Twitter, my blog etc), as tabs in Firefox, only to find that Java plugins had been disabled for that browser on that laptop and I couldn’t find out how to enable them – I looked everywhere! So then I had to open up IE (groan) (but luckily we had two browsers on the laptop), and open up all the tabs again. Oh, I’d also had to send myself an email to my ‘home’ email with my powerpoint slides which I was using as a base for the talk, because we can’t use USB pens in work to transfer files (and I haven’t investigated online storage – I know, that was Thing 13 which I haven’t completed yet).

Anyway, the actual process of making the screencast was fantastically easy and very exciting. I recorded one version just using the inbuilt microphone of the laptop, but my line manager got very excited about it all and the next day brought in a headphone set with microphone and I recorded a second version of my talk. The quality of that version was much better so I would recommend using an external headphone/mic set if you’ve got one.

Having taken part in a webinar on screencasts I knew it was all in the planning. So I had a rough narrative and had already set up my powerpoint slides as a guide. I’m not someone who likes to read a script word for word so each version I made was slightly different in narrative, and in some places you can tell I’ve wandered slightly off track, but it’s not bad!

I haven’t experimented with all the functionality of Screencast-0-matic such as captions and notes, but maybe will do that when I do another one.

Saving the files was relatively easy. I initially saved the talk as an .avi file onto the laptop. However, as I wanted to have an online version I then had to upload my final version into Vimeo as you can’t upload a video into Screencast-o-Matic if you saved it locally and finished the session (closed everything down) and didn’t upload into Screencast-o-matic at that point. I think you can both save it locally and upload it within one session, but not if you have left their website or turned your computer off. I think you also need to create a free account if you want to upload to their site.

From what I recall Screencast-o-matic.com doesn’t have a search facility so you can’t try and find your screencast, you have to use the url link they email you.

I know my presentation screencast is long, but that was the length of the slot they wanted me to do. Luckily 15 mins is also the maximum length of screencast you can do with Screencast-o-matic.com so it was ideal.

Top tips

1. Have either a rough outline of your talk, or a full narrative if you prefer that.
2. Use an external mic/headphone set to record your voice, but don’t have the mic too near to your mouth.
3. Try to keep your screencast to under 5 mins – we have short attention spans theses days, and it also makes it quicker to upload!
4. Check you have all the technical requirements on the computer of choice before starting.
5. Best not to do it when on WiFi unless the connection is very stable and doesn’t keep dropping.

The evidence

Ok, as a reward for reading right to the end (you didn’t skip bits did you?), here’s the 30 second one which I uploaded directly into Screencast-o-matic. And here’s the 15 minute talk on social media and organisations which I uploaded into Vimeo. Feedback welcome.

As you can tell I’m very excited by this and am planning what I can do for my next screencast!

Update – the training session has just taken place and the organiser has emailed to say “feedback was very positive” and “the screencast worked very well as a media channel and think it inspired the trainer to use it for future events”.  Yay!



I do one of these directly, and t’other indirectly (Thing 16 advocacy and getting published).

I’ll start off with what I can and do do. I enjoy research and writing and although I don’t have much time in my current job to research and write pieces for publication, I try to do one a year. In the last couple of years I’ve written a paper following a conference presentation (publication forthcoming), co-written a chapter for an IFLA marketing book (publication forthcoming), written an article for Ariadne (available here), and also researched and written a report on Web 2.0 (as it was called back in 2010) and Welsh libraries, which is available here. I also turned my personal business case for requesting a social media presence into a generic one for public use and it’s on my slideshare account. I was also asked to do a guest blog post for Voices for the Library on the Welsh libraries and social media research.

I wish I’d kept a record since I started in this job of the articles I’ve written – I used to try an keep a ‘rolling CV’ up-to-date with this sort of information but have let it slide for a while. Must try harder.

Having said that I can’t do advocacy officially, I think several of my day to day activities could be classed as low level promotion for libraries anyway eg my library blog and my Twitter account.

But in general, advocacy is not really an activity I’m allowed to get involved with within my job. I work for the Welsh Government in the CyMAL division, which is doing many wonderful things for Welsh libraries (call me biased…), but isn’t meant to undertake any advocacy work itself (it would be advocating to itself…).

However, quite a few of our library grants are for things that include elements of advocacy, including the whole marketing strand, the SCL Wales development officer who has produced several reports in recent years on libraries and X (digital divide, reading, modernised libraries, health one is forthcoming) etc. The minister responsible for libraries in Wales has also met the WI and Unison regarding their recent campaigns so there’s two-way communication going on here in Wales.

The Wales marketing campaign also undertakes lots of different activities from press releases, an annual campaign, staff training, social media presence, promoting the e-books pilot in public libraries through a railway poster campaign etc. There’s also a staff toolkit with lots of resources, as part of the library portal. You can read more about the marketing programme on my library blog.

Internally within the Government I also try to promote libraries where I can. We work with colleagues in the education department to ensure libraries are included in their reading and literacy campaign messages for example, and I got a reading & libraries news item onto our intranet homepage and it had a click-through rate of about 10% which is pretty good for a quiet week in August! In social media discussions I’ve had in the government I also promote how advanced libraries and librarians are in terms of technology and social media – yes you guys are! I’ve no problems at all at challenging stereotypes, shouting about libraries or speaking up for our profession.

In terms of what I do in my private life (I’m aware many of the campaigners behind some of the UK library advocacy campaigns do it all in their spare time) I do ‘arm chair’ advocacy, responding to consultations etc generally by written communication. As the post noted, we need to find the type of activity that we are comfortable with and able to achieve.



Thing 15 is all about talking the talk: attending seminars or conferences, giving presentations and even organising such events.

Attending events
I’m fairly lucky in my current job as I am able to attend some events, workshops, conferences etc as part of my job. This includes ones in Wales and further afield (within reason). I’m allowed to attend the CILIP Wales conference every year as well as one or two other ones, often subject specific. However, like many library services we are facing reductions in budgets so have to really evaluate the benefits of all the various conferences and events out there to choose the most appropriate one/s. My job role means that it’s quite important that I attend events in Wales when possible, such as the Welsh higher education’s annual colloquium, although I haven’t been able to attend for a couple of years because of clashes.

I find the benefits of attending the events in Wales for me is primarily catching up with people and making new connections, or passing on information about what I and CyMAL do. Often at Wales events CyMAL has funded quite a few of the projects that are in the conference programme, so I often don’t learn ‘new’ stuff, but it’s good to see how the projects are doing and how the are received by delegates.

Recently I attended a conference virtually – it was being held in London but was also being live streamed. Amazingly our technology coped with this and I found it useful to keep one ear (using headphones) on the conference and work at my desk doing other things at the same time. When a speaker or session come on that was of greater relevance I listened with both ears. It saved a lot of travel, expense, and didn’t contribute to global warming!

I noticed a Digital Shift virtual e-books conference coming up so may ask if I can ‘attend’ that, although not sure of the whole EDT / GMT time difference thing… I’m not watching it at midnight!

Since having a library blog for my work I’ve tried to write up some sort of useful summary of the conferences I’ve attended. I try to avoid just going through the programme speaker by speaker, summarising their points, but instead pick out key themes or stand-out discussions – see my posts on CILIP Wales 2012 and 2011, and the CILIP Scotland 2012 conference.

The biggest conference I’ve attended is IFLA when it was in Milan – myself and an external colleague were there to pick up an award (Wales won 2nd place in the IFLA marketing award in 2009) and I was just astounded at the size of it – about 3000+ people I think. I was glad that a colleague had said it was ok to get up and leave sessions whenever you wanted or join other sessions late – everyone was doing this although I found it quite unsettling at first. On hearing the size of the ALA one though (25,000) my mind just stops comprehending how a conference can be that size. It’s bigger than the whole town and uni where I live and work combined! The Special Library Association annual conference also sounds epic, and I enjoyed reading Simon Barron’s four blog posts on it – they all show just how surreal such a conference is.

Speaking at events
Again, I’m really lucky in my job with this, as I get invited to give presentations at workshops, events and conferences in Wales and further afield. Reflecting on this, I wish I’d kept a record of all the talks I’ve given in my current job so far! I’m also invited to the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth University annually to give a few lectures to the students. My talks are often on CyMAL in general, the Welsh library scene, or they may be on a specific topic e.g. the Welsh libraries marketing programme. In the last couple of years I’ve given presentations at the Forum for Interlending conference in 2010, the Northumbria International conference on performance measurement in 2011 on our use of SROI, and was even guest speaker (!) at an event in Scotland in 2011.

As a former p/t lecture I’m sure I make many cardinal sins with PowerPoint, but I’m making small changes each time. I’m looking forward to learning about Prezi in a future Thing. I liked the concise and visual presentation about rules you should never break by Ned Potter which was one of the suggested links in Thing15. I must also learn to embed fonts in PowerPoint.

You can see some of my more recent presentations on my Slideshare account.

Organising events
I’ve not organised a whole conference, but I have organised day seminars/discussion days in Wales or workshops, day meetings etc. My main lessons to note from these experiences are: to order plenty of hot drinks and water; to triple check they can cater for vegans (personal self interest here…); to choose a room that doesn’t have heating problems (hot or cold),  build in ‘slack’ time to allow for over-running, plan long breaks (15mins is not enough, especially as most people find the break times the most useful!), and never EVER allow people to over-run.  When I’m giving a presentation I try never to over run either – I think it’s discourteous, annoying and unnecessary!

Following the CILIP Wales conference this year there’s been some general chatter about a possible mashup event in Wales – as yet it’s not progressed beyond some email exchanges, and it’s clear from my input in the discussion that I’m already over-planning or complicating what a mashup event should ‘look’ like. My librarian tendencies to organise are peeking out!

In summary, I realise that I’m very fortunate in my current job role in many aspects of professional development in that I have the opportunity to do things that are possibly more limited for other people. They probably have more relaxed Powerpoint template rules though…



et cetera