How many things? Only 23.

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…

{August 10, 2012}   Oy! Refs! (Thing 14)

Thing 14 is all about using software for managing your references.

Back when I were a wee young student, I used a hotch-potch of systems, including card indexes. Oh yes! However, as I moved with the times, and worked my way through Master degrees, and then a PhD, I also moved onto reference software. I used Endnote at Aberystwyth University and it did the job well. I recall having to tidy it up a bit manually once I’d imported the data because my version of the Harvard author/date style was subtly different from the inbuilt one, but it was loads easier than typing out hundreds of references.

Now I’m now longer a student I [thought I*]have no need for this software. Any research I do get to do (e.g. a Web 2 report – oh so dated title, a mere 2 years later!) or articles I write in my current job are not at the same level as a degree or further degree and therefore just bunging in the references manually into the Word document is perfectly adequate for my current needs. (That sounds slap dash, but it isn’t!)

However, I had a quick look at the three free tools suggested in Thing 14, which are Zotero, Mendeley, and CiteULike. If I were to need one in work I’m not sure that I could use the first two as they require software downloads onto the computer which I don’t think I’m allowed to do.

*Having read the Green Stone Librarian’s blog post on this I now realise where I’m missing out. I often come across reports I want to keep for work purposes. We’ve moved over to an electronic records management system and there isn’t really a suitable place for them as pdfs/other documents. It never occurred to me that I could use a sharing citation tool to create a list of the reports and make it accessible to colleagues. Lightbulb moment! A couple of years ago we were researching library things whilst planning the next library strategy for Wales and just used a Word document with different sections to create a bibliography.

But with this new knowledge, I could investigate one of these and then start using it to record useful reports etc. Amazing!

(NB Thing 13 to follow, one day.)


Glossing over the lateness of this post, I’ll dive straight into the Thing. Thing 12  was all about reviewing how social your social media use is.

I’m going to be very honest about myself here – I don’t appear to be that social in social media. I’m wondering if it’s because most of my social media usage is in work and I have quite firm views on work and home lives being separate.

I have no problem putting my views in my blogs, or in comments, or joining in discussions, whether they’re my work or my personal views – I don’t lurk, but I’m just not really that good at mixing, networking, making new friends, etc. in an online environment.

Having said that, I have got ‘Twitter friends’ who are people I vaguely know only through Twitter.

I thought I’d create a list of my socia networking / media profiles (or those I can remember) and see what I use them for:

  • Slideshare – library job
  • Scoopit – library job
  • Twitter – library job
  • blog – library job; yoga teaching; library training; (3 blogs)
  • RSS feeds – 2 accounts:  library job and home (both still private)
  • Delicious – has mix of library & personal (all still private)
  • LinkedIn- personal
  • – yoga teaching (handouts)
  • Photobox – personal, restricted to invite only
  • Goodreads – (forgot about this – then saw someone has clicked on the link from this blog) – just personal, but, I’ve only 2 friends on there…

I’m not on Facebook.

Hmm. LinkedIn is quite the odd one out – I’m on there, sort of connecting with people, but not in a very active way. Other accounts are more ‘passive’ eg upload and leave (slideshare, Other accounts I could open up and be more social (eg parts of my netvibes and delicious accounts), but I’ve been saying that for 2 years.

I’m quite happy with the status quo though – I don’t want to spend 24/7 on social networks (and I don’t have a mobile device for that anyway) – I’m happy being social (just in case this is coming across as ‘don’t even THINK about talking to me’), but in small amounts, in certain settings.

I want to be there, available for library staff (or yoga students with my other hat) so like using social media for that, but like to keep it slightly at arms’ length. Everything in moderation.

et cetera