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.

 



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.



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…



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
  • Minus.com – 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, minus.com). 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.



I’ve pondered this Thing (on mentoring) for a week, partly as I didn’t know what I’d write!

In my current role as Libraries Development Adviser for Wales I’m not working as an actual librarian (*klaxon alert* imposter in the room!). I’ve been in the current role, sans mentor, for almost a shocking seven years. I’m not sure where I’m heading, and I suppose a mentor could help me with that, but from what field would I look for the mentor?

If I wanted to return to working in an actual proper library I would probably need to find a mentor who is in a senior position in a library service (which is ok, as I know lots of them through my job).

But if I was going to go in a different direction (e.g. communications? marketing? research?) I would be better placed looking for someone in those fields.

Through the performance management plan system we have in work I do have to include a career section in the form, and training needs. We are also now working to a nine box grid system, and depending on where you are placed in the gird, different training and development opportunities could be offered. Mentoring is listed as one of the opportunities. But I haven’t really looked into it because I’m kind of happy in my current role and not sure where I’m going to be in 5 or 10 years.

Ultimately, my career path could go wildly different if I forsake librarianship for yoga and become a yoga teacher full time and run off to the hills and set up a retreat centre. That’s my little personal dream shared!

Whilst cogitating this mentor thing I remembered I have some current and former experience of mentors. I’m learning Welsh and have a Welsh mentor in work – a lovely girl called Menna. She’s very good with me and we meet up every fortnight. My division in work has a mentoring scheme for learning Welsh and each year we agree how often we’ll meet, what we’ll do (chat, translate a short email, do stuff that I need to work on etc). I have returned the benefits as I passed on some information which will be useful for her career.

In the yoga world I would consider the tutor who taught me on my teacher training course to be a mentor, and another yoga teacher (who was not only my first ever yoga teacher -other than my Mum! – but also the one who did my final class assessment) and I  have also kept in touch in the last couple of years to share, chat, pass on information etc. In fact, in her most recent email she put “… it’s all part and parcel of us each helping the other when we can. ” That sounds really nice to me. I’m also part of a yoga group locally and whilst none of the other teachers are formally a mentor we all help each other and share information.

And then there’s my supervisor during the PhD process who was a mentor. He helped, supported and advised me, and I did ask his opinion on two jobs which were advertised on the same day – one of which I got!

And going even further back, another former lecturer from DIS (or DILS as it was for me, or CLW if you’re older) advised me to return to research (I was doing a p/t job in a lovely publishing company, and p/t self-employed research work for lecturers in the department) formally and do the research training masters’ followed by a PhD. So I did. And this is where I am! I also worked for him (Prof Hywel Roberts) in my first job on completing the masters’, as a research assistant. I am still in touch with him now so I guess I could approach him informally for advice, should I know what I wanted to ask!



{June 24, 2012}   Real-life networks (Thing 7)

Thing 7 is all about real-life networks and professional bodies/organisations. Formal library networks or organisations can and do provide benefits for librarians helping them improve their skills, meet people, network, update their knowledge etc. Currently I obtain those benefits from the job role I am in as Libraries Development Adviser for Wales (in CyMAL part of the Welsh Government).

I am contacted by librarians because part of my job is ‘advice and support’ which includes things like answering general queries to overseeing project grants, enabling me to be in contact with a large number of librarians across Wales. I am often invited to meetings, either for projects that we have funded or to give a CyMAL-based talk, so again I get to meet people and network at the meetings. We (CyMAL) also provide funding for training (individually, regionally and nationally) and I am able to attend the CyMAL-run training programme if I wish.

My employer is actually pretty good at employee training and development and I am able to attend training they provide. Each person has an agreed training plan as part of their annual performance management plan and if the training need has been identified, then we are able to look for and attend a relevant course (funding allowing of course).

As part of my job I also get to attend the CILIP Wales annual conference, and additionally sometimes attend conferences outside of Wales, such as the CILIPS conference in Dundee the other week (which I’ll be blogging about on my library blog when I catch up with myself). I haven’t been able to attend the WHELF Gregynog colloquium for a couple of years now, but I try to attend that conference because I find it is a really good way of picking up on what’s going on in the HE sector, and catching up with friendly librarians! I also try to attend the FE LRS Managers Network meetings which are held roughly every 4 months or so and again, that’s a great way to network and hear about what’s happening in the FE college libraries in Wales.

The notes on Thing 7 also outlined the opportunities of writing articles if you’re a member of an organisation, and again, I’m lucky that in my job role I’m sometimes invited to write articles (or guest blog posts – thanks Sharon!), or I’m able to offer one with an all-Wales perspective, such as the recent issue of Ariadne and my article on social media and Welsh libraries. I’m also invited each year to give a couple of guest lectures to undergraduates and postgraduates in the Department of Information Studies at Aberystwyth University (my alma mater, but more of that in a future Thing I think.)

Belonging to a network group or professional library organisation can also give you the opportunity to chair meetings, become secretary or treasurer, or organise events. Again, I’m really lucky that my current job gives me all those opportunities and I chair various meetings (including the Libraries Inspire Advisory Group), take minutes for other meetings, and manage the Libraries Inspire budget (just under £1 million – eek!).

And finally a mention must be made of the real network of librarian friends I have who date back to 1998/99 when we met on the library masters course at Aberystwyth. We still seek each other’s help and advice on library matters, we occasionally see each other at library events (even though we’re now spread across England, Scotland and Wales), and we also meet up socially, generally at weddings!

Being in Aberystwyth I find it easier to network virtually, and have joined LISNPN as a result of the last Thing.

If you’ve read this far, you’ll spot the elephant in the room. I wrote all the above a few days ago and have been reflecting on it (aren’t I good?) since then, prior to publishing it. I think I come across as a slightly stuck-up ‘I don’t need you’ anti professional library groups individual! But I’m not going to re-write it!

It comes across like that because I was seeing if I could write this without admitting that I’m not a member of CILIP. I feel that some people would expect me to be a member because of my relatively public-facing (public as in librarian) role. But for me personally I haven’t been convinced of the benefits of CILIP membership given the high membership fee, my location, my current job role, and my current career aspirations. I find other ways to obtain the same benefits (as outlined above). I don’t doubt that getting invoved in CILIP committees or sub-groups is very useful and helpful for some library staff depending on where they live and what they’re doing with their job and career, but for me, right now, it’s not something that I want to spend £194 a year on.

In contrast to that fee, my professional membership for the British Wheel of Yoga is £70 a year as a yoga teacher which gives me a quarterly magazine, a quarterly regional (Wales) newsletter, a free annual yoga day event in Wales, cheaper attendance at BWY yoga events, a network of Welsh and UK yoga teachers, potential to be on the Wales committee or to be a county rep, teachers’ discount for the BWY shop, and, very importantly, my public liability and professional indemnity insurance. I think that’s good value.



et cetera