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: (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

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!


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.

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.

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!

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: 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 is on e-books and libraries and I am trying to promote that and also wrote a blog post on my use of 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.

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.

I’ve taken longer to get round to Thing 5 (Reflecting), partly because I was busy in work but also because I didn’t know what to write. I could easily write a list of what I’ve learnt so far, but it wouldn’t be very reflective. I know I am a reflective practitioner in work (for example, after meetings which I chair I often reflect on how it went, whether it was useful for people, what was achieved by the meeting, how it could be better next time etc) but applying it to 23Things is taking me longer.

So I’ll start with what I do know! On the ‘skills learnt’ front I have learnt how to make a magazine issue, with my first one being on e-books and libraries. ‘So what?’ is the reflective practitioner’s cry. Well, I can see how it will be useful for me to use this for current awareness, not only for linking to my library blog, but also as a ‘library current awareness’ service for librarians in Wales. It also has potential in my workplace to be used by the other sectors (museums and archives) and through feedback on the first issue I made I have discovered that library staff can access the site even if other social media channels are blocked where they work. This again suggests it could be a useful way of reaching librarians in Wales – an important part of my job. I shall definitely be applying this learning to my job in the future.

Other 23Thing things so far have covered personal online brand, RSS feeds, Twitter and blogging. I haven’t learnt new skills with these things as I already use them, but it has reminded me again that I really must sort out my library RSS feeds in Netvibes.

I have enjoyed all the tasks so far, although I have not put as much time into looking at the blogs of other CPD23Thing participants as I should have. I thought I might use Thing 5 week to do that, but we’re now already into Thing 6… .

I’m comfortable with having a visible online presence, and I’m comfortable with putting my thoughts down ‘on paper’ (as it were) on the ol’ interweb , having been blogging in a library capacity and a yoga capacity for a year now.

I have struggled a little bit with the time taken to complete each Thing and have spent free time at home on it as well. But, as it’s for my personal learning and development I feel it’s ok for some of the time to be my time and not all work time. It’s more akin to doing a study course than attending a day’s training course in work time.

I’m also learning what I like about other people’s blogs. For me to want to follow a library blog I do prefer to see at least a name of the person, a picture if possible (of them, not a cat, cute though cats are), some contact details and to know more about them than some of the CPD23Things bloggers reveal. I find it hard to comment or like a blog post when I don’t even know the person’s name.

I also have found some of the blog posts to be quite short – for me, to do justice to each Thing I’ve found myself writing quite a lot. Maybe I’m just a verbose waffler. I’ve also found the most useful blogs to be the ones that link to something else.

This all helps me think about MY blogs – are they helpful? Do I provide enough links for people to follow up on things? Do I have enough information about me easily available? This may reflect an element of my job role which is advice and support to librarians in Wales – if I want library staff in Wales to feel they can approach me I believe they need to see who I am, get a feel for what I’m like through my online presence, and have various ways of contacting me. I also like to be useful and helpful – I am, at heart, a librarian.

I’ve learnt that I’m also still addicted to checking my site stats… .

UPDATE – after writing the above I then spent well over an hour looking at other CPD23Things blogs, starting with Wales again. It’s a shame that quite a few are already behind on Thing 2 or 3.  And I’m still struggling with the lack of names. Maybe this reflects more on me than them – I’m in a relatively ‘public’ profile in my job, but other people may not be.

et cetera