Thing 5 – Reflecting (or at least trying to)

5 Jun

I have to admit that I have been stewing this Thing in my head for a while, and constantly putting it off because I’ve found it rather hard to get to grips with. Being new to the information world, I am experiencing the rare phenomenon of ‘actually quite liking my job’ – something certainly not to be taken for granted in this day and age.

I graduated in 2009 and spent a couple of years doing temporary work, which is really putting your own fate in the hands of the temping agencies. I had no idea where I’d be working – it could go from shifting boxes in a warehouse one day to creating databases for a start-up company the next. It’s certainly a fun and flexible way of life for a young graduate who has no idea what they want to do (apart from anything it tells you what you DON’T want to do as a job, if not your chosen career path) but I wouldn’t reccomend it as a way of life.

What I’m trying to get at is that before the job I’m doing now, work was just, well, work. It was something I did for money, and if anything profound ever entered my brain whilst doing so, that was a bonus. Now that I am doing a job I enjoy, and want to build a career in, the game has certainly changed. Reflection can, and must, be a part of what I do if I want to develop into some kind of young professional that (at least gives the impression that he) knows what he is doing.

It’s not easy. Any of you who work on library desks will be aware that most of your job is ‘just trying to keep your head above water’. Everything moves so quickly, customers are (rightly) so demanding, the last thing you want to do when you get home is ‘reflect’ and ‘learn’ – certainly for me, the beckoning call of a cold glass of wine and some TV is much more tempting after a draining day on the desk.

But really, reflection is something that really does benefit us. In the first half of my year as Graduate Trainee, I was encouraged to write monthly reviews of my work. Even though all they really wanted was a bullet-point list of what I’d done, I was glad to have the opportunity to develop this to a reflection on how I actually felt about the work I was doing.

My next step is writing a final report for my job – the contract expires after July. It’s something I am quite looking forward to – the chance to give my opinions on the library I work for without any fear of reprocussions. It’s something that could probably benefit all library workers once in a while – the freedom to say what they *actually* think, but there are not many chances to do that if you’ve signed a steady, ongoing contract.

I realise that many of your CPD23 blogs have gone in to detail about exactly how you reflect. I am very new to this concept, so wouldn’t like to give any advice myself, as it would be extremely under-developed. But I did think it would be worth talking about my transition from ‘working for money’ to ‘building on something’ – something I’m sure a lot of young library professionals are experiencing right now.

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What Led You to Twitter? (Thing 4)

24 May

Forgive me for wildly generalising, but it seems like there are two types of library people who continue to pursue with Twitter.

On the one hand there are those who initially joined up to promote their workplace and specific work related things they have been doing, usually by retweets and generic statements about library initiatives. They may have done this because other colleagues are doing so and they feel it’s the ‘right move’ to make. This is all well and good, but after a while it gets boring because you’re just the extension of a generic news feed. The ones who stuck with it see others showing a bit of personality, and see it was beneficial to the ‘brand’ as a whole because more ‘normal’ people are interacting.

Then there are those for whom Twitter started out as another way of having a laugh with your friends. With its stripped-down features, you’re never displayed photos of great nights out you weren’t invited to, or endless FarmVille requests. Instead you could ‘follow’ people rather than being locked into being ‘friends’. It’s a great way of making cynical comments about current events and bad TV shows – and there’s no need to worry about stuff hanging around like on Facebook, if you don’t catch it when it’s being said it’s lost in the Twitter stream so what’s the worry? The ones who become library professionals then see others mixing work-related tweets into their personal profiles and see it’s beneficial to their ‘brand’ as a whole because more ‘library’ people are interacting.

There is no right or wrong way about this. In both cases it’s great to see people interacting. Personally I would place myself in the latter camp. Until recently Twitter was just another place to speak about rubbish with my school friends (it still is), but I am really enjoying making connections with other people in the same library boat.

So, how did you get in to Twitter? Which camp do you fall under?

First Things First

24 May

Hello everybody, and welcome to my new blog!

I’d been to-ing and fro-ing for a while about whether to take the plunge and expand my thoughts on the library world. It’s both liberating and slightly scary not being limited to a short burst of 140 characters or less, so I’ll begin slowly and see how things go from there.

Hopefully in this blog I’ll be able to give you my take on the 23 Things for Professional Development, a project that encourages library professionals of all ages to write about a series of weekly topics. It’s been great reading the range of opinion people have on various things, as well as getting the chance to find out more about the extra-curricular activities of fellow librarians! Contrary to the stereotype you’re an interesting bunch…

A little bit about me. I’m currently a Library Graduate Trainee at Aberystwyth University. Aber is a town known for being a bit of a seaside haven for librarians – having the claim to fame of being the town with the most books and pubs per head anywhere in the UK! It’s a great place to live and study – a good deal of students come here for a degree and never leave, refusing to go back to the ‘real world’. Since August myself and Patrick (the other Graduate Trainee) have been incredibly busy, getting involved in the departments of E-Services, Collection Management, Academic Services and Customer Services. Having had the number of trainees cut by a person from the previous year, we’ve certainly had our work cut out and both feel fully part of the teams we work for. Patrick has written much more about his work – you can read his blog here. There’s lots to say about the work that I do, but I imagine most of it will be covered by the Things, so I will save it for then.

So let’s get started then, I’m a bit late to the party but I’ll try and keep up with the latest Thing and do a recap of the stuff I’ve missed when I can. Hopefully I’ll get the knack of writing these things and they won’t be quite as dry as this introduction, but we will have to see!