Tag Archives: lifelong learning

Making informed decisions

This, yesterday from Unshelved. Says it all about libraries really. Not just the things in our collection, but the information we provide about research impact, copyright, collection management or just about anything else. We are about providing the information so that our user community (client? patron? customer?) can decide what’s best for them, in their situation. Everytime.

Hierarchies of presence

Through the archway - the fabulous Shine Dome at ANU

Last week I attended the inaugural conference of the Australasian Association of the Digital Humanities, held at the Academy of Science’s Shine Dome at ANU in Canberra. I was there because of the interest at MPOW in our library supporting academic research and e-research in particular is becoming increasingly important to our role as Outreach librarians as we start to have conversations with academics about data management and access.

In an attempt to make some sense of the sometimes highly technical papers I went to over the three days, I will be blogging about a few recurring themes and also a number of individual papers, such as the one I’m talking about here.

On Day 3 I attended a paper by Dr Alice Gorman of Flinders University called ‘The personal is political: communicating archaeology and heritage through online platforms‘.  Dr Gorman is also known as @DrSpaceJunk and blogs about space archaeology at Space Age Archaeology.

There was a really good twitter back channel running throughout the conference, so while I was tweeting madly (my personal form of notetaking), I was also able to follow the comments of others – this was particularly helpful during some of the more technical sessions that were hard to follow. This from some of the twitter stream during the space archaeology presentation:
Now hearing from @drspacejunk about misperception of what archaeology and getting people interested in what it really is #DHA2012 (from @ellenforsyth)
Space archeology – who knew?! #dha2012 (from @LizzieM79)
@drspacejunk has divided audience – is space archeologist, crosses archaeology & space scientists, talking about bridging links #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)
Really interesting discussion from @drspacejunk about the importance of identity to help explain her field of interest #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)
Alice talked about the different roles her different public identities can take to help her reach a wider audience. As she said, @DrSpaceJunk can say and do things that Dr Alice Gorman can’t. Using what Alice called ‘heirarchies of presence’ her audience can be filtered up and down depending on their entry point to her work and their level of interest.

Hierarchies of presence: SM both passive & active backed up byacademia.edu & inst presence, supporting cred & authenticity #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)

I spoke with Alice after her presentation and a concrete example she gave me was an invitation she received (seemingly out of the blue) to speak to a group involved with something fairly obscure to do with plastic. It turned out, the event organisers found her because of a blog post she had written on cable ties. Because her various profiles and identities are linked back to her serious researcher profile, she was contacted as someone who had a valuable and serious contribution to make.

I have a strong personal interest in the area of social media and professional networks so this session was particularly appealing to me. I think it provided a useful take home message to start some discussions at MPOW about how we talk about some of this to our academics, particularly early career researchers (ECR’s) who do not have long and established publishing profiles and need to use a variety of ways to promote themselves and their work.

Value added information – in the beginning

Carcassonne cite by lorentey via flickr CC

This semester, in my quest for a postgraduate qualification, I’m doing a subject called Value Added Information Services. Turns out this more or less covers what we do all day every day as LIS professionals, but with a slight twist towards a kind of business advisory service.

Anyway, I’ve chosen to look at the feasibility of setting up a particular kind of holiday business in the south of France. This may be because I constantly have plans to actually visit the south of France – but the lecturer did suggest we choose a topic we are actually interested in as we’re more likely to remain focussed. I am pretty sure there’s enough angles to come up with plenty of information from different sources to turn into a report with some recommendations backed by decent data. I hope so anyway.

One of the things I’ve done as part of looking at marketing and gathering information is set up a Scoopit for the topic – making use of one of the countless information gathering and/or curation tools that are out there.

Watch this space for plenty of pretty pictures of stuff in the south of France. Oh, and maybe some observations about value adding.

Reflection and evaluation

reflections by flickPrince via flickr CC

This post is my final entry for the Social Media subject for my Masters and is designed to both evaluate and reflect on my learning throughout the semester.

As library and information professionals there is no doubt that web 2.0 technologies and social media tools are useful professional development tools and allow us to find new ways of presenting information and communicating and engaging with our customers, including our internal customers. However, as with the introduction of any new library service, there is a danger in providing that service without identification and analysis of user needs first and a strategic planning approach is essential (Choy 2010).

The three study exercises that have most informed my thinking on this are represented in the posts Mapping my PLN, Our online identity  and Information policy. The first two bring together many benefits of social media, particularly in the sense of collaboration and engagement between professionals. The third post looks briefly at how good policy can ensure the tools are used in a way that benefits both organisation and individuals.

Collaboration and engagement are key elements of web 2.0 technologies. In the library and information profession we can use these tools to connect with other professionals as well as with our customers. We know from Li and Bernoff’s Groundswell (2011) that in social media it is important to engage and have a conversation, not just use the tools as a marketing platform for our own causes. This holds true for PLN development, regardless of the tools used. A ‘water cooler’ conversation in the physical office relies on at least two people, talking, listening and commenting, otherwise it is just broadcasting, not conversation.

Social media blurs the line between personal and professional and our online identities are often a blend between the two. Hutton (2008) points out that by participating in online communities we are putting our identities out there for all to see. In this situation it is difficult to keep our place of work from becoming connected with that online identity so careful management of that is required. The Victorian Department of Justice released a video to staff outlining the key points of its social media policy, including that they recognise staff are probably active users of social media and would like them to specify that any views in their personal online space are their own and not those of the department. This aspect of the policy protects both staff and employer from any unforseen consequences of reasonable online behaviour.

Information policy can also clear the way for staff within an organisation to use collaborative and innovative web 2.0 tools to work with each other and experiment with new ideas –in other words, to work in a Library 2.0 space. Support from management is essential if staff are to be allowed to try new things and take advantage of the benefits social media brings in the professional context. For example, an enterprise network such as yammer would provide an informal way for staff to communicate ideas, links, interesting readings and other things of professional interest to other staff, without further cluttering up the email inboxes of colleagues. However, setting up such a network requires support from management and parent organisations – again highlighting the need for good information policy that anticipates and allows for new services.

Personal reflections

To be honest, I started this subject unsure what there was to learn about the use of social media, given the already wide extent of my involvement. I am a heavy user of social media in both my private and professional life.

One of the reasons I participate in so much social media is because I feel that as an information professional I have a responsibility to experience and understand some of the information seeking tools that are being used. This is partly as a way of evaluating their usefulness to both my employer and me and partly as a way of attempting a connection or engagement with my client group (in this case university students).

However, as I started to do more reading about the subject and approach it from a learning perspective I found myself being more rigorous in my evaluation of various web 2.0 tools – to the extent where I even began to question the automatic adoption of them in academic libraries.  This shift from automatically assuming all social media is good and useful to critical evaluation of its application in my particular work environment has been significant.

A particularly significant moment for me during this semester came when I realised that my post questioning the automatic assumption that social media must be good for our customers was being referred to from a link inside a course management system at Monash University. This link started driving traffic to my blog a week or 2 after I wrote the post about ASU library minute videos – it is coming from a Library Science subject called Professional Practice. The implications of this for me are that I need to continue to think carefully about the views and opinions I publish online – they are highly visible and clearly linked to my online identity.

I have looked at Second Life as part of this subject but did not find it useful – I never seemed to be ‘in there’ at the same time as anyone else and found that it wasn’t intuitive to use and the viewer was resource intensive on my computer. Because I never met anyone else in Second Life, I can’t comment on its usefulness as a meeting place, but with so many other web based social media spaces available I can’t see that it offers any significant value given the difficulty in using it. There are, apparently, many benefits to using Second Life in the education/higher education sector but I was not able to engage with any of these benefits in the time I spent reviewing the space.

Similarly I did not really use delicious as part of this exercise. I looked at the collection of links tagged for our study group and added a few links to it but as I already have an extensive personal library set up within diigo I did not find it to be of much use (except as a way of looking at things highlighted by others in the study group).  However, it was a good introduction to using a bookmarking service collaboratively, as I use diigo as a personal tool rather than a way of sharing information.

And so we have come to the end of the semester. Drawing together some of the things that have interested me most in this subject has been an interesting exercise. I think my focus has been on the community development and engagement that web 2.0 and social media technologies allow – I think that Library 2.0 comes from this engagement rather than from a deliberate attempt to ‘2.0 the library’.

I also potentially now have a work related research project to explore further as a result of completing this subject.

As an information professional in an academic library, engagement with individuals is a large part of my role. My job is to build relationships and networks and leverage those to provide support and assistance to the research and teaching community at my university. Social media helps me do that – by helping me build and develop my networks and professional knowledge through engagement with others and their thoughts and opinions.

Building networks extends beyond my actual job – development and maintenance of my personal learning network (PLN) is a vital part of my ongoing professional development. Utecht’s 5 stages of PLN adoption is a useful measuring stick for understanding the process of PLN engagement but the true measure is whether it is a valuable personal resource or not.

References

Choy, F.C. 2010, From library stacks to library-in-a-pocket: will users be around? Library Management Vol. 32, No. 1 / 2 pp.62-72

Hutton, G. 2008, Privacy & online social networks: a proposed approach for academic librarians in university libraries, Dalhousie Journal of Interdisciplinary Management, Vol. 4 http://ocs.library.dal.ca/ojs/index.php/djim/article/view/2008vol4Hutton/67
Li, C. & Bernoff, J. 2011, Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Harvard Business Review Press

Taking responsibility

We have a new team member starting at MPOW at the end of the month – suddenly I won’t be the new person anymore. This is a bit daunting as I find the I’m new here can you tell me how this works card quite useful. I know I’ve only been here a few months and can legitimately use this tactic for a few months more yet, but it brings it into perspective with the thought that there will be someone newer. Maybe I know more than I think I do? I guess I’ll find out when she says I’m new here can you tell me how this works?

I’ve written before about my amazement that other people seem to think I have something useful to say – and it’s happened to me again. I posted to twitter earlier this week:

getting incoming links to my blog from a moodle at monash… does this mean someone thinks I have something important to say? #yikes

Now, this post is not an attempt to have hundreds of people suddenly tell me I have useful things to say – it’s more a reflection on the responsibility to stand behind the stuff I publish online. I know all the rules of social media – don’t publish anything you don’t want made public, think before pressing send/publish/enter/tweet and I follow those rules. It’s more that as a student myself, I like reading the blogs of practitioners, finding out what they think, agreeing, disagreeing, commenting or writing a post in response. It just never occurs to me that others out there might be reading MY posts in that context.

A bit daunting.

Finishing that which I have started

finish line by Sean MacEntee via flickr CC

I thought this was a perfect topic to wrap up my contribution to Blog Every Day In June.

On WordPress’ Freshly Pressed page today was this hilarious post about the very serious topic of all the projects and tasks we start in our lives and then just never finish.  Read this bit – you’ll get some idea:

See, that’s the problem: I have no follow-through.  I’ve tried a bazillion things and moved on from just about all of them.  Honestly, the things that I’ve managed to stick with I’m either legally obligated to do (like paying my mortgage), need the money (like my day job), simply can’t reverse (like being a parent), or would die if I stopped (like eating and, while I have been testing this theory, bathing)

I must admit I have a pretty bad case of this follow-through-less-ness myself, and judging from the number of comments following the post, I’m certainly not alone.

Finishing my undergraduate library science degree took me 9 years part time. A whole lot of things contributed to that, but if I’m honest, there was some degree of losing interest, particularly towards the end when my library subjects were finished, I was battling through a management major and going through serious change in my personal life.

What got me through? The knowledge that throughout my life I had shown a tendency to not follow through. I suddenly developed a fierce determination that this was not going to happen this time.  I had invested many hours and thousands of dollars into my degree and really wanted to finish it. It was a major personal success for me just to complete the degree.

When I think about it, I’ve actually demonstrated follow through quite a few times in the past couple of years. I’ve participated in #blogjune for 2 years running now – and each time I have followed through and finished it. I think I missed one day last year and none this year, I’m pretty sure that shows staying power.  The same goes for #1pic1thoughtinAug last year, I managed to get a photo uploaded every day. Maybe, just maybe I’m better at this than I first thought?

Cue forward 18 months, to the very last day of #blogjune and I’ve just enrolled in the Masters of Information Studies – essentially to convert my undergrad qualification to a post-grad one.  It’s not going to make much difference to my employment or professional recognition but there’ll be a certain satisfaction in finishing it. Stay tuned.

Defining research?

Doing research by Viewoftheworld via flickr CC

Earlier this year, I attended a one day ‘Research for LIS practitioners‘ seminar put on by ALIA in Sydney.

Last year, I completed a FOLIOz course in Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP), also offered by ALIA.

This is a little story about the blurring of the lines between the two.

One of the criticisms I hear (and agree with) about our profession is the dearth of original research that furthers the profession as a whole.  I loved being at ALIA Access last year and I enjoyed watching the twitter stream from ALIA Information Online this year – but much of what is presented at these conferences is yet more examples of ‘what we did in our library’, which, while interesting and useful and worthwhile, don’t do much to further the profession overall and seem to be examples of EBLIP. Very good EBLIP, don’t get me wrong.

I’m sure it’s not unique to LIS professionals – but we seem to be very good at telling each other about the things we are good at (and the things that didn’t go so well) – the problem is, we are often preaching to the converted anyway so it is all just more of the same.  Following Online, there was much discussion among my twitter PLN on the future of the conference format – but that’s probably another post.

The ‘furthering our profession’ research seems to be most likely to come from the many PhD proposals that were discussed as participants took turns outlining their reasons for being at the seminar.

Meanwhile, I struggled a bit with the EBLIP course as I didn’t quite understand at the beginning the difference between research and using evidence based practice to make workplace decisions.  Much of what was outlined in the EBLIP literature was to do with evaluating previous research (or actually, previous ‘what we did in our library’) to build a business case or plan for proceeding with something in the workplace.  The whole point was to avoid re-inventing the wheel.

It didn’t help my confusion that the ‘burning question’ I formulated during the course proved to be something that there actually wasn’t very much literature on – further blurring the line between EBLIP and research (for me). I forget the details of the question, but it was to do with international students and information literacy instruction as that was something I was dealing with at work at the time.

I had hoped to get over to the UK this year to attend EBLIP6, partly to further my understanding of these 2 different, but overlapping areas of research (and partly to see my brother who lives over there!) but it was not to be.  I look forward to following the progress of the conference via the twitter stream and the papers that come out of it.

In the meantime, I continue to be a bit confused.

Taking charge of my career

career fair by yngrich via flickr CC

Last night I attended an interesting PD event put on by the newly rejuvenated ALIA Sydney group.  Billed as ‘How to be library senior management in 12 easy steps‘, it quickly became obvious from the impressive panel of library senior managers assembled that there are in fact no easy steps.  While some of it appears to be sheer dumb luck and being in the right place at the right time, mostly it comes down to the commonsense approach of making the most of your opportunities and being proactive about career development and career progression.  This includes taking on roles you are a little nervous about (it’s good to challenge yourself) and taking on opportunities to improve your skills with further education, PD events, attendance at conferences, writing papers and all that other (obvious?) stuff.  It’s good to be reminded of these things, particularly as I’m in a spot of down time in my career mojo.

So, this morning I have finally enrolled in a Cert IV Training & Assessment.  In all the dithering I have been doing about whether to do any more study, I’ve overlooked the fact that I could probably just be getting on with this little qualification and getting it over with.  It will probably be useful and will certainly be a good addition to my CV.  I am pretty vocal about my issue with LIS education leaving important stuff like pedagogy out of the course when most librarians end up, in fact, teaching. I like the instruction side of my job but am aware that I am making stuff up as I go along when it comes to developing learning outcomes and effective programs.  I’m hoping this will help. There’s a lot of studying going on in my household at the moment, including a HSC student so I have been a bit reluctant to add yet another one to the mix! However, everyone who has done the Cert IV tells me it’s not terribly difficult or time consuming so I am trusting my PLN on this and getting on with it!

Feels good to have taken some control and made some decisions about my own career.

Transferable skills

Unshelved - 23 Feb 2011

As always, Unshelved made me laugh. However, it does raise the question for me of what exactly IS an information professional? Are we people who ‘look stuff up in books’? Do we actually have any real life, useful skill that is valued anywhere outside the library profession?

I suspect the answer is yes and no.  I think we do have real life skills, but whether they are valued outside the profession is another thing.  It’s the whole ‘librarian’ stereotype I think.  I have members of my own organisation introduce me to outsiders as the librarian ‘but she does other stuff too, like information literacy and search skills training’.  I know, and everybody else inside the profession knows that the ‘other stuff’ is actually librarianship, how come nobody else seems to know that?

This is an old, hoary chestnut – I know this. Everyone in library land has had similar experiences. However, in my quest for a new job I am coming up against this transferable skill thing more and more.  I have skills from outside library land that are, in fact, highly transferable into this environment. Similarly, my library and information skills should be transferable to another environment. The trick is having a prospective employer who can see that.  This has come up for me in a big way in the past week or so.  Out of the blue I was offered a job with a start up professional development company – but it was on the basis of my previous administration experience (clearly very transferable skills but I don’t want to work in admin – that’s why I studied for a career change). I turned the job down after much deliberation as I want to have a chance to show this profession my skills.

So I just keep putting in job applications and waiting for the opportunity.

Career mojo

think again by notsogoodphotography via flickr CC

Over the weekend I read a post from Fiona at A work in progress that has got me thinking about my career mojo.

The blogosphere has been full of posts about what it means to be a librarian, what LIS students need to know, (here and here) and whether our university courses prepare librarians adequately or appropriately. I’m sure this flurry of writing coincides with the new academic year in the US and the end of the academic year here in Australia.  Add into the mix some doom and gloom about the future of the library as we know it  (job cuts and library closures in the UK being the focus of Roy Tennant’s Digital Libraries post this week) and it’s no wonder that graduates like Fiona and myself feel a bit dazed and confused.

Fiona writes:

Now I’m in a horrible limbo land. I’ve finished my course. I am officially a graduand. But I’m yet to find work in a library and am feeling my tenuous grip on the pulse of librarianship slipping away by the day. It’s not that I’m not still reading blogs and articles and tweets from fabulous librarians and educators. It’s not that I’ve lost any of my passion for sharing information and helping to connect people to the information that they need. It’s just that without papers to write or a library job to go to it’s all feeling very abstract.

For a variety of reasons I didn’t work in the library industry while I was studying for my library qualifications, so I completely understand the disconnect Fiona is feeling.  Now, a year after  finishing my course and with almost a year of full time work in the profession under my belt I’m feeling a bit the same again.

MPOW is full of wonderful, caring and genuine folk but as an OPL in a very small educational institution I’m starting to feel the restlessness kick in.  I will always be grateful to my current employer for the opportunity they gave me as a graduate to take this position and for the opportunities for professional development and advancement of my skills that they have allowed me to take while working here, but I’m eager to take my new found skills and apply them in the wider libraryland.

Like Fiona, I’m back in a bit of limbo-land.  It’s completely the wrong time of year here to be looking for a new job, not only am I competing with the fresh, new crop of graduates but the long holiday shuts a lot of things down now until the end of January.  In a way, I’ve also shut down.  I love reading about the fabulous things that others in my PLN are achieving in their workplaces but it’s mixed with wishing that I had the opportunity to do/implement/experience some of those things too, which just induces more restlessness.

I have leave over Christmas and into the New Year.  I can only hope that when I return from leave, some of my career mojo is back.

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