I tweeted today that IT at MPOW are having some trouble figuring out why dropbox won’t install on my work PC. Some background is needed. As I’ve recently changed teams I have been the lucky recipient of a long overdue new computer and I’m one of a handful of staff testing the Windows 7 environment that is to be rolled out as standard… er, soonish.
Dropbox installed fine on the old machine but something in the new configuration is stopping it. IT were able to get endnote to load and to get the system to allow me to designate Chrome as my default browser but dropbox is being problematic.
This led me to think about the tools I take for granted in my workday – dropbox definitely being one of them. Some are tech based, others not.
I use my (personal) iPad nearly every day at work, to take notes, monitor twitter via hootsuite, draw mindmaps using popplet, refer to annotated PDF documents, write meeting minutes or quickly look something up on the fly. From being initially very sceptical about the uses for the iPad I’ve become quite a convert!
I’ve just acquired the document holder you can see between keyboard & monitor in the photo & after a week I already cannot imagine how I got on without it.
I can’t imagine not having a couple of notebooks on the go at any one time. I love the iPad but sometimes I find there’s no substitute for physically writing it down. That said, I can never find a pen & have taken to haunting the stationery cupboard this week in anticipation of the monthly order delivery in case there’s new pens….
The new PC has come with OneNote loaded and I’m currently exploring its usefulness & capabilities – I’ll let you know if it becomes indispensable!
What tools do you rely on at work?
If you work in academic libraries sooner or later you are going to come across the issue of research data management. Increasingly, we are also working in an e-research space where everything from finding journal articles for a literature review through to making a copy of the finished work available in an institutional repository happens in an online space.
My previous posts on digital humanities send out a call for libraries to be more involved in this process and to come to the table as partners and collaborators with researchers. This is an area of librarianship I didn’t know existed before starting at MPOW 15 months ago and it has caught my interest in a big way.
I did say much of this #blogjune from me would be about data. Now I can reveal that I have a new job for the next 12 months and am going to be working in our library’s repository services team, talking about research data management all day long. It starts next week – stay tuned!
Today was the kind of day that would have been perfect for the library ‘day in the life’ project – it was a really interesting day at work and a great example of why I love working in a large academic library. Of course, I can just write about it anyway…
First up was an interview with the first of a small group of international students as part of a research project gathering information about the students’ experiences following a research skills workshop we ran for them. I’m not part of the project at all, but the interviews are to be done by someone who had no involvement with delivering the workshop sessions, so that’s where I came in. We had to record audio of the interview – I discovered there’s no native voice recorder on the iPad (who knew?) so ended up setting up Evernote to record the interview. This actually worked out quite well as exporting the recording to the research team using the web client was simplicity. I haven’t actually used Evernote very much so this has been a good learning experience for me.
Next up was being a play tester for a third year game design class from the Media school. They are using the concept of plagiarism as the basis for designing a Serious Game so the library has been involved from the beginning – providing a design brief as the ‘client’ then acting as play testers for the students over the next few weeks. It was lots of fun and great to interact with students at such a detailed level. There are some seriously creative and clever young men and women out there!
After lunch I survived my 6 monthly performance review. We don’t actually call it a performance review at MPOW but whatever it’s called, it was an opportunity to sit down with my team leader to review my achievements to date and make a few suggestions for some professional development opportunities and goals for the next 6 months.
There was also everyday routine stuff of course. I replied to some emails, liaised with some faculty co-ordinators about the planning for the library’s involvement in a program for indigenous high school students that will be run in the mid year break, did some trouble shooting for an academic and had a discussion with a colleague who is working on a collection project that I’m co-ordinating.
During the afternoon I proof-read another colleague’s draft conference paper and provided some feedback, followed by a phone conversation with an ALIA staff member in my role as co-ordinator of the ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee. Somewhere during the day I also took the time to do some reading on the digital humanities and digital libraries as I have to present back to staff about the conference I attended a few weeks back and I’m still trying to get my head around the concepts I heard about, let alone explain it to others.
It was a busy, productive day – without being overwhelming. I had spaces between my meetings and that doesn’t always happen. The last few months have thrown up many days like this – a variety of interesting projects and things to do that don’t always seem to be related to my job description. If only I could move the university to a more convenient location…..
I’ve mentioned before that my book club uses a rating system on books – we put a score out of 5 against our name on a card in the back of the book and then everyone else knows who enjoyed it, who couldn’t finish it and so on. This is really useful in a group where everyone’s reading preferences are different – you can work out who else likes the same books you do and pick those up to read.
The rating system over the years has been controversial. At the very first meeting more than 10 years ago we decided on a scale of 1-5 where 1 = couldn’t finish it and 5 = couldn’t put it down wish I could read it again tomorrow. We have never allowed half points – preferring to make people commit one way or the other. Some of us love the no half points, others hate it and it comes up for discussion at least a couple of times a year.
I was thinking about this system in relation to some quantitative outcome measurement we do at MPOW. One of the measurements we use is ‘significant’ – in the context of has this resulted in significant change from the way things were before. I had a meeting on Thursday that I think had ‘very significant’ outcomes – but just like my book club, there are no degrees of significance in the system so we can’t sit on the fence, and I don’t think it merits the next measurement up in the scale, so significant it shall stay.
This is not meant to be a rant about Overdrive, more a discussion of my experiences (ok, frustrations) navigating this e-landscape. I haven’t really taken up the e-books challenge yet, I like physical books, I love audio books and don’t really have a ‘need’ at this point to outlay for an e-reader. I get all the arguments for and against, I really do, and I can see a future with an e-book reader, but at this point I’d rather spend the money on something else.
I’ve had a few forays into Kindle for the iPhone, and apart from the iPhone screen being too small for serious or long term reading, have found that to be a very positive experience.
However, my main interest at this point is audio books (well, it’s always been an interest as has already been discussed here) as I have some bus travel in my daily commute to work and I can’t ‘read’ on a bus due to travel sickness.
I prefer to borrow my audio books rather than buy them and my local library has an Overdrive service that I use regularly. However, as most of the audio books in Overdrive seem to be in wma format, they can’t be downloaded to my Mac laptop. Before the Mac, I used to download them to my (Windows) laptop, then transfer them to my iPod or, more recently, my iPhone.
Now, I can only use audio books in mp3 format and that’s about 10% of the audio book collection on offer. I’ve given up on the Mac version of Overdrive and now download them via the iPhone app direct to my device – which method I had been avoiding because of the previously mentioned limitations on format….
I also can’t return them when I’m finished with them, which means they sit on my account (and therefore unavailable to anyone else) for the full 21 days, in spite of the fact that it only takes me about 7 to get through an average audio book (I know that sounds like I do nothing but listen to books, but in my new job I am commuting up to 3 hours every day). If anyone knows of a way to make that happen by the way, please, please let me know in the comments!
There is of course an up side to all of this. I have to have an audio book to listen to, and because my choice is so limited I’m listening to a lot of books I probably would not have normally chosen, in genres that wouldn’t normally be my preference. I think this is a good thing. I’ve only given up on an audio book once, whereas I give up on print books easily if they are not grabbing me or I become bored with the story. This is also a good thing. (The only reason I gave up on the audio book in question was the narrator’s voice – drove me crazy).
Am I getting something wrong? To use (another) of my favourite phrases: Is it just me?
At the risk of sounding like I may have been employed under false pretences I have to say that when my current manager was interviewing me for my position and kept mentioning the term ‘bibliometrics’ I did a lot of nodding and smiling and quite frankly, pretending I knew what she was talking about.
Sometimes I feel like my whole professional life consists of nodding and smiling and pretending I’m following the conversation. I’m pretty good at absorbing information by an almost osmosis-like process – working on the theory that if I listen long enough, then go away and do some background reading everything will eventually make sense. Most importantly, I don’t commit myself to an opinion one way or another too early (I hate to appear ill-informed or under-prepared, even when I am).
On the whole this works. In a large academic library with 160+ staff one has to do something about the information overload and I have found that getting up to speed has come much faster by adopting a ‘nod and smile’ approach and not worrying too much about the details in the first instance. I find that absorbing the culture and the big picture of a new environment (whether it’s a new job, or a new soccer club the kids are involved with) is the quickest way through the confusion of those first few weeks and months.
I digress, as this was originally going to be about bibliometrics! However, I have probably reached the limit of your patience dear reader, I know you’ve got dozens of other blogs to pop off and read as part of your commitment to #blogjune so in my now familiar style, I’ll leave the specifics until another time.
Last month I had a strange experience. Strange for me anyhow. If you follow me on twitter you’ll know I am @newgradlib – that is, a newly graduated librarian. I don’t really know anything. I’m new. I’m learning. I offer words of encouragement and lots of nods & smiles but no real advice (except on parenting, I’m pretty experienced in that department…).
This, however, has not stopped three individuals recently asking me for my professional opinion in three different areas of my professional life. Yikes!
The first is another new graduate. I sat on an interview panel for a job she applied for and was instantly drawn to her – like me, she had little or no library experience yet had written a job application that convinced the panel we needed to see her. Like me, she was offered the job. Like me, she is starting her professional career in a very small, one person library (in fact, the very library I have just left).
I’ve found myself communicating with this librarian partly in a handover type way but also in a “why don’t you try this or this or this to help yourself get started in the profession” type way. You know, suggesting she get going on twitter, establish a PLN, start a blog, all that stuff. Perhaps I should have invited her to blog every day of June.
Next, I found myself being asked about my involvement with NGAC by someone potentially interested in nominating for a position on an ALIA Advisory Committee – expressions of interest were called for several committees during May. What did I think? Had I found it a worthwhile experience? How much work is really involved? Was it interesting?
Last, I had an email from someone who has recently started following me on twitter and is also reading my blog. This person wanted to ask me about studying LIS by distance. How had I found that with a family? Would I recommend one LIS school over another? What had my experience been with juggling time, motivation, kid wrangling and lack of library experience?
It feels strange to be the person being asked – I’m used to the mentoring thing working the other way around for me. It’s a bit daunting to know that people are seeing me as someone with knowledge they can tap into – but also kinda nice.
I’ve taken a few thoughts about public profiles and participation in a personal learning network out of this experience that I’m saving up for another post – after all, I do have to come up with one every day this month!