My post for today appears over at ALIA Sydney’s blog. It’s the first time I’ve been a ‘guest blogger’ and I used the opportunity to shamelessly recruit for the ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee (NGAC) of which I’m currently chair. Pop over and have a read. Please?
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…..
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!
I was doing some updating of my ALIA PD points today and it startled me to see that I have pretty much already accumulated the points I need for the 2011 year (it’s a financial year thing). I only joined the scheme in April 2010, realising that all the reading and learning I had been doing for my new job since starting here in February could also be counted as PD points. It then occurred to me that it’s probably time to update my CV with some of this learning and achievement and professional progress.
So this is a relective and slightly self indulgent post, a pause to look at what I’ve learned and managed to achieve since starting at MPOW (my first professional position and first full time job in 18 years) back in February 2010. I’m pretty pleased with this list. I have:
- joined the ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee (NGAC)
- learned how to participate in teleconferences
- developed a web site using Google sites and written and uploaded all the content myself
- developed and written library and academic skills modules for the college moodle
- implemented a monthly student newsletter (college wide, not just library news) that I now co-ordinate & edit
- learned how to conduct information literacy workshops (and learned that it’s different each and every time)
- learned how to use prezi (thanks @misssophiemac)
- learned how to use flickr (thanks @restructuregirl)
- learned how to use twitter (thanks tweeps!)
- established a Facebook presence for both the library and MPOW generally
- learned about Orkut as a social networking site
- participated in a blogging project (#blogeverydayinjune)
- written my first collaborative document as part of an NGAC task
- been to UTS to hear Heidi Julien talk about information literacy
- been to the ALIA Biennial conference in Brisbane and met lots of new people
- learned how to use the Libraries Australia database
- written my first article for InCite (as yet unpublished)
- discovered what a ‘personal learning network‘ is and how to develop and contribute to one
- participated in discussions about my experiences as a student as part of research into LIS education
- started planning for the library to move to another building and co-locate (finally!) with the computer lab
Some of this has been ‘just part of the job’ and some has been personal professional development that may or may not cross over into ‘the job’ but I believe (and fortunately, so does my employer) that it is all part of being an active participant in a learning profession and that ultimately that has benefits and payoffs for the employer beyond the ‘things that get done on the job’.
Probably the most valuable part of all of this to me has been the professional networking through twitter, NGAC and the conference. I had an example of this just today in a focus group discussion for the LIS research project – I was delighted to find another participant was someone I had met at the conference. Connecting and reconnecting is what helps build the profession. I’m not sure where all that will take me in the longer term career sense but I’m sure it’s going to be positive.
image: Ecliptic Star Trails by makelessnoise via flickr
OK, so today wasn’t a highlight in my new career. Training course in how to use the Libraries Australia database search functions, in a stuffy computer classroom – without access to Twitter! I probably could have learned as much with a few hours, the database to myself to play around with and the work-it-out-as-I-go strategy, but you live and learn I guess.
However. Tonight I wanted to revisit my theme of communication with a little essay on teleconferences. As a member of ALIA’s NGAC, I’m getting quite used to teleconferences. I’ve gone from zero to 100 in teleconference experience in just 6 short weeks. It’s quite a knack, concentrating on the subject at hand, keeping track of who is speaking and trying to make intelligent comment while simultaneously doing one or all of the following (seriously, these have all happened to me in the very few teleconferences we’ve had so far):
- shooing the cat off my lap
- spilling my cup of tea all over my notes
- indicating through sign language to teenage children that I am NOT currently available for consultation
- checking out books to students
- remembering to announce my name before speaking
- remembering not to speak too much for fear of boring others, or too little for fear of boring others
- indicating through sign language to other staff that I am NOT currently available for consultation
This week, we not only had a teleconference going, we had one member communicating via google chat because she couldn’t get onto the call and we were collaborating on a google docs doc as well. All at the same time! We’re very clever librarians 🙂