Tag Archives: office

Essential work tools

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!

image

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?

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A library day in the life – Round 8

A working day by Tupolev und seine Kamera via flickr CC

So, this week is Round 8 of the Library Day in the Life project and as I’m an occasional contributor to the project – here’s my day!

I am an outreach librarian within the Academic Services Unit at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. We ‘outreachers’ are the point of contact for academics and higher degree research students at the university and actively promote the research support services the library offers. In addition, I have recently taken on the role of collection co-ordinator within the Humanities, Creative Arts & Social Sciences Unit. As collection work and responsibility is spread across all academic services librarians here, there are 2 co-ordinators to keep track of the projects and tasks that form the collection part of our daily work.

8:00 arrived at work, did all the usual ‘waiting for my computer to warm up’ stuff – getting a cup of tea, chatting to the other early birds on the floor (there’s not many of us this early – it doesn’t take long!)

8:15 emails – not too many to deal with, accepted a meeting request for later today, put a couple of things in the ‘read/do something with later’ pile.

8:30 talked with a colleague who is new to twitter, answering a few of her questions, including looking at a couple of different twitter apps and comparing their features

9:00 met informally (as in, she wandered onto our floor so I grabbed the chance for a few words) with the manager of our Electronic Resources Unit (ERU) in my capacity as collection co-ordinator.

9:15 talked with (ie, sought advice from!) previous collection co-ordinator about a few issues that I haven’ t been able to resolve

9:30 realised it’s library day in the life week and that today may be a reasonably interesting day to write about so started writing this

9:45 read a document on producing reports from our back end catalogue system ahead of a briefing/training session on this later this morning. I desperately need to learn how to do this to get a pile of backlogged collection projects underway.

10:00 Coffee with a few team members 🙂

10:20 back to reading my training document

11:00 went off to learn in practice how to produce reports

12:30 lunch under a shady tree in the courtyard with a colleague

1:00 preparation for a meeting with the Centre Manager of one of the research centres within my Outreach portfolio. The centre is relocating to a smaller space and looking for advice on how to review their book/report collection – it’s mostly grey literature so I’m looking for some resources to point them towards. I’m also eating chocolate.

2:00 meeting at the research centre. Very successful meeting, leaves me feeling very positive about the relationship between the library and the centre.

3:15 quick coffee break with a colleague

3:30 at my desk, dealing with email that arrived while I was in the meeting and following up on a number of issues resulting from the meeting. Also set up a meeting with an academic from another centre who wants to get up to speed with the support we can provide for her teaching this semester.

3:45 quick meeting with a colleague who has been doing research around whether we continue to subscribe to a particular journal

4:00 debrief with my team leader on the significant 2pm meeting

4:20 home

It was really hot and muggy in Sydney today, I felt like I’d run miles when I got home. Most days I don’t mind public transport – some days, like today, I’d give my right arm for an airconditioned car.

Back to work

This week marks a couple of things. It’s my first week back at work after nearly 4 weeks off following a combination of enforced university shutdown and annual leave. Was great. Not talking about that here.

I have come back from leave to a newly renovated workroom, with new furniture, a new spot on the floor and new desk neighbours. It’s all very fresh and clean and it’s great just to have a change to mark the new year.

It’s also 2 years this week since I went for an interview for what would become my first professional library position, at my previous place of work.  I have been trying to remember what that week was like – I was desperate for a job, nervous about the interview (in fact I had thought it went quite badly) and so excited when I got the call to say I had been successful.  I remember it was a really hot day, and I actually went to 2 interviews on the same day, racing across the city from one to the other.

So all in all, it’s fitting that this week’s theme for the Friday Photo 2012 challenge is ‘work’.  I’m not particularly inspired by the theme – but did take this picture of my desk before I started unpacking the boxes on Monday.

I need to unpack....

New shiny in the workplace

iCat not included with purchase of iPad from icanhazcheezeburger.com

We haz an iPad in our team and we are downloading your apps…

The Outreach teams at MPOW have been given an iPad to use in our work.  We have to share it, but it’s a pretty damn exciting piece of equipment to be allowed to play with, particularly as buying my own is not about to happen anytime soon.  It’s early days, no one has taken it out of the cupboard (except I suspect the team leaders have possibly been playing with it – just a bit) and while I’d love to make full use of it, I want my time with it to be productive and useful.

I can think of a dozen things straight away that I could use an iPad for in the workplace – but they mostly relate to the way I organise my day, do my job and communicate with people rather than the way the team might use it. The thing with an iPad or other mobile device is that they are designed to be personal – to provide you with access to the functionality you need to get on with the things you do. Figuring out how to share it and still have it be a productive and useful tool is important.

So, library peeps, I am crowdsourcing. Are you in an outreach/liaison position? It could be any type of library – doesn’t have to be an academic focus. Do you use an iPad as part of your work day? What apps do you find useful, what functionality is important, HOW do you use it in your work day?  Remembering that we can’t use it to keep track of email, tweet on the run or check the time of the next bus because we’re sharing it, what CAN we use it for?

Some of my ideas so far:

  • I do library tours with groups of international students – would be handy to have the iPad with me so I can also follow along with the virtual tour at the same time – point out that they can book rooms then show them immediately on the library website where they can book rooms
  • Collaborative work with another team member creating a document on the run in a meeting room or other space that is not our desktop
  • Note taking in a meeting with a School or academic
  • Access to cloud services such as dropbox when away from my desk
I’m sure there are lots of other things we could be doing with it – so far my list isn’t really anything I couldn’t do with a laptop – although taking a laptop on a library tour would be a bit tricky.
Any ideas shared in the comments would be gratefully accepted 🙂

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.

Stuck in the middle

This week at MPOW I’ve found myself inadvertently in the middle of a drama between 2 members of staff, neither of whom I work directly with.

The drama involves me only as a side issue, there was an email about me (incorrect as it turns out) that has provided the catalyst for ‘final straw’ type action.  It’s caused quite a sensation, I’m still not sure quite how I got involved but there you are.

This got me thinking about the issue of office politics in general.  Technically I work by myself here at MPOW.  I’m the only library staff member, I theoretically report direct to the College principal or the provost and I don’t supervise any staff.  A small organisation being what it is however and as I’ve blogged about before, I am involved in much more than just library stuff.  When I started here, one of my colleagues said to me “it’s a nice place and there really isn’t any office politics”.  While that’s not quite true, it’s pretty close and on the whole this workplace is free from many of the petty concerns and trivialities of other places I’ve worked (and even many of the real concerns and non-trivialities).

My last job was working on my own as well – I was literally the only person in the office there, although there was constant phone and email contact with committee members, former committee members and even former staff (the CBCA is the kind of place that gets into your blood, once you’ve been involved you’re sort of always involved, nearly 12 months after leaving I still speak to my replacement there about once a month). It’s been so long since I’ve had to negotiate outcomes, or space, or project time or budget allowances with anyone other than my teenagers that sometimes I wonder if I can still do it.

We teach management, organisation theory, organisation behaviour, human resource management and negotiation/conflict resolution skills here in our various programs and I studied those subjects in various forms as part of my management major in my degree. However, there’s nothing quite like being in the workplace to really teach you how to get along with others.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to gently work my way back into the world of office politics – maybe this current ruckus is a development opportunity?

image: scream and shout by mdanys via flickr