Towards the end of 2010 I lost my librarian mojo – I could really sympathise with this post from A work in progress about being dazed & confused. I’m in a not-so-different situation to Fiona, OK, I have a job in libraryland but it’s a first job and I need to start thinking about the next step in my career sometime in 2011. That’s both exciting and daunting and the daunting part overtook me by the end of the year.
I am not a 24/7 librarian so my recent 3 weeks off work have really been 3 weeks away from the whole library thing – very little interaction on twitter from me and I haven’t read a single blog post that could be remotely called professional (OK, I’ve read some by librarians but they weren’t really library related). Partly this is because I went camping for a week – to a location with flaky 3G connection at best but mostly it’s because I really needed to take a break from all the PD and the information bombardment my day usually contains. I barely even picked up a newspaper during this 3 weeks.
As a result, I feel quite refreshed, in spite of wondering if I’ve missed out on anything really fantastic. I probably have, but I’ve learned that life goes on regardless! As I’ve blogged about before, I value my PLN and in particular my twitter network but it’s still pretty much a work thing for me, rather than a life thing. I have some strict boundaries around the work/life balance thing – having seen first hand what happens when you don’t – so it suits me to keep things as they are for the moment.
I’ve come back to work to the realisation that I have 2 PD events coming up for me in the next 3 weeks – as well as the prospect of a #tweetup around the ALIA Information Online conference that is being held in Sydney in early February. This has cheered me up no end (because let’s face it, who actually enjoys coming back to work after 3 weeks leave?).
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.
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.
The virtual ‘water cooler’ chat that is twitter is still running hot on the subject of the TEDx Canberra event held last weekend. For a pretty good look at what TED is, try the wikipedia entry here, or check out some of the many TED talk videos available free of charge here. The little ‘x’ indicates an event run independently of ‘big’ TED but with the right to use the name, subject to conditions of format etc (anyone spot the Playschool reference in there?).
You can find out what some others attending TEDx Canberra thought by checking out a few of these blog posts:
The thing that struck me the most about each and every one of the speakers at TEDx Canberra was their passion for their subject. All of these people had an idea they passionately felt was worth sharing. Those ideas included suicide awareness and prevention, future proofing the security of Australian banking, helping teenagers realise their dreams, tapping into the power of our minds, our communities and our networks and many, many more.
As I start to gather speed in my chosen profession, the concept of ‘what am I passionate about’ comes to mind regularly. There’s passion about one’s field of work, demonstrated by William DeJean and Mitchell Whitelaw (I’ll bet I wasn’t the only information worker in the room hanging on his every word) and then there’s passion for something outside that – in the volunteer or social sector – unrelated to how we make our daily dollar.
TED is about ideas worth sharing. TEDx Canberra shared many such ideas and has given me much to think about, write about and shape the things I am passionate about into something worth sharing too.
image: @newgradlib & @KatieTT braving the dark Canberra sky for a #tedxcanberra pic
image: audience pic featuring @alearningthing, @newgradlib & @KatieTT at #tedxcanberra by Gavin Tapp via flickr
Telling and creating stories as part of #octshowntell has been the fun, creative and almost easy part. However, as @restructuregirl has pointed out, sharing our collective storytelling has turned out to be harder than we thought.
YouTube groups were considered and then found to be no longer supported or available. Setting up a group within vimeo caused headaches for the creator and difficulties for the rest of us in finding it. These technical difficulties aside, the other problem with groups in video based cloud services is that you can only post, well, videos. Those of us creating stories using other formats can’t post our stories to these groups anyway.
Enter the idea for a google sites project. Easy to set up, quick to add things, accepts flash so that we can embed storybirds that can’t be embedded in lots of other places (like here on my wordpress.com blog), even looks a bit fancy thanks to easy to use templates and drag ‘n drop formatting. However, once I had set up the google site I came across the problem I have also had at MPOW with my library website – other people can’t edit or add to the site unless they are first added as owners.
This is a straightforward problem on the surface, just email an invitation to the person you would like to add, they establish a google account and then they are away. Of course, as my PLN is largely a twitter based group, I don’t actually have email addresses for most of the people participating in #octshowntell and while I’m a big fan of google sites, they are not yet so advanced that you can send out invitations via twitter handle!
What I love about these group collaborative learning projects I have been involved with is the opportunity to learn by doing and to learn by playing. Michael Stephens from Dominican University in Illinois uses learning by playing as a recurring theme in both his teaching and presentations. Sophie McDonald from UTS Library in Sydney also presented on this at the recent ALIA conference in Brisbane, talking about Transforming information literacy through play. I love the idea that playing is learning and counts as professional development at the same time! Most of the 2.0 technologies that I use I have learned how to use by sitting down and playing with them – learning as I go, asking the twitterverse for advice when needed, using YouTube to find more information and a demonstration.
I have been passing on my knowledge to other staff at MPOW and was thrilled to have an older, self acknowledged luddite teacher tell me the other day that he’s excited by the tools and possibilities the college moodle is opening up to he and his students and that perhaps he is ‘never too old to learn’. Music to the ears of one so recently committed to a profession of lifelong learners.
image: Stories by _Ricky via flickr
Yes folks, it’s another creative, collaborative, fun learning challenge from my libraryland PLN. This time it’s story telling. #Octshowntell is designed to get us thinking about and using Web 2.0 storytelling tools.
To be honest, I was at first unsure whether to post this new activity here or on my personal blog but in the end I have decided that it’s a professional activity based around learning & using new tools, so it belongs here – even if the content of my storytelling isn’t work based (and so far it’s not).
My first effort is here then. I’ve used xtranormal because I’m familiar with it but I’ll use something outside my comfort zone before this 4 weeks is up, I promise! I’ve already started playing with Storybird and doing some collaboration with some small members of my extended family as a way of creating a connection with them and am keen to have a look at animoto as well.
image: Get Your Learn On by Hryck via flickr
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
Barely 8 months after saying “that’s it, I can’t possibly EVER study again” I find myself on the brink of a 6 week course on evidence based practice. FOLIOz is a program of online learning developed specifically for librarians at Sheffield University in the UK. Here in Australia, ALIA links with this UK partner to deliver short, email and wiki based online learning for LIS professionals as part of the PD program for ALIA members.
So far so good. I’ve had my first email from the course facilitator and have set up my email inbox to forward those emails to a separate folder so I don’t lose them in the avalanche of email that comes into my personal account every 24 hours. The course outline comes with a schedule of tasks and emails we can expect to get and there will be roughly one a (working) day for the next weeks so that’s quite a bit more traffic in my inbox!
I’m keen on attending the EBLIP6 conference in Manchester, UK in June next year and thought this course might be a good introduction and a way of working out whether I really do want to spend that money and go all that way (of course, I do want the UK holiday that would be tacked on as part of it…).
Watch this space….
image: Back when I studied Chinese by alexandralee via flickr
Here at MPOW it’s nothing to get involved in projects that are technically a little (or even a lot) outside one’s area of expertise and professional knowledge. I’ve blogged before about this so it’s nothing new.
The particular ‘things’ that are taking up my time at the moment include teaching academic skills as our usual tutor is off on maternity leave, helping to put together an application to run a Masters of Professional Accounting at MPOW, worrying about the specific language and cultural issues that our students face and how to best put together assistance for them, training teaching staff in the use of the student management database system and trying to find a way to fit some sort of infolit training into our students’ very packed timetables.
Top of my worry list is the academic skills stuff. One of my (many, I’ll admit) soapboxes is the absence of teaching pedagogy in our training as librarians. Infolit I’m reasonably comfortable with, I teach that to my own kids all the time but academic skills is a different thing, particularly here when it is often combined with some English language difficulties as well. In addition, our academic skills program seems to be largely contained in people’s heads so I’m trying to get it out onto paper and into some sort of formalised course structure (or at least some lesson plans!). This caused my first headache – I had absolutely no idea how to start going about doing this. I’ve since read and read and read and feel like I have done enough reading to award myself a GradDipEd but was still a bit lost. Until……
I tweeted the other day about my joy at finding the UTAS Teaching & Learning site:
Just found this wonderful UTAS site – has answered most of my questions, could be pedagogy love http://bit.ly/9KjfAL
I feel like I’m on a roll now (well I was until the MPA application stuff came up and took up most of my week)- this site tells me what I need to know, as opposed to what I need to be teaching others – and this is what I was having trouble finding. Tick that box.
The other major issue filling up my ‘thinking’ time is the lack of information and evidence based practice (or even questions and thoughts!) relating to organisations like MPOW. We are small and highly specialised so while I have learnt SO MUCH from my colleagues/tweetmates in the academic world little of it actually fits well with what goes on here. Similarly, although we share many characteristics with Specials, I don’t have a special library – I have students with academic needs.
I know there are other private higher education organisations out there but by the very nature of the private, for profit-ness of these organisations, we don’t collaborate or share ideas. A project I would love to get my teeth into is whether in fact the libraries and information centres from these organisations could do some collaborating or idea sharing without jeopardising any commercial-in-confidence stuff and bringing the wrath of investors down on our collective heads. Sort of like CAUL for minnows…
This turned out to be a bit deeper than I thought it would be for a Friday afternoon post – particularly after the brain-frying, depression-inducing, mind-numbing and painful processes of proofing, correcting and assembling I’ve been doing this week!
image: Be Prepared by Mykl Roventine via flickr
Over the weekend I listened to the May instalment (ok, so I’m a bit behind) from the crew at Adventures in Library Instruction. If you haven’t heard this podcast and you are in anyway involved in information literacy training and/or instruction it’s worth at least having a peep (or hearing a peep if you want to be really technical).
As a learning tool, podcasts appeal to me for several reasons. I like audio and can engage in it more easily than reading (witness my raving about audiobooks), I can listen to it in the car which is good use of time that is otherwise dead to me and I get a sense of the personalities and people behind the information. I’ve been listening to ALI pretty faithfully since they started (well, since I read about it in PD Postings anyway – but I have heard all podcasts up to and including May this year now) and feel I’ve not only learned a lot but have had good insight into how other people do their jobs and WHAT they do for their jobs. This is particularly important for me as an OPL.
So why zombies? The May edition of ALI featured 2 librarians from the University of Florida who had organised library involvement in a campus wide zombie themed alternate reality game (ARG) and developed a libguide to zombies as a way of tapping into what the students were interested in but also getting some library and information literacy instruction into them as well. Have a look at this video the library produced as part of their involvement in the week long ARG:
It was a great episode of the podcast and this post doesn’t go even close to doing justice to the level of detail and involvement that went into this. While I can’t do anything like that here at MPOW (University of Florida has about 50,000 students and we have about 300!), the take home point for me was tapping into student culture – whatever that may be in your neck of the woods.