Saturday, 23 July 2011

Poster for #iaml2011

The IAML International Conference is running from tomorrow until next Friday in Dublin, and I've been lucky enough to receive a Music Libraries Trust bursary to attend.

I'm doing a poster session on Tuesday, based on an assignment I did as part of the MSc Information and Library Studies in Aberystwyth (click to view pdf).

I'm looking forward to the conference and to catching up with what's been going on in music librarianship recently!  I'll probably blog about some of the sessions during the week.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

CPD23 Blogs and Blogging

Thing 1
I started this blog last year as part of two 23 Things programmes, one run by the Cambridge University Medical Library and the other run by a team of librarians from different libraries in the university.  At the time, I had only been in the UK a few months, working a few hours a week at the Medical Library and knew hardly anyone in Cambridge, let alone the UK library scene.  How things have changed!  Participating in these 23 Things programmes led to me very quickly getting to know people here by following other local blogs and from there starting to follow other library blogs, getting involved in what was going on (like TeachMeet for one!), presenting at conferences, getting involved in the local CILIP branch and starting a full time role as Assistant Librarian of a faculty library here in Cambridge. 

I've already talked about the start of the CPD23 idea, but have been trying to decide whether or not to follow the programme myself.  I'm on the home stretch of my librarianship masters, which I've been doing by distance learning for *ahem* a while, so finishing that is absolutely my priority this year, but I couldn't resist joining the fun.  I love the idea of building more of a community with other info pros both nationally and internationally.  I think I'll follow other the progress of some other participants and dip in and out of actually posting as time allows.  I can always do the other Things next year when I've finished the masters!

Thing 2
So I've been looking around the blogs so far and loving the variety!  I started with the Irish bloggers (including not one but two other Niamhs - see, it's a totally normal name!), then clicked through some of the countries with only one or two participants, then followed links to some of the blogs mentioned by these participants, commenting here and there along the way.  I agree with the people that said that the commenting will be more useful as we progress - I certainly found that last year.  We've now added a blogroll to the left hand column (screenshot above) which just lists the 25 most recent blog posts by CPD23 participants, so I plan to dip into that as time goes on to discover more blogs on a regular basis.  I've added some of the blogs to Google Reader, going by people whose writing styles I enjoyed rather than sector or geographic criteria.  A random sample of these include:
Quick tip!
For anyone, like me, who made the mistake of upgrading to Firefox 4 before checking that it wouldn't break or move stuff (like that RSS icon that I absolutely relied on), there is a solution.  If you right click on the toolbars you can customise it to add the RSS icon back in and to move everything else back where they belong.  It doesn't fix the fact that the Delicious toolbars are broken, but at least I can now subscribe to blogs again!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

23 Things for Professional Development

What happens if you cross a 23 Things programmes with CPD?
This time last year, I was working my way through not one, but two 23 Things programmes - one specifically for staff of Cambridge University Medical Library and one for library staff in any of the (many) Cambridge University libraries. Around about the same time, I attended the New Professionals Conference in Sheffield and came away even more inspired and enthusiastic than ever.  It occurred to me that the 23 Things model would work really well for new professionals, and the seed of an idea was planted.

The idea developed...
Back I came to Cambridge, and started discussing this idea with Katie Birkwood, who (luckily for me!) agreed to get involved.  A group of us got together, ranging from Graduate Trainees to library school students to fully qualified and more established information professionals to thrash out the idea some more.  We quickly came to the conclusion that running a 23 Things programme just for new professionals would mean that some of our slightly less new colleagues would feel that this programme wasn't for them and we'd lose the advantage of professionals at all levels sharing their experiences.  23 Things for New Professionals became 23 Things for Professional Development and #cpd23 was born.  Most of the original team work at one or other of the libraries of the University of Cambridge, but we thought the project would really benefit from input from people from outside our little echo chamber and we're very excited to have Jo Alcock, Bobbi Newman, Laura Woods, Bronagh McCrudden, Emma Illingworth and Sarah Ison on board.

There's a wonderful group running the programme.  Huge thanks to all of you for planning, writing and promoting the programme, tagging hundreds of participant blogs (500+ so far) and all the rest of the work that's going into putting 23 Things for Professional Development together.  Extra thanks to Katie for doing so much of the organising and introductory posting, Helen for doing the #npc2011 presentation, Claire for agreeing to present a poster at CILIP's Umbrella Conference and Charlotte for volunteering to do an hour-long webinar with me for NCompass Live (Nebraska) tomorrow afternoon!  The response has been incredible, I'm really looking forward to following the developments.

Friday, 29 April 2011


Several weeks ago I mentioned that CARET are organising a 13 Things for Curriculum Design programme in Cambridge.  I haven't done any more about it because life got in the way a bit (the whole dissertation proposal thing and the whole co-presenting with Katie Birkwood about LibTeachMeet at LILAC thing), so they're now up to Thing 10 - catch up time! 

Thing 2: Cloudworks
From the 13 Things site: "Cloudworks is a website for teachers in HE to to find and discuss ideas for learning and teaching, and share their own ideas too."

I had a quick look around first and found a few sections relating to information literacy (which I've been working with recently), but lots of "clouds" with no responses.  Not the most inspiring start, so I decided to follow the recommended steps.

The Learning Design Toolbox is a "cloudscape" which seems to include a lot of useful suggestions for activities - regardless of subject.  This could certainly be useful in terms of finding quick ideas to adapt for your lessons.  There are also some Tips and hints for effective use of Cloudworks which includes suggestions such as using Clouds for conference discussions, for sharing resources and ideas, for networking and for keeping up to date.

Will I use it? I don't think so, except for browsing through that handy toolbox from time to time.  Do I think Cambridge should have a similar one?  I'm not convinced it would be used enough, but maybe?  CamTools can be used in this way, but isn't, but then that could have something to do with the clunky way it currently works, or because it's hard to browse for a group that you aren't automatically signed up for and don't know is there.  I wouldn't rule it out, but I'm not overly excited by this one I'm afraid.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

13 Things for Curriculum Design

I participated in the 23 Things course for librarians in Cambridge last summer, learned so much and got to know more of the community of librarians here, so when I spotted Emma's tweet about this 13 Things course last week I was curious to see what would happen with this programme.

To answer the questions - before becoming a librarian I qualified as a secondary school teacher in Ireland.  I have experience of teaching music and German privately and in classes of up to 30 students.  The curricula for Junior and Leaving Cert state exams were set by the State Examinations Commission, but the Transition Year programme (for 15-16 year olds) was less formally structured so I designed the programmes I taught for that.

Librarians have a very important role in teaching and training within the university context.  We teach the students about managing their information, referencing, finding and using resources (both in print and online) and critical appraisal of these resources.  We don't currently have a structured curriculum for information literacy in Cambridge, but this is something that some other universities offer already and I believe there's an Arcadia project starting soon to design one here too.  I'm planning to watch what's happening in the 13 Things programme to see what tools are suggested but more importantly to get an insight into what others are doing in curriculum design in the university.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

#lisbkchat: Librarianship book discussions online

I "listened" with half an ear to the #catbkchat Celine took part in last week on Twitter.  Although I haven't read the book so wasn't really following, I think it's a great idea and was wondering if any librarians/info pros out there would be interested in doing a more general #lisbkchat?  The idea would be that we pick a book to read, pick a day to discuss it and basically have an online librarianship book club.  My personal vote would be to start with something related to information literacy since I'll be eating, sleeping and breathing that stuff over the next few months for my dissertation anyway.  Anyone up for it?  And if so, any suggested book titles to start with?

Thursday, 17 March 2011

LibTeachMeets on the CILIP Update Blog

This post was originally written for the CILIP Update blog.  This version has been edited for clarity and to include information about other LibTeachMeets I've heard about since then.  Thanks again to Matthew Mezey for accepting the original and for giving the go-ahead to republish it here.

Last summer while browsing through 23 Things blogs I came across a post by Isla Kuhn talking about a certain format that school teachers use to share teaching advice and experience in an informal setting.  Isla wondered aloud whether this 'TeachMeet' idea would work for librarians too, and got immediate enthusiastic responses from several Cambridge librarians.  We held our first LibTeachMeet back in September, are now planning our second one, and other similar events have been popping up around the UK.

What are they?
TeachMeets are relatively small, informal events - we've had 50-60 attending ours.  Attendees sign up using a wiki or bookings form to give 2 Minute Nanopresentations, 5 Minute Micropresentations or to attend as an Enthusiastic Lurker. Talks are two or five minutes long and the order is usually randomly selected on the night.  These talks may be complemented by networking activities - the recent Huddersfield TeachMeet included a speed networking session.  The bite-sized talks mean that librarians can get lots of ideas in a short space of time, and the informal approach makes it a less daunting format for new presenters.

Upcoming LibTeachMeets

Huddersfield Librarian TeachMeet (#hudteachmeet) took place last month and there are plans to organise TeachMeets in London (@_moo_), Oxford (@gallagherliz), Bournemouth (@CarolineCooke) and Bristol (@tomroper/@wigglesweets).

What's involved in planning a TeachMeet?
TeachMeet planning can be as formal or informal as you choose.  For our first one we took a very casual approach and we were booking up before even announcing a venue!  Second time around we've been much more organised.  We announced date and venue details well in advance through mailing lists, blogs and Twitter and were booked out within hours of opening bookings.  For more advice on organising your own TeachMeet please visit our blog or contact us directly,

How to find out more:
edited to add Bristol 19/3/11

    Friday, 28 January 2011

    Library Day in the Life - Thursday

    This post is part of the Library Day in the Life project, in which librarians share what they really do. For anyone new to this blog, I'm Assistant Librarian in a faculty library at the University of Cambridge.

    Things have settled down a bit here now that we're a full week back into term.  We're still busy, which is great, but I also actually sat at my desk yesterday! In between the usual issue desk stints, I finished that reference I've been talking about, gave it to the colleague for her funding application, ordered some books (although the system kept crashing), wrote a blog post for the library blog about the Ask Shakespeare event, checked copyright for a book chapter to be added to the Camtools (our VLE), attended a meeting to plan a Food for Thought event which will take place next June, chatted with colleagues about their jobs so I have a better idea of how things fit together, did a bit of shelving, looked at websites with a colleague (in preparation for redesigning ours!) and prepared for and attended a review meeting with my librarian.

    Busy day!

    Thursday, 27 January 2011

    Library Day in the Life - Wednesday

    This post is part of the Library Day in the Life project, in which librarians share what they really do. For anyone new to this blog, I'm Assistant Librarian in a faculty library at the University of Cambridge.

    Yesterday was fairly unusual, in that I wasn't in the library much at all.  I am doing an ILM accredited course in Front Line Management, which means that I'm out of the office one day a week for five weeks.  The really interesting thing about the course was the mix of people there - administrators, researchers, librarians and a chef!  No academics, unfortunately, although apparently they do get some sometimes.  Yesterday's course was all about leadership and team-building, things that I've done before but which are always worth thinking about again.  This course is particularly good because it's so practical.  They do the theory, but always bring it right back to how it relates to us and to reflecting on what we might need to do differently as a result.

    I did pop into the library on my way to and from the course though, during which time I discovered a colleague from the Pendlebury Library/University Library will be presenting at a conference in Dublin (at which I'm doing a poster session), sent emails organising a meeting to plan a CPD programme for library staff nationally (modest I know - more on that in due course) and got some tips from my librarian on writing references so that I can do proper credit to a colleague in another Cambridge library.

    Wednesday, 26 January 2011

    Library Day in the Life - Tuesday!

    This post is part of the Library Day in the Life project, in which librarians share what they really do. For anyone new to this blog, I'm Assistant Librarian in a faculty library at the University of Cambridge.

    Did we really have this many students last year?  My poor desk hardly saw me yesterday and tea is the best invention ever.  Maybe it's because the first batch of books borrowed in the new term were due back yesterday, but I'm sure every student in our faculty was in the library yesterday!

    In between receiving books, putting them in order for future shelving and a lot more stamping than normal, I checked the copyright status of book chapters to be added to the VLE, helped students with resetting their PWF (computer room) passwords, showed others how to do online renewals and re-registered a faculty member whose membership had expired.

    A pleasant surprise then - a colleague from one of the college libraries and a fellow member of the TeachMeet popped in after a meeting nearby.  I gave her a tour of our library, then we said we'd go for lunch at the UL (the main university library).  Half an hour later, the hordes of students stopped arriving (are you sure we had this many students last term?) so off we went to the UL Tea Room, where we bumped into another TeachMeet colleague.  Lots of talking about the incredible response to our second event and the need for celebratory cake, then back to the faculty again for the afternoon.

    The original plan for yesterday afternoon was to go to see the venue for the Personalised Library Services symposium, and to build in visits to a college library and the Education Faculty Library while I was out that neck of the woods.  Best laid plans, however...  The reconnaissance trip was cancelled, so I cancelled the other two visits.  Disappointing, but I'll get there soon!

    Instead, the afternoon started with meeting the new rep for a publisher we use for Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic books, continued with some discussion of how to present the relating reading for the boutique library model that forms the basis of the symposium we're organising, a surprise request for a reference from a colleague in another Cambridge library and 20 minutes of shelving!

    Tuesday, 25 January 2011

    Library Day in the Life - Monday!

    This post is part of the Library Day in the Life project, in which librarians share what they really do.  For anyone new to this blog, I'm Assistant Librarian in a faculty library at the University of Cambridge.  I'll aim to post each day this week - this one's a little late going up I know!

    My day was split between working on the issue desk, at my own desk and at our first floor enquiry desk.  I've been working on several interesting projects on the go at the moment, in between dealing with borrower queries, registering new members and generally supervising what was happening in the issue desk area.

    At 8.40 I met with our librarian to go through what we were doing this week and ensure that any staffing implications were sorted out. I also followed up on emails and various issues that arose over the weekend (printer problems, online fine payment queries, staff training needs...) 

    While on the issue desk, I did some literature searching for a symposium I'm helping out with, Personalised Library Services in HE.  The symposium is based around the boutique library model, as outlined by Libby Tilley and Andy Priestner in CILIP Update last July, and will form the basis of a future book.  I've set up a Zotero group to start pulling a bibliography together, so feel free to read the article and flag up any other articles that you think fit this model.

    Tea break: time to send out notifications about our second Cambridge (lib)TeachMeet.  As Katie and Celine have already mentioned, the response has bowled us over - we were booked up within a day!  More evidence of the value of this kind of event, which we'll need to include in the paper we're giving at LILAC in April.

    Other things I did yesterday - dealt with some HR stuff new staff members, arranged two library visits for when I'm out the far side of Cambridge later today, ordered books to meet reading list requirements and finished off with a bit of shelving.