23 Things – 16/23 Advocacy

Image: ‘for the love of books
Found on flickrcc.net

For me library advocacy is all about making sure our readers or potential readers understand the services that we can provide for them – if our users can see all that we have to offer, our value as a service should hopefully be clear.

In academic libraries, it is often the case, I think, that our readers are unaware of all of the skills and services we as librarians can provide – I know that when I was at university studying my MA, I had no idea there were such things as subject librarians or subject blogs, study skills sessions or group rooms where I could work with a team of people to prepare presentations.  Now I work in the  information sector, I am more aware and quite often amazed at just how much we have to offer our users!

So how can we make our users more aware of what we have to offer?  From what I’ve seen in libraries so far, three great ways to promote and advocate library services include:

  1. Marketing – showing off what we have!
  2. Out-reach programmes – going out to where our users are!
  3. Outstanding Customer Service – going the extra mile with a smile!

Marketing in particular is something I’ve noticed a lot of academic libraries/librarians are trying to push forward now – Ned Potter’s ‘The Library Marketing Toolkit’ for example!  I also saw some fantastic marketing strategies when volunteering at Sunderland University Library last year and was very happy to see their work rewarded with a recent Gold Award from CILIP!

Another great advocacy tool I’ve seen and used is the ‘Library Day in the Life’ Project – while it may mostly  attract librarians or people who want to be librarians – the project is out there and that means people can find it and see just how much libraries and librarians have to offer 🙂

I also loved reading about the LIS Advocacy Challenge – It made me want to think of something fun to do to advocate libraries too…maybe one day!


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23 Things – 15/23 Conferences, Seminars, Events

Thing 15 is quite a short offering as at this point in my career, aside my trainee sessions and library visits, I have not yet attended, spoken at or organised a conference, seminar or other library event.

I have heard about a lot of them, particularly those organised by CILIP, such as the New Professionals Day or the CILIP ARGL held in Newcastle this year.

I followed both conferences on Twitter and they seemed to be interesting, fun and informative events!  They are definitely something I’d like to take part in at some point so my main action point from this Thing is to start keeping an eye out for future events that I can realistically attend.

And I think I’d like to maybe attend some events before I think about speaking at or organising one… small steps!

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23 Things – 14/23 Mendeley and Referencing

The last time I had to write an essay using academic referencing, I had never heard of any of the reference tools mentioned in Thing 14.  This means that I did things the old-fashioned way, writing out references on paper and copying them into Word as and when they were needed.  I found that to be quite an efficient system at the time but as with most things, the world has moved on and now we have lots of shiny tools to help us make referencing easier, faster and more accurate.  Since I’ve just begun an MSc at University and further essay writing is now imminent, Thing 14 comes at quite an opportune time!

Out of the many referencing tools available, I decided to focus on Mendeley for this Thing in order to save time and because I’d heard good things about it from others!

Downloading and installing Mendeley was easy and the programme itself is pretty self-explanatory and simple to navigate.  I was able to manually add in some reference details which could be edited to fit different reference styles at the click of a button.  I also liked the drag and drop feature which lets you drop pdf articles saved on your computer into Mendeley;  the programme then extrapolates all of the reference data from the pdf – job done!  You can also provide a URL link to an article so that it can be easily found and accessed again – very useful!

When it came to inserting citations into a document however, I got a bit lost – I’m sure the video tutorials that come with Mendeley explain this in good detail but to save time I asked my on-site expert, Nora, who quickly showed me how it works. 🙂

As a brief guide (for MS Word users):

  • In Mendeley, install the MS Word Plug in via the ‘Tools’ tab
  • In Word, go to the ‘References’ tab and ‘Insert Citation’

  • This brings up the above pop up box, select ‘Go to Mendeley’ and choose the citation you want to insert.
  • The ‘Insert Bibliography’ button can be used at the end to insert a list of all the citations you have used in your work.

Once you have all of your references organised and saved in Mendeley, adding citations and references to your work is very quick and simple.  I’m looking forward to trying Mendeley out in an actual essay situation soon – I’m sure it has a lot of other useful features that I can discover along the way!

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The Big Book Move

We recently completed a slightly epic book move project, which saw our Librarian’s long-held ambition of having all of the books on the ground floor rearranged into the correct number order, come to life!  This will (hopefully) help make it a lot easier for our readers (and me) to find and re-shelve books.

With support from our Librarian, I was given the challenge of organising and planning the move and in order to celebrate its completion (and in honour of my addiction to ‘The Great British Bake Off‘) I created a useful (if not entirely serious) ‘recipe’ guide to show how I did it!

I definitely enjoyed the challenge and it’s great to stand back and see the final result with everything tidy and in order.

As it was my first book move project, I learned a lot about the process and would feel confident approaching the next one.  I also gained great experience in managing the project; having to make decisions on the best order for the move and how best to utilise resources such as other members of staff, available trolleys and time.

Next steps? I guess this is making sure the ground floor stays tidy and in order 🙂 But also making sure our readers can find things in the new order.  I’m also looking forward to applying the skills gained here in future projects too!

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23 Things – 13/23 Google Drive, Wikis, Dropbox

For this Thing we are investigating different methods of online collaboration and file-sharing!  I really enjoyed this Thing as I love using Dropbox and found Google Drive to be a really useful tool – it’s been interesting to think about how they can be applied to work in libraries.

Image: ‘Files’ – Found on flickrcc.net

Drop Box

I’ve been using Dropbox for over a year now, mostly just to sync things to and from my iPhone and iPad.  I also use it in place of a USB pen-drive so that I can access important documents on both my laptop and desktop PC – much easier than trying to remember the USB stick all of the time, although once or twice I have forgotten to sync the newest file to Drop Box and had a mild panic when I’ve opened the older version! (This is only really a problem when working on a public / work PC though as if the file is saved in the ‘downloaded’ Drop Box folder, it automatically updates when you save it.)

As far as its uses at work: it came in useful when I was designing the cover picture for the Library’s new Facebook page and when I was writing up my trainee project – as I worked on both of these at home as well as at work.  I’ve not really had the opportunity yet to use the collaborative aspects of Drop Box as we have a shared drive on our work computers – hopefully it will be more useful when I start my MSc.  I do however,  have a feeling Google Drive might be a more effective tool for group work, hm.

In the spirit of sharing…here’s a link to a library cat photo in my Public Dropbox folder (who doesn’t love library cats?)

Google Drive

At first glance I’m quite impressed with Google Drive – especially with the range of options available in the ‘create’ section.  I also like that you can download your files in a number of formats too!  Although the programmes are quite basic, (and some of the themes in ‘presentation’ are a bit scary!) I imagine this is a really great tool for getting a collaborative draft together when working on a group project, gathering information or sharing ideas.  I am curious as to what happens when more than one person accesses and edits a file at the same time – Google says that you can ‘collaborate in real time’ so I’m looking forward to trying that out sometime!

Again, our library team has a shared drive on our PCs so we don’t really need to use Google Drive at the minute…but if there was ever an inter-library project or a collaboration with another department I know where to go first.

Once more – a link to a Doc I made in Google Drive.  Share and Share alike!


My main experience with Wikis in the library world is via Library Day in the Life Project which I took part in earlier this year.  I found it pretty simple to use and it provides a great resource for learning more about the profession and the variety of roles Librarians can take on.

At our library we also use a wiki for our Library Guide – although I’m not involved in updating the site – it is a very effective and simple way of displaying key information for students and readers!

I also loved the ‘wikis in plain English’ video linked to in the CPD23 Thing 13 post – it shows just how easy and effective it is to use Wikis to organise events, projects and share ideas – possibly useful for organising events such as marketing campaigns, social events in the library or projects such as book moves.

Image: ‘Sharing’ –   Found on flickrcc.net

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23 Things – 12/23 Putting the Social into Social Media

Just how social am I?

The simple answer: not very!

It’s not that I don’t want to be more involved and interactive in social media, I just find it quite challenging for two main reasons:

Time – keeping up to date with twitter, blogs, blog comments and forums all takes time.  Participation in social media for me is a bit of a time management issue…not because I don’t have some spare time to hand occasionally but because of point number two…

Image: ‘Time Spiral’ Found on flickrcc.net

Confidence – most of the time, I don’t feel as though I have anything interesting to add…or I realise I might have had something to say but only when it’s too late! It also tends to take me forever to actually write anything (see point about time) because I spend so long trying to make sure it’s suitable/useful/sensible/perfect before I send it out there.

The confidence issue partly comes down to the fact I’m just starting out in the profession and still have a lot to learn – once I become more sure of my footing I’m sure I’ll have more to say.  For now I’m happy to sit back and take it all in – jumping in on the odd occasion when I feel I can… and CPD23 has most definitely helped to increase the number of times I’ve taken the leap recently…

Speaking of which

I did take part in a UKLibchat discussion on Twitter!  The chat was based on Library Spaces and Space management and since my Trainee Project was based around the topic questions, I decided to join in!  It was an interesting discussion with participants from a wide range of sectors and some fun ideas were shared too.  If it were something I did more regularly, I’m sure I’d get to know the other participants more too – so that’s something to aim for in the future.

Time for a Plan of Action!

  • Set aside a specific time each week to read blogs I follow and comment on at least two of them [by the end of the week]
  • Look for a blog from a different sector to follow [by the end of the week]
  • Take part in another UKLibChat [by the end of the month]
  • Choose a Library forum to become active in [by the end of September]

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23 Things – 11/23 Mentoring

Image: ‘Climb-along-a-Flickr’

Navigating the Career Path is easier when you have a helping hand to guide the way.

And I’ve been lucky enough to have had a number of great mentors during my career – each one having played an important part in helping me to get to where I am today.

One thing I found interesting about mentoring is the variety of mentoring models available.  The following article highlights the five main models on page 11:

Effective Mentoring:   doi: 10.1177/0340035209105672  IFLA Journal June 2009 vol. 35 no. 2171-182

(The table on page 9 is also an interesting summary of the relationship between mentoring and career stage!)

These models are:

  • Formal/Informal (traditional mentoring)
  • Peer
  • Group
  • Self-Managed
  • Via professional Associations

In my past life as a trainee teacher, I was assigned a number of formal mentors to help me through both my PGCE and Induction year.  While for the most part, my mentors were helpful and supportive, their time was often limited by their other responsibilities so I found alternative or additional ‘peer’ mentors in my more experienced colleagues, whose support and advice was readily available and invaluable.

In my current life as a trainee librarian, I’ve been lucky enough to again have access to great ‘peer’ mentors but also have a positive formal mentor who sets aside specific time for 1-1 ‘mentoring’ sessions each week.  The combination of both works really well and I’ve felt completely supported in every aspect of my new career.

In the past I’ve also had an awful mentor, who made me feel pretty useless and almost made me give up entirely – so I know how important having a good mentor can be!  That’s why when I was later put into the role of mentor for other trainee teachers and teaching assistants I wanted to do a good job.  The difficult part was – no one had told me how to be a good mentor, I just had to figure it out for myself – happily my mentees seemed happy enough 🙂 But becoming a good mentor is definitely something to work on for the future!

What have I learned makes a good mentor so far?

  • Someone who volunteers for the job and really wants to help
  • Someone who takes a genuine interest in developing another person’s professional needs
  • Someone who actively listens and is willing to guide, not dominate decisions and projects
  • Someone with experience who is willing and able to share what they have learned

Mentees also have an important role to play – they need to be enthusiastic, reflective,  proactive, willing to learn, open to new ways of thinking and willing to bring their own ideas and skills to the table.

So far my mentors have mostly been chosen for me, so the idea of choosing my own mentor in the future for Chartership is quite an interesting prospect!

On a final note…I really love that the word mentor comes from the Odyssey #classicsgeek 🙂

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