Posts Tagged 23 things
My ‘six word story’ for the CPD23 programme: Learned a Lot. Need a Nap.
In other words, 23 Things has been an interesting and informative but very intense learning journey and I think I need some down-time now to just reflect and catch my breath – maybe even start implementing some of the Things I haven’t yet (see Thing 19) before I start to set new CPD targets.
Having said that, the positions I’m aiming for in the future all require a professional qualification, so my main development focus for the next couple of years needs to be my MSc qualification.
As I’m quite new to the profession, I’m also hoping to continue to gain practical experience in all aspects of library work, particularly using the LMS and gaining further confidence with customer service – so I’ll keep an eye out for opportunities in these areas.
Putting together an action plan with SMART targets or using the SWOT analysis are definitely positive ways to think about CPD and I’ll be returning to them at the end of my MSc to reassess, reflect and see where I need to go next…
Thing 21 is about recognising your skills and promoting yourself in order to get the job you really want (and that is right for you!) I have to agree with Maria Giovanna De Simone in the Thing 21 post when she suggests that at least some of our strengths lie in the things we love to do and that our interests and skills go hand in hand. I found the process of reflecting on my skills and strengths quite interesting and helpful in identifying what I enjoy doing and how that has affected the skill areas I feel most confident in.
Interests, Skills and Strengths
Recently, I’ve realised that what I really enjoy doing both at home and at work are projects – especially creative or technical projects – whether it’s crafting something at home or reclassifying History books at work, I find the process of planning, executing and reflecting on a completed project to be quite satisfying.
When I thought about the skills involved in this kind of work (and in a couple of other interests I came up with) I arrived at the following list:
Focus and perseverance; creativity and problem solving; technical understanding and researching new ideas; planning, organising and working within a team.
Happily, I do feel that I have some strengths in these areas and that I can use them positively in my career .
CVs and Interviews
I have a ‘master copy’ of my CV which includes all of the experiences and achievements I’ve had over the years. I add to this whenever I complete something new and select from it when I’m applying for jobs. As I’ve just completed my Graduate Traineeship, it is in need of a bit of updating – so I’ve added that to my to-do-list!
When it comes to interview tips I think the most important is the ‘prepare, prepare, prepare’ mantra. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel on the day.
I also found Jenica Rogers’ Blog ‘Show up and be smart’ a useful guide to interview preparation!
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:
- Marketing – showing off what we have!
- Out-reach programmes – going out to where our users are!
- 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!
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 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!
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!
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)
- 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 🙂