Thursday, 25 August 2011

Referencing references

I can well relate to Isla's recollection of laboriously typing up bibliographies.  There seemed to be an unholy emphasis on the correct placement of commas, semicolons, spacing, etc by my markers which meant hours working on them in scrupulous detail.  The joys of library studies in days of yore.  It would have been great to have had access to tools like those described in this Thing 14 blog.
Again, thanks for the really clear, useful introduction to these tools.  I can't see any immediate, personal use for them, but it's good to know more about them, so I can talk knowledgeably (well, to a certain extent) should the occasion arise.
I checked with my daughter, who is currently at university, to see if she had used any of these tools.  She replied that she uses Endnote, and thinks "it's great, certainly gets the job done."
I have Chrome at home, so I downloaded Zotero there, but found it wasn't "intuitive" enough for me to use.  There were help screens, but they were referring to the Firefox interface, which looked different to what was on my screen.  So I just gave up (could be my loss, but time is precious and it wasn't that important to me to "get it right") and moved on to Mendeley.  This time my experience was completely different.  I easily picked up what I needed to do to collect documents into "My Library" before deciding that bed was looking very attractive.  I feel confident about going back though and exploring further.  Watch this space!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Working and sharing online

Another week, and more new things to learn about - great.  First up, Google docs - another one of those tools I was aware existed, but hadn't taken the time to explore fully, so I was more than happy to have the excuse to do so.  Like other Google products it's very intuitive to use, and I can see the potential for online collaboration and file sharing.  I have experienced the nightmare of multiple drafts, so it's great to be able to move on from that scenario.
Dropbox was completely new to me, and I thought Jennifer had written a clear explanation.  It too has potential, but I chose not to download it at this stage.  Good to know it exists, but until I have a purpose for which to use it, it would just be cluttering up my desktop.
Wikis are something I have had previous experience with, as Dunedin Public Libraries set up an in-house wiki as a resource to store all relevant information helpful for frontline staff to know.  Whenever an email came out outlining a change to procedure or a new process, it was easy to copy and paste the content into a new wiki article, tag it, and voila! there it was available for all staff to refer back to. As well as these entries it also has links to useful documents (like the Snow Policy, which given the weather of the last couple of days I'm sure has been referred to).  A very handy resource.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Getting social

Prior to cpd23 I has signed up to LinkedIn and was a member of a couple of other online professional forums here in New Zealand, but had done little more, even though I could see the potential of such resources.  Participating in cpd23 has given me the confidence/determination to make better use of these networking tools.  Indeed, just this morning, I contributed to a discussion, so that's a good start.
As Claire says in her Thing 12 post one of the advantages of social media is that "it creates a more collaborative working space as people are encouraged to share ideas."  But to make it work we have to participate, and I am resolved to be more proactive in the future.  Initially I will stay with those forums I've already joined, and build from there. 
Thank goodness for RSS feeds (another new piece of knowledge gained courtesy of cpd23).  It's so handy to receive notification when new content goes up on a site, as one of the problems previously was remembering to go in and check regularly.
Another advantage that Claire lists, and that resonates with me is "social networking can lead to better communication between individuals who may or may not have the chance to meet otherwise."  By looking at the blogs of other cpd23 participants I have made contact with like-minded colleagues I would probably never have come across.  It will be interesting to see how the relationships develop, as we continue on the interesting path cpd23 has started us off on.

Friday, 5 August 2011


While I have never had an "official" mentor, there have been plenty of librarians who have made a difference in my life.  As a newly qualified librarian working in a small public library, I had my eyes opened to a wider world of opportunity by a boss who gently "pushed" me to broaden my horizons.  Later, joining a larger organization, I was exposed to many senior librarians, who provided role models.  As relationships developed with these colleagues I felt able to seek them out for advice.  I have found that librarians like to help, and as mentioned in an earlier blog entry, there is a lot of goodwill in the library profession.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

My life as a librarian

Although a keen library user I didn't work in a library until the year I left school, and quite by chance picked up a summer holiday job in the Queenstown Public Library.  It obviously paid off that I had developed a relationship with the librarian, albeit a casual one, because when the need for extra staff came up, she thought of me.  That was a great job, and while I knew that I already loved books, I also found I enjoyed working with people. After that summer job, librarianship became my goal, and now, 30+ years later, I am still passionate about books and people.  Public Library work suits me very well.
After that summer I went on to complete a BA (English) at Otago University, then entered the job market.  This was in the early 80s, and entry positions in libraries of any type were hard to come by, so I experienced quite a number of knock-backs, before another Public Library librarian (who knew me as a borrower) came to my rescue.  At the time the NZ Government had a scheme (PEP) where they would pay the wages of an employee taken on by an employer for specific projects.  Miss Dolamore came up with a project, and thus found me employment for 6 months at the Gore Public Library.  At the end of that time she was able to convince the Gore council that an extra position needed to be created at the library, and that I should fill it.
Once there, in a permanent position, I was able to develop my career as a librarian.  The first step was to complete the NZ Certificate of Library Studies (as it was known then).  This involved being employed in a library to gain practical experience, doing assignments through correspondence, and attending 3 6-week block courses at Library School in Wellington.  It took 3 years to complete.
[There was an option of doing a post graduate qualification, but it was not offered remotely, and I didn't want to do another year of study at that stage.  I wanted to be out working, earning some money, having a life as someone other than a student!]
Gaining a library qualification in NZ is quite different today, and information can be found at the following sites if readers are interested: Open Polytechnic and Victoria University of Wellington
Gore Public Library, being a small library, offered me experiences across the spectrum, except for advancement.  After a few years, recognizing that I needed to move on to move up, I found myself a job at Dunedin Public Library (using the usual employment channels this time).  It was an unqualified position in the Youth section, but I had my foot in the door, and indeed Dunedin Public has provided an upwards career path, so I haven't had to consider finding another employer to give me those opportunities.
From that unqualified position in Youth, I went to a qualified position, then moved to Hospital, Housebound and Homes as a team leader, then became Mosgiel Community Librarian, before becoming Information Services Librarian.  Each position has provided me with new challenges, to keep me fresh and interested.
I have also undertaken further formal study over the years to complement those roles.  These have not necessarily been library studies, but have still been relevant.  Qualifications like the NZ Institute of Management's Certificate in Supervisory Management, and a Certificate in Adult Teaching from Otago Polytechnic have proved invaluable. 
Taking advantage of training and professional development opportunities (like cpd 23 Things) has also helped me advance, as has being a member of organisations like Toastmasters.
NZ introduced professional registration for librarians approx 4 years ago, which sounds very similar to Chartership.  Working towards revalidation every 3 years certainly keeps PD to the forefront of the mind, and makes you look for opportunities to develop your skill set and, if you're so inclined, prepare you for advancement. 
I am currently working as Westland District Librarian.  This is a temporary role while the usual encumbent is on an extended OE, and when my term is up will return to my position as Information Services Librarian at Dunedin Public.  I am very pleased to have the opportunity to gain experience in this type of management role, and extremely grateful to my employers in Dunedin in making it possible for me to do so.  There is a lot of goodwill out there, to share experiences and expertise (more of that in the next Thing on mentoring I suspect) if one can position oneself to take advantage of the opportunities that come along.
What am I planning on doing next?  Revalidation is due mid-2012, so I really need to concentrate on ensuring that I have covered all the requirements for that, so that will influence my career activities in the near future.
Longer term, I would like to be more involved at a strategic level, so will be focusing my efforts on achieving that.  No details as yet, but knowing where I want to go is a start.