Thursday, 13 October 2011

The end is just a pause along the journey

Well, here we are at the "official" end of 23 Things, but of course what has been learnt will be carried forward so it's not really the end.  I have to say that this has been an excellent course, purely from the fact that I will be carrying lessons learnt forward (you can't say that of all training), and indeed have been using some of the new tools ever since they were introduced to me via this course. 
I have found 23 Things to be very beneficial.  Being introduced to new tools, having a chance to "play" with them, reflecting on their usefulness, and reading through the blogs of others' experiences, has not only given me a range of new tools for immediate use, but has alerted me to the potential usefulness of others.  The course has also been useful in that it really got me to think about my professional image, and really broadened my "library world" through its encouragement of networks, RSS feeds, Google Reader, etc.
23 Things was challenging at times, as I found I had to be very disciplined to keep up to date with the content.  A longer course, with just 1 Thing per week, would have made life easier.
I was very lucky that I was able to complete the course during my working day, as I was able to access all the software via my work computer.  I know others weren't able to do this, and had to work on it from home, which is not such an attractive prospect.
I am happy to think that the course content will be available for me to revisit should I want to.  I can see myself directing colleagues to it, and encouraging them to have a go.

Where to next?  Well I'm up for revalidation of my professional registration mid 2012, and I have a few areas where I still need to complete activities, so my focus will be on those.  Filling these gaps will form the basis of my personal development plan, and the challenge will be in finding courses/material suitable to cover them.  However I have, courtesy of 23 Things, a much broader awareness of where to seek out such resources, so I have confidence I will achieve my goals.

As for this blog...  I'll just have to mull over its future direction.  Guess all I can say is, watch this space

Photo: Dew on fern frond, taken by Anne-Maree Wigley

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


The Experience Catch 22 situation is an unenviable one, and one that I found myself in when I was first starting out in the profession.  I did approach my public library to see if there was any way I could help out, and gain some valuable experience along the way, but they quite rightly pointed out that they couldn't take work away from their paid staff, and get me to do it for nothing.  That is not a good message to be sending the funders, and one the profession still needs to keep in mind.  There are enough people in authority out there already thinking that libraries can be run by volunteers (just look at what's been happening in Britain).   However I was lucky enough to be asking at a time when the NZ government of the day (early 1980's) had a scheme where they would subsidise the wages of a worker who was taken on for special projects, and there just happened to be one going at the library.  6 months later, a permanent position came up which I secured, and the rest, as they say, is history.
At Dunedin Public volunteers are used to help deliver the books to the housebound clients; and at Westland District there are volunteers who come in and help out with the shelving and general tidying of the public area.  Their work is much appreciated, and it allows the paid staff to get on with their professional tasks, and the all important job of connecting the library user with the book/item/information they need.  I totally agree with Jo when she writes "volunteers should be recruited as a complement to, not a substitute for, paid and suitably qualified library staff".

Friday, 7 October 2011

Applying for jobs - my top tips

When applying for a job it is really important to include a cover letter, regardless of whether or not there is an application form to be filled out.  The latter rarely gives you the opportunity to highlight just why the employer should call you in for an interview, let alone employ you.  In contrast, the cover letter allows you to address directly just how you fill the person specification, while your CV can be tailored to fit the job description.
As someone who has been faced with a huge pile of application forms, and needing to whittle them down to the few who will be interviewed, I don't have the time to "read between the lines" of a form or generic CV to see whether or not you have the skills, etc the job requires.  That's the quickest way to get on the discard pile, in my opinion.  You need you to "sell" yourself to the employer, and the place to do that initially is the cover letter.

During an interview, I think it's important, at some stage, to get in a statement about why hiring you will benefit the organisation (as opposed to why YOU want the job).  This gives you an opportunity to show you've done some research into the organisation, and thought about the bigger picture.

And if you don't get the job, don't be too hard on yourself.  In a lot of cases it won't be because you weren't at all suitable, but merely that there was someone else in the running who had the edge over you.  You have to be realistic about the employment situation, take the opportunities that arise and learn from the experience.

These would be three things I'd stress, but of course there's a lot more to it as outlined in Maria's blog entry

Monday, 3 October 2011

Library Routes

I hadn't put a link from my blog entry on Thing 10 on the Library Routes wiki at the time, but have done so at the prompting of Thing 20.  The entries on this wiki make interesting reading as the library profession attracts all sorts.  A common thread seems to be a love of books, and wanting to help connect people with the right book/information for their particular need at the moment.  It is also interesting to note how influential those already in the profession have been on those coming into it.  We must never underestimate the importance of an encouraging word, a listening ear and supportive actions.