Getting back on track.

It has been an eternity since I posted anything on here. It makes me feel quite guilty really. I’ve been having a bit of break from the whole blogging/twitter thing as I was starting to feel a bit bogged down by this chartership malarkey.

For the first few months of this year, I felt that I was simply bouncing from fulfilling one PDP objective to another without actually enjoying what I was doing much of the time. My work-life balance was becoming hideously unbalanced. Every time I read my Twitter or rss feeds, someone was writing about what fabulous exciting stuff they had been working on & that was just making me feel worse about not getting down to finishing off my portfolio. So, I took a deep breath and stepped off the roundabout for a while.

I think the break has helped me to put certain things into perspective. I’m never going to be one of the movers & shakers who pops up at every conference or webchat and the pressure (self-imposed, it has to be said) to try & be like that has lifted. It’s not because I don’t think I’m capable of such things; they’re just not my priority.

So what is my priority? My family. Every. Single. Time. So, I won’t be rushing through bedtime stories trying to catch the end of a tweetchat, I won’t be bobbing around the country trying to network at conferences, I won’t worry that my chartership portfolio is well short of completion.

Got to go – that Lego won’t build itself. I’ll leave you with this thought.

20120609-090208.jpg

Thing 5 – Reflection or “Things to make and do in the next 12 months”.

Obligatory reflective picture. A most unusual sight on the Rochdale Canal, I can tell you.

I read the #cpd23 blog, and liked the simplicity of the Borton model. It seemed much easier to use in everyday practice, so I applied it to my PDR preparation.

What – what have I been doing over the last year? Was it what I had planned? If not, why did I do it?

So what – what I have learned about myself, my role, my requirements, expectations & aspirations? What can I take away from this past year? How can I move forward and build upon these experiences effectively?

Now what – having set new goals, how can I achieve them this coming year?

For example, one of my goals is to improve my ICT skills. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not useless with it, but I’m not a natural technology lover. Well, no that’s not quite right. I absolutely love tech & gadgets. My house is stuffed with random bits of tech that have been acquired (but not necessarily used, to be honest) by either myself or my husband over the years & the wee boys are making their contributions too now. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that I’m not a natural at using certain forms of technology. I utilised a huge amount of medical technology in my previous job and didn’t bat an eye at new tech developments. In fact, if it came down to it, I could probably still rebuild a Puritan Bennett 840 ventilator wearing a blindfold. However, I cannot build a database, I don’t speak HTML and couldn’t produce a Prezi if my life depended upon it.

This probably used cassettes people......Remember, those twirly things that snapped all the time?

You see, the Internet went and happened whilst I was busy doing something else (it probably involved Guinness). IT, or “Business Studies” as it was called back in the day, was something that people who wanted to go into business or those who actually enjoyed playing on the BBC Micro B did as a GCSE. It wasn’t for the likes of me. You know, the ones with their head perpetually stuck in a book. So I remained blissfully ignorant…..

The very fact that I have even heard of Prezi and a whole host of other sites and tools is down to this programme & LISNPN. I dabble with RSS feeds & WordPress for #cpd23 and for work stuff, but I’m not as proficient as I would like to be. So, I’m going to sign up for the MOST modules which run at work. If they’re good enough for Bill Gates, then they’re alright by me. They’re not exactly what I want/need, but they’re free, will give me a good grounding in areas I’m less familiar with & they’ll keep me happily but lightly occupied until I finish my Chartership and can move onto ITQ. Then the world shall be my mollusc!

Another thing I wanted to reflect upon was time – or rather a distinct lack of it. Like a huge number of people, I don’t have a great deal of time to spare for CPD. I would dearly love to have more time, but the simple fact is that I don’t. I have a young family, so my priorities may be slightly different from others. However, I will contribute my twopenn’orth as and when I see fit. Just because I’m not blogging, tweeting, presenting or networking at a conference, it doesn’t mean I’m not lurking or thinking about issues that are relevant to my work & the wider LIS lansdscape. I am and thanks to CPD23, I know I’m not the only one.

Not waving but drowning?

Thing 4 is all about current awareness.  There are countless tools out there on the interwebz that can help to keep us up to date, and more seem to appear each and every day.   Therein lies the rub.  I am excellent at procrastinating.  Really tip top at it.   Often feel that I am in danger of signing up to so many things that all my time can be swallowed up keeping up to date with managing a multitude of blogs/sites/feeds, rather than actually keeping up to date.  I don’t know if anyone else has this fear. No?…..Just me then….

 Twitter:

I signed up to Twitter a good while ago and have tweeted sporadically ever since.  Some days I tweet lots, others I prefer to just sit back and read the feeds.  As I said before, it’s a kind of mixed bag of posts about what I’m doing work-wise, what I’m up to that particular day or whatever random thought has popped into my head right at that moment.

After an initially apathetic beginning, I have come to like Twitter & currently I use this more than Facebook.  I found I had to recently defend Twitter on FB – friends who didn’t use it didn’t see the point of it and a couple were a little put out when I said I liked it because you can have a conversation with a friend without feeling obliged to go and weed their farm or accept their latest gaming invitation!

I have found that Twitter is a great way to connect & communicate with people, follow conferences/courses, find out about news & events in a serendipitous (aka lazy?) way.  I’m a wee bit selective about who I follow – do we have anything in common, am I interested in what they have to say? – and won’t necessarily follow back (LIS tweeps being the exception), especially if the tweeter has no biog or photo.

RSS Feeds:

I use Google Reader to manage the RSS feeds I use for work when preparing horizon scanning bulletins & currently view them as a means of bringing information to me easily.  I’m aware of the sharing capabilities, but it is feature that I just don’t use at the moment.  I don’t really use it beyond work interests, mainly because if I subscribed to all the blogs and podcasts that interested me, I’m worried that it would become a huge time thief, even with my itchy “mark as read” finger.

Pushnote:

I had never heard of Pushnote and to be honest, my first impression was: “meh”.  I truly couldn’t see the point of using it, even if St Stephen le Fry of Twitter does endorse it.  It didn’t seem to do anything that I couldn’t already do elsewhere without having to go through the rigmarole of working out a new site.  However, when I get the chance I will dabble with it further to see if it piques my interest.

As I said, I think we run the risk of overloading ourselves trying to keep up.  Perhaps it is a librarian’s natural inclination towards information and knowledge that makes us behave in such a manner?   If so, let’s make like a librarian and filter the information.  Remember kids, it is okay to “just say no”.

Branding – but in a good way.

This week’s Thing seems to follow on from the excellent #npc2011 presentation by Suzanne Wheatley (from Sue Hill Recruitment) about marketing yourself online.  Before this session, I hadn’t really thought of “me” as something that could or should be perceived as a marketable brand.  Yes, I understood the pitfalls of Facebook postings that had befallen many and that employers will often Google potential employees, so one should beware of what you put in the Internet & who you allow to view it. But little old me as something that had to be actively branded and managed? Surely not! Personally, I feel more than a bit awkward doing something that essentially equates to blowing my own trumpet as it were. My light? Yup, I keep it right there, underneath that quiet-looking bushel.

Thankfully, I had already developed a bit of a split personality and drawn a line between personal (FB) and semi-professional (Twitter) media, but hadn’t imagined that so many other sites may of use to me in a professional capacity. Things like LinkedIn are for proper grown-up professionals aren’t they? Also, I had to consider the limits to using social media that come with working in the NHS where security is tight and access extremely limited.  Maybe that’s why I didn’t consider such sites earlier.  Needless to say, I now have a LinkedIn account as a proper professional forum (though it is a work in progress), and thanks to the advice from the workshop I changed my Twitter picture to something that people could actually recognise as me.

A quick search on Google brought up a few hits related to me (Twitter, & LinkedIn & things I’d done at work or university but FB was absent – woo hoo, for privacy settings!), but there was no discernable theme or stand out quality.  So what conclusions can I draw from this exercise?  Well, I have a limited and fairly new Internet presence, but no identifiable brand or visual identity.  Ideally, I would like to create something that reflects me alone, not just my current professional role, which will be consistent and relevant across different LIS arenas.

Oh and just in case you were wondering, I am not the Jo Whitcombe who sells ponies, or the one who works as a fire marshal and I’m definitely not 40 (yet!)

My blog and other animals.

       I’ve been spending a little time poking around on other blogs. I looked initially at other health librarian blogs to see what others in my sector were up to. Looking further afield at blogs from other sectors, I saw some common themes running through the posts.  Some blogs were shiny and new (like mine) whilst others seemed well established and I marvelled not only in their design but the prolific activity of the blogger.  An overarching theme, irrespective of sector or length of time as a blogger, was sharing & communicating – the very crux of the whole LISNPN (imho).

I’ve empathised with the slow tech of the NHS library with passionatemedicallibrarian, laughed at the Neighbours themed post of Library Wanderer, and agreed with Addicted To Story’s assertion that perhaps some of us will only post when we feel we have something to say.

I’ve commented on a couple – some by people I met at #npc2011, others from my particular library sector.  I even got a few comments on my first blog post – something that I wasn’t expecting, but how utterly lovely!  Overall, I’ve really enjoyed just reading through different blogs, seeing what people are up to and how they are approaching not only cpd23 but their professional roles and life in general.

An apology of sorts.

I feel like I need to apologise for the tardiness of this blog.  I’m going to be posting on Things 2 & 3 and we’re already onto Thing 4.  Eeek! I feel like I should give some proper old school excuse. The dog ate it…..I left it on the bus….I was abducted by aliens…..

Well, actually I’ve just been a bit poorly.  Not as exciting, but at least it is true.

P.S. the bit about aliens……True. Story.  

A blog is born……

So, Thing 1 is to start a blog.  Well, here it is.  I was aware of the CPD23 Things initiative before #npc2011 but the presentation by @lemurph galvanised me into action.  I’ve been in my first professional post for almost a year now, so I guess I’m pretty settled in my role now.

So why am I doing cpd23? Well, two reasons really.  I’ve just started on my Chartership and feel that cpd23 will give me both a structure and a kick up the backside to stay on track.  The other reason is to connect with other people working across different LIS sectors.  It’s very easy to stay within the sector you in and remain relatively unaware of what’s going on in other LIS areas.  However, I think that this kind of narrow vision can be dangerous.  Not only is it is easy to miss out on great initiatives, opportunities and developments, but threats to LIS too.  Things that affect one sector are bound to impact on others.  If we communicate effectively we can work together to maintain, develop and inform our own professional development and that can only benefit each and every one of us – and our service users too.

Speaking of communication, there’s been a great deal of debate about the supposed LISNPN Twitterati clique following the thought-provoking presentation by @rachel_s_b at #NPC2011 earlier this week.  First and foremost, I’d like to state that I don’t think there is a clique. I think that the word has rather negative connotations and is a harsh way to describe these people.  I think that @SimonXIX nailed it when he suggested it was community rather than a clique.  My experience at #npc2011 was really positive.  I met some lovely people with whom I hope to keep in touch through Twitter & cpd23.  Sure, it was obvious that a number of people knew each other.  However, I don’t think that their interaction was limited to their own group of friends.  In fact, I felt that people went out of their way to talk to new people.  I know I did.  I purposely tweeted throughout the day (even with dodgy web access & waning battery) to connect with people. Guess what? It worked! After the day was through, I felt motivated and energised but most of all included.  That’s the point isn’t it?  You get out of something what you put in.

Contrast this with how I felt after a meeting after just a few months in my current job….

 I attended a meeting of a well-established professional group.  Except for the person I had arrived with guess how many people (out of almost 30) I talked to?  One.  As a result, I felt marginalised, dejected and convinced that I would never become part of this group. I know I’m not alone in this kind of experience.  Many people find it difficult to enter an established group.  I am one of those people.  I’m hopeless at small talk.   At courses & meetings, I worry about coffee breaks & lunchtime because that’s when people talk to each other (gulp!).

On reflection, I should have been more proactive at that meeting.  I now recognise that and am beginning to address it.   Since that meeting I have worked really hard on putting myself forward a wee bit more, thinking about how to better interact with others and putting myself in new, challenging situations.  Now, I’m gaining confidence and I feel ready to join in with LISNPN, cpd23 and a range of other projects at work.  So, my advice to others is to dip a toe in the water and see.  What’s the worst that can happen? Apart from being made to drink Dr. Pepper, that is…..