Saturday, 27 October 2012

Evaluation and certificates

Well done to all who have completed the programme, and good luck to those still working on it! We don't plan to take the content down, so feel free to keep working through it at your own pace.

We would greatly value your feedback on the programme, whether or not you actually joined in the blogging.

The survey link:

Certificates of completion will be available for anyone who completes the programme before Friday 30 November.  To apply for a certificate, please fill in the form below.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Thing 23: What next?

The final thing has come around again!

Thank you all for following the programme and well done for getting to Thing 23.  A short evaluation of the programme is coming soon, but if you're up for a challenge maybe you could come up with a "6 word story" to sum up how you feel about the programme.

Many organisations include some kind of Personal Development Plans (PDP) as part of their staff review/appraisal processes.  The idea with these is that you identify some sort of development need, think about how you could fill that gap, and set yourself a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Limited) objective to help you do it. I've put together a quick template that can be used for this, but feel free to tweak it to suit yourself or use one of the many other templates available online.

The Task:
  1. For this last thing, we would like you to reflect on the programme in general and on what you want to do next.
  2. Identify some gaps in your experience, either by looking at requirements for that next job you're aiming for or by conducting a SWOT analysis or personal skills audit.  If you are a CILIP member, their new Professional Knowledge and Skills Base is worth looking at and I'm sure equivalents exist for other library associations.  The Library Routes and Library Day in the Life projects might be helpful here too.
  3. Think about how you can fill those gaps and put together a Personal Development Plan to do that.  You don't have to put the PDP or SWOT analysis on the blog unless you feel comfortable doing that.
  4. Write about the process of putting the plan together and whether you think this is a useful way to think about your CPD in general.
  5. Keep blogging and let us know how you get on!
Open Road by therefromhere

Monday, 1 October 2012

Thing 22: Volunteering to gain experience
Have you considered working for free to gain experience?  For Thing 22 I reflect on my own experiences of undertaking voluntary work and the potential benefits it can offer for career development. 

My story

Having worked as a library assistant for several years, I finally took the plunge and applied to library school.  This meant dropping to part time hours and using a hefty chunk of my savings to study.  After graduation,  I found myself with more time on my hands and less money in the bank and so  began applying for academic librarian posts in earnest.  After several unsuccessful applications, I was grateful when my employers offered me my full time hours back.  Nevertheless, I respectfully declined their offer even though some of my friends and family thought I was mad.

Although, my employers were very supportive of my career, I'd pretty much exhausted the limited opportunities to gain the practical hands-on experience I needed to progress to a professional post.  Consequently,  I found myself in what Bronagh McCrudden calls the ‘Experience Catch-22: the rut you can fall into because you can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience because you can’t get a job.'  I therefore took a bit of a financial gamble and chose to continue working part time and use my free time to gain professional experience through volunteering.

A colleague kindly used her contacts to help me find my first voluntary post which involved working two afternoons a week upgrading short catalogue records for another local university library.  Having looked at the job descriptions for academic librarian posts in my area many  required cataloguing experience.  I therefore seized the opportunity to prove that I could put what I had learned during my Masters course into practice and fill a crucial gap in my CV.  But this was just the beginning.

The benefits of volunteering

As well as providing an opportunity to gain practical work experience, volunteering can lead to other opportunities to enhance your CV and kick start your professional career.  Reflecting on my own experience, I believe that it can afford the following benefits to repay you for giving your time for free:

Demonstrate transferable skills and experience
One of my colleagues from the library I was volunteering at invited me to join the planning group for a local Librarian TeachMeet.  This allowed me to give something back by drawing on my experience as a former training administrator to help organise the event.  Having demonstrated that I had transferable organisational and administrative skills I was later encouraged to take on the secretary role for the regional CILIP branch committee which has enabled me to become more actively involved in the wider profession and raise my professional profile.

Increase your confidence
After graduating from library school and finding it hard to get a professional post I began to doubt my abilities.  Helping to organise the TeachMeet helped me to regain my confidence.  The enthusiasm and support of my fellow organisers also inspired me to give a presentation at the event which is something I doubt I would otherwise have been brave enough to do, especially as the presentations were filmed and uploaded to the wesbite!

Develop and showcase your skills
As an inexperienced speaker, preparing the presentation for the TeachMeet took up a lot of my unpaid time and the prospect of standing up in front of fifty people, some of whom might be potential employers, was pretty terrifying.  However, knowing that teachng skills are increasingly in demand for academic librarian posts, I saw it as a chance to brush up on and showcase my presentation skills.  It also gave me something to point to in the application for my current post to prove that, despite having no previous teaching experience, I have the necessary skills to deliver an information skills session.  It has also given me the confidence to prepare my first session which I have to deliver next week (takes deep breath!).

Extend your professional network and broaden your knowledge of other sectors
Through my voluntary work I have met colleagues from a variety of different library and information services which has helped to increase my knowledge and understanding of other sectors.  For instance, another of the TeachMeet organisers invited me to blog the discussions live at a symposium exploring patients’ access to and use of online health information.  Although I was not paid for my time, I learned how librarians are working with health professionals and technologists to improve the patient experience and gained an insight into an aspect of information work which was completely new to me.  This experience will help me to demonstrate ‘a breadth of professional knowledge and understanding of the wider professional context’ which is a key assessment criterion for CILIP Chartership.

Get your foot in the door
Perhaps the biggest benefit of all is that volunteering helped me to progress to my first professional post as an Assistant Librarian within the same university which gave me my first volunteering opportunity.  My voluntary work evidently made an impression on my employers as it was the first thing I was asked about at interview.  Having some insider knowledge of the university and having met several other librarians working there also made it much easier to prepare my application and to settle into my new role when it proved successful.  

The potential downsides and further advice

I strongly believe that volunteering should be a mutually beneficial arrangement.  In exchange for their time and commitment, employers should provide volunteers with opportunities to gain valuable work experience and develop their skills.  Volunteers should also be recruited as a complement to, not a substitute for, paid and suitably qualified library staff.  Although this has been my experience, unfortunately this may not always be the case.

If you are considering undertaking voluntary work I strongly recommend that you read Bronagh McCrudden’s prize-winning paper from the 2010 New Professionals Conference: ‘Would you work for free? Unpaid work in the information profession (and how to make it count)’.  This offers case studies of three volunteers’ positive, and not so positive, experiences and considers the ethics of using volunteers in libraries.  It also gives invaluable practical advice on how to make the most of working for free as well as sources of further reading.

Over to you…

Have you undertaken unpaid work to further your career?  What was your experience?  Is volunteering a good thing, or by working for free are we in danger of devaluing our profession?  Tell us what you think.


McCrudden, Bronagh (2010).  'Would you work for free?: Unpaid work and how to make it count' in Impact: Journal of the Career Development Group, 13 (3), pp. 57-60 [Online].  Available at: (Accessed 30 September 2012).

Monday, 24 September 2012

Thing 21: Promoting yourself in job applications and at interview

Well done for making it so far! After learning so many useful things, we need to think about how to promote all the hard work we do and the abilities and skills we have acquired in our career and life so far.
Part 1: Identifying your strengths; capitalising on your interests

These two really go together. What you like doing is often also what interests you, and vice-versa. In order to identify your strengths, take a good look at yourself, your tasks at work, your career, you life: what do you like to do? What do you dislike? Do you remember the last time you felt that feeling of deep satisfaction after creating, building, completing something? What was it about? What skills do you need to do the things you like? These skills are your strengths; they stem from your interests.
I am a strong believer in the fact that people are happy when they do something they actually enjoy. As we spend most part of our lives working, a sure way to be happy is to do a job you like (or love, if you are very lucky). A job that allows you to capitalise on your interests and use the skills needed to pursue them.
Most cpd-23 participants have found the love of their working life; some are still looking for the true love (a better library; a different work environment; a completely new job); some are uncertain on what to do next. It is important to remember that we are changing all the time: our interests change, our skills develop, we discover new things we like which we didn’t even know existed. Make sure that you keep up-to-date with yourself, and if you are unhappy in your current situation, acknowledge what has changed and take action.
Part 2: Applying for a job
After identifying your strengths, build a record (a database, a list, an Evernote folder, a piece of paper...) of everything you have done that demonstrates you’ve got the skills stemming from your interests. This will be extremely useful when writing your CV or filling job applications in, as you will be able to select information from a list rather than having to start from a blank page every time, thus risking to forget something. Keep this record up-to-date. Your CV is a living thing.
There is a huge amount of advice on CVs and application forms out there, and it would be really impossible to draw up an exhaustive list. Therefore, what follows is a summary of the things I have learnt from experience, and the advice I have received so far. Some of you have far more experience than me in this field, and I would love to hear your comments.
·         The first, most important rule, is that no CV is the same. You need to tailor it according to the job you are applying to.
·         Keep it short and readable: maximum recommended length is 2 pages of an A4 (front and back). You don’t need to put everything on it: select the most appropriate entries according to the job you are applying to. Use bulleted lists and hidden tables to make it visually easier to read.
·         Job adverts have two main parts: job description, and person specification. The requirements listed under job description must be addressed in the work experience section, where you describe your current job and your career so far. The person specification requirements must be addressed in the space reserved for additional information. If you are using an application form, this is the paragraph that more or less says “tell us why you are applying, plus something you haven’t told us elsewhere”; if you are sending a CV, this type of information must be written in the cover letter.
·         Try to meet all criteria (essential and desirable) listed in the job description and person specification. Don’t trust employers too much when they say that something is desirable and not essential: if it is listed there, it is important to them. Meeting the essential criteria is...essential (sorry!), and meeting the desirable ones is very, very, very important. Don’t overlook them.
·         If you don’t meet all the criteria, you can still apply and try to make your case (if you don’t even try, you don’t give yourself a chance to be successful) but, if you keep receiving rejections, you should do something about filling those gaps, for example volunteering, on order to acquire all the skills you need.
·         Make sure your references are relevant. Keep in touch with previous employers and, if your references are getting out-of-date, volunteering or getting involved in other initiatives that get you out there and better known (your professional association, for example) might be a good way to get new references.
Some people might feel awkward about “boasting” about how good they are in their applications. Well, remember that it is not boasting, but making the world aware of what you did, how (amazingly) you did it, and why you are more than willing to do it again for your potential employer. It’s giving you justice and credit for all your hard work and commitment. You are not stealing. You are not lying.

As I have been one myself some years ago, additional notes for foreign applicants willing to work in the UK.
·      The so-called European CV is basically unknown in the UK; moreover, its format is quite unreadable for UK standards.
·      Translate everything in English: employers might be clever and work it out, but they are not supposed to know that “bibliothèque municipale” or “biblioteca comunale” mean public library.
·      List all your qualifications in their original names but explain what they are: some typical Italian sample formulas are “Laurea” degree (= BA), and “Maturita’ classica” (= diploma of classic studies, involving five-year classes on the following subjects: ...).
·      If you can, get somebody living in the UK to proof-read your CV or application. It’s a matter of culture rather than grammar.
Part 3: Interviews
If you are called for an interview, it means that your CV or application were already positively judged by the panel. All your faults and gaps might jump to your mind as soon as you read the invite, but again, you need to give yourself credit for making it to the interview stage of the process, and get some confidence from that. This doesn’t mean that the job is already yours, but you have been given a further chance to shine, so why not making the most of it?
The first, basic rule is: prepare. Or, to use a well-known motto: failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Re-read the material on the employer; visit their website; re-read your application form/CV and any job description; prepare for awkward and less-awkward questions.
Try to get as much help as possible: for example, check if your careers service is offering interview practice of some sort. If you are in the UK, remember that CILIP members are entitled to two sessions with a careers adviser per year, offered by the Careers Group - University of London – you could use a session to explore interview techniques and ask questions on how to best promote yourself.
A very useful structure when answering competency-based questions (like “tell me about a time you found a creative solution to a problem”) is the acronym CAR, which stands for Context. Action. Results.

Start by describing the context, i.e. the situation you were in. Then highlight the action(s) you took to address the issue. Finally, explain the results, also specifying what you learnt in the process and, in case, what you would do differently in the future.
Resist the temptation to ramble. Avoid negativity. And remember that if you don’t get on well with the panel, it is unlikely that you will be happy in that workplace. An interview that didn’t go well is not necessarily a huge setback: when you finally land the job you love, it is likely that you will be thinking “thankfully I didn’t get that other one”.  
Further reading: there is a lot to read on these topics but a very short selection of links I have found useful is here:
·      Open Cover Letters: anonymous cover letters from hired librarians and archivists – an amazing website with samples of successful cover letters
·      What’s the key to a good interview - beyond the usual truisms we all know already? – a blog post by Ned Potter, aka The Wikiman, and the various comments to it.
Summary of tasks:
Answer the questions in Part I and make your own list of activities and interests: from watching the telly to something more work-related. Tell us what you’ve found about yourself: achievements/activities you had forgotten about, things you love to do, what they mean, how you could use them in your working life.
Update your “CV database”.
Share any interview tip or experience you found useful in your career.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Thing 20: The Library Routes Project

This post was originally posted by Laura Woods as part of the 2011 programme.

This Thing is all about library careers.  I’m going to talk about the Library Routes Project, but recommend that you visit the Library Day in the Life project as well.

The Library Routes Project was set up in October 2009, following a lively conversation on my blog about how people get into librarianship. As a result of this conversation, Ned Potter (aka thewikiman) and I decided that it would be a good idea to set up a space where people could share these stories, and thus the Library Routes Wiki was born. Now, almost two years on, it has around 180 entries and has been visited over 39,000 times.

A photograph of a signpost and its shadow.
'every which way' by jenny downing on Flickr
The idea is simple: blog about your library roots (how and why you got into the profession in the first place) and your library routes (the career path you’ve taken so far), and add a link to the great big list on the front page of the wiki. The value of this is twofold: first of all, it is interesting! If you’re a nosy person like me, it’s great to be able to have a look through people’s career histories and reasons for becoming librarians in the first place. Secondly, we think it’s a useful careers resource for people either thinking about careers in librarianship or just starting out on their path.

I think the latter is particularly important because a common theme in the stories on the Library Routes wiki is that of not knowing much about what librarianship involved, or even that it existed as a career option; or being discouraged from pursuing a career in libraries by people who had misconceptions about the options available. Like many people, I fell into librarianship after trying my hand at other jobs that I wasn’t really suited to. Once a careers adviser suggested to me that librarianship was something I could actually do for a living, it was like a light bulb going off: why hadn’t I ever thought of it before? Well, the simple reason was that I just didn’t know that it was an option. My only clue as to what librarians did was the ladies I saw stamping books and shelving in my local public library. I suppose at some level I must have been aware that there was probably more to it than that, but I’d never have guessed at the sheer range of jobs available within the information profession. I know from reading the blogs linked from the wiki that mine is a fairly common story: unless you had a close friend or relative who worked in libraries, you probably didn’t have much of an idea of what the profession involved before you joined it. The Library Routes project is intended to shine a much-needed light on the types of jobs and career paths available within the information profession.

Things To Do
The main activity for this Thing is to blog your Roots/Routes, and add a link to the wiki. I know a lot of people did this for Thing 10, so if you’ve already done this stage then the additional activity is to go through some of the links already on the wiki and reflect on how they compare with your own experiences. Do you think your own path was typical or unusual compared to others? Have you got any advice for people at earlier stages in their careers than you, or can you glean some useful tips from other people’s posts?

Monday, 10 September 2012

How I learned to stop worrying and love CPD

This week it's a catch up week and we've invited Librarians with lives blogger, Jo Wood, to write a guest blog post about fitting professional development in and making the most of the time you have. Over to Jo...

Juggling priorities to fit things in?
Pedro Moura Pinheiro on Flickr
I used to be really intimidated by the Librariati* and their terrifying ways. Two years ago I set up a blog to try and deal with my feelings of inadequacy and have learned a thing or two about fitting CPD into a busy life along the way. Here are my five tip tips:

  1. Find some aspects of CPD that you really, really enjoy and focus on them. For me, it’s blog writing, mentoring Chartership candidates and very occasionally contributing case studies to books. I know I’m really bad at – or simply not interested in *cough* activism *cough* – other aspects of CPD so I leave them to everyone else. 
  2. Every so often, do one thing that really scares you. The comfort zone is all well and good 95% of the time, but occasionally it’s good to really put yourself ‘out there’. Earlier this year I wrote a blog post that I really liked. Just after I published it I spotted a ‘call for speakers’ e-mail. Normally I file these in the ‘I really ought to do something like that’ pile and promptly forget about it. This time I turned the blog post into a speaker proposal. I decided not to pin any hopes on it and decided to treat the experience as a ‘sighter’ for other opportunities down the line. I had written the whole enterprise off and was amazed when I received an e-mail inviting me to speak. I’m used to public speaking, but speaking to my peers is going to be something else. 
  3. Accept your time constraints and learn to say no. Don’t be guilt tripped into something that you really, really don’t want to do. You’ll resent the person that got you into the mess in the first place and every moment you spend doing the thing will make you grind your teeth in frustration. The key is to be polite and slightly vague: ‘Thank you for thinking of me but I have a lot on at the moment’ works pretty well as a get-out phrase. 
  4. It’s better to go to one really good conference than ten average seminars. I don’t get to do much (or, in fact, any) CPD in work time. It’s pretty hard to convince my line manager that an afternoon out of the office attending a seminar on something really librarian-y is worth it. However, a day or two at a proper professional conference – although it generally costs far more – is more likely to impress. I try to attend one major conference a year and get it written into my appraisal targets so that my employer has to fund it! 
  5. Don’t compare yourself to the gods and goddesses of CPD. It’s a waste of time and you’ll never manage to a. Join them without sacrificing something else in your life e.g. watching the Great British Bake-Off or b. Stop being jealous of them. I now regard the hardcore Librariati with great affection, in the same way that you would regard the family dog. I want to pat them on the head indulgently and feed them biscuits. My view on them is: they do it so the rest of us don’t have to. 

The final thing is not to let CPD , or feelings of inadequacy about not doing enough CPD, take over your life. After all, there is more to life than professional development: cake, museums, cross-stitch, cricket, stalking divers, family, friends, enemies, pets, reading books for pleasure, music and board games to name but a few. Keep things in perspective and you’ll get the CPD balance just right.

*not a real word, but it's mine and I like it.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Thing 19: Catch up week on integrating 'things'

Jigsaw-ing by lilahpops, on Flickr
Fitting pieces together
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License

It's time for a little bit of a breather and some reflection on what you've gained from the programme so far and how you might continue to use what you've learnt. We've covered a number of social media tools (e.g. blogs, RSS feeds, Twitter, LinkedIn) and productivity tools (e.g. Google calendar, Evernote, Google Docs, wikis), as well as considering a number of different elements of our professional development (e.g. personal branding, reflective practice, advocacy, events). You can see a full list of the things we've covered so far here.

The purpose of this week is to look back at your previous posts and consider which elements you have found most useful and how you might integrate them into your working routine. You might already have done this, so feel free to blog about how you have done that if so. Maybe you've started using RSS feeds or Twitter during breaks to catch up on news. Maybe you're using LinkedIn for group discussions on professional topics or to share updates about your professional developments. Perhaps it's a technical solution you have discovered which updates multiple services at once or enables you to manage a number of different things. Or perhaps you haven't had chance to think about integrating anything yet. Now is your chance to review the previous tools and think about how you might continue to use them. Choose one or two (or more if you're feeling ambitious!) and share your thoughts in this week's blog post.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Thing 18: Jing / screen capture / podcasts (making and following them)

Well done all for making it thus far! We now explore some enhanced ways of visualising data with the help of screen capture tools. We will also take a look at podcasting.

1. Jing

Screen capture tools allow you to make a narrated video showing how to do something on a computer. They record your mouse, and everything you click on and show on your screen. Ever had a conversation over the phone with your parents, trying to explain to them how to open the attachment you sent in your last email? (“Double-click on the attachment icon!” – “There isn’t one!”...): this trick could help you solve this kind of situations and, more importantly, some work-related issues like having to explain over and over again to your users how your library systems work.

You can download a free version of Jing at You will get a “Sun Launcher” button on your screen (top centre for Windows, upper right corner for Mac).

Hover over the “sun” and choose Capture. Click and drag to select a portion of your screen., and then release the mouse when you are happy with the image you have selected.

From here, you can do two things: 1) take a screen capture or 2) make a video.

The clever feature in Jing is that you can annotate your capture, by inserting a text box, highlighting part of the image, or adding an arrow. Once you are done, click on the Save button.

If you choose to record a video, Jing will provide you with an icon to check that you are not on mute and then will give you 3 seconds (!) before the recording starts, so make sure you’ve got a microphone and are ready to go. There is a 5-minute time limit – remember to keep your script short, clear and concise. Click Stop when your are done, and Save.

If you are following the cpd23 programme from your work computer only, it is likely that you won’t be allowed to download Jing. In this case, a very good alternative is Screencast-o-matic. Its use and features are marvellously explained in this post, written by The Book Gryphon for the Cam23 2.0 programme.

There is a variety of tools available for screen casting; if you want to explore the topic further, you can also take a look at Camtasia and Lightshot to name just a few.

2. Podcasting

A podcast is an audio file broadcasted via the Internet. What differentiates it from web streaming is the fact that podcasts are usually part of a series, centrally maintained and regularly updated, which also allows for offline use after downloading. You can subscribe to a series so that it automatically downloads on to your computer and MP3 player. To do this, you need to have podcatching software, such as, for example, iTunes.

Podcasts are a good tool to use if you are planning to deliver a series of talks, training updates, or anything that will require delivering your content over time.

An example of podcasting for librarians is the arcadia@cambridge seminars series. Careers services are using podcasting too: see for example the amazing series produced by the Careers Group-University of London, which is open-access and free for anyone to download – a great source of professional development-related information.

How to make podcasts: the best way to get started is to take a look at Podwhating?, a full course on podcasting provided by Edinburgh Napier University. It took place last year and worked more or less like 23 Things, with blog entries for each task; all the content is still there, and the site features also a wonderful page of course materials that you can access for free. I particularly recommend the guides dedicated to installing and using Audacity, the main free software for making podcasts.

What next?

Thing 18 requires a lot of work, especially if you haven’t used these tools before. If you have, let us know what you made of them and how they enhanced your work. If you haven’t, explore them and let us know how you think you could use them. Real examples in the form of screen captures and podcasts are welcome, of course!

NB: Post written by Maria Giovanna De Simone

Monday, 20 August 2012

Thing 17: The Medium is the Message- Prezi and Slideshare

This post was originally published by Ange Fitzpatrick as part of the 2011 programme.

Prezi- I like to move it, move it

driving home by myfear, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  myfear 

Prezi is now a very well known presentation tool and a great alternative to PowerPoint, but like any tool it has to be used well to achieve the best possible results. The unique aspects of Prezi include the ability to zoom, pan and layer levels of information in a way that offers the best viewing experience for the attendee. In an effort to avoid ‘death by PowerPoint’ people often overuse these aspects of the software and the results are as predictable as PowerPoint, albeit with more motion sickness! 

The main thing to bear in mind when experimenting with Prezi is to step away from a linear presentation style, this will allow you to dance around your subject, drawing commonalities and contrasts from different elements of your topic. There are some great online guides which will help you, and I suggest you have a look a these, but there is no better way to get a grip on Prezi than to get your hands dirty.

So rather than walking you through Prezi, I'm going to consider a few general techniques you could use when selling your information and library service. Thinking about how we can exploit the intrinsic qualities of Prezi let’s consider a couple of uses:

Dynamic presentations

The success of this depends on using the functionality of Prezi to tell the story of your argument. Use the fact that you can travel along the canvas with your audience to illustrate the main points of your presentation. Raise a problem, look around it (literally!) , offer solutions and then show the audience how they can take your approach and apply it to their own situations.

Great techniques for this include:
  • Using a circular structure to link solutions to problems, allowing you to visit and revisit areas of the screen as you talk.
  • Zooming in- hiding key points within pictures or other text allows you to expand on arguments without overloading the structure with text.
Linking ideas together

A Voice in the Wilderness: Personalised Library Services in a Virtual Environment- Meg Westbury

Using one large picture as a background allows you to show detail, the whole picture and the relationships between them.
Techniques to bear in mind:

  • Choosing a high-quality, interesting, relevant or relaxing picture to compare or contrast to your subject matter- how about a beach scene to mount your 'Beginners Guide to FRBR'?
  • Regularly zoom back out to reveal the big picture- hint, use invisible frames.
  • Be careful with your colour choices to ensure that your text really stands out against an image heavy background.
Teaching take-aways

Scale of the Solar System Activity- Todd Ensign

Prezi is a great alternative to a hand out, or for getting your message to those who can’t physically attend your talk. If your voice isn’t there to accompany the presentation you will have to be more reliant on text, but you can do this without resorting to those tried, tested and tired PowerPoint bullets!

Try these:

  • Group your presentation/lesson into manageable chunks based on topic or difficulty using frames. Answers or clues can be hidden as text or pictures within the frames.
  • Use arrows to emphasise that the course is moving along, consider zooming out after each few sections so remote users can track their progress- you could also offer a recap here.
Presentation preparation

Not everything is best taught using a projector and a laser pointer, welding, for example, but even if you are not teaching welding you can use Prezi to help bring together your non-projection teaching. Simply use the Prezi as a mindmapping space, the different text colours, frames and arrows allowing you to forge connections between disparate parts of your subject. 

By the way, I was wrong about welding. As 21 pages of 'how-to weld' Prezis proves. Go have fun!

Does Prezi mean the end for my PowerPoints?

Relatively new to prezi is the ability to upload and enhance PowerPoint slides. This gives you an opportunity to remix your existing PowerPoint slides, adding value by connecting them in a way that comes naturally to Prezi, but is impossible to do with PowerPoint.

Over to you...

Take some time to experiment with Prezi and think about what kind of angles it could offer to help you sell your service more effectively. Try creating a take-away teaching course, breathe new life into some PowerPoint slides or create a dynamic induction presentation for new staff or students.

A final but important tip about images. Be sure to use high-quality images- .png or convert to .pdf, try Zamzar for free conversion. You can achieve variety or uniformity by mounting your images on frames or applying washes or treatments like drop shadows- Picnik
will do all this and more, quickly, easily and most importantly: gratis.

Extra Credit:

Prezi For The Win? Ten Top Tips To Make a Good One- Ned Potter Edited 29/09/11: Ned has pointed out that this guide is now out of date. His revised version is here: The ultimate guide to Prezi.
Prezi: The PowerPoint Alternative?- Lora Helvie-Mason, Communication & Higher Education Blog

Slideshare: does exactly what it says what it is on the tin

Got an idea by horrigans, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  horrigans 

Panning back to PowerPoint, let's look at one of its biggest hangouts: Slideshare.The difficulty with Slideshare is pinning down exactly what it is: it's an archive, a ready made audience, an inspiration factory and a place to get yourself noticed. Let's try and untangle this one:

Your personal archive- shared

If you do a lot of teaching the chances are you have a lot of PowerPoints knocking around on your machine, your website, your shared servers, your institutional repository, your cutlery drawer... well maybe not your cutlery drawer, but you get the picture. Slideshare gives you an opportunity to host all of your teaching materials in one place, and makes them available in an easily embeddable format for others wishing to share and promote your work. 

It's a small point, but really worth mentioning. This is not your institutional repository, this is on the open web and can be discovered by a much wider and variable audience. If someone is looking for an inspirational teaching presentation they can cite in an article or use as a great example they are not going to come looking for your work. Put it where it can be easily found. 

Can you think of materials you have produced which could gain a new audience on Slideshare?

Inspiration for you

Okay, so presentations vary from awesome inspiration to terrible, terrible warnings, but if you are a visual person you might find that browsing a handful of good presentations on Slideshare will equal an hour reading how to guides.  From individual presentations to browsing the channels e.g. Pew Internet and American Life Project, The White House, or the Economist Intelligence Unit, there is a wide range of excellent slide sets available for you to learn from.

Browse Slideshare in search of the good, the bad and the ugly. Can you find anything that you could draw inspiration from?

Shareable teaching products, okay, predictable, but what else? What was that about getting noticed?

At a very basic level Silideshare is just a way to host PowerPoint presentations and .pdfs. The reason that it mostly contains presentations is only because we have a pretty fixed mindset regarding what PowerPoint can do. If you stop thinking about a room sized audience and start thinking about a panel. One of the most interesting new uses is to sell not just your service but your self. Have a look at this great CV
Do you think this could replace (in certain circumstances) your paper CV or resume?

Monday, 13 August 2012

Thing 16: Advocacy, speaking up for the profession and getting published

This post was originally published by Lauren Smith as part of the 2011 programme.

Apologies in advance to international CPD23-ers; this is a fairly UK-centric post, but I hope that those from countries where advocacy has more of a history will be able to provide some useful thoughts and resources to the rest of us!

Advocacy and speaking up for the profession

Advocacy for libraries has probably been around for as long as libraries have, but recently it's taken a big step-up in the UK. During These Economic Times it's increasingly important for people working in library and information roles to be able to explain and express the value of their service – what it does that benefits users, how it can help non-users, how it can add value to the organisation it's in, and so on, in order to serve as many people as possible, meet their needs as well as possible and crucially, to ensure that we've got enough of a budget to do all the things we need to do. Stakeholders need to understand exactly what it is we do and why what we do is important – they're the ones holding the purse-strings.

Perhaps the highest profile advocacy taking place at the moment is public libraries campaigning; there's a busy #savelibraries hashtag on twitter and organisations like Voices for the Library, CILIP, Campaign for the Book, Unison and the Women's Institute are all fighting drastic cuts to public library services across the UK. Unfortunately it's very hard for public library staff to campaign for their own sector without risking their jobs, so it's very important for people outside of public libraries (and within, where possible) to shout about the role of public libraries and talk about why they're more relevant than ever.

Annie Mauger's address to the WI by ijclark on Flickr

A lot of the advocacy for public libraries has involved activities that not all of us would be comfortable doing: banner-waving; shouting; marching on parliament; speaking to local and national politicians; giving interviews for tv, radio and newspapers; helping lawyers put together arguments for legal's certainly not part of any job description for a librarian I've come across! However, this kind of thing is far more along the lines of activism than advocacy, and shouldn't put people off getting involved with advocacy. If promoting/advocating for your own service isn't in job descriptions yet, it a) blinking well should be and b) probably will be soon...! CILIP have put together some advocacy resources for different sectors including special library and information services, schools and further education. There's also a campaigning toolkit on their website. The American Library Association has absolutely tons of advocacy resources that I recommend having a scout around. Some fantastic advocacy came out of the LIS New Professionals Network Advocacy Challenge including jigaws, knitting patterns, and the That's Not Online! Project. It'd be great to see more of that kind of thing. The Lib Code is an advocacy campaign from the Philippines I stumbled across on Tumblr when I was looking for images for this post – they've only very recently had a soft launch, and I think it'll be worth keeping an eye on what they're doing.

The Lib Code [2011] from UP LISSA on Vimeo.

Getting published

In addition to all the skills you pick up when engaging in advocacy (public speaking, constructing arguments, communicating with different stakeholders, using social media effectively, designing online and print materials etc.), there is the opportunity to write and get published. Keeping a blog about your work lets people know that you're active and people will think of you if they need information, or someone to write an article. For example, the posts I've written for the Voices site and things I've published on my own blog have led to requests for articles from places such as False Economy, Living Streets and Public Library Journal. It's also worth pitching article ideas to places like The Guardian's Comment is Free – they're keen to hear from people who specialise in particular subjects, and have commissioned pieces by me, Ian Clark and Simon Barron when we've approached them. Emma Cragg and Katie Birkwood approached Guardian Careers, who published their piece on what it takes to be a 21st century librarian. Publishing within library-related publications helps to keep library and information people up to date with what's going on, and publishing outside of library publications helps to get your message out of the accursed echo-chamber. Both can be very useful, and help to boost your skills and experience.

Library Love by justgrimes on Flickr
Things to Do

There's plenty you can do to incorporate advocacy into your day-to-day life; the hardest part is working out how. For this Thing:
  • Consider why it's important to advocate for the section of library and information sector that you work for or want to work in.
  • Have a think about what advocacy you've been involved in. Give examples so we can pool resources and inspire others to do the same. Or, give an example of some advocacy that you think has been particularly effective – library-related or otherwise.
  • If you haven't been involved in advocacy, reflect on what your skills are (or which you want to develop), what you're most passionate about and think about what you might be able to do.
  • If you're passionate about public libraries and want to help – let Voices for the Library know! We're keen to get more people involved with things like asking organisations and well-known figures for supporting statements, securing sponsorship, liaising with other campaigning bodies and representing us at events.
  • If you've got any potential content for That's Not Online! let Jacqueline know.
  • Think about where advocacy fits in with professionalism – maybe comment on Johanna's blog post about Activism, Advocacy and Professional Identity or if you can get hold of any, look at some job descriptions and identify where you think the advocacy might fit within the requirements of the roles.

  • Publication challenge! A prize for anyone who gets a piece of library advocacy published.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Thing 15: Attending, presenting at and organising seminars, conferences and other events

This Thing is all about events—conferences, seminars, training days, unconferences, teachmeets, or anything else vaguely organised that brings people together with a more-or-less strongly defined goal of teaching, training, or sharing ideas. We’ll look at why and how best to attend, speak at, and organise events, and hopefully by the end of the Thing you’ll be motivated to get more involved in this important part of professional life.

We’ll start with the easiest of the three facets: attending events.

Hopefully it’s fairly obvious why you might want to attend events. They’re a way to learn about something that you need, or would like, to know about, and/or an opportunity to meet people it would be good to know.

Perhaps, in these straightened times, it’s worth noting that a good event will be more than the sum of its parts: you’ll come away feeling more inspired, motivated, or capable than the event the advertising blurb promised. I’ve rarely regretted going to anything, however irrelevant to my work it might have seemed at the time. I’ve definitely regretted not going to things though - it’s best to take the plunge whenever you can.

And there’s a huge range of librarianly activity going on out there - from 20-people TeachMeets to the thousands-strong ALA annual conferece. There’s sure to be something that suits you.

1. Money
I’m not going to hide the fact that many events cost money, and that some of them cost a lot of money. Most employers have restrictions on what, if anything, they will pay towards conference attendance, so it can seem impossibly daunting to try and get to some events.

There are channels that can help out, though. Your local professional body (I’m coming from the perspective of a CILIP member, but I hope it’s more-or-less the same elsewhere) may be able to help. The CILIP special interest groups and regional branches have some funds of money to help with training, development and conference attendance. Large conferences themselves will often offer bursaries to help people attend. Some of these can seem very specific in focus, or as though they’re designed for the sort of high flyer that you might not imagine yourself to be, but the awarding bodies will want *someone* to get them - so do apply. You might be surprised. (And having taken part in cpd23 will be excellent testimony to your ongoing commitment to your development.)

2. Making the most
Obviously, when you get to an event you want to make the most of the time and money that you’re devoting to it. My best advice is to (try to) relax and enjoy yourself. Don’t view it like a day at school where you have to write down as much as possible in your colour-coordinated folders. Try to take in the big picture of the sessions you attend, and, above all, talk to people. It’s not easy, but remember that they’re probably there to try and meet people to, so by striking up a conversation you’re helping them out, too! And do ask questions of the speakers: when I speak to an audience I like to hear their questions. If nothing else, it shows that they have at least been listening, and that my paper interested them enough to respond.

Jo Alcock wrote a great post about preparing for a major conference, which is definitely worth a read:


The next step up from just attending an event is to get more formally involved and to speak at it. Speaking to an audience has several benefits for your professional development and your career. By taking the time and trouble to prepare a paper you’re showing that you’re committed enough to want to share your ideas and successes with the rest of the profession. There’s a lot to be said for overtly demonstrating a generous attitude. More selfishly, you’ll be raising your profile. People will be more likely to remember you in the future, whether that’s at a job interview, when looking for committee members, or when looking for someone to write an article or case study.

1. What to speak about
You may well be wondering what on earth you could speak about. I’m strongly of the opinion that if you’re working in a professional way - evaluating your services and modifying them in the hopes of improving them, you’ve probably got something to speak to others about. Nevermind the fact that you may have done research (for an MA or other reasons), or that you may work in a library or with a collection that are interesting in their own rights.

2. Applying
There are conferences and events on every conceivable subject. Some of them invite speakers based on proposed topics, and who the organisers know in the field. Others invite applications from anyone who’s interested. Some informal events will accept talks from all comers - a great way to ease yourself in gently! Keep your eyes peeled on mailing lists, Twitter and in publications, to see what’s what. I can’t do better in giving advice on writing proposals than this post from Ned Potter:
3. Presentation tips
There are whole courses out there on public speaking and how to present to an audience, and this post would go on forever if I were to list lots of good advice here. Remember that your audience is there because they want to hear something interesting, not because they want to rubbish the speaker, and you’re more than half-way to success. Then read these two perspectives on how to present, and you’ll see that there’s no ‘right’ way to do it, and you can go with whatever suits you:
This post from Ned Potter is humorously dogmatic, but it does highlight some of the errors commonly made, so you should flick through it and make some mental notes:
And from my own dogmatic perspective, I’d advise that everyone using a powerpoint presentation learn how to embed fonts in the file. This means that even if the computer used for the presentation doesn’t have the fonts you used to make the slides, the right fonts will still be shown, thus reducing the risk of your slides looking funny and poorly designed when you stand up to speak. Here’s a how-to:


Last, and definitely not least, is organising an event. This is the ultimate events-based way give yourself sleepless nights, hectic days, and to contribute to the profession.

Events come in various flavours. There are some that happen regularly, probably organised by a committee of people from an established organisation. Under this heading I’d put IFLA ALA, SLA and CILIP major conferences, as well as smaller organisations’ annual events. If you volunteer for the appropriate committees then you’ll have opportunities to help with those. Larger conferences also recruit volunteers to help as stewards and back-room people.

But there’s room to organise your own thing, as well. Informal events like TeachMeets and LibraryCamp are created by groups of people who just happen to meet and decide that it’s a good idea. There’s no recipe, I’m afraid for how to bring together such people - I’d advise just talking to all and sundry about this great idea you’ve had for an event, and hopefully some of them will volunteer to help out!

What to do for this thing
Don’t worry - we’re not now asking you to organise a conference. Instead, think about your experiences attending/speaking and/or organising professional events.
  • What worked and what didn’t work?
  • What advice would you give to others, based on your experiences?
  • And think about what you’d like to do in the future:
    • Are there conferences you’d like to attend?
    • Are there topics you think you could talk about?
    • Is there a training/networking/sharing need in your area/sector that you could help to meet by organising something?
    • If you have a burning idea for a great event, now would probably be a good time to talk about it!
Right. That’s the end of my talk. Any questions?

Monday, 30 July 2012

Thing 14: Zotero / Mendeley / CiteULike

When I wrote my masters dissertation I typed out my bibliography reference by reference. I worked through the whole text too, slotting in the references, remembering where I’d referenced the same thing twice – the whole 15,000 words of it.

I don’t say this in a “we had it tough back in my day, you lot, you don’t know you’re born” sort of way. I say it because I didn’t have any alternative (that I was aware of).  It was time consuming and error prone – who would chose that?

There are so many tools out there these days that there’s no reason for anyone -  student, academic, researcher, would-be librarian  – anyone to have to do that anymore.  

For those of us still in the throes of writing essays, or perhaps writing articles for professional journals, picking one piece of software and running with it makes life a lot easier. But looking beyond our own needs to consider the needs of the library users we support, being aware of a number of different tools is always an advantage (and a big selling point on a CV). Being able to explore the pros and cons of different ways of achieving the same goal helps others decide which is the tool for them.

Managing information in this way, and helping others to do so too demonstrates our worth in a new way, and is a very useful skill. We’re not just there to help people find information, we can help them manage it to more easily achieve their goal. (I’m mostly thinking of these tools in an academic or research environment, but please give me examples their use in public libraries, business  information centres – anywhere!)

There are 4 essential elements that you need in any reference management system. The ability to:
  • import references from a number of difference sources (eg websites, library catalogues, bibliographic databases etc)
  • manage and/or edit the references once they’re in the system, and add manually any references that you cannot find online
  • export references into the document that you’re writing, either as a single bibliography, or individually, often called “cite while you write” which generates a list of references.
  • format the bibliography according the referencing style of your choice, and re-format if/when necessary

There are some other “bells and whistles” which might be nice. The ability to:
  • share references with colleagues, supervisors, co-authors
  • attach the text of the article to the reference, so you can manage the full-text documents as well as the references
  • find full text of the articles in your list of references (particularly relevant in academic libraries)
  • manage your full-text articles- perhaps by ensuring that file names are consistent,
  • detect and delete duplicates - if an article is important, you may find it more than once - but you don’t want more than one entry in your list of references.

There are many commercial products out there – Endnote, Reference Manager, RefWorks and Papers  are just 4 examples. Those of us working in higher education may already have access to one or more of these. But there are also some free tools which are available open source, and so accessible to anyone (so long as you’ve got the rights to download software onto your computer!)

There’s a comparison table in Wikipedia and Martin Fenner produced a useful comparison between 8 different tool.

Of the many possibles, we’re going to look at 3 free ones:
Zotero, Mendeley and CiteULike.

Thing 14a – Zotero –

Zotero is an open source product that started life as a plug-in for Mozilla Firefox but in its 3.0 version is now available as a standalone which is compatible with Chrome and Safari
A useful video which demonstrates Zotero is available from their front page, and rather than re-invent the wheel, I suggest you watch this

Zotero is free, but you can get extra storage space and more flexibility for a monthly subscription if you need it.

I think it’s a great, simple to use product which allows easy importing of references from a lot of sources – check if the ones you use regularly are covered:

Zotero also encourages collaboration by providing a social networking element to their site - you can create groups ( private or public) where you can share your reference lists - a bit like delicious.

Thing 14b – Mendeley –
Mendeley is another product which requires a download, but this time it’s a desktop feature, rather the forcing you to one particular browser.  Like Zotero, there is a free version of Mendeley, but more features and increased storage are available if you chose to subscribe.
There’s some great introductory videos available, plus loads of supporting documentation.

One of the nicest features, is that if you’re starting off with a desktop or folder full of PDFs, there is a “watched folder” feature that you can point Mendeley towards, and it extracts metadata from the PDF files and populates your Mendeley library automatically. This is great if you/your library user has a great morass of files they want to organise retrospectively - and I’ve never seen a room of researchers go quiet so quickly as when you show them this feature, plus the one that renames the files in a tidy and consistent way (really very impressive!)

There’s also a PDF editor function within Mendeley, so you can “scribble” on the full-text articles (though you can get this functionality without by using PDF-XChange)

Mendeley has the added bonus that when you synch the web version of Mendeley, the PDF (if you’ve attached it) will go into the cloud too, so you can access your full-text articles wherever you are.

The group/social networking function in Mendeley takes things a step further, by allowing you to set up a closed group where collabators can share the full-text articles, not just the references.

Mendeley also has a very nice iPad or iPhone app which means you can always keep up with your reading and keep adding to your reference list.

Thing 14c– CiteULike
CiteULike is a like delicious  but for articles rather than websites. So it’s not strictly comparable with zotero and mendeley, but still an interesting tool.
There’s a nice tour of citeulike by Alan Cann : 

It’s a great site for sharing references (very useful for many academics who work collaboratively). It’s easy to gather references into citeulike using the browser button (similar to the functionality of delicious) and there is a massive bonus that you can upload PDFs to attach to the reference – since there is no desktop element this means you can access your documents and references from any computer, any time. You can share your library of references, or keep them private as you see fit.

If you chose to make your library public, just like delicious, you can see if anyone else has this paper in their library – ie who is reading what you’re reading. This might give you clues as to who your competition is, or who potential collaborators are.

But the big down side (I think) is that there is no cite while you write functionality – you can export the references in a single bibliography, in a range of difference referencing styles, but not add references through a document. (but since I don’t think it’s designed to do this, so not a fair criticism).

Thing to do
For this week’s Thing, I’d like you to explore and play with at least one (or more if you’re feeling enthusiastic and have time) of these tools how could it help you achieve some of your own goals? How could your new skill help you improve the support you offer your library users?

If you’re already using one or several of these tools, please share how you’re using them. 
If you are running courses, who are they for? What format do these courses take? Does this service help to change perceptions of the library service?