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August 15, 2011 / Pick Up Sticks

Thing 5: reflective practice

I am very lucky as I work for an employer who is very supportive of continuing professional development – having worked as the training librarian for a local authority with a tiny staff development budget, I am grateful not only that I am expected to attend at least one conference a year, but that I am supported in taking part in wider professional activities (which I shall no doubt talk about in my next post). Reflective practice is part of what we do: we have time each week for CPD, so we can choose to attend one of the workshops that are available or use the time for our own private study/reflection. In practice I work part time and so never attend these sessions, but I do have the opportunity to keep up with my CPD.

One of the most valuable tools we have is the feedback form we have to complete after attending a conference or seminar. We have to note down the top three things that we learned, what impact this will have on our own work, any useful projects that we need to be aware of, any contacts we made, and who else needs to know about what we learned. I have found this so useful in organising my thoughts post-conference, and it is a really clever way of summarising main learning points and actions.

As I said, I was a staff development librarian in a previous job, and I had to arrange lots of training for lots of people, so I’m fully aware that my learning style is that of a reflector – see Honey and Mumford’s theory – so reflective practice is something that comes fairly naturally to me. However, I think the key is not just reflecting, but putting what you learned into practice, which is why drawing up action points from your learning, and keeping a learning log or blog, are such good ideas.

Image – Jennie Lee, Open University by rattyfied on Flickr

August 15, 2011 / Pick Up Sticks

Belated Thing 4: Carry on Tweeting

Everyone say tweet!

Well, there’s nothing like trying to complete a dissertation for an MA to keep you busy! I’ve been somewhat distracted for the last few weeks by my desperate attempt to write 15,000 words. I’m slowly getting there, so I shall save my apologies and rather ironically turn my attention to keeping up to date.

Well I love Twitter in a partial way, that’s to say I use it often as a source of news, less so as a channel of communication for me. I most often view my Twitter feed on my phone, on the go, and I very rarely make posts this way. Thinking about it I wonder if that is partly to do with lack of time, and partly to do with finding typing on my (touchscreen) phone very annoying.

I also use RSS feeds lots, I have a Netvibes page on which I link to the blogs, feeds etc. that I find most informative and useful, and this has developed and changed over time. I couldn’t imagine visiting all those pages separately now, and I like being able to change my ‘theme’ now and again. It’s just a fab way of keeping up to date with minimum updating and effort required.

It’s been interesting reading the mixed reviews by cpd23ers for Pushnote, and to be honest, using the rule of thumb I generally use for tools, I can’t see much of a use for it for me at the moment. I have noticed that it is being used by @stephenfry at least, so no doubt there will be more people using it soon…

Image: Bluebird before the storm by CFBSr on Flickr

July 18, 2011 / Pick Up Sticks

Thing 3: What’s your personal brand?

how do you stand out from the crowd?

I’m one of those unlucky people that has a ridiculously common name (I should have stuck with my maiden name, much more poetic) so this has been a difficult one for me. A Google search on my name brings up results for a seventies pop star, a clothes store and a racing jockey; however if I type in my name and ‘librarian’ I find some of my tweets and a link to my place of work. I’m not sure there is going to be any way I could compete with the jockey in terms of rankings, but I can certainly do something about how I’m represented online as an information professional.
I have always maintained a distance between my personal and professional lives, particularly online (Facebook for personal, LinkdIn professional) but this all falls down with Twitter, where I can’t help but tweet about and follow people I’m interested in personally as well as professionally. This distinction is important to me, as I enjoy being able to escape from home at work, and vice versa, but increasingly I see the value in a mingle of the two, especially as I really don’t get up to anything that might reflect badly on my professional status any more! My work as a school governor has also made me reconsider this division – this more than anything requires professional skills but in an out of work setting, and also helps me to develop skills that are useful for my role at work.
I know I need to be more strategic in my online presence, but I am not keen on the idea of developing a specific brand for myself as I take on different roles in different areas of my life as appropriate. I would rather develop a sort of mission statement or set of key skills that I feel reflect me and my personality, and help me to focus on what’s important for me at the time. The problem with branding is that it dates quickly: I want an image that develops and matures as I do.
I was wondering if I should post my name, or if anyone could guess from the clues above? 😉
Image: Be Unique by gary_foulger on Flickr
June 29, 2011 / Pick Up Sticks

Thing 2: Boxes and Lists

So I’ve finally got round to looking at some other CPD23 blogs, and it’s made me realise a few things:

  • An interesting or intriguing title for your blog is a real draw and makes all the difference when browsing a long long list, like the list of CPD23 participants, for example. I imagine that those at the top of the list naturally get more hits, a bit like all the plumbers listed as AAAAAAplumber in the Yellow Pages (now I’m showing my age)
  • There are people taking part from all over the world, with a massive variety of backgrounds and current situations, so the opportunities for networking and learning from others is huge.
  • There are still quite a few people who haven’t yet started CPD23, unless my hit rate is particularly poor. Either way, it will be interesting to see how many of us are still here at Thing 23.
  • Loads of people are already obviously really at home with the online stuff, their blogs are beautiful, full of lovely graphics and photos and lots of widgets, even quote boxes and lists, and all sorts of flashy stuff that in some cases gets in the way, but in others really enhances the experience of reading the blog. I have a lot to learn.

I think I will follow a couple of blogs just to see how others get on, more from me soon.

June 25, 2011 / Pick Up Sticks

CPD 23 Thing 1: Are you ready?

So this is a quick introduction to me, and why I’ve decided to take part in 23 Things for Professional Development. I’m sitting at home on a warmish June night, with the window open listening to Elton John play live at the cricket ground round the corner. It’s very loud, but lovely to hear live music so close to home. He’s just played ‘Are you ready for love?’ so that seemed as good a title as any!

I’ve been working as a professional librarian for the last 10 years, firstly in public libraries, and for the last three years in an academic library. I have followed a fairly traditional route, as after a year as a graduate trainee I went to library school, and then completed my Chartership in a year via Route A (oooh, that seems a long time ago!). I have always tried to keep my skills up to date, and when I returned to work part time after a second spell of maternity leave, I felt I needed to be more pro-active. I decided to get involved with CDG locally, and I found this a really valuable experience. More recently I have become a CILIP mentor, and this is something I enjoy hugely.

So why am I doing 23 Things? Well, there’s always something new to learn, and I think that it’s important to take responsibility for your own career development and find out what’s going on. I am lucky that my employer positively welcomes new ideas and an innovative approach, so I hope that I will be able to use some of the things I learn in my job. Additionally, a big factor is the opportunity to take part in something with other information professionals, to understand a bit more about the wider profession and to share best practice. I think that’s enough for thing 1: Elton’s just played ‘Crocodile Rock’, I think it’s nearly all over bar the fireworks, so I’m off to think about Thing 2.