Sunday, 4 December 2011

JISC Collections 2011 Conference 24/11/11

This was held at the National Railway Museum in York, which is close to where I live so I thought it was a good opportunity to go to something different but still useful. The day began with a welcome address from the Chair of JISC Collections, followed by an overview of what JISC Collections have been doing over the last year by their CEO. The corporate style was not something I'd experienced before in person, both speakers were very accomplished at speaking to a large audience and very good at making the topics understandable.

The third presentation was about HE and FE perspectives and future directions, these presentations were given by Stephen Town from University of York and Emily Armstrong and Chris Skerrow from Hull College. Town's main message was that research libraries are not matching the values of the researchers. This needs to be addressed as he believes that value measures are becoming more important than quality measures. The University and research libraries, in his opinion are slow to change even though they are committed to sustainability.

Armstrong and Skerrow painted the picture at Hull College and this view is similar to my experience, as I work in the same sector. They have experienced an increase in e-book usage due to JISC's E-books for FE Collection and students want their e-resources available through their own mobile devices. Ideally they would like federated searching to be available, however they are yet to find an affordable system. They also try to make best use of their VLE by making all their library information and digital literacy information available through it. It is encouraging to hear that this is what they do and want to do, as it what the students I work with want too.

The workshops that I attended were Managing E-resources and E-books for FE. The Managing E-resources covered JUSP, which is what I was most interested in, a single point for journal usage statistics. The publishers currently involved are not ones I deal with and there is a question over longer term funding for the project.

E-books for FE was presented by Anna Vernon from JISC and David Scott from Dundee College. Scott mentioned that if the Colleges were to buy the books that are available through the Collection, it would cost £115,000 - that is amazing. Independent study skills are very important to Dundee College, so it is also very important for e-access to as much as possible and for it to be simple and straightforward. They are using QR codes for e-book access and this is something that I need to look into as a way forward, for both the access to e-books and moving on our use of QR codes. Vernon looked at how you can make using e-books more interactive through collaborative reading by using social media apps such as Open Margin, SocialBook, and Flipboard.

I found the day very interesting and have got some good ideas especially for e-books and how they can be further promoted and accessed.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Conference Planning and Mini Umbrella 23/11/11

Last week I was in Newcastle for a CoFHE / UC&R Conference planning meeting. I was nervous about this as I know nothing about conference planning, so what could I offer?
Initially I had to offer:
  • a presence from a College
  • a presence from somewhere local
  • support to other College and CoFHE members
At first I was very quiet as I didn't think I had anything to contribute, I eventually made some contributions and gained in confidence. I hope to be able to go to more of the planning meetings and feel that with a more knowledgeable background and more confidence, I will have even more to contribute.

One of the most positive aspects of the meeting for me was meeting new people, who were very supportive. I hope to be able to keep in contact with them both regarding the Conference and for other aspects of library work.

On the same day, I was due to attend Mini Umbrella. I was presenting with my colleagues Claire and James at the event. I was hoping to get there much earlier to see the other presentations. I managed to get there in time to see the presentation immediately before ours about services to visually impaired library users.

Our presentation was called The New Curiosity Shop: What's on offer today? and looked at what is expected and how we deliver our 21st century library services, by balancing modern and traditional services in innovative and engaging ways whilst working with an ever decreasing budget. The presentation went really well, it got people's attention and made them laugh - so definitely a success and with very positive feedback.

I think that more College libraries / LRCs should go out to cross sector or non-College events and tell their stories. There is a lot of good work out there and it needs to be promoted. It won't happen by itself though. It is something that I have only really started to do this year. I have started small and haven't presented on my own (lack of confidence). Claire and I did the Newcastle TeachMeet earlier this year, this last week, at the beginning of next year, we are doing a workshop for a local UC&R event and today I submitted our paper for consideration at the CoFHE / UC&R Conference next year. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Thing 23: Reflection - What Next?

6 word story - A rollercoaster ride to professional development.

For the most part I kept up, I didn't want to fall behind for fear of being overwhelmed when trying to catch up. Over the summer this worked well, then September came and the new term, not a good time to try to get anything done other than the immediate and pressing inductions and then have a lazy evening trying to recover ready for the next day. I have struggled to keep up since September and I've finally now got to the finishing line. Yay!

So what next? Well my Chartership PDP is still current, therefore that has the priority on any other development plans right now. I would like to look into management skills and identify what I'm good at and what needs to be improved. This will link into where I'm going next in my career. At the moment, in this economic climate, I am glad I have a job. I don't want to stay in this job forever and will be looking to upskill and / or diversify, ready for my next challenge.

I'm glad I particpated in 23 Things, it has given me lots to think about.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Thing 22. Volunteering to get experience

OK - I haven't volunteered to get experience but I have given up a paid post to free up my time to do potential extra work.

I was working as library assistant part time and secured a part time professional post. I could've worked both jobs in permanent capacity but I wanted to be able to say yes to any overtime at the professional post. I had been promised any overtime as there were 3 professional people (including me) and our combined contract hours didn't meet the hours we needed. The other librarians, thankfully for me, had young families and didn't want to do anymore than their contracted hours on a regular basis. I was very lucky, my contract hours were 20 hours, I rarely did less than 25 hours and I was able to continue to work as a library assistant for a maximum of 12 hours a week. My employers were in the same town and only about 20 minutes drive apart.

When I secured my first full time post I technically took a pay cut as I was moving from public to FE libraries. In fact given that the new post was 10 minutes from home rather than a 45 minutes drive like my other posts, I probably came out with about the same wage. Even if I didn't though, it was worth it, as this is when my career really started to move.

I can see both sides of the volunteer argument but I would volunteer to get experience.

Thing 21: Promoting yourself in job applications and at interview

For this we are asked to think about our likes, dislikes and achievements.


  • Cataloguing and classification
  • Stock management - I like doing the relegation and removing the old unused stuff, sprucing up old books that are well used and ordering new books.
  • I like things well ordered and organised
  • Technology - I love being able to incorporate technology into my work and the service, sometimes I find that my staff and the students are resistant, I however want to get on and will continue to embrace new technology
  • A tidy desk - amazingly it often is. This morning I was irritated as the desk had been cleaned and stuff was out of position (I know i'm bordering on OCD here)
  • Doing displays - sadly i'm not the most creative of people and I do like things symmetrical (the OCD is kicking in again)
  • Going to Conferences and external training sessions. I like the opportunity to network and see what other people are doing. I should warn you though (and I have mentioned this before), i'm an introvert, so I do need my own space and time to recover from networking.


  • Doing inductions and information literacy sessions - basically teaching of any kind to a group. One to one is fine, i'm comfortable with that.
  • Being interrupted - not much can be done about that as I share an office and I don't think anyone would take any notice of a sign saying do not disturb or currently unavailable etc. I've learned to live with it and appreciate more any time I get uninterrupted.
  • Conflict - I don't mind people disagreeing with me but please do it in a civilised manner, listen to my point of view and don't shout or spit your dummy out
  • Lateness especially when I'm on a tight schedule.


Over the last 3 years there has been:
  • The move - helping move 4 buildings into 1, as well as the physical move itself I was involved with planning how it was to be achieved
  • Rearranging the LRC, having moved in, we lost a floor the following summer and had to rearrange and fit into 3 floors. This was an immense opportunity to address all the parts that didn't work at the same time and make the LRC a better space for both staff and students.
  • Changing the LMS to Heritage. Changing the LMS is a daunting task, it was important that we moved to a system that was fit for purpose though.

I think that these 3 achievements have all been initally overwhelming because of the timescale involved and the amount of work needed for it to be successful. The pessimist in me told me I couldn't do it, well it was wrong - I could and have done these things successfully.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Thing 20: the Library Routes Project

I like many seem to have happened upon librarianship. I started with a temporary library asssistant post straight from University. This experience led me to more library assistants posts and after working in libraries for a few years I decided that I wanted to know more about the professional side of librarianship. I enrolled on a MA Information and Library Management course at the University of Northumbria and discovered that organising information was one of the most exciting things you can do.

After graduating I got a casual post as an Assistant Librarian with Durham County Council working in their prison libraries. A few months after this I got a permanent part time post in the same area. I have always been interested in computers and technologies and this was something that was becoming more and more important in libraries. However with the restrictions in the prisons, I was stating to think I was falling behind a little bit. It was at this time that I really discovered my passion for stock maintenance too.

My first full time librarian post was at Hartlepool College of Further Education and this is where I got the opportunity to start playing with new technologies. I had an absolutely fantastic manager, Jane, who was very encouraging and supportive of me. The support I got here has helped immensely in where I am now.

In 2006 after a year of hell due to changes at Hartlepool, I moved to Middlesbrough College as the Deputy LRC Manager with an emphasis on supporting and moving the technology forward and to help prepare for the move to our purpose built site. In 2008, we moved, the LRC was restructured and I successfully applied for my current post of Library Services Manager. Since then, my manager has been Claire who has an e-learning background and again I have expanded my knowldge and use of new technologies.

I enjoy the range of work I do, I love doing cataloguing and classification - a very traditional aspect to my job and I also get to experiment with technology which never ceases to amaze me. The buzz surrounding the LRC and the continual changes that have to be dealt with are both challenging and invigorating.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Thing 17: Prezi and Slideshare

OK I'm going to be brave. I've made a Prezi, my very first one and it's here Thing 17

It's not fantastic but I don't think it's the worse either. I found it very strange to do, however I know that Richard at work would/will help me make a better one if I should ever need to. I think my main hang up is dragging the canvas around, it's definitely out of my comfort zone, I like linear which makes Powerpoint easier for me. I do like Prezi and would like to try to use it instead of Powerpoint.

Slideshare - i've never really used this. I have been directed to them from different posts I've read and am always caught out by the fact you have to click to move the slides along. I seem to think that everything in a small box will automatically play when you click - obviously I do too much You Tube-ing.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Thing 19

OK I'm going to do a run down of what i'm doing now because of participating in cpd23.
  • Blogging - I hadn't blogged before cpd23 because I didn't think I had anything interesting to say to anyone. It turns out that actually some people have read it and that I'm not as bothered about how many people read it (or not) as I thought I would be. I'm finding it a very useful tool to record my thoughts. My Senior Librarian has asked if we can use a blog to share information between the LRC staff. Although I haven't looked into this yet, it sounds like a very good idea.
  • Twitter - I am trying to Tweet more, I rediscovered my Twitter account in the summer after attending the CoFHe Conference and I am checking it everyday but not necessarily posting anything. I've also started favouriting things I think would be useful to go back to in the future.
  • Reflective practice - primarily driven by the fact i'm doing my Chartership. I know it is good practice and am trying to do it more in the workplace to help make the service better.
  • LinkedIn - I joined this a few weeks ago and have sporadically dipped in and out of it since. I really like the LinkedIn Today feature, I've joined some groups but not yet participated in any discussions.
  • Google Calendar - I'm still not using it, as I have Outlook at work and an electronic calendar on my phone. I've ditched the paper based diaries though and think I need an iPhone now. My phone is old and doesn't do apps - iPhone 5 possibly in October, my birthday in November.....
  • Google docs - I've started to use this to help virtualise myself! I am using it for back up of personal docs, I probably won't use it at work as I don't have any need to.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Thing 18 Jing / Screen capture / Podcasting

Screen capture - A few years ago I read an article about screencasting and thought it a great idea. I asked our e-learning manager if we had any tools to do them with, as I thought we should give it a go. She pointed me in the direction of ActivStudio, which is the software we used with our interactive whiteboards and Audacity. I set about making a screencast about how to log onto Athens.

The screen capture bit was very straightforward, the voice over part wasn't. Audacity is easy enough to use but what to say wasn't and the timing proved awkward. It was decided that we needed a script, so that was written and then we watched the video through to see what needed to be said where. Once we had got this sorted out, we recorded the voice over. Nerves got the better of me, so some bits had to be recorded more than once in order to take out me tripping over my words or just completely forgetting what to say, even though I had it in front of me!

Finally we managed to get it quite good, even if I hated my voice over, and in fact compared to other screencasts I'd seen at the time, I thought we made a very good job of it. Things have moved on since then and we now have Camtasia. And thankfully I don't have to do voice overs anymore, as our ILT Advisor has a great voice for them.

Podcasting - technically this is something I have never done. However I have recorded myself in an interview situation with an mp3 recorder, which is what I would have used if I was making podcasts. Again this is something I don't do because the ILT Advisor has the right voice. However I was involved with the content of the podcasts. Again we scripted what needed to be said before recording it, to try to make the recording as smooth as possible. This, along with the need for recording in a quiet room, is probably the most useful advise I would pass along to others trying these out for the first time. The actual using of the software seems to be the easy part, it is what to say and how fast / slow, script it out first and The Book Gryphon is right, speak much slower than you would normally otherwise the demonstrations will be too fast.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Thing 16: Advocacy

This is becoming an increasingly important part of my work, not only promoting to staff and learners at Middlesbrough College but also outside the College to help raise the profile of both the LRC and the College. It is very important that we can evidence what we do and how well we do it, in order to demonstrate the value of the services and the sterling work that the LRC staff do.

I have for a long time been advocating within the College what we do, now increasingly I am sharing this good practice with external partners and more recently with other librarians at the LibTeachMeet I went to. My next formal opportunity to do this is the Mini Umbrella presentation i'm doing.

Much of the advocacy recently has been about strengthening curriculum liaison links, this will continue in the new academic year. This involves 5-6 Learning Resources staff presenting to the College directorates to inform them about the services the Learning Resources department offer and to try to get their feedback about what we offer and how they think we can improve. Although our traditional services are mentioned, we are very keen to advocate the new technologies we use or services that lecturers may not associate with us such as the assignment submission service we offer. 

Last year's were hugely successful, there was an increase in demand for the e-learning equipment, the assignment submissions service nearly doubled and e-book usage continued to increase. These services we knew were fantastic, however we didn't know if everyone was aware of them, so we wanted to give them some publicity. This year we will build on this success and advocate what is new and exciting in the LRC like our fabulous 3D interactive library tour.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Thing 15

Attending, Presenting at and Organising seminars, conferences and other events.
Yes - I've done them all, mainly attending, which I do frequently and have blogged about before, as part of Thing 7 (, so i'll concentrate on the other aspects.

Presenting at, I have done this only once so far, a Lib TeachMeet earlier this year. I think I mentioned this in an earlier blog post too. In any case the point is that yes I was nervous, I have presented to learners before and to people involved in the library HEBP group but not to peers whom I don't know. It wasn't as bad as I expected and as it was recorded and is available on You Tube (, I had the most dubious of pleasures in being able to watch myself. This has actually turned out to be a huge positive, as I can see the flaws and work to remedy them. I am going to present again in November at Mini Umbrella, so I am working on my skills for then. Both of these presentations I have / will have co-presented, for the future I would like to try presenting on my own.

Organising, I have organised training days, meetings and events within my workplace, some involving external partners. Although this can't possibly be as demanding as a whole Conference etc, it is still stressful, especially since i'm a bit of a control freak. Endless e-mails, hospitality, instructions on how to find us, who is coming, car park arrangements... the list goes on. In order to help me, I made a to do list of all the things I needed to check, put in place or just basically do and scheduled my online calendar to remind me when these things needed to be done by. OK I probably went on overkill but it worked. I don't have any plans or desire to organise bigger things, although there is a possibility I maybe asked to help in some small way with next year's CoFHE / UC&R Conference.

Thing 14

I choose to look at CiteULike because:
  1. It doesn't need to be downloaded / installed etc
  2. It's like delicious, I have a delicious account and thought therefore it might be similar to navigate and use
From my point of view I don't mind doing references manually, presumably because I've previously never had the option to do them any other way. For my learners, who naturally hate doing referencing, I am yet to find something straight forward enough for them. Obviously many of these referencing tools work with Internet resources well and most are aimed at higher education students. What about the further education students and paper based resources?

I liked the idea that CiteULike say that you can type in an ISBN and the system will get your book details together. That is something my learners can relate to, except it's not obvious how to do it. Why would I look under Post URL for an ISBN? Maybe it needs an ISBN section or should read Post URL / ISBN. It did though at least work once I'd figured out where put the information.

When I manually put the ISBN in, I was faced with an enormous form, which is actually a very scary thing. This seems to be common practice on many referencing tools and makes me wonder why bother using them, after all I can type the same information straight in to my work and heyho my referencing is done.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Thing 13: Google Docs and WIkis

I'd heard of Google docs but I'd never looked into using it until now. That's a shame really because for quite some time I've been thinking about trying to put important stuff onto a virtual platform as a backup and this looks just the thing. I already have an account, so I don't need to remember even more login details. I'm not overly bothered at this point about sharing, although I have done a shared test doc for Thing 13. So this is definitely something I want to explore in more depth and start to use.

At work, I set up a wiki about 5 years ago. My manager wanted an A-Z index of library services. As the LRC uses Blackboard rather than a website to inform our learners, I looked into what functions Blackboard had. It had a wiki tool and I chose to use that. Although all our Blackboard users can see the wiki, it is configured so that only Learning Resources department staff can edit it. It is not as sophisticated as some wiki tools but it does the job I need it to do sufficiently and has proved very popular.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Thing 12: Putting the social into social media

My networks have expanded due to social media, there are definitely people I communicate with that I would not have met. I have used social media for professional development prior to cpd23 and thought of this as a natural progression to what I have already done. I will continue to use it afterwards and hopefully keep blogging.
An advantage for me is that I can get information about most topics i'm interested in very quickly, if I need quick opinions I can Tweet, if I have more time I can send message to a discussion list too. A disadvantage is that I can suffer from information overload.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Thing 11: Mentoring

As I am currently doing my Chartership, I have a mentor. I have never had a formal mentor before and was apprehensive about it, talking to strangers is not my strong point let alone sharing my hopes and fears. It has worked well so far, we have interesting professional discussions, I get good advice and ideas and feel that I am listened to and respected. Each time we have met, I have come away feeling very positive and buzzing with ideas. In between the meetings, we keep in touch via e-mail.

Whilst there are people I consider as informal mentors, there is one that stands out above and beyond the rest - Jane.  She is my friend and a former line manager, she has taught me a lot, encouraged and continues to encourage me and is someone who I can still go to for advice. Although we have both moved on professionally, we still work together through the Higher Education Business Partnership (HEBP). There is a mutual professional respect between us and we have at times asked each other for professional advice. She is the best manager I have had, very professional, very knowledgeable, very well respected and universally liked.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Thing 10

I think my experience as a librarian has been varied so far. I have worked in a public library, prison libraries and currently (and where the bulk of my experience is) FE libraries. I have worked in an FE library for about 10 years, firstly as an Assistant Librarian, then Deputy LRC Manager and now Library Services Manager. What I enjoy most is the variety of tasks I have. This sometimes also creates a lot of frustration for me, as I can't focus on one task for very long. It does though mean I have developed very good time management skills.

I don't know how I got into it really, I worked as a library assistant, enjoyed that and took it on from there by doing my MA. I have then steadily progressed with my jobs. Currently I am doing my Chartership and don't really have any immediate plans beyond that. Realistically if I want to keep progressing, I will have to look for a job outside of my workplace and probably move into a different sector.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Thing 9: Evernote

Ok I've lost patience. Firstly it did not download as per the instructions. No matter I thought I'll go to the online version and see what it can do. So I did the note as per instructions that worked fine. I started the picture drag and drop bit and guess what? Everything stopped working and my computer crashed. Not to be deterred I closed everything down and then reopened what I needed. I came back to the Thing 9 blogpost and read that I can copy and paste pics to Evernote if I want. Excellent I'll give it a go I thought. Guess what now? It won't let me paste, so now I'm irritated and don't think it's worth the trouble.

I've seen some Pushnote posts, telling me it's excellent (yes I finally got round to looking at Pushnote, still not sure of it's use though). I may give Evernote another go later but for now it's more Nevernote for me.

Thing 8: Google Calendar

I like the idea of an electronic calendar so that everything is easily available and I use the one in Microsoft Outlook at work. I don't think my phone will support Google Calendar and this is where I would use it the most. Currently I rarely use the calendar attached to my phone using my paper diary instead. Realistically I should look more into how I schedule things, don't get me wrong, I am organised and I do use a calendar to remind me, what I don't do is use 1 single place. I have to check my Outlook Calendar, my work diary and my personal diary, which is rubbish of me really. Anyway my work diary runs out soon, it's an academic year one, so I should dispense with that maybe in favour of Outlook. My personal diary runs out at the end of the year, maybe I should start using the one in my phone to see how I manage. I know that my line manager would say just go get yourself an iPhone and perhaps after finishing cpd23 I might decide I need a more modern phone. At the moment though I'm happy with the one I have.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Thing 7: Face-to-face networks and professional organisations

I'm a member of CILIP and the British Computer Society (BCS). I get more out of CILIP than the BCS, that is my choice though. I am first and foremost a librarian, I do however have an interest in computers and keeping up with technology. For this post I will concentrate on my CILIP membership and the library groups I'm involved with the most.

When I originally joined the Library Association, as it was then, I found that the LA Record was a useful publication for me, as I was doing my library degree at the time. After I finished it and was working in an FE College library and a prison library, I found that it was less useful because all the articles seemed to be aimed at public libraries. I kept up my subscription as I thought that being a member of a professional body still had its benefits. Gradually the LA Record and it's successor, CILIP Gazette become more useful to me again as the articles started to be about a wider library sector.

As part of my CILIP membership, I joined CoFHE and UC&R as my specialist interest groups. It is through CoFHE I do most of my networking. I have been able to attend the CoFHE Conference for the last few years and have found this very useful. My first conference, I was very nervous as I'm not very good at talking to strangers - the introvert in me, so what originally I thought of as a good idea, I changed my mind about on the train to the Conference. Everyone was really nice though and I quickly acquainted myself with some attendees through a shared taxi journey. I very much enjoyed my first conference and decided that it was something I'd like to do again. This in a way is where I have got stuck, I now go to the Conferences certain that there will be someone there I know and don't network as much as I should, as I stick around the familiar faces, although this year I met some new people and hope to see them again at some point - probably next year's conference in Newcastle (25 - 27 June I think, sorry Samantha, I know I should know!)

My local CoFHE circle is the North East and I would like to think that I'm quite a pro active member of that. I find the meetings very useful as a place to share good practice and discuss new and hot topics. As this takes in the whole of the North East, I meet a wide selection of people. I also have close ties with the local Chair Helen and the CoFHE Bulletin editor, who is the aforementioned Samantha.

The Higher Education Business Partners (HEBP) Librarians group that I am a member of is a group comprised of Teesside University librarians and it's partner College librarians (mainly in the Tees Valley). It serves as an arena to share good practice, keep up to date with developments in each others libraries and most importantly allows us to try to give parity of service to the students studying on the partner courses.
My library is also a member of CoLRiC and this year for the first time I went to one of their events. Whilst I enjoyed the day itself, I'm not sure how much I get out of CoLRiC.  This year my library became a member of the Mixed Economy Libraries Group (MEG Lib), so far other than a few e-mails I haven't had much to do with this group. I am hoping that next year I will be able to go to their annual conference.

I do see the positive side to networking and I have as a result benefited through having more contacts. I am though an introvert and find it difficult to do, so having read Thing 7 and the Jo Alcock blog post it mentions, I am now reading Networking for people who hate networking to improve my techniques.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Thing 6: Online networks

I've looked at LinkedIn a few times before and can see the purpose of it, I don't think that it's for me at the moment.

Facebook - OK doesn't everyone except my Senior Librarian have a Facebook account these days? I don't think I use Facebook to it's full potential but gradually I'm using it more and more.

I started to use it because it was something I had heard of and I was exploring the use of various Web 2.0 technologies. I set up my account about the same time as my Senior LRC Information Officer, so we had a support network of each other, that obviously quickly extended to more friends. Initially I only became friends with people I knew or had known, I was still apprehensive about being friends with total strangers. This changed once I started playing games on it.

Other than games, I use Facebook to keep up to date with family and friends, my best friend and I use it to e-mail each other in preference to using our Hotmail accounts, as it is more convenient. I find it a good networking tool but not as good as Twitter and I can keep up to date with professional matters through the pages that I 'like'. I also keep up to date with my interests in the same way.

I set up the Middlesbrough College Learning Resources Centre page and as this was something for work (and for safeguarding purposes), I read up on corporate pages and reviewed my security settings before the page went live. Now I use it to keep my library visitors up to date too.

I like using Facebook, although I periodically get overwhelmed with how many apps, friends etc I have on there. My solution to this is to review regularly and discard anything I don't use anymore and spring clean my friends. This isn't as bad as it sounds, it means that I 'unfriend' people who have stopped playing the games I play, as the games where the reason I was friends with them. It helps me manage Facebook and hopefully helps me keep up to date with the people I do know in real life, that I don't often see.

LAT Network - I recently joined this having read about it in a blog post and thought it would be a good thing to check out. Shortly after that, there was a TeachMeet organised in my area, which I was eager to attend. I got more than I bargained for, shortly after expressing my interest to go to my line manager, she suggested that we do a joint presentation at it. So that is exactly what we did! If you are interested, it was recorded and is on You Tube 

It was a very good experience and I enjoyed meeting new people especially since most, if not all, where from outside the FE sector. There has been a lot of positive feedback from people at other meetings i've been to where I have mentioned it, they are eager for another TeachMeet, so that they can attend too. 

CILIP Communities - I am a member of CILIP, my experience of the communities is through the weekly round up e-mail I get. Until I read Thing 6, it didn't even occur to me that I actually have access to it, which is very remiss of me. So my action from this is to go and explore the CILIP website more and to subscribe to some of the blogs.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Reflective practice

Well it sounds very simple in theory but it isn't. I've heard a great deal about it over the last few months, I've registered to Charter earlier this year so reflective practice is becoming a very big part of my life, I've been to the CDG NE reflective practice workshop and now there is this Thing!

Do - Review - Plan or What? - So what? - Now what?

I can do the do / what and the Plan / Now what bits fine.

The Review / So what bit is where it gets complicated for me, I can state what happened and make comments about whether it was useful to me. I then start to justify my comments because So what? implies to me that I need to. Yet if you look at the Evaluate it points mentioned in Thing 5 (and these were the same points given at the CDG NE event) none of them ask for justification. They are just asking for opinion.

The evaluate it points are:
What did you learn?
What did you enjoy?
What worked well?
What, if anything, went wrong?
What would you change?
What (potential) impact could this have in your workplace?

So this is where I get confused - do I justify my comments or not? I am reflecting, it is my opinion so I would say I can't be wrong even if you disagree with me. I don't feel very comfortable with that though because I want you to know the reason behind my opinion, it might help you understand my position.

Regardless of this, I am plodding along with it with the hope that I will get better at it and eventually be good at it. I have tried to reflect quickly so that I don't lose the gut reaction, follow the evaluate it points (possibly not as strictly as you should) and my blog, in addition to being something I've been asked to do as part of cpd23, is also giving me good experience at trying to write reflectively. I haven't gone back to do any critical evaluation yet, that will be started in the next few weeks I hope, I have at least got lots of information to be critical about.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Middlesbrough College hosted an OpenAthens Administrator training day today which was very interesting. I have been the administrator for the 5 years I've worked there and have had little training on what it can do. I get by, everything works and I'm able to solve problems (usually relating to forgotten login details) but each time I look on the administrator portal, I see lots of options and I don't know what they do. I have tentatively played around with some of it but with live data involved i'm reluctant especially since last year I accidentally deleted all the staff accounts - Eduserv got my data back thankfully. 

Today was my chance to see what can be done and I wasn't disappointed. The trainer was the very enthusiastic 'Awesome Andy' complete with a Superman belt buckle. What did I learn then? Well loads really and the most important for me are:
  • I understand more about the permission sets and have finally changed the annoying LRC_User permission set to a straight forward Staff. I didn't know whether the change would effect the bulk uploads but it doesn't.
  • I've hopefully created a Staff user group, to keep the staff accounts even more separate from the student ones. I'm not going to unintentionally delete them this year.
  • I'm going to look into adding more panels, maybe a one for RSS feeds and definitely a one for opening times. I have played with the panel editor before with limited success, I partly achieved what I set out to do. The panels I wanted to show - did (Edina and Mimas), the anticipated increase in use of databases they provide didn't. I think because they weren't on the main resources list, so in response i've added them to it now. That was something I only found out I could do 2 weeks ago and an area that is likely to expand over the summer, as i'm going to try adding some of the e-journals we get, that aren't available elsewhere.

All in all, I had a good day, have lots of ideas, some that i've already started to work on and others that need to be added to my ever growing summer jobs list.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Thing 4

Twitter I sporadically use. I like Twitter as it is straight forward, easy and doesn't allow for excessively long posts. I should probably use it more, however I spend more time on Facebook so tend to put status updates on there. I do try to send any from my mobile to Twitter. My Twitter and Facebook accounts are linked so any Twitter updates go onto Facebook.
RSS feeds I tried a few years ago and felt like I was being spammed, there was so much information. I cut down the number of things I was subscribing to but still ended up feeling overwhelmed with the amount of information that was coming through. In the end I abandoned the whole thing. Since setting up this blog, I have added about 7 or 8 feeds and so far I'm coping with that.
Pushnote I haven't tried, I'm using IE at the moment, as Firefox and Chrome are playing up on me today. I don't think I have Safari on here, so this is something I will need to go back to. I don't know whether I want to comment on websites though. I guess I need to try to find out how I feel.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Thing 3

Branding myself. I looked on Google, Yahoo and Bing. Google produced pages I expected, a few Twitter links, some that were not me but have the same name and the others that were professionally related - a recent presentation and 2 things that are quite old now. Yahoo had results that were not me until about 5 or 6 down, where it has picked up an old professionally related thing and then Bing, very interesting, mostly it was all other people with the same name except for 1, the recent presentation that Google picked up.

Does this bother me? Looking at the things that are actually me - no I think I'm OK with it. You may see lots of mentions to Mistee Mog, who is in fact my cat, alongside it is my name. There may also be a black cat as my profile picture (Twitter account), she is the real Mistee Mog. I've failed dismally in finding a picture for Blogger, I can't find anything suitable in my photos, my Facebook profile picture was taken at the computer with my web cam and went straight to my Facebook profile, I apparantly can't do the same thing on Blogger.

Splitting everything up, Facebook is my most personal profile, Blogger is my most professional and Twitter is somewhere in between. Although I recently went through it and made it more professional and may indeed change my profile picture to me rather than my cat. This will still leave me with the Mistee Mog moniker, so I wonder whether it is worth it.

That brings me onto why I used Mistee Mog to start with, well because it is consistant. If I use my work e-mail address and leave to work somewhere else, it is not defining me anymore and I would have to update various bodies with a new e-mail address (presumably my new work one). By using Mistee Mog, I have something that is still me no matter where I work. I chose this to start with, over my own name, because at the time, it was suggested it was a way of reducing spam (and yes it did work). It was a way of keeping in touch with personal friends only. Then I moved jobs and realised that if I use my work e-mail, I will have to update it everytime I move on, so I started to use Mistee Mog for more professional reasons.

The visual brand - I guess you could say that Mistee Mog currently is part of that. The colour scheme I have never really thought about, I just choose something I like. It does tend to be lilac / purple (I love Joeyanne's purple flowers), as these are my favourites colours. I occasionally venture into a light / pastel pink, which is not my favourite colour but I think works better as a background than others I've seen and certainly better than my next favourite colour - black. This would also make Mistee Mog blend in too much. The green and blue of the blog is OK, it is inoffensive and hopefully accessible. This is my task for the week now, sorting the colours on my various accounts and still trying to find the right picture for my blog.

Friday, 24 June 2011

How often do you blog?

So now I've officially got a blog and have told various people (friends and relatives), I keep getting asked have you blogged today? When I reply no, i'm asked why not? Well because I have nothing to say today.
Is there any kind of rule of thumb on how often you blog? I've had a look at the blogs I'm following, most of them have been around for awhile and are experienced bloggers. There doesn't seem to any set rules or am I missing something?
I guess for the purposes of cpd23, it has to be at least once a week when you are reflecting on the Thing you've just done. For me it might be more as I'm supposed to be using it to help record thoughts for my Chartership too.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Work I have done and am yet to do

Today I started doing the performance reviews for my staff. I had mine last week. This time I have asked everyone to bring examples with them of how they have met the targets that were set. This is an attempt to get them to engage more with the process. I took examples to my review and thought that it went really well, as it made me focus on what I had done at work over the last year. It was quite amazing to see how much I had achieved. 

Another tool I use to see how much I have achieved is an electronic to do list, much easier than multiple post it notes I used to use. My list of choice is Ta Da List ( ) which allows me to create many lists (so I have a current one and build one for the future), share it with my colleagues, who can add and edit and once a task is completed, when you check it off, it is moved off the to do list but remains visible as a completed action. The only downside really is that it gives you a figure of how many tasks you have left to do, this can be quite daunting especially when you keep adding to the list. And for those of you who have an iPhone, yes there is an app.

Monday, 20 June 2011


That's excellent, I've successfully managed to post the blog link to my Twitter account, which is linked to my Facebook account, so it should be showing there too. Yes it is, I've just checked. 
Tomorrow I will try to add a picture of myself and work on my profile a bit.

Thing 2

Well I have done Thing 2 now as well, apart from the looking at other blogs bit, as the Delicious link wouldn't work for me - possibly because i'm at work, I'll try later. I keep clicking My Account to move around when I want to get back to my home page, which then means an extra click back to Blogger - that's annoying, I know it's only 1 click away but it's making me feel inept at using the technology. Anyone else out there had the same problem when starting off?
And what's with the time? When I'm writing it shows the correct time (BST for me) but the post (and preview) show something really early, maybe an American time. Can it be changed to English time? That's something I'll have to explore.

First blog post

Ok, so this is my first blog and first post. I've set it up because my Chartership mentor recommended it as a good way of recording what i'm doing and help develop reflective writing skills. Also I have seen e-mails about cpd23, which looks like a very good thing to take part in to help increase IT skills. It was mentioned in my Chartership workshop too. I already have Facebook, Twitter and Delicious accounts (and much to my surprise this morning a gmail account!) and feel as though i've just dipped my toes into Web 2.0, hopefully this experience will help me upskill in this area. Last week I was at the CoFHE Conference, which has encouraged me to do this and try something new.

Making better use of e-resources

At the beginning of the year, or possibly late last year, an e-mail came through from Credo Reference informing me that some e-books had bee...