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.

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...