Saturday, May 19, 2012

Back on Track with CPD23 2012...CPD23 Thing 1: Blogs and Blogging

There have been many changes in the past few months, most notably that I am now working as a Library and Information Assistant at the Natural History Museum Library (more on that in a later post and later in this section).
But I am now taking another stab at CPD23 and hoping to make it to the end this time around.
OK, so here goes:

I am taking part in CPD23 because I beleive that it will be useful not only for developing increasingly necessary skills in social media, but also because it will help to hone skills that I already possess, and perhaps allow me to learn new and creative ways of using these skills. In addition, I think that the CPD23 programme will enable greater networking with librarians and information professionals at all stages of their careers in many different library and information management settings. I'm looking forward to getting involved and to meeting some of the other participants, even if only on-line!

A bit about me and my career so far: I started off as a biologist, but always spent a lot of time frequenting the library, both for research and also for pleasure. I essentially had a "lucky stumble" into librarianship when I started work as a graduate library trainee at the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford. There, I had the chance to work at the Radcliffe Science Library, the Alexander Library of Ornithology and the Sherardian Library of Plant Taxonomy, which I found to be the perfect synthesis of many of my interests in science, science communication and librarianship. Through the traineeship, I was able to delve into many aspects of librarianship, from serials accessioning to reader services and research support and even rare book cataloging. I was inspired, and was very eager to learn more. The following year, I was hired as a library assistant at the Theology Faculty Library, and then as a Library and Information Assistant at the Natural History Museum Library. I hope to start studying part-time for a LIS postgraduate degree programme in September.

As for blogging, I enjoy writing, and hope that this programme will help me to improve and develop my on-line presence, in addition to enabling me to extend my knowledge of other programmes (I have yet to explore Tumblr and Posterous, for example). I'm looking forward to exploring more Things!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

CPD 23 Thing 3: Personal Branding

This post is part of the  CPD 23 Things Programme.

Developing a personal brand or identity has always been extremely difficult for me. I tend to want to hide in the background, rather than putting myself forward. I also have a broad range of eclectic interests, and find it hard to narrow my focus. Personal branding is all about identity. This is especially important when developing an on-line presence through which you can be recognised and summarised, as it were. How do you sum up a librarian-in-training/biologist/interested in art and philosophy/cyclist/hiker/bibliophile/classical music afficionado-but also likes jazz and punk/occasional bellydancer? Probably as quirky!

A Google search for my name will bring up many results, including a glamour model and an astrophysicist, so extra search terms are necessary, such as "algae" (which brings up my biological research, Masters thesis on the elusive and wonderful Batrachospermum pseudogelatinosum and former lab web page at Ohio University) and "librarian" which actually brings up a childrens book about libraries written by another Sarah Stewart (I will have to look for this one - it looks interesting!). Luckily, it also seems to bring up the Theology Faculty Library website and my articles that I wrote for the Oxford Graduate Library Trainee blog whilst still a trainee last year. I will have to tweak my search engine optimisation in the meantime, and also gear my LinkedIn profile towards my library work now that I have gained more professional experience as a Library Assistant.

I realise that having a consistent personal brand is very important, and will certainly bring more brand recognition  in terms of maintaining a professional image on-line. Certainly, Ned Potter (AKA: the Real Wikiman) has done this with his fabulous and insightful blog. His images and even his website layout provide a consistent and recognizable framework which link all of his social media into a unified whole, providing a strong professional image on-line.

I will probably have to do a lot of tweaking in the near future, once I have a better idea where I will go in terms of my own career path. I have a bit of discrepancy at present, as I originally set up my Twitter account to tweet science-related news items whilst a trainee at the Radcliffe Science Library, but now that I work in the Theology Faculty Library, this seems irrelevant (although I am still very much interested in science and science subject librarianship, my tweets have generally fallen off, and I am using my twitter feed primarily to follow news in science and libraries). My name and photo on Twitter provide a good reference to my profile as a librarian, however, but I am currently tweaking my "apps" so that they are better "intertwingled" and therefore able to provide a stronger on-line presence. One of the problems that I have with social media like Twitter is that it is very easy to mix both the "professional" and "social" worlds. Of course, neither is mutually exclusive. Much professional activity involves networking, which, by its very nature, must be social.

Hence, the need for a strong, unified and professional on-line presence, created through a personal brand. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

CPD 23 Things 1 & 2: Blogs and Blogging

This post is part of the CPD23 Things Programme.

Following the completion of the Oxford 23 Things programme, and after hearing much ado on Twitter (#cpd23) and Helen Murphy's presentation at the CILIP New Professionals Conference in Manchester, I thought that I might give the CPD 23 Things a go. It is becoming increasingly important for information professionals to become tech-savvy, and having an on-line presence is also invaluable, both for prospective employers and as a record of professional development.

For Thing 1, I thought that I would be a bit lazy and continue to use this current blog, L-Space Lab Bench. I also blog on the Oxford Graduate Trainee blog, but now that my traineeship has ended, I hope to make my own way in the blogosphere. I have also set up another Blogger blog, Librarian Leap of Faith, on which I have yet to post, but hope to make a forum for my work in the Theology Faculty Library at Oxford University. 

Blogging has always been something which I find both interesting and also somewhat nerve-wracking. While I like writing, I feel that I need to do more of it, and I also worry that my blog posts are not very profound or merely state the obvious. I hope that the CPD23 Programme will not only enable me to "improve" my blogging, but also help me to develop and hone my current professional skill set whilst learning some new skills. Finally, I hope that the CPD23 programme will also enable me to connect with other LIS professionals and further both my commitment to librarianship and becoming an "information professional" in both the real and virtual worlds.

So, now that I have completed CPD 23 Thing 1 with this initial blogpost, I will list some of the blogs that I have explored for Thing 2. I really enjoy reading the posts by Simon Barron (@SimonXIX), as I find them both inspiring and insightful. His blog, Undaimonia, is well-written and thought-provoking. Likewise, Helen Murphy's blog, Library Wanderer is entertaining as well as "practical" in its structure. I regularly follow my colleague, Ollie Bridle (RSLBiochem) at the Radcliffe Science Library, as his ideas for uses of technology in the libraries is quite interesting, and often link to thought-provoking material of interest to a subject librarian in the biosciences (one of my career aspirations). I have also been followng the blogs of Sarah Maule (Sarah Said Library) and Laura's Dark Archive. Finally, as I have a great interest in natural history, museums and the sciences, I have been following the blogs of the Royal Society Library and the Library and Archives at Kew, among many others. These blogs provide a great glimpse into other types of librarianship, and are very useful resources. I'm looking forward to my next forrays into the blogosphere...

Thing 23: Until the Next Thing Comes Along...

This last post has brought me to the end of the Oxford 23 Things Programme. I was very glad to participate and have learned many new tricks and handy tips for uses of various social media and web 2.0 in a library environment. While it took me some time to finish the programme (as I marathon post until the end), I felt that this programme will be highly important to my own IT literacy and has provided me with some useful tools for future library work.

Some of the things I found more to be more useful than others. Delicious has been wonderful for setting up a list of useful links for research and databases in the plant sciences for the Sherardian Library, and I am now using Twitter almost daily for keeping up-to-date on various library, science and art happenings.

As mentioned in previous posts, it would be useful to learn about SlideShare (or even Prezi, which looks very impressive) for producing presentations and podcasts. Also, LibraryThing has been used quite extensively and successfully by some libraries in Oxford, and it would be useful to examine LibraryThing as part of the 23 Things. As new social media types emerge, I think that the library will be a good testing ground for these, as a source of information and a centre for research of various kinds, it is important to examine new ways with which this information can be conveyed to library users: both staff and readers. One recent example of this has been the use of QR codes at the Radcliffe Science Library, where readers could access more information through web-linked "Q-Points".

At a recent library and information science conference that I attended in Manchester, one speaker introduced another set of 23 Things, the CPD23 for Continuing Professional Development. Maybe after completing the Oxford 23 Things, I will now attempt this!

To echo Ruth in her post, I also feel that learning about blogs and blogging has been an important part of 23 Things. Thinking reflectively about your progress and learning is an important step for professional development, and I am glad to have been able to share some of my thoughts through this media.

Things 21 & 22: Gadgets and Widgets

In agreement with Claire, I feel that adding Gadgets and Widgets for Flickr and Delicious feel like a step backwards (should these have been included with Things 7 - 10?). Adding the gadgets and widgets to my Google account was very easy, and, particularly for the Delicious links, very useful as well. I agree with Claire in that I probably would not use the Flickr widget frequently, unless it were something related to my library work.

Things 19 & 20: GoogleDocs, ThinkFree Office and Social Editing

I have used Google Documents in a research setting, where I had to send an article between colleagues and supervisors for editing. Google Documents is very useful in this sense, as it allows for comments and alterrations. Claire had a really great idea of using GoogleDocs to create a form which we could then fill in. Read her investigations of GoogleDocs here.

I have also signed in with my Google ID to use ThinkFree, which is similar to MS Office in function and format. It reminds me of OpenOffice, which is also uses Java and, like GoogleDocs and ThinkFree, can be used as an "Office in the Clouds" (Cloud Computing, that is) for sharing and editing documents between colleagues.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Things 17 & 18: Contributing to a Wiki and Wikipedia

I have made a brief Wiki for the Sherardian Library on, a wikisite which uses a WYSIWYG editor that is similar to the editor on Blogger. The Sherardian Library wiki can be read here, and includes links to the Sherardian Library Twitter and Delicious accounts.

Wikipedia is often a "first stop" resource for researchers (undergraduates and graduates alike!) who find it a useful quick resource. That being said, though, Wikipedia is not authored by experts, so researchers should use it with caution! Wikipedia does "police" its entries, however, through peer-review, and often  provides cautionary warnings on articles which lack appropriate referencing, are incomplete, debated or have poor writing quality.