Posts Tagged ‘Chartership’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Readers mine, I live in Scotland once again! Life since May began has been decidedly hectic, when I handed in my notice to Sotheby’s Institute of Art, where I have been the Assistant Librarian since January 2008, within a week of returning from France (the two events are not causally related, merely temporally adjacent). Since leaving work at the end of June, I was packing up and saying “Cheerio, not goodbye!” to the six and half years of my London life, and for just over a week now I have since been living in Scotland once again. I didn’t leave the Institute to work elsewhere in London; I left it as part of a larger change in lifestyle. Having been asking myself the question “where do I want my life to be, in the main?”, for a couple of years now, and the obvious follow-up question, “what then must I do to achieve that?”, moving to Scotland was the first part of the answer. It’s about life, not just about work. London was never a permanent move, I always knew that, and I cannot express how strongly I disagree with Samuel Johnson’s famous quote as given below

when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.

There is a significant difference between not wanting to live in London and being tired of it. It’s always accessible, always there, and I’ll never stop visiting it. I’ll never stop missing my friends who live there. But there is so much to do, so much to see, here in Scotland. Besides, I needed to get back before September 18, after which the borders will of course be closed :). I jest, of course, but it’s definitely an interesting year to be in Scotland, and I want to be able to have a say in the future of my country. (more…)

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A fairytale cottage (home-designing.com)

It’s been four weeks (tomorrow) since First Sibling and I moved out of our flat, and I moved into my tiny one-bedroom flat. I can’t believe so much time has passed already, and that there are still so many boxes to be unpacked. Fortunately that particular problem should be remedied with the buying of new furniture this week. (more…)

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Giving something back, and/or taking something away?

Giving something back, and/or taking something away?

Volunteering nowadays is much more complicated than it used to be, thanks to our current government trying to convince us that volunteering can replace working. Before the attempted launch of the Big Society, I would have said that volunteering was undeniably a good thing, both for the volunteers and the institutions for whom they volunteered. But I would never have accepted, or envisaged, that volunteering could replace paid employment of fully-trained and experienced individuals. Deprofessionalisation of sectors is never the answer. (more…)

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CPD23 Thing 21 begins with congratulations for getting this far in the programme. Even though it has taken me until 29 December to get this far, I’m going to accept said congratulations as a slightly belated Christmas present (the fault re: said tardiness being decidedly mine).

By Sebastien Millon

By Sebastien Millon

Looking at section 1 of the instructions for this particular “Thing”, it actually seems like rather splendid timing to be writing this in the run up to New Year, when we’re supposed to get all self-evaulatey about ourselves and our lives.

In order to identify your strengths, take a good look at yourself, your tasks at work, your career, your life

Maria Giovanna de Simone, the evil genius on duty for Thing 21, asks us to answer the following questions to help us in our self-examination as above.

1)What do you like to do?
Mainly thanks to several childhood holidays spent in medieval cathedrals and castles, and a lifetime spent in museums, I am in love with medieval artefacts. Since starting university (to date: an MA, an MSC, and an MPhil), I’ve focused on medieval literature, art, and manuscripts. My Library and Information Studies dissertation focused on access to medieval illuminated manuscripts in our own time, comparing the value of access to the original book to that of access to the digital facsimile.
It’s also as a result of writing the MSc dissertation that I have developed a significant interest in material culture, particularly the material culture of books and libraries. I’vpe recently been considering the use of authentic medieval artefacts and the creation of nineteenth-century medievalist artefacts, particularly by the Pre-Raphaelites.
The short answer to what I like, in terms of my career as a librarian and my complementary career as a researcher, is undoubtedly rare books and manuscripts, primarily of the medieval era, and the use thereof.

2)What do you dislike?
This question seems to me to be very like the interview question “what do you perceive as your weaknesses?” That question threw me the first couple of times that I was given it in an interview, but I’ve since found the best way to answer it. You acknowledge a weakness, but you emphasise how you have overcome it. For me, my most serious dislike is public speaking. I’ve done a lot to work with this issue – it’s partly to do with a lifelong case of introvertism and a tendency to be softly-spoken – and am now able to do, and to enjoy, user education presentations as part of my current role as Assistant Librarian. I am also building up my experience of presenting papers at academic and library conferences. My first step in overcoming this problem was to become a tour guide at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow; it was a great way to combine my love of research, when it came to creating my tour, with my determination to overcome my fear of public speaking. The result is that while I am still nervous, and while I feel that I need some formal training (or at least some tips), I know that I can get up and give a good presentation.

3) Do you remember the last time you felt that feeling of deep satisfaction after creating, building, completing something? What was it about?
Yes. Most recently, I worked hard in the few weeks leading up to Christmas to produce a thorough book review of Medieval Clothing and Textiles, vol. 8, general editors Robin Netherton and Gale R. Owen-Crocker (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2011), for the Medieval Dress and Textiles Society (MEDATS). It was a great book, and so it was hard to keep my comments to a minimum. My completing the review was a sign that my Christmas holidays had truly begun. The most work that I have put into any paper that I have written, however, is that which I wrote about the Pre-Raphaelites as library users and medieval material culture geeks. I spent almost two years on that piece of work, and I’m sure that I could make it into a monograph or PhD thesis, time and finance permitting. That dream aside, when I wrote the final word of my final draft of two years work, I was so thrilled and proud of what I had done. Now I just need to find my research baby a good home.

4) What skills do you need to do the things you like?
In the coming year, I’ll be working on the various skills that I need to work more with rare books. Fortunately, there is a wonderful rare book in the Sotheby’s Institute of Art Library which I will be working with in the New Year, both as an item in the library collection to be catalogued and stored correctly and as a book whose provenance shows every sign of a quite interesting past. My PPDP for the CILIP Chartership program includes my goal of developing skills specific to rare book librarianship, so the book in question (currently remaining anonymous as part of my plans!) will give me the opportunity to have practical experience of rare book librarianship and curation.

Also in 2013, I need to develop my web design and presentation skills (in the latter case, I refer to developing skills that will enhance the visual impact of presentation and displays, in my librarianship and in my research). I have done a lot of work on the basics of creating our current Library website, but with further training as mentioned above, I can develop our user education resources and increase the use of our online journals and databases.

My final plan for next year is to improve my writing and researching skills, partly through adding to my publications portfolio, and partly through changing the way in which I use my blog, to put more emphasis on my librarianship and research careers. Of course, writing is another way of networking, so I’ll be looking at using social media and networking sites, as discussed in earlier CPD23 Things, to strengthen my various networks.

In order to meet these three targets, I must begin by evaluating what works and what does not work, what is a priority and what can be put aside until later in the year. The official CPD23 Thing 21 post reminds us that:

[i]t 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.

The three plans outlined above, as well as the intended completion and submission of my Chartership portfolio, are some of the ways in which I am acknowledging the changes in me and my job, my professions. They are some of the ways in which I will take action. It seems that one of the best ways in which I can take action is to look at my CV. Does it reflect my achievements and expertise? Does it show how much I love librarianship and research, and all that I strive to do out of that love? It has been a long time since I needed to look at it, but to better assess what I can contribute to my current roles as librarian and researcher, I would do well to create the CV Database as recommended in the official CPD23 Thing 21 post, to better identify the gaps and the strengths in my experience, my knowledge in training, again as a librarian, a researcher, and a well-rounded and well-educated individual.

Batgirl and Barbara Gordon

Batwoman and Barbara Gordon

CPD23 Thing 21 invited us to complete four tasks. The first was to answer the questions that I have highlighted in bold above. The second is to “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.” I’m not going to do this here, as I plan instead to use it to help me create content for my website which is currently in the works. When I work on creating my CV database (the third task), I will use it to that same end, to showcase my experience, knowledge and skills on my website. The fourth task asks that we share interview tips. I already mentioned above how, if you are asked a question about your weaknesses, you should turn it around to show how you recognised those weaknesses and dealt with them. My second tip is not to forget to show that you have a personality in addition to your librarianship skills; when I was interviewed for my current role, the discussion somehow turned to the fact that the square in which we are based was used for filming by the BBC in their 2008 adapation of Sense and Sensibility. I was rendered so giddy by this that I temporarily forgot that I was in a formal interview and asked if the staff ever got the opportunity to be extras. Afterwards, I was concerned at this lapse in concentration, but clearly it didn’t damage my chances. It very possibly increased them, because in my own experience of interviewing potential staff, we have looked for the right combination of character and experience. A demonstratively interested and imaginative personality can add a lot to the services that a library has to offer.

I couldn’t not be a librarian; I always stick my nose into other people’s research and make recommendations about further reading and resources. I couldn’t not be a researcher; I keep finding more ideas about which I need to know more. These careers are part of my personality; I think it’s important to show that this is the case in my CV, in everyday life, in interviews. Be Barbara Gordon and Batgirl, not Barbara Gordon or Batgirl.

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About mid-way through AcWriMo, I tweeted my concerns that I had not got very far with the whole process. The lovely AcWriMo organisers and some fellow AcWrimo-ers were very lovely and supportive; I started to feel better about my lack of progress. Other people blogged or tweeted about their own stumbling blocks, and it helped to know that I was not the only person not merrily writing thousands upon thousands of words every day. Maybe it is true that misery loves company. I was particularly inspired by Lyndsay J Grant at No Matter. Fail Better. (more…)

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Since the later years of primary school, I’ve dreaded the following phrase – “assessment by presentation”. But in looking back, that horrible history is also a history of presentation technologies. In my first presentation (at primary school), about my collection of dolls in their national dress from all over the world, I had the actual collection of dolls on the table, my script written out in my own fair hand, and my presentation written on the blackboard. It was a time of technology most tangible. In First Year at secondary school, I got all high-tech and introduced a video clip as part of my history of Garfield, the Jim Davis magnum opus. At university, presenting got hardcore. It all started with flipcharts, marker pens, and groupwork; I bear the scars thereof even now. But the blank canvas of Powerpoint was not far behind, as I signed up for the University’s IT Training Scheme in my first year. I’ve used it ever since. Hopefully I’m not the only who initially carried away with all the fancy possibilities that Powerpoint offers. Who could resist the swishy noise of text rushing in from off-slide? Obviously, as time goes on, such gimmicks in your own presentations annoy you, and in others’ presentations, can inspire murderous feelings. See also: not switching off the keytones on mobile phones. These days, I use Microsoft Powerpoint primarily for user education sessions in my Library. Until last year, when I bought a new tiny laptop in advance of going to Canada, I had never used other presentation programmes; now I use Open Office‘s Powerpoint alternative, particularly for conference presentations, and have had no problem at all therewith. It’s particularly helpful that Powerpoint presentations are compatible with Open Office without there being any formatting issues. (more…)

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When I thought about writing this post, I could only think of one mentor – my offical CILIP Chartership mentor, based at the Royal Society of Medicine Library. I approached her to be my mentor because I wanted to work with somebody outside the field of art librarianship. As Meg wrote in the Mentoring post on the official CPD23 blog, I found this rather scary. I suppose that it becomes the norm to only ask people for help when it is part of their job description to give such assistance. I do wonder what motivates individual mentors to take on that role.

My Chartership mentor has been a great support, both while I’ve been actively working through the Chartership process and while I have had to put it on hold. She has recommended courses worth taking, let me check the portfolio submissions of her previous mentees (with their permission), and given me advice on individual parts of my portfolio. We usually meet once a month for an hour or so, and I take an hour out of my working week every week, to work on writing up evaluations of any events that I have attended and to go over evidence collected, before taking these items to discuss them with the mentor. Despite feeling initially unsure, I think I’ve been a dutiful mentee and followed my mentor’s cue, drawing from her years of experience, and thus we have developed a good relationship; I’ve become much more confident in sharing my ideas and giving feedback. I would like to think that I’ve done as Meg recommends, that I have given “back in terms of gratitude, professional sharing, and enthusiasm”. I look forward to getting back to working with my mentor in the coming weeks, once I have sorted through my ever-growing pile of evidence and evaluation.

I started this post with my admission that I felt I have only ever had one formal mentor. On reflection, this is not so. When I worked as a volunteer tour guide at the Burrell Collection, I was assigned to one of the existing tour guides for training and advice. I attended six of his tours, and tours given by other guides, before putting together my own tour, and having my mentor, for so he became throughout my time as a tour guide, look it over as a peer reviewer. My general horror of public speaking was my main reason for becoming a tour guide – I felt that I could better overcome my fear in such a familiar atmosphere – and with the support of my primary mentor, and the other guides, I learned how to prepare a tour to alleviate these concerns, and I learned how to use my personality to relax the visitors and to make the experience less daunting for myself.

Turning again to the subtitle of this blog – “this is the life you lead when you can’t choose between librarianship and research” – it should come as no surprise that I have maintained links with various academic mentors from various stages of my academic career. One of these – Dr Jim Simpson, in the French department at Glasgow Uiversity – I have known since I was a scaredy-cat fresher, and he is more a friend now, for all that he still gives me good advice on the subject of all things medieval French literature and comes up with excellent references for further reading. During my MPhil in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, he was one of my supervisors, but I also had the opportunity to repay in a very small manner his support of me by proofreading and editing some chapters of his 2007 monograph Troubling Arthurian Histories: Court Culture, Performance and Scandal in Chrétien de Troyes’s Erec et Enide (Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2007), ISBN 978-3-03911-385-9.

I would not dare to suggest that such small acts of assistance make me a mentor, but what of hte future? I became a librarian in no small part because of my love of the research process, and a significant part of my personal vocation as librarian is to teach others to find that same joy. In my current role, I have developed a year-round user education scheme which culnminates in a series of appointments with individual students to discuss resources particularly suited to their dissertation topic. The various sessions leading up to these appointments give me the opportunity to develop a rapport with students, to show to them how the Library may help them, and thus – quoting again from Meg – to take an active interest in [their academic] career … by sharing advice and knowledge”.

I will not yet offer my services as a formal mentor. Firstly, I must complete my Chartership with the supoort of my own mentor, secondly, I must mentor myself for a while, through various research projects and life in general, and thirdly, I need to begin to acquaint myself with the reams of writing on mentoring. I also think that I need more specific mentoring in the particular areas of librarianship in which I plan to develop my skills and career.

A final note: I have family visiting for the next few days, and while I plan to keep up my commitment to Blogtoberfest 2012, it is likely that my daily posts will be rather short. Pray contain your grief and I will be back in more detail next week.

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The subtitle of the official CPD23 blog entry for Thing Ten is “Graduate traineeships, Masters Degrees, Chartership, Accreditation”. I skipped the graduate traineeship stage to go straight to the Master’s Degree, as discussed in my last CPD23-related post, in which I accidentally pre-empted this post in a fairly thorough discussion of my route into librarianship. I have registered for Chartership, which I was able to take so far before needing to put it on ice for a while; I am now close to picking up the threads thereof. (more…)

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Despite my family’s early predictions to the contrary – and by early I mean “as soon as you could crawl, you crawled to your brother’s pile of books”-type anecdotes – and early library work experience (as a lunchtime library assistant at my secondary school library), I never became a qualified librarian until five years or so after graduating from Glasgow University with an MA (Hons) in French and Hispanic Studies. Soon after graduating, I went to work at SEGA‘s European Customer, Games and Tech Support HQ set up in Glasgow in advance of the launch of the Dreamcast. Apart from a short spell at IBM on their French Tech Support Line for laptops, I spent the greater part of those five years at SEGA. As the project began to wind down, I took the decision to return to university for a more vocational qualification, and applied to the Information and Library Studies MSc course at Strathclyde University. Because of my work experience, I was offered a place without an interview, but I was in the minority in my class in that regard. I was also one of the few who had not come onto the course either straight from undergraduate studies or after a comparatively short break of a year or two. I had become a mature student. Eeep! (more…)

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(Disclaimer re: the title of this post, I groaned too, but I enjoy a bad pun too much to have been able to resist using it.)

Before writing this post this morning (my second as part of Blogtoberfest), I began trying to create a computer network to cover my family’s various laptops as well as the main house computer. Because I have used the latter very heavily over the past eleven months or so, I thought that this would be a good way of accessing my files and bookmarks stored therein from my laptop. Yet the instructions from the main computer’s Help and Support Centre are not exactly clear. I’ve also recently noticed that Google are somewhat annoyingly (as I’ve finally got it arranged to my satisfaction) going to discontinue iGoogle from November next year. Might Evernote be the serendipitious solution to these two issues? (Sidenote: Holy Serendipitious Solutions, Batman!) (more…)

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