Sep 11

CPD23 Thing 13 – Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox

Thing 13 is about tools for collaboration, namely Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox.  These are all tools which I have used for non-collaborative purposes, so it was interesting to think about them in a different light.  That said, my job doesn’t really require me to collaborate on documents with others and in the rare times when it does, I wouldn’t feel comfortable storing data about library purchases etc. on a non-University server.  I have used these tools in the peripheral parts of my job though, so I can definitely see their usefulness.

Google Docs

I slightly mistrust Google Docs ever since a period of time when due to a combination of network/browser/Google shenanigans, it wouldn’t save any of my work.  But I do think it is great for collaborating on written documents especially.  I don’t have cause to use it in my day-to-day work, but I so use it as a member of the SOLO Live Help team (providing online chat help with the new resource discovery layer) to record statistics and notes about enquiries.  Since the members of the team are located in many different libraries it is the only sensible way to collate this data in a place accessible to us all.


I’ve used wikis a lot as part of our reclassification project, to record information and decisions to help reclassifiers. Our wiki was intended to work as a collaborative space to discuss things but in practice, since we all work in the same building, it was much easier to email and/or go to see someone in person.


I love Dropbox. It’s a key part of my treble-redundancy important documents backup plan, and saved me from a lot of anxiety doing my MSc. It was nice to know that all my work was safe, and that I could access it easily from any computer.  Again, at work I would always use a shared drive to share documents with colleagues but I can see that Dropbox would be useful if I wanted to share files with other people. Google Docs would still be my preference for documents which will be actively worked on by multiple people because it has more features to support that, but Dropbox would also be handy in a pinch.

Aug 11

CPD23 Thing 12 – Putting the social into social media

Thing 12 encourages reflection on the advantages, disadvantages and use of social media as an aspect of professional development.

I’d say one of the biggest advantages of social media is that it bridges geographical boundaries, so that the worldwide LIS community feels a little more approachable.  It’s fantastic to be able to learn about what librarians in other countries are doing simply by reading their blog, or subscribing to a mailing list, or following them on twitter.  Pre-internet some of this knowledge would have been shared through the journals, and through personal connections with other librarians, but unless you were a face-to-face networking machine (with plenty of time and money at your disposal) it would have been impossible to gain such a broad overview of LIS goings-on as we can have today.

As for disadvantages, I think there is a bit of a tendency to forget that there are plenty of LIS people who are not involved with social media, and so you can’t take online communities as necessarily being representative of the profession (or parts of the profession).  I have the same thoughts about Ravelry, the online social network for knitters, crocheters and other people who make things with yarn. On the forums people have a tendency to take the (admittedly large) userbase there as an accurate reflection of the knitterly world as a whole, which is really, really wide of the mark. I think it’s a natural thing to do, but we have to beware the echo chamber effect where we’re not only having conversations within the profession, but within a smallish subset of the profession.

Twitter especially has helped me to make contact with people I would otherwise never have known, and to maintain contact with people I’ve only met briefly.  It’s a great way of keeping in casual contact with people who I might not have a specific reason to email at the moment, but who I would now feel much more comfortable contacting in that way in the future.

I already used social media a lot before starting CPD23, but the programme has made me think about how I can use it more specifically for career development.  I’m not sure if I’ll change the way I do things at the moment, but I will certainly keep using the networks I like, and attempt to maintain the blogging habit!

I do think that social networking helps to foster a sense of community, but like most of these things, how much you feel a part of that community depends on how much you participate.

Aug 11

CPD23 Thing 11 – Mentoring

Hmm, mentoring. I’ve never had a formal mentor, but I have been fortunate to benefit from informal mentor-like relationships. My current manager is an absolute champ, and has given me nothing but sterling advice and encouragement even when I was applying for jobs elsewhere! I suppose I don’t feel the need for a formal mentor at the moment (although of course, I’ll have to find one to Charter) because there are a number of people I can bounce ideas off and who have taken an interest in my career. I do see the benefit of it though, and as someone who likes to be self-sufficient almost to a fault, perhaps I should think about inviting an outside perspective more frequently.


Aug 11

CPD23 Thing 10 – Graduate traineeships, Masters Degrees, Chartership, Accreditation

Thing 10 is about different routes into the profession.  Now that I have my first quasi-professional post-library school job this seems like an apt time to reflect on where I am now and how I got here.

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Aug 11

CPD23 Thing 9 – Evernote

Thing 9 is about Evernote.  I have explored Evernote in the past and although the idea of having a central place to organise all my notes appealed, I never quite found a way to integrate it into my life.  Now I use Microsoft OneNote to fulfill that purpose as I have the program at work and at home, and I unashamedly love it, so although I’ve had another look at Evernote, it doesn’t offer anything which would cause me to switch allegiances. The big difference is mobile syncing of notes, which is tied to Windows phones for OneNote and cross-platform in Evernote, so if that becomes important to me I may have to think again.

One of the main ways I use OneNote is when I’m researching new purchases for the collection (most recently to improve our coverage of US bankruptcy law) when being able to save and annotate web pages for comparison/showing to my boss is really useful.  Evernote looks like an ace way to do this if you don’t have access to or don’t like OneNote.

Aug 11

CPD23 Thing 8 – Google Calendar

Thing 8 is about the multifarious joys of Google Calendar.  I have used it in the past, but find that the combination of my work Outlook calendar, my trusty paper diary, and my big year planner at home is enough to keep me organised.

I do use Google Calendar in one way though, as a means of syncing my Outlook calendar to my Android phone. This post outlines the technique, and it’s very handy and hands-off, which is what I like.  The only downside is that if I don’t sync my phone often enough I have times, like today, when I’m on leave but my phone buzzes to tell me I’m supposed to be on the enquiry desk.

I do think it’s a great tool, and I won’t discount finding it useful again in the future.

Aug 11

CPD23 Thing 7 – Face-to-face networks and professional organisations

Thing 7 is about professional organisations, involvement with them, and how they can help you meet people and talk to them in person.  Eek!

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Jul 11

CPD23 Thing 6 – Online networks

Thing 6 is about online networking which, despite being a lurker by nature, I don’t think I’m doing too badly at.  My toppermost online networking tool is Twitter.  I don’t participate a huge amount, but I have had some great conversations there (some actually work-related), got to know a diverse range of LIS-types, and also learned of events/posts/articles that I may never have heard about otherwise. Only today I signed up for a Hooping Taster in Oxford thanks to Jo_Bo_Anderson’s tweet, which is an activity I only really know about at all through her tweets on the subject. Okay, so that has nothing to do with libraries but I think it’s a good example of how Twitter can open you up to new things.

Right. Twitter = ace.  Onto the actual CPD23 mandated online networks.

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Jul 11

CPD23 Thing 5 – Reflective practice

I am so bad at reflective practice. Even now, I pretty much just want to skip this Thing altogether and get onto doing something. However, one of the main reasons for joining this programme is to get  better at reflecting on what I do for future Chartership-related reasons, so I’m just going to get on with it.

From the models of reflective practice on the Thing 5 page, I prefer the Borton ‘What? — So What? — Now What?’ version.  I also liked Shannon Robalino’s post on this subject which talks about After Action Reports, as used by the US Army (and others), which lend themselves more neatly to reflecting on a particular project but look very useful and unfussy.  I also like the idea of filing an AAR about library reclassification.  A combat meritorious promotion based on my account of wrestling with Moys would be the icing on the cake.

As I have already mentioned, I’ve recently started a new job which is quite different to my old one (despite being in the same team, in the same library) and so this seems to be the perfect time to reflect in a more structured way on what I’m doing and learning.  I’m also really fortunate to have access to a lot of different training courses through my work, and although I get a lot out of them at the time, I don’t really do enough to critically reflect on them after the fact.  So, I plan to write a reflective piece about any training I go on (even if I don’t make it public) and to have a more general reflection at the end of each term, and once during the long vacation.  I’ll go and set the calendar reminders now…

Jul 11

CPD23 Thing 4 – Current awareness: Twitter, RSS and Pushnote

 I’m going to state up-front that I have no interest in Pushnote as a concept and, judging by the dislike it provoked in fellow CPD23 participants, the execution is rather lacking.  So, this post will concentrate on Twitter and RSS feeds, which I use daily and love.

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