LwL Episode 19: Jo Cornish

In Episode 19 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Jo Cornish, Development Officer (Employers) at CILIP.

We chat about her previous life in public libraries, managing staff, qualifications, fellowship and baseball.


The next episode will be released on Tuesday 20th February is a graduate trainee special, featuring Elle Codling, Rhiannon Williams and Hannah Smith.
Happy listening!


LwL Episode 18: Michael Jones

In Episode 18 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Michael Jones, Assistant Library Manager at a 6th form college. If you recognise his voice, Michael took part in the Christmas Special and was incredibly knowledgeable about films (the reasons for this will become apparent when you listen to the episode.)

Michael’s blog post and subsequent Twitter discussion about networking at conferences became a talking point during my chat with Nick Poole and has led to people advocating the inclusion of hot chocolate and board games to facilitate face-to-face interaction in a professional context. We spent quite a bit of time discussing mechanisms for informal networking at conferences during the episode and its great to see that this is being taken more seriously by conference organisers.

We could have chatted about films for ages (sound the Wittertainment klaxon) but we were very well-behaved and managed to focus on Michael’s journey to becoming a qualified information professional. The article that was published as a result of his dissertation on using social media to market libraries in an educational context can be found here. I knew a little bit anecdotally about working in a 6th form college library, but Michael’s insights into the high points and challenges are fascinating. We also chatted about his role as Chair of ARLG Southern.

The next episode will be released on Tuesday 6th February and stars Jo Cornish, Development Officer (Employers) at CILIP.
Happy listening!

LwL Episode 17: Alisa Howlett

In Episode 17 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Alisa Howlett, an award-winning information professional, currently working as the Coordinator for Evidence-Based Practice at the University of Southern Queensland. Alisa and I recorded this episode in mid-November in the evening in the UK and early in the morning in Australia.

We chatted about weekly library lessons at school, being a recovering perfectionist, having an affinity for library work from a reasonably young age but not actually making a career decision until later, working in aviation library settings, deviations into archives and policy work before finding a home in academic libraries, evidence-based practice and data analysis and interpretation, taking a sabbatical, similarities and differences between CILIP in the UK and ALIA in Australia, speaking at conferences, taking a travelling sabbatical, and emotional and work-related burnout.

You can find out more about Alisa on her website.   We talked about the ALIA New Generation Advisory Committee and the 2017 New Librarians Symposium and the ALIA Students & New Graduates Group

The next episode will be released on Tuesday 23rd January and stars Michael Jones – he works in an FE college library and is the originator of the discussion about networking at conferences.
Happy listening!

LwL Episode 16: Nick Poole

In Episode 16 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Nick Poole, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). Nick was kind enough to give me 1.5 hours of his time back in November to record this episode in person at CILIP HQ.

We had a wide-ranging discussion (I asked some of the usual questions but several of them felt quite redundant, so it made sense to follow the flow of conversation for much of the episode) that included: the acquisition of and access to knowledge and information, routes into the information profession, efforts to diversify the workforce, living and working in the information age, “Librarian on Librarian Violence”, being part of CILIP, professional ethics, funding models for library services, and celebrating achievements without fear of ridicule. You can find out more about the CILIP Action Plan 2016-2020 here.

Nick also offers advice to both new and mid-career professionals, we chat about networking and speaking at conferences (please note my – frankly – shameless plea to be able to speak at the next CILIP conference), and the dreaded Imposter Syndrome rears its ugly head yet again… If you have any questions, Nick is happy to answer them. Just click on his name at the top.

I’m very pleased to announce that this episode contains some exclusive news, but you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out more. No spoilers…

If you’re new to the profession, you can join CILIP here

The next episode will be released on Tuesday 16th January and stars Alisa Howlett (we’re going international again, this time to Australia.)
Happy listening!

LwL Episode 15: #Libraruns with Michael Cook

Happy New Year! For Episode 15 of the podcast (the first of 2018) we’re doing something a bit different. When I interviewed Michael Cook for Episode 8, we discovered a mutual love of running and subsequently recorded a side-special of the podcast in October, which Michael called #Libraruns. It turns out that there are LOADS of information professionals who run out there and there’s now a #Libraruns Strava group (do join if you’re a Strava nerd) plans for meet-ups (which neither of us are able to attend, but still…), talk of t-shirts and all kinds of fitness-related fun. It feels like the perfect way to start 2018 as we’re all full of Christmas food enthusiasm.

Michael and I chat about becoming runners (TLDL: If we can take up running in our 30s and look ridiculously awkward SO CAN YOU), what keeps us going, races we’re done, and advice to others. We also get graphic about injuries, reminisce about ‘Punishment runs’ and compare awkward running styles.

There was an awful lot that we couldn’t cover during the recording, so I thought it would be fun if we both did a running-related Q & A. Future podcast guests who are also runners are welcome to fill it out as well and I’ll add it into the show notes.

[MC = Michael Cook, JW = Jo Wood]

1.      When did you go for your first run (and mean it)?

MC – November 2013. After boy was born registered all at same GP and received some very harsh (and motivational) words during check-up. Joined Weightwatchers and started couch to 5k very soon after. Did my first 10k on my birthday in March 2014

JW – March 2012 originally but 6th April 2013 in earnest

2.       Do you describe yourself as a runner or a jogger?

MC – Runner.

JW – Runner of course!

3.       Neutral, overpronator or barefoot?

MC – Overpronator

JW – Overpronator. I’m a very awkward-looking runner

4.       Preferred running shoe brand?

MC – When I fully committed – I got properly measured/gait analysed and was recommended Saucony Omni – still with them

JW – New Balance. The right mix of support and lightweight feel. I wore Brooks for a bit but it was like having two anvils strapped to my feet

5.       What tech do you use?

MC – Wireless Headphones, Runkeeper  (but changing  to something elsewhen premium finishes), phone for runkeeper and music. Fitbit.

JW – FitBit Surge (it has ‘quirks’ but I’m very fond of it), Strava, Nike+ (the first running app I used and I can’t quite let it go), Smashrun (for the graphs)

6.       Strava nerd or free runner?

MC – Nerd. Just generally

JW – Strava nerd, definitely. I’m a late convert to Strava but I can’t imagine running without it now

7.       Best bits of running kit (best buys)?

MC – Good trainers are expensive but worth it. Anything that stops chafing or bleeding is good!

JW – As above, but also: Thorlos padded ankle socks, Shock Absorber sports bras, SoundPeats wireless earphones & Deuter Speed Lite 10 running backpack

8.       Music, podcasts or the sounds of nature?

MC – Music first (but that goes for life. According to Spotify I have listened to 49000 hours of music in 2017). But podcasts and audiobooks can be good for longer, slow runs…

JW – Podcasts for long slow runs (Running Commentary or Marathon Talk), music for everything else, and the sounds of nature when I’m on holiday.

9.       Best motivational running song?

MC – I have a playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/1140735204/playlist/02RQeL33Zojc7lSLJJu5bI

JW – Gotta Work by Amerie and this playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/jwo79/playlist/0wSzkT9rp65hA9WjJXWrcJ 

10.   Favourite place to run?

MC – Winter Hill in Bolton. I’m very lucky as I have the countryside just  15 minutes from the front door, so have so many different beautiful routes

JW – Greenwich Park, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Longleat Center Parcs

11.   Longest run you’ve ever done?

MC – Non race 15 miles, it was coming home from a meeting.

JW – I did my first ultramarathon in 2017 – 29.7 miles but lets call it 30 miles eh?

12.   Most embarrassing moment?

MC – Who hasn’t had a pre-dawn poo in a field?

JW – Being very ill, very publicly, during a long run. I always take a complete change of clothes with me (in my Deuter backpack) on runs of more than 14 miles now….

13.   Proudest moment?

MC – I got my 10k PB (48:52) in August 2015 and I prepared so well for the run – not just running, but good diet, cut down on the beer (same for Bolton Half Marathon in 2016) and the feeling of accomplishment was just something else!

JW – Completing the ultra was special. I didn’t know I could until I did. I’m proud of all of my running achievements though (1 ultra, 2 marathons, 9 half-marathons, loads of 10Ks, 37 parkruns and counting…) because I hated the idea of running until I started doing it.

14.   Best motivational tool?

MC – I have kept one of my massive work shirts from when I was 19 ½ stone. It is like one of the parachutes that get used at toddler activities.

JW – I always, always feel better after I’ve been for a run, both physically and mentally so I’m very good at kicking myself out of the front door. Cake. Team Wood cheering me on. Feeling smug.

15.   One piece of advice for newbies?

MC – You are running too quickly, go slower! Also no matter how far you go, whether you walk during it or sprint round like Mo Farah – you are still quicker than everyone sat on their couch.

JW – What Michael said. Also, if you’re planning to run more than 5 miles, slather your feet in Vaseline before you put your socks on. Sounds grim but it makes your feet lovely and soft and helps to prevent blisters.



Episode 16, starring Nick Poole (I KNOW!) will be released next Monday (8th) as I’m going to be out of action for a couple of days afterwards. After that the podcast release day will be Tuesday as normal.

Happy listening!


Learning to fail (again.)

In what might be a rather strange move, I have decided to embrace failure in 2018.

For the last few years I have shied away from doing things that might make me feel stupid, as a self-protective measure. Starting the podcast and putting myself ‘out there’ with a higher professional profile (such as it is) have been risky moves, but not so terrifying that they might make me question myself on any serious level.   I now feel ready to take a leap. Or rather, a series of leaps. Shame it’s not a leap year…

I’m not talking of some ridiculous leap into another career (been there, done that, never doing it again) because I absolutely love being an information professional. It’s what I’m built to do and I reckon I’m pretty good at it. I should be after nearly (clutches face in horror) 15 YEARS(!). One of the recurring themes of the podcast is that we don’t hear enough about when people try things and fail. Conferences are full of winners – the people that have done amazing things and want to tell everyone about them. Life and careers aren’t like that, though. I want to tell people that it’s ok to fail. It is entirely normal to get things wrong and for events beyond your control to take place. It’s how you recover from them that makes the difference in my experience.

I’m going to keep a diary throughout 2018 that I’ll publish at the end of the year (or before, if I’m able to) in some form. I’ll try and be as honest as I can throughout the process(es), without compromising myself or anyone else.

It’s very scary but also incredibly exciting (it is mostly scary tbh) and however things work out it will make a cracking episode of the podcast at some stage.



LwL Episode 14: Christmas special

For Episode 14 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I assembled some of my illustrious alumni: Clare McCluskey Dean (Episode 3), Mike Ewen (Episode 4), Andrew Oakes (Episode 5), Katherine Burchell (Episode 7), Laura Woods (Episode 9), Siobhan from NLPN standing in for Amy and Helen (Episode 10), Tom Peach (Episode 11), me (Episode 12), Tracy Z. Maleeff (Episode 13) and Michael Jones (Episode 18, forthcoming, due for release on 23rd January 2018) for an evening of Skype Audio merriment and chaos.

To give you a sense of how much fun we had, the original recording was 1 hour 25 minutes and I have heavily edited it down to just shy of 41 minutes. It’s pretty tricky to keep order in a Skype audio call featuring so many people. I had a few set questions but we deviated hugely from the original brief. It was brilliant fun though [Note to self: it is always better if the host has a good microphone.]

Broadly, we cover: life post-LwL stardom (and in prospect for Michael Jones), setting up an in-person LwL event in 2018 (!!), favourite Christmas songs (there’s a Spotify playlist), favourite Christmas films and recommended seasonal viewing (& listening):

Father Christmas

A Christmas Story

A very Murray Christmas

Ocho Kandelikas

Dinner for One

Father Ted: A Christmassy Ted

Hercule Poirot’s Christmas

A Christmas Prince

All I want for Christmas is you (it’s a film too!)

The year without Santa Claus

The Snowman

The Muppet Christmas Carol

We absolutely DO NOT recommend Love Actually. You’ll hear why.

Huge thanks to Mike  for suggesting that we do a Christmas special. I’m really pleased that so many of my alumni were willing to give up another chunk of their time for the podcast. It feels like we’ve really started something here.

I’m  having a little break for Christmas but Librarians with Lives will be returning in 2018, with a side-special on #Libraruns with Michael Cook on Tuesday 2nd January.

Regular LwL episodes resume on 9th January with Nick Poole. Oooh!
Happy listening, Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!