LwL Podcast Episode 52 – Shaun Kennedy

In Episode 52 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Shaun Kennedy, Information/Knowledge Assistant at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, Shaun moved to the UK after completing his library course. We discuss his background, career so far, juggling distance learning with a full-time role, frustrations around library qualifications, and the exciting things that Shaun does (that made me gasp with delight) when he’s not librarianing…

We recorded this episode in early February over Skype audio. There’s been a bit of a gap between recording the last batch of episodes and releasing them, partly because I want to throw less LwL content at everyone this year and give the episodes more chance to breathe, but also because I’ve got quite a lot going on at the moment and I want to do the interviews justice.

The next episode will be released in May and features Hong-Anh Nguyen.

Happy listening!

 

LwL Podcast Episode 46: Ellie Downes

In Episode 46 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Ellie Downes, academic liaison librarian about Aberystwyth, ephemera, empathy, Library Twitter, Giles from Buffy (obvs), learning Welsh, doing Chartership and plotting heists.

Ellie and I met in person at the CILIP Cymru Wales conference, which was held in Aberystwyth in May 2018 which, as I’ve previously stated, was one of the highlights of my year. Ellie and I…found each other after chatting on Twitter a bit beforehand and we had a great time at the evening event, which was held at the National Library of Wales and afterwards at the pub where we drank Welsh gin. Despite all of our plotting, we didn’t manage to steal a CILIP presidential medal. When you attend CPD events you find your people, and Ellie is definitely in that category.

We recorded this episode back in September, over Skype. I’ve just listened back and I hope we don’t come across as being flippant or privileged when Ellie answers the final question. Ellie now has a Chartership mentor.

The next episode of the LwL Podcast will be released on Tuesday 29th January and features Kate Faulkner.

Happy listening!

LwL Podcast Episode 40: Phil Gorman

In Episode 40 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Phil Gorman, Technical Services Librarian at the House of Commons Library about working in law libraries, implementing Library Management Systems, the pain of combining a full-time job with studying for a library qualification, drifting in and out of CPD activities, attending conferences, the amazingness that is the House of Commons Library open day (I’m a fan) and whether Chartership is really worth the bother.

Phil won extra brownie points for actually coming to visit ME to record the interview back in September, a #LwLPod first. Take note, interested future interviewees. My campaign to get Phil to register for Chartership has, thus far, been unsuccessful…

You can find the Commons Library website here and Phil also blogs here

The next episode will be released on 20th November and features Lynsey Sampson.

Happy listening!

Lwl Episode 11: Tom Peach

In Episode 11 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Tom Peach, Academic Liaison Librarian at York St. John University.

Tom is the second person from YSJ to have starred on the podcast. Clare McCluskey Dean who I interviewed back in Episode 3, ‘introduced’ me to Tom through a slightly surreal set of circumstances involving Kevin Clifton from Strictly (we love him) and me re-registering as a Chartership mentor. Tom asked me to mentor him so I decided I needed to go up to York and meet him (and Clare) and see the library he worked in (any excuse to travel on a train, meet like-minded info pros and visit a library.)

We recorded this podcast in person (I know! This hardly ever happens!) in the library at YSJ during Libraries Week back in October. I also got to meet Clare, who I have chatted to for YEARS on Twitter about Strictly and Eurovision but had never met in person and we both got slightly giddy about it all. So, all you need to do to meet all the excellent people you really love on Twitter is to start doing a podcast. Simple!

Tom started at YSJ in September and before that worked in FE libraries. He’s also doing his library qualification via the distance learning route at Robert Gordon University AND doing Chartership on the side. He is super-enthusiastic and as his mentor I intend to mercilessly exploit harness this so that he eventually becomes CILIP President and I can say ‘I knew him when…’.

We chatted at length about information provision and inequality, the acquisition of facts, difficulties associated with working in an FE setting, rewards and challenges of providing public-facing services, the frustrations associated with being part of a profession that doesn’t advocate its worth particularly well, fangirling over Carla Hayden, and the transferable skills that being a confident performer provide (basically, winging it.) We get quite philosophical about information literacy and were having such a lovely time that this episode is quite  long.

The next episode will be released on Tuesday 28th November and stars…er…Jo Wood.
Happy listening!

LwL Episode 10: Helen & Amy from NLPN

In Episode 10 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Amy Finnegan, a health information specialist at NICE, and Helen Monagle, a senior assistant librarian (serials) at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

This is the first episode that features more than one person. Amy and Helen were together at one end of the Skype call and I was at the other. I was conscious throughout that I needed to give them both space to speak, and to refer to them by name as much as possible so that the three different voices were distinguishable.

Helen and Amy chat in-depth about NLPN, of which they are (with Catherine and Siobhan) co-founders: the process of setting it up, keeping the network going and continually being innovative. (I sound about 165 years old during this section, for which I apologise.) NLPN offer a job shadowing service, which I urge everyone to sign up to – either to offer to host or to take part in. The NLPN site also has a number of (written) interviews with information professionals on it and I may shamelessly ask some of the contributors to be on the podcast themselves at some stage.

We chat about becoming information professionals during an economic crash, lack of opportunity in public libraries, the depressing cycle of applying for library jobs and not getting them, Malory Towers, Chartership, I try to sell Revalidation (again) to them, and the importance of loving what you do. We also discuss library advocacy, ideas for public library campaigns, and the importance of evidence-based practice. A link to the abstract for an article on the tool that Amy mentioned can be found here.

In excellent news, I finally get to ring my bell ( the reason for this will become clear when you listen to the episode) AND we discuss setting up a private detective agency. I realised afterwards that I stole the idea for using a magnifying glass in the logo from QI, so I’ll have to have a re-think…

 

 

The next episode will be released on Tuesday 21st November and stars Tom Peach.
Happy listening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

LwL Episode 9: Laura Woods

In Episode 9 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Laura Woods, who is a subject librarian at the University of Huddersfield. Laura has worked in three different sectors – law, charity and academic  – so we had quite a lot of ground to cover. She’s also done a lot of CPD so we spent a lot of time talking about that. Therefore this episode is in two parts.

Originally I was going to release Part 1 today and Part 2 next week but I took to Twitter and asked people to vote on whether they wanted both parts at once or on separate weeks. It was neck and neck for quite a while but getting both parts at once edged it so you’re getting 1 hour 45 minutes of #librarianswithlives podcasty goodness in one go this week.

This episode was recorded one evening in September, back when I didn’t quite know when to shut the heck up. We recorded both parts in one go and finished recording quite late so I apologise in advance for how much I ramble towards the end because it was late, I was exhausted and I’m basically an idiot.

In Part 1 we cover Laura’s graduate traineeship, library qualification, her jobs in law libraries, awesome careers advisors, excellent job titles, the impact of life changes on jobs and career paths, doing things outside your comfort zone, doing media interviews, the helpfulness of Librarians, and the importance of asking for feedback after interviews.

In Part 2 we chat about Laura’s current role at the University of Huddersfield in-depth. As someone that hasn’t worked in an academic library but has now interviewed a few people that do, I’m fascinated by the commonalities and differences experienced by my peers working in different HE institutions. We also discuss long routes to Chartership, the sometimes insular nature of the information profession, building a body of knowledge across different roles, and a plea for all of us to communicate what we do in plain English. We also devise a Buffy spin-off show. Laura’s blog is here

The next episode will be released on Tuesday 14th November and features Amy Finnegan and Helen Monagle from NLPN.
Happy listening!

Chartership and the KISS Principle

Over the last year or so, as more of my professional peers have started the Chartership process, I have noticed that it has developed a mystique that I don’t think existed when I did mine in 2007. I think that Chartership candidates are making a much bigger deal of it than they really need to. Granted, compiling the portfolio at the end is a bit time-consuming and it’s hard to get the tone of the Personal Evaluative Statement right initially, but actually it’s no more difficult intellectually than writing up your thoughts for an annual appraisal.

There seem to be a lot of misconceptions about the Chartership process and in my role as mentor and as a concerned fellow professional I’d like to dispel some of the myths here*:

  1. 1.       “I don’t currently do enough to put into a Chartership portfolio”

Putting aside the fact that the people that have said that to me are practically running one aspect of the profession or another, everyone will have done enough development (either at work or externally) since they completed their qualification to make a decent attempt at a portfolio. I recently wrote my pre-appraisal review at work and was concerned that I hadn’t achieved as much as I had done the previous year. Six pages of bullet points later… My point is that unless you sit in a pit of your own filth day after day baiting celebrities on Twitter, you will have done things that you can put into a portfolio.

  1. 2.       “I’m not involved in enough committees”

Want to know how many committees I was involved in when I did my Chartership? None. Zero. Zilch. Well, I was on the Library Student Journal committee editorial board but that was online and I didn’t actually have to go and meet anyone. (Back then I was in denial about the whole librarian thing and didn’t want to fraternise with my peers). If you’re on a committee already – great! Put it in your portfolio. Don’t join something you don’t want to, or don’t feel comfortable with just to put it in your portfolio. You’ll end up resenting it.

  1. 3.       “Everyone does more CPD than me and I don’t measure up”

When pressed, these people admit to comparing themselves unfavourably to the Gods and Goddesses of library CPD. It’s a bit like taking up jogging and getting depressed a week later because you’re not matching Mo Farah’s PB for 5,000 metres. The average Joe (and in my case the very average Jo) cannot hope to emulate the great CPD feats of the few, but you can carve out your own niche. As long as your CPD methods work for you, who cares what everyone else is doing?

  1. 4.       “It’s all really woolly”.

Unlike everything you’ve done before, there isn’t a winning formula that will get you an A-Level or a degree. There isn’t a curriculum or a checklist. As someone that craves order and rules I found this a bit hard to get my head around to start with. However, I soon realised that within the parameters of the portfolio structure, I actually had a great deal of freedom to tailor my Chartership to what I actually needed to do to do my job better. So many people start a course and moan that it’s too generic, it doesn’t cater to their needs or it’s not applicable to their job. The beauty of Chartership is that it is what you make of it. It’s an opportunity for you to play teacher and set your own curriculum and who doesn’t have ambitions to be the master of their own universe?

  1. 5.        “I’m rubbish at reflective writing”

This whole reflective writing thing has a mythology all of its own. You aren’t aiming to become the next Aristotle here. I’m sure your philosophical meditations on the state of information seeking among the great unwashed are beautifully constructed nuggets of wisdom that will live on long after you’ve been reduced to a small pile of ashes but remember this: you’ve got 1,000 words to play with. If, for example, you have identified five development needs you’ve got 200 words for each section. You aren’t going to get much beyond a ‘When I did X I learnt Y and in future I would do Z’ approach and that’s perfectly fine. Save your meditations for a blog post.

This is all a very roundabout way of saying that people are making a much bigger deal of the Chartership process than they need to and once you’ve registered you just need to suck it up, stop whingeing and get on with it. Oh, and get someone to kick your arse occasionally, should you need it.

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

I have added my Chartership portfolio to LwL (see the tabs at the top of the page) for your delectation and amusement…

*These views are my own and are not endorsed by CILIP