LwL Podcast Episode 47: Kate Faulkner

In Episode 47 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to I chat to Kate Faulkner, Legal Research Librarian at the Squire Law Library, the law faculty library at the University of Cambridge. Kate worked as a freelance indexer for 12 years and is still working on the Inner Temple Bench Papers of Judge Monier-Williams for the archivist at the Honourable Society of Inner Temple. In her spare time Kate visits libraries and blogs about them  and also mentions the Carnegie Library blog.

We recorded this episode back in September 2018, over Skype. I subsequently met Kate in person at the Cambridge Librarians Conference a couple of weeks ago and she is absolutely lovely in person, too.

The next episode of the LwL Podcast will be released on Tuesday 12th February and features Holger Aman.

Happy listening!

 

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189.5 hours of CPD – or trying to stay sane when your professional life explodes

I updated my CPD log on the CILIP VLE recently. It should come as no surprise to anyone that I’ve accumulated a considerable number of CPD hours in the last twelve months. If anything, 189.5 hours might be an underestimate.

I think it’s worth giving this some context. The majority of my CPD has happened outside of work hours, aside from the conferences and events that I’m very kindly given time to attend by my manager. I’ve been asked a few times if I have a proper job, and if my employer minds. 1. I do, and I’ll be blogging about it separately at some stage. 2. My line manager’s view is that anything that gets my name (and, by extension, my employers’) ‘out there’ professionally in a positive way is to be embraced and celebrated. I mostly record Librarians with Lives episodes in the evening, when my children are in bed. I don’t do any CPD at weekends, or when I’m on leave.

The background noise accompanying this is my mental health. In the presentations I’ve done about mental health and professional resilience I mention that there were three different things that triggered my severe illness in 2016. I have talked in detail about the work-related aspect and gloss over the other two. Currently, my work life is great and acts as a protective factor because the other two bits (one health, and one not-my-actual-family) aren’t so great and, right now, one of them is severely affecting my general health and wellbeing.

The Librarians with Lives podcast also acted as a brilliant protective factor until, one day, it didn’t. I had a crazy 6 weeks in October and November where I presented at seven different events, including a wonderful two days at ILI where I ‘live’ podcasted the event. I’m grateful that I was so busy because otherwise I think things would have been very bad indeed. I’m not going to give airtime to events in the autumn, but I am going to talk about the impact that it had and continues to have.

I was about and about doing my thing, meeting people at professional events, involved in all the stuff I love – presentations and podcasting, meeting new people and making connections, and feeling nauseous and frightened the entire time. Second-guessing whether the person I was talking to was happy to be talking to me, or whether I was being sized up to determine what I was *really* like. Suddenly feeling mistrustful of people and politely distancing myself from those that I felt had enjoyed the drama at my expense a little too much. Batting away ‘I saw what happened. Are you ok?’ queries from concerned friends, strangers and bystanders so I didn’t worry them. Fretting that I (and by extension Librarians with Lives) was damaged goods, to be avoided. Turning my experiences into jokes in conference presentations. Laughing at the ludicrousness of it all while feeling angry and sad.

I knew that once I stopped podcasting and presenting and networking and being ‘Jo the Librarians with Lives person’, my brain would make me pay for distracting myself for so long. The intrusive, frightening thoughts I have when I’m in a really bad place returned with all kinds of disturbing new twists. I felt irrationally panicky most of the time. When I didn’t feel panicky I felt sad. At least I had stopped feeling nauseous by this point. I hadn’t experienced anxiety-induced nausea before and I don’t recommend it as an experience. I had a long break over Christmas and apart from being (physically) ill for part of the time, it was wonderful.

I gave myself space to make decisions without forcing it to do anything and realised that:

  1. I love my job. It’s not fashionable to stay with the same employer for so long but (highly edited highlights time – as I said earlier the full version will get airtime in the spring), in the last 10 years I have set up a library and information service for social workers across England from scratch building up a large user base in the process, I won an award for my work to embed evidence-informed practice across the organisation, my library has partnerships (which I set up) with three external bodies to whom we provide information services and there are more in the pipeline, and the LIS was mentioned in my employer’s recent Outstanding report from Ofsted. This isn’t stuff you can do if you change jobs every two years. It takes time and effort to build the necessary partnerships, connections, and reputation to achieve meaningful change. Why on earth would I walk away from a job that offers me the chance to get involved in projects across the organisation and influence the sector externally, that is highly valued and championed by its users, with brilliant colleagues, an organisation that has families and flexible working in its DNA, with a management team that ‘gets’ me and understands that by letting me be me they’ve got a sector-leading LIS out of it?
  2. The Librarians with Lives podcast is a positive force, that is valued by listeners and participants and is leading to small but meaningful changes to the profession. I have a slide I use in my presentation about podcasting depicting a world map with all the countries in which LwL is listened to coloured in. It blows my mind every time I update it. I started LwL as the tiniest of CPD projects to put into my Fellowship portfolio as a way of demonstrating wider professional involvement and the fact that so many people listen to it is just mind-blowing. I seriously considered stopping LwL in the autumn because I didn’t feel I could ever enjoy doing it in the same way again. I’m continually meeting and finding new people that I want to interview though, so it marches onwards. When I’m feeling down I try to remember that I’m better off being me, trying to be a force for good in the profession, raising people up rather than tearing them down.
  3. I would happily go and podcast at conferences every year for the rest of my working life, so do invite me *hint* *clang*
  4. I will achieve FCLIP this year. After my #fckfclip rant to my friend (not on social media) at the end of last year, I have resolved to get my CILIP Fellowship done in 2019. The carrot for me is that when I (finally) achieve Fellowship, I can go and get a nail technician qualification and somehow combine professional networking, podcasting, wellbeing and manicures together in one sparkly package.
  5. I’d like to do more to highlight mental health in the profession. Every time I’ve delivered my mental health and professional resilience presentation I have had a little queue of people who want to speak to me afterwards. Some want to thank me for being so honest and for raising awareness of difficult issues. Others want to share their own mental health experiences with me. I’m asked for advice on supporting partners, family members and colleagues struggling with mental health. I think there’s *something* valuable I can do here; I just need to work out what it is.

Over the last few months I’ve found it hard to appreciate all the positive things that have happened as a result of doing LwL, but here are a few to remind me:

  • The articles and news pieces in Information Professional, the MMiT blog, and in Business Information Review
  • The conference presentations in London, Brighton, Glasgow, Cambridge and Aberystwyth
  • The networking workshops with Mike, who I now count as a good friend
  • Being a guest on Calon FM in Wrexham with Paul
  • Appearing as an occasional recurring character on the Doctor WHEasel podcast
  • My theatre trips with Clare
  • Becoming one of the ‘faces’ of CILIP (I wrestled with this for a time; now I embrace it)
  • Running after people I would have been too scared to approach at conferences previously because they’re cool and amazing and asking them to be on my podcast (sorry Joshua). See also: ‘Stay there! You need to be on my podcast!’ (sorry Holger)
  • Podcasting at the ILI and CILIP conferences (possibly the most fun it is possible to have at a professional event)
  • Plotting to steal CILIP Presidential medals with Ellie and Rachel in Aberystwyth
  • Squealy, excited hugs with Sally and Margaret in Glasgow
  • The pre-conference dinner in Cambridge, where Claire engineered the seating plan to surround me with lovely people
  • Getting to know a whole load of people, most of whom I wouldn’t have otherwise met, as a result of doing LwL: Helen B, Clare, Mike E, Andrew, Juanita, Katherine, Michael, Laura, Amy, Helen M, Tracy, Nick, Alisa, Mike J, Jo C, Rhiannon, Elle, Hannah, Jen B, Jenny F, Caitlin, Kathryn, Tom P, Tom R, Jane, David, Louise, Emma, Anne, Natasha, Ian, Minnie/Emily, Kate G, Leah, Kate F, Gus, Kat, Brian, Alison, Helen L, Martin, Hal, Phil, Lynsey, Sally, Paul, Ellie, Holger, Angela, Naomi, all the people I’ve interviewed at conferences, and the forthcoming interviews with loads of awesome people.

I reference the concept of high-achieving anxiety in my presentations and while it’s not a recognised medical term, it absolutely fits my approach to all aspects of life. If I *have* to deal with being anxious and taking on too much to cope, I might as well get a lot out of it. If almost 190 hours of CPD time is what it takes to feel reasonably sane, I’ll do it.

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 Episode 45: Jo Wood on Calon Talks Books

Episode 45 of the Librarians with Lives podcast is a little different to the norm, as I was a guest on Paul Jeorrett’s radio show – Calon Talks Books on Calon FM in Wrexham on 10th October 2018 and I’ve been given permission to release a music-free version of the show.

The story of how I met Paul is outlined in the previous post. We arranged a date for me to go up to Wrexham and be on the show and on the agreed date Paul met me from Wrexham General Station, made sure I checked into my hotel (he chatted to the reception staff while I got settled), took me for a hot chocolate, gave me a tour of Wrexham and it’s public and university libraries (where EVERYONE knew him, and he knew everyone), recorded a brilliant episode of LwL (Episode 44), allowed me to choose the music on his show, and he and the lovely show regulars (Gwyn and Rob) took me out for dinner afterwards. Seriously, Paul is one of the nicest men on the planet.

I can’t begin to explain how much fun I had on the show. I agonised for ages over the music selections. Paul said I could choose ‘anything’, but I didn’t want to push the show’s boundaries too much. In the end I chose 6 songs. Five made it on to the show, only because no. 6 – Music Sounds Better with You by Stardust – isn’t available on any streaming services. I put my choices into a Spotify Playlist, in case you want to hear them. No, I didn’t choose Steps. No, I didn’t choose George Michael.

Much of the discussion on the show was themed around Libraries Week, World Mental Health Day, podcasting and, inevitably, books. The latter was a bit of an issue for me because I haven’t been able to read any ‘proper’ fiction since 2016. Instead I talked about Matt Haig, the Apollo Space program, Sarah Millican, and Jay Rayner. Paul was a generous host, and Gwyn and Rob were absolutely lovely.

I decided I couldn’t replicate the fun I’d had on last year’s Christmas Special, so I haven’t attempted the same feat this year. I’ve recorded more than 30 episodes since then. To say it would have been unruly would be an understatement…

LwL is having an extended break over the Christmas period, but will be back in January. Have an excellent, peaceful break and I’ll see you in 2019.

Happy listening!

LwL Podcast Episode 44: Paul Jeorrett

In Episode 44 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Paul Jeorrett, until very recently Chair of CILIP Cymru Wales. Paul retired from his role at Wrexham Glyndwr University at the end of 2017.

I met Paul at the CILIP Cymru Wales conference, which was held at Aberystwyth University in May 2018. I delivered a plenary presentation at the conference, which was probably one of my highlights of my entire professional career. I’ve done some great stuff since, but Aber will always be special.

Just before my presentation Paul popped over for a chat with me and apologised in advance because he was master of ceremonies at the evening reception, so thought he might need to dash off part-way through to prepare. When I finished speaking Paul was one of the first people to come over and congratulate me on my presentation. We had a “You stayed!” “I couldn’t leave!” conversation and he asked if I’d ever done any live radio. Why yes, I used to co-present a (terrible, but I wasn’t telling him that) student radio show in Reading. Paul asked if I’d consider being a guest on his radio show. He’s an extremely nice man. I suspect he asks a lot of people and normally they politely turn him down but not me. No way. You’ll hear the results of that in the next episode, which is a music-free version of the radio show I guested on in October 2018.

Paul worked at ZSL London Zoo Library early in his career, and after hearing their episode he got in contact with them and actually visited his old workplace in the summer. That was a ‘I did that!’ lovely moment for me.

The next episode will be the radio show recording, and then I’m having an extended break over Christmas because why the heck not? LwL proper will be back on Tuesday 8th January and will feature Ellie Downes.

Happy listening!

LwL Podcast Episode 43: Sally Walker

In Episode 43 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Sally Walker, Children’s Librarian in Orkney and CILIPS Library and Information Professional of the Year 2017.

Sally and I first met at the CILIP Conference in Brighton in July, where she delivered one of the keynote presentations. During her talk I tweeted CILIPS and asked them if they could help me get Sally on the podcast.

After delivering her kick-ass talk, Mike Jones and I were shocked when Sally came along to our networking workshop. While we emphasise the fact that the workshop is for everyone, it tends to attract new/trainee info pros/library workers. We didn’t expect one of the keynote speakers to come along and confess that they found professional events extremely daunting.

Since then Sally and I have become friends [One of the lovely benefits of doing the podcast is that I’ve met so many people that I now class as friends as a result of interviewing them. Sally is definitely in this category.] and we recorded this episode over Skype audio in September. Again, apologies for the quality of the recording. My ancient desktop computer (RIP) was definitely on the way out and the sound quality isn’t great. I’ve cleaned it up as much as I can and it’s absolutely worth listening to.

I haven’t quite decided which episode I’m going to release next. I have a few episodes banked and ready to go so it’s just a case of choosing one…

Happy listening!

 

 

LwL Podcast Episode 42: Strictly Musicals Side-special.

It’s side-special time! In Episode 42 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Clare McCluskey Dean, star of Episode 3 of LwL about our mutual love of all things Strictly Come Dancing, and musical theatre. It’s very fun, silly and sparkly and is the perfect antidote to the extremely intense period I’ve had recently of speaking at conferences and events, managing my anxiety, and much more. Clare is coming towards the end of the busiest period of her year and a house move. We were both in need of some daftness.

We recorded this episode on 12th November over Skype Audio. Two episodes of Strictly will have gone out between the day of recording and time of release of this episode, so I’ve removed anything that might resemble predictions, gossip and/or speculation. In terms of the musical theatre content, our opinions are very much our own and shouldn’t be treated as reviews. We know what we like (and don’t like) and get passionate about it, but in a nice way. We mention Clare’s theatre ramblings blog, which can be found here.

I have put together a playlist of the music and musicals we refer to, which is here.

Normal Librarians with Lives service resumes next week with the wonderful Sally Walker.

Keeeeeeeep listening!