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!

 

 

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LwL Podcast Episode 41: Lynsey Sampson

In Episode 41 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Lynsey Sampson, Information Services Assistant at the University of Strathclyde.

Lynsey previously worked in public libraries and a mental health service. We discuss CPD, getting bursaries, attending conferences, and visiting libraries abroad. Lynsey’s answer for the dream library job question is excellent and entirely unexpected… #GetOuttaMyPub

I met Lynsey in person at the CILIP Conference in July and she kindly provided one of the soundbites for the conference special. Lynsey blogged about her conference experience here.

I need to apologise for the sound quality in this episode, which was recorded via Skype audio in September. I’ve cleaned it up as much as I can and we both sound significantly less like we did the recording in a public toilet now. You think *this* is a FUBAR? Well, have I got a story for YOU early next year…

The next episode will be released on 27th November and is an extremely sparkly, jazz hands side-special featuring Clare McCluskey Dean, star of Episode 3 of LwL.

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!

A year of the Librarians with Lives Podcast

Librarians with Lives in numbers:

[from 3rd September 2017 to 25th July 2018 am]

35 episodes released (plus the CILIP Conference Special)

72 people interviewed

9,928 plays

Top 5 most listened to episodes:

  1. Nick Poole
  2. Helen Berry
  3. CILIP Conference 2018 special
  4. Katherine Burchell
  5. Jane Secker

50+ (the Soundcloud stats stop at 50) countries in which the podcast has been listened to

The top 10 are:

  1. United Kingdom
  2. USA
  3. Australia
  4. New Zealand
  5. Luxembourg
  6. Ireland
  7. Canada
  8. Sweden
  9. Japan
  10. Spain

10 things I have learned:

  1. How to spot who has enough ‘voice’ and personality to sustain an episode
  2. Once you get (most) people talking about themselves, it’s virtually impossible to stop them
  3. Being bold but polite gets results.
  4. People will complain about things that never occurred to you
  5. Social media personas can be extremely amplified versions of someone’s actual personality.
  6. Some people are *exactly* the same in real life as they are online.
  7. Everyone hates the sound of their own voice. Nobody has a bad voice.
  8. Occasionally, interviewees will drive you mad by not promoting, or mentioning to anyone, their own episode of the podcast when it’s released.
  9. Don’t go looking for the dissenting voices. If you’re *really* lucky they will a. Make themselves obvious and/or b. People will tell you about them. Honestly, I and/or LwL are not worth your hate.
  10. The Librarians with Lives alumni I have gone on to meet in real life have, without exception, been absolutely lovely.

27 Unexpected consequences…

…or things that wouldn’t have happened if the podcast didn’t exist:

Conferences

  1. Co-delivering a workshop on networking at the CILIP Careers Day in April with someone I interviewed for the podcast, who I hadn’t met in real life until the morning of the workshop
  2. Subsequently co-delivering that workshop at the CILIP Conference in Brighton in July
  3. …and being asked to co-deliver it again at the CILIP New Professionals Day in October
  4. …and at a CILIP in London event in November
  5. Seeing the Welcome Zone at the CILIP Conference and thinking ‘I helped to affect that change’.
  6. Going back to Aberystwyth, 12 years after I finished my distance learning ILS qualification there, to deliver a plenary presentation about mental health, podcasting and resilience at the CILIP Cymru Wales Conference in May
  7. Standing up and telling 100+ people, most of whom had no idea who I was, about my mental health (see no. 5.)
  8. …and being asked to deliver a similar talk at a CILIP Scotland event in October.
  9. Recording an episode of Librarians with Lives at the CILIP Conference, where I interviewed 40 people, many of whom I had never met before and turning it into something coherent
  10. Submitting a very speculative proposal to speak at the forthcoming ILI Conference in October and for it to become a break-out session called Live, Love, Librarian!

In print

  1. Appearing in three consecutive issues of Information Professional magazine in 2018 (sorry…):
  • 60 seconds with…
  • Revalidation and CILIP Cymru Wales conference mentions
  • Networking article with Mike and being mentioned in Nick Poole’s editorial
  1. Writing an article for MMiT about the tech behind the podcast
  2. Being interviewed for a journal article about my experiences of being involved with a professional body
  3. Being interviewed for a case study for a forthcoming book on management

Professional development

  1. Gaining two Chartership mentees
  2. …and a Fellowship mentor

Fun stuff

  1. #Libraruns
  2. Hacking a shop-bought Guess Who game and turning it into a special Librarians with Lives edition for the networking workshop
  3. Hosting a Christmas Special of the podcast featuring previous guests and keeping it (mostly) in order
  4. Getting to see the inner workings of CILIP HQ (small, mostly open plan, desks, people) [Spoiler 1: it’s not Narnia. Spoiler 2: everyone I’ve met from CILIP is lovely]
  1. Being asked to guest on a community radio show
  2. Being asked to voice a small role on a comedy sketch podcast
  3. The Love Island DM group
  4. The Queer Eye DM group
  5. Chess: the musical with Clare “Wasn’t it good? OH SO GOOD” “Wasn’t he fine? OH SO FIIIIIINNNNNNEEEEEE” etc.
  6. Becoming (very) mildly ‘Library Famous’.
  7. Making new Library Friends who are now Actual Friends

2 negative things

  1. I have severe writers’ block with my Fellowship portfolio. If I could record me speaking about it, I could probably submit it. I firmly believe that I *will* be able to write and submit a successful application at some stage, but I’m not *yet* ready or able to do so.
  2. I probably won’t ever write my Mills & Boon ‘Love in a library’ bestselling novel now…

1 sad thing

I can’t believe it will ever be as good as this again. To watch something that I started as a tiny little CPD project grow into an actual podcast with listeners across the world and from different sectors of the information profession is mind-blowing.

…and finally…

Thank you to everyone that has taken part, listened to, promoted, and contributed to the Podcast in some way over the last year. There are too many of you to thank individually but it takes a village small city to make a podcast successful and I’m incredibly grateful. This is the greatest CPD thing I have done, and will ever do, and I’m already looking forward to the next LwL Podcast season.

LwL will be back on 4th September after a little summer holiday.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Queer Eye.

giphy

Librarians with Lives – LIVE! #CilipConf18

This week’s episode was largely recorded at the CILIP Conference in Brighton, which took place on 4th & 5th July 2018. CILIP invited me along to co-deliver the networking workshop with Mike Jones, and to record some content for a special episode of Librarians with Lives.

I recorded 41 interviews in total across the two days, bookended with my own experiences and reflections. I was really pleased to record so many interviews and I only wish I could have fitted in more.

Here’s the full cast list (in order of appearance):

Lizzie Sparrow

Hannah Smith

Ella Hassett

Lucia Butters

Gaz Johnson

Emma Sweeney

Mike Jones

Phil Gorman

Alison Wheeler

Gus Macdonald

Paul Caton

Jo Wood

Gemma Wood

Katherine Burchell

Kate Slone

Jo McCrossan

Lynsey Sampson

Nick Poole

Kathryn Aylward

Sam Burgess

Jo Cornish

Preeti Puligari

Steph Grey

Ruth Carlyle

Fotis Mystakopoulos

Louise Burkett

Kate Arnold

Leo Appleton

Claire Sewell

Laura Cagnazzo

Sergio Alonso Mislata

Jill Howard

Samantha Williams

Alex Pooley

Katharine Schopflin

Caitlin Moore

Kat Steiner

Jeremy Crumplin

Debbie Lee

Simon Berney-Edwards

Regularly scheduled programming will recommence on Tuesday 17th July with Natasha Chowdhury.

Happy listening!

CILIP Conference 2017: Part 4 -Day 2 sessions

My notes for Day 2 are (mercifully) brief as I was absolutely exhausted (see the Day 1 and lazy networking posts for more details), although a lack of sleep didn’t prevent me from going for a run in the morning.

An insiders guide to professional registration – Kate Robinson & Dan Livesey

I didn’t plan to attend this session as I thought it would be about Chartership and Revalidation and I’ve been there, done that. Juanita set me straight though and there was plenty of advice on Fellowship, too.

I now have a to-do list:

  1. Fill out the PKSB on the VLE (not all of it, just 6-8 sections that are most relevant to me)
  2. Annotate my job description
  3. Annotate my CV
  4. Find a mentor (this still feels insurmountable)

Learning points:

  1. The portfolio doesn’t need to precisely match the PKSB and evidence of change is good
  2. Be really obvious about your journey and how it meets the assessment criteria
  3. Think strategically when evaluating service performance. Don’t be too operational and adopt a high-level mindset
  4. The ‘So what?’ principle: which criteria does a piece of evidence actually match? Learn to be selective and let go of biases about favourite bits of evidence if they don’t fit the criteria
  5. When going on library visits, reflect on your understanding of how they work and how it fits into what they do.
  6. For fellowship, you can draw on a body of work, developed over a number of years.

Information Mismatch workshop – Jonathon Berry & Jane Fox

  • There’s a huge gap in understanding between clinical staff, patients and their families around the language used. This doesn’t surprise me as I’ve seen it in action. It’s very easy to overestimate intelligence (both intellectual and emotional.)
  • SMOG – Simplified Measure of Gobbledegook calculator. Online tool that aims to reduce nonsense and unnecessary wordiness [Won’t be using it on this blog any time soon.]
  • Good quality information requires the following elements: Information production, evidence sources, user understanding, user involvement, quality control, feedback and review

My specialist colleagues use a lot of acronyms (the name of our organisation is an acronym!) and specialist terms at work. As I have a different background to them it took me a while to adjust to the language and terminology used. As a result I try not to use any overtly librariany (I WILL make it an actual word. I will!) terms. It’s one of the reasons that I eschewed a more lofty job title and am simply ‘Librarian’ as it’s a term that everyone understands.

How to be a chief librarian in 15 easy steps – Caroline Brazier

SPOILER: Not 15 steps. Not easy!

I find listening to other people’s career stories incredibly interesting. It was refreshing to hear someone being honest about the fact that career decisions aren’t always made rationally and with a step-by-step plan. This session expanded out and looked at developments at the British Library, so that’s reflected in my notes.

Learning points:

  1. Tell people your career story
  2. Think about your core purpose (as an individual and as an institution.)
  3. Income generation is incredibly difficult and you have to work hard for it (I know this only too well!)
  4. Work out what people value about us and focus on that.

Exhibition

  • I found the exhibition a bit difficult because virtually none of the products are relevant to my library service. I did, however, enjoy chatting to people from the special interest groups and sitting on the faceless duck (long story.)
  • CILIP stand – I wish I’d had my photo taken with the Facts Matter sign on Day 1 as I look exhausted in the photos. I’m going to suggest that next year they take it to the evening reception as I’m much more comfortable with having my photo taken when I’m wearing lipstick and after a glass of wine.

Final thoughts

I was so tired that I was virtually on my knees by the end of the conference. I’d forgotten how intense a professional event over two days can be. I hope it’s evident from my posts that I got a huge amount from attending, both professionally and personally.

My primary aims when I submitted the bursary application were to reconnect with the profession and make a decision on whether to continue with Fellowship. I feel much more embedded now and I’m definitely going to continue my Fellowship journey.

After my Thursday morning run, which took me past Manchester Central Library, I popped into the coffee shop near my hotel for a cold drink. They were playing How Soon is Now by The Smiths and I had two thoughts:

  1. Manchester is amazing
  2. Being an information professional is BRILLIANT.

Well played, CILIP. Well played.

CILIP Conference 2017: Part 1 – Getting there

I haven’t been to a CILIP Conference since 2011 and over the last few years had become increasingly gloomy at my prospects of ever attending one again. Last year was a particularly low point as I felt completely removed from the profession and everything happening within it. Oh, how things have changed since then.

Proposal fail

As part of my whole librarian reborn thing I decided to submit a proposal to speak at this years’ conference. It’s important that this reflection records both my successes and failures so I’m going to be terribly brave and admit that my proposal was rejected. It stung at the time but I now understand why. I misjudged the tone and pitched the proposal at the wrong level. I needed to think on a much grander scale and what I proposed was too niche and was (frankly) dull.

Bursary success (not me)

I then did my selfless nurturing manager thing and encouraged my Library Assistant to apply for a bursary so that he could attend. I figured that if he attended he could share the learning with me (this is one of the joys of working in a two-person library team.)  He was duly awarded a bursary by the Government Information Group SIG and I was happy, thrilled, proud, etc., but also a little sad that I wasn’t going.

Bursary success (me)

CILIP in London announced their bursaries comparatively late, so I took a punt, applied and was lucky enough to be awarded one. [Note: I have sat on two bursary awarding committees previously and I know that people are *really* bad at applying for what is essentially free money, so I’m not saying that my proposal was amazing but I knew the odds of success would be pretty good] I actually squealed when I got the acceptance e-mail because I loved attending Umbrella (yore!) in 2009 and 2011. Having started the Fellowship process earlier this year I wanted the conference to provide the platform for me to get on with it. A metaphorical kick up the backside, if you will.

The bursary gave me a full conference place (including evening reception), plus a generous allowance for travel and accommodation. I felt very nervous because it had been a while since I had done any proper networking with real-life information professionals ( ALISS doesn’t count as they’re not strangers) and I had all the usual worries about saying something stupid, falling over and/or inadvertently dropping food over someone. Only one of those things actually happened. [Top tip: never get into a conversation about knowledge management over lunch where the conversation turns so you are quizzed on your definition of the subject. This does not end well.]

Fashion. Turn to the left! Fashion. Turn to the right!

giphy2

The agony of deciding what to wear to a library conference! There seem to be no hard and fast rules. I didn’t want to wear jeans as I felt that they wouldn’t convey my professional persona but equally I didn’t want to look too dressed up. In the daytime I wore shift dresses with flat sandals, which is exactly what I wear to work in the summer. For the evening reception I wore a nice skirt and top and sandals with a slight heel that I could walk in. I’m really into patterns and florals and I have a definite style, so my chosen outfits reflected my personality. I even got a couple of compliments (Oasis collection nerds of the library world assemble!) I also took two sets of running gear because I can’t go to a different place without exploring and Instagramming the heck out of it on a run. The air conditioning in hotels tends to be aggressive, which I like, but I don’t like having cold feet so a pair of fluffy socks is a must.

To Manchester!

My journey to the conference was uneventful but I saw the singer-songwriter Paolo Nutini at Euston. [Insert joke about last requests and pencils full of lead here. Or maybe not] I used to spend a fair bit of time travelling up to Manchester for work, so I have a great fondness for the city. My bursary allowed me to stay at The Principal, which was quite a step up from the Premier Inn. I took full advantage of the facilities during my stay, including the gym, the bar, the table tennis table, the pool table, the free wifi, and the excellent breakfast. I ran, I showered, I Nando’sed, I Herdricks’ed (just a small one), I slept, I gymmed, I bathed, I breakfasted and then I was ready to take on the Conference.

Coming next: Day 1 of the conference