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!

 

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LwL Podcast Episode 51 – Phil Bradley

In Episode 51 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Phil Bradley, until recently a consultant and trainer about working for the British Council, CD-ROMs and libraries, the coming of the internet, the impact of Twitter, playing around on the internet for a living, mental health and loss, and what it’s like to be CILIP President during turbulent times…

Phil’s training website: https://philbradleytraining.weebly.com/ He’s offering his Apps for Librarians video course of 40 videos entirely free of charge. His training course of 40+ videos lasting over 6 hours is available for £20 for unlimited personal access. People can email him for more details: philipbradley@gmail.com (Phil is happy for me to publish his contact details here.)

We recorded this episode in early February over Skype audio. Normally I’m able to switch off after a podcast recording but this one really stayed with me as it was a lot to process. Phil talks very candidly about being CILIP President and the impact that the experience had on his mental health. I was shocked by some of the things he said and, listening back to the episode, I think that comes across.

I missed a lot of what happened in CILIP and in the profession generally when I went on an extended CPD break from 2012-2016 and I was largely disconnected for about a year for various reasons prior to that. On reflection it was probably a good thing.

Even if you’re not a massive fan of Librarians with Lives I’d urge you to listen to this episode. If nothing else, we should reflect on how we treat others (as a previous low-level library twitter moron I very much include myself in this) in the profession. The main point being that if you’re moved to send death threats to the CILIP President by email, maybe…don’t….?

The next episode will be released on Tuesday 23rd April and features Shaun Kennedy.

Happy listening!

LwL Podcast Episode 50 – #LwL50 AMA

50 episodes! To celebrate this epic milestone Mike Jones hosts an Ask Me Anything (AMA), turning the tables on me by asking listeners and previous participants to submit questions on a variety of topics. This episode also features a surprise (to me) quiz, where I unleashed my poorly-concealed Monica from Friends competitive side…

I deliberately chose not to have sight of the questions beforehand, so the answers you hear are spontaneous. I have included every question I was asked, although I have made small edits for clarity and where I was rambling with no purpose trying to come up with an answer. I have left the pauses in during the quiz section for tension-creation purposes.

Huge thanks to Mike for putting a phenomenal amount of work into putting this episode together and for being an ace Quizmeister General.

Many thanks to the following people for submitting questions: Ian Anstice, Holger Aman, Sam Burgess, Mike Ewen, Paul Jeorrett, Sally Walker, Jen Bayjoo, Jo Cornish, Clare McCluskey Dean, Heather Marshall, Ellie Downes, David Clover and Helen Monagle.

Normal service will be resumed on 26th March with the wonderful Phil Bradley.

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 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 Podcast Episode 34: Natasha Chowdory

In Episode 34 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Natasha Chowdory, who has worked in workplace and charity information settings and will shortly be staring a new role as a Clinical Evidence Based Information Specialist at CEBIS, based at the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.

Blogpost:
Books Mentioned:
  • Sweet Valley Series especially: Sweet Valley University:
    1. Love, Lies, and Jessica Wakefield
    2. The Other Woman
    3. Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later
  • Life of Astronaut on Earth: Chris Hadfield
  • The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in Age of Longevity: Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott
  • Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges: Amy Cuddy
  • The Multi-Hyphen Method: Emma Gannon
TV/Films Mentioned:
  • The Magicians (on Syfy, based on the book series of the same name by Lev Grossman)
  • Wynonna Earp (based on the comics)
  • Star Trek (Tasha is partial to Generation, Voyager and the newest one because #diversity – Discovery)
  • Black Panther

Next week’s episode features Ian Anstice and will be the last one before the LwL summer break.
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!