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 39: Angus MacDonald

In Episode 39 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Angus MacDonald, web and digital manager at CILIP, who is also a qualified information professional. He worked briefly in libraries before moving into roles at a start-up and an advertising agency. We discuss developments at CILIP, engaging with members, and whether Mad Men accurately portrays what it’s like to work in advertising…

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!

The little things that you hide…

…and the little things you show (a prize for the first person to work out which song that – slightly paraphrased – line comes from). I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how much I reveal of myself on Twitter and what it really says about me as a Librarian with a Life.

I started off my Twitter life with one account and now have three:

JWo79 – personal/librarian. Likely to be fairly professional 9-5 Monday-Friday. Outside working hours the content is fairly random.

House of Twins – the Twitter presence for my ‘other’ life – terribly Twee and Twinny. Best avoided if you don’t like children. (It’s ok – sometimes I don’t like them much either)

Libswithlives – rather neglected, but it’s the official feed for this blog.

For some inexplicable reason the JWo79 account has the most followers and I’m aware that the vast majority of them are librarians.  As a result I’m now putting much more thought into my Tweets. Well, that’s the theory anyway. I still have red mist moments where I punt something out into the Twittersphere, experience instant Tweet regret and delete the offending message(s) immediately afterwards. If, like me, you rarely follow Twitter live, you won’t see the Tweet. If you follow in ‘real time’ then you’ll see my wobbler in 140-character technicolour.

With my grown-up head on, I know it’s not wise to have brain farts on Twitter. My JWo79 account is private but I don’t want to put myself in a position where I end up working with someone I previously had a falling-out with on Twitter or, even worse, not get a job because my social networking presence is considered to be too unprofessional.

I really like a balance of professional and personal content.  I’m far more likely to click on a link or follow a blog if I know more about the person than just the occasional link to a CILIP document. I personally find it harder to engage with librarian Twitter accounts that *just* talk about library stuff. I like to get to know the person beyond their job. A bunch of dry links and RTs and nothing else don’t really do it for me.

However you choose to conduct your Twitter account (and it’s very much a personal thing), you have to be comfortable with the image you project. Some people balance the personal and professional with ease. Others hide behind their professional front and offer tantalising hints as to their life beyond work. I’m fairly convinced that some people have no life at all beyond the profession. A few would rather tell you about the cocktail they’ve just mixed rather than the meeting they attended. As long as they’re not mixing a White Russian at 9am on a Monday morning…

Everyone develops their own boundaries and strong sense of what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour on Twitter. I don’t like being shouted at for not committing more of my time to library campaigning (to which I desperately wanted to reply ‘I can’t because I’ve got a F*****G life’. See? A classic red mist moment. I had to physically walk away from my iPhone, which is quite difficult to do on a train). My view on library campaigners is now a much more balanced ‘If they didn’t exist we’d have to invent them and I’m mostly glad that they’re around and that they care so much’.  I don’t like being ‘told’ not to watch a certain TV programme. Start imposing your will on others and you’re practically begging for an Unfollow. I know that the messages aren’t personal but it’s easy to forget that behind the usernames lie real people. That reminds me: a simple ‘Thank you’ when you answer a question doesn’t go amiss. Politeness costs nothing you know.

The longer you Tweet, the more you learn. Recently I joined in with a particular hashtag, but did so on my HoT feed rather than the JWo one because it revealed something about me that I wouldn’t be totally comfortable with a bunch of professional contacts knowing. Six months ago I probably would have Tweeted it as JWo79. I feel that I have developed a strong sense of who I am on Twitter and the image I want to project. It may not be perfect, but at least it proves that I am a rounded human being.

LwL seminar – 14-December-2010

I mentioned in a previous post: CPD in three dimensions that I was going to do a seminar on CPD and Librarians with Lives. I had grand plans to do a Prezi thing (bells, whistles, etc) but then, as it always does, life took over and I found myself hastily cobbling together an extremely primitive Powerpoint presentation the night before. I have posted it here for your delectation. Don’t laugh too much:

LwL presentation – SCIE 14-Dec-10

(Note – the original presentation had an extra slide in, which I have since removed)

I took away three messages from the seminar:

1. Find your CPD niche (I’ll write a post on that in the New Year)

2. Twitter isn’t always the answer (especially if you are uber-suspicious of the medium and you have vowed never to use it)

3. Don’t let the profession take over your life (if you don’t want it to)


Guest Post #9 – Following events from afar

Jo Alcock is an Evidence Based Researcher at Evidence Base in Birmingham City University. This basically means she’s a librarian without a library who spends her time on research, evaluation and consultancy for the library and information community. You can find Jo on Twitter @joeyanne and blogging at Joeyanne Libraryanne. Here, Jo introduces the concept of ‘Event Amplification’ and demonstrates that even librarians with the most active of lives can still find ways to participate in CPD:

I’m not at the stage of my life yet where I have delightful children who take up all my spare time (though our two cats can be demanding little fusspots at times!), but I do like to think that I have a life outside of work, so I consider myself a librarian with a life. I also have a few professional plates to juggle; I’m still completing my MSc dissertation, I’m a member of two different CILIP committees, and I write a blog.

CPD is important to me. I love to attend events, but it’s not always possible to attend the ones you’d like to – sometimes for financial reasons, or lack of time, or maybe it’s during the day and you have work commitments. But nowadays you can often still follow the event without physically being there.

Event amplification is a term which is being used more commonly now – it refers to the event being amplified beyond its physical barriers, often by utilising technology such as Twitter, live blogging or live streaming. Many event organisers are starting to utilise these technologies to enable people to follow the event from afar. It helps the event get more publicity and could mean more people attending their next event – I’ve certainly earmarked a few events I’d like to attend based on the information I have followed.

Through my Twitter connections, I’ve been able to follow events from all over the world. Sometimes it might not even be an event you’re aware of, but if you spot a tweet from someone and it has an event hashtag, you can then set up a saved search to see all the tweets with the hashtag.

More and more, event amplification information is publicised on the event fliers and emails, so you can even set it in your calendar and try to set aside some time during the day to catch up on the tweets from the event, or watch a particular section of the event when it is live streamed if it’s something you are interested in.

So, if you want to follow events from afar and help others do the same, here are some quick tips:

  • join Twitter and follow people within the community with similar interests to your own – they will be most likely to tweet from events that you will also be interested in following
  • keep an eye out for details of a Twitter hashtag for events or details of any live streaming or live blogging for events you are interested in – add them to your calendar with appropriate URLs where applicable
  • if you attend an event and are able to tweet, explain to your followers what event you are at and include a hashtag if there is one (if there isn’t, consider creating your own to keep all tweets together and make it easier for people to follow)

Here’s to more event amplification enabling us to follow events whilst sat at home in our jim jams or drinking wine – cheers!

Guest post #1: Keep your(professional)self alive

This is our first (of, hopefully, many) guest post on Librarians with Lives and I’m very pleased to say that it comes from Bethan Ruddock @bethanar on Twitter and library blogger extraordinaire – she of recently Chartered, Mimas, recently honoured by the SLA, Librarian Crowd fame and a rather marvellous example of ‘our’ kind, who was pressganged offered to write a piece for me. Here it is and I think it’s brilliant We would both love your thoughts on it…

So, get me on Twitter of an evening after a glass of wine and I’ll agree to anything!  Such as writing a blog post for this ace new blog.  I really liked the ‘no more than 15 mins on a post’ rule – that’s something I can fit into my overcrowded days!

But what to write about?  I asked Jo, and got the response ‘anything with a prof dev/ revalidation slant really’ and so, me being me, I’ve taken inspiration from the tweet directly below that in my @ replies – from SimonXIX in response to a rather messy (in many ways) thread that had been going about sticky toffee pudding and celery. Don’t ask.  It said: ‘Perhaps suicide is unprofessional. Discuss’

This got me thinking: what is professional suicide? Is it doing something hideously, horrendously unprofessional – insulting members of the audience from the stage at a conference?  Being sued by the music industry for file-sharing? Going on a rampage through the library, destroying books and computers and traumatising users?

Or is it something more insidious?  Rather than going out with a bang, perhaps it’s a gradual death, a slow wasting-away, a gentle decline.  Perhaps professional death starts where professional growth ends.

We’re constantly told that by not eating properly and not doing enough exercise, we’re gradually killing ourselves with neglect.  I’d say the same is true of our careers.  Professional suicide comes not so much from doing anything wrong, but from failing to do the right things, failing to commit to continuing your professional development.  And just like diet and exercise, we need to find that small window of time to cram it into our busy day.

So, 15 minutes of CPD a day then, to keep your career healthy, happy, and active? Sounds eminently achievable.  And you don’t have to do anything spectacular in those 15 minutes – think gentle stretching rather than full-on sprint.  Spend 5 minutes reading a blog post, and then 10 minutes thinking about it while you’re doing the washing up, or waiting for a bus.  Scribble down a to-do list with some long-term goals.  Learn a fact about the information profession, your workplace, or your colleagues that you didn’t know before.

Keep stretching. Keep growing. Keep your career alive.

Other suggestions for 15 minute CPD fixes? Comments please!

CPD for the CBA

Ok, so the CBA isn’t stricty true. Maybe CPD for the timestretched is more accurate?

One of the things I’d really like to do on this blog in share ideas and tips for doing quick, easy and cheap (preferably free) CPD activities.

Using Twitter is a no-brainer. Making friends with CPD-obsessed peers and colleagues so that you can steal borrow their notes from courses and conferences is another. It’s the equivalent of copying their homework. Following blogs (and having a good blog reader) is another must because you can dip in and out.

What else can I do? What else do you do to keep up your CPD?

What Twitter has taught me about librarians

*insert tongue in cheek disclaimer here*

  1. There are a lot of cat-owning librarians
  2. Librarians use the word ‘crafting’ as a verb
  3. Librarians like food: mainly cake, cheese and chocolate
  4. Librarians can be sarcastic to the point of being lemonfaced
  5. Librarians believe they have the best job in the word
  6. There’s lots of frustration at the inability of outsiders to understand the profession and what being a librarian entails
  7. Librarians will rip their own arm off and eat it to win a place at a conference and/or a free lunch
  8. Librarians could actually describe themselves more accurately as IT consultants, if they so wished
  9. Librarians are early adopters of new technology – I’m willing to bet that ipad and iphone ownership is pretty high among my professional colleagues.
  10. Librarians like blogs. They also like publicly slagging off blogs that they don’t like.

The Librarian Crowd

My goodness – the library Twitterati are a scary bunch aren’t they? So keen! So dedicated! So much time on their hands! How do they manage it? I’m genuinely jealous.

I joined Twitter in February 2009 at the height of ‘Oooh, what’s Twitter? I’ll join, write a Tweet that says ‘How does this work then?’, start following Stephen Fry and then forget my password and subsequently claim that I don’t ‘Get’ Twitter and that it’s for geeks’ mania. Initially, I just followed a few C-List celebrities (and Stephen Fry) and a few of my friends.

Then I went to Umbrella that July and understood why Twitter was so important. Despite the confusion over the official hashtag (#cilipumbrella09 was stupidly long – I preferred #umb09) I had an epiphany. Suddenly I had a way of connecting with my professional peers that I was sadly lacking at work. I’m a solo librarian and run a remote library and information service so have to find other avenues for interaction. Twitter provides a partial solution to that.

However, the library lot on Twitter are incredibly intimidating – in the nicest possible way of course. Not only do they tweet (and blog) constantly, they are also absolutely up to speed with every single element of professional development and they write incredibly eloquently about it. They happily exchange witty banter with not only their peers but the great and the good of the library world. They also win awards and have not only a national, but an international professional presence.

It reminds me of being at school. In history and English I was the annoying know it all at the front of the class, constantly with my hand up screaming I KNOW! I KNOW! In maths and science lessons I was the one at the back writing out the lyrics to Pulp songs in my exercise book. Twitter puts me somewhere in the middle. I know stuff but I don’t know enough library people on Twitter to make a meaningful noise about it. I occasionally Tweet something vaguely professional, generally about my job (or the frustrations therein) but I simply can’t compete with people that read reports, read and comment on loads of blogs (in my mind there’s a massive difference between skimming a blog and reading it in enough depth to comment intelligently on it) and tweet from their beds morning and night.

I had a very reassuring chat with a fellow librarian and occasional Twitter user last week which reassured me that I wasn’t alone in feeling like the wallflower in the corner watching everyone else dance while I pick my nose. I’m fortunate enough to be watching the dedicated hardcore, the super-keen, the future CILIP Presidents and committee members fight it out for supremacy in 140 character instalments.

I may not be part of the Librarian Crowd but observing their mating habits will make me a more informed professional.