Tuesday, 30 August 2011

And Classes are in, American style

Today has been my first official day of class, which comprised of an evening class on Information Resources: Organization (note the 'z', pronounced 'zee') and Access. This, however, was not my first class. Over this past weekend I have completed (and hopefully passed) the introductory course in Information and Information Fields.

This program was run for all new members of the iSchool, spanning Library and Information Science students (including School Media* students), Information Management and Telecommunications and Network Management.

Lectures focused on innovation and the necessity of creativity in the work place with group tasks including listing uses of the paper clip other than to hold items of paper together. A particularly interesting article was "The Weird Rules of Creativity" by Robert in Harvard Business Review 79(8).  We also spent a good while playing a trick card game in silence and moving from table to table and having to adapt to their rules and understanding of the game without being able to communicate verbally. This highlighted the ability of newcomers to an organization to identify issues, which had merely become routine for those already there.

The main focus of the weekend was the group presentation, which was assigned to groups of people form each part of the iSchool and who had not previously met. We were given one evening to become experts in our fields...mine was campus surveillance. I can now tell you rather a lot about the ethics of video surveillance and all kinds of cameras that can be used. The presentation the following morning went well with a productive question and answer session and competitive grilling of the other group, who had tackled the same issue.

I am definitely feeling a bit like a fish out of water but then, as we commented in the very American evaluation session at the end of the weekend, getting out of your comfort zone is how we achieve more and push ourselves to new heights. You could say that that is what I am doing with this whole move to the States!

So, this was just a brief insight into what I am up to. Classes proper have started and my job starts bright and early tomorrow. But don't worry, it isn't all work...I went to the New York State Fair  today and even had a Snickers wrapped in bacon and deep fried...welcome to America!

* in New York State school librarians need to have done a specific degree in order to be able to work in a school - interesting

Saturday, 27 August 2011

[CPD23] Thing 18

I haven't tried any of these referencing tools but I have tried RefWorks, which was suggested by one of my new tutors here at Syracuse.  I wasn't a fan.  Basically, the search databases that we are using produce a citation in whatever format you want when you look it up and so it is perfectly easy to copy and paste that into your bibliography.  I also like to have control over what I am putting in my bibliography (in a rather anal way) and I found writing my bibliography a very soothing part of my thesis.  It reassured me that I had indeed done lots of work and had several pages of references to show for it (on top of copious amounts of opinions on the relationship between the geographical positioning of temples of Artemis in Greece and her functions as a goddess).

Àrtemis d’Efes, Museu de Trípoli by Sebastià Giralt, on Flickr

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Sebastià Giralt

This is the sort of cult statue that I would discuss - the only reference I had to it was in German so my German friend kindly and slightly confusedly translated it as referring to the bulls' testicles decorating the goddess' garments - you've gotta love Classics.

I am not going to be down on these referencing tools since I haven't actually tried them (I am a bit strapped for time at the moment what with orientation, getting an American social security number, getting a bank account, job, phone (ridiculously complicated), dealing with health centre workers who haven't even heard of Scotland and wonder if TB is rife there and starting my Masters with a 2 day intensive course tomorrow on information and information environments, oh and making friends) but I will bear them in mind for when I start to write longer papers and require assistance, honest!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

[Cam23 2.0] Thing 18

I always like to see that it is a reflection week until I realise that I have to reflect on something!  Since the last reflection week I have quite liked everything that we have had a look at.  Facebook is obviously something I use a lot and will continue to do so now that I am even further away from everyone I know.  I can see the benefits of LinkedIn though am not paying as much attention to it as I should...naughty.

Glasgow-harbour by baaker2009, on Flickr
A nice photo of homeCreative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License
  by  baaker2009 

I am very glad that we have had a look at Flickr and Creative Commons since it is something that I have always wanted to have a look at but felt guidance was required.  It was also timed brilliantly to complement some of my first modules at school!

Sunset Over Onondaga Lake Syracuse NY 20 by Enoch Ross, on Flickr
And a photo of my new home, though I have yet to see sunset over Onondaga lake
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  Enoch Ross 

The best thing about this program, however, is the chance to read everyone else's blogs and see how they feel about certain Things.  On many occasions I have pulled myself up since I realise that I have been way too quick to judge some Things and should give them more of a chance...like Twitter.  I am looking forward to the presentation stuff coming up since I think I have a lot of that to do for my classes (the first of which is this weekend so, unfortunately, the Thing isn't quite in time!)

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

[CPD23] Thing 13

I apologise that this is late and will not be in detail - I have arrived safely in America and have just about managed to get myself sorted out...never underestimate how much faff there is when you move country.  At least they speak English here (although there was extensive confusion over 'bin lorry' and 'garbage truck'.

I have discussed organising tips for the Cam23 2.0 program and my post can be seen here.

Google Docs 

I use these a lot and they are a great way to share information especially when not everyone can meet to discuss points of interest.  I also use it as a rota for a society and it is in use at St John's for announcements. The only problem that I have encountered has been in sharing the documents with those who do not have Google accounts.  This was particularly a problem for work where Cambridge University e-mails were the ones known by members of a group.  There are ways of working round this I think but it is a hassle.


Again, I have not really tried this but can see its uses.  I thought that I might use it when I had started my Masters but I have started it and I don't see it being that useful since all of my articles are together on Blackboard (a rather better version of CamTools).  Once I am researching topics myself and finding articles then perhaps I will use Dropbox (or more likely Evernote).

Within the library it may be useful to such a thing for the Biographical Office since we are in the habit of scanning photographs in as people request copies and we keep them together for future reference.  Dropbox has the potential to become an archive for such items, which could then be accessed directly by the researchers.  In my experience, however, some enquirers do not even have e-mail and so this would not be a cure-all solution.


As Jen says, we have used a Wiki for updating the CaTaLoG website.  Other than that I have not had much experience of them.

I agree with Laura when she says that, at work, there is little need to share items.  St John's also had a shared drive for documents.  However, having the option to access work items at home is very useful and I am sure many will use that function.

Courtesy of me

As a wee aside, I have been appointed as Syracuse University Graduate Archive Assistant, which is very exciting and will give me a different perspective on archiving to complement by work with St John's, Cambridge and Balliol, Oxford.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

[Cam23 2.0] Things 16 and 17 and Extra Thing 6

I don't have much time to look at these Things this week since I am packing up reading to move to the States on Friday.

Flickr and Creative Commons

I have briefly used Flickr before for finding images and it is a great resource.  I don't think that I will upload my own images at the moment, probably since I don't think anyone else would be interested in them but if I do happen to take up photography in a serious way then why not?!  It may actually be a good place for showing images of exhibitions or ideas for displays in the library to show others what sort of thing your library is doing and give others some ideas.

Here is a photo of luggage, all I can think about at the moment.

I think that I have done that all correctly.  I am always worried about referencing photos so I am glad that I can do this properly!

I had to study 10 introductory modules for my Masters and I have just done Copyright, Creative Commons and Public Domain and it has been really rather more interesting than I had previously given Copyright credit for!


I have never used podcasts but it is something that I will think about now that I have a laptop that can cope with downloading and viewing things.  I may be some way from actually creating one but I see creating videos is part of one of my first classes so I imagine I will be getting to grips with it soon enough.

I think that they are a great idea for using in libraries as part of freshers' tours and induction since students can return to it online if they need to.  I loved the L-Team video...I only wish I had had time to do that sort of thing at St John's - I wonder how it would have gone down!

I am afraid that packing (well unpacking to suitable weight) is required!  CPD23 post may have to wait for this week.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Bloom's Taxonomy

Hurrah!  A post not all about CPD23 or Cam23 2.0!!

Syracuse have ever so kindly sent me a heck of a lot of work to do before I even fly out so I am ploughing my way through that instead of packing, which at least means that my suitcase currently still weighs less than 23kg!

I thought that I would just mention Bloom's Taxonomy which popped up in my reading and I was quite intrigued in lieu of the 'reflection' concept recently mentioned in CPD23 and Cam23 2.0.

The original 1956 version focuses on nouns:

Original Version

But was updated in the 1990s to a verbal pyramid with more relevant terms and a tone of action:

New Version
There is a table of similar terms that can be substituted in here.  

The top three tiers are what I am not as experienced in but then that may depend to a large extent on your job and the position you are in within the institution.  Someone at the bottom of the ladder would find it harder to instigate change through the creativity tier than people at the top but there is nothing to stop all people proposing ideas, regardless of rank.

During training and the Masters, the focus is on the bottom tiers but I am excited by Syracuse's course and the prospect of following through new ideas and come up with innovations of my own (indeed I have had to already for my 'innovation essay'!).

[CPD23] Thing 12

I have talked about social media in my last post for Cam23 2.0, which you can read here.  Before I embarked on a career (not sure I can quite call it that yet but I shall aim high) I only used Facebook and hadn't really heard of any of the other forms of social media let alone use them.

This really gives me quite a good basis for writing this post since I was completely new to the profession and have now made many contacts and acquaintances after my year in Cambridge.  So, to what extent did social media play a role in linking me with colleagues and getting my name out there?

Social media

I'll go through the different forms of social media and see how I used them.


As I said, I was using this already.  I cannot say that this played a big part in my professional presence in Cambridge.  I did use it to contact some of the other graduate trainees before we started so that we could meet up and get to know one another before the year began.  For making contacts after this though, it was not useful.  I don't even 'like' libraries on FB unless it was under duress.


I was slow on the uptake of Twitter but I think that it has been really helpful this year in keeping me in the loop with events, meetings and discussions.  I did not often participate but it is useful to lurk and glean information that way.  This is very useful in creating communities as I especially noticed at the Libraries@Cambridge conference where people were meeting up with those whom they only knew from Twitter.


This has not as yet been helpful for making contacts but it may be as I use it more and explore the different groups and networks.


Blogging itself has been a great way of making contacts and getting to know people better, especially as part of CPD23 and Cam23 2.0.  Blogging was something that I never thought would be for me because I didn't think anyone would be interested in what I had to say (not that I think I am any more interesting now but I have realised that everyone has a similar fear so somehow that makes it ok).    


I enjoy reading others' articles and commenting on things that I agree with or found interesting.  I like the way that RSS feeds mean that I can keep up with the blogs but can read them when I wish whereas Twitter forces you to keep track all the time.  

It is quite interesting to have this focus on social media since usually we are asked to consider how social media can be used by libraries as a means of pulling in students and customers but considering its use for professional development is quite a different matter.  I would again raise the issue of the personal and professional boundaries since this is something that concerns me.  If I consider how else I made contacts in Cambridge then I have to admit that a lot of it was done through face to face meetings.  The many tours and visits that the trainees experience were invaluable in making contacts but I also attended many talks and lectures in Cambridge as a means of meeting others, especially those outwith the university itself.

So, I would conclude that social media has been very helpful in forging professional relationships but I don't think that it can possibly take over from physical interaction.  What seems best is to have a healthy mix of the two.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

[Cam23 2.0] Things 14 and 15 and Extra Thing 5

Social media is a bit of buzz term at the moment due to the riots (I am glad to see that the Glaswegians are refraining at the moment and have made Facebook groups entitled 'Rioters, come tae Glasgow, we'll set aboot ye' and 'No chance of riots in Glasgow, we have John Smeaton' - makes me proud to be Scottish.

Also, yesterday I took part in a focus group for my friend's dissertation for his Marketing Masters.  The discussion was all about the use of social media in advertising and how we, as consumers, reacted to companies who were on Facebook or Twitter.  I was surprised by the negative attitude of the others in the group (we were all recent graduates) who claimed either to ignore social media links to companies or even to look elsewhere for whatever product it might be.  I suppose I have been cocooned in the uber-enthusiastic Cambridge librarian scene and was not prepared for the rather more down-to-earth approach of Scottish consumers!  But do not fret, I gave them an earful about the wonderful Cambridge librarians and how inter-connected we all are!

Also, I have been starting my reading for Syracuse and I came across this interesting article on what happens when new technologies go wrong - I particularly liked the 'creepy' comment.

So, onward.


I have been using Facebook since first year at uni and think that it is a great way to stay in contact with friends and share photos etc.  It is particularly useful for organising events and getting in touch with groups.  I am not sure about it for libraries - I have done rather haphazard research and gathered that students don't automatically think of Facebook when they want to find out information about their libraries (even when they are friends on Facebook) - they, like me, would be more likely to go to the library website since they regard the library as an academic and professional institution rather than their 'friend.'  This distance is arguably useful to a library, which needs to maintain a sense of professionalism and respect from users.  But, equally, I can see the benefit of being on more informal terms (with students...perhaps it depends on which library.


I have an account and have made connections and somehow folk keep asking to connect with me, which is great though I am not entirely sure how they found me.  I haven't been using it that much since I have been a tad busy.  I will keep it up to date but the discussions on it etc. are all just a bit much for me - on top of RSS feeds and articles and Twitter it is just something else to keep track of and I am beginning to need to be very selective with what I keep track of...this and CPD23 is getting tricky enough!


I haven't tried this myself but I do like tumblr blogs such as Ange's and Cambridge Noir.  I am quite happy with Blogger at the moment but I'll bear Tumblr in mind if ever I want a more media focused blog.

John's Working Library


The Judge's blog looks fantastic - I think I'll be using this!  This sort of blog looks like it could be good due to its privatisation options but, as I said above, I am not in the market for a new blog!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

[CPD23] Things 10 and 11

How did I get to where I am and where am I going?

Graduate Traineeship

Well, I have just finished my graduate traineeship at St John's College, Cambridge.  While at uni I toyed with the idea of doing a law conversion (as many classicists do) but decided that that was not for me.  I became interested in librarianship when I started being a student invigilator in college and I realised that there was a lot more to this library lark than just checking books in and out and wearing pearls (as my parents thought).  When I discovered the CILIP grad trainee job page I decided to apply for as many as I could...this was something like 30.  I was very lucky in that I was offered the job after my first interview and so didn't need to take more time off for the other interviews that had been lined up.

I have found the traineeship at John's invaluable.  To be honest I had little idea of the profession before I walked through that magical revolving door and, one year on, I can't believe how much I have learned, how many libraries I have visited and how many information professionals I have worked with.  The traineeship at John's allowed me to work with students, fellows, alumni, special collections, archives and the biographical office with the result that I have had a very rounded experience, which will hopefully stand me in good stead for all that the profession will throw at me in the future.


I have been lucky enough to have been awarded one of the two St Andrew's Society of the State of New York scholarships for next year and a place at Syracuse University so I am off to upstate New York in a few weeks.  I had already got a place at Glasgow for the Masters in Information Management and Preservation, which really appealed to me since it is accredited both by CILIP and the Society of Archivists and would keep my career path more open.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity to study in America though and hopefully this will work in my favour!


The course options look pretty similar to courses in the UK though there seem to be many more elective options and no compulsory dissertation.  You are encouraged to get an internship for 5 weeks instead of a dissertation, which will be a great opportunity for me to experience work in an American information institution!

I will keep this blog running when I am over there and keep it updated with what I am up to so that I can keep tabs on what is different from my Masters to those of you in UK Library Schools at the same time.

And beyond...

If I am lucky enough to get a job when I come back from the US (fingers crossed) then I probably would like to go for chartership if I found a good mentor.  It sounds like a great way to keep up with professional development without being left on your own - it would still be guided and would be a good step before being cast adrift in the profession.

So, that's a whistlestop tour of where I have come from and where I am going (I'd say that's close enough for a Cotton Eye Jo link).    Who knows where I will end up though...Australia does look tempting...

Monday, 1 August 2011

[Cam23 2.0] Things 12 and 13

Lots of new things this week.  I have had a wee go at all of them and have mixed feelings.

Thing 12

I had previously worked with Diigo (very briefly) and had been quite pleased with it but on revisitation I didn't really get it.  So, I decided to have a look at Delicious.  I liked the fact that it used a mac in the instructions section...very helpful for a new mac user!  I took to it pretty quickly and have saved all my bookmarks with tags etc. and can see that being quite useful when I come to working in the library at uni and might be on another machine.  I can't really see myself using the networks etc. but it is certainly a very useful tool for personal use.

The tags are quite useful but, at the moment, I have only bookmarked what I normally have bookmarked and so I know what they are without requiring tags...  Maybe when I start bookmarking articles etc. and requiring them for certain subjects and essays the tagging will become a bit more useful.  This is definitely something that I will continue to use and I am off to try to access it from another putsie.

I haven't had a go with the 'ReaditLater' thing since the new Lion software for macs has a similar function as a button on the Safari toolbar and the symbol looks like this:
Reading List
Thing 13

Very cool shelf stairs
I have always wondered what 'Library Thing' was and am glad that I have now had a play with it.  I managed to sign up easily enough and found it very straightforward to add books and I do like the tab 'Miscellaneous powers' though they turn out to not be very interesting.  I can see how Library Thing is pretty helpful for libraries to show their new acquisitions and allow rating etc. but I don't really think I'll use it for my personal books.  It is nice to see what I have read and remind myself of them and rate them but I think the novelty will wear off and I will go back to just shelving them in a different bit of the study at home to Mum's and Dad's books.

It does look good that you can browse by shelf since this is something that students said they missed when dealing with ebooks etc.  I don't really see how helpful the rating system is when Library Thing is in an academic role.  I know that LibrarySearch has a link to Library Thing and shows how many people own the book (on Library Thing) and how they rate it - this would not have affected the likelihood of me reading a book on my reading list.  This is coupled with 'My discoveries' and I don't know how widely they are used by Cambridge University students.   Perhaps it is more useful for research and wider reading i.e. when you go off the reading list.  I certainly never felt the urge to rate the books on my reading list on the actual catalogue.  Maybe that is just the sort of student I was!