Third time’s a charm

I have been working as a Learning Facilitator (fancy name for librarian) at a Sixth Form College since October 2015. I worked part-time for a while and then moved onto a full-time, term time only contract.

This job has taught me so much about being a librarian. I started the job at the same time as my MA in Librarianship. It was the first job I applied for after completing my Graduate Traineeship and I was so lucky to bag a professional position before I was actually qualified. It really was perfect because it was relatively close to home and it was part-time which allowed me to work and study. The great thing about this role was that I was able to put theory into practice and really learn about libraries in a supportive environment. I had an amazing line manager who supported me as a new professional. She gave me the freedom and guidance required to try new ideas and to develop my skills.

Some highlights from my time as an FE librarian:

  • Receiving a special award from the HE & Skills department for supporting the needs of their students. I genuinely feel that I am valued by this department and their students. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve been thanked for just doing my job with cards and flowers. I love working with HE students!
  • Writing the library documentation/ representing the Library at the recent HE partnership re-validation panel. Sounds boring but it was a big deal for me. I wrote a huge document detailing how the Library supports staff and students who are studying for courses validated by our partner university.
  • Becoming an administrator for Canvas/ being responsible for the Library Management System. Trailing and implementing a new VLE, delivering training to staff & students and being an admin for Canvas and Heritage has been a huge learning curve and really developed my technical knowledge and my ability to answer queries remotely.

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  • Representing the Library on the Equality & Diversity Committee. I have loved promoting resources to support BAME and LGBT+ students. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some wonderful kids who are not afraid to be true to themselves and represent their community. I have authored two reports detailing how the Library promotes Equality & Diversity (something library staff had not done before) which forms part of the overall E & D report for the College. We are now a Stonewall School Champion which is amazing. I love buying and promoting books to students that help them to own and celebrate their identities.

 

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  • Increasing the number of information literacy sessions delivered annually. In 2016-17, we delivered 41 sessions to 643 students with four Learning Facilitators. In 2017-18 we delivered 83 sessions to 1100 students with three Learning Facilitators. This year we have so far delivered 84 sessions to 1296 students with just two Learning Facilitators. I am very proud of the Discover @Asfclibrary Info Lit workshops that we have developed and I absolutely love teaching info skills! Next year we are FINALLY going to become more embedded in the College curriculum.
  • Being recommended for and completing the Leadership Development Programme
  • Running the Excelsior Award for the first time. The Excelsior Award is the only nationwide book award for comic books and graphic novels and aims to encourage kids to read and it also raises the profile of comic books. They deserve a place in all schools, colleges and libraries. I worked my butt off putting this display together and entered us for the ‘Nuff Said Award which is given to the library with the best Excelsior display.

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  • Making friends and developing relationships with colleagues that will last a life-time. I’ve had the privilege of working with some lovely librarians and teachers. My colleague Penny has been especially wonderful. She has been a mentor and a role model for me these past three+ years. She will always listen to my complaints and predicaments, both professional and personal. Plus, she is an AMAZING librarian! She knows everything!
  • Making a difference even for one student makes it all worth it!

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Some challenges I’ve encountered:

  • Increasing workload. We have fewer team members, we have more students than ever, we have lost library space, we are delivering more info literacy skills training sessions, and we now look after the College’s VLE. On top of this we have less money. I know decreasing budgets are common across the entire public sector and I could go on and on… but I won’t. FE is a rewarding but challenging sector in this respect!
  • Lack of engagement. Some departments and students do not engage with the Library. There are groups of users who do not engage with libraries in all sectors but this does not make it any less frustrating. It’s really difficult to determine why they don’t engage, especially when we are shouting from the rooftops about how we can help them.
  • Student behaviour. I researched behaviour management for dissertation as it was the most challenging aspect of my role. It is still a struggle for me and the team. As a result we decided to make the Library a silent study space which has been VERY difficult to implement. We are everything librarians shouldn’t be –  we are constantly nagging students to stop talking. The other room which is a Learning Commons style room is the bane of my existence. I get virtually no library/ research enquiries. It’s basically PC/ printer issues or I am having to deal with challenging behaviour/ students who are just using the space to socialise. I hate to say it but on some days the negative experiences have outweighed the positive.

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Moving on…

I always said once I graduated, I’d start looking for a new job. My graduation coupled with the challenges listed above, prompted me to officially start my job search a few months ago.

I applied for about six different jobs including a few in the health sector. I consider myself very lucky to have been invited to attend three interviews. As far as job hunting goes, I was mentally prepared to be in it for the long haul. You have to spend time looking for jobs (far and few between in this sector and there are even fewer in the North West!). You then have to spend hours applying for each job; crafting your CV, cover letters and applications accordingly. If you’re lucky enough to be invited to interview, it takes time and effort to prepare. The act of preparing for, attending and calming down after interviews is stressful and draining! Being able to reflect positively and demonstrate resilience when being turned down is the icing on the cake (this is the least appetising cake ever by the way).

Interview 1

I shared a blog post a while back about my first interview post-graduation. *Spoiler alert* it was my worst interview experience to date!

Interview 2

I realised during/ after these two interviews that I was applying for jobs that were probably above me… I was paying too much attention to the salary. Realistically, I did not have the experience or the skills required to do the job (interview 1) or I had some of the skills and experience, but not enough (interview 2). I was desperate to find jobs to apply for so I was going off the advice someone once gave me; if you meet two thirds of the criteria on a job spec, go for it! You might get lucky, you might fail. You win regardless. You either have a new job or you walk away with an enhanced CV and valuable interview experience.

Interview 2 was like a dream compared to interview 1. They were so nice, professional and friendly. They explained everything clearly, they really put me at ease and there were no nasty surprises like there were in interview 1.

During my reflections after interview 2, I knew I could have done better. I definitely wasn’t clear enough with some of my answers and I rushed through them. I now remember seeing their written notes and on one occasion, the box was only half full. The hiring manager offered to give me some feedback when they gave me the bad news.

I am so thankful that I got the feedback. She was actually amazing – she took 25 minutes out of her busy day to call me and go through each question with me. Here is some of the feedback she gave which was specific to the questions but I’ve highlighted the advice which is transferable to most library interview questions:

  • Do not be disheartened, encouraged me to continue applying in HE. She said it was a good starter interview for the sector. I should be happy with my performance and be proud of myself.
  • I gave a solid, thoughtful interview. I am appointable, I have transferable skills and good experience. It was obvious I had done my research and that I wanted to role and I showed an awareness which they liked.
  • Always link my experiences and knowledge back to the job spec and role and drill down more on my experience and skills (e.g. organisation, supervisory etc) and how they relate to the job. Be specific!
  • Don’t be scared to be theoretical – How do we motivate staff? Take them aside, communicate, what is the problem? What can I do to help? Offer well-being support and help, anything within the organisation on hand to help? Do they need training? Are they bored? Do they need stretching? Explain the steps 1-2-1s, escalations to manager, being visible and accessible.
  • Bigger context would have helped, e.g. mailing lists, colleagues at other institutions using the same suppliers, service level agreements – evidence of what is going wrong and the impacts on the service, internal colleagues and communication – letting them know what’s going on, escalate to someone higher if need be.

Interview 3

This was one of those moments where the perfect job vacancy pops up. I did not have to convince myself that I could maybe do everything listed on the job spec – I could do everything listed on the job spec, I want to do everything on the job spec plus it’s close enough to home. I’ve been wanting to work in HE since starting my career in libraries and my partner works there too which is a bonus!

I was so pleased when I was invited for an interview. I used the feedback from interview 2 and I did a lot more preparation. During some practice interviews, my partner fed back to me that I was rushing through some of the questions – a problem I encountered in interview 2.

During interview 3, I was very conscious to make sure I talked and talked until I literally had nothing left to say. I tried to notice how much they had written down. If their notes were overflowing the note box, I took this as a good sign. I smiled a lot and I was honest about my experiences. I kept the job spec in mind. I asked them four questions based on my research of the organisation at the end and I left feeling like we had a really nice conversation. I felt like I had done that “building rapport” thing that all of the interview prep websites tell you about!

As you’ve probably guessed by the title of this blog, I got the job!

I am going to be working at Manchester Metropolitan University as an Assistant Librarian and I’ll be looking after staff/students on fashion programmes. I am beyond excited to move into HE and to be working in the city again. Commuting on the train isn’t my fave but it will give me so much more time to read and listen to podcasts (priorities, right?). I am hoping to begin CILIP Chartership when I get settled. I am also hoping to have more money to put towards our house deposit. I am excited to start exploring art librarianship and learn all about fashion. I’ve found a sweet Fashion, Textiles & Costume Librarians blog to get me started. Finally, I can’t wait to meet new friends and colleagues. If the MMU Library Twitter account is anything to go by, they seem like a good bunch.

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I am really proud of myself and I am excited to get started. I am super thankful for my time at ASFC, for the colleagues who have supported me and for the advice and words of encouragement from my mum, my mates and my partner.

Anyone would think I’ve won an Oscar or something…

I am no expert but I’d be more than happy to give some tips and advice based on my job hunting experience.
I’ve found Natasha Chowdory’s blog especially helpful during my job hunt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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World Book Night: The Hate U Give

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World Book Night is a celebration of reading and books that takes place on 23 April every year. WBN celebrates the power of books and the difference that reading makes to people’s lives. WBN is run by mega amazing Reading Agency, a national charity that tackles life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. 

Free books are given out across the UK with a focus on reaching those who don’t regularly read, and are gifted through organisations including prisons, libraries, colleges, hospitals, care homes and homeless shelters.

For the first time this year, they are also giving away a free eBook! There are a limited number of downloads of the bestselling Turtles All the Way Down by John Green available. Anyone can apply to receive a copy through an online survey; just fill in the survey before midnight on Monday 8 April.

Apply to receive an audio download on 23 April here.

My colleague entered the bid to receive free books from the Reading Agency to give away to our students on WBN and we were successful! We are very excited to be giving away 160 copies of Angie Thomas’ bestselling novel The Hate U Give.

Books have arrived

The Hate U Give is such a good YA novel. I recently read it and really enjoyed it. It’s funny, powerful. gripping and real. The book was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. It follows Starr, a 16 year old girl who is the sole witness to her best friend’s murder at the hands of a white police officer. The novel shows the unjust reality of life for many people. Themes of race, poverty, drugs, gun violence, police brutality, love, friendship and community permeate the pages.

It was recently adapted into a film but I really recommend you read the book first.

Starr’s journey through grief, anger and resentment ends with her eventually finding her voice and being brave enough to use it even when society wishes to keep her quiet. It is inspiring to be reminded that even though the world is a shit show, we all have a voice. We all need to speak up and use it when we witness the injustices of the world!

I can’t wait to gift this book to students and talk about the issues raised in the novel.

Reading is power!

Leadership Development Programme

This is probably going to be long and boring… You have been forewarned.

I like to use my blog as a means of professional reflection and to give folks an insight into my job and career. I would like to reflect on something that from the outset seems quite boring but it is actually very exciting and kind of a big deal for me. I really value my own CPD and jump at all opportunities. So when my manager put my name forward for a leadership course “because he sees me as a future leader in the profession”, I was pleasantly surprised and excited.

After qualifying as a Librarian, I am obviously wanting to progress in my career and I would very much like to make a difference and a contribution in the field. Therefore, I am very open to the prospect of leading a team and managing a library – hence my last blog post

The course I was nominated for operates through the Pennine Education Partnership which consists of four colleges from the local area. Colleges can choose to send colleagues at differing management levels ranging from senior leaders to aspiring leaders. Usually they will send new heads of departments and managers onto the course. As a member of support staff, I feel quite lucky to have been sent on this course as it ain’t cheap!

In this post, I will be reflecting on the stuff I’ve learnt on the course so far. This is essentially a write up of my notes. But I figured I may as well share them because these notes might help people who are thinking about leadership & management too.

The programme aims:

  • Develop knowledge and understanding of excellent leadership
  • To build confidence and self-esteem
  • To provide opportunities for participants to learn from the experience of others
  • To develop coaching and mentoring skills
  • To enable aspiring leaders to gain experience in managing change and performance
  • To allow participants to reflect on leadership and their ambitions
  • It involve a Quality Improvement Project (QIP) to benefit participants and their colleges

I have completed two modules so far.

Module 1

Personal effectiveness

We completed a personal badge. It’s one of those activities that makes you feel really awkward when asked to do it but it does actually force you to really take a look at yourself… and the results are hilarious.

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Delve into my inner psyche… My personal badge.

Emotional intelligence

  • This is the topic that resonated with me most as I can be a worrier and I can also get quite stressed (situations and people piss me off – not afraid to say it). Shitty people and shitty situations will always exist professionally and personally but I’d like to handle them better. I want to become the zen master of my own emotions.  It’s a work-in-progress…
  • Emotion intelligence according to Daniel Goleman has four aspects;
  1. Self-awareness – emotional self-awareness, knowing your strengths and your weaknesses (truly knowing yourself)
  2. Social awareness – empathy, organisational awareness (having an awareness of what’s going on around you)
  3. Self management – emotional self-control, positivity, adaptability (not losing your shit)
  4. Relationship management – influence, coaching & mentoring, conflict management, leadership, teamwork (keeping friends and not getting fired…)
  • We then thought about values and motives – it’s really hard to pin these down or maybe I am just a woolly person..? We completed a motive profile and apparently mine is the “achievement motive” which means “meeting or exceeding a standard of excellence and/or improving one’s performance”. This seems fair enough actually… In my personal life I like to improve and set myself challenges. For example, I am always trying to improve my go-to recipes and my workout PBs.

Leadership styles and behaviours

  • We then looked at leadership styles. In my last interview they asked me what kind of leader am I… The honest answer was I have no actual idea. Didn’t say that of course…
  • We did some leadership questionnaires which apparently tell you your leadership style. According to Hersey and Blanchard I am a “coaching” leader. Coaching leaders “clearly define roles and tasks, but seek input and suggestions too”. I like to think that this is the kind of leader I am because I really do value the ideas and skills of the people around me. I do not work in isolation.
  • We did another questionnaire to find out our colour. We considered the leadership behaviours we exhibit at work and rate them on a 1-5 scale. Behaviours included competitiveness, sociability, encouraging, deliberate, sharing, strong-willed, formal etc. Apparently I’m yellow. I’m definitely hasty, enthusiastic and flamboyant so they might be onto something…

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Module 2

Working effectively with others

  • Self-confidence & self-esteem – your reputation with yourself. We talked about the self directed change model where 80% of the time, you work on building your strengths. You only work on your weaknesses 20% of the time. This interested me because I am probably not alone in being overly self-critical. We should all be tooting our own horns a lot more. 
  • I considered the positive things people say about me, how well I can take praise and the things I am good at. I learnt not to become a victim or have a “why me”/ “this isn’t fair” mentality which I definitely have sometimes… I need to continue using failure as an opportunity to learn and remember that I matter, the team matters and the Library matters.
  • Assertiveness (not to be confused with aggression or manipulation). Think about how you want a conversation to playout and always remain calm. This tied in greatly with your ability to manage your own emotions. 10 ways to be assertive:
  1. Be decisive
  2. Take responsibility
  3. Say NO when you need to
  4. Actively listen
  5. Communicate clearly
  6. Say YES when you need to
  7. Ask for what you want – I live by this anyway. If you don’ ask, you don’t get!
  8. Follow your intuition
  9. Take a chance
  10. Stand up for yourself – ALWAYS!
  • Resilience – learning from setbacks, ask yourself what you could have done better. Not letting the shit grind you down! Optimism. I can easily get sucked into negative talk and thinking cycles so this is an area I am working hard on. In our resilience self-assessment, I scored 65 which = “resilient, but could improve more”. Insightful. Choose your battles carefully and just always remember to consider the wider context of your life and work and the home lives of others. There’s more to life than what’s going down in the office. Thinking like this makes it easier to worry less.

Delegation and empowerment

  • Empowerment is delegation done properly – give responsibilities to people and do not interfere. I am not fully there yet with this as my partner will know full well. When he’s cooking dinner, I just cannot help interfering! I like to make sure things are done right. I do just need to let go and trust in his ability – he is a perfectly good cook.
  • Managers do not have to experts all of time – we work with talented, competent individuals and we should trust them. If they can’t do something, help them to be able to do it. Or find them something that they can do.
  • To effectively delegate you need to clearly communicate the job you are asking someone to do, specify outcomes, specify a timescale, provide support, give them ownership of the task and the freedom to do things differently and to even fail.
  • Effective delegation creates win-wins for all involved.

Managing performance

  • Capability and conduct – “can’t do it” VS “won’t do it”.
  • Characteristics of a “stuck” departments/ colleagues – depressed colleagues, stress, lethargy, negative talk, underperformance .
  • Helping a “stuck” dept or colleague – be observant, informal 1-2-1s, free up workload, offer to delegate, empower and support them.
  • Managing upwards – can be scary dealing with senior leadership and managers. Understand their leadership style, think about the desired outcome of the conversation, provide evidence, be realistic, be confident, show diplomacy and flexibility and always be professional.
  • Work relationships are two-way! NOT just top down and you should never be made to feel inferior by your “superiors”. As much as our managers are responsible for us, we also need to take responsibility for how we are “line-managed”

Climate and culture

  • So important. Can impact greatly on motivation, performance, productivity, happiness, well-being and staff retention.
  • Climate = “how it feels right now”, people’s feelings and impressions of what it’s like to work in a particular place
  • Culture = “the way we do things around here”, habits, unspoken rules and values
  • Climate/culture = 70% leader/managers attitude. Not sure how this figure came about but it’s a scary statistic. Managers can make work life a living hell but on the flipside, they can also make work extremely enjoyable and can make employees feel happy, valued and important.

Difficult conversations & situations

  • We did some role-playing activities where we acted out difficult conversations/ situations and attempted to deal with them. In my hypothetical situation, I was a teacher by day and a strippergram by night. You can imagine the difficulty of this conversation…
  • Be honest and brave but don’t demoralise – try to re-motivate and encourage self-awareness
  • Be supportive and open to change but don’t over-promise. Don’t take over, empower them. Get to know them as a person.

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Module 3 – to be completed

  • Understanding ethos
  • Vision and mission
  • Authentic and ethical leadership
  • Strategic awareness and thinking
  • Building outstanding teams
  • Reflection on career progression

QIP

As a new addition to my role last year, I became an administrator for our new learning management system, Canvas. As part of the course we are asked to do a quality improvement project and I am going to be looking at support services, communication & marketing with a special focus on Canvas.

What do I want to know? ​

  • What communication tools are students most receptive to? ​
  • Current awareness of Canvas?​
  • How can Canvas be used as a communication/ marketing tool for support services?

My manager put a word in for me and managed to bag me a slot at a heads of department and senior leadership away day today. The College principle, four members of SLT and over 10 support managers were at the away day. Delivering a presentation to a room full of “seniors” was a little bit terrifying! To be the authority on a topic and to advise colleagues feels really good.

I felt like a “real professional” – whatever that even means. I am getting better and better every time I deliver a lesson, a talk or a presentation and even though I still get nervous initially, I now that I can do it. And I enjoy it! It was a really valuable experience for me as a Librarian and as a future leader.

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#proudpoutmoment

If you read this, I salute you and love you.

 

First interview in 3+ years: some reflections

I recently attended an interview at a local College for a Library Manager position and I’ve been meaning to reflect on the experience for some time. It was an ambitious step up from where I am now in my career, I admit it. BUT I don’t see anything wrong with aiming high and it would have been a good next step.

My boyfriend was honest with me and he had some reservations about the job;
1. Management is hard.
2. I have little management experience.

Fair reservations to have and I appreciated the honesty but I still went for it and he supported my decision. I’ve had my fair share of job interviews and most of them have gone well (apart from the time I went to an interview for an account manager position at a logistics company… I don’t even know what logistics is/are?)

I spent a hell of a lot of time preparing my application. I worked on it over the course of a working week and I worked on it solidly over a weekend. By now I am pretty strong when it comes to writing job applications but I was still pleasantly surprised when they invited me for an interview.

I haven’t had a job interview in over 3 years now and I was nervous! I am pretty sure I could manage a Library… but I did have some doubts about my ability to do the people management bit… people are amazing, but also hard work and I would be responsible for 10 of them. I prepped hard – I spent a whole evening with my mum and boyfriend who were so supportive it’s unreal! They took me through mock interviews and gave me useful feedback. I got in touch with colleagues to ask for advice and information about the role and they were more than happy to help.

The interview went OK. I had to prepare a 10 minute presentation but they did not tell me what it was on until I got to the interview. I had 20 minutes to prepare it. They asked me what my top 3 priorities as Library Manager would be if I was successful. I presented it and then had a 1-hour interview with a panel of 3. I could have answered some things better but I was satisfied with my effort. After my interview, I was told that I would meet the team and go for a tour of the College. I thought I could relax… I was wrong!

The “meet the team” bit was actually a second, surprise interview which I was not prepared for at all. There were four team members who I would potentially be managing waiting for me in a little room. They had pieces of paper with additional questions on for me. Upon reflection, I probably should have talked more about myself, my experiences etc., but in the moment, I thought I would make it more about them. Literally, all I said was my name and that I currently worked in a College….. I’d like to know more about who you all are and your job roles… Something along those lines.

I left feeling like I was in over my head. The idea of management and the concept of it, I’m cool with. Coming face to face with the people I’d be responsible for scared me. I know how big of a responsibility it is. A manager can directly impact on how much you love or hate your job. I am probably not ready to manage such a big team and it’s fair that I did not get the job. What is not fair, is the College making zero effort to tell me this. I still haven’t heard back from them… After being told they would be in touch between 24/28 hours, I phoned after about a week to follow up and all I got was “sorry, thought I’d sent the regret emails. I will send something in writing”. Still nothing…

I spent at least 10 hours preparing, I took time off work, I lost sleep because of interview anxiety in the days leading up to it. I was serious about it. Am I naive to be a little bit hurt by their actions? I was tempted to name and shame but I’m finally over it – job hunting is hard, some places just suck at communication and I am not going to take it personally. All I can say is that if this is the way the organisation behaves towards potential employees, I dread to think how they treat their staff. In a way, I think I dodged a bullet. On a positive note;

  • I’ve gained valuable interview experience.
  • I’ve reflected on my skills and my abilities – I know my strengths and weaknesses.
  • My CV is up-to-date.
  • I have an amazing support network – thank you to my colleagues, friends and family for supporting me.
  • I had a morning off work.
  • I am still in the market for the “perfect job” and this certainly wasn’t “the one”.
  • I am excited for the future

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

If The Shoe Fits!

I just can’t even… what is happening!?

Leon's Library Blog

There’s been a bit of a Twitter storm over Government plans, partnering with the National Literacy Trust, to encourage language development and literacy using, of all places, Clarks shoe shops, with staff apparently being “…asked to engage children in conversation to improve language skills, as part of a government attempt to tackle “concerning” rates of early literacy.”

Now, as always, this is not the full story and is in fact part of a wider government initiative to involve businesses to support children’s early learning in the home environment, which includes bookswaps in supermarkets as well as special training for staff in shoe shops.

The inclusion of Clarks, KPMG, and Penguin Random House in the partnership with the NLT seems a perfectly natural fit (pun intended!) given that they all have links with the NLT Board of Trustees. Whether KMPG and Clarks are appropriate organisations to support such a scheme…

View original post 836 more words

Graduation.

Back in 2015 I was deliberating whether to do the Librarianship course at Sheffield or the MA in Library and Information Management at MMU. With the Information School apparently being No1 for Library and Information studies, I eventually settled on Sheffield because I guess it sounded more impressive.
So 3 years on I have finally completed the course! I am officially a qualified librarian!
But was it worth it?


It has been an interesting 3 years. I met some lovely people, especially during my first year. Really inspiring tutors and passionate librarians who have gone on to be successful. I did get a lot from the class discussions and seminars, something you’d probably miss out on if you were a distance learner. I did miss a lot, socially, by not doing the course full-time in Sheffield. I love the city and I really liked the campus. I would have liked to have spent more time in the libraries and the travelling really did get to me. I had to get up at 5.30am to get to uni for 9am for a few semesters and I’m really not a morning person. I simply attended classes and then went home which was a bit miserable really.
I was working part-time in the College Library so I only went over to Sheffield once a week. In reality, I felt more like a distance learning student. I did all of my studying on the train or at home. Luckily, Sheffield’s library resources are second to none. I was always able to find eBooks and online journals. If I did need a print book, the postal loans service sorted me out and auto-renewals made life easy. I love the Sheffield University Library Service!
I started working full-time during my 3rd year and at one point during the final few weeks of my dissertation, I was cooped up at home during the summer 2018 heatwave, cancelling plans with friends and stressing out! For about 2 weeks, I was convinced that my hair was falling out. My mum, friends and partner were amazing and helped me through. They cheered me up and proof read my work and I am eternally grateful.

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This was the only stress I felt during the entirety of the course which I count as a win. I definitely missed out on the intensity and stress of studying for an MA over one year – I admire all who have done this! It is an impressive feat! I managed to submit on time and that was it. I was done!
I wasn’t going to attend my graduation. Call me cheap but £51 for robes!? I didn’t really know anyone else graduating and I’d done it once. My first graduation was incredible; I was surrounded by friends and I’d literally had the best 3 years of my life! An amazing experience that was never going to be replicated. I also received two awards the first time round and I got a 1st.
But hey, I can’t scoff at a merit either. So obviously I decided to attend and I am really glad I did (we all wanted the day off work) and I did work hard after all, and I have spent a lot of money. Plus, graduation is a great excuse to dress up and celebrate!

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Most expensive mug ever?

I had a lovely day with my family and I’ll remember it forever! I watched Ciara Eastwell receive her honorary doctorate and the speeches almost had me in tears! It was amazing to hear the work of public librarians and libraries being celebrated on the day I became a Librarian.

Although… I have been calling myself a Librarian for a good few years now. I just have a certificate double confirming it. I did learn a lot on the course but I have learned most of what I know from working in a library and from colleagues, especially my grad trainee mentor, Sarah, and my colleague, Penelope. If I could do it all again, I would still do the MA but I would definitely go for a part-time, distance learning course. The Information School started a distance learning MA a year after I started the course…
I am hoping the course has opened doors that would have otherwise been closed had I not done the qualification. But there is also a hell of a lot I still have to learn. I’m not even sure what I want to do next. I do know that I will never be done with learning. I love studying and will jump at any opportunity presented to me to learn more. Hey, I might even do a PhD one day!

I am proud and confident in the knowledge that information professionals are needed now more than ever and I am excited to “officially” begin my career!

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If you fancy a career in libraries & information I’d be more than happy to talk to you about my experiences and answer your questions.

Definitely check these groups out for more info and events;

FLIP Network | Future library and information professionals

NLPN | A network for new and aspiring library professionals

CILIP

2019

The new year has begun and I just witnessed something right outside my house which has put the new year into perspective a little more than usual. The incident involved the emergency services, a severely distressed young man and a bridge. My partner advised me not to be nosy but I couldn’t help myself. That horrible, morbid curiosity took hold and I really wanted to see him get down safely.
The police were professional and calm, and coerced the lad down to safety with the phone call he had been demanding. The boy broke down when he was able to talk to the person on the line – a loved one I presume. He was so upset and distraught! I am so glad that this chap is okay. OK in the sense that he did not hurt himself, but he is clearly hurting in many other ways. I really, really hope he can get the care and help that he clearly needs.
I don’t want to make this event about me but witnessing this made me think about my family, my friends and my life. It is so easy for things to go wrong in life. Just as it is easy to forget how lucky you really are when bogged down in the daily grind of life.
Going into the new year having enjoyed a wonderful festive season with the people I love, I want to acknowledge the things that I am thankful for:

  1. My physical health
  2. My mental health
  3. My mum and my (little) big brother
  4. Jay
  5. My family – my siblings, my dad, my extended family, for having had the privilege of knowing and loving my granny and granddad.
  6. My beautiful friends, and their health!
  7. My home

Whenever I am feeling pissed off with the imperfections of life, work, money worries, and stress in 2019 (which will happen and that is OK), I hope that these points can serve as a reminder of the good things that really matter in my life.

NLPN: Voted by you: Amy takes the floor

I was recently offered the opportunity to “take the floor” at the latest NLPN networking and CPD event.

As well as 3 really useful sessions from info pros (which you can read about in this write up by Emma Dent), the NLPN team scheduled in some time for 3 short 10 minute presentations. This is designed to give someone the opportunity to present on a topic of their choice to a friendly, informal audience.

The criteria outlined by NLPN was:

  • Are you passionate and knowledgeable about an aspect of Library and Information work that would be of interest to early career professionals?
  • Do you have experience of working on a project that has enhanced your insight or practical abilities that would be of value to new professionals?
  • Do you have practical tips to impart about how you have developed your skills or expertise?
  • Have you contributed to or been part of innovative service development in your workplace?
  • Do you have practical advice to offer from your career trajectory to date?

Since completing my dissertation, I have been on the lookout for opportunities to practice my public speaking and to share my research. I felt I matched all of the criteria; I am certainly knowledgeable after working on the project for almost a year. My topic is a perpetual problem in the sector, highlighted by my research, and by conversations with colleagues, therefore I figured people would probably be interested. As this opportunity was only 10 minutes, I had to apply. 10 minutes isn’t all that scary, amiright?

These are the slides that I initially sent to NLPN. I was so pleased when they emailed me to tell me they would like me to present. The one piece of feedback they offered was to trim down the content and I agree, there is way too much text. But the slides in their original form are probably best to link to online as I am not there to provide the context.

So… voila!

After delivering one 10 minute talk, I am in no way an oration oracle but I would like to share my experience as they may be helpful to others who are preparing to deliver a talk or a presentation.


I really enjoyed my talk. People seemed to be very interested and I received a lot of questions*. Answering people’s questions and discussing my topic was my favourite part. I felt we could have discussed the issue for a lot longer.

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Oh hey

As a kind of safety net, I usually have reams of paper when I talk as they make me feel more prepared. I usually never look at them. In fact, it can cause me to lose my trail of thought completely. No one likes to watch someone awkwardly fumble with sheets of paper. I am starting to have more confidence in myself and my knowledge to go to my talks without a novel of notes.

For this talk, I prepared just two little cue cards with key points that I did not want to leave out and this was really helpful for me. Postcards are the perfect size and these ones looked good on the floor too.

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The cutest of cue cards

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I am aware I have a tendency to talk very fast but I think because I practiced and timed myself, on this occasion I did okay. I found it really useful to run through the talk several times and to time myself on my phone. I actually set up my timer on the day so that I would not over or under run on my timing. I also practiced in front of a colleague and my partner to ask for their feedback which they gave and I acted upon before the talk.

Top 3 tips for preparing for a talk or a presentation of any kind:

  1. Practice, practice, practice! So you know fully in your mind what you are talking about. This will allow you to confidently communicate your topic with the audience. Confidence is key – even if you have to fake it!
  2. Time yourself. Timing is very important – don’t rush through it but don’t blab on forever. Put your phone on silent and use the timer or get a stop watch and keep an eye on it.
  3. Enjoy it! How often to do get to have people’s (hopefully) undivided attention? It’s your chance to talk about your area of expertise, your experiences, or your work. You have something worth saying and by sharing this knowledge with people, you are doing something good. So enjoy 😀

I would like to thank the NLPN team and the sponsors for putting on these fantastic FREE events. They really are so useful to me as a new professional. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to share my work with others and to develop my skills further in a safe, friendly environment. The willingness of info pros to share their skills, their research and their time is why the profession is so fabulous!

*One of the questions was along these lines – “What’s next? Had I shared my research with my team? Have we seen an improvement in behaviour?” At the time my answer was “I haven’t done anything yet”. But I had my reasons. I was waiting to receive my dissertation mark and I wanted to devise a plan of action.

We are going to be making some big changes in the Library over the next few months and I will be sharing snippets of my research and my experiences leading this change.

So if behaviour management in libraries is your thing, stay tuned!

Youth Libraries Group Conference 2018

I was recently very lucky to attend the Youth Libraries Group Conference in Manchester. Work paid for me to attend on the Saturday (tiny bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to attend the Enid Blyton midnight pyjama feast though). The conference explored the importance of reading as a key plank in library provision and the impact it can have on children, young people and their life chances.

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The conference programme can be viewed here: https://www.cilip.org.uk/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1059241&group

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I registered and got a fabulous canvas bag to add to my collection.

The welcome session was delivered by Matt Goodfellow, a stockport based poet.

http://www.mattgoodfellow.yolasite.com/

Matt’s high-energy performance made me feel like a child once again. I think Matt’s session may have been the highlight of the day actually. He was so funny! My favourite poem was Chicken on the Roof which required some audience participation… It certainly woke us up and set the tone for the day…

There’s a chicken there’s a chicken there’s a chicken on the roof. So catchy!

Booktrust Reading Segments Research

Jill Coleman presented key findings of recent research into the reading engagement of children aged 0 – 16. The research breaks down the types of families that exist when it comes to engagement with books and reading for pleasure.

Families will start reading to their children when they are around 14 months old and generally the family reading activities start to slow at 7 years and 7 months. The segmentation identifies different types of family and reading engagement. The report is available from the BookTrust website 

Breakout Session: Readers & Rights with Rowena Seabrook (Human Rights Education Manager, Amnesty International UK)

In this session, we explored ways in which literature can be used to explore human rights and to challenge, empower and motivate young people.

Rowena showed us Take Up Space by Vanessa Kisuule which I had not seen – it calls on ALL women to stop shrinking themselves and to TAKE UP SPACE! Vanessa is my new favourite person. Her talent is off the chart!

We explored the human rights issues behind two very different books: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and There’s a bear on my chair by Ross Collins

Despite There’s a bear on my chair being a children’s book, the activity is appropriate for all age groups, including adults. As a group we read the story and put a human rights bookmark in the pages we thought addressed or touched upon an important concept. The bookmarks had basic human rights printed on them: fairness, equality, knowledge, truth, safety and freedom. We then discussed how the book addressed these issues and talked about them in more detail.

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We did a similar activity with The Hate U Give. We were given photocopied extracts to read and discuss. The extracts were thought provoking and led to a very rich group discussion.

Putting human rights at the centre of a book club is something I am now planning on doing after attending this session. I am also going to use, share and build upon the *brilliant* education materials provided by Amnesty International to help our teachers to use literature to explore important issues. Amnesty really have done all of the hard work, check out their resources if you are unfamiliar.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/cilip-carnegie-and-greenaway-medal-shortlisted-books-2018-and-human-rights-story-explorer-resources

Finally, Rowena introduced us to Words That Burn: an international project for young people that explores human rights abuses through poetry. I think we can all agree that there is nothing more powerful than poetry. Amnesty have again provided free teaching resources that I encourage you to check out, use and share https://www.amnesty.org.uk/issues/words-that-burn

I left Rowena’s session feeling empowered and inspired!

Keynote

Frank Cottrell Boyce, acclaimed screenwriter and Carnegie Medal winner gave the keynote speech after eventually arriving in Manchester after some car trouble on the motorway (not what you want before a keynote). He was fabulous though of course. He talked about the joy of reading and shared anecdotes from his childhood; my favourite being the kind librarian that allowed him to borrow a big, expensive reference book.

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Life Online by Andrew Walsh & Nicola Morgan

I LOVE that Andrew refers to himself as a playbrarian – he’s a genius. I must admit, Andrew is a bit of an idol of mine. I love his work promoting information literacy through play – especially escape rooms! I’ve been to several of his workshops and I’ve got 3 of his books. The latest I’ve purchased is The librarians’ book on teaching through games and play (9781911500070). It’s a would recommend!

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Andrew highlighted the new versions of the TeenTech research smarter sheets which are a staple in our library http://www.teentech.com/teentech-awards/supporting-materials/

He also introduced us to the new CILIP information literacy definition https://infolit.org.uk/new-il-definition/

In case you were wondering what info lit is, here’s the new broad definition:

Information literacy is the ability to think critically and make balanced judgements about any information we find and use. It empowers us as citizens to reach and express informed views and to engage fully with society”

Nicola Morgan, author of over 100 books, then took the stand to talk about life online. I choose this breakout session as we support students via our shelf help collection and I am personally, probably, a little bit addicted to my mobile phone…

Nicola picked some key points from her latest book Teen Guide to Life Online. She did state that the title is misleading as this book certainly is not just for teens. Her website is full of useful information and this page contains links and references to the research and articles which Nicola thinks will help people to understand what’s going on when we use our screens. Nicole likened screen addiction to many of the other addictions that plague modern life. To overcome them:

  1. You have to want to change your habits
  2. You need to know why you should change

Excessive screen time can lead to a variety of problems including mental stress, exhaustion, low self-esteem, distraction, loss of concentration and a reduction in physical activity. Unfortunately, just being around a mobile device is distracting. Having a device near you leads to a 10% reduction in performance! Screens and online content are designed to distract you. It’s not your fault that you cannot resist.

If you want to lower your screen time. Nicola advises you to:

  1. Keep them out of view (out of sight, out of mind)
  2. Distract yourself with other activities (pick up a book perhaps). Don’t sit twiddling your thumbs, dreaming of your mobile device.
  3. Create manageable goals – i.e. I will not use my phone for the next hour
  4. Seek help from those around you – remind them not to send you hilarious memes and cat videos every 5 minutes
  5. Keep reminding yourself why you are doing this – it is good for your mental health and productivity in the long run
  6. Notice the benefits – are you able concentrate better? (intrinsic motivation)

Mobile phones and devices do have their benefits but they also come with their own host of problems. I am not a parent therefore cannot comment on the convenience of giving a mobile device to a child to keep them quiet and entertained… but I am a little uncomfortable with the idea. One of the video diaries from the Family Reading Segment research shows a little girl in her cot. Her mum tells her that it is time to read and the little girl starts crying “but I don’t want to read, I want to play on my iPad”… and this made me a little bit sad.

I came home with so many goodies and books – the publishers were very kind and generous. The best book I came home with was My name is not Refugee.

My name is not refugee

The book asks young children ‘from a safe, comfortable background’ to think about what it must be like to ‘leave your home and make a journey into the unknown’. The illustrations are so beautiful and heart-breaking https://www.independent.co.uk/student/student-life/books/student-s-refugee-crisis-book-for-children-wins-va-illustration-award-a7051776.html

I gave my neighbour who has 3 children most of the books – the look of joy on their faces says it all. Books really are magical and this conference is a must for any librarian.

Behaviour Management in Further Education College Libraries – Questionnaire

I am currently working on my Masters dissertation. The purpose of my project is to advance our understanding of the issues surrounding the management of student behaviour in Further Education College Libraries for the benefit of students, Library staff and Library management.

People who work or have worked in Further Education or Sixth Form College libraries are invited to participate in this research. If you work or have worked in a Sixth Form College/ FE library please could you complete my questionnaire. Likewise, if you know anyone who works/ worked in this sector, please could you pass this on to them.

Thank you for assisting me in my research 🙂