Librarianing update

I’ve been in my new job nearly 3 months and the new term is well underway. I am starting to feel settled in my new role and I am really enjoying it. My role is varied and interesting and it’s so nice to be working with a huge team of library workers. I have worked with someone, in a library, who once uttered the forbidden phrase: “they don’t need the library, everything is online”. So, it is so nice to be working with people who are all on the same page…

Here’s a brief overview of the stuff I’ve doing over the past few months:

  • I have so far delivered 18 welcome talks to new and returning fashion students. These vary from 10 mins – 1 hour. I have also started to deliver Info Skills teaching sessions and I have loads more booked in. I have some upcoming visual research workshops, a session covering a research briefing from Missguided and on Monday, I will be teaching students how to use Mintel to search for market reports. I am trying to experiment with playful learning and I facilitated a “speed databasing” exercise which went well. Learning about databases isn’t the most exciting so this at least makes it a little bit more entertaining. I still can’t believe it’s my job to teach a lecture theatre/ seminar room full of university students!
  • I am developing my subject knowledge every day. I’ve signed up to lots of trade publications and mailing lists to keep up to date with the fashion, retail and textiles industries. I have started spending money, buying books and curating reading lists. Getting paid to buy books is FUN!
  • I have also joined a critical reading group and the MMU bibliophiles book club. Having the opportunity to engage with academics and colleagues from across the university is so nice. It’s challenging and stimulating – everything I could want from a place of work.
  • I have joined the referencing team. I deliver workshops and online support to students on how to cite and reference materials for their assignments. This is actually more interesting than it sounds and is really testing my knowledge. Precision is key!
  • I have joined the library’s social media team. I post on the library’s Instagram page and contribute to the overall social media strategy (I get paid to play on IG basically).
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Give us a follow @mmulibrary

  • I have also joined the copyright team which is a little bit scary. I will be advising staff and students on copyright issues, including what academics can include in their teaching resources. I’ll also be delivering training to library staff and we’ll be launching a copyright awareness campaign next year. Even though it’s scary, it is really interesting and challenging. I’ve been paying more attention to copyright news and copyright in the beauty and fashion industries is actually fascinating. I came across The Fashion Law which is super interesting. The legality of make-up dupes and Instagram photos is my jam. Here’s some coverage of the latest James Charles Vs Wet N Wild scandal.
  • I am also on the Equality and Diversity team. We deal with enquiries from students with disabilities and work to ensure we are offering an inclusive environment where all students can make full use of our facilities and services. We are also working to ensure our collections are diverse and representative. As an ally, being in this team enables me to do my bit to make a difference for our students. We’re putting together a library guide to signpost the Library’s collections featuring authors, writers and content relating to the many different and diverse communities and identities across the University and beyond. We are working to challenge the whitewashing of the curriculum and will be advising academics on how to create diverse and representative reading lists.
  • I’ve joined Wakelet! I am using this to promote resources in a visual way. I need to figure out how I can get students and staff to look at it…

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  • I work in the customer service team on the help desk in a supervisory role which is also terrifying. It’s great working in a team with hard-working, experienced and knowledgeable people. Over the Summer, the info desk has been very quiet! The start of term has been crazy, as is expected, but its been nice having the library full of people and being asked questions.
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We get lots of training on how to improve the user experience

  • For new students, starting university is scary and confusing and it has been a privilege helping them during this exciting time in their academic lives. We gave away over 1,500 copies of Behind closed doors by Miriam Halahmy to welcome new students to the University. The author also came to visit on Wednesday and she signed my book! We had pizza, celebrated fiction and spent the afternoon talking about books! If this isn’t the dream job, I don’t know what is..?

However, it’s not all cardigans and rainbows. It’s been insanely busy and no matter how much I prepare, I still feel unprepared and anxious. I’ve had teaching sessions cancelled and changed at the last minute and I turned up to deliver a lecture to find there was no IT equipment in the room. I’ve also come down with the dreaded fresher’s flu…

But I have been welcomed by the team and I feel incredibly lucky to go to a job everyday that is stimulating, interesting, varied and enjoyable! Plus, there are tasty treats in the staff room every other day. Literally.

I’m here to stay.

Thanks for reading 🙂 

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5 minutes with Amy

5 minutes with is a regular weekly feature on the intranet at work where you can find out more about your colleagues.

After enjoying reading some previous 5 minutes with, I thought I’d submit one as a way of putting myself out there and introducing myself to as many colleagues as possible. If people from the department I support see my face, it gives me a good start when it comes to academic liaison.

Thought I’d share my 5 minutes with’ segment from the MMU staff intranet for your entertainment.

Just me on the intranet chilling next to the VC

Name, role and department:

Amy, Assistant Librarian (Manchester Fashion Institute), All Saints Library.

How long have you been at Manchester Met:

Just under one month.

Favourite thing about the University:

The Library of course. Staff and students have free access to more than a million books, journals and electronic resources.

I am also really enjoying the MCRMetMoves initiative. The prospect of free goodies for upping my activity levels is exciting. I am currently 400 points away from a free aluminium water bottle.

A typical working day:

I am still quite new to my role but I have been working in academic libraries for almost 5 years. Working in a library is extremely interesting and varied. I have access to thousands of resources and it is my job to help people navigate the internet and our huge collections.

There are two main aspects to my role. I am the subject librarian for the Manchester Fashion Institute so I help to select and promote books, journals and electronic resources to support teaching and learning. I liaise with academic colleagues to ensure our library collections our relevant and up-to-date and I help to curate their electronic reading lists. I also deliver 1-2-1s and undertake teaching as part of my role, which helps library users to develop their information and independent learning skills.

The second aspect of my role involves working on the library helpdesk supporting users with a huge range of enquiries. Having welcomed 958,150 library users through our doors last year, I get to meet many wonderful and interesting people.

What is your ideal weekend:

Camping in the sunshine.

If I have to stay at home then it is a cosy night in with my partner. I would get out of the house on Saturday, so something fun like a long walk or a day trip, preferably to a theme park. In an ideal world, I will have a roast dinner and do absolutely nothing every Sunday.

Interesting fact about you:

I have 21 tattoos. My latest tattoo is a black dot work piece depicting an open book with moons, stars and flowers floating magically out of the pages. I got this tattoo to commemorate completing my Master’s degree in Librarianship.

What are you reading, watching or listening to at the moment:

I am currently reading Pet Semetary by Stephen King and Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates. I am trying to read 40 books this year as part of my Goodreads challenge.

I am currently re-watching Breaking Bad and I have just finished listening to the Chernobyl podcast having completed the mini-series. If you watch any TV show this year, watch Chernobyl.

Favourite place in the region:

The Arcade Club in Bury. It is the largest video game and pinball arcade in the UK and it is so much fun. They have a bar and serve food too.

Person you would most like to meet- past or present, real or fictional:

Sir Ian McKellen. He is a national treasure. I would ask him if he could attend our meeting as Gandalf so I can meet a real and fictional hero at the same time.

What items would you take on a desert island and why:

A bottle of spiced rum and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.


I’m a whole bag of cringe and I’m cool with it.

P.s. I’m loving the new job. Going to do a blog post on it soon 👍

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 🙂

 

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

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.

Life of a Learning Facilitator

It’s coming to the end of a busy and eventful year. My manager left before the start of this academic year and I have really, really missed her! She interviewed me and hired me back in October 2015 and she was an absolutely fantastic manager, Librarian and mentor. She really helped me to grow into my role at Ashton Sixth Form College and develop my skills as a Librarian. She understood what it was like to be a new professional and most importantly, she understood libraries. She was hands on in the Library and she got stuff done! If I had an issue I could take it to her without a second of hesitation.

I have been a little down at certain points; worrying about how we are going to cope with the extra workload. Working in FE is hard. Teenagers can be quite mean sometimes. Despite the odd down day, I actually love my job. I’ve met some great students this year who were so appreciative of my help. It’s so nice when people ask for my help, take on board the advice I’ve given and succeed! They gave me a card and a bunch of flowers which was just amazing and healed every down day wound that I’ve acquired this year.

 

This week I attended the Higher and Adult Education Celebration and received another special thanks from the department and I definitely nearly cried when I had to go up onto the stage. There was also prosecco and cheese which ain’t bad! I think I need to work on managing my emotions a little better and develop a thicker skin because I’ve now realised that people do actually appreciate and notice my work and it has motivated me to work even harder and to continue the great work we’re doing in the Library. For those that don’t appreciate it, I need to use my skills, positive thinking and knowledge to convince them otherwise.

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It is a little quieter in the Library and we’ve been planning for next year and we have so many ideas for the Library Service. We have a new referral process for teachers to refer their students to the Library for 1-2-1 info literacy interventions which I am SO excited for.

I’ve been buying new comic books and graphic novels and am going to be running the Excelsior Award with students next year.

We are constantly developing our fiction collection and are going to be running #ReadingAhead again after a few years off (we haven’t run it since I started).

We’re having a more integral role in the delivery of the Extended Project Qualification next year and I am building their course on the Canvas VLE. I am an admin and will be delivering training to teaching staff in a few weeks (another great challenge and learning curve).

I have been invited to take part in a leadership course next year after my name was mentioned at SLT. Only 5 people a year get to do it. I am so thankful for the opportunity. It’s going to help me whilst I am in this role, it will in turn help the service and it’s a great addition to my CV.

I am going to the Youth Libraries Group Conference 2018 to explore reading promotion and fiction which I CANNOT wait for. PHILIP PULLMAN WILL BE THERE!!!

Today I shared and explored our art, design and tech collections with students planning their research for next year. A few projects were a little more complex so I’ve been doing a little research myself this afternoon and will be getting back to the students tomorrow.

The College hosted a FE Research Meet today and I was able to nip to one of the sessions which was delivered by an English teacher who’s College has implemented Accelerated Reading. They’ve embedded a culture of books and reading into college life. I came away inspired and hopeful!

Today we came across several problems with our Library Management System and I investigated and fixed them! Best feeling ever! My technical skills and knowledge of the system is improving all the time and it feels great.

I will never know all there is to know in this profession and that’s what keeps it interesting and exciting. Students come up with mind-boggling requests, our systems break down, and new ideas are always waiting to be discovered and implemented. Solving problems, helping people and sharing knowledge is the absolute best way to spend your day.

P.S. If you’re having a down day, talk about it, it helps! 🙂

 

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I am currently reading this book | It’s a would recommend so far 

Escape Rooms for Education

Today I attended a really good workshop held at Heritage Quay, University of Huddersfield and it was all about creating educational escape rooms. Andrew Walsh hosted the workshop and he is a librarian at Hudds and he specialises in using games in education and information literacy instruction.

If you have never been to an escape room you should try it! If you’re unsure what they are they are basically a themed room or set of rooms set with a story e.g a hospital, zombie apocalypse safehouse, library, haunted house etc and you have to solve a series of puzzles to be released, saved etc. I have only ever been to one escape room; Break Out in Manchester and we almost escaped their Crimson Lake Motel room (we had ONE puzzle left to solve arghhh).

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The “I nearly broke out” board of shame!

Educational escape rooms are an amazing concept, especially in Library teaching as some of the topics can be a little…. dry? I’m working on improving my teaching and I’ve recently been on training days and courses including a week long residential course for my level 3 Award in Education and Training – I would really recommend this for any new librarians by the way. I am soon going to be planning next year’s inductions and teaching so I now have so many ideas that I’d like to try with my students. Escape rooms are so much fun and I’m definitely going to be incorporating them into my teaching.

The session was workshop based and we went through all of the different stages of developing an educational escape room. We thought about all of the educational benefits of play and considered its place in HE/FE teaching. Andrew gave us a little comic strip which highlighted many of these reasons and it contained a handy reference list of items that I am interested in reading.

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Important attributes of ‘play’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then had to decide on some SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-limited) learning objectives which were to be the groundwork of our game.

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We decided to run our session on revision as it’s coming up to exam season.

We then had to consider the key constraints. We all considered our own places of work and came up with a variety of things including time limitations, limited student attention span (sorry, students), environment, timetabling, room availability, staffing, equipment, budget 😦 So, in the end, we planned our escape room with no budget but it turns out you can actually do a lot with little or no money which is great but I am going to try and purchase a few padlocks and UV pens. We then had to choose a theme and a narrative which tied in with our learning objectives. Having a good theme and narrative is essential for any successful escape room.

Our escape room idea: Teenager’s bedroom

Narrative: You are a student who has been grounded because you are behind on your revision. If you want to go out with your friends you will have to solve a series of puzzles which relate to 5 revision related themes; study space, note-taking, memorising, model answers, timetabling.

We then spent the rest of the day considering the structure of the puzzles and developing and sharing our prototypes. We came up with some amazing puzzles if I do say so myself – they involved UV pens, maths puzzles, jigsaws and a good old book cipher!

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If we can do this in an afternoon then I think I could definitely plan some epic escape room library inductions for next term! Andrew was fantastic as always. We have all been given an escape rooms workbook which contains the step-by-step development process, tips and puzzle ideas. I believe he will be publishing this at some point so keep your eyes peeled – it’s a must have!

http://innovativelibraries.org.uk/

LISDIS Conference 2016

 

I recently attended the LISDIS Conference which was hosted at University College London. @LISDISConf is a conference where recent graduates can showcase their Library and Information Science dissertation projects.

I was unable to attend the first conference which was held up north last year and was very lucky to have been awarded a travel bursary which was kindly offered by LISDIS and their sponsors (thank you). It is rare that I can afford to get down to London so this was a fantastic opportunity and I appreciate being offered the bursary, especially since I am starting to think about dissertation topics.

I would recommend this conference to all LIS students because it has given me so much to think about and listening to the experiences and advice from graduates is so helpful when you are about to go through the same thing. It seems most people are at either end of the dissertation spectrum: you either have too many dissertation topic ideas or too few. I have been compiling a list over the last year and this list is getting VERY long… On the one hand it feels good to already have ideas but on the other the ideas are way too broad and vague at the moment to be of any use to anyone.

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My ridiculous list of vague and random dissertation ideas inspired by conferences, my uni modules, Twitter, blogs and my reading. I don’t do my dissertation until next academic year… 

Jane Morgan Daniel and Megan Dyson both did their dissertations on topics related to their workplace and this is something that I am now seriously considering because of the easy availability of research data from usage stats, library users and organisation staff etc. I also want to make a real impact in my place of work with research as I feel it will keep me motivated and engaged with my topic. I will definitely take Jane and Megan’s advice on board if I do decide to do my dissertation about my workplace. I will ensure the research question is very narrow and focused, I will attempt to leave plenty of time to traverse the “minefield” that is data collection; especially when looking at usage stats and I will not underestimate the time it takes to conduct the literature review.

As well as gaining many ideas and useful tips from the presenters it was fascinating to hear about all of the fantastic research that has been done.It is so inspiring to hear about the outcomes of the work that people have put so much effort and time into. This is why LISDIS is such an amazing conference concept and it is so much more amazing that it is free! Librarians are awesome!

This is the conference program for the day:

Information and Data
Jane Morgan Daniel: The information needs of Occupational Therapy students

James Atkinson: A Library Love Triangle? An analysis of the relationship between data, information and knowledge in Library and Information Studies

Linking with our users
Helena Byrne: Connecting to the past through the Abbey Ballroom Indoor Football oral history project: Developing a resource guide and the physical exhibition for Drogheda Local Voices
Megan Dyson: The Hybrid Music Library: User format preferences at Leeds College of Music Library
Dilyana Ducheva: RDA implementation: the new cataloguing standard in Europe
Lunch and Library Tour
Parallel session – Emma Coonan on publishing in LIS journals
Challenging Ideas within LIS
Diana Hackett: An elephant in the room: information literacy in the narrative of UK public libraries
Katherine Quinn: Resisting Neoliberalism: the challenge of activist librarianship in the UK HE context

My favourite talk of the day was Diana Hackett’s presentation on information literacy in the narrative of UK public libraries.

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Her talk was especially pertinent as the National Libraries, Museums and Culture demo was taking place in London on the same day as the conference and even though we were all unable to attend, I think it’s fair to say we were all there in spirit with those marching for @5thNovDemo!

Diana found that there is a lack of advocacy for the varied and meaningful ways in which the public library can help people with their information literacy skills. The narrative describes services and concepts such as ‘digital literacy’, ‘getting support’ and ‘signposting’ but does not actually tell people what this entails and paints the library as a passive organisation. There is a failure to communicate the many ways in which information literacy can improve people’s lives.

Diana also identified a gap in the LIS literature; no one seems to be researching info lit in public libraries and this made me wonder why? A few people have told me that I should be looking towards working in the HE library sector rather than public libraries because that’s where the jobs are, public library jobs are low paid, there’s no room for progression etc. If new library professionals are being dissuaded from joining the public library workforce and if people are not researching info lit in public libraries then how can we improve and champion our public libraries?

I am also now considering researching public libraries for my dissertation thanks to Diana and her excellent presentation. The final piece of advice that I have taken away from LISDIS is that I should study something that I love and care about because that’s what makes good research.

Peace.x