Thing 17 – Reflective Practice

Using the Gibbs Reflective Cycle model to reflect upon on the work I am doing in my job is going to be a really useful way of monitoring how well I am doing in my new role. It will be especially useful as most of what I am doing is actually all new to me so there is going to be a lot that I can learn from my experiences.

When I think of reflective practice, for some reason I think about it being a task that takes a long time but I guess if you do it properly and follow this model then all you really need is a couple of lines for each point and then you will have something very useful for yourself and your team.

I can’t really do a full analysis of a specific event or project yet because I am still settling in but I will have a bit of a go. I started my new job at the start of October. I am a Learning Facilitator at a Sixth Form College library in Manchester. Myself and another lady job share and there are two other Learning Facilitators and an administrator on the team. We are responsible for the running of the library service, collection development, curriculum liaison etc in the college. So far it has been both exciting and challenging. As my graduate trainee experience is the main library experience I have I sometimes feel that I don’t have enough experience to be doing what I am doing but I am just overthinking things because I am doing everything perfectly fine (I think). I am feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment with the amount of work and responsibility I now have in this role but this is also a positive thing.

It is really good to actually be working in a library, nevermind in a professional role. I couldn’t have imagined this time a year ago that I would be at university studying for my Masters degree and working in a College. It is fantastic experience and I can learn more/ develop the skills that I am learning at university. The team recently went through a big restructure so another great thing about this job is that I am able to help shape the library at the college which again is another great experience. New ideas are welcome and I am able to pursue projects that interest me.

It is difficult working part-time as I have always worked full-time. I am in 3 days then there are 4 days when I am not in so by the time I go to work it feels like it has been a long time since I was last in and this makes it difficult to remember things I have to do, catch up on emails and so on. I think the way to resolve this is to plan for things better and make sure I plan what I am going to be doing when I am in work in advance. It is also worth me having a talk in more detail with my job share partner to see how she manages her time. I am asking lots of questions (sometimes possibly too many) but I feel this is the best way for me to learn how to do things and to keep up to date with what is going on.

This is probably a bad example to use for the gibbs reflective model because the thing I am reflecting on hasn’t ended so I can’t really talk about the outcome but I can think about some of the things I would do better. I would make better notes. I have a notepad full of random scribblings in a random order and some of the information I have noted down is actually really important and I do need to refer back to it regularly. It would make my job a lot easier if I had of taken better, neater notes and I will definitely remember this next time.

I am going to blog about the projects I am doing/ the new experiences in my job when I am settled in and I will refer back to this model. Thanks Rudai 23

I am currently completing a free mobile learning course that teaches social media through social media for professional devlopment.

I am currently completing a free mobile learning course that teaches social media through social media for professional devlopment.

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August Update

I am trying to get the most out of the time I have left as a graduate trainee because it is ever so quickly coming to an end. I only have 4 full weeks left! This is both exciting and distressing at the same time. Exciting because I am starting a new course and I have a new job (more on that later) but also distressing because I know the next few years are going to be hard work and I have to leave behind all of the lovely people I’ve met at the JBP library.


I’ve had the opportunity to do some really interesting things over the last few weeks which have allowed me to continue to learn new skills and gain some valuable insights and experiences. What follows is a whistle-stop tour of August.

  • We spend an entire day sorting out around 10 large boxes full of journals and pamphlets for the Commonweal collection. We sorted each box into alphabetical order across the floor and when we could no longer see the floor, we put the papers into alphabetical piles. We did this around 5 or 6 times, interfiling the papers into their correct piles. We then packed them into boxes to be catalogued at a later date. We did an amazing job! So proud of ourselves for getting it all done in the time we had, it flexed my brain muscles and we had fun. All in a day’s work ey.
When I first entered the room and saw this sight I cried a little inside… crying with excitement of course!

When I first entered the room and saw this sight I cried a little inside… crying with excitement of course!

Goodies like this... Librarians for Peace!

Boxes full of goodies.

Goodies like this. Librarians for Social Change!

Goodies like this. Librarians for Social Change!

  • The library is recruiting their next batch of Student Learning Champions. They are University of Bradford students who work in the library shelving and assisting users with basic IT and reader enquiries. Part of the interview process is to complete a task and a colleague and I have been managing this task. It’s been a really good experience because I’ve been in their positions just recently and interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience. It’s very strange to be on the flipside of the interview process. Jawad and I have tried to make them feel as comfortable as possible and make sure they understood what they needed to do. We then figured out a way to assess their work and reset the task as quickly as possible. I think we make a cracking team.
  • The library has an hour set aside each week for staff training and this week we learnt how to deal with a wet books disaster. This was great for me as it was reiterating what I learnt a few months ago at the RRN Kit Training Day and I was happy that I had remembered a lot of what said. You need to move quickly, be aware of your surroundings, put health and safety first, assess the damage and contain the leak. Triage the damaged books and if there is not a professional librarian on site, you need to make a decision on what should be kept as drying out wet books is a very time intensive activity. Purchasing new copies might be the better option. In a recent emergency at JBP it took an entire week to dry out just 50 books.
Trying to heal the books (discards)

Trying to heal the books (discards)

20150820_095140

Sorry sight but it can happen. Be prepared!


  • I was able to help out with some library inductions for the first time! I wasn’t able to help out with these at the start of the academic year because I started in December. With a special interest in the experiences of international students and being a temporary member of the international library group, it was really good to be able to help out with the inductions for international students. We gave them a brief introduction on how to use the library catalogue to search for books and journals then we gave them a tour of the library. This was also my first library tour! I will be assisting with some more for general library induction tours before I leave I think which I am looking forward to. I like being a tour guide.
  • The VC came to visit the library for his annual departmental visit and this was really interesting. The Library and IT Services demonstrated some of the projects they have been working on this year. These included short presentations on the library’s new reading list software, creating better WIFI connectivity across campus, how the library supports researchers and streamlining the referencing styles used in the university. He couldn’t believe how many referencing styles are actually out there! The VC seemed impressed and did not hold back with his questions. It is clear that there is some excellent work going on in this department and it is great to be able to showcase that the senior members of staff in the university.

Finally, I have a new job! I am so relieved because I was really worrying about what was going to happen in September. I had to find a job to fund my studies but I had to find a job that would work around my studies as well. It was important to find a position in a library because I want to be able to put the theory into practice and gain more work experience. I have been very lucky as I have got a job at a 6th Form College in Manchester as a part-time learning facilitator in the library. For the interview I had to do a presentation and I used Prezi for the first time and it went really well! The role will be varied and will involve supporting users in the retrieval and use of resources, planning and delivering inductions and study skills sessions, liaising with departments to develop collections and much more. I am really happy to be working with young people and supporting them in the college education.

This graduate traineeship role has developed my skills and confidence in more ways than I initially thought and I am so grateful. I didn’t have enough time in the interview to talk about all of the things I’ve done! It has opened up so many opportunities and has laid the foundations of my career. I’ve had so much support and encouragement from everyone and I am really not sure where I’d be today had I not applied.

I can tell it's going to be an emotional goodbye... 

I can tell it’s going to be an emotional goodbye… https://www.flickr.com/photos/jenosaur/

Podcasts: Consumer or Creator?

Podcasts are something that I’ve never taken the time to get into but I appreciate that they are a great thing that I am definitely missing out on. I’ve heard about Serial and really wanted to give it a go. I’ve tried to listen to audiobooks and I do enjoy them but I find it difficult to sit and listen and do nothing else. I like the fact that I am being read to and it’s really relaxing but I can only sit and listen for so long. I definitely prefer to read books myself.

I don’t know the best way to actually listen to podcasts – when and how do people listen to them? How do you fit them into your day? Please let me know because I’d like to find more time to listen to them.

I miss reading and studying history and I admit, I really don’t have the time at the moment to be reading my history books. They’re safely waiting for me in my tiny library. I’ve made a promise to myself that I will read them again. They aren’t going anywhere that’s for sure and I will keep buying more.

A snapshot of my neglected history collection – ignore the Batman comic

But I guess this is where podcasts can come in handy because I can listen to them and do stuff at the same time… As long as the stuff I am doing doesn’t require too much brain power; cleaning, bathing or sitting on a train for example.

I’ve just discovered this podcast and I am definitely excited by it. The Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor takes us through the History of the World in 100 Objects which can be found in the British Museum. Telling the tales of history through things is what museums do and it’s one of the most entertaining ways to learn about history. This podcast, first broadcast in 2010, examines human history through some of the things that we have created during our existence.

Podcasts can definitely be used for entertainment and leisure purposes – I think I am definitely going to take a bath and carry on listening to this podcast.

I think podcasts could definitely be used in the library. As far as I am aware no one creates their own podcasts in the library I work in at the moment but I can see their potential, especially when thinking about “100 objects” projects and blogs that are used in libraries and special collections to inform people about their star objects. It’s nice to have the option to learn about things in different ways and they could be useful for creating accessible content. The enthusiasm and knowledge of archivists, curators and special collections librarians would come across really well on a podcast. I will also be keeping my ears open for new podcasts and listen to some more of the podcasts on “Circulating Ideas” because they are really useful for professional development. I really enjoyed epidode 64: Troy Swanson & Heather Jagman talking about their book Not Just Where To Click: Teaching Students How To Think About Information. Thanks Rudai 23 for introducing this to me.

On that note however, I think I am going to be a podcast consumer rather than a podcast creator because at the moment, I don’t feel like I have enough interesting things to talk about. Plus, I hate the sound of my own voice, it’s weird!

I am currently completing a free mobile learning course that teaches social media through social media for professional devlopment.

I am currently completing a free mobile learning course that teaches social media through social media for professional development.

Thing 6 – Reflective Practice

I am currently completing a free mobile learning course that teaches social media through social media for professional devlopment.

I am currently completing a free mobile learning course that teaches social media through social media for professional devlopment.

Before I started working in a library I had never really had the chance to do any reflective practice. At uni, once my assignments were handed in, I was more than happy to see the back of them. In work, I just did my job and went home, happy to see the end of the day.  I’ve really started to enjoy blogging and find it is a useful tool for reflecting on what I’ve been doing at work and just generally build on the knowledge I have and to learn more. It’s also really great to read about other people’s experiences, especially as many people are a lot more experienced than I am. I feel a little bit silly admitting this but I hadn’t considered how much librarians actually need to reflect on their work. It’s important to keep up to date with what is going on in the library, information, publishing, education, political worlds and to connect with other librarians so you can share your experiences. I am now aware that I am entering a profession that will involve life-long learning and reflective practice and I’m cool with that. In fact, it’s amazing!

Here are some of the blogs I’ve really enjoyed reading:

  • The Daring Librarian’s blog was really useful. Point No. 3 is something I hadn’t really considered but makes so much sense. There is no need to apologise if you haven’t blogged in a while and that’s something I’ve definitely done before. I think I should start trying to schedule my blogs so I can reflect more regularly which will be more beneficial to me generally. I mainly blog for the purpose of reflecting on what I’ve done and if my experiences can help someone else, then that’s a fantasic added bonus. Also I think I might try and start adding more graphics and images to make things more interesting.
  • I love the livedinlibrarian blog tag line, it made me laugh “Dispatches from the good ship librarianship”. It’s interesting to ready everyone’s stories and opinions. I also like to see how people have designed their blogs. They’re all so different which is a testament to people’s creativity.
  • I like MU Library Lady’s blog post on reflection. She mentioned that blogging gives her some headspace which is something that I can relate to. It’s difficult to actually think about what you’re doing during the day when you’re so busy doing it…
Flickr - John Morgan  http://bit.ly/1MKs7NI

Flickr – John Morgan
http://bit.ly/1MKs7NI

I think the worst thing is that there just isn’t enough time to read everyone’s blog           posts! I want to dedicate more time to doing this I think because it is a really          useful way to learn more about the sector. I am still just a newbie after all.

Rudai 23: Thing No 2

I am entering the final months of my graduate traineeship. Only two and a half months left to go and I can confirm that I still want to be a librarian, yipee! The 23 Things Collaboration has come at a good time. I am going to have a think about why I want to be a librarian and what I think librarianship is all about having experienced it first hand as a trainee.

There is the age old stereotype that librarians spend their days stamping books and shushing people which still stands firm today. If you could stop someone on the street and ask them what a librarian does, chances are their response will be something along those lines. Most people I speak to are surprised to learn that you need a postgraduate qualification to be a librarian… I’d like to see them have a go 🙂 

Being a librarian is about genuinely wanting to help people to learn for themselves, getting people to appreciate the value of information and knowledge and helping people to enrich and develop their own lives and society. As more and more people have access to the internet, information professionals become more important. People really do need help because even though many people think they are internet searching experts, chances are they aren’t.

I want to be a librarian because I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to leave the world of learning behind. I loved the library when I was a student, I enjoyed working in there and feeling like you’re part of a student community. Being involved with people who are trying to educate themselves sounds like a benefical and rewarding job to me.

I can also carry on with my own learning and development; how can you not when you are surrounded by so much information! Librarians have to continually learn and develop their skills and this is great because I never want to give up learning. A large part of being a librarian involves sharing best practices, developing professionally and being conscious of the ever changing world of information and technology. I want to be a little fountain of knowledge. Or at least know where to go to gather and spread some of that knowledge.

I wish I could say that I wanted to be a librarian since I was little but that’s not the case. I vaguely remember wanting to be a vet, an actress and a chef at some point but in all honesty I didn’t decide until after I graduated, and this was probably for the best, I’d be the worst actress ever. I had toyed with the idea of being a history teacher because it seemed like a more or less straightforward career move as a history graduate.

I also considered continuing my studies, possibly doing a History MA and being an academic but I hadn’t found my “thing”. To undertake the amount of research required to complete a PhD, I think you really have to be passionate about a topic and until I find that topic, I can’t even consider it. So that career path was out of the window.

I also considered being an archivist. I had an idealistic idea that I would be caring for old, crispy documents, rare books and never before seen treasures all day. I understood there was more to it than that and that but I needed to get some experience if I wanted to enter the profession.

I joined the Archives and Records Association and bagged myself a work placement in the University working on an oral history project. I worked in the Cinema and Television History Centre at De Montfort University on a project which involved transcribing interviews undertaken with women working in the TV and film industry during the 20th century to the present day. I started looking into MA courses and voluntary positions for when I graduated so I could get the work experience required for many of the courses. I got a position in my local library digitising photographic slides which the library had inherited from various council planning departments.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t continue with the work for very long as I had to get a full time job. So I joined the hoard of graduates working in the first position they are offered in order to pay the bills. I spent a year working in a local pub which was good, but it wasn’t what I had envisioned as an optimistic and enthusiastic graduate leaving university with my shiny new degree.

I was continually looking for graduate positions in which I could develop a career – any career. I thought I had struck gold when I got a “graduate” job at a car finance company where I worked as a customer service advisor. In all honesty I didn’t enjoy the work but I did excel in the position and was offered the opportunity to progress onto a different position within the company. My interview was looming when I decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do as it just didn’t make me happy. I handed in my notice which was a crazy move considering I did not have a job to go to.

I had however applied for a position at the University of Bradford as a graduate trainee library assistant. When I first saw the opening I had the moment that all job seekers hope for… the moment you find a job that you know you would enjoy. I would love to be a librarian and thankfully this graduate traineeship has confirmed that I do want to be a librarian. After doing jobs which I didn’t enjoy, this really is the dream job.

It’s a cliché but I am a people person. Having dealt with customers since the age of 15 I don’t think I could ever work in an environment that wasn’t in some way customer/ user focused. It’s great to help people. Not serving them food and drinks or selling them car finance but giving them the ability to learn for themselves and find the information that librarians have worked hard to purchase and organise.

I wasn’t aware of the world of librarian networking, conferences and the variety of opportunities that are out there. I knew librarians didn’t just look after books but I hadn’t considered the variety of positions on offer to librarians; information officers, public librarians, knowledge officers, academic librarians, acquisitions librarians, e-resources librarians, NHS librarians, law librarians, corporate librarians, special collections librarians, embedded librarians, library managers, library directors, library systems librarians and so on.

From my course I am expecting to learn more unexpected and exciting things about the profession. I am hoping to develop a special interest in a particular area which I will be able to research in great depth and write about. It would be amazing to get an article published in a journal one day! I am interested in working in an academic library after I graduate. However, I am hoping to get more experience in different areas of the profession so who knows; I am willing to explore the world of librarianship.