Wednesday, 29 June 2011

cpd23 - Thing 3

 Finally get the chance to actually start on Thing 3! It's been a horribly busy week so far at work, and we have Summer Students starting shortly, so trying to write an induction on Power Point....*stressed*....!!!

I have to admit, I was really looking forward to tackling Thing 3, because in all honesty, I don't think it's fully clear yet what I want my personal brand to be. Those of you reading this blog so far will note that I am writing it fairly anonymously -  don't worry - it's nothing sinister!!! I have just always tried to keep my professional and personal lives very separate, therefore while I am perfectly happy to be on Facebook and LinkedIn, I don't really ever combine the two. Also I still have a somewhat (outdated??) aversion to making a lot of information about myself available on the internet.

That having been said, on reading Jo's post about taking a 'profersonal' approach to her blog, I can totally see the benefits of this, and my stance on remaining anonymous may well change very soon...!

As part of the Thing 3 activity, I carried out the Google search of permutations of my name (I have quite an uncommon name, so it wasn't difficult at all *first clue to identity slipped in there* - LOL) and my shortened name threw up my LinkedIn profile, which gives my employment history but no other info. The only other results that related to me were posts from some 10 years ago to a website where you could send in tips like 'how to apply eye liner'!! Just goes to show you how things on the internet never really go away - scary!! (I was only about 19 and on my year abroad, stuck out in a village in the back of beyond in Germay - needless to say, I was bored!!)

The second search using my full first name didn't throw up any results relating to work at all. Instead there were three hits relating to an national essay competition I won as a 13 year old, (yes, I was something of a swot!!!) and a mention of my Masters dissertation on my then-supervisor's own blog.

This was actually a really enlightening thing to do! However, in terms of my personal brand, I don't think these Google results really reflect much about it at all - the reason being that really, the only relevant one is my LinkedIn profile. Again, owing to my reluctance to put a lot of personal information in the public domain, I don't have any other information on there - simply because I am uncomfortable if anyone could Google my name and find out not only some of my employment history, but also when and where I went to uni etc.

Sooooo - my conclusion is, I think my brand is one in progress. I guess I am using this blog as the main focal point of my brand, and I think from this blog, it is hopefully obvious that I am very conscious of NOT wanting to portray myself as a 'boring librarian' (that tired old chestnut!), and so I am keen to make this blog informative but in a laid back way - and moreover, to write in a way that reflects my personality! Also, I think I am influenced by the fact that in my current firm, my boss considers our roles to be quite different from the more 'traditional' librarian, and so we don't refer to ourselves as 'librarians' - which may horrify some fellow information professionals!

Phew - this is quite a long one so I am going to stop here. Look forward to catching up with some fellow participants to get their takes on Thing 3! In the meantime, please feel free to let me know what you think of my 'brand' so far.... :)

ps will have a read through some of the suggested reading references too when I get a minute...

Image courtesy of: Danilo Rizutti -

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Thing 2 - cpd23

  So I'm writing this at the end of the first week of the cpd23 programme, and have to admit I feel like I have been totally submerged in the previously unknown-to-me 'blogosphere'! Thing 2 is to take some time to explore other participants' blogs, and over the course of this week that's exactly what I have done. I adopted a few different methods of selecting which blogs to look at - the first time I did as the programme organisers suggested, and went onto Delicious and narrowed them down by field, which in my case was 'legal'. This threw up not a huge amount of results, admittedly, but the ones I did look at were really interesting and engaging. Not everyone was new to the blogging world so it's been really good for me to explore the writings of the more seasoned blogger, as well as the novices like me! I also took a random approach on one occasion and just picked blogs whose name caught my eye as I scrolled down the list - not very technical, I know, but a good way of widening the scope outside of my own field.

I really enjoyed Tina's Library Related Blog, not only because Tina's role is very similar indeed to mine, but also because she has been blogging for some time now and so there was lots to read. I particularly enjoyed reading her thoughts on how she portrays herself online, and how you want to portray yourself as a 'normal', well-rounded individual! I think that's something that I am very conscious of too, and indeed it's why until now I have never even considered blogging or using any Web 2.0 tools in relation to work. I think one of the forthcoming 'Things' is to do with our personal 'brand', so it's definitely something I'm looking forward to thinking about/blogging about, as well as reading about what others think about this.

Another blog I came across was The Tidy Librarian, and like me, this writer has just started her blog as part of cpd23. I really liked her style and definitely agreed that one of the hardest things in the first instance was thinking of a name for the blog!!  I also had a browse through Ruth's Library Blog, which also proved of interest as I have a friend just starting work in a school library, so I have a special interest in that field as well at the moment! Transliteracy Librarian is a blog written by a Canadian participant in cpd23, so that was fantastic to feel like I was connecting with someone on a global level! So exciting to know that the cpd23 programme has extended so far.

Really want to continue exploring other blogs as the programme continues - it will be really interesting to see how others are getting on with it, and it can't be a bad thing to increase my awareness of what's going on not only in the legal domain, but in the information community on a wider level. I am genuinely surprised that I feel like this after only a week or so of blogging!

Let's get set for Thing 3!!!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Amazing what you get done when there's a power cut...


Have just been able to get back online after a nearly 3 hour power cut, and it's been quite an eye opener even in that short of space of time to realise how our entire workplace ground to an almost complete halt as a result of no electricity. (Not least because we couldn't even make a cup of coffee...!) Other than the lucky(?) folk with fully charged laptops, the rest of us have spent the time actually getting done all those annoying little tasks that otherwise, there simply isn't the opportunity to do...which got me thinking - is it really the case that there is no opportunity to do things like tidying out your desk drawers, or catching up on hard copy current awareness reading - or in my case, transcribing all those annoying post-it notes into one notepad! - or is it simply that we are now all so utterly reliant on our PCs/laptops that any tasks that don't involve them make us feel like we aren't actually doing 'proper' work?
I know there are times that I feel if I were to pick up a hard copy journal that's been sat in my in-tray and start reading it at my desk, I would be very self-conscious of people around me thinking that I was just skiving off. That kind of reading for me is consigned to the train journeys to and from work - not done at your desktop!

I was never in the workplace prior to the onslaught of email/internet etc, therefore I find it almost impossible to imagine an office environment where everything was done on paper, so maybe my feelings are just a product of my generation...

Anyway - it's been a surprisingly productive afternoon for me nonetheless!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Rachel's Big Adventure: My brief guide to surviving your LIS dissertation!...

One of my colleagues is beginning her dissertation and her worries brings it all back - doesn't feel like 2 years ago I was in the same boat!

So when I saw this blog post on that very topic, I immediately thought how useful it might be to others who are working on theirs this summer. It's a really well-written and insightful piece - I wish I had found something so nice and reassuring at the time!

Rachel's Big Adventure: My brief guide to surviving your LIS dissertation!...: "It’s hard to believe how fast time flies – it seems like only yesterday that I was fighting with my MA Librarianship dissertation, and ..."

Monday, 20 June 2011

cpd23 - the challenge has begun!

Today is the day so many of us have been waiting for - the start of the cpd23 challenge!

I know I told you a little bit about myself in my very first blog post, but I'd just like to take that a bit further in light of getting started with 'Thing 1' - why I'm taking part in this course and what I hope to get out of it.

To recap, I work for a law firm in the City, in what we refer to as the Information Centre - which is also commonly known in its more traditional sense - the Library. However, although we're often referred to as the Library, we have quite a wide-ranging role, traditional library duties being merely a small part of that role. We handle a wide range of legal research enquiries, along with a great deal of business development work; that is, compiling reports and obtaining other intelligence on companies/individuals worldwide in order to assist fee-earners with pitches for new business.

I have worked in law firm libraries for about 5 and a half years now; my background prior to this was chiefly in the insurance industry. I obtained my MSc from City University in 2010 after studying part time over two years. I decided to take part in the cpd 23 project because I am now working towards my CILIP Chartership qualification, and I felt that this would be a really good way of trying out things that I would normally not even consider - a blog itself being one of those things! I am hoping that the programme will give me more opportunities to get involved in areas that I wouldn't otherwise, as well maybe even make some new contacts! Not only that, but the fact that reflection on professional development forms an important part of the Chartership process means that this blog gives me another forum in which to do so. I am hoping it will help me to get as much as I can out of all of the 'Things' in the programme, as well as anything else that I do outside of the programme.

I have already written a post about a couple of training sessions I attended recently on recruitment/interviewing skills, so I am hoping to write about such things in conjunction with my posts on the cpd 23 challenge.

In the meantime, I look forward to checking out some fellow participants' blogs!

Thinking about recruitment...

I've been fortunate enough to be able to attend a couple of seminars on recruitment fairly recently; one internal and one organised by BIALL. As something of a novice when it comes to interviewing and the recruitment process in general (or at least, a novice when it comes to being on the other side of the table!), I found both of these sessions were excellent primers on the topic.

Having discussed a number of specimen CVs as a group, role play was then introduced in the internal session: in pairs, one person was the interviewer and the other a candidate for a specified role. The interviewer, having looked at the candidate's CV, had to ask a number of questions to simulate a real-life interview. I have to admit I found it a very unfamiliar concept when playing the role of the interviewer - it was strange to be asking the probing questions instead of answering them! It's also easy to get hung up on things that are on the CV, but actually aren't relevant to this particular role, or point of time in the candidate's life, so you have to be careful not to pre-judge a candidate, perhaps because of a career choice some years ago.

In both sessions we talked about how it's necessary to make a decision regarding how flexible you will be on the requirements for the role. For example, would you be willing to overlook the fact that someone didn't have the same kind of experience as the role being applied for, but displayed sufficient qualities to convince you that they would have the capacity to get to grips with the role quickly and effectively? The importance of 'culture fit', as well as having the relevant skills/qualifications, cannot be undermined. As an interviewer, you have to consider how the interviewee would fit in with all of the personalities in the team - not just your own! What would they bring to the team in this respect?
Working for a law firm, for me, definitely means that I tend to find the legal implications of any given situation particularly interesting (sad but alas true...), so it was very enlightening to consider the potential pitfalls involved in the typical interview setup. The importance of taking adequate notes during the interview was stressed in both sessions. These notes are then kept for a period of time following the interview, and not only means, of course, that you will be able to remember which candidate was which, but also forms evidence that the interview was conducted fairly and in a consistent manner to the others.

Another point that was debated at both sessions was how far the interviewer is allowed to go before small talk/icebreakers could be construed later on as discriminatory comments. Some felt that, for example, remarking on a candidate's regional accent is a good way of starting to put them at ease; however others felt that this kind of remark is unwise, as it could be used against the interviewer later on - i.e. an innocent remark about someone's accent could be used in building up evidence of a discriminatory claim based on where that candidate is from. Although I can't speak as an interviewer, I can speak from my own experiences as a candidate who has been for several interviews over the years - and I have to admit, I always found comments of this kind to be very welcome, as they definitely make me feel more comfortable with the interviewer(s). That having been said, there is no harm in being aware of what you say to an interviewee in order to avoid any confusion down the line.

Overall both of the sessions I attended really gave me a lot to think about and were an excellent introduction to the various things you need to consider when it comes to recruiting and interviewing staff. It's definitely something that I would like to put into practice further down the line, especially as I get the impression that hands-on experience on the other side of the desk is the best way to develop an effective interviewing style - and more importantly, one with which you are comfortable.

Thursday, 16 June 2011's nearly time!

Apologies for the slight hiatus between posts at present, I promise I shall try and be a bit more regular with my updates...

I got the idea of starting this blog after reading about the cpd23 challenge , which officially begins on Mon 20th June. Each week there will be a new 'Thing' for participants to try out and blog about, so you're going to be hearing quite a bit about it in the coming weeks...!

I personally decided to take part in this because I am in the middle of working towards my CILIP Chartership and it seems like a really good way of forcing myself to try out some new things, and maybe even be able to incorporate some of them into my daily working life.

The emphasis is on how these 'Things' can help our professional development. I don't know about fellow law librarians, but I have always found professional development  to be something that I didn't really spend a great deal of time thinking about - I just took it for granted that I was 'developing' more skills the longer I worked in law libraries. While this is undoubtedly true to an extent, I cannot deny that my decision to try and Charter has really forced me to carry out a somewhat long overdue 'skills audit', and it's actually been quite a challenge - not only to lay out the precise areas in which I want to develop - but also to ascertain how I shall go about doing so.

I'm really quite excited about taking part in the 23 Things project at any rate - roll on 20th June!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Welcome to the world of the City law library....

So this is my first ever blog post - bear with me while I get my bearings!

 This blog will hopefully give you an insight into the workings of a City law firm information centre, AKA The Library. Everything will be anonymised when discussing anything within the library but otherwise I'll be sharing some of my experiences in terms of what we do and what we work on. I'll also be talking about courses/seminars I  attend and what I get out of them...

The main reason for setting up this blog is to take part in the cpd23 challenge, so you will definitely be hearing a LOT about that as the weeks go on...