Sunday, 16 October 2011

Thing 23 - Reflection: What Next?

23 Things may be over, but this blog certainly isn't!
Well, it has finally arrived - Thing 23 and the end of the program. The one thing that strikes me when I start to reflect on my experiences is how I now feel a lot more comfortable writing this blogthan I did back in May. Looking back at my first few posts, I was definitely ill at ease and not entirely sure how to 'brand' my blog. While I am by no means a seasoned blogger compared to some people, I am quite amazed by the way that I have taken to it and managed not only to keep up with the 23 Things program, but also try my hand at blogging about other experiences.

So that's my first observation, but let's move on to thinking about the actual program itself.

I would say that I got the most out of the following parts of the program:

It goes without saying that I would probably never even have considered setting up a blog if it hadn't been for hearing about the cpd23 program. I had always followed a few blogs relating specifically to law libraries, but I had never really taken it any further, and certainly never dreamed of maintaining one myself. Not only has this program spurred me on to create this blog, but it also got me interested in other blogs. Thing 2 involved getting to explore some of the oher cpd23 blogs, and this is something that I found really helpful, because it opened up a whole new world to me in terms of other kinds of library jobs that are out there. There are several blogs that I found particularly interesting and I have enjoyed following them over the last few months. It will definitely be interesting to see if other people will continue blogging going forward. I feel far more connected to the library/information community as a whole now, and feel like I am making more of an active contribution through writing this blog.

Online and real life networks
When we considered these networks over Things 6 and 7, I was very much of the opinion that LinkedIn, for example, wasn't really worth spending much time on, but I can honestly say that my attitude has changed in this respect. While I still maintain that dividing line between what I perceive as my personal life (Facebook) and my professional life (LinkedIn), I definitely see the benefits of being a bit more active on LinkedIn, because it does appear that a lot of connection can be made that at some stage may be useful when it comes to looking to change jobs. Previously I would never have accepted any requests on LinkedIn from people that I didn't already know fairly well - but now I am connected to some recruitment agency staff whom I know from the past and some I don't know yet at all - but it doesn't bother me nearly as much as it would have before. I would have been very uncomfortable before, but I think there is a lot to be said for LinkedIn and the influence it has in terms of networking and recruitment.

With regard to real life networks, I joined LIKE via LinkedIn and am hoping to attend one of their meetups in the future. Again from a networking point of view, groups like this are a great way of opening one's eyes to other sectors and meeting people involved in information provision outwith my usual legal sphere. I have also joined TFPL Connect and am attending a networking event later in the year - something that I would never have looked into, had it not been for this program. I have also taken a more active part in one of the CILIP Groups of which I am a member - CLSIG - and have already attended a couple of events organised by them.

Google Calendar
A small thing admittedly, but I didn't really have much awareness of Google calendar until we explored it as part of Thing 8. Although I don't have any use for it at work because we have to use our Outlook calendars to create events and so on, I have actually found it useful outside of work.

Thing 9 was fantastic as I had no idea Evernote existed and I was amazed at how useful it is at work, as when I am carrying out research, I always come across a number of random websites and then there are many that I can never find again. I loved the functionality of Evernote far more than Delicious, which is what I had tinkered around with in recent years. Definitely one of my favourite things to come out of the program!

Google Docs and Dropbox
Again I had heard of Google docs, but never explored it, and as for Dropbox, I had never come across it at all. I really took to both of them, but again, this would be more for personal reasons, as I explained at the time, we have a very rigid system of how we share documents in the Law Library, so there is no call for us to use anything like these programs. But I was quite impressed at how easy it was to dump documents in there, and it's definitely good to have a backup of work stored away from my actual laptop etc.

I chose Mendeley over Zotero and citeulike, because I felt out of all of them, it was the one that seemed most relevant to me in terms of my writing articles. I really loved Mendeley and in the process of writing my articles, have spent some time moving references there and organising them. All I can say is, I wish tools like this had existed when I was a student - or if they did, I wish I had known of them! I already recommended it to a friend studying for her masters in information science, as I really was impressed with how easy it enables storing references and creating bibliographies.

Jing took my breath away! It is something that I felt would provide so much value in terms of myself and the team training fee-earners in the same things several times a year. I have since shown it to my manager and she is considering if it's something we could convince IT to let us use, and if so, could any demos we make be incorporated somewhere on the relevant Intranet page. Like me, she had never heard of it - none of my managers had. I find it amazing that all these tools are out there and if it hadn't been for cpd23, I have no idea if I would have come across them....

As with Jing, I had never encountered anything like this - talk about making Powerpoint look utterly outdated! I would love to incorporate this into a presentation - I would say the only drawback is convincing my managers that this kind of look would go down well with fee-earners! But I found the functionality incredible - the graphics are jaw-dropping and you can incorporate so much information in a novel way.

Promoting yourself in job applications etc
I found this Thing helpful because it got me thinking again about the importance of keeping the CV up to date and in general, reminding me what my strengths are. This is particularly pertinent to Chartership and the work I am doing towards that goal. I quite enjoyed taking stock of what I enjoy outside of work and thinking about how that impacts upon the job I do. I was left thinking that I am definitely in the right kind of job for me, but not feeling complacent - what is right now may not be right in 12 months or 2 years etc. I think it's definitely important to keep thinking about professional development, long term goals and where we see our careers heading. Sometimes a change of sector may be desired - and it is definitely thanks to this program that I have become more aware, and have a better understanding of, the many variations of library-style jobs out there worldwide.

Things that I would like to work on more going forward
Getting Involved
I have already started to feel more involved in the wider community, as well as even just the legal community, over the last few months by writing this blog and interacting with others through it, or at the various events I have attended. I have also started to write for a couple of publications within the community. However, I am more than aware that this is just a starting point - again like blogging, it's still fairly new to me and it's something that I know I need to work on continuously.

Attending/presenting at events
While I have attended a number of events in the last 12 months, presenting at one is not something that had ever crossed my mind until we came to Thing 16. I think it is definitely something I would need to feel very confident about, if I were to propose to speak at any event - but at the same time, I am grateful to the program for opening this idea up to me and making it seem like it is something any of us can do.

It's hard to sum up how I feel about the end of the cpd23 program - happy that I managed to complete it successfully, a bit sad that's it come to an end, as I have almost got used to checking the blog to see what's coming up etc and then thinking about how I shall explore it and blog about it! On the whole I have got a great deal out of the program and I am delighted that I took part. It's made me so much more aware of the library community and all the different roles out there - and it's an amazing opportunity to be able to interact with people from all over the world, and read about their experiences. It has definitely also made me realise that while I thought I was quite on the pulse when it comes to technology/Web 2.0 etc, there was actually a great deal out there I had never come across - and probably is a great deal more yet to be discovered! So I am definitely a lot more curious as a result, and eager to ensure that I stay as connected as I feel right now thanks to cpd23.

There is no doubt that I want to keep this blog going, therefore I just want to thank anyone who has been following me, and hope all my followers will stay with me going forward as I keep you up to date with the latest happenings in the Extraordinary Law Library....

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