Monday, 29 April 2013

New Job!

Hurrah! Have started the first of my two new public library jobs! I have mounted the library ladder at last!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Thing 23: One last Thing. PDP is planning permission required?

I feel really rather pleased with myself that I have made it to the end of this course (hurrah for me)! There were genuinely times when I felt I was so behind I wouldn’t make it through to the end, but I was determined and here I am (the wealth of organisational tools that I’ve gained has helped no end too…handy)! 

I’ve been pondering the Personal Development Plan (PDP) and contemplating next steps. I do like to have a structured plan, I find it very helpful to compile lists of things that I feel I need to do or get done (which invariably leads me to identify other things that I hadn’t initially thought of), so I can work through them in a nice ordered and sensible way and then have that pleasing feeling when it all gets accomplished.  There are lots of things I would like to do and being of the self-critical sort there are plenty of areas where I feel I could make improvements or fill gaps. With my new found confidence that has blossomed thanks to cpd23 though, I feel much more able and better equipped to stride forward with positive steps and continue on in my personal developmental journey. I’ve already started on my next phase in fact! 

I’m now much more comfortable with various web tools but I was aware that I lacked any real understanding of the ‘building blocks of computing’  (so to speak) and so have started an online course in computer programming , learning about HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Python amongst other things. I’m hoping these skills could be usefully deployed in future in things like creating and maintaining websites.

My library dreams involve working with special collections and so I thought it might be good for both me and my C.V. (sorry inadvertent rhyme there) if I made a concerted effort to try and learn to read (medieval) Latin. It is something I have been meaning to do for a long time now so it has been particularly satisfying to make a start on this. I’ve also been delving into the world of palaeography (thought this might be particularly helpful for deciphering marginalia, which I’m also very interested in)!

I’d like to press on and get some more cataloguing experience too; I’ve had a taster but would like some more hands-on experience. I intend to visit lots more libraries (not exactly a hardship!) and generally interact with more librarians (be this in person or online) and learn from their experiences and heed any advice that is kindly offered and get involved with various events. I shall definitely be carrying on with my voluntary work. I’m always learning something new from this and it is something I really do love and enjoy. Perhaps now this course has come to an end I may start utilising this blog to talk about the work I do here. I think I would find it rather odd not blogging now.

 My big next step though will of course be securing a proper library job and I shall carry on doing as much as I can to make this happen. cpd23 has already been a boon here. During many an interview people’s ears always prick up when I mention this course and it is looked on very favourably, so I owe a big debt of gratitude to the cpders for helping me along with my job hunt and ultimately for giving me skills that will make me a more productive, useful  and valuable team member. Thank you so much!

And finally, a 6 word story….how about:
Cpd23- Continuous Praise Deserved, thank you!
23 things has helped me develop
New skills, new me, new opportunities!
Not the end, only the beginning!

Oh I could carry on in this vein all day but I shall desist!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Thing 22: Volunteering Information.

I’ve been a volunteer in the library and archives environment in one way or another for over a year now, in a bid to gain experience. Have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a volunteer and have been immeasurably lucky in the positions I have had, especially my current one. I’ve  have gained a plethora of new skills and learned such a vast amount and am especially fortunate as my mentor goes out of his way to give me tasks that he knows I will benefit  from and I am eternally grateful for all the opportunities I have been given. Indeed everyone I have encountered during my spell as a volunteer has been generous with their time and words of wisdom. I have been given such a variety of tasks from handling rare books,  indexing a collection of journals and creating finds lists to surveying some of the Town Library’s photographic collections, whilst in the public library I have done all sorts including shelving and all aspects of circulation and generally getting to meet and help members of the public. I really have been given a true insight into how hard librarians work and the multifaceted nature of the role. I have also had lots of opportunities for networking and as a direct result of volunteering I have been given the chance to meet and work with bookbinders and cataloguers, as well as generally meeting the people who use and appreciate the resources that the library provides. 

My experiences have been nothing but positive (I wholeheartedly wish this could be the same for everyone). Everything I have done has been beneficial and a learning opportunity which I have always endeavoured to make the most of.  My C.V. has been given a huge boost and I have gained in confidence and I am armed with lots of useful skills which hopefully I will one day get the chance to carry forward into a professional position.  I hope that overall there has been a reciprocal benefit- that not only have I learnt but that I have in turn given something back and helped in some small way. I don’t believe in any way that the work I do as a volunteer is a substitute for professional librarianship, so I don’t feel that what I do devalues the profession. In fact it is because I value it so highly that I am here in the first place!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Thing 21: Promoting myself...the only way is up!

I’ve had a fair bit of experience now with regards to job applications and interviews (she says somewhat mournfully), so apologies if this post rambles on!

One of the very hardest parts of job applications for me is indeed that very feeling of boasting. I find it difficult to get my head around the sort of ‘I’m really good because…’ type aspect of this part of the process. I’m just not terribly good at giving myself praise! The best piece of advice I was ever given for overcoming this distasteful state was given to me by my marvellous sister and has really helped me gain a different perspective. I shall now pass this pearl of wisdom on in the hope of aiding others who feel as I do. Her sage advice goes as follows… pretend you are writing about someone else! Works very well with me! I imagine I am simply describing someone who has the experience and skills that I have (spooky that)…I look from the outside in, as it were! It helps me to back-off and evaluate things properly without the feeling of blowing my own trumpet. Simple but effective!

I am nothing if not meticulous with the whole job application/ interview process- I go through the job description and person spec. with a fine toothed comb- I like to print this out and scribble notes all over it, linking in my experiences and identifying skills and strengths that I think I possess that will be of benefit and keying it into the description. As for interviews I am the epitome of ‘always be prepared’, I research the roles and institutions, think carefully about the job and try to pre-empt likely questions.

I’ve been fortunate so far to have been chosen to interview for a few positions, but alas despite my preparedness I have not yet squared the circle and gained the all-important (and much longed for) job. I always make a point of asking for feedback as to why I was unsuccessful in that particular instance and then endeavour to work on the issues raised (although they have only ever been minor points, which in itself can be quite frustrating). I have to say though that the most difficult piece of feedback I ever received was to be told that actually I was over qualified for the traineeship. This was hard simply because I didn’t (and still don’t) know exactly what to do with this ‘advice’. I feel that I would benefit hugely from a trainee position; it would give me a chance to capitalise on all that I have learned so far, extend my skills even further and give me invaluable professional experience in readiness for my next step. So I have endeavoured to get voluntary experience and qualifications which I thought would really improve my chances of gaining such a role, but then to be told that in effect I may have rather over egged the pudding was a bit of a kick in the teeth to say the least! What am I to do?  I find myself in an uncomfortable catch-22 position. I can’t rescind my experience (I wouldn’t want to) but I’m left in an awkward no man’s land- too ‘qualified’ (supposedly and certainly not in my view) for a traineeship but if I applied for more  professional roles I imagine I would be told I lack enough experience.  It’s a bit of a pickle! I know what I want to do and how I think I can get there but I’m afraid I won’t be given the chance and that, sadly, is really disheartening especially when you are as passionate as I am. I have found ‘the love of my working life’ (I want to be a librarian), but alas at the moment it is unrequited!

Changing tack a bit now, I shall attempt to answer the questions posed at the beginning of the cpd23 post:

Q:  What do you like to do?
A: Crafts (sorry not strictly work related, but it did give me pause for thought thinking about the transferable skills I can glean from this).

Q: Do you remember the last time you felt that feeling of deep satisfaction after creating, building, completing something? What was it about?  
A: In ‘crafty’ terms, I’ve just learned how to do pick-ups on my inkle loom (here’s a bit about inkle weaving if anyone is interested), which means I can create pretty designs in my weaving and thereby extend my repertoire! 

Q: What skills do you need to do the things you like?

  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to follow instructions
  • Ability to learn from mistakes/problem solving
  • Concentration
  • Creativity
  • Patience
  • Enthusiasm
  • Self-motivation/ perseverance (blimey crafts are really rather good for self-development!)
Q: What do you dislike?  
A: Goat’s cheese, but that’s beyond the point! Rudeness though is a big one…but I always try to counter this with politeness!