Saturday, 26 May 2012

Thing 4 – Current Awareness - Twitter, RSS Feeds and Storify – to tweet or not to tweet?

So, here we are on week 3 and the fourth thing, although it has sneakily managed to be three things. Luckily I was already slightly acquainted with two of them so have managed to keep up. Just!  Perhaps it would be best to deal with these “things” one at a time.


I am a very recent convert to Twitter and like any new convert I am bordering on becoming positively evangelical in my enthusiasm for it. At first the whole Twitter business left me cold. However, I was persuaded to give it a try by an article in the Guardian about the uses of Twitter in education.

At first the world of Twitter was frankly terrifying and like any sensible librarian I lurked for a bit. It doesn’t take long to get the feel of things and gradually I started to follow interesting librarians/authors/teachers/book-bloggers etc.  Less than two months later and I’m becoming dangerously addicted to it.  I have found it to be the best source of up to date information on so much that I’m interested in. It can be entertaining, thought provoking and an excellent personal learning network tool.

Twitter etiquette was a bit worrying at first; it felt a bit like being at a social gathering where you don’t know anyone and don’t want to make some dreadful gaffe. A school librarian, @Cotham_Library, posted a guide to Twitter from @Edudemic that I found invaluable:

Already I can see that I am going to have to organise my Twitter feed in some way as it would be easy to feel deluged by the vast amount of information I receive. Realistically it is not possible to read each tweet and I think that I will need to review those that I follow regularly which sounds a bit ruthless but will be necessary to avoid me drowning in a flood of tweets. I have started using Hootsuite and hope that this will help me to organise things more effectively. One other aspect is that in order to get the maximum benefit out of Twitter I think it is important to be able to keep up with it on a mobile device of some sort. One of the main advantages of Twitter is its immediacy and having to wait until you can access a computer would reduce this.

There are still aspects of Twitter I don’t even pretend to understand. Yesterday on my list of suggested people to follow were Cheryl Cole and Al Gore…how it came up with that particular combination is one of life’s great mysteries!

RSS Feeds

I had played about with RSS feeds before but had never used them properly nor known that it stood for Really Simple Syndication. It was easy to set myself up with a Google Reader account and off I went adding the list of the blogs suggested by the CPD23 blog.  These are all really useful blogs but I have found that there is now some duplication in my sources of information as I already follow some of these through Twitter e.g. The Wikiman and some of the CPD23 participants.

The potential use for work is extensive but I am going to have to work out a system to make the best use of this potential. At the moment I could easily feel as though I have too many information sources to check on a daily basis and begin to feel a bit overloaded by it all. I regularly check a number of school library and children’s book sites and subscribing to their RSS feeds would keep them all together in one place. However I am already checking Twitter and SLN (the school librarian network on Yahoo) daily so lack of time is an issue. This is something that I have earmarked to look at properly as soon as possible.


Storify is new to me and I first heard of it last month on Twitter when it was used by @MsTick68 to collate an on-line discussion on children’s books:  As a new user of Twitter I had missed some of the conversation so this was really useful. The one put together by Annie for CPD23 is also very impressive. I can see that it would be of use for training sessions, conferences and similar but at the moment I am not clear how I could use it to good effect at work. As there are so many different Web tools available and I am trying to select the ones that will be of the most use to me and the staff and pupils at our school I am tempted to leave Storify for now.  

Phew! Thing 4 completed and blogged about by the end of week 3 so still on schedule, something that I wasn’t confident of achieving at the start of this programme. Looking forward now to a bit of reflecting in the sunshine!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Thing Three...Branding...personal and otherwise...

A few months ago if you had asked me to consider my personal brand I would have laughed.  It makes me feel like a commodity.  Would I be Tesco or Waitrose?  However now I have started to get into the CPD 23 Things I am starting to realise what is meant by branding and personal brand.  Thinking about it on a broader level perhaps the threat to librarians nationally, both in public and school libraries, is linked to the branding of librarians as a profession.  Our image, sadly, is very outdated in the eyes of many. The stereotype of the forbidding librarian in twinset and pearls “just stamping books” is still with us in 2012. So perhaps it is more important than I first thought that I should take some time to look at my personal brand.

As suggested I started with a search using both Google and Bing and as I have such a common name the first hit is not until the second page where my Twitter account appears.  If I search for my name plus library my Linkedin profile is the first hit with my Twitter account appearing three places down the list.  This was a surprise as I don’t use Linkedin on a regular basis and my profile is not updated.  Up to now I had not really considered Linkedin important to me but as it is included in Thing 5 maybe I will be persuaded otherwise.Generally my on-line “face” is my professional one. Although I do have a Facebook account that is personal for family and friends I use it very rarely.  Also my privacy settings are such that only friends can see posts or photos. I am a very recent convert to Twitter and this is rapidly becoming the focal point of my personal learning network with posts generally on library, education or book related matters.  However there is a personal feel to some of the conversations which I enjoy.  As my name is such a common one registering a user name is always tricky so on both Twitter and this blog I use the name given to me by the little ones in our school nursery which is both apt and easy to remember. My real name is included on both too.  
Although I have a photo on Facebook I don’t on Linkedin or Twitter. Perhaps I should do as I know that I like it when I can picture the person I am talking to online.  To be honest this is partly due to the fact that I think people may have preconceived ideas of my views and attitudes because I am closer to retirement than school age.  This is probably nonsense but has affected my decision.  My Twitter account has the standard default background but I quite like it as it’s easy to look at and is not distracting. For this blog I opted for the bookshelves as so many of us have.  Maybe I should alter this to something more original. Perhaps the look of both Twitter and my blog should be the same?  I am not convinced that it is of great importance though.  However, some of the other participants on this course have very impressive and professional looking blogs which put me to shame

As a school librarian I also maintain accounts in the name of the school library: Delicious, Twitter and Jog the Web, and these are all given the same abbreviated form of the school name plus a photo of the school badge or the school itself. 

Overall I think my “brand” is more of a professional one, geared to my life as a school librarian, than a personal one but nonetheless it is the real me.  There would be no point in pretending to be something that I am not nor would I want to put anything on the internet that I would not wish either my employer or a friend to see.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Thing 2 - Being brave with blogs...

Exploring other CPD23 participants' blogs has been a revelation. I've discovered that many people, just like me, are approaching the programme with some trepidation and wondering if they will manage to complete the course. Many people are also new to blogging, again just like me. Reading other posts over the last couple of days has reassured me that I am not the only person to feel a little nervous about not only making posts of my own, but commenting on others too. There is something unnerving about the thought of the whole wide world reading my ramblings. My previous experience of blogs had been those belonging to professional speakers such as Michael Rosen or book review blogs which I always found both helpful and interesting but something that I never would consider doing myself. But, here I am, both blogging and commenting!

The feeling of being part of a community of librarians all trying to do much the same as I am: discover new things, explore different approaches to work and learn from each other is very encouraging.  I hope that I continue to feel the same way as the weeks pass by!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Thing 1 continued - Blogs and blogging

Why am I taking part in CPD23 2012? I entered librarianship relatively late, after my two children had started school, via a couple of years as a part-time library assistant with Surrey Libraries. In 2000 I started at my present job, a school librarian in an independent prep school in Surrey, and decided I needed both further training and a formal qualification so studied for a BSc. in Information and Library Studies as a distance learner with Aberystwyth University. This was hard work but fun and made me realise the value of networking with other librarians in different fields from all over the country.

For various reasons I have never completed the chartership process but with the constant developments in both education and libraries I think it is important that I pursue as much further training as possible and work at improving the service that I provide. Also it doesn't do any harm to keep the little grey cells active!  I am a member of the School Library Association and on the committee of the local branch. Although I have tried to keep up to date with Web 2.0 the speed with which tools etc.are added makes this quite difficult. In theory completing CPD23 this year should mean that I gain a working knowledge of at least some of them.

It will be interesting to look at the blogs of other participants and I hope to learn lots of valuable tips. The biggest challenge is going to be making sure that I manage to complete the course at the required pace. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

CPD23 - The First Thing

Last year I was full of good intentions to sign up for CPD23 but never actually managed to bite the bullet. One of the things that put me off was the need to have a blog. Although I read other people's blogs and enjoy any book related ones very much, I was reluctant to create my own. But, as it's the first "thing" on the list it appears that I can no longer be a shrinking violet.

Anyway, I can happily tick (or maybe half tick) Thing 1 now. The description of the course says that "The 23 Things" will be taken at a slightly slower pace this year which suits me fine. I am hoping that I will be able to fit it in around my job as a school librarian. As the course starts tomorrow I have just made it in time this year!

Looking forward to finding out what happens next...