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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

CPD23 Things 6 & 7 -Networking and support systems – Both on-line and face to face


As I am falling behind with this programme I have lumped together Things 6 & 7 in a somewhat desperate attempt to catch up.  However, since I think that there is an overlap between the two I hope to get away with it. Networking can mean different things to different people. For some it means developing contacts to exchange information and further your career and for others it means forming a group of people who exchange information and experience, for professional purposes, in order to create a support group. My own experience of networking is most definitely the latter and for this reason I find some of the tools mentioned more useful than others.

LinkedIn

Although I have an account this is because I was invited by a friend and I did not wish to be rude and say no. However I think that this particular network is only of real value if you are actively seeking new employment. I have joined some of the groups; CPD23, School Librarians and CILIP but am not sure what to do next! The discussions and information tend to duplicate what I am learning on Twitter or elsewhere already and the School Librarians Group particularly is very USA biased in content. The etiquette for connecting with others is also a bit bewildering. At the moment I am connected to colleagues or friends so am not really gaining anything from my LinkedIn account at present. LinkedIn is something that I will put on the back burner for now.

Facebook

I am not a huge fan of Facebook partly due to the privacy issues and rarely post on it myself using it mainly to keep in touch with relatives in other parts of the country. Ironically I signed up initially for professional reasons to keep in touch with book review, education and school library information but now use it extremely rarely for this purpose. All of this I now find on Twitter and that has become my first port of call for all professional information of late.

LISPN and LAT

Both of these were new to me and I think that as a school librarian the Librarians as Teachers Network could in theory be very useful indeed. Although it looks a bit inactive at the moment I think I will sign up and try to participate in future.

CILIP Communities

Having been a member of CILIP for ten years I did not renew my membership last year so am not able to access this particular network at the moment. Unfortunately I had felt that the cost of membership was too expensive for what I gained in return. However, I have started using the web site more regularly recently and particularly like the blogs. The Shout about School Libraries campaign is a positive move too so I am now considering re-joining CILIP and if so will start to use the communities network again.

Other On-Line Networks

For several years the on-line network that I have found the most useful is the Yahoo Group The School Librarians Network (SLN).  Even though I rarely post comments myself the knowledge and support that I have gained from other school librarians has been invaluable. I also belong to Librarians in Independent Prep Schools in South East England (LIPSEE) http://mrpartis.wordpress.com/ and although it is not possible for me to attend meetings the regular newsletter and the e-mail contact is a terrific support system. As there are so few school librarians working with this age group this is particularly helpful.

Twitter is my favourite on-line network and I have already blogged about my conversion to it here  This has resulted in my using the other on-line networks less and less although both SLN and LIPSEE are still valuable to me.

Face to Face Networks
 

Ever since I transferred from public to school libraries in 2000 I have been a member of the School Library Association and it has helped keep me sane for a number of reasons. Initially I used their comprehensive and helpful publications to help me set up a new school library and then very tentatively I started attending the local branch meetings. Twelve years on and now I am on the committee of our local branch, attend meetings every term and have gained so much from it. As school librarians are usually solo workers I think there is a real need for the SLA and particularly the local branches. It is so very helpful to be able pick the brains of experienced and knowledgeable librarians in the same field. I have heard speakers such as Aidan Chambers and Julia Eccleshare, learnt about everything from how to create displays with the wow factor to using Animoto and QR codes. The revamped web site is useful too with a range of resources to download and information on key issues in the area of school librarianship. Over the last twelve years I have also attended several SLA training days and these too have been extremely valuable covering topics such as teaching skills for librarians, promoting reading for pleasure and developing an information skills toolkit for primary school children.

There is a bit of a cross-over with all the networks I use: I have met librarians from LIPSEE at the SLA conference; some who I follow on Twitter are also SLA members; I have heard librarians who post on SLN speak at meetings.  As a solo worker I think this is wonderful as it makes me feel part of a wider network and this provides both professional and personal support. Without this support my job would be very much harder.




Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Thing 5 – Time for some R & R…reflecting and responding


So we reach the point when we may stop and reflect on our progress so far and sadly I am already starting to fall behind a little on the “things”. Any other year and this week of reflection would have tied in with the half term break and I would have coped. I blame the Jubilee!  This is much easier than admitting that I am badly organised. However, that for me is the chief problem with reflective practice; lack of time makes it difficult to do this properly. Also, spending valuable time reflecting rather than doing can feel a bit self-indulgent. But having read the very useful guidance provided for Thing 5 on the CPD23 blog I am starting to appreciate that this is not true. I particularly like the Botton model – What? – So What? – Now What? and will try to use that in future.

The CPD23 programme is an excellent tool for reflective practice, I think, and I believe that I am already learning and gaining from the experience. Having to blog about progress on a regular basis, even though I still feel uncomfortable with the idea of blogging, helps me to focus my thoughts too. 

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the course for me is reading about how other participants are coping with it and also learning about their different library experience. As a solo school librarian it is fascinating to read about librarians in so many different fields. In the UK at present there is much in the media about the precarious position of both school librarians and those working in public libraries and it would be easy to feel very gloomy about the situation. It is so cheering to discover that there are so many newly qualified, enthusiastic librarians in both this country and elsewhere determined to make a valuable contribution in their workplaces. 

With regard to the tools that we have been introduced to so far I am finding Twitter the most useful.  I am starting to get to grips with Google Reader too. Initially I followed too many feeds and felt a little overwhelmed but I have now reduced the number of blogs that I read and it is much more manageable. Although I liked the look of Storify I did not think I would use it as a school librarian.  However the CILIP Carnegie Greenaway Medals Storify by @CazApr1 http://cazapr1.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/cpd23-thing-4.html has made me change my mind.  I will have to have another look at this I think!

There are many interesting and informative blogs by other participants that I have enjoyed reading and in future I hope to increase my participation by commenting on their posts more.  At first I followed a few other school librarians but have gradually added to the list. I found it impossible to resist a blog called http://teaandscone.wordpress.com/ .  On the subject of food and drink someone somewhere could carry out a fascinating research project on why so many librarians enjoy gin and cake! Perhaps it is because any intelligent person enjoys gin and cake…?

So now I should move on to Thing 6 before the half term-break finishes, although it is tempting to reflect further on the role of the school librarian before I start looking at online networks.