Monthly Archives: July 2012

Thing 13 – Google docs, Wikis and Dropbox

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All these things are resources I have been aware of but had little interaction with…until today when our IT department created Dropbox accounts for us all…a lucky coincidence!

However, I must confess, I did attempt to create a Dropbox account just under a year ago – I organised an Oxjam music event and the photographer sent me photos via Dropbox, I got as far as registering but for reasons that escape me now I never completed downloading and installing, which is silly as I’m sure the photos are great.

Anyway, now that I have been given a new account and had a chance to play with it today I thought I should write about it whilst it’s fresh on my mind!  And….I can now confirm that it is a very useful thing…but now have two accounts, does anyone know how I can merge the two, is it possible?  We have been given them at work as a quick way to  share files whilst people are working from home, particularly during the Olympic period where some people are expecting difficultly getting to the office.  We already have a share drive at work, but Dropbox is quicker and can be accessed any way with little problems installing.  Currently we have only shared photos from our recent work day out, but I’m sure it’ll prove very useful very soon.

I had a brief experience with Google drive (then Google docs) last year two out of four of us were moving out of my house at the time and had to look for new house mates.  We used google docs to set up a timetable of who was coming when.  It was useful as, like Jennifer says, you don’t need to keep updated and re-sending around the same file.

 

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Thing 11 – Mentors

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Although I’ve never had a formal mentor I believe I’ve worked with a couple of people who have acted as informal mentors for me (whether they knew it or not).   My first job in a library was a temp one, but once I realised that this was a career of interest to me that I wished to pursue my manager was very encouraging and let me be involved in as much as possible, arranging for me to visit other libraries and attend relevant events.  She helped me apply for jobs and gave me a brilliant introduction to the information profession.

There have been a couple of people in other work places since then that have also been more than willing to provide me with advice and support when needed and I think this is essential when you are still in the early stages of a career.

LIS research resources briefing #rilies

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Today I attended Research into Practice: LIS research resources briefing.  This was a free session talking about the LIS Research group projects RiLIEs1 and 2.  I chose to attend this event as we do some research at work and I thought it might be useful for my masters, particularly my ever closer thesis!  Although I was aware of LIS Research, DReAM etc (and had a little peak at the website prior to the session), I was interested to learn a bit more about the projects.

We started off with the basics of LIS Research; understanding the importance of a strong impact statement when applying for funding and the most effective ways to disseminate your research was interesting, something I had never thought about before was writing your academic paper but also produce another version of it that is suitable for a magazine, such as CILIP Update or one that is aimed at your target audience, as a way to get noticed.

In a group session, as way of an ice breaker, each table had to label ourselves (categorised and colour coded, of course!) according to where we were in the research field. Options included red for interest in LIS research but not participating, green for currently carrying out research and yellow being a consultant etc.  We decided I fell into the green category as we are about to carry out a user needs assessment at work and also due to my studying (not strictly research yet, but I’m all up for balancing out the colours on our table!).  It was interesting to hear what other people were  currently researching, or interested in researching at their place of work – coincidentally my table was all healthcare librarians!

The second part of the session focussed on RiLIES2, a project that is researching the best way to share LIS research and what makes people, particularly practitioners of whom this research maybe useful to, aware of it.

From research already performed by RiLIES, JISC mailing lists came out as the most important main source of knowledge.  I would agree with this, for one it is the way that I heard about this event.  Blogs and twitter also came up and although I agree they are good for hearing about events and issues in the LIS world I would not say it’s necessarily the best for hearing about research.

From these findings RiLIES concluded that there was an apparent need for a single directory of LIS research.  It should be low-cost and community maintained, something that people would be aware of and would use frequently as their main go for resources to impact on their work.

Wikis, social bookmarking, google drive, blogs and ALISS were all mentioned of examples of how to create this directory.  Whilst I’m sure most of us had heard of and use most of these already, I had not heard of ALISS.  ALISS engine is a platform based in Scotland for community support of chronic diseases, improving access to support and self-management of chronic diseases.  It sounds fairly similar to a website we host at my work for the tobacco control and prevention community; people can upload items to the repository and interact in the discussion forums.

We were asked to think about each of these ways to share information and think about the positives and negatives of each.  My instant reaction is to go for a platform like ALISS.  It is more sustainable than the others, if you are using other people’s platforms, for example, delicious, you run the risk of that platform being sold commercially or being closed down.  However I realise it comes with its problems, it would require building, most importantly the money and people to build it, and may be harder to initially take off as it’s not on an already well used site.  It also requires people willing to monitor and maintain the site- though we as information professionals might be good at uploading information from the front end, we may not all have the technical ability to fix something that breaks on a website.  Thinking about the website we host (as mentioned earlier), although the idea of people uploading and searching for the information themselves and taking part in the discussions is great, it seems to be a problem actually encouraging and getting people to do so, but interaction has slowly increased with time.  I know some people at the session today expressed concern that not knowing how the site works would be a barrier and therefore off-putting, though I can understand this, I think it is the same case with most new websites, but once you’ve got used to it you forget you were ever confused!

At the end of the session it appeared that Wikis and a community-driven approach were most popular, but I haven’t used wikis that much for LIS research so I don’t feel I can comment on that.  It would be interesting to read a summary of people’s thoughts and see where the project ends.

All in all it was a very interesting morning and thanks again to Hazel, Peter and Christine for offering this great session for free.  I shall be keeping a keen eye on the developments of the project now and using their links to LIS resources!

Thing 10

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I have been simultaneously on a graduate trainee ship and masters programme, it has worked well for me despite going against the norm.

Originally, after having applied for many many traineeships with no luck, I thought I should apply to do a Masters anyway although I was already working as a library assistant, doing a traineeship appealed to me as I thought it would be good professional development where you are guaranteed to a proper introduction to librarianship by attending courses etc.

When I got called for an interview at NHF I already knew I had a place with Aber course and thought this might be a reason for not getting the role as it is the norm to do the traineeship prior to the masters, however NHF seemed to like it and I got the job! I think my point is don’t think you wont get something because you have too much experience, you never know!

When I previously worked at an NHS library in Oxford I got the opportunity to visit other libraries in Oxford and therefore got to meet some of their graduate trainees at the time.  They seem to have a nice programme to meet up once and week and get introduced to new things within the library world.

I am the first trainee at my current job and unlike in Oxford it is not part of a group so I was lone, as I am sure a lot of trainees are, but I did have an opportunity to meet a view through a LISNPN meet up.  However, the NHF have been very generous during my period as a trainee and beyond.  I am able, money providing, to attend any courses/training/ conference etc that look useful to my current job as well as to my masters.  Anything I’ve wanted to learn more about my boss has been great in teaching me herself.

As you might imagine, this has also been brilliant for my masters, anything coming up on my course my boss will give me help and advice or provide me with projects that will help me with my studies!

Beyond the masters…

Although my traineeship is over I still have a way to go on the masters therefore Chartership isn’t real on the horizon at the moment but I think it might be something to commit to one day.  I like the idea of profiling and recording your professional development, but from hearing about people’s experiences with it, it seems like quite a long task – I guess I’ll see how I feel once my masters is out of the way but it will be interesting to read about other people’s experiences with the Chartership.

Anything else….

For my current job I think an IT qualification would be extremely valuable.  A lot of my role, and even more so for my colleagues, involves web building and editing, which is something I knew nothing about prior to working here.  Although I can work the basics I have never known the technical details when it comes to IT.  Having not got the opportunity at school to do an IT GCSE at school, last year I completed an ECDL course, but again this only really covered the basics MSO things.  I also think doing a course in internet building, design and editing would be good for the general future of the profession (although as you can tell I don’t even know the name of an appropriate course so it may be a long time before I get round to that!).