Monthly Archives: September 2012

Thing 20 -My unexpected path into the information profession


I came out of university in 2008 with a BSc in Philosophy and Psychology and really didn’t know what I wanted to do with myself.   I knew my degree wasn’t leading down a specific path, I didn’t want to pursue a career in psychology and philosophy is…well, it’s philosophy!

I had a part time job in retail and hated it, I was offered a full time job but knew I just couldn’t take it, I knew I had to leave.  I decided that I should do some temporary work until something that looked like it could be interesting came up.  It seems so long ago now that I can’t even remember what I thought might have been interesting!

So began what was to be long time of temping.  My first job was as receptionist for an outpatient clinic for an eye hospital.  Fairly quickly I knew this was not the kind of job I wanted to do, but it was money and I was picking up some ‘transferable’ skills.   That finished after a few months and my agent called me to tell me there was a temporary position at the hospital library, she informed me it would probably be “quite dull, stamping books etc”, despite that motivational comment, I took the job anyway.  I always went to libraries as a child, throughout school and university and have always enjoyed the environment, but like many of us, had never really considered it as a career move.  A friend of mine who I was living with at the time had just got a job as a graduate trainee in an Oxford University library and she was enjoying so I didn’t think it could be too bad.

Anyway, it soon became apparent that there was much more to librarian than I had previously thought.  And so my thirst to pursue librarianship as a career began.

Once I had declared my interest my manager was very encouraging and let me go to one day courses about librarianship and arranged visits to other libraries.  Unfortunately that job ended after a few months, but then began many, many, job applications for graduate trainee and library assistant jobs.

I lost count of how many I applied for but it took a whole year and several other miserable temp jobs before I landed my next job a part time library assistant at Oxford Brookes.  Though I generally didn’t enjoy my temp jobs, they did have advantages;

1. It was something better than nothing, financially at least

2. I picked up lots of admin skills that are useful for most jobs

3. I got less scared about starting new jobs

4. I learnt how to pick up new skills and learn how to use different computer programmes very quickly!

This was another good job, and an opportunity to work in an academic library rather than healthcare.  Whilst I got some good experience there, it was part time and term time only, so it wasn’t ideal from an income perspective.  I got a second part time job at a law firm and continued to look for other library work.

I also began my application for a masters courses.  I selected Aberystwyth distance learning course mainly because I knew I couldn’t afford to do a full time course and though my job was part time, it wouldn’t have allowed the time needed for a part time job.

I got onto the course at Aberystwyth to start September 2011.  Shortly after this I got an interview for a graduate trainee role that would go on to become my current job.  As it was a graduate trainee role I wasn’t confident I’d get the job as I had nearly two years experience already and would be starting my masters already.  However, I was wrong, I got the job and it has been great.  Work has been very supportive of my course and I have found it useful to apply to my work and vice versa. It has been yet again another eye opener to the variety of information jobs.  This information services department is online, with an e-library.  These is no customer service as our e-library is more of a gateway to public health information and freely available from our website.  We also do a lot of research which I have found really interesting and it is a continuously evolving environment compared to other places I have worked which is good.   I have also had the opportunity to do lots of other things, such as attend conference and become part of a taxonomy group in London.   My graduate trainee role came to an end and got extended for a further six months, so I am now an Information Officer.

The future…

I don’t know the future holds and to be honest I’m still not sure exactly what path I want to follow.  I know that I enjoy working in a health –based environment so would ideally like to stick to that.  I’m enjoying my job now, but know it could end shortly so soon I need to be considering what I might want to do next.  In the next year I should be finishing my masters, which I hope will open up more job application options should I find myself without a job.

As I said at the beginning, but beginning the library and information world were purely by chance.  Never before have I worked in a sector where there is so much networking and friendliness – it’s brilliant and I’m thoroughly enjoying myself.


Thing 18 – Jing


This is another tool I have been using at work.  We have recently taken over the hosting of a website of a global community.  Our website is slightly more modern than the previous website as it is a build portal with discussion forums and digests.  Some users have found the change quite challenging and have therefore made complaints.  We decided a good way to show people the way the site works would be to show videos and training guides.  Through Googling ‘screen capture’ I came across Jing (the first free tool I found!).

I decided not to record a narrative but instead would add notes at the bottom of the screen to support what was happening in the video.    I found that I needed to write a script as a step by step guide, as it were, before recording the video to avoid making errors or have the mouse fly around the screen.  It was interesting to actually have to think about what I was doing instead of automatically looking around and using a website.

I found that I need to download Camtasia to edit my video, this was also free but only for a certain time period.  At the editing stage I also realised that I had recorded the video at natural speed and in order to make it more understandable and add text it needed to be a much slower pace.  Camtasia has such tools to allow you to slow frames down (which saved me having to record it all over again!).  You can also zoom into to frames if you need to get a close up of anything on the screen.   The editing process was quite fiddly – making sure the arrows appeared and disappeared at natural moments- but once I got into it, I quite enjoyed the challenge!

We have yet to disseminate the videos to the community but (and not to blow my own trumpet!) I really do think they will help. I think they make good additions to any user/ training guide.  The best thing about Jing is that it’s free, so it’s really worth a try!


I never done any podcasting, the need has not arisen yet.  I’m not comfortable with the sound of my own voice so I’m not sure how well I’d do at making my own, but it might be another useful aid to user and training guide as well as another way to promote services.



As printed in September’s edition of HLG newsletter …….

I work as an Information Officer at National Heart Forum whilst also studying distance learning Information and Library studies postgraduate at Aberystwyth University.  I have previously worked in a healthcare library but never before been to a conference as specific as health libraries so I was looking forward to HLG2012, getting the opportunity to meet other people in the sector and learn more about the future and developments of healthcare librarians, and I wasn’t disappointed!

I learnt so much, I am not sure where to start…

Coming from the third sector, the content of the HLG conference was quite NHS heavy, I realise this is due to the majority of healthcare librarians being in the NHS, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t things I could take and apply to my current role and studies.  One thing I learnt was the variety of information roles in healthcare.  The talk with Kevin Rooney and Michelle Kirkwood was particularly interesting, showing evidence that the involvement of clinical librarians at the point of case improved patient care by 20% – so yes, us information professionals really are valuable!

Sue Hill, of Sue Hill recruitment, gave a session on networking and getting a LIS job.  This I’m sure was particularly useful for information professionals currently looking for work or thinking they might have to in the future.  Sue’s main take away tips were thinking about your next job, what skills might you need for it, is your message clear, is your CV and oral description of what you’ve done, where you are, where you want to be clear?  Always be prepared to explain further.  She finished on expressing the importance of networking and how social media has strengthened this – I completely agree, because of Twitter I instantly knew at least 2 people who were going to be a HLG and we agreed to meet before the conference began.  Tweeting at and about HLG also allowed networking with others, following more LIS professionals and gaining more in return, you never know what these connections might lead to in the future.  if /when come to next job perhaps it is worth looking at job descriptions now, how I can get some of the skills there after and looking at whether my CV reflects all the skills I am picking up throughout my work and studies.

Presentation of BMA report ‘evaluation of information consumerism and impact on the role of the librarian’ focussed on the evolution of Web 2.0 and how it has shaped the librarians role and how we can move forward, how we need to understand our user’s needs and adapt to the evolution of their questions for example, how to use an i-pad.  They pointed to Ned Potter’s ‘Library marketing toolkit’ as an extremely useful guide for this.

Prof. Peter Reid’s talk on Generation of the librarian was thought-provoking – at one point I did get a bit worried when the question of, ‘Is library school relevant anymore?’ came up, but it was quickly agreed that yes it can still be of value as long as it is adapted to fit the future form of librarians – phew!

Information professionals have highly transferable skills, it’s not just about reading books, it’s a people profession requiring good communication skills, team-working, networking and research – continuous professional development. 

A session on report writing was definitely of use to me (even for this!).  The most useful tips I took away from this session were: how to set out what it is I am writing about, knowing what my point is, making sure I am aiming at the right publication and looking at their recommendations as a guideline for my paper and thinking about what the readers will be able to usefully apply to their practice?  These tips will be in the back of my mind throughout the rest of my postgraduate course as well as applied to my workplace. 

I’m sure most of you by now will of heard about the ‘entertainment’ at the conference dinner (in the beautiful Old Fruitmarket) so I won’t go into that, but all I will say is that I love a ceilidh and this one was no exception!

In summary, I learnt a lot at HLG, more than I can write here, some things building on what I already knew, other concepts completely new that I can apply to work, studies and the future.  My notes are covered in ‘?’ meaning, ‘look this up’ which should keep me busy for a while.  Finally, I’d just like to say thank you again to HLG for awarding me with one of the bursaries. 


Thing 17 – Prezi


Well this Thing has come along just in time.    One project for me at work is to make a guide for online resources.  I had been stuck on a good way to present it, but I think Prezi might just be the answer.

I have previously been impressed presentations I have seen at conferences that use Prezi, it certainly makes a change from the comparatively flat MSO power point.

So I have stated converting my online resources guide into Prezi.  At first I didn’t find it very intuitive and didn’t quite understand how all the tools worked so the links suggested in this thing have been really useful, particularly Ned Potter’s guide and Meg Westbury’s Prezi inspired me to use a background image.

I’ve shown my friends what I’ve done so far and they seemed very impressed – having not seen Prezi in use before.  I’ve done my best to not make it too ‘sea-sicky’ but I’m hoping that the fact it’s going to be more of a guide to read rather than a presentation will prevent this.

When I’ve completed it I’ll add a link here.

Thing 16- Advocacy, speaking up for the profession and getting published


Thing 16 – Advocacy, speaking up for the profession and getting published

Consider why it is important to advocate for the section of library and information sector that you work for.

Working in the third sector we rely heavily on funding from government and other sources.  Therefore it is important that we market our services to increase awareness and get more people using them.  This is important as it shows our value and therefore increases our chances of continuous funding.

Have a think about what advocacy you’ve been involved in

Although I don’t really think I have been involved too much in advocacy, aside from marketing information services at my work, I do try to play my part in things such as National Library day, so instance, taking out as many books as I can out of the library and encouraging my friends to do the same. 

Although not anything to do with libraries I have done a couple of things with Oxfam that might be considered advocacy.  I steward for Oxfam at festivals and last year organised an Oxjam event.  Although these are more about raising money, it is also spreading the message of the work that Oxfam do and who the money is helping and why they need to donations. 

If you haven’t been involved, reflect on what your skills are (or want to develop) what you’re most passionate about ad what you might be able to do

I’m passionate about equal opportunities and therefore the importance of information literacy and access to books, computers and the internet here and in developing countries.  This is why I think public libraries are invaluable, they are key to education and free for all, what could be more important than that? 

Re: getting published; I would like to get published more and I have to confess I have never considered just writing my opinion on topics and submitting them for publishing in newspapers etc.  I have normally just focused on research articles and therefore this ‘thing’ has given me something else to consider doing.

I’ll add it to my ever growing list….