Thursday, 15 September 2011

Thing 1: Create your own blog

This is Thing 1. Whilst the rest of the world is one 'Thing 203'. I am a little bit behind. It's not just procrastinating. I have a fear of blogging.
Which means for me, taking part in CPD23 was always going to be a bit of a challenge! And I normally like a challenge. Just perhaps not a challenge which forces me to reveal so much of myself. But it's time to take a deep breath and give it a shot.

I used to very confidently say that I was a librarian. An Information Professional. Now I feel like I'm holding on the to edges of the profession with the tips of my toes. I work in a government library-that's-no-longer-a-library. We call it 'Information Resources'. We provide access to information. We manage the corporate memory of the organisation. We dabble in Knowledge Management. We provide training in information literacy skills. But whilst I consider myself to be a professional, I am not qualified.

When I was at school, my careers advisor told me I'd make a great nurse. It was a career path that ran in the family. My aunt was a nurse. My grandmother was a nurse. Encouraging words meant that I threw myself into a health and social care qualification and started working with adults and children with learning disabilities. Five years later and I quit. I hated it. I was a terrible nurse. I loved the people but I found it frustrating, and always felt that I couldn't do enough, didn't make an impact, couldn't make things better.

I went back to the drawing board and scratched my head. I wasn't sure what to do next. Sat round the table for Sunday lunch, my mother said 'When you were little, you wanted to be a researcher for the BBC'. Yes, I did. I spent my childhood in my local library, my breaktimes at school in the school library. 'Dinner is ready' was always met by 'be there in a minute, I just want to finish this chapter'. I loved books. I loved finding things out. My treasured possession was an encyclopaedia given to me by my grandfather. But could I work in a library? I wasn't sure.

18 months later, I found myself in a public library reading picture books to five year olds. Helping people plan a trip to France. Teaching 'silver surfers' how to use the library catalogue. I loved it. I knew I wanted to do more. The job was only 12 hours a week. It was enough to convince me I'd made the right decision, and I didn't so much skip as run madly down the path. I progressed to a full time job as a library assistant in a university library. Applied for a place on a distance learning undergraduate course. And then a shot in the dark meant that I was offered a job I never really expected to get. It was working in a specialist government library.

The job was challenging and interesting. I was part of a newly created team to create a modern 'library without walls'. The work was still classed as 'para-professional', but there were plenty of specialists post and the opportunity to progress. A year later, I was offered a 'qualified position' on the understanding that I completed my studies. I was only a year a way.

And then life took over. I adopted a child. Returned to work to discover that the job I had left was no longer there. Restructuring meant that we were no longer a library, we were a 'Knowledge Management department'. The word 'library' was removed from our vocabulary. And then I hit a few obstacles. I lost my partner. Became homeless. Became depressed. Almost lost my job. I was forced to quit the degree and walked away with only a diploma.

Three years later, I'm still in the same job. And things have continued to evolve. A qualification is no longer required to work here. Cilip is not recognised as being relevant to the work of the team. Despite over ten years experience working in libraries, half of that working at a 'qualified' level, I'm not convinced that if I lost this job, I would be able to find another qualified position.

So I'm easing myself back into academic study. Starting off with Acilip whilst I consider my next move. I want to go back to university and complete a qualification. But I need to convince myself that I have the ability to work at that level. And the motivation to leap over the barriers.

For me 23 Things is about:

* reminding myself that skills in finding, using and managing information online are still relevant.
* ensuring that I stay up to date with innovative developments
* finding a 'professional voice'.
* regaining my confidence
...and quite evidence for my Acilip portfolio.

I'm not thrilled by the idea of blogging. I'm wary of having a online presence. Fearful of a public voice. And terrified of getting into arguments/discussions with people I have never met. Is it ironic that I've been campaigning for access to blogging tools at work for a while?

This has been the biggest hurdle for me. And the longest blog post! Apologies. Editing is not yet in my skill set, but I'll work on it. If you got this far - send me your address. I'll send you chocolate in return!



  1. Hi! Good luck with cpd23 and with your ACILIP. Much of what you said holds true for me too, but doing cpd23 has helped overcome some of those hurdles.

  2. Thanks for the comment. Seems a lot of people have similar fears. The joy of the new networked world. I just need to find the 'joy' in that aspect of it.

  3. great to hear your story. I often feel a bit of a fraud as I don't have any proper library qualifications but like you am trying to do the ACILIP thing. (how's that going-i'm still faffing around at the beginning!) I also worked in Devon public libraries before moving to Oxford.

  4. Hi Becky. Understand what you mean about faffing around at the beginning! I did that for a while. Found that attending one of the workshops and finding a mentor really helped me to focus and find a pathway through the maze of options.