Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Thing 18: Jing / screen capture

<Sound of man falling off a cliff> Noooooooooooooo.

I am breaking all the rules. I thought I was so clever. I left a 'come back later' post for Thing 18, and carried on through to Thing 23, all smug because I'd managed to keep my Things in order. Completed Thing 18 a few nights ago - but only half of it. And now look at me. Sloppy. Thing 18. Part b. Right after Thing 23. I have failed as a librarian.

Oh well.

In Thing 18 I looked at Podcasting. The other half of that Thing was to consider Screencasting. For this, I downloaded and had a play with Jing. I made a very short tutorial on how to use the Athens home screen as an RSS feed reader. Here are my results.


Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

A link to the original video can be viewed here in full screen.

It's only a short video. But it took many takes to get it anywhere near 'right'. I learnt the following:

  • Close any unused tabs on your browser. It's distracting
  • There seems to be an issue with Jing being able to display the very bottom of the screen. I need to play further to discover if this is a Jing Thing, or whether it's a screen resolution thing.
  • Be clear about your script. Map out what you want to show, and where you want to click.
  • Folks watching can't see you use keyboard short-cuts. If you are not using audio, make sure it's clear what you are doing. For example - highlight and right click to 'copy and paste' rather than using keyboard short-cuts.
  • This video would have been more accessible (and made much more sense) if I could have used commentary over the top, but lack of a microphone prevented this.
  • Consider the speed of your mouse movements, and clicks. Need to get the right balance between being slow enough to be able to find the mouse and track it's progress, and being so slow it's dull.
I want to be able to put little labels over the video. Little instructions that help link the pieces together and fill in the gaps to complete the story. I'm not sure if this is possible, it needs more exploration. It's a useful tool, and has much potential in a library setting where simple instructions translated into text and screenshots can start to look daunting. In our own department, we could use this for:
  • Guidance on setting up an Athens account
  • Using the Records Management file plan
  • Recovering a deleted file from a shared drive
  • Setting up alerts on the Library Catalogue
I could see the potential as well to use this in conjuction with a Powerpoint presentation. But whilst I managed to embed the video within this blog, I could not figure out how to upload the video to You Tube. If anyone has any tips, they would be most welcome.

I didn't play with the screen shots, or compare this with the windows 'Print Screen' function to see if the images were better quality. I'll put it on my list of things to do next time I'm creating a library guide. I hate editing screenshots in Microsoft Office so this may well prove to be a valuable tool!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Thing 23: Reflection - What next?

CPD23 Worldle - Compiled from the CPD23 blog.

I started off Thing 23 all those weeks ago by taking part in my first Twitter chat as part of #UKlibchat. The summary of that discussion can be found on the UKLibChat blog.

Taking part in CPD23 was part of a wider goal to gain Acilip certification status. Which was part of a wider goal to work towards raising my confidence to apply for an Msc in Electronic Communication and Publishing at the UCL. Which was part of a wider goal to find an amazing job working as an Information Officer in the third sector. Phew. So CPD23 was a small step on a much bigger journey and my end goal is already quite clearly defined. What CPD23 has done is perhaps changed my view of how I might get there. As part of Acilip, I've written a Personal Development Plan to address some of the weaknesses in my skillset. Whilst I'm not willing to share that, I will share part of my SWOT analysis.

Strengths

  • Enthusiastic about learning new skills and getting involved in the profession
  • Experience of working in public, academic, medical and government libraries
  • Flexible, with cross-transferable skills. Have worked in RM and KM as well as traditional library services.
  • I've been working in libraries for over 10 years, four of which are at 'professional level' despite not having a recognised qualification.

Weaknesses

  • I work part-time. Few opportunities for professional roles in a part-time capacity / child friendly working hours
  • My son needs stability and a move to an area with more jobs would be difficult to manage for our complex family needs
  • Undergrad diploma I obtained doesn't qualify me as a professional librarian
  • Current job is no longer classified as a 'professional role'. It was downgraded two years ago
  • Current employer does not support quest to gain certification / chartership status as a qualification is not required for the role
  • Current location / personal circumstances makes it difficult to access training events in London


Opportunities

  • I work part-time. Plenty of opportunity to gain new skills through volunteer work and study.
  • Transferable skills means I can work in allied roles - Project Management, University administration, etc.
  • New developments in my area including two plans for new local public libraries, a science park and a new hospital all of which may lead to new job vacancies.


Threats

  • Reorganisation within my own workplace means that my current position feels vulnerable to further change or loss. Position may be moved to a team outside of the library.
  • Few opportunities locally for jobs working in library and information management within university settings due to current climate.
  • Professional roles in public libraries in the area are scarce.

Writing a Personal Development Plan was challenging. I had to think creatively about how I could better use the resources I had in order to gain more experience, and tie it in with my current commitments and interest. The time spent on it was worth it though. I've now got one that is flexible and seems relevant rather than a tick-box exercise completed in order to make it through certification. I do see it as a living document and one that will need to change and adapt as I take on different roles and embrace new opportunities and discover new interests.

The final task?, A 6 word story to sum up my experience of CPD23. I can only apologise to Hemmingway when I offer my contribution...

Reflect on experience. Gain more knowledge.

Since starting CPD23 I have:

  • Joined Twitter
  • Started blogging
  • Worked with a life-coach
  • Identified a mentor within my workplace
  • Offered to volunteer for 'Voices for the Library' campaign.
  • Got more involved as an advocate for libraries
  • Swapped to Google Chrome to support my new Twitter habit
  • Joined a Networking Group at work to improve my contacts and skills
  • Overhauled my LinkedIn profile and set up an about.me page
  • Attended networking events in London
  • Embraced new web2.0 tools into my every day working life
  • Discovered online networks I wasn't previously unaware of
  • Found other bloggers that have shaped, formed and challenged my view of what it means to work in library and information.

That's quite a change for what seemed to be just a simple list of 23 things to do...

Thanks for reading. Blogging was one of the scariest aspects of taking part in CPD 23, and I'm glad to have made it through to the other side in one piece!

Thing 22: Volunteering to get experience

My first experience with volunteering was at primary school, aged 10. It was my job to go to the canteen on a Friday morning. Write out the menu options for the next week very neatly on slips of paper and hand deliver it to all the teachers in the school. On Friday afternoon, I went back round and collected them again, made sure the teachers had ticked an option and then delivered them back to the canteen. For my efforts I was rewarded with a bowl of jelly and custard, the chance to get out of class for a few moments and the crown of being the school 'suckup'. Ah, those were the days. But I liked the responsibility that went with it and I took pride in my work. I'll admit now, I'm still a 'suckup'. I'm the the donkey sticking my hand up in the air 'pick me, pick me', so have plenty of experience with volunteering.


For me, there are several different kinds of volunteering, most of which I have done.


  • for an organisation with charitable aims
  • within my own workplace - additional roles, responsibilities and plain old 'sticking your hand up'.
  • where the role potentially takes the place of a paid member of staff.
  • to provide support to existing staff within an organisation.
  • for committee work within a professional organisation



Volunteering is a tricky subject. I'm attempting not to visualise a future where a graduate, interested in a career in library and information science may have to consider the ethical dilemma of volunteering in their local community-run library in order to get experience.

Whilst volunteering in libraries is nothing new, the role we of volunteers in libraries has started to change. Research completed by the Institute of Volunteering Research back in 2002 suggested that 64% of libraries used volunteers as it 'allowed them to do things they could not normally do'. Most of the tasks seemed to be around outreach work, visiting people in their own homes. On average each library used 50 hours of volunteers time per week. Given that the research is almost 10 years out of date, I wonder how this pattern of volunteer use might have changed in statutory, council-run libraries and whether the attitude to using volunteers has evolved in the current political-and financial-climate?

I count myself lucky that I've been given lots of opportunities to get involved in aspects of knowledge, library and information management through volunteer positions. I've mostly worked on a part-time basis for the past 10 years. In some instances, it was due to a lack of choice - a part-time job was the only one available. In other situations, it's been a considered choice.  It allowed me to study, it allowed me to spend more time as a mum and it allowed me to volunteer outside of my own workplace.

My first volunteer position was in a chaplaincy library, attached to a university. Although small, it was well used but it was accessed through an old-school card catalogue. The University library obviously had a sophisticated library management system, but there was a reluctance to add the theology collection to the system. The needs of the university students and the needs of those using the chaplaincy were different and there was a strong feeling to keep them separated. A call went out through the university system. Was there someone, perhaps working towards a library and information science qualification that wanted experience of managing a small project to create a self-service library catalogue? I stuck my hand up and got involved.

The role gave me a little experience at finding other people to work with on the project, sent me on a short detour down the into the world of open source library management systems, exposed me to the joy of creating a relational database using Microsoft Access, and the satisfaction of cataloguing a book on a system that I had created. I discovered the Freepint Bar, and the willingness of other library and information professionals to get involved and share their expertise in using and creating home-grown catalogue systems. It also enabled me to link with other library assistants across the university and make connections that I might not have made otherwise. It was a positive experience.

The next role wasn't quite so positive. It was more than a little challenging. I spotted an advert in a local 'volunteer job shop' for an Information Officer for a small charity giving advice to gay women wanting to become parents. The charity was struggling. They wanted someone who could analyse the enquiries that came in to identify who the customers were, where they were accessing the service from and what they were asking for. That seemed simple enough. What the role turned into was something much bigger that probably required the skills and expertise of a paid professional rather than an over-enthusiastic library school student. A realisation that the charity needed to make a high-impact change in order to survive meant that I was involved in the creation of a marketing strategy, which outlined a wider customer base, and involved in changing the charging-model for the services that were offered. Which then lead to updating training packages to help adviser's deal with different kinds of queries. And answering questions from adviser's feeling threatened by the change. There were many times where I felt I'd bitten off more than I could chew. A lot of the information gained from customer feedback and analysis of customer use of the service were all unwelcome messages and I felt like the bad guy. I'm usually a 'yes person'. I learned from this experience to say 'yes if' or even 'no, I can't'. I was happy to help. I wasn't happy to take responsibility for rescuing a badly managed charity. But I learned a lot, about influencing, negotiation and the art of persuasion.

Benefits I've gained from volunteering

* Chance to network and connect with people outside of my normal working relationships
* Gained new skills and experiences
* Keeping skills fresh and up to date
* Exploration of a different aspect of library and information science
* Increase knowledge of other library sectors
* Discovery of new interests