Friday, 31 December 2010

12 days of Christmas - Post 7 On documenting life

Today @sirexkat put a call out for tweeps to join in Daily Image 2011, where anyone participating uploads a daily picture, video or image of themselves to Flickr. This is similar to something I did in 2009-2010 (specifically from April 2009 to April 2010). The project was called Project 365 - you can read more about what it entails here. This is a photography project where you document a year of your life by taking a daily photo. These photos can be uploaded to Flickr, a personal blog, or printed, as I did, and then scrapbooked (as I am doing). I found it very challenging to remember, but so rewarding to be able to look back and see what my house looked like, my front garden, the car I drove, when my husband got personalised plates - true snapshots in time. I love the social history behind it all. Here are some photos I took as part of the project.

Photo of my nails
Audio book I was listening to at that time (blah)
First layout I submitted for a scrapbooking challenge
Photo I took walking along the beach in Fiji
Will I do a photo a day of myself? Not sure - thinking about it but dont think I will upload to Flickr. I have already started the project for Anthony :-)

Thursday, 30 December 2010

12 days of Christmas - Post 6 Ramblings

Ok, so I was way way behind in my blogging, well in my physical blogging. My mental blogging was really current and cutting edge. I regularly write about 4 posts at 2am in the morning that I am super impressed with-they are usually so good I just know I will remember them. Guess what? I don't, well not much anyway.

So what have I been doing with my time? Quite a fair bit which surprises me, especially since NLS4 is well and truly over with. Totally over. My final report was submitted a loooong time ago to the ALIA Board of Directors - pleased to say that we more than made our forecast budget. The thing with a conference budget is that it is only ever a forecast - it can be very easy to make something look good on paper, whether it is achievable or not is another thing. There are also so many variables that can affect the bottom line - you can try hard to be prepared and anticipate things, but not everything will ever go to plan. I was so lucky to have a fabulous, hardworking committee - made things go so much more smoothly.

Keeping on top of my feeds in my reader - this could honestly just about become a full time job! I just checked and I have 500 subscriptions - is it any wonder? Not all of these have regular postings, some are probably dead and forgotten by now, however many have multiple postings which could make up for those that don't post or don't post regularly (sort of like me....). It does annoy me when it turns out that some blog postings don't fully appear in my reader. I use my reader as a single point of access so I don't have to visit individual blogs. I have unsubscribed from many that do this. Do I read everything in my feeder - yes and no. Most I skim first and then go back to later. There are exceptions to this - I always read CW's, Jenelle's and Steph's. Actually I always read a heap more and they are in my 'must read' folder.... There are others but these are the three that come to mind instantly (random thought - it is late and I need another cuppa).

Working, working, working.... I've been on a huge learning curve since starting work at Yarra Plenty Regional Library, something I have enjoyed immensely. I also acted for 10 months as Operations Manager, which was a very rewarding experience, although I hit the ground running and don't think I stopped in all that time.....It was definitely something I enjoyed and would like to explore further.

And of course my most recent news that is keeping me busy - I had a baby boy 2 weeks ago that is definitely keeping me on my toes. Loving being on maternity leave and catching up with things.....

12 days of Christmas - Post 5 On the benefits of presenting

Yesterday I blogged about presenting at conferences so today I thought I would follow on from that a little and outline some of the benefits of presenting. So many times people ask me why they should bother, or say that it is too daunting for them to even contemplate. I am hoping that these points will help alleviate some concerns others may have because there is so much to gain from writing and presenting a paper to your peers.

  • a great networking opportunity - presenting a paper gives your colleagues and peers an opportunity to seek you out to discuss your paper;
  • demonstrates the value to your employer of funding conference attendance;
  • there is potential to create opportunities to do further research on a topic of personal interest and then develop a project that can be implemented in the workplace;
  • asking someone to co-present with you can further build networks in the workplace;
  • Many senior managers attend conferences to see what 'new blood' (or 'existing blood') is out there and this can be an ideal opportunity to attract the attention of potential employers;
  • a much higher personal profile (your name will be in conference proceedings, published papers, programs, websites etc);
  • if you are presenting on an area of research, presenting a paper on your results so far gives an opportunity to test the waters and receive useful feedback;
  • you will be a more skilled communicator - with a public presentation you need to be able to get your point across without being long winded;
  • there is, believe it or not, an improved ability to listen. Nothing makes you pay attention more than being asked a question you need to answer on the spot;
  • increased opportunities for career advancement;
  • improved self esteem;
  • and most importantly of all, increased self confidence and self satisfaction.

You can definitely do this!

All these were off the top of my head - are there any I have forgotten?

12 days of Christmas - Post 4 On conferences and presenting

Frantic day today and had planned to blog twice but this one took longer than I anticipated!

My first conference paper was in 2005 at neXt 2005: ALIA National Library and Information Technicians Conference and focused on creating partnerships with Council departments to facilitate community engagement. I had done a lot of work at my previous workplace and built sustainable partnerships with Council’s Maternal and Child Health Unit and Kindergarten Unit and thought this conference would be an ideal forum for sharing knowledge with others. The buzz i got from presenting was overwhelming (we wont talk about the nausea that was enveloping me 5 minutes prior to my talk :) ) and made me start to think on how to better my presenting skills. I started to observe presenters and noted their styles, what I liked or didn’t like. I took note of the way they interacted and whether there was something in the way they presented that I wanted to emulate. I had three that I particularly admired – Gill Hallam (Queensland University of Technology), Roxanne Missingham (Parliamentary Library) and Chris Kelly (Brimbank Library Service).

Since that first conference presentation in 2005, I have presented at many other events and conferences, including the Learning Communities Conference, NLS2006 and IFLA last year and picked up many tricks along the way. When I was asked to give a talk for the Victorian New Graduates Groups on Presenting to an Audience, I pulled everything that I had learned together and was surprised at what it actually took to make a presentation work seamlessly. I thought I would share my learnings here.

First of all, you need to think about what is important to you – what do you want to achieve from presenting?

Do you want to engage with the audience?

  • Are you happy to read your paper out loud and get it over with?
  • Do you want to stimulate discussion and debate?
  • Do you want to be remembered?
  • Once these are identified, work out how you can achieve them. I personally feel it is very important to engage with the audience and to remember the message being given. Make it look as though talking to an audience is something that happens naturally.

Engaging with the audience

  • Start off with polling the audience – ask a question or two – this can be a good lead in to what you are talking about, without starting cold.
  • Speak to the audience, not at them – try not to read your paper word for word. My presentations are made up of 3 parts, my actual paper, to be published, my notes for the presentation and my slide show.

Read your paper out loud?

  • As mentioned above, try not to read your paper to your audience – looking down at pieces of paper will not help you engage with the audience. I developed a prompt system that had a print out of a slide on the left hand side and some brief notes, in a large font, on the other. I used a large font so I wouldn’t have to focus too much on my page and so I wouldn’t be caught out if I had to put my notes on something quite low.
  • Practise talking your paper in your head with your slideshow. Notice I said ‘talking’ not ‘reciting’. Practice as though you are actually talking one on one with someone so it sounds more natural. This will also make you feel that you have identified with the audience more.

Being remembered

  • You really want what you are presenting to be remembered. The abstract is the first part that will attract people to your session – make your session representative of what your paper is, and take out key points, rather than just reading it out – this way delegates will go to the full paper and read it. This also makes it easier to not go over time.
  • Leave some time for questions at the end to reinforce your interaction with the audience.

Summing up

Before the event

  • Ask yourself – what’s important to you – what do you want to achieve?
  • Observe presenters
  • Prepare brief notes based around your slideshow
  • Practise talking your presentation in your head

During the event

  • Poll the audience – this will ease you into your session
  • Refer to your notes to prompt you along
  • Look at the audience frequently
  • Leave some time for questions

After the session

  • Leave some way for delegates to be able to contact you

Monday, 27 December 2010

12 days of Christmas - Post 3 On blogs and keeping up with them

I feel like I am on a roll - 3 posts in 2 days is a pretty big achievement for me at the moment, considering how long it had been previously between posts.

So onto keeping up with all my blogs. I previously used Bloglines to keep up with my blogs, not that I had many that I checked on a regular basis. I eventually decided to switch to Google Reader, mainly for the ease of having one login.

What I like most about reading other people's blogs is the fact that they lead you to more and more blogs, more interesting reading, more things to read that are in my area of interest. Initially I was only adding library related blogs, those that I felt were professionally linked to my career. Over time, blogs related to my hobbies of knitting and scrapbooking were duly added to my reader. Over time, these additions started to spiral out of control! To manage these more efficiently, I added labels to every blog (I guess I catalogued them :) ) and started to cull those I had added on a whim and decided held no interest for me (I weeded them :) ). Any that did not show the full feed in my reader were removed too. I use my reader to save me time and save me blog hopping. If I need to go to a blog to read the entire post, then to me that defeats the purpose of having it in my reader in the first place.

Then came the task of 'keeping' posts that I liked and wanted to refer to later - aaah the beauty of starring an item! Then, of course, the dilemma of TOO MANY starred items! I go through these every now and then and remove stars if I feel a post has outlived its usefulness. It does happen. (Never with @polyxena posts though!)

Using Google Reader has enabled me to check my favourite blogs on a regular basis in a much more efficient and timely manner than previously. This is very good for me, considering how many more blogs I have added to my reader since the 12 days of Christmas challenge started :)

Out of curiosity, how many of you have added my blog to your rss reader?

12 days of Christmas - Post 2

So onto post 2 for the 12 days of Christmas challenge. Actually I am not sure that Fiona intended it to be a challenge, but it certainly is one for me, as blogging is something I have let slip over the months. There are many, many blogs that I follow, professional ones, as well as hobby ones (what they are and how I organise them may be tomorrow's post?) and I am always amazed at how they manage to find the time to blog, and blog something that can be quite deep.

Maybe I have been a little too focused on only having this blog relate to professional posts - I intend to relax this, at least for this challenge, and see what I can come up with. Today's post is about a photographic project I am doing to document our lives from December 1 to December 25. The Christmas tradition is led by Ali Edwards and is aptly named December Daily. I wanted to do this project last year but found out about it too late. Sometimes something has to give :) I filed the idea away for 2010.

December Daily is a photographic project that documents, with words and photos, the 25 days leading up to Christmas. According to Ali, many people start their documentation earlier and many people go longer. I decided that 25 days would be as long as I would document things we did during that time.

One of the keys to success in this project is getting an album structure together prior to December, the idea being that you can then enjoy the lead up to Christmas. I wanted to get my foundation pages (as Ali calls them) together ahead of time for 2 reasons - one being that if I didn't, it would mean that I would need to, after the event, get photos ready, organise them, journal AND create an album for them to go into as well - the project would be more daunting. The second reason is that I was due to have a baby quite close to when the project would end, which meant that the more I had organised ahead of time, the better for me.

One of the challenges I set myself was to use items from my stash as much as possible, the idea being that my stash would drastically reduce (can I say that this did not happen - I swear this stuff breeds!) I made the album quite similar to Ali's, size 6 inches by 8 inches, with a transparency between each page (each page made from white card). Again, rather than buy preprinted transparencies, I made my own by cutting old overhead projector transparencies down to 6x8 and decorating them with various Christmas items from my stash. Some of the items I used included Christmas shapes, stickers, paper, flocking, design adhesives, tapes and glitter.

My friend Rebecca was over from Tasmania to spend a week with me crafting prior to me having the baby and we managed to get the album done, in between a lot of talking and me having to continually elevate my legs.

I took many, many photos and have used Photoshop to make a collage out of some that I will print out as a 6x8. I am going to try and use three 6x4 photos per day - 2 will go down one page (the album is portrait) and one will go on the page with the date on it. As this page has a 2 inch strip of patterned paper on the bottom, meaning I can't put 2 photos there due to space constraints, I plan to put one photo there and journal in the remaining space.

I had better get more photos organised....

Sunday, 26 December 2010

12 days of Christmas - Post 1

Yes I know, I am already a day behind, but am hoping to put 2 posts up today in order to catch up. What I am really hoping will happen is that I will finally get my momentum with blogging back and not leave it so long between posts. I guess I am hoping to find something meaningful to blog about :)

To ease me back into it, I thought I would use a Christmas meme that I have seen somewhere online.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Wrapping paper. I only use gift bags if the present is a really weird shape.

2. Real tree or artificial?

Usually artificial, but this year we have a real tree, which is just lovely. Will either continue with that or get a new artificial tree next year.

3. When do you put up the tree?

End of November or December 1

4. When do you take the tree down?

After New Year's

5. Do you like eggnog?

Never tried it and don't think I want to

6. Favourite present received as a child?

Fuzzy Pumper Barber Set - until I realised I had to poke all the little bits of play doh out of the holes in the dolls' heads. Gah

7. Hardest person to buy for?

My mother

8. Easiest person to buy for?

Probably my father

9. Do you have a nativity scene?

I do. I have a knitted one that I made over 16 years ago that I thought would be tiny but are actually quite large. The set has 3 Wise Men, 2 shepherds, Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, sheep and cradle. Baby Jesus can go in the cradle or in Mary's arms (she is the only one in a sitting pose). My second son sets it up on the window ledge at the front of the house every year and this year there is a sheep in the cradle and one of the Wise Men is running off with the baby :-) I get comments on it all the time.

10. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards?

Definitely mail!!

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

A gold fabric bow on a clip. Gah again!

12. Favourite Christmas movie?

Don't have one

13. When do you start shopping?

Anytime really. I do start thinking and planning early on in the year.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?


15. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas?

My mum's roast potatoes and baked macaroni (Maltese dish called timpana)

16. Lights on the tree?

Coloured LED fairy lights

17. Favourite Christmas song?

Not sure - if it is a hymn maybe 'Oh come all ye faithful'???

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?

Usually fairly local - by that I mean in Melbourne at least!

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?

An angel.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

It has become a tradition to open them around 10 pm Christmas Eve

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?

People crowding supermarkets like they are running out of food or the supermarkets will be shut for 2 weeks.

23. Favourite ornament theme or color?

No tinsel on tree! Purple and gold baubles, bead strings and some traditional ones my children have made over the years.

24. Favourite for Christmas lunch/dinner?

Mum's roast potatoes and baked macaroni

25. What did you get for Christmas this year?

New Nina perfume, lovely necklace with heart charm saying mum/daughter, new Kathy Reichs book (astounds me that there is another one out and I haven't read Mortal Remains yet - looks like a new series), bath salts, cant remember any more. Probably is no more!