Thursday, 30 June 2016

Day 15 #blogjune - 6 reasons why I love my profession

Today's post will be short and sweet, and, I hope, encourage some discussion around my 6 reasons.  I have deliberately not given reasons why these reasons are important to me :)

  1. We make a difference in the lives of our communities.
  2. I continue to grow and learn.
  3. We champion the right to access to information for all people.
  4. Our field is constantly evolving and therefore never boring!
  5. Opportunities to specialise.
  6. I buy books, lots of books, and don't have to buy a bigger house :)
What are your thoughts?

Day 14 #blogjune - Presenting to an audience

Yesterday I wrote about my thoughts on students being taught presentation skills; today I thought I would cover what I learned in the process of teaching myself how to present.

I had to learn presentation skills myself.  I was accepted to give a presentation at a national conference and, after I was accepted, realised the magnitude of what I had let myself in for.  I had never presented, never really observed anyone present and had only been to 1 or 2 conferences.  To say I was overwhelmed was an understatement.

I set myself some tasks on how to actually present well to an audience (well, I hope I succeeded here!) and started to observe how people engaged with others.  This was internally (staff meetings etc), externally (board meetings, forums, seminars etc) and so on.  I found I didn't have to actually go to a conference to learn what engaged people and what made them lose interest.  Some of my key recommendations are summarised below:

Think about what is important to you when giving your presentation. Is it:
  • Engaging with the audience?
  • Reading your paper out loud?
  • Stimulating discussion and debate?
  • Being remembered?
Observe presenters.  Look at:
  • how they speak
  • their style
  • their interaction with the audience
  • what you like/don't like
Engage with the audience
  • Poll them at the start
  • Speak TO them, not AT them
Ideally, your presentation, if it is formal, should contain 3 parts:
  1. paper for publication
  2. presentation notes
  3. Slideshow
These suggestions have helped me prepare for over 50 presentations, so they do work.  Hopefully they can help you as well :)



Saturday, 25 June 2016

Day 13 #blogjune - Presentation skills

Today Rachel wrote about whether libraries should support/teach researchers on presenting to an audience.  I'm going to take a slightly different path and talk about whether library studies students (or indeed any student) should be taught presentation skills.  I do think this is a necessary skill to have in today's workplace. Even if some think they will never present in public or to an audience or at a conference, there needs to be some understanding that presenting is not just about the above three.  Very, very often nowadays, in the workplace, there is a need to highlight or showcase certain events/happenings/good news stories or provide updates to senior management on progress or make a case for something to proceed.  All of these require presentation skills.  Do all of these require a slide show? Not always...but what if you were asked to use one to support the points you were making? Or if, all of a sudden, you were told the Director was coming to a meeting where you were highlighting your plans for your team? And no, this does not always happen because you are in a management position.  The above examples happened to me when I was in officer roles.  I also know that some interview panels will request that a presentation happen during the interview (and again, this may not always be for a senior role...).  So yes, I do think students need to be taught presentation skills.  In a face to face environment, this may be easy.  Set an assessment, cover expectations, have them do research on good presenting/presenters and then have them present to the class.  But what happens if the student is studying via distance education?
This can still be done.  I have taught units where one of the assessments is a powerpoint presentation on a topic that is covered in the unit.  To go with this, there is a prose piece which is to be written as though the student is talking to the audience (so no formality required).  Although this may not help with confidence in actually presenting to an audience, it does cover off on the areas of text heavy slides, appropriate font to use, correct 'voice' to use, when to attribute and correct attribution and how much information is enough.  I've also taught a unit where one assessment is a presentation to a manager and can be purely audio (with no visuals) or a YouTube clip (including a voiceover on a slideshow).  I find this is an excellent opportunity for students to learn about the importance of presenting, their visual appearance (if they are filming themselves) and how to speak so the text on the slides support what is being said, rather than the slides being *everything* that is being said (which is so often the case).  Sadly, some don't take this seriously, as it is not a real life situation.
What are your thoughts? Do you think that presenting to an audience should also be taught to students?

Friday, 24 June 2016

Day 12 #blogjune Activity based workplaces

Yesterday I had the pleasure of listening to Garry McQuillan, CEO of Cardinia Shire, talk about their move towards activity based working (ABW).
The premise of ABW is that the office is designed in such a way that it supports all work activities, rather than having parameters around a particular employee's space (for eg, someone's *own* stapler, computer, phone etc).  An ABW space cultivates a variety of different working environments which all support different activities performed by the staff during the course of their work day.  There's a mix of desks, quiet rooms and meeting rooms.  Staff have laptops and can plug into a dock at any available workstation on any floor (if there are multiple floors) - no one has their own desk, unless their activity specifically requires this (and there would be a handful that fit this). 
Garry spoke of 4 platforms that are needed for this to succeed.  At the moment only 2 come to mind - one is the need for an excellent technology platform and the other is paper independence.  Quite ironically, I think paper independence is what most people would struggle with. However, removing the need to have everything in hard copy removes the need for myriads of filing cabinets which take up valuable real estate.
Obviously there would need to be some kind of framework supporting this.  I do remember some of the "ground rules" that were mentioned. One was that a staff member couldn't be away from the workspace for more than 20 minutes.  If that was going to be the case, they needed to remove their things.  Another was that there was no eating at the workstations.  Staff were encouraged to move away and go to the staff room to eat (lovely, big, airy and welcoming).  Everything is stored on the intranet. Everything. No shared drives.  You can read more at Cardinia's move to ABW here and here.
The thought of being in an environment like this would have baffled me once.  I would not have been able to imagine working without having hard copies to file away for future reference and of having a space where I couldn't access the things I needed to go about my daily activities.  However, over the past 2 years or so, my workplace provided me with a Lenovo ThinkPad Helix which gave me a lot of flexibility in terms of being able to work away from my office when I was required to be offsite. I could access Council infrastructure as soon as I logged in, which meant I could access anything I was working on. However, I couldn't access my paper files. This started me on the road to paper independence.  I started taking my ThinkPad to meetings and I could access previous minutes whilst there, as well as the agenda.  I would take notes on the actual agenda and this would spur me to action items I needed to do (as opposed to having a new document with notes from the meeting on it - why the first worked for me over the second I have no idea...). Over time, I was able to shred previously printed copies and move away from filing things.  I still had one drawer of files, but they were historical and so I kept them. I did, however, shred another 3 drawers of historical files (pre my own files), after making sure that they were on TRIM, our records management system. To further cement my paper independence, anything I created or actioned, I made sure was in TRIM, so we had a corporate record.  This all worked amazingly well and I really recommend it! I do have to say, however, that I still had a list of things I would scribble down and a diary for informal meetings, but I think the latter may well disappear in the new year....
What do you all think of ABW? Does any work in such an environment (as opposed to hot desks)?

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Day 11 #blogjune - Back to front or front to back

I feel like I may finally be slowly catching up...just slowly. For day 11, Sharon wrote about running again, so I thought it may be timely to have another hobby post.

My first post for #blogjune was about the card swap I coordinate with a friend. I ended the post with a photo of my card for swap 1, which I barely got in by the deadline (ok, so I was a little late - they were due April 30 and I made them April 30...). I did get my act into gear after that and have completed swaps 2 and 3 (due June 30 and August 31) and have planned swap 4.  Generally, I would assume, most people would plan each one when they have finished the previous; that would be the typical way to schedule things, but I tend to be more back to front :-). I really do like knowing what I am making way ahead of time.  For me, a lot of the enjoyment comes from the searching, planning and testing of design ideas.

Short post, which I will end with a picture of my swap 2 cards.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Day 10 #blogjune - Escape

Today, Sharon blogged about escaping during her lunch break, which I thought was a great starter for my 10th blog post for June. I do find it quite hard to stop working when I am in the zone and, more often than not, work right through any break time, including lunch.  Yes, I know this is not good, but, equally, I find it so very hard not to. I used to always work from home too, but when I changed roles  a few years ago, I made a conscious decision that I would leave work at work and only do things at home if I absolutely had to.  And I mean had to.  I stuck to this and very rarely brought work home.  This has continued over the past 8 years.   I realised that I had to make a similar decision with my lunch breaks. 

I started going for walks. I don't work anywhere near bushland, but we have a really great shopping centre right near work.  If it is a nice day (which is not very often ATM), I will walk around the outside of the complex, which adds quite a few steps to my day. Right now, I am walking the inside of the complex, window shopping or getting necessities that will save me a stop on my way home or on the weekend.  I am finding that making myself go out actually refreshes me and makes me more productive once I get back to my office.

What tips do you have for refreshing yourself during the day?

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Day 9 #blogjune - Organise me

Sharon's post today is about running (yes she called it "Dark" but it is about running!) so I thought I would take inspiration from Rachel's post on "Organisation".

I see this topic coming up quite regularly during #blogjune and #blog12daysxmas.  It's a topic I love, all about organisation and stationery and colours get it....

I always have paper next to me on my desk and write down anything I need to do as it comes to mind.  From this list, I choose 3 things that I want to complete that day, write them on post it notes and stick them to my monitor. I love lists and have blogged about keeping lists but keeping lists electronically just doesn't work for me.  I find that I don't tend to go back to the lists or the notes once I have jotted them down.  Having said that, I have found taking my laptop to meetings and annotating the agenda with action items helps me action these things, but if I was to just start a Word document with notes and/or action items, then I wouldn't think to refer back to them.  I am not sure why the first works but the second doesn't. I do use the "Keep" app on my phone (the only app I use for lists!) as I can access it from anywhere.  It looks like a lot of post it notes, I can colour code them and have tick boxes (stationery, right?).  I guess it works like Evernote, but I just don't like Evernote (ducks for cover).

Another thing that I have found works really well is buying a 12 month diary (with a lovely cover of course, stationery, remember?), day to a page.  I take this with me to less formal meetings and jot down things I want to discuss with the person or things I need to do.  I refer to this daily and if there is something outstanding, I put a post it flag there to mark the page (stationery, remember?). I use the flags as they are very sturdy and reusable.  I keep several of them stuck to the inside front cover so that I have ready access to them.  They don't take up any room at all this way and are always to hand.

I do have a large planner on the kitchen bench. It is a calendar one and everyone needs to write down what they are doing here - extra work hours, events they are going to, special occurrences etc.  This has been working really well from a family perspective.

What do you all do to organise yourselves?

Day 8 #blogjune - Brand identification

Today I am actually using my own topic for inspiration.  Brand identification, vendors and electronic resources.

A significant part of my role is the management of print and digital collections across the library service.  Anyone who is involved with electronic resources in any way knows that a) they cost a fortune, b) they are nowhere near as well used as the print collection (especially when you look at them on a cost per use basis) and c) it takes way, way more work in promoting to get the use happening when compared to print collections.

This is frustrating from many viewpoints, but the biggest one for me is the lack of responsibility most vendors feel when it comes to brand identification of their product.  For some reason, they seem to think it is perfectly acceptable to sell a product subscription and then leave the responsibility of generating usage to the library service.  Whilst generating usage is definitely one of the responsibilities of the library service, generating knowledge of the brand definitely isn't.  Have a look at all the electronic resources that your library subscribes to.  How many of the names/logos tell you instantly what they cover? Not many. Yet, somehow, that is the responsibility of the library to overcome.

Many vendors will spend time telling you what you should be doing; having the database more prominent on the library's website, training staff on usage, having flyers in the library, having posters up, talking to customers about the database....all these things reach people who are already, in some way, using the library.  Yes we can definitely make them more aware, but we can't possibly reach all of those who don't use the library and we can't cover brand recognition.

Imagine a vendor actually taking out an ad covering what their electronic resources cover, making them sound exciting and useful for a community member (not just a specialist one, such as a uni student) and then getting them to go to their local library to see if they have a subscription.  The more enquiries a library service gets, the more likely they are to seriously consider that particular resource (if they do not already have it). I know I definitely would.

The other issue, however, is that most vendors just don't seem to be able to grasp this.  I recently had a scheduled phone conversation with one for them to give me hints on how to get more usage (very much a case of telling me how to suck eggs, but I did it anyway).  All of the tips and hints covered the points I gave above and, despite my saying that we were already doing all these things, she kept ploughing ahead with what was very obviously a set list of items to go through.  I then had a follow up call with the client relationship manager, who said that she had been told that the conversation had been extremely negative, as we hadn't taken on board any of the suggestions put forward (no, because we were already doing them all....).  I brought up the brand identification issue and she said that was something that had never come up before.

So here is a question for all my library peeps - why have libraries never brought up the issue of brand identification, and its subsequent responsibility, with vendors? Why do we accept these limitations and keep spending so much money on electronic resources? I am really interested in hearing all your thoughts.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Day 7 #blogjune - Speeding around

Sharon's post for day 7 centre's around her dislike of speedwork. Her post is in relation to working on her running speed and my post is going to be in relation to just, well, speeding.

I seriously can barely remember a time when I wasn't racing around doing things.  It started around 15 years ago when I was studying for my degree, working in 4 positions and bringing up 3 children on my own.  Add to this, towards the end of my degree, I started doing a Diploma of Management and things went from busy to frantic.

I had decided that, once I finished my degree, I would stay in my Library Officer role for a while (part time) to catch my breath.  Of course, as things happen, just before I finished my degree, a permanent, full time qualified position came up at MPOW.  It was too good an opportunity to not at least try and apply for, so I did and I was successful and the rest, as they say, is history. During all of this, I was also a very active member of the Australian Library and Information Association and was a committee member of ALIA07 and convenor of the 4th ALIA New Librarians Symposium (sorry, links to both sites appear to be inactive for now).  I was also part of the Executive Team for VALA for a period of time.

As I've progressed throughout my career and gotten busier, my involvement has lessened, out of necessity, not because I really wanted to.  I think though, that as I have shed some responsibilities, I have taken on more, because I still race around and barely have time to catch my breath.  I must admit, I am looking forward to some chill time soon.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Day 6 #blogjune - Device Driven Society aka technologically connected social butterflies

So taking yet another topic from Sharon's daily blogging, but putting my own twist, is about being device driven.  I have 4 children, ranging in age from 24 to 5, so there has been a huge change in the way they have accessed, used and observed technology.  I remember first getting a computer at home when Miss 24 was 3 (!!!) and we had this marvellous OS called Windows 95. Her kindergarten photo (when she was 5) has the obligatory "holding the phone shot" and she is using a dial up phone. Mr 21 has a kinder photo with a similar phone, whereas Mr 16 is using a cordless phone. Master 5's kinder photo didn't even have one with a phone! I reflect on this sometimes and realise the my younger 2 children do not know a time without mobiles, digital cameras and computers (I changed from a film camera to a digital one when Mr 16 was 3).  Master 5 does not know life pre iPads and still cannot understand why, when watching TV, he can't just go to another episode of Octonauts or Transformers or skip the ads (thanks to downloads, streaming, YouTube, Netflix and Stan, oh my!).

We have so many devices and computers in our house (not helped by the fact that hubby is an IT Manager and my role covers technology) so it is possible that we would be more device driven than usual, regardless of changes in society. I have often referred to myself as a technologically connected social butterfly :) and I look around my home and can see us all on some kind of device or technology enabled entertainment (ie PS4, TV, Gameboy DS etc) but I think Mr 16 is the one that is truly "always on his phone" - I swear it is glued to his hands! We try a lot for balance and Master 5 is limited and needs to do other things (aka play with his toys, which is no hardship on his part), but will this enforcement get harder as he gets older and his peers are more connected? Or will we see a reversal where people start to rely less on social media?

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Day 5 #blogjune - Where do I get my news from?

Sharon's latest post is about keeping up with alerts and changes and the platforms she uses to do this, mainly social media.  This started  me reflecting on the ways that I keep up with news - things like traffic updates (I have about a 40 minute commute to work so any changes to the traffic can have a big impact on my journey), trends in libraries and local government, community news...the list goes on.  Social media would have to be my main source of information, namely Twitter and Facebook.  I do read blogs, but, more often than not, I have seen a link on Twitter or Facebook and moved on from there.  My husband also sends me links as he loves to read the news online :)

I will actually see some kind of 'breaking news' on Facebook and then follow it up with an online news site, if the news snippit interests me. With traffic alerts, I follow Vicroads on Twitter and *try* to remember to check regularly.  I do have the account set up so I am supposed to get alerted whenever Vicroads tweet, but it never works, which is very annoying.  Any tips, anyone?

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Day 4 #blogjune - "Do you ever question your sanity?"

Sharon's post today was about a question her husband asked her when she came back from running in the rain. He asked: "Do you ever question your sanity?" (I agree with him, mind you!).  So no one is ever going to question my sanity about running in the rain, but I sometimes question my sanity on whether I have ever bitten off more than I can chew.

Let me put this in perspective though.  I have never taken on more than I can do, so I have never left anything incomplete, undone or abandoned a project, however sometimes I have had to work on things around the clock to get them done without compromising family time and trying hard to get some kind of work/life balance.

This year I was accepted into LGPro's Emerging Leaders Program, a very competitive program which involves a residential every month and doing a year long group project.  Adding this to working full time makes a very full workload. For the first time ever I said no to sessional work for this semester, so I would be able to focus on everything and still spend time with the family and have some "me" time.

If I hadn't done so, I think I may well have questioned my sanity!

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Day 3 #blogjune - Reflection

Sharon's day 3 post is quite timely as I've been reflecting on my career quite a lot this year (running, meh, not so much!).  I have 2 mentors, a library one and a local government one, both quite unique, fascinating individuals that I regard very, very highly.

It was suggested, late last year, that I look at getting some career coaching, which I felt a little odd about. It's kind of laying everything bare, hopes and dreams, and I am quite a private person and don't like making these things public. However, having thought about this for the good part of 6 months, I am starting to think that having a career coach may help with identifying transferable skills and looking outside the square. I've found someone I believe is excellent so the first step is done :)

Day 2 #blogjune - Social media

Sharon's second post is about social media and the way she uses it.  Reading her post is actually like reading something that I would have written myself.  The main social media platforms I use nowadays are Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

I have been using Twitter of late in fits and bursts. I'll be on it for ages, do a lot of reading of articles etc, then barely touch it.  As Sharon says in her post, I tend to use it more for live tweeting at conferences and as a note taking medium.  Twitter has been really good for making me think about things more succinctly. I do check Twitter weekly to see the football scores (saves me downloading the app again!) and also checking tweets for Masterchef 2016.

I use Facebook the most. I find having the app on my phones means I can check at random times during the day.  I scroll through a few screens and that allows me to keep up with what family and friends are doing a little more.  I have also changed my settings so that I get alerted whenever a family member posts something, so there is no chance of missing anything during my daily, random scrolls.

I'm also a member of a few groups that I use for professional development in my areas of interest:

  • Library Professionals - a forum for sharing ideas and information around the future of libraries around the world.
  • ALIA Social Media Group - an ALIA Group for all people interested in using, connecting with and promoting social media use in Australian libraries.
  • Storytime Down Under - a space for information-sharing and support for any Australian library professionals working with children and young people. From book suggestions to craft ideas to inspiration for programs, there is informal chatting about everything 'storytime' (and beyond) here!
  • Relief Teaching Ideas - a place for all teachers - casual, permanent, contract, part time, student teachers, specialists, tutors, teacher aides, home schoolers and anyone else interested in education.  
  • MakerSpaces and the Participatory Library - an open space for collaboration and sharing about MakerSpaces, digital media labs, and participatory/community spaces in libraries.
I am a member of several more, but these are my main, go to groups to learn and share things.

I do use Pinterest quite a bit, both for personal and professional things.  I have a Library Programming board and a makerspaces board - both huge areas of interest for me in libraries.

Finally, I also use Instagram, but I have to confess that I go days and days (weeks!) without looking at it, even though I have the app installed on all my devices.  It just isn't something that is embedded in my mind, but that may change.  I do like looking at all my friends' posts and I also follow some professional and high interest posters.

I do use YouTube, but only to watch and learn things, not to upload anything myself :)

So I am now 2 posts down, thanks Sharon :)



    Day 1 #blogjune

    So the lovely Sharon nags me every year to do #blogjune and every year I have good intentions but never get around to it... This year I outright said I wasn't going to do it and yet, here I am.  Seems like Sharon must have employed some good reverse psychology tactics...

    I said I'd do it if I could spring board off her posts.  She agreed, but it will be interesting as Sharon runs and I don't (I aspire to but that is another story!)

    Sharon's first post is about running and I can't hope to write about something like that, so I thought I would take a broader view and write about a hobby of mine (one of many) - card making.  I've been scrapbooking since 2005 and always said that I would never make cards.  If I was going to spend that much time on something, then I wanted to keep it, not give it away.  Obviously, somewhere along the way, something changed.  Back in 2012, a fellow cardmaking/scrapbooking friend of mine, Gemma, and myself, decided we'd organise card swaps.  Everyone participating makes 20 of the same card (there are 20 participants), the cards get posted to a central address and are then redistributed.  Each participant gets 20 different cards.  Rules are simple - if possible, stick to a universal card size and therefore no need to supply envelopes.  If an unusual or large card size is used, then the envelope must be supplied.  Cards to be at central point by due date (which is kind of not being followed right now...).  There are 4 swaps per year, ending April 30, June 30, August 31 and October 31.

    I thought I'd end this post with a photo of my first swap card for 2016.