(What) to blog, or not to blog, that is the question…

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I am currently working towards Chartering and a part of the portfolio is a reflection of where you are at the beginning of the process and where you are at the end…now, I found out I’m not very good at this type of study while I was doing my teaching portfolio. I can write descriptively, but not particularly analytically. Part of the reason for this blog is to set down my thoughts on issues that affect/stimulate/annoy me, and to reflect on them – as I used to in my diary as a younger person (but without the wistful sentiments about a certain rock god, music and boys in general! )

So to help me with this, I’ve decided to start a reflective journal, as well as this blog. However, I immediately hit a stumbling block: what to transfer to my blog? If the idea is to be able to organise my thoughts for my blog, and to use that as a tool for reflection, what should I blog and what should I avoid?

The impetus for this musing was one of the issues I tackled in my reflective journal last week: a sensitive issue regarding a member of staff who I manage…so, having made the decision to stay away from such sensitive material, is this defeating the idea of my blog? Given that my posts go straight to my twitter and FB feeds, I think I must be very careful of what I transfer to my blog.

…and, as usual, this has sent me off on the tangent of how we teach information literacy to our students! We teach them how to construct effective search strategies, but it has only become apparent recently (after some high-profile cases in the media) that we need also to teach them how to use social media responsibly.

…and, also as usual, this task has fallen on the library profession (because we are innately responsible or because we are at the cutting edge in technology terms?). As mentioned before, we have problems getting our students engaged in social media for study, but we can turn it on its head and show them how to behave sensibly online. Recent research suggests that potential employers now look at our online presence before they even meet us and so giving a good impression very important.

BUT…this then leads to debate about freedom of speech, prejudice, etc. Should we really be so wary of stating our beliefs for fear of such reprisals? My initial answer is no, but I believe we can be honest about our values without compromising our online presence…something that’s just a bit alien to me is tact (on occasion!) but I know I can be true to myself and my values and opinions in a way that isn’t offensive and wont compromise my future career! Watch this space…

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Miss Moore Thought Otherwise…

Doing a bit of research for a job application (yes, another one!) and playing on Facebook at the same time, I came across this little gem, posted by my friend and fellow librarian at University of Sheffield Libraries: http://www.amightygirl.com/miss-moore-thought-otherwise

This woman campaigned for, and won, the right for a dedicated children’s library in the library where she worked. Now, to us modern types, this might not seem like such a big deal…but…she graduated from Library School in 1896, probably making her in a minority presence at the time. Thinking back just a mere 40 years (cough, cough), I wasnt allowed my own library card until the age of 5 (and not because I was a naughty monkey either: it was standard practice at that time) and I distinctly remember getting my first library card and being so proud of it! Scan forward a number of years until I am aged about 12 and I had voraciously devoured most of the local children’s library titles. By this time I was hankering for challenges and managed (somehow, still dont know how I did it!) to inveigle our librarian (yes, we had a qualified branch librarian in those days!) into letting me have some of the adult books out (which she proceeded to censor when I took them to the counter!). Can you imagine this happening now?

Thinking about the literature that I was reading as a 12 year old: Nina Bawden, Alan Garner, some of the Tolkien stuff (mainly the Hobbit!), Rosemary Sutcliffe to name a few…modern contemporary stories would have been firmly in the ‘adult’ library (Rowling, Collins, Cooper, Clare). All deal with fairly ‘adult’ themes, or themes that I would have been sheltered from in my formative years (bullying, racism, elitism, etc…). Maybe I just have a slightly skewed sense of what was normal at the time, but we were very firmly instructed that the children’s library was for children and, once you crossed that tantalising boundary into adulthood (16), there was a wealth of daring and forbidden literature on the other side…

All of this has got me thinking about how libraries and librarians have changed over the years…this wonderful woman would’ve been a cause champion in her day, probably lauded by both children and parents alike (who could send said children off to the library knowing they would be safe under the watchful eye of some equivalent of Miss Moore). Now, we champion freedom to information, skills development to enhance quality of life, the right to read (and be read, for you authors!), the right for every child to have access to quality literature to feed their minds and free their imagination (thanks, WMBC Mission Statement!). So have we changed really…? Only, for me, in that the photo of Miss Moore is probably where the stereotypical librarian image cam from. Now, where did I put the twinset…

Conferencing Madness

lilac presentation – KD

This year I attended the LILAC Conference, held in Manchester. It bought together a range of library professionals from all areas, not just HE/FE and this was great because I have had a wide range of library experience: from working in Public libraries and teaching information literacy skills to ‘silver surfers’ to working in a college library and teaching ‘digital natives’.

I loved this conference; I think it’s the best one I have ever been to (creep, creep). I got to see lots of innovative stuff being done with teaching and learning materials, and also with implementing and embedding information literacy into key skills and other curricula.

Colleagues who attended from my institution were invited to present at an exchange of experience event to pass on to staff, who didnt have a chance to attend, valuable good practices and lessons learned. My presentation is attached to this post. I focused on what I had learned, what I had come away with as a holistic whole, rather than focusing on the minutiae of the how and the why. This is me though, big picture girl, ideas girl; throw it out and sit back to watch the fun! (You may notice a theme running through my presentation!).

So, given the wealth of experience and innovation out there, why is it still so difficult for those outside of the library and information profession to value our worth? My own feeling is that we are still considered somewhat twee, a little behind-the-times (blatantly untrue!), be-spectacled do-gooders who guard knowledge possessively. As we know, and are endeavouring to promote, this is far from the mark of a librarian’s true goal. We must be more in the vanguard rather than bringing up the rear and perhaps a little more vocal (and dare I say it, pro-active?) about the range of skills we can support that are transferable across all sectors and walks of life and that can lead receivers to achieve that bit better a life. Watch this space…