cpd23 final reflection

This post is part of 23 Things for Professional Development.

I was fortunate that the timing of cpd23 coincided neatly with preparing my CILIP Chartership portfolio.  As well as my blog posts, my portfolio was the major outcome of my reflective practice this summer/winter (depending on your hemisphere).

Thoughts about the cpd23 journey

It was loooooooong. Not just completing each Thing, but just reading the instructions each week came to be a bit of a task in itself.  If you’re planning a 23 Things programme of any sort, I advise keeping the posts for each Thing short and sweet, and give clear actions at the end of each one.

Focus on reflection.  I found this difficult, but I know/hope it’s good for me.  If you haven’t yet done a personal SWOT analysis, try this guide from Mindtools to help you get started.

I will definitely keep blogging!  Thanks for reading 🙂

Summary of posts for each cpd23 Thing

21, 22 Applying for jobs and volunteering to get experience

20 Library careers: routes in and what does this type of work actually involve?

19 Integration, integration, integration

18 Presenting: podcasts, screencasts and the like

17 Presenting with Prezi

16 Library advocacy

15 Events: attending, presenting at and organising

14 Comparison of reference management tools

13 Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox

12 Thing 12: short and sweet for catch-up week

10, 11 Librarianship as a career

8, 9 Getting organised: Google Calendar and Evernote

My involvement in professional organisations

Online networks

Minutes and agendas

Current awareness using social media

Monitoring my personal brand on the web

1, 2 Starting out with 23 Things for Continuing Professional Development

Applying for jobs and volunteering to get experience

This post is part of 23 Things for Professional Development.

Thing 21 is all about promoting yourself in job applications and at interview. Although I have quite a lot of experience of these processes, I found that I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of publishing these details on the web (as laid out in the Thing 21 instructions).

Recently, I had a similar experience with my Chartership portfolio.  When you submit your portfolio for assessement, you are asked if you are willing to make your document available for others to see.  I opted out of that because I felt that some parts of my portfolio, especially my personal SWOT analysis, were things I wanted to keep private (or at least limit the audience to just my assessors!).

However, I promise that I am doing things like constantly revising my CV and I hope this will satisfy the requirements for this Thing!

Thing 22 encourages us to consider the value of volunteering to get experience.  At this stage of my career, I think this has evolved from volunteering to do library work without pay to offering to take on further professional duties such as serving on committees and working groups.

I am currently involved in committees such as the Oxford Libraries’ Web 2.0 Working Party, an Aleph working party which is involved in fine-tuning some circulation settings on our new ILS following its launch in July, the Committee of College Librarians and the University of Oxford LGBT Steering Group.

I like being involved in groups and activities that broaden my professional awareness beyond the horizons of my own workplace. I think this is especially important in a federal organisation such as the University of Oxford.

Library careers: routes in and what does this type of work actually involve?

This post is part of 23 Things for Professional Development.

I participated in the Library Routes project in 2009:

Library Routes – How I became a librarian

I have taken part in the Library “Day in the Life” project twice.  Many people blog, tweet or otherwise record their day in terms of how long they spent answering emails etc, but I wanted to take a difference approach in which I blogged about a specific aspect of my job each day.

Round 5, July 2010

Welcome to Laura’s Dark Archive! – in which I launched this blog, described my current role and explained my route into working in libraries

In print or on screen? Investigating the reading habits of undergraduates using photo-interviews – the summary of a presentation I had attended

Library Day in the Life round 5, day 1 – on the theme of  “what else do librarians do all day?”

Visit from another college librarian – explaining the context of the library I work in and the importance of professional networking with colleagues from other libraries

Collection management – outlining the balance between acquisitions coming into the library and the need to weed the collections

Project Management – describing the various projects I had on the go in the library that summer and how their timescales fitted together

“Chips and Mash” Mashed Libraries event, Huddersfield, 30th July 2010 – summarising an event I had attended

Round 6 – January 2011

Gather ye data while ye may – to highlight the importance of data gathering and monitoring

Library Committee – explaining the formal meetings I have each term in which library policies and procedures are ratified or changed

One-to-one meetings – to highlight the importance of my role as a manager within my job

Knowledge capture – explaining the importance of shared information in any team

Philip Pullman adds his voice to the campaign to defend public libraries – libraries in the news

Top tips for getting things done – some advice for how to work efficiently


I don’t think my path into librarianship was unusual: there is quite a lot of cross-pollination between careers in libraries and education – but I find that I am unusual in having a background in science.

If you’re considering a career in libraries, try to offer as wide a range of skills as you can.  Customer service is important, as are numeracy and skills in strategy, analysis and planning.  Being a manager of other people is a part of most jobs above a certain grade level, and it’s a great opportunity for your own development too.  I would like to see more people coming into the profession with a positive attitude to one day being a manager.

Presenting with Prezi

This post is part of 23 Things for Professional Development.


I began this task with some degree of trepidation, having explored Prezi in the past but failed to make it do what I wanted it to do.

However, now that you can ‘Prezify’ Powerpoint slides, I am finding Prezi much easier to use, and here is the outcome of my recent efforts:

Welcome to St Hugh’s College Library on Prezi

I know I’m still a long way off being a ninja Prezi user, but it has restored my hope that I can learn how to use this, and will definitely have another go with it the next time I’m presenting.


I use Slideshare for stashing presentations I’ve made so that other people can access them (sadly only one on there at the moment).

Integration, integration, integration

This post is part of 23 Things for Professional Development.

My use of the main tools in the programme hasn’t changed much recently, but I am getting more followers/hits/connections from fellow cpd23-ers.  Here’s how I use the following tools:

Twitter – great for making new library contacts, a bit of banter and also for benchmarking with professionals outside of my usual sphere.

Blog – this is my record of my CPD – born from my previous system of writing summaries of training I’d attended that I never referred to again, I decided to let everyone else on the internet never refer to my posts again too 😉

I have often wished that instead of compiling a Chatership portfolio, I could just ask Michael Martin at CILIP to read my blog and tick ‘chartered’ on my membership record, but sadly it ain’t so simple.  He has read my blog though – thanks, Michael!

RSS (via Google Reader) – essential for keeping up-to-date with new developments in the worlds of  libraries, technology and Cute Overload.

LinkedIn – Many people I’m connected with on LinkedIn are also people I follow on Twitter, and it’s on Twitter that we interact most, so at the moment I currently use my LinkedIn more like a Panini* collection of people I know rather than for active networking.

*When I was at school in Belgium, Panini stickers were highly sought after.

Italia 90

I am delighted that someone somewhere has scanned in their complete Italia World Cup 1990 collection.  Well done for finishing that – I could never find the German goalkeeper.


Presenting: podcasts, screencasts and the like

This post is part of 23 Things for Professional Development.

I’ve experimented with a few tools for creating online tutorials (though so far, no podcasts):

As mentioned in the instructions for Thing 18, these take a lot of work.

Here’s my advice, for what it’s worth:

  • Choose a small topic for an online tutorial.  Setting up an online tutorial can take hours, even for a short video
  • If you want to have tutorials about lots of different things, record them separately.  It’s a win for users, as they only have to watch/listen to the one they’re specifically interested in, and if something changes in future, hopefully you will only have to update one tutorial rather than your 30-minute-long director’s cut über-tutorial
  • Decide on a script beforehand, so that you know what to say when you press Record
  • Your recorded voice doesn’t sound as cringey to other people as it does to you

The value of these tutorials is in providing a basic introduction for students at any time and in any place with internet connection.  You might like to conclude your tutorials with an invitation to library users to come to the library for 1:1 support on more complicated enquiries.

Library advocacy

This post is part of 23 Things for Professional Development.

In my sector (academic libraries), I think the most important kind of advocacy work involves demonstrating value for money and outreach.

Although the squeeze on library budgets is an issue (and probably one that will never go away), I think a more urgent problem is that many library users do not understand the connection between access to electronic resources and the fact that these are (1) subscription resources and (2) they are paid for by the library.

What many library users see is a reduction in print periodicals (and maybe books too) and conclude that libraries must not need as much money if they are buying fewer periodical titles.

Improvements in access (e.g. IP authentication, sign sign-on login) mean that many users don’t realise that when they go to a platform such as ScienceDirect on a campus PC, they have just passed through a paywall to a resource they only have access to because the library has paid for it.

Features like this on subscription sites are helping to raise awareness:

Brought to you by the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford

(so much for the contributions of Oxford’s college libraries but there’s a topic for another time…)

And library staff do a lot of work behind the scenes to keep this access live and help people learn how to use these resources.

So although the role of libraries in academia is not under threat in my institution, the roles they play and how their money is spent is changing from things you can see and count easily to more invisible things like electronic access and teaching information skills.  Advocacy has a key role to play in educating people about how academic libraries are changing and demonstrating the value of their more intangible, invisible products.

Events: attending, presenting at and organising

This post is part of 23 Things for Professional Development.

In the last year, I have attended a number of events as a delegate (Umbrella 2011), and as a speaker (Bodleian Libraries’ Personal Development and Career Planning Day); and I have helped to organise a variety of events such as the Oxford & Cambridge College Librarians’ Annual Conference 2011 and Oxford Social Media Day 2011.


  • If you can, blog your conference notes rather than just writing them up and leaving them in a drawer or on an intranet.  This makes your work available to others and encourages further discussion via the comments.
  • Don’t leave volunteering until you feel confident enough to speak at an event – the feeling confident comes after the speaking, not the other way around.
  • When preparing a bid for funding to attend an event, set out clearly all the benefits your attendance will bring to you and your organisation – make it easy for the funding panel to approve your proposal.

Comparison of reference management tools

This post is part of 23 Things for Professional Development.

Thing 14 involves exploring a variety of reference management tools (RMTs).  Coincidentally, a student had asked me for help on this matter last week, and she and I decided to work through two tools together and compare our experiences.  Becky has agreed for her notes to be shared here – thank you!


One librarian, one undergraduate student, sufficient IT privileges to be able to download software, RefWorks, Zotero and some features to consider:

  • importing references
  • managing and/or editing the references once they’re in the system
  • exporting references into the document that you’re writing
  • formatting the bibliography


Becky and I worked alongside each other, following the same instructions and using at least three items to reference (a journal article, a webpage and a record from a database.

We set quite a short time limit on this experiment, because most people do not have hours to spend exploring these resources to find out which is most suitable for their needs.


Becky’s view:

Although I wasn’t looking forward to trying out the reference management software, progress was definitely made!

Zotero was much more intuitive – to start with I was able to download it without help and in a couple of minutes. Refworks made life much harder. This was the overall sense I got from Refworks; however, it does have some features (such as exporting in HFL format*) which would be really useful if I can get the hang of using it properly.

As to whether I will use software such as the above… Yes, if I can get around the problem of how the citations were formatted. If not I may fall back on manually entering everything…

*Citation style developed and required by the History Faculty, University of Oxford.

My experience:

I much preferred Zotero to RefWorks – I found the interface more appealing, it worked faster and I really like being able to use tags, which you can’t do in RefWorks.  Zotero also allows you to attach full-text articles to your references.

As a person who has always enjoyed poking around to see how things work and fit together (e.g. LEGO, Ikea furniture), I liked experimenting with these different sites.  However, talking to Becky helped me see that despite being digital natives, many students are not confident with new technology and do not know how to install plug-ins, and they are only motivated to discover these tools because their tutor or supervisor has told them they have to use them for their dissertations.

Perhaps I could help students make their first contact with RMTs by inviting them to bring their laptops to the library and walking them through the process.  However, I can’t easily do this for those who do not have laptops, as the library computers have their admin rights locked down so that you can’t install software on them.  Using these tools without the plug-ins is possible, but having to add all the details manually seems to defeat the object of using the tool to save time in the first place.


Whenever you try to teach anything to someone, you will often inadvertently educate them about something else.  In passing, I showed Becky how to use the e-Shelf (personalisation feature of our resource discovery interface) and this turned out to be really useful to her:

By the way, I’ve been using my e-shelf all afternoon and it’s so good! I can’t believe I’ve been ignoring something so useful for nearly two years!

The new academic year starts in October and I am going to try to use similar 1:1 teaching as much as I can, as although there exist a multitude of online library guides and workshops at Oxford, many students don’t use them and don’t know what they are missing.

Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox

This post is part of 23 Things for Professional Development.

I am a big fan of Google Docs and Dropbox – excellent for collaboration both at work and for other purposes.

As the Secretary of Oxford Academicals Rowing Club, I use Google Docs for working with the Treasurer to keep membership records up-to-date, and all the rowers use it for sharing our availability so that the captains can schedule outings on the water.

At work, I make more use of Dropbox – often for continuing to work on a document from home, or when I need to share images which would otherwise create cumbersome attachments to emails.

I see Google Docs as a more collaborative platform, whereas Dropbox acts more like a repository where you can keep files to access from elsewhere or allow others to access.  In Dropbox, you have to download a file, edit it and upload it again, so it’s not so good for collaboration.  Google Docs is much better for this – you can share a document with others and give them editing permissions so they can all modify it, and it stays in the cloud so you don’t have to download anything.

I have been involved in wikis in the past, but it’s not a major tool for me.  Perhaps this is because the kind of institution I work in usually has an intranet, which provides a platform for sharing and editing resources within a regulated environment that only employees with correct permissions can access.