So it’s finally all over – today I received confirmation that I have successfully passed my Masters, in fact I passed with distinction!

Pass with distinction

Pass with distinction

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cpd23 logo
cpd23 logo


As I mentioned at the beginning of summer, I’ve been participating in and helping organise the 23 Things for Professional Development (CPD23) programme. The programme was slightly different to other 23 Things in that it focused on both tools and also techniques and strategies for professional development (rather than just web tools as in many previous 23 Things courses). I authored two of the ‘things’ – Thing 3 on Consider your personal brand, and Thing 19 on Integrating the Things. I’ve also helped encourage conversation on Twitter and have contributed some of the @cpd23 account tweets as well as looking out for queries on the #cpd23 hashtag. As a participant I blogged at Joeyanne’s 23 Things for Professional Development and have recently completed all 23 things.

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Motor Yacht Helios in Darwin Harbour February 2009

Would be nice if Chartership involved chartering a boat...

So, the dissertation is over and I should get my results in December. I’m taking a little bit of a break from studying now but I’m planning to start my CILIP Chartership next year so I’ve started doing some preparation for that.

To charter or not to charter?

For me this was an easy decision to make – I’ve been wanting to begin my Chartership for a while now. Since starting my first professional level post in October 2008, I’ve been engaged in a number of different professional activities in order to increase my understanding and further develop my skills. Professional development is an important element of my career, and I view Chartership as the first step of this journey.

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This week I’m participating in the Library Day in the Life project which charts the day-to-day activities of library workers at different points of the year. This is the fifth time I’ve participated; you can see my earlier posts from July 2009, January 2010, July 2010 and January 2011. I’m currently a full-time Researcher at Evidence Base, Birmingham City University, UK. Although my job title doesn’t include the word librarian and I don’t work in a library, I still consider myself very much a librarian – our research helps support the library and information communities.

I decided to do Library Day in the Life a little different this time round; partly because I’ve been busy, and partly as I’m not sure verbatim accounts are the most interesting thing to write or read. So instead I’ll be writing a summary of what I’ve been up to this week (using Nirvana, my to do list, to help me as I can check my logbook to see what tasks I’ve finished). My work life and professional interests often cross over so this list includes some pure work tasks, and other professional related tasks such as committee work and studying. Read the rest of this entry »

Man and woman toasting martini glasses, close up of hands

Continuing on the tradition from 2008 and 2009, it’s time for my end of year blog post. As a naturally reflective person, I find it very useful to reflect back on my achievements of the year and consider what to focus on next. It’s also useful to look at my previous end of year posts and look back at what I’ve done in the last few years.

So what did 2010 bring? Well, I certainly satisfied that itch I mentioned this time last year! Read the rest of this entry »

Taking Notes

So, as I may have mentioned (I think it’s taking over my life at the moment!), I’m currently writing my dissertation for my MSc Information and Library Studies course. I’ll be doing my research over summer, but in the meantime I’m actually writing it in the correct order rather than leaving the literature review until the end, which I may have been guilty of when writing my undergraduate dissertation (on gender stereotyping in sport, bit of a change of subject!). I’ve noticed during this process though, that it’s incredibly easy to get out of the habit of writing in a more academic style.

I initially set up this blog to record my studying progress, although it developed into something more reflective and practical. Most of my blog posts either report on events I’ve attended, discussions I’ve had, books/articles I’ve read, my experiences… etc. There is usually some reason to my blog posts (although I appreciate at times it may not seem like there is!), and I usually refer to these reasons throughout the post. Most of my posts refer to background information, although these are primarily other websites or blogs to allow ease of follow up for anyone reading the post. I do think that most of my thoughts emerge through consideration of research and evidence, and although in a practical sense my blog posts might not be as detailed as my assignments and I don’t always seek out the opposite point of view, I do generally try to consider other points of view to help develop my own.

As an academic librarian, I spend quite a lot of my time working on an enquiry desk (almost half of my working week!) helping others find research. I’ve learnt to use different databases and use different techniques when searching specific research databases or search engines. I’ve become pretty good at tracking down research, and knowing the best places to start researching different topics (although there’s always more to learn!). So once I’d finalised my dissertation topic (strategic marketing in academic libraries), I was able to go off and find loads of really useful research relating to lots of different aspects of my topic.

Now that’s it’s actually time to write all this research and knowledge I’ve learnt from it up as a literature review, I have to confess I’m struggling a little. It’s not that I find it particularly difficult (although there are times I struggle to get my head around some of the more complicated research analysis despite having a Statistics A Level!), but moreso that the style of writing just doesn’t come naturally to me anymore. I think my time blogging, writing reports at work, and short articles for journals had changed my writing style to be more practical in nature and less formal (I guess more like conversational English). I’m now having to pad out my writing with extra points which I probably wouldn’t usually if they don’t add a lot to the purpose of the article/report/blog post.

I know which I’d rather write, and I know which I’d rather read (give me practical, experienced based advice any day over purely theoretical information), but for academic purposes I have to adapt my writing to prove that yes, I do always research my sources and try to discover alternative points of view, and yes I can critically evaluate research.

I can see the importance of demonstrating these skills, but I’m really beginning to appreciate why I find it easier to blog than to write assignments – of course there is also the fact that I can blog about whatever I choose to, but mainly the issue for me is adapting my writing style to use language I wouldn’t ordinarily use and include more of the theoretical rather than a focus on practical and experience-based information. Don’t get me wrong, I do actually love researching and am really looking forward to starting my data collection for my dissertation, but I’d be a whole lot more enthusiastic if I could write it in a more informal, reflective way.

What do you think? Do you think we may see a shift in the future to more assessed work being written in a similar way to blogs, or is it important to ensure academic writing standards remain the same? Do you struggle to adapt your writing style or is it just me? Am I just lazy and need to kick myself into shape?! I do recognise the irony of procrastinating by writing a blog post about how I’m struggling to write my literature review – almost 800 words added to my blog, zero to my literature review! I’d appreciate other people’s thoughts on my ponderings though.

The words big deal written on a sheet of paper

The time has finally come – I just can’t put it off any more! I’ve been taking a break from studying whilst I settle into my new job, but I can’t really use that excuse anymore as I’ve been in this job for over a year now.

I’ve been researching ideas for my dissertation for a while now, and have been spending a lot of time reading, researching and thinking – now it’s time to do some real work. I’ve been talking to lots of people about my ideas; I must mention special thanks to Sarah Oxford from University of Worcester who I visited in the summer (for a totally different reason!) and really inspired me to start properly thinking about my dissertation and continue research in a similar area to her own.

I have finally narrowed down my topic to marketing in HE libraries in the UK, although I’m still refining the methodology. Having worked on a part-time basis with my boyfriend and his marketing business, I am interested in the strategic marketing side of things, as I feel libraries should probably be doing more of this. I’d like to find out what, if any, market research UK academic libraries are currently involved in, if they have a marketing strategy, and who holds responsibility for the direction of the marketing.

I’m also interested in innovative marketing methods, and hope to do a case study approach for a few of these. I would like to know more about how academic libraries in the UK are currently using social media, so one of these may be good as a case study (e.g. a successful library blog/Facebook/Twitter account) but from a marketing point of view rather than a technical point of view.

I submitted a dissertation proposal earlier this month but haven’t heard anything back yet. The working title is “Marketing UK Higher Education libraries: a current perspective”. I imagine there will be some alterations and suggestions for improvement, but I hope the research area is agreed in principle and that I can be assigned a dissertation supervisor soon. I have to be honest, I have found distance learning difficult – it’s great to be able to work at your own pace and when I was really keen to work through the Diploma everything was fine, but it’s been isolating at times, especially when home life or work life takes over and you lose motivation for studying. I went to the research study school to prepare for the dissertation in September 2008, which seems like a lifetime away now.

Hopefully I’ll be able to start work on my dissertation properly next year, and if you work in a UK academic library (and particularly if you have responsibility for marketing!) I may well be in touch begging for help!

This may well be my last blog post before Christmas – if so, Seasons Greetings to all readers and I hope you enjoy the festivities whatever you get up to. 🙂

I recently completed a survey for an MSc dissertation project about academic librarians and their involvement in reasearch.

Details of the survey (taken from the website):

Whilst academic librarians have as a core responsibility facilitating the research of others, not as many conduct their own. The purpose of this study is to understand more fully the motivations and barriers for UK academic librarians to conduct research and to publish. This study will take place during the autumn and winter of 2008. This study will form the core of a dissertation in support of an MSc Information and Library Management at the University of the West of England, Bristol.

The researcher has asked for the link to be passed on to other academic librarians and would like your views on research even if you are not actively involved. If you are an academic librarian in the UK, please help by completing the questionnaire.

It’s an interesting topic to me as an academic librarian with a research based background (my undergraduate degree included a lot of sports based research). As I become involved in more projects at work, I am really enjoying the research side of things (i.e. researching user needs, evaluating our services). I’m reading about other’s research to help me think about the way I work and how that can be improved, or what we can do within the department to improve our service. I’m also doing my own research and this is something I hope to develop further in the future and share with others in the profession via conferences and papers (and blogging no doubt!).

I need to be starting my own MSc dissertation soon, I’m still not 100% sure what it will be on but I’m gradually narrowing it down and hope to submit a proposal in the next few weeks.

Just over a year ago I had my first go on an iPod Touch and raved about it. Shortly after I caved in and bought myself one. At the time, although I loved my new gadget I was worried I’d made the wrong decision as it isn’t a cheap gadget at £269 (as was the price of my 16GB model this time last year). However, looking back over the last year, I can definitely say it was not a waste of money.

I absolutely love my iPod Touch and use it on an almost daily basis. Since I bought it, there have been numerous developments, the main one being the applications to download from Apple’s App Store. I have to admit, this has sucked me in big time and I love trying out the new apps. I tend to mostly try the free ones but I have bought a couple of games and some of the productivity apps (including Appigo ToDo which I previously blogged about).

Apple also added support for Microsoft Exchange which has been brilliant for me. I can now synchronise my e-mail and calendar to reflect changes in my Exchange account from work. This is particularly useful for planning my day as I can check my work calendar from my iPod whilst I am at home or on the way to work.

I’ve noticed over the year that more and more librarians have bought either an iPhone or an iPod Touch, and there have been some interesting developments related to libraries using iPod Touch/iPhones. This post from College@Home gives some ideas of how to incorporate the use of iPhones in libraries, some of which are very interesting (e.g. being able to check the catalogue whilst at the shelves or responding to enquiries whilst on the move – both things which could be extremely useful as many libraries move towards providing rovintg support within libraries). Many libraries have worked to ensure that their library websites and OPACs work correctly on the iPhone, and very recently the first library application made it onto the App Store. I downloaded it the other day and have to say I’m very impressed, I love the simplicity of searching the OPAC as well as the ease of finding the opening hours and locations of each of the branches of DCPL. It’s very exciting, and I hope this starts to become the norm for library services. I think we’ve got a fair way to go yet but these innovations are great news for the future. Ebooks seem to be gathering more users also, and one platform to read ebooks is the iPhone/iPod Touch. I’ve been having a look at ebooks on my iPod including the newly released Stanza application.

There’s a lot of great applications out there so I’m hoping to write a series of blog posts about iPhone/iPod Touch applications, including Stanza, the DCPL library application, and others. Many of these will inevitably be linked to libraries, although as I am also a bit of a productivity freak I may well also include some general applications for improving productivity as well as a few fun applications.

In related news, my ancient Sony Ericsson K750i which I have now had for 3 and a half years seems to be conspiring against me. I’m not a heavy user of my mobile phone (I tend to use the internet to contact people), and this argument has always stopped me from purchasing an iPhone. I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to resist at the moment however as my phone keeps playing up. I have most of the features of the iPhone on my iPod Touch anyway but there is still the disadvantage of having two devices as well as not being able to use the internet on my iPod unless I am in range of wireless connection. I know I don’t need an iPhone but how long can my head win over my heart?

In unrelated news, I received confirmation yesterday that I have passed my Diploma in Information and Library Studies with a distinction! Hoping I can continue that trend when it comes to writing my dissertation later this year. 🙂

I forgot to mention this on the blog – I received my results for my final assignment a few weeks ago and I’ve had them confirmed so I have now successfully completed my Diploma! 🙂

I’m still keen to continue to Masters level and my plan is to concentrate on my dissertation next year. I’m still not 100% sure what the dissertation will be based on but I’d definitely like to do something with new technologies.

I’ve recently put in a project proposal for running a Learning 2.0/23 Things programme at work which I’ve been wanting to do for ages. I feel there are many people who would benefit from the programme (from speaking to people many seem interested in new tools and technologies but just don’t know where to start with them), as well as raising the level of skill across the department. University of Huddersfield are currently running the programme, and many other academic and public libraries in the UK have either already completed it or are thinking of planning one.

If the proposal is approved I’d love to base my dissertation on our experiences with the programme. I’m passionate about teaching and learning as well as new technologies and this combines the two so fingers crossed I can go ahead with it.