Sunday, 27 January 2013

Books and sewing, two of my favourite things!

Well I have a lot of catching up to do, it's been a good 6 months now since my last entry, and the course has finished without me. Unfortunately, it turns out buying a flat was more hard work than I thought, and everything else in my life sort of got left behind. Even today we are still finishing off bits of DIY around the place!

Well a lot has been happening at work since I last posted. I have a new graduate trainee buddy, and together we have been sharing the anxiety-inducing experience that is applying for master's degrees. The stress is defiantly getting to me! I have one application already done, so fingers crossed *_*

I thought I might ease back into the blog with some pictures of what I have been up to recently. Once a week I go to the library's preservation studio to help out and learn a bit about modern techniques for maintaining and repairing books. I have had a go at mending rips, removing stickers, creating acid-free boxes for fragile materials, and fixings spines. This week I got to have a go at re-binding a book that was falling to pieces.

The first step was to cut out each section of pages from the original binding. This was a bit of a delicate operation as I had to make sure I didn't cut through the pages. Eventually I was left with the empty cover panels. You can see in the picture where the text block was sewn in.

Now we got to set up the sewing frame. It's a large wooden height-adjustable frame, where you tie on the lengths of tape that you then sew the book around. It's meant to look like this:

(contrary to this picture, this was a job apparently usually done by women)

 So taking each segment of text (and making sure it's in the correct order), some special book-thread and a needle, you weave in and out of the paper around the vertical bits of tape like so:

Each segments is also sewn onto the one beneath it, so that when the entire text block is done it should be really sturdy. I found it quite easy to pick up the technique as I like sewing anyway, but it still took me about an hour to do half the book! I'm looking forward to finishing it off next week. Anyway, that's that for now, more blogging soon!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Thing 10 - Becoming a librarian

Before starting my graduate traineeship, I had never worked in a library. Becoming a librarian was something I was very keen on in my final year of university, but sadly I let myself be influenced by other people's opinions of the profession, and following their advice I ditched the idea and decided to go for some sort of a career in finance instead. I regret this a lot now in some ways, as I feel like I wasted a lot of time pursuing something I didn't really want. On the other hand, the time I spent working in different areas and exploring other opportunities has given me a lot of valuable experience and I now feel much more comfortable in my decision to become a librarian. I couldn't see myself doing anything else now, and I have never been happier, despite knowing I won't earn as much money as I used to.

I am now almost 4 months into my traineeship, and it has flown by. I still have just over a year to go until my contract ends, but I already feel that the career is right for me and already I have learned so much and been given so many opportunities. Soon it will be time for me to start applying for masters degrees. I will be applying to unis in London hoping to get onto a fulltime course starting September 2013, and I am looking forward to returning to fulltime education.

I do feel that it is necessary these days to have a masters to be able to progress in your career. However I'm not entirely sure why it should be necessary. I know I have not been working for very long, but I feel like experience and on the job learning should be enough to let people progress, perhaps accompanied by short courses on narrowly focused areas. The cost of doing a masters degree has shot up so much in the last few years that I feel it has become very prohibitive to people wishing to do one, preventing them from progressing into jobs that require it. I did, for a while, consider doing the course over 3 years of distance learning so that I could work full time, but from talking to colleagues who chose to do this I decided it really wasn't for me. I felt that keeping up that amount of effort over 3 years would be too exhausting and I would easily burn out. So I am left with the fulltime study option, the cost of which, when combined with living expenses and what I won't earn from not working, leaves me about £35,000 worse off! This seems pretty ridiculous considering the average pay of library professionals, but I don't feel like I really have another option, which is a shame. Let's just hope it pays off and I won't end up regretting it.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Thing 9 - An elephant never forgets!

Evernote was something I had heard of, but had no idea what it was. First off I went to the app store to download it. First impressions are good -  I like having the ability to capture screenshots of web content, and the fact that I can sync it with other devices. This is probably the most useful app I have come across for a while, and it seems to work particularly well for the mac (not tried on a pc yet). I had a quick go at dragging pictures, saving websites and taking screenshots of a few websites, and recording audio messages to myself (this I like, as sometimes even typing notes can seem like too much effort. This app gets many + lazy points!).

I feel like this app might be a bit more useful to me if I also had an ipad or iphone, but even just for use on one computer I think it could be a real help in organising information logically and being able to search through it. A tidy computer = a tidy mind ^_^

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Things 7 & 8 and Olympics

It's been a very lazy Saturday after staying up late last night to watch the spectacular opening for London 2012. The Stratford Stadium is visible from our balcony, so we had a really great view of the fireworks. I do like to moan about life in London, but last night I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else in the world :) Tomorrow I have to get up early go cheer on team GB in the archery.


On to Thing 7 - I've not really had any experience of real life networks or membership organisations - the only librarians I have met are those I work with and those who came to the cpd23 meet-up. I'm not really interested at the moment in joining anything with fees, like CILIP, as I don't really have the money to commit to something like that, and right now I don't really feel that it will be necessary, as I am hoping to go on to do a fulltime MA in 2013.

Thing 8 - Google Calendar. I've had a few good experiences of using Google's tools for working on projects in the past. I like how it allows for instant access and updates that can be shared by everyone. So I had a quick go at creating my first Google Calendar entry for my Olympic event tomorrow morning. Seems pretty quick and simple, and I like how you can colour code entries. At the moment as I work in a large library with minimal responsibilities, I don't think I'll be using it too much in a professional capacity, except perhaps to remind myself of the occasional meetings at work. I find that working in the library and not having my own personal PC or PC account makes me liable to forget about meetings, but Google's reminders seem that they would be very useful to me in this sort of situation. I think this will be most useful to me for managing my personal diary, so that I won't forget things like dentist appointments like I very nearly did this morning...

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Thing 6 - Online Networks

For this task I've chosen two of the recommended online networking sites to sign up to -  'LinkedIn' and 'LISNPN'. I have a pre-existing Facebook account which I rarely use and don't really want it to be a professional tool, so I've decided to leave that one out.

First off, LinkedIn. I joined this a while ago when I worked in the finance sector, and honestly didn't find it to be of much use, but this was probably because I wasn't really interested in the job or a career in that industry, so networking wasn't really a priority for me. So today I've started afresh with a new account. The first thing it did when I signed up was to list a bunch of people it thought I might know, none of which I did, which makes me wonder again how useful this will prove to be...

LISNPN on the other hand looks pretty interesting. Anywhere where budding young librarians can meet and chat has to be a good thing! There's even a graduate trainee forum! How did I not know about this before? It seems there are always lots of networking opportunities and events for library professionals, which is great, and it's nice to see how active the communities outside of London are, as I know I don't want to stay in London forever (I miss the North too much!). 

So out of these two networks, I think it's safe to say I'll be spending more time on LISNPN. I think it's easier to make contacts on smaller, more specialised networks rather than something as big as LinkedIn. 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Thing 5 - Reflecting

I find reflecting on my life is always a cringe-inducing process and usually keep reflective thoughts to a minimum, however as a tool for professional development I do think it is important to reflect on your achievements in order to learn new skills and improve on old ones, as well as to figure out where they might be able to take your career.

I am now almost 3 months into my traineeship and I am still really enjoying it. I wish I had a little more time to dedicate to this blog, but life always seems to get in the way (my partner and I are currently in the process of buying our first property together. It's a flat...above a library!) This, and also the fact that after many years of putting it off I have finally got around to playing Apollo Justice (I was put off by the lack of Edgeworth), and crime solving of course must come before everything else.

As I am still so new to libraries I find myself reflecting on things almost everyday. What could I have done differently, and how shall I apply that next time? Usually this is most helpful with my enquiries work, where I get little opportunity to put into practice the things that I have learned, but every time that I deal with an interesting enquiry I learn about new ways of researching and resources that are available to me which all helps to build up my knowledge for future use. Rather like solving crimes in Apollo Justice...

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Thing 4 - Gathering Info

First off, it was nice to meet everyone who came to the London meet up earlier this week, thanks for letting me ask so many questions! It was nice to meet some real librarians with lots of experience :)

Thing 4


I have had a twitter account for some time now, which I have mainly used for following celebrities and keeping up awareness of any interesting news from my local council. I'm going to keep this account totally separate because I feel like following too many people on Twitter makes it fairly useless as it's impossible to keep track of what is going on. So first thing to do now is create  a new account.

Ok, all done. You can find me at @HeatherMcTweet (someone already had my name and inspiration ran dry...). I'm now following cpd23 and some of the other recommended tweet feeds too, it all looks like it could be very useful.

RSS & Storify

I like RSS feeds and I already use them for a number of sites, so nothing to do here.

Storify is not something I want to start using right now, so I might some back to that at a later date. For now I am most happy with Twitter, I think it's the most concise and convenient way to read updates, especially since I can easily view it on my phone.

I'm still very behind with this blog but at least I am managing to update it slightly more often now, so bring on Thing 5 next week!