Cellos and Bellows

Fellow cpd23 folk might be interested in another library grouping I belong to, GLTU (Glasgow Library Tweetups). I started this at the beginning of the year and we’ve had an event each month so far. The latest, Cellos and Bellows, was on Friday and involved visiting the libraries of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the National Piping Centre before, naturally, indulging in a few drinks and a good meal. You can read more about it on my GLTU blog.

Our hosts were Karen McAulay, another cpd23 participant as Airs and Graces, and James Beaton, who entertained us with the pipes:

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There aren’t many library visits where you can say that, and I expect an illustration of bagpipes is a first for cpd23 too!

Thing 3: Consider your personal brand

What does the word “brand” mean? It doesn’t have very positive connotations to me when applied to people. It makes me think of a fixed, unchanging identity, a constructed image, that’s almost akin to “false”, so I find myself agreeing with Ian Clark’s post Why you should learn to stop worrying about your brand. This is me, aged 7. I’ve posted it because of the old Jesuit motto “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will give you the man”, or woman in this case, which has been to the forefront of my mind recently because the 7 Up series of documentaries has returned with 56 Up. I find this programme fascinating – I am almost the same age as the participants (slightly younger) so the times they have lived through are very familiar to me. In the first programme we saw Neil, the most bright-eyed and engaging of the 7 year olds, who grew into a very troubled man. We also saw Sue, chosen to represent London’s East End, who never went to university but now works in one and routinely addresses lecture halls full of students. She has visibly grown over the decades and glows with happiness and confidence. Could these outcomes have been predicted at 7? Am I the same person as I was then? I like to think I have the same core values but have grown and changed – preferably for the better – over the decades. Maybe the core values are the “brand”?

I guess Jo’s instructions for Thing 3 do reflect my concerns. “Brand” is only a word to represent how people see you, and for Thing 3, specifically how they see your online presence. It isn’t wrong to want that to be an accurate reflection of yourself and to present yourself well. As suggested, I checked up on myself in Google. My name is quite unusual and it was page 3 before I came across anyone else and they were Annabel not Anabel (how annoying of Google to do that). On page 6 I found an Annabelle and by page 8 I gave up – the Annabel Marshes had taken over and I think I must be unique. There was nothing, as expected, to frighten the horses. My “brand” probably shouts (or maybe whispers) middle-aged librarian. The other thing I checked was Personas which checks you online and represents you as a bar chart with different colours representing different factors of your presence. It was fascinating to watch it compute. My major colour was pale blue for education which is no surprise given my job in an education library, but more unexpected was the small size of the bar for books which was the same size as that for sports. What? Well, I suppose I do sometimes tweet when the tennis is on, but sporty I am not. And what was that, admittedly tiny, bar for aggression? Me? Never! So maybe my online persona is not as accurate as it could be?

As well as presenting myself well, I want to present myself consistently, which I suppose is part of a “brand”. I mentioned in Thing 1 that I had four blogs for different purposes and they all looked different. I probably need to think a bit more about that. I’ve also realised that when I commented on other people’s blogs, if they were using Blogger, my comment automatically used my Blogger persona and would have linked them to my children’s literature blog. If they were using WordPress, my comments linked to my primary WordPress blog, the travel one. So I’ll need to be more careful not to create that sort of confusion. Finally, when I leave my job in the summer I will no longer have my university persona. As a start to drawing together my online presence I have created a flavors.me page which I can use, for example, as a new email signature.

Despite misgivings about the term “brand”, this has therefore been a useful exercise in starting to think how I will project myself in my new library world.

Thing 2: Investigate some other blogs

So, time to get out and about. First of all, someone came to see me – Wendy, aka Wonderingwen….the wondering librarian left a comment on my post about multiple blogging attempts and how that sounded like her too. Nice to know I am not the only one! Although at least my blogging attempts go somewhere – the social media landscape is littered with other things I’ve signed up for then never done anything with. Maybe this course is a chance to address that. Wendy is trying out 23 things from “the other side” because she has set up something similar herself in the past.

I then looked at the participants’ list and the RSS feed and became totally daunted by the numbers. So I reverted to the familiar. I have known Karen at Airs and Graces for years, mainly through SALCTG (Scottish Academic Libraries Co-operative Training Group) of which I used to be Secretary and she is now Convenor. At a meeting this week we joined forces to promote cpd23. A recent recruit to SALCTG is Sonanka at spinning plates……. I tried to add a comment to her blog, but my iPad was having none of it. I also know Kathleen, aka the Victorian Librarian, via Glasgow Library Tweetups (GLTU) and left a comment on her blog. Finally, I haven’t met YiWen yet but she has expressed interest in GLTU and I will probably meet her next week.

To choose a couple of people I didn’t know, I went with a subject dear to my heart. Food! What’s not to love about a blog called A cup of tea & a scone? Nothing! And as a Glaswegian vegetarian, Veggie haggis also has considerable attractions. Unfortunately, this was another one I couldn’t comment on thanks to the iPad.

So – a few things that I’m sure will come up again: SALCTG and GLTU. A few old friends encountered and a few new ones. But, lessons to be learnt – use the PC and grit my teeth and tackle the RSS feed. No point in doing this if I don’t make a bit of effort!

Thing 1: Blogs and blogging

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I’ve more or less covered Thing 1 in my first post, i.e. why I’ve decided to do cpd23 and what I hope to get out of it, so in this post I thought I’d explore my previous adventures with blogging and what I’ve learned so far.

I started with Anabel’s Children’s Literature Blog at the end of 2007. Part of my remit at Jordanhill is to look after the information needs of student teachers, and promoting children’s books, from picture books to teenage novels, is part of that. I want the students to learn about new authors and not just take the same books out to teaching practice that they themselves read as children. The picture above shows the display area at the beginning of the children’s collection with the colourful reading lists that I and my staff produce. These are also available on the library web page, and I saw the blog as an extension of that – a news site which I could quickly update. I chose Blogger because it seemed the easiest to use. There wasn’t any culture of web 2.0 in the library at that time, so I was very careful to brand it as my own and not the university’s, but because it was work related I kept the appearance fairly sober and business like. I’m still keeping this blog up to date, but since Google updated all its tools it’s become incompatible with the ancient version of IE we have at work, though it’s still ok in other browsers. This puts me off using Blogger again though.

I didn’t start another blog until last summer when I set up Anabel’s Travel Blog. This is purely personal and was meant to be a retrospective diary of some of the fabulous holidays we’ve had in the past. However, I haven’t done much of that (a project for when I leave work?) and it’s mainly been about our days out round Scotland. Still, it’s nice to have – I’m more likely to return to this than to the hundreds of photos on the PC which rarely get looked at again. This time, I chose WordPress – partly because of the difficulties with Blogger, partly because I’d noticed a lot of smart looking WordPress blogs, but mainly because I had acquired an iPad and there is a WordPress app which is fantastically easy to use. I set it up on the PC first though, and definitely found WordPress more footery and less intuitive than Blogger. I haven’t customised this one either, mainly because I really like the theme which is bright and sunny and just makes me think of sky and sand and grass and summer.

So onto blog number 3. At the beginning of this year I stated organising tweet ups for library and information folk around Glasgow. I’ll probably write more about that later in the programme. We’ve had a few successful meetings so far, and several people, including me, wrote their own blog posts about them so I thought it would be a good idea to have one central blog to link everything else up, while also including any other library events and visits I do. I threw Glasgow Library Tweeps together one Sunday afternoon and, guess what, haven’t customised it yet. I chose the only theme I could find with books, but it’s a bit old fashioned looking and I must go back and change it.

And finally, here is blog number 4. This time, I set it up very quickly on the iPad which took seconds. I spent a bit more time later tinkering with it on the PC, but basically it was good to go straight from the app.

So what have I learned so far?

1. Blogger is easier to use than WordPress but Google’s upgrades are a pain and have put me off it.
2. On the whole, I like the look of WordPress blogs better.
3. The WordPress iPad app is awesome.
4. Both Blogger and WordPress are easy to customise but I’m too lazy to do it. Maybe this time?
5. I sort of wish I hadn’t set up so many specific blogs but had one blog with different sections.

So those are my blogging adventures so far. Now for Thing 2, to read about other people.

A new library world? Joining cpd23

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Why cpd23, why now?

I thought about joining this CPD programme for libraries last year because, although I knew quite a bit about some of the things, others could do with polishing and some were new altogether. Even though I am in the latter stages of my career it is always good to learn. I decided I didn’t have time because my library was a year from closing and I thought all my energies should be put into making sure that was a smooth transition for the staff concerned.

This year, things are very different. My library is at Jordanhill, the smaller campus of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. You can see Jordanhill in the picture above (although that is the attractive 1920s building and not the rather hideous 60s edifice which houses the library). We are now about a month away from closing – the university is becoming single campus – and I feel my work here is almost done. This week, after months of ups and downs, I have taken the momentous decision not to move with the library. I hate to use the term “retirement” because it makes me feel ancient, but that’s what it is – though I hasten to add it is as early a retirement as it could possibly be. I squeak into the category by 2 weeks.

So what better time to start learning something new and meeting new people, even if only virtually? As several people have remarked, once a librarian, always a librarian, and I certainly agree in my case at least. I have various plans for keeping in touch with the library world and starting new activities. If I find new roles, I will certainly need new skills so a new library world indeed – here I come!