2/23. Anabel – a retired librarian’s story

Finished the second series of 23 Librarians with my own story.

23 Librarians - and counting!

An early interest in books An early interest in books

Having cajoled (some might say nagged) 45 other librarians into telling you their library stories, perhaps it’s time I told you mine! I took early retirement almost three years ago, since when I’ve been involved with many library projects including this blog. I’m not going to write about my current life, because I keep quite a detailed log at Adventures of a Retired Librarian, but I am going to tell you how I arrived at the point I am today.

I was a complete bookworm as a child. There were always loads of books around the house and my Mum and Dad took us to the library regularly. I kept my own books in strict order and decided aged about 8 that I wanted to work in a library – I had no idea what that really involved, I just wanted to be around books all…

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My CILIP Update debut

CILIP Update

Update is the monthly magazine of CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals). A few months ago, I approached the editor to suggest an article about 23 Librarians and its sister blogs and she agreed. I was very excited to receive my copy last week and find myself on pages 34-35. (It’s also online – although the full version is members-only, there is a partial version that can be read by all.)

I’ve been reading CILIP Update and its predecessor, the Library Association Record, for over 30 years but never expected to be in it. As with public speaking, in my days as a young librarian writing articles seemed to be something for the “great and good”. Now, things are more equal and accessible – but it was only when I heard someone else say that she had pitched an idea to the editor that it occurred to me that I could too. So the moral is – if you have a good idea, don’t hold back. Put yourself forward!

Social media: collaboration, communities and cpd

I was delighted to be invited to speak at the ELISA (Edinburgh Library and Information Services Agency) Open Forum 2014, which had the general theme of  the rewards and risks of social media, especially as ELISA had been one of the sparks for the initiatives I covered in my talk. We had no similar cross-sectoral organisation in the West of Scotland at the time, and I was attempting to rectify that in a small way.
The slides are mainly pictorial and don’t make much sense on their own, so here are some brief notes:
Slide 1 My talk was about using online networks to create real-life communities and cpd opportunities.
Slide 2 My first step into social media was a work-related Children’s Literature blog in 2007. I used Blogger because it seemed easier than WordPress – the only other platform I’d heard of. The blog is still going (just) and gets read, but it never grew into a community.
Slide 3 Since then, I’ve set up several other blogs (including for my octogenarian parents!) I’ve moved to WordPress because it’s:
  • more flexible and has better image display
  • more of a community – likes, better comment handling to encourage conversation
  • not Google! Google has a track-record of failing to support tools it grows tired of.

Slides 4-7 My next step (2009) was Twitter (@AnabelMarsh). It takes a while to go from talking to yourself to building a community.

Slide 8 I built up a good collection of library contacts in and around Glasgow – why not meet up in real life? The first Glasgow Library Tweetup took place in January 2012 and there have now been 13 (despite the name, they are open to anyone – you don’t have to work in a library, be from Glasgow or on Twitter). The theme is Socialise, Network, Learn (and have fun) and many connections have been made, e.g. arranging chartership visits, though the GLTU blog has been less collaborative than I originally hoped.

Slides 9-11 A few examples – visiting the Mitchell, the Piping Centre, a Library Crawl via Subway, the Travelling Librarians event organised jointly with CILIPS West, and food – always food!

Slide 12 At an early stage of GLTU, someone said “What about a Library Camp Scotland?” We’ve now had Library Camps Glasgow 1 and 2.

Slide 13 What is a Library Camp? Very informal, no agenda, no speakers, no hierarchy. When people fill in course feedback, they often say the best bits were sharing experience and discussing ideas with other participants – well, Library Camp is all like that.

Slides 14-16 Anyone can pitch a session at the beginning of Camp, then we split into smaller groups to discuss the ideas raised. At Library Camp Glasgow there were also competitions for the best name badges, the best rant on a library theme and for Human Bingo.

Slides 17-18 The 23 Librarians blog grew out of discussions online and in real-life about how chartership candidates could find out what it was like to work in other sectors. Every week, a different library / information worker describes their life – it’s now in its second series and has been joined by blogs for England, Wales and N. Ireland. It’s a good databank of example of what librarians actually do – useful for advocacy outside the profession, as well as within it. Again, my disappointment is that there has been less interaction than I had hoped, either discussion on the blog or via Twitter.

Slide 19 Everything I’ve discussed has its own hashtag – there are many more useful tags out there e.g. #chartership and #uklibchat.

Slide 20 Storify is a good way of storing and curating tweets and other social media, which can then be shared with non-social media users.

Slide 21 Where next? I’m always looking for more volunteers for 23 Librarians, so please get in touch. Library Camp Scotland 3 – should that be elsewhere, e.g. Edinburgh? The quote is from a non-librarian attendee at Library Camp Glasgow 2 – how can what he suggests be achieved? My previous post Library Camp Glasgow 2 – where next? goes into more detail about feedback from Library Camp.

Slide 22 I use flavors.me to keep track of my social media presence – quite a few sites, as you can see. Social media has enhanced my life by keeping me in contact with the library world and allowing me to put something back in. It’s fair to say I probably wouldn’t have started all of these things if I hadn’t retired, but I was working the first year of GLTU, so it can be done – I like the quote from Ka-Ming Pang, one of the co-founders of #uklibchat: “I started something – so can you.”

23 Librarians and 21 Revolutions

23 LibrariansA big week last week with two launches! First, a project I’ve been working on for a while went live, 23 Librarians. This new blog springs from conversations about widening professional knowledge following last year’s CILIPS Autumn Gathering and Library Camp Glasgow, and aims to give a flavour of the range of library and information work in Scotland today. It’s inspired by the 23 Things concept (in particular cpd23) and the Library Routes and Day in the Life projects: 23 different bloggers will describe what attracted them to the library profession and give an insight into their daily work. It kicked off on Friday with School Librarian, Clare Hemsworth – follow the blog to find out who’s next, look for #23Librarians on Twitter, and get in touch if you’d like to contribute.

On Saturday, I donned my metaphorical pinny again at Glasgow Women’s Library, this time serving wine and cake at the launch of the magnificent new book 21 Revolutions (reviewed here in the Scotsman). In 2012, to celebrated its 21st birthday, GWL commissioned 21 women artists and 21 women writers to create new works inspired by its unique museum, archive and library collections. The book is on sale for £25, or you can view the artworks online or listen to podcasts of the writers’ work. Four of them, Kirsty Logan, Muriel Gray, Louise Welsh and Zoe Strachan, gave readings at the launch. I was too far back to get photographs of anything other than the cake and the wine, but I found a couple of good ones on Twitter.

I do believe that Douglas Adams regarded 42 as the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything – but for me last week, it was definitely 44!