Adventures of a retired librarian: 2013

What a year that was! 2013 was my first full year away from work and I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed life more, with any worries about being bored or lonely swiftly despatched. The start of a new year is a good time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t and to plan for the future.

The most joyous discovery has been volunteering at Glasgow Women’s Library.  I started as a tour guide for their Women’s Heritage Walks but soon got involved in the library side of things. I’d never really been interested in cataloguing before, but I now find I enjoy it and have recently been training new volunteers. I’ve also done social media training for them, written book reviews, helped with a Scottish Women on Wikipedia day, staffed stalls and pop-up libraries at events and packed and cleaned when they moved premises. Never a dull moment! I’ve written about some of these things, but I always meant to do a more general post about the Library itself and what it did – a library, archive and museum collection which holds and celebrates the cultural, historical, political and social achievements of women across the UK. I was going to call the post Would you like a cup of tea? because that’s the first question you are usually asked when you walk in the door – it’s such a friendly place. As with many other posts, I’ve now accepted that this is one which is never going to make it outside my head, so you’ll just have to check their website instead, and see the montage of photos below.

Less successful was the other regular volunteering I took on, with the Scottish Refugee Council where I spent three months with the Media and Communications Team. Again, I meant to write a full post about the organisation and the wonderful work it does and, again, I never got round to it. I certainly learned a lot – I went in thinking I had some idea of how hard life was for refugees and came out knowing it was far worse than I had thought. I also learned things about myself – I agreed to work a day and a half per week , but found it too much and I now steer clear of anything that requires such a formal commitment. I also discovered that you can take the girl out of the library, but you can’t take the library out of the girl. I work best in places where information is ordered and structured, and was frustrated when that wasn’t always the case. Finally, I banished any notion that I might be interested in going back to study because I was also not very keen on doing the research necessary to write blog posts on issues that I didn’t know very much about. This maybe makes me sound very shallow, and maybe my views will change and I’ll start wanting different things after I’ve been retired for a couple of years, but for now I’m happy with the flexibility of working with GWL. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy working at SRC – everyone was lovely and the fact that it didn’t work out as expected was entirely my own fault. Here’s a shot of a very happy day – the press launch for Refugee Week Scotland which I live tweeted and Storified for them.

Lajee Dancers from Aida Refugee Camp in Palestine perform in Glasgow
Lajee Dancers from Aida Refugee Camp in Palestine

But that’s not all! I’d already started Glasgow Library Tweetups while I was working and continue to organise them. This year we had Library Camp Glasgow which was a huge success and, I think, the greatest single achievement of my year, although the greatest honour was being made an honorary member of CILIPS. If you look at the About page of this blog you’ll see a list of talks, training sessions, book reviews and guest posts that I’ve done and I’m also still involved with SALCTG (Scottish Academic Libraries Cooperative Training Group) which counts as real work because they are actually paying me! I’ve gone from knowing mainly academic librarians to knowing people in all sorts of libraries throughout Scotland. I feel liberated, I think that’s the only word for it.

What next? More of the same – my calendar is starting to fill up pleasingly – and I also have several new plans afoot for providing informal library CPD. If I’m going to keep this blog up as a sort of diary I need to post more regularly, so I’ve changed its name from A New Library World to Adventures of a Retired Librarian in the hope of prompting a fresh start. Watch this space!

CILIPS Autumn Gathering: my presentation on CPD23

I was honoured and excited to be asked not only to speak at the CILIPS Autumn Gathering this month, but also to be presented with an honorary membership. At the CILIPS Conference in June, I travelled to Dundee with Wendy Kirk to chair her session on Glasgow Women’s Library (above) so it was great to repeat the double act with Wendy chairing my session on my experience of CPD23. We had another wonderful day. The slides from all the sessions are now on the CILIPS webpage (as are the citations and pictures of the honorary membership presentations) and I have put mine on Slideshare too. I’m not sure they make a lot of sense without my commentary, but my main conclusion was that the CPD23 scheme was a great way to a) brush up my skills b) plug into a new network and c) reflect on my career at a critical point in my life (early retirement) and start thinking about where to go next. Everyone’s experience will be different – the last few slides suggest ways in which you can still access CPD23 or similar schemes, including an interesting article from Leigh Bunton comparing two programmes, one external and one in-house. It’s a model of learning in bite-sized, achievable chunks which could be applied to any subject. For more pictures of the event, see CILIPS’ Flickr set.