Tag Archives: Cardiff libraries

Tasting other libraries

First week back at work in 2012, and so far I’ve had two CLIC meetings, one with the steering group, and one with the staff development sub-group.  The staff development group are sorting out events for the next six months, and its looking like fun!  With National Libraries Day on Feb 4th, we are going to do a tie in event, with a day of library tours (though not actually on the 4th as its a Saturday and we wouldn’t all be open).  CLIC SDG is all about the library staff in Cardiff (as opposed to users/patrons/students/etc) and we are going to offer them the chance to visit as many different libraries in Cardiff as possible.  Why, you may ask?  Well, surely you know that most library staff are essentially nosey and want to have a peek at other people’s libraries (no, its not just me, honest!).  Its a chance to look at new buildings, old buildings, different sectors, and might give people ideas about where they want to work next.

A similar but more expanded version of this is coming later in the year (May/June) when CLIC will be tying in with Cardiff University’s Information Services to have a ‘Do something different day’ when library staff across Cardiff will be able to spend a day, or half a day, working in a different library/sector.  I’ve talked about this idea before and its a great opportunity to find out what its really like working somewhere else, without having to commit yourself to more than a day.  It was always good when it was run within CU, but opening it up to the other libraries and sectors in the city will bring a whole new host of oppportunities.

Aside from these ‘taster’ days, we are also going to run a session on ‘innovative marketing on a low budget’ (probably in May) as we believe its something that would be useful to many of us; especially in these days of austerity.

And as if all that wasn’t enough, a few of us from the CLIC SDG are going to put together a poster presentation for the CILIP Cymru Conference taking place 17-18th May in Cardiff.   The conference for Welsh library, archives and museum staff is normally hosted in Llandrindod Wells, so we’re lucky to have it down here this year, and I’m sure many of us will be volunteering to help out too.

Phew, on top of all that I better get some cataloguing done as well 😉


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Speaker etiquette: when the clock is running…

I’ve just had some feedback from the talk I gave last week at the CLIC event, although generally positive, a couple of comments noted that it was a bit rushed, and there could have been more eye-contact.  Both fair points that I need to work on.

However, the reason it was rushed (aside from nerves!) was because the event was over-running.  I was the last speaker and I didn’t start until about 15 mins after the event was supposed to have finished!  As one of the organisers I was painfully aware that we were over-running most of the way through, and that we didn’t have any of those ‘red’ cards to flash at anyone.  Its an obvious thing to do, give speakers warning that they have 5 mins left etc, and then tell them to stop – but without jumping up in their faces to do so.  Why didn’t we do it?  Well, we’ve never had a problem before as far as I can remember at previous events, though we did have more speakers than usual.  Its never been an issue, and when it became one we weren’t ready.  Ok, so that is a lesson learned for next time – be prepared!

But as a speaker, what should I have done?  As a speaker who was also an organiser I knew about the time problems, I knew that people might not be able to go to the library tour we’d organised if we overran by much more, and that people might even have to walk out in order to get back to work on time.  So, even though I knew no-one else had been made to cut their talk short, and even though I presumed many of them may not have realised they were overrunning, I didn’t want to take too long with mine.

I tried not to gabble (and I don’t think I did!), but I tried to be as speedy as possible within reason.  I probably would have made more eye-contact if I’d had plenty of time (but I probably need to work on that too, I rely on notes and have not developed the ability to just ‘talk’).

If I hadn’t been part of the organising team would I have thought, ‘sod it, I’m taking as long as I want’…Probably not, as I’m a timid mouse really, and would still have been aware that I was the last in a long overrun morning.  But what exactly is the etquette in these circumstances?  It wasn’t my fault as a speaker that I was starting late, but is it my responsibility to be slightly speedier in my delivery? 

My talk fitted its alotted 15 mins, and I didn’t have to miss things out, but I would have been a bit more relaxed without the time pressures, and would have come across as less rushed.

Last time I gave a talk I had a disastrous time as there was a virus on the conference equipment and my powerpoint wouldn’t run at all, so I just had to speak (from my copious notes!) without all the lovely pictures and graphs I had prepared.  I’m beginning to think my presentation attempts are jinxed, and its not giving me any confidence!


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CLIC: Social Media in Libraries (success on a zero-budget)

This week Cardiff Libraries in Co-operation (CLIC) held their Social Media in Libraries event, and I think its fair to say it was pretty successful! 

Over the years the CLIC Staff Development Group have been putting on various training and staff development activities for members of library staff who work in the Cardiff area.  For a period of time we had access to some funding from CyMAL via a regional development officer, but at the beginning of the year roles were shaken up, that particular position was lost, and so was any funding we might have used.  Although CLIC had started off without having any money, so we knew we could still do things without, in recent years we had managed to pay for the occasional external trainer, and to offer lunch and refreshments at our events.  I’ve talked about this before on the blog but at our last event in May we were at least able to offer tea and coffee to attendees.

This event was held in a larger room, allowing us to double potential attendees (we usually ‘sell out’ at our events), due to circumstances we couldn’t just bring in a box of tea bags, and we certainly couldn’t afford to pay for over 60 cups of coffee out of our own pockets; so we made the decision to hold an all morning event, without providing tea & coffee!  The building we were in had a coffee shop just round the corner from the room, and we figured/hoped that people wouldn’t mind buying their own drink if they were pre-warned.  We did worry a little that people would be put off coming, but hoped that they would understand.

Seeing as this was an event on ‘social media’ it was also the right time for CLIC to get in on the act.  We already had a website (which is currently being revamped), and now we have a Facebook page and a Twitter account ( @CLICLibraries ).

Well we managed to ‘sell out’ once again which was very gratifying, and we had a packed morning with six speakers.  The first half of the morning were two longer talks, one from Mandy Powell (@Minimorticia) the CILIP Wales policy officer, and one from Emma Harrision ( @Glambuslib ) the Business Librarian at the University of Glamorgan; both looking at how they use social media within their professional lives, and both providing very different positive examples.

Prior to the event we had advertised the hashtag #clicsocmed and it was great to see that even at a relatively small event we had plenty of active tweeting.  These can be viewed at tweetdoc

The second half of the morning was dedicated to smaller case studies, and we had Matt Harvey (@Mathomhouser ) talking about how Cardiff University are managing their social media presence, followed by Rob Boddy ( @cdflibraries ) on the Cardiff Public Library blog and use of Twitter.  Next up was Andrew Blackmore talking about the Cardiff University Virtual Librarian services, and I ended the day looking at my experiences of cpd23.

It was a packed morning; in retrospect six speakers are quite a lot for a morning session and we did over run time wise (note to self and committee, next time we really need to have ‘time’ cards!).  But it felt like we kept the attention of the audience, and only a couple had to slip out before we’d finished.  It also felt like quite an intense morning with a lot to take in, and I’m sure even the most experienced person there probably took away something new they hadn’t heard of, or a new way of connecting things.  A couple of people lost their Twitter virginity as a consequence, and many of us gained new followers.  Lots of people were also using the event to meet up with people they had only known previously on Twitter, so it was great to provide an environment for some real life networking too.  My only regret is that I was too busy being an organiser/presenter to really get round to talking to people (aside from the other presenters), but a few people came up to me at the end of my talk saying that they had just started cpd23, so it was nice to be able to encourage them.


 Several themes emerged from the morning (aside from the use of Twitter), and we were reminded once again how much librarians love cats! (I didn’t include any pics in my Prezi of cats, so here are some now!)

From the feedback we’ve received on Twitter it seems to have been a successful day; all the more gratifying knowing that we offered a great session on a zero budget.  Many thanks to the CLIC Staff Development Group committee, and to the speakers!


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Thing 22: Professional volunteering – or volunteering in the profession

I admit I have no experience of actually volunteering to gain work experience.  Possibly because I wasn’t feeling too driven once I’d gained my MSc in librarianship, I think I kind of sat out the wait in my library assistant’s job, and it didn’t feel like too long before I got my professional position as a cataloguer (there were quite a few applications filled in though).  I did see other people who did the course either at the same time as me (distance learning) or after me (full time) who seemed to zoom past on the career trackway, which did make me feel slightly inadequate.  However, I was dealing with a long term non-visible health problem which made me very tired/anaemic for many years – so maybe that is one of the reasons I wasn’t feeling very motivated (that has only just occurred to me, so its possible).

However, although I haven’t gone out of my way to gain volunteering experience, I think in a slightly less obvious way I have been doing so as I go along.  My first permanent/full time position was as an acquisitions assistant, there were two of us doing the job, and when the cataloguer left and wasn’t replaced for about 9 months, someone had to fill in the gap.  I guess we could have just not bothered ( I can think of some people who might not have taken that opportunity), but we had a go (after having training), gained in confidence, muddled along, and became (non-professional) cataloguers.  Even once the Cataloguer role was filled, the person was employed as a Cataloguer/Systems Librarian and as we were going through a change in library management systems at the time their job never really encompassed actual cataloguing.  So, not volunteering as such, but stepping up to fill a void and gaining valuable experience and skills  as a result.

I like to think that if opportunities arise within my job, I am usually able to seriously consider them, (despite being really busy all the time).  We can’t all do everything, but we might be able to do that little extra, that in the long run has given us experience to take further.

One of the events that we run within our annual staff development programme is a ‘Do Something Different Day’ (usually two a year), when staff get chance to have a go working in a different part of the library service (or even in other parts of Information Services, such as IT or Media Resources).  A co-ordinator matches up willing libraries/departments with willing volunteers and for one day (or half a day if that is what your hours consist of) you get change to try out a different job.  This can be simply working in a different library doing a similar job to your own, or trying out a completely different role for the day (A day with the couriers, or on the IT help desk, or in the Collection management dept).  Its an opportunity to broaden skills, to see what differences there are in different libraries (for instance the difference between one of the medical or health care libraries who have a user-base of nurses, doctors, and clinical academics as well as med students – in comparison to an arts based library dealing primarily with undergraduate students).  Sometimes these experiences have led to the participants applying for jobs that have come up in the library/department they went to – and that experience has helped to give them an edge over some other applicants.  Its a brilliant scheme and we are very lucky to have it run.  Next year we are hoping to have a special ‘Do Something Different Day’  and involve other libraries from within Cardiff in the scheme (in conjunction with CLIC) – giving people the opportunity to try out different sectors (eg, public vs academic).  So that should be even more exciting.

I think volunteering can generally be a positive experience, but if does rather depend on where you are in your career and what you are looking for.  One should be careful that there is no exploitation going on, and that you don’t just become that extra ‘free’ member of staff, so I would guess that careful guidelines probably need to be agreed on for participants.  I think it probably can get you that foot in the door, or those extra skills you weren’t taught at library school; and in today’s tough economic climate every extra skill, and experience, you can gain will certainly help you out at job applications/interviews.

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Welsh librarians do it in a yurt

Last night we had our South Wales cpd23 meet up in the yurt at Milgi’s – it was a lovely evening, and really great to meet up with people whose blogs I have been reading and who I have been communicating with via Twitter.   I found that I already knew some people (well I knew that before we met up!), other people had familiar faces and turned out to have been at various CLIC (Cardiff Libaries in Co-operation) or CILIP events (some as speakers, some as attendees).  Cpd23 people came from Cardiff University, University of Glamorgan, UWIC, National Museum of Wales, and the National Library of Wales (in Aberystwyth – so top prize to Nia for travelling the furthest to meet us!).  It was informal and relaxed, and hopefully an event to be repeated.

Photos were taken and will hopefully be posted at some point.

Thanks to cpd23 for creating the environment for these networks to emerge and flourish.

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This morning I had a meeting with a group of librarians who work in different sectors within the city of Cardiff.  We are all part of the Cardiff Libraries in Co-Operation (CLIC) Staff Development sub-group which has been in existence  for approximately five years now.  Our task is to lay on staff development events that are free to attend for library staff who work in the Cardiff area.  For a number of years we had access to funding from CyMAL via one of the Regional Development Officers, but at the beginning of this year all that changed and we are back to having a zero budget!  So no more nice lunches at events, and no more expensive speakers! (or even any-cost speakers!).  Not to be daunted we returned to our roots (we originally had no funding) and had our first zero-budget event since the change, in May.  We invited three speakers from three totally different libraries to come and talk about their roles with an emphasis on the customer – “Knowing your customer: cross sector perspectives”

We were slightly anxious that with our back to basics approach we might not attract many takers, however much to our delight we were booked up within about three days of advertising the event.  At least one lesson we will be taking away from this will be to book larger rooms in future!

The event was a great success, as we heard about the experiences of the Cancer Research Wales Librarian, the Welsh National Opera Librarian, and the Cardiff Prison Librarian.  All had very different experiences to relate – and all had very different customer bases to work with.

This morning’s meeting was time to look forward and to start planning our next event.  We have decided to focus on ‘Social Media’ which seems quite timely for me as I have just stared the cpd23 course!  With some ideas for speakers and topics lined up, the next few months will see us putting the pieces together ready for the event in November.

We also assessed the figures and statistics for all our previous events to see who was attending, which sectors were represented (and which weren’t), and whether any institution was taking a lion share of the places at the event.  Perhaps unsurprisingly we found that the staff from Cardiff University were probably the major component at most of the events – but when we discussed staff numbers around the table, we realised that CU had by far the greatest amount of library staff working for it, in comparison to the other institutions, so no wonder we had the largest representation.  In an attempt to be fair to all parties concerned, at the next event we are going to attempt to initially allocate places proportionally to institutions involved to try and ensure that everyone gets a fair chance to attend.   We are also going to try and make contacts with sectors and libraries that have had little or no representation at previous events – it may be that they have no staff/time to attend, little interest in events previously held, or perhaps they have never heard of us – in which case it is time to change that!

We also began to plan a few other interesting events that will take place next year, but I will blog about these nearer the time.

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