Tag Archives: Networking

Smug tweaking, shrinking cataloguers, and the corridor of uncertainty: CILIP Cataloguing & Indexing Group conference 2012

Although I am sure others will blog about #CIG12 in a more indepth manner*  I just wanted to express my delight about the excellent conference that took place earlier this week in Sheffield.  Two days packed full of thought provoking presentations, 25 speakers and just over 100 attendees; at times my brain was hurting, and I felt weighed down with concern about the things I didn’t know but really should; whilst at other moments I felt proud to be a cataloguer, and inspired to tackle new things.

There were four themed sessions spread out over the two days; Working with new standards, Working co-operatively, New challenges for cataloguers; and Developing working practices.  RDA, as to be expected, was a key issue to be talked about.  Celine Carty brought us updates from the ALA conference, and managed to succinctly condense 5 days into one talk.  It was extremely useful hearing about the view from across the pond, and she also gave us a great handout of links too!

There was quite a contrast between this conference and the last CIG conference in 2010 with

Keen attendees ready & waiting

attitudes to RDA, from what I can remember of two years ago, most people in the room weren’t really sure about how they would be tackling RDA, and were waiting for guidance from someone else.  This time round a good 50% of the audience were actively preparing for RDA, were devising training sessions for their staff (or looking for online material they could use), or were very aware of what work they had to do.  I also don’t think that anyone in the room was thinking of it as ‘Retirement Day Approaching’.  Celine Carty passed on some take home messages; things like “its now when not if” and “evolution not revolution”, she also commented that actually it can be quite good not to be the trailblazers.  While the rules are still being refined, and problems still being ironed out, its quite nice to be able to learn from what is happening in the US.  Stuart Hunt also gave us some food for thought in his session on ‘Implementing RDA in your ILS’, and pointed out that as well as us cataloguers having to get our heads round RDA, that we also had a lot of communication work to do – we need to talk to system vendors, and record supply agencies, colleagues who work on the front line and those who are library management.  We also need to consider whether our systems are ready for RDA, there are new fields, will they display or be indexed, will there be problems loading data into the system etc etc.  Anne Welsh & Katharine White also reminded us that there is always change, and we already have hybrid systems.  We need to accept that there never was a better time to embrace RDA, although we should question everything; and that standards, materials, and even students are always evolving.

Conference venue – Halifax Hall

Although RDA was casting a big shadow over us, there were plenty of other topics to discuss too.  Deborah Lee introduced the idea of the proposed UK NACO funnel, a project to collaborate on creating authority files.  Traditionally a funnel is managed by one person which is a huge commitment, and there can be delay in training new members to join; this current project however is aiming for a cascade of training  and aims to get as many participants acting independently as soon as possible with a critical mass of people who are happy to train others.  It will be a great professional development opportunity for anyone who gets involved.

As we are probably all aware we are in the midst of a time of many challenges for cataloguers, as Heather Jardine noted – ‘change is the new normal’.  We are having to face restructuring and streamlining, changes in roles, as well as changes in rules and materials.  There were several presentations demonstrating how various cataloguers are adapting  to these challenges including Helen Williams’ overview of ‘transforming a bibliographic services team from copy cataloguers to metadata creators’.  Her team have had a growing involvement in their institutional repository LSERO; with a review of workflows, additional training and comprehensive documentation the team have become multi-skilled, and better future-proofed.

Shelf-ready reared its ugly head towards the end of the conference (sorry, I admit I am not a fan!).  What still stood out for me, (and is one of my biggest problems with the whole shelf ready thing), was the standard of records being supplied – the poor quality, wrong classmarks, e-book records for print records, etc etc and even some poor processing.  What kind of service do vendors think they are providing?  And since so many of us are guilty of ‘smug tweaking’* why aren’t there more ‘good’ records available?

CIG do great bags!

I haven’t mentioned everybody who talked, but would like to say I gained something from every speaker; I’m not a fan of cricket but really enjoyed hearing abut the Marylebone Cricket Club library courtesy of Neil Robinson, and the challenges he faced with revamping a bespoke classification system (and his corridor of uncertainty); and even though I’m not a fan of shelf-ready I appreciated hearing about experiences from Sheffield with Emily Bogie, and Warwick with Christina Claridge.  And I really should mention the High visibility cataloguing blog and Cat23 –  a project I’m keen to hear more about.

The conference was great, the people were great, and as a tiny aside I was extremely pleased with the range of cold/soft drinks available at break times!  I don’t drink tea/coffee, and wouldn’t expect more than a glass of water to be offered (don’t even get that sometimes), so a multitude of fridges with a variety of beverages made me very happy!  The cakes were good too…

I also really liked that there weren’t any parallel sessions – so I got to hear everybody; and the concept of having lightning round talks was good too.  Ten minute snippets of projects and ideas, although shame-facedly I over ran in my own sessions and got flashed the ‘red card’.

Break time

My only regret is that I didn’t get to talk to some people who are Twitter contacts (we need Twitter icons/names on our badges!); however, I did talk to people who I didn’t previously know, and that is always a good thing.  I’m looking forward to the next CIG conference already! 

* See for example @archelina (Rachel Playforth) and @stjerome1st (Lynne Dyer)

* Can’t remember who coined this phrase at the conference, so apologies are due!  However, I do have to put my hand up and admit that I indulge in this practice.

All the presentations are due to be added to the CIG website soon.



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Here are a few of my favourite Things! (Thing 19)

Thing 19 already (ahem, yes I haven’t actually done Thing 18 yet…), it doesn’t seem that long since we embarked upon the whole 23 Things journey, and look we are nearly at our destination.  I’m feeling quite sad, I enjoy being given a new task (or tasks) each week, ok I haven’t done all of them yet, but I fully intend to go back and plug in those gaps!  At the beginning it seemed to stretch away ahead for weeks on end, and now, now, eek what will I do in a couple of weeks time without my cpd23 fix (yes, ok I know…plug in those gaps!).

So, since the start, the Things I have mostly embraced…(apart from raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens)

A blog – well, the most obvious one, I now have a blog, and once cpd23 is well and truly over (sob), I plan to carry on using it, to talk about work related stuff, and embrace my inner blogger.

Since the start I have also started contributing to another blog (work related) on the rare books collections housed at Cardiff University; and currently have plans to set up another blog with the team I work with in the Cataloguing department.

Twitter – I joined Twitter, was overwhelmed at the party I had walked into, hid in a corner with my drink for awhile, but am gradually making new friends, and I think, have just about come out of the kitchen.  I’m trying to keep it mainly work based, just a few odd friends, and the occasional celebrity/author thrown in for some light relief.  Followed my first conference within days of joining (Umbrella) and am hopefully making some good links.  Follow me on @Darklecat

Events – we had a local meet up in Cardiff, in a Yurt ( a yurt!!!!) and it was great to meet some real life people, some I already knew, some I had vaguely seen at staff development events, and some were brand new.  I hope we can do this again soon (in fact I must start agitating for it).

I am also feeling more confident about trying to arrange a get together of Cataloguers in Wales (see this blog soon!!!)

Making contacts/networking – this wasn’t a ‘Thing’ as such, but it has been quietly happening since I started cpd23.  In many ways librarianship is a small world, especially in the local area where you work, cpd23 has been highlighting this, in a good way.  At the “Yurt up” one of the people I spoke to used to be involved with Cardiff Libraries In Co-operation (CLIC) – I am now the chair of the staff development sub-group, and we’ve been trying to sort the website out (getting into the website for a start was a major problem) – turned out she used to be one of the administrators.  Brilliant – suddenly we had the right contact, I passed her details onto the person trying to sort it out, and now we have a Website subgroup.  I think we’d still have been floundering if it hadn’t been for that connection.

I haven’t really fully tried out many of the tools that have been mentioned.  Partly this is a time thing, I know they will take a chunk of time to play around with, and partly because I haven’t had a real reason to use one – I think when an opportunity arises I will be more aware of some of the tools out there, and will be able to try them out in a practical way.  I am looking forward to the Prezi Thing, as Prezi presentations look really interesting (although too many in a row and I start to feel travel sick).  Coming up in the future with CLIC we are having a Social Media event in November (I will blog about that nearer the time) and I have volunteered myself to do a presentation on my experience of cpd23 – I am hoping to use Prezi for this (gulp!).

So, a  few cpd23 Things have filtered their way into my worklife, a few more will gradually do so in the future.   But so far, I have found it mostly really useful and interesting.

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Conferences a-go-go (Thing 15) – or how to evoke the sympathy vote…

I’ve been attending conferences and seminars ever since I was a postgraduate student doing research in Ancient History/Classics, even at that early stage I started co-organising seminar series and a conference that resulted in a book.  Taking a leap from being a student wrapped up in a subject I was fascinated in, to becoming a full time working person attending a ‘work’ based event, was actually a bit of a jump.  For a start I felt that I was coming into the subject/conference not fully aware of all the ins and outs, and who was who, and what did I actually think about these topics.  Well, obviously I was there to learn, and to decide what I thought about these issues (which were probably newer to me than the social life of women in 5th century Athens – not my research subject but I probably had a better handle on it than I did anything to do with librarianship at the start).  But gradually knowledge increases.

I have yet to attend Umbrella, though this year I did follow it on Twitter (thanks to cpd23); last year I attended the Cataloguing and Indexing Group conference, which I found really interesting, and great to be at an event with lots of other cataloguers (Yayyy!).  Within Wales we have our annual WHELF/HEWIT colloquium at Gregynog (in Powys) (for library staff working in higher education institutions).  This is a good place to start ‘conferencing’ as you are more likely to know someone (or at least have a bunch of colleagues with you), and for several years now there has been a ‘young/new professionals’ stream, so an ideal place to start presenting too.

Attending a conference can be nerve-wracking, it helps if you have a colleague attending with you – though this is often not possible.

I try to remind myself that other people are shy and nervous too (although they often don’t seem it), so if I have to walk into a room/conference on my own, I will try to see if there is someone else on their own, and will go and join them and strike up a conversation – start with the basics – where are you from/where do you work etc (although I believe I did once bore someone stupid as I forced conversation on them for what seemed an eternity as I could see no way out, until the dinner bell rang – so perhaps you might want to avoid me!)

As you might have guessed I don’t find these kind of social events easy.

Giving a presentation at an event, apart from being great for your professional development etc, is also a good conversation starter, as people will usually come up to you and talk about your presentation, and you often make good contacts this way.  Maybe they are working on something similar, or have a similar problem at work, and your ideas might have given them a fresh viewpoint on the subject.  Or maybe you just entertained them.  Whatever, it is a good feeling to know that you have reached other people.

Or maybe you just evoked their sympathy… the last presentation I gave (at Gregynog last year), was on the first afternoon of the conference, and there was a technical hitch; somehow a virus had got on to the computer/laptops that were being used for the presentations – this had caused quite a few problems prior to my talk, but when it got to me, that was it, my powerpoint would not run.  Despite everyone’s best efforts I was left with 3o mins to talk in, and no pretty pictures to distract people with!  I was gutted, not the least because I had spent hours getting my presentation together.  I gave the talk, almost through gritted teeth (trying not to cry); and was thankful in many ways that I had done an ‘old-fashioned’ kind of talk – it was all written down as I have yet to master the technique of free talking round the presentation.  So, old-fashioned scripted talk got me through; but wasn’t half as interesting without all the images.

So, sympathy works – but I wouldn’t recommend it!  I also played a part in the Murder Mystery event later in the conference – now that got people talking!  So, dressing up and talking in a silly voice works….ok, now I’m getting a bit carried away.  I think what I am trying to suggest is – get involved, give a paper/presentation, help out with the entertainment, help out on the registration desk, and if you are shy this will help give you those inroads into conversations that can be almost as vital as the presentations you attend.  [Think that is called NETWORKING].

For my next trick…

I’ve been thinking for awhile that I’d really like to organise an event for cataloguers in Wales – we don’t get out much, but I am sure we have a lot to share/offer.  So, cpd23 resolution for September – I will make that event happen!

(Any cataloguers in Wales out there interested? (or from just over the borders, I don’t mind) even just a sharing of practices, special projects, or worries about RDA???) 



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Being social (Thing 12)

I had a shock on Monday, I thought this week was a reflection week, a week to catch up on those pesky Things I’d previously skipped over (intending to relook at)- but not to be, we are continuing straight on into social media.

One of my reasons for starting cpd23 was to find out about more social media tools and make myself actively try some, rather than spending months dithering about them.  I think the most successful for me so far has been Twitter – yes, one of the most obvious, that most of you were probably already using.  I gained followers really quickly (thanks to cpd23) and am still collecting them, in many ways much to my amazement, but I put this down again to cpd23, and by the fact that I tend to tweet when I’ve done a blog post.   So maybe people are reading my blog too (that would be nice!).  Aside from the real life network we held in Cardiff in the yurt, which came about with the help of Twitter and blogs, I’ve yet to really use my new community in a professional way, but I’d like to think if I started asking some  pertinent questions, that there would be some equally pertinent answers winging my way from people I have not necessarily met in real life – and that feels good (in potentia!).  And of course the week after I joined Twitter I was able to follow what was going on at Umbrella which was really interesting.

I’ve been struggling a bit with LinkedIn, but will persevere there too, not the least because yesterday I was asked to connect with someone (my first connection!) who I had met on a professional basis last year.  He’d noticed/found me on there, and is a good contact to have.  (and I’m going to count him as the ‘one new contact’ we got asked to make!)

I am certainly planning to carry on using the tools I am discovering with cpd23 once the course has finished.  I will be quite sad when it finishes as I quite like having someone telling me what new things to look at!  I am also going carry on with my blog, and am hoping to insert more work related posts in between the cpd23 ones, to ease me into continuing once cpd23 has ended.

I do think that social networking can foster a sense of community, I think it does a great job, and it is up to the individual to get as much out of these communities as they can, (whilst of course putting in to these communities as much as they can too).  They are however just one aspect of ‘professional communties’ and we shouldn’t forget our real life contacts either – nor forget to let them know about things we have learned about online.  Not everyone can/will/wants to embrace social media/networking for whatever reasons, and some people may feel isolated or left out, because they aren’t a part of ‘social networking’ as individuals I think we should try and be inclusive and informative where we can.  Hmm my head is a bit fuzzy here, but I hope you know what I mean.  🙂

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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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Thing 6 – Linking up networks

I set aside time this morning to look at the online networks suggested for Thing 6, and seem to have spent most of this time sorting out my account on LinkedIn.  I admit I don’t have that much interest in using this tool, but thought I should try it out as suggested.  I’ve always viewed it as a useful place to promote yourself if you are looking for a new job, or are perhaps a freelancer.  Seeing as I am quite happy in my job, which (fingers crossed) seems secure for now, I didn’t really see the point of joining.  However, this week is all about joining in these networks and making my own professional connections, so I’ve taken the plunge.  I found it a bit clunky to work my way around, but have managed to get a fairly basic profile up, even adding a ‘publications’ section although I found the fields in this area rather limited.  I’ve joined a couple of groups, including of course 23 Things for Professional Development and CILIP, so maybe I shall have to wait and see how it all pans out, although I am afraid it will turn out to be one of those networks that I just don’t get.

I’ve been on Facebook for a couple of years now, after some initial reluctance I took the plunge and haven’t looked back – I use it for purely personal reasons, and find it is great in just keeping up with what my friends are all doing – especially those who live distant from me.  I’ve reconnected with a few people I had lost touch with, which has been good.  I also use it to help promote Pentreffest the local traditional European music and dance organisation I am involved with.

Having just said I use Facebook on just a personal level, I should admit that I am hoping to set up a page in the near future to promote the CLIC (Cardiff Libraries in Co-operation) Staff Development sub-group.  So I will have to see if that provides any kind of minor collision between personal and professional.

I tried MySpace for awhile but it seemed to become more and more unfriendly to use, and most of my friends migrated to Facebook (or had never been on MySpace) so I have rather abandoned my page there, probably some tumbleweed drifting across it as I speak.

One network I am on which hasn’t been mentioned is Academia.edu I attended a ‘Connected researcher’ workshop earlier in this year and this was one of the networking tools highlighted.  As the name suggests it is of more use to academics than perhaps many librarians, although I guess it depends on what your role entails.  There are several library staff from Cardiff University (where I work) who use it, so it can fulfil a networking need.  You can post details of your publications, and ask research questions, find people who are researching a particular topic you are interested in, orwho you might want to collaborate with.  I also like the feature that lets me know whenever anyone searches for me or my publications on Google – though I do end up wondering who these mysterious people are (Who is looking for me? Why?!).

LinkedIn has worn me out for the moment, so I will try looking at the other online networks a bit later on.  Meanwhile I am looking forward to meeting up in real life with other South wales cpd23-ers later on today in the Yurt at Milgis.


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