Tag Archives: careers

Michelmas Term Round-Up

Hello! Now that Michaelmas term is coming to an end, Bethan and I thought we would do a round-up post about some the things we have been up to so far.

  • PGCE workshop

In September we had the opportunity to participate in an information literacy training session for new PGCE students with the Education Librarians. This included helping the students utilise the online library catalogue and make the most of the libraries to aid their studies. We also showed them tips and tricks on sourcing academic journals, articles, and books.

Beth says – This session highlighted the importance for new students to learn key skills about using the library catalogue and finding e-resources to aid them in their studies. We got the opportunity to participate in the group work parts of the session to offer suggestions and help when needed, as well as the individual exercises. Although I was supposed to be helping with the teaching, I ended up learning a lot myself!

Emma says – Teaching the PGCE students really helped to confirm what I knew about the library system and it was a great opportunity to put some of the training into practice in a different setting.  We worked with other members of staff from the Education library and two Swiss interns so we had a lot of support! The PGCE students were really friendly and it was a good session to be a part of.

  • Training sessions: which have we enjoyed so far?

During this term we’ve had the opportunity to have practical and theoretical training at Osney. Training sessions have been varied this term, including an interactive session on customer care, an introduction to cataloguing using the Oxford library system, as well as a presentation on applying for courses in library and information studies. Here’s what we each enjoyed the most:

Beth says – In November we got the opportunity to visit the BSF, a warehouse where over 11 million of the Bodleian’s collections are held. There was an informative presentation about the challenges and logistics of the facility, as well as how it is developing. This includes issues of storage space as the collections grow, and improving sustainability to reduce its environmental impact.  We were also given a tour of the facility, which highlighted how efficient the process is to ensure that the books are delivered to the libraries on time, twice a day. Indeed, apparently it takes experienced staff members less than 45 seconds to pick a single book – which is very impressive considering the size and scale of the warehouse.

Emma says – The visit to the Weston Library and having an introduction to the Special Collections in October was a real eye-opener. After an £80m refurbishment the Weston Library, originally called the New Bodleian Library, opened in March 2015 after work began in 2011. The library now has a lot more space including areas for research, public galleries, and a cafe. It was a pleasure to be shown around the conservation department, to see the archivists at work, and to see behind the scenes at the library. As the Weston is so different from the Business library, it was a worthwhile opportunity to see the different roles within librarianship. It was great to see how the conservationists take care of the old books, maps and the libraries themselves.

The Book Storage Facility, aka the BSF, in Swindon

  • Internet Librarian International (ILI) conference, London

In October we were fortunate enough to go to the ILI conference in London due to the sponsored places offered by FLIP and NLPN. There were six of us in total that went from the Bodleian libraries and we all took away a lot from the experience. There were lots of different talks and presentations, from AI to tips for searching relevant information.

Beth says – A session I particularly enjoyed was about how libraries can utilise digital technology to increase reader accessibility. For example, a case study discussed the DAISY Consortium, which is an organisation which aims to improve the reader experience for people who are blind or print disabled by making digital talking books an industry standard across libraries worldwide. Indeed, the clear theme across the conference was about how libraries can develop in the digital age, as well as the challenges this brings. Myself and a few of the other trainees who attended contributed to a blog post for NLPN about the conference here: https://nlpn.wordpress.com/2018/11/01/internet-librarian-international-info-today-sponsored-places/

Emma says – During the conference we were invited to a session by Liz McGettigan about how to be an information professional in the 21st century. This was an informative session about how to advance our careers, what skills we would need to move forward, and how best to develop them. This was a great opportunity to see what paths were before us and give us an idea of what we could do in the future. Working in a library we are able to learn many new and transferable skills, some of which we’re not always able to recognise, so this was a great session to bring out in us what we’ve learnt so far and what sort of roles we would like in the future.

Ben Gable, Katie Day, Bethan Morgan, Jennifer Garner, and Emma Gregory at the ILI conference in October 2018.

Outside of the training programme the trainees meet up fairly often after work. For example, some of us went round the Oxford Open Doors event in September together, visiting Baliol College, Blackwells, the Examination School, and the New Theatre. We’ve frequented a game board café, where we played a variety of card and board games. Luckily, we didn’t fall out too much! Two trainees, Elspeth and Lauren, started a book club. So far, we have read Annhiliation by Jeff Vandermeer, Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, and we’re currently reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. We had the weather on our side on Bonfire Night when we went to watch the fireworks at South Park. Recently we had our Christmas dinner which nearly all of us attended. It was a great night with great food and company.

Next term looks to be quite busy. We’re looking forward to a new set of training sessions, which includes a visit to Oxford Brookes library and a visit to the digital archives. We can’t wait to see what the next year will bring!

Merry Christmas and a happy 2019 from all the trainees!

By Bethan Morgan and Emma Gregory

Summary of Graduate Library Trainee Training (so far)

As Graduate Library Trainee, I have had – since September – quite a lot of training. I’ve become very familiar with Osney Mead industrial estate, which is where a lot of Bodleian staff training takes place, as well as some of the more specialist cataloguing, the Bodleian Digital Systems and Services, and a few other departments. The mud spatters on my bike even time that I go down the tow path can testify to my journeys there, but the weekly trips with my fellow trainees are a chance to learn a bit more about the world of libraries, and can often offer knowledge or perspectives that are very welcome to me as a newcomer to the library world. This post will hopefully give you an insight into what kind of training we have as Oxford Library Trainees, every Wednesday afternoon.

Michaelmas term was orientation, an intensive few weeks of the systems that we use here. There was Circulation for Desk Staff, Customer Care, Resource Discovery, Working Safely, Supporting Disabled readers and discovering the mysterious workings of Aleph, our library software, all completed in September, allowing me to get up and running with the systems. October saw the start of graduate training proper, with sessions designed introduce us to the Bodleian as a whole and libraries more generally. There were visits to other parts of the Bodleian to help us to get a handle on the diversity of things that go on here and how they all hang together – from the dignified turrets of the Old Bodleian, to the Weston’s shiny new spaces, including Special Collections and Conservation, and also a trip to the leviathan behind it all, the BSF, where books go to be ‘ingested’. They are also circulated from there around all the libraries, the speed and efficiency of which was impressive. My fellow trainee David wrote a blog post on it, here. There was a session on e-developments at the Bodleian, too, which was particularly interesting. We were introduced to such things as open access, the Bodleian Digital Library, ORA as a digital repository for Oxford’s research, and some of the issues around e-Legal Deposit. (For those not in the know, Legal Deposit is an arrangement whereby five libraries in the UK are entitled to a copy of everything published here; e-Legal Deposit is the same principle for electronic works, but I am not really qualified to talk about all the complications of either system. However, there is a brief overview by a former trainee that you can read here.)

Duke Humphrey’s Library in the Old Bodleian. Credit David Iliff (Creative Commons licence).

The shiny Weston Library’s entrance hall. Credit Paul Hayday (Creative Commons licence)

Then there was training focussed more on our future as library professionals, such as the session on Professional Qualifications, which included some talks by former trainees who had completed or were undergoing their degrees. We got the low-down on what types of degree there are, where they are offered, and what to consider when applying. This term we’ve had a sort of follow up in the session on Career Opportunities and Skills Workshop, where there were some tips on CVs, networking and interviews, and some very good talks by former Law Library trainees, which were particularly interesting to me as the current Law Library trainee.

I’ve also been lucky compared to other trainees, because my supervisor lets me to do plenty of training in my role that not all of the trainees get. I’ve had training on serials and acquisitions, and these things tied into my role here, since I’m able to assist both teams: that is, I can process new journals which arrive periodically, and can help in the process of buying new things for the library. There was also a session that I attended more recently with two of my colleagues, entitled Preservation Advice for Library Staff, where we learnt about how to set up and maintain a library space that is safest for your books, plus some detail on the dangers ranged against them (the seven agents of decay, which sounds to me a bit like a fantasy book series waiting to happen). The seven agents of decay include physical forces – such as handling by readers – fire, water, pests, pollutants, light, incorrect temperature, and incorrect relative humidity. Oxford is an especially damp place (as I can testify to – I’ve already had an outbreak of mould in my wardrobe since moving here), so the everyday monitoring of collections is particularly relevant.

Humidity control is important. Photo credit to Alex Walker, Acting Head of Preventative Conservation.

This term’s training started off with a visit to Oxford Brookes Library, which was a fancy new building at their main Headington campus. We had a tour, learning about their use of space, which is divided into various zones of noise so that both quiet study and group work are encouraged, and a bit about their collections and processes. There was also a look at their Special Collections, which was quite eclectic (an artificial arm, a golden wok). Last week we had a session on effective training techniques, very useful for any kind of induction, training and indeed presentation that I may do in the future. There was also Libraries and Social Media yesterday afternoon, at which we learnt about the key principles of social media for libraries, and thought through a few of the possibilities and issues with social media in general and certain platforms for certain libraries in particular. From that session I’ve taken away a healthy appreciation of animated gifs when it comes to medical textbooks, and a newfound love of Orkney Library. (See the Wellcome Unit Library’s feed, here, and Orkney Library’s feed, here, respectively.)

Next up will be Talks on the Book Trade; Collection and Resource Description; and some visits to other Oxford libraries, including All Souls’ Codrington Library, the Alexander Library of Ornithology, the Sherardian Library of Plant Taxonomy and the Radcliffe Science Library. I’m also booked on to a minute-taking session, since taking the minutes at our staff meeting is one of my duties, and a session on Academic searching with Google and alternatives.

My favourite training sessions are definitely those that touch on librarianship as a whole, since what I learn every day here is about how this library works. Bernadette O’Reilly’s OLIS training course was particularly good in that respect, as was the E-Developments session by Michael Popham and Sally Rumsey. All of these looked outwards a bit, explaining, for example, how the publishing habits of publishers like Elsevier impact on the libraries’ and university’s open access policies. The tours can also contribute to this broader perspective, especially when we can find out a bit about the history of a library or, equally important, a particular librarian’s career. So training is definitely a very important and useful part of my role here, and something that is particularly special about the job of Graduate Library Trainee. I hope this gives a sense of the myriad of things that we get up to, and how it benefits us and our libraries.

CILIP Career Development Group New Professionals Conference 2011

On Monday, June 20th, I attended the CILIP Career Development Group’s New Professionals Conference at the University of Manchester, along with Kirsty Braithwaite, Anna Smith and Sonja Kujansuu from the Bodleian Law Library. I initially found out about this conference through Twitter (#npc2011), in addition to the CILIP CDG website, and thought that it might be very useful to attend, given that the conference theme was “Activism and Professionalism at a Time of Downturn”, and, as graduate trainees soon about to embark on our journey towards becoming information professionals, this topic is extremely relevant.

The conference consisted of a two series of presentations with two workshops.

The morning programme opened with three presentations:

Helen Murphy presented the CPD23, 23 Things for Continuing Professional Development. Her presentation and links to the CPD23 programme can be found here.  Given that training budgets are often reduced, information professionals must continue to develop their skills and take charge of their own career development. The CPD23 programme is available for anyone to join, allowing work at one’s own pace. It is inclusive, informal and cost-free. Like the 23 Things programme, the CPD23 programme explores emerging technology which impact on the information profession, but differs from the 23 Things programme in that it examines and focuses on devlopment of professional skills (such as social networking for career development, personal branding and on-line presence). The CPD23 programme enables information professionals to share expertise and learn from others, thereby forming strong networks, and also encourages one to grow in confidence as goals are achieved.

The next presentation, given by Rachel Bickley, discussed how new professionals can establish a dialogue with experienced professionals for career development. Again, this presentation stressed the importance of establishing networks. New professionals can benefit from the expertise of experienced professionals, but are often perceived as lacking in skills and “cliquey” with their on-line communities. New professionals must be ready to think outside the box and take advantage of transferrable skills whilst demonstrating a willingness to learn and forge strong networks.

Sam Wiggins and Laura Williams then presented “What makes an Information ‘Professional‘”. This talk was very well-researched, and I was impressed with the depth and scope of the work. I found this talk particularly relevant given the debate over obtaining professional qualifications (postgraduate degrees and chartership) versus on-the-job experience, particularly as the definition of an “information professional” is evolving and changing.

I was fortunate to attend a workshop facilitated by Simon Barron and Alice Halsley on activism for new professionals. Simon and Alice are members of a library activism group, Voices for the Library, which has been very active in campaigning against library closures and funding cuts to public library services. I found this workshop inspring and engaging. Activism is not only marching in demonstrations, but can also take the form of everyday actions such as telling friends and family to visit their local public libraries. Activism can be used to boost your professional profile, as it can add to your toolkit of professional skills, thereby filling gaps in your CV. Finally, activism for libraries is in itself a worthwhile pursuit, as new professionals should be advocates of their profession, contributing to both short-term and long-term change for the better.

Following a light lunch, I attended the second workshop facilitated by Sue Hornby and Bob Glass: “Raising your Professional Profile”. This workshop enabled the participants to explore and become aware of potentially overlooked professional skills and transferrable skills such as communication, networking and time and resource management.

The afternoon session also consisted of three presentations:

Ka-Ming Pang and Joseph Norwood gave a beautifully-illustrated talk on LIS student activism and why it is important for LIS students to become engaged and involved with their profession.

Megan Wiley then presented on the need to develop professionalism in a careers information team.

Finally, the award-winning presentation of the day was given by Katie Birkwood and Naomi Herbert,  special collections librarians at St. John’s College, Cambridge. Their presentation examined outreach as a means of raising the public profile both of the library and its collections and librarianship as a profession. Their projects focussed on specific items within the library’s collections, in this case, the archives of the astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle, and  a 15th Century text on magic tricks, Hocus Pocus Junior (1638). The Hoyle project involved making your own astrolabe. You can even give it a go yourself!

In all, the CILIP New Professionals Conference was an engaging and inspiring look at what the profession will mean to new information professionals, and a practical examination at what we can do to further our own career development, thereby affecting the future of the profession as a whole.

CILIP: Framework of Qualifications

On 19th May, a few of us attended an informative session on CILIP Qualifications, including chartership and certification, run by Michael Martin from CILIP.

Michael began by explaining the difference between the two levels he would be talking about. Certification is for library assistants who have been in the profession some time, whereas chartership is for qualified librarians. Both are essentially different levels of membership to CILIP.

The first steps to either qualification is membership to CILIP, after which you register as a candidate, which costs £25 for certification or £50 for chartership. You then choose a mentor from a list provided by CILIP, and together you design a personal professional development plan (PPDP).

The basis of the CILIP qualifications is building a portfolio.  A portfolio allows you to demonstrate your learning, and how you have applied valuable knowledge and skills in your workplace. For a chartership application, it would include:

  • Contents page
  • CV (longer than for a job application)
  • PPDP
  • Personal evaluative statement (1000 words)
  • aims & objectives of your organisation
  • structure charts (where you are in your organisation)
  • evidence of participation in the mentor scheme

It is similar for certification, but follows a different template, including a supporting letter.

Michael also listed the criteria that the applications must meet. The criteria for chartership are:

  • to be able to reflect critically on personal performance and evaluate service performance
  • an active commitment to continuing professional development
  • to be able to analyse personal and professional development with reference to experiential and developmental activities
  • a breadth of professional knowledge and understanding of the wider professional context

For certification, the criteria are similar:

  • the ability to evaluate personal and service performance
  • to show how your personal, technical and professional skills have developed through training and development activities
  • an appreciation of the role and contribution of libraries and information services in the wider community

Michael then gave advice to those wanting to pursue a CILIP qualification: keep everything! Using a diary, a blog, or whatever suits you, try to keep a record of your evidence to support the criteria. He also advised completing a skills audit.

It was an interesting session, as I didn’t know what chartership involved, and the other options for library assistants who maybe don’t want to go down the Library School route.

After the session, Emma Sullivan emailed round information about how Staff Development supports staff wishing to gain certification, chartership or fellowship from CILIP. Staff can apply to get funding for their submission fee, though not membership fees. They can also provide your training record which lists the courses you have attended, and the Staff Library has copies of ‘Building Your Portfolio’ by Margaret Watson, a book recommended by Michael during the questions and answers time.

Sarah Stewart – ISBES (Radcliffe Science Library, Sherardian and Alexander Libraries)

Hello! My name is Sarah and I am the Bio- & Environmental Sciences graduate trainee. I work at ISBES (Information Services in Bio- & Environmental Sciences), and can be found at three libraries: The Radcliffe Science Library, the Sherardian Library of Plant Taxonomy (formerly the Plant Sciences Library) and the Alexander Library of Ornithology (formerly the Zoology Library).

I am relatively new to librarianship; my only previous experience having been spent briefly as a shelving assistant at St. Michael’s College Library at the University of Toronto, and as a member of the University of Toronto Hart House Library Committee, where I assisted in curating a collection of local poets and writers and organising literary events.

I graduated with a degree in Biology and History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Toronto, and completed a Masters of Science degree in Plant Biology, specialising in algal systematics at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, USA. I have also worked and volunteered at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and at the Cryptogamic Herbarium at the Natural History Museum in London. These research experiences made me realise the importance of information management, and propelled me to seek librarianship as a career (that, in addition to the fact that I am also a compulsive bibliophile!).

I have started my traineeship at a time of great change for the science collections at Oxford (more on that in a later post) but look forward to participating and learning as much as I can.  Following my traineeship, I hope to complete a Masters in Library and Information Science and would like to become a subject librarian specialising in the biological sciences.

So far, I have been engaged in reader services (setting up PCAS accounts, helping readers find particular items in the libraries using SOLO and OLIS) and circulation, although I have also been helping with the moving and re-organisation of the Zoology Library and Plant Sciences Library. I’m looking forward to learning more about cataloguing, and hope to soon put my skills to the test!

Many thanks to the ISBES team for making me feel so welcome!

New Professionals Conference

I’ve recently been receiving many emails and tweets calling for proposals for the New Professionals Conference 2010 to be held in July at the University of Sheffield;  organised by the CILIP Career Development Group, it is aimed at people who are relatively new to the profession.  The conference acts as a forum for discussion and debate on current issues from the perspective of a new professional, this year the theme of dicussion is “Proving Your Worth in Challenging Times”.   Ned Potter offers quite a nice introduction to the conference in his blog post about submitting proposals for the 2010 conference.

All this talk about the 2010 conference got me thinking about the 2009 event, so I did a little online digging and found a section about it on the Career Development Group webpages, most interesting is the New Professionals Conference Papers page.  Here you will find the pdf and powerpoint versions of the papers presented at the 2009 conference, although unfortunately a couple of the  pdf files do not work.

The theme for discussion in 2009 was “What is it like to be a Library & Information Professional in the 21st Century?”, something that is probably at the forefront of our minds as trainees, especially for those of us who have decided to go on to study librarianship/information management in the future.   I throughly recommend reading the papers avaliable online, they throw up some interesting ideas on a range of issues relating to being an information professional today.

I found Ned Potters “Why Are We Still Defined by Our Building?” particulary relveant and engaging; he discusses the changing role of the information professional and the struggles of the profession to negotiate the stereotypes.   Another  paper I found very interesting is “New Technologies, New Professionals” by Nicholas Robinson-Garcia, which explores the expansion of web 2.0 technologies in the library sector and the changes it has brought to the profession.  He asks what role new professionals can play in this rapidly changing environment.   On the topic of professional development Jo Alcock presented a paper entitled, “How to network and market yourself using online tools”; here she discussed the importance of networking at the begining of a career for new professionals.   The paper offers an introduction to the various methods avaliable for professional newtorking, covering both the virtual and physical possibilities. 

Library & Information Update: Master’s Supplement

I was shown this by our librarian, and thought I should pass it along! The latest issue of CILIP’s Library & Information Update contains a supplement dedicated to the discussion of Master’s courses – including choosing a course, funding, how helpful it is in terms of finding a job, and so on. The supplement is also available to view online.

Library Routes Project

There is a meme going around the biblioblogosphere at the moment in which librarians are writing about their route in to librarianship.

The meme was borne out of a discussion that started on Twitter. Woodsiegirl followed this up with a post on her blog, Organising Chaos, and this got others posting their stories. Seeing that the meme was escalating Ned Potter has set up the Library Routes Project wiki where all the blog posts (including mine!) are being collated.

I thought this might be something a bunch of future librarians, who are considering their options, might be interested in.