Monday, 26 September 2011

Thing 20: The Library Routes Project

This Thing is all about library careers.  I’m going to talk about the Library Routes Project, but recommend that you visit the Library Day in the Life project as well.

The Library Routes Project was set up in October 2009, following a lively conversation on my blog about how people get into librarianship. As a result of this conversation, Ned Potter (aka thewikiman) and I decided that it would be a good idea to set up a space where people could share these stories, and thus the Library Routes Wiki was born. Now, almost two years on, it has around 180 entries and has been visited over 39,000 times.

A photograph of a signpost and its shadow.
'every which way' by jenny downing on Flickr
The idea is simple: blog about your library roots (how and why you got into the profession in the first place) and your library routes (the career path you’ve taken so far), and add a link to the great big list on the front page of the wiki. The value of this is twofold: first of all, it is interesting! If you’re a nosy person like me, it’s great to be able to have a look through people’s career histories and reasons for becoming librarians in the first place. Secondly, we think it’s a useful careers resource for people either thinking about careers in librarianship or just starting out on their path.

I think the latter is particularly important because a common theme in the stories on the Library Routes wiki is that of not knowing much about what librarianship involved, or even that it existed as a career option; or being discouraged from pursuing a career in libraries by people who had misconceptions about the options available. Like many people, I fell into librarianship after trying my hand at other jobs that I wasn’t really suited to. Once a careers adviser suggested to me that librarianship was something I could actually do for a living, it was like a light bulb going off: why hadn’t I ever thought of it before? Well, the simple reason was that I just didn’t know that it was an option. My only clue as to what librarians did was the ladies I saw stamping books and shelving in my local public library. I suppose at some level I must have been aware that there was probably more to it than that, but I’d never have guessed at the sheer range of jobs available within the information profession. I know from reading the blogs linked from the wiki that mine is a fairly common story: unless you had a close friend or relative who worked in libraries, you probably didn’t have much of an idea of what the profession involved before you joined it. The Library Routes project is intended to shine a much-needed light on the types of jobs and career paths available within the information profession.

Things To Do
The main activity for this Thing is to blog your Roots/Routes, and add a link to the wiki. I know a lot of people did this for Thing 10, so if you’ve already done this stage then the additional activity is to go through some of the links already on the wiki and reflect on how they compare with your own experiences. Do you think your own path was typical or unusual compared to others? Have you got any advice for people at earlier stages in their careers than you, or can you glean some useful tips from other people’s posts?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Future planning

The CPD23 planning team are getting together tonight to discuss the programme, plan evaluation, think about wrap-up celebrations and so on.  Let us know through the comments, on Twitter (#cpd23) or by email ( if there's anything in particular you think we should discuss!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Change in Schedule

We've been listening to feedback throughout the programme and are aware that an extra chance to catch up would be appreciated!  We've decided to change the schedule for the next few weeks, as follows:

Week 15 - (26th September) Careers 
Thing 20: Library Day in the Life and Library Routes/Roots

Week 16 - (3rd October) Promoting yourself in job applications and at interview 
Thing 21: How to identify your strengths, how to capitalise on your interests, how to write something eyecatching that meets job specs.
Thing 22: Volunteering to get experience

Week 17 - (10th October) Final reflection 
Thing 23: What have you learnt and where do you want to go from here?

We will leave the blog live after the programme has finished and we know that there are groups of people planning to start the programme later this year, so if (like me!) you've only done one or two of the Things or if you haven't even started yet feel free to keep going at your own pace.  The full list of Things is here and there is a link to them in the right-hand column of the site.  We'll all get there in the end!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Thing 17: The Medium is the Message- Prezi and Slideshare

Prezi- I like to move it, move it

driving home by myfear, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  myfear 

Prezi is now a very well known presentation tool and a great alternative to PowerPoint, but like any tool it has to be used well to achieve the best possible results. The unique aspects of Prezi include the ability to zoom, pan and layer levels of information in a way that offers the best viewing experience for the attendee. In an effort to avoid ‘death by PowerPoint’ people often overuse these aspects of the software and the results are as predictable as PowerPoint, albeit with more motion sickness! 

The main thing to bear in mind when experimenting with Prezi is to step away from a linear presentation style, this will allow you to dance around your subject, drawing commonalities and contrasts from different elements of your topic. There are some great online guides which will help you, and I suggest you have a look a these, but there is no better way to get a grip on Prezi than to get your hands dirty.

So rather than walking you through Prezi, I'm going to consider a few general techniques you could use when selling your information and library service. Thinking about how we can exploit the intrinsic qualities of Prezi let’s consider a couple of uses:

Dynamic presentations

The success of this depends on using the functionality of Prezi to tell the story of your argument. Use the fact that you can travel along the canvas with your audience to illustrate the main points of your presentation. Raise a problem, look around it (literally!) , offer solutions and then show the audience how they can take your approach and apply it to their own situations.

Great techniques for this include:
  • Using a circular structure to link solutions to problems, allowing you to visit and revisit areas of the screen as you talk.
  • Zooming in- hiding key points within pictures or other text allows you to expand on arguments without overloading the structure with text.
Linking ideas together

A Voice in the Wilderness: Personalised Library Services in a Virtual Environment- Meg Westbury

Using one large picture as a background allows you to show detail, the whole picture and the relationships between them.
Techniques to bear in mind:
  • Choosing a high-quality, interesting, relevant or relaxing picture to compare or contrast to your subject matter- how about a beach scene to mount your 'Beginners Guide to FRBR'?
  • Regularly zoom back out to reveal the big picture- hint, use invisible frames.
  • Be careful with your colour choices to ensure that your text really stands out against an image heavy background.
Teaching take-aways

Scale of the Solar System Activity- Todd Ensign

Prezi is a great alternative to a hand out, or for getting your message to those who can’t physically attend your talk. If your voice isn’t there to accompany the presentation you will have to be more reliant on text, but you can do this without resorting to those tried, tested and tired PowerPoint bullets!

Try these:

  • Group your presentation/lesson into manageable chunks based on topic or difficulty using frames. Answers or clues can be hidden as text or pictures within the frames.
  • Use arrows to emphasise that the course is moving along, consider zooming out after each few sections so remote users can track their progress- you could also offer a recap here.
Presentation preparation

Not everything is best taught using a projector and a laser pointer, welding, for example, but even if you are not teaching welding you can use Prezi to help bring together your non-projection teaching. Simply use the Prezi as a mindmapping space, the different text colours, frames and arrows allowing you to forge connections between disparate parts of your subject. 

By the way, I was wrong about welding. As 21 pages of 'how-to weld' Prezis proves. Go have fun!

Does Prezi mean the end for my PowerPoints?

Relatively new to prezi is the ability to upload and enhance PowerPoint slides. This gives you an opportunity to remix your existing PowerPoint slides, adding value by connecting them in a way that comes naturally to Prezi, but is impossible to do with PowerPoint. One of my students created this Prezi from an established slide set. It is intended to work as a stand alone teaching resource- notice how he’s grouped elements together so students can work though at their own pace. He’s added additional images to the ones already on the slides and integrated video content. This is his FIRST attempt at a prezi.

Over to you...

Take some time to experiment with Prezi and think about what kind of angles it could offer to help you sell your service more effectively. Try creating a take-away teaching course, breathe new life into some PowerPoint slides or create a dynamic induction presentation for new staff or students.

A final but important tip about images. Be sure to use high-quality images- .png or convert to .pdf, try Zamzar for free conversion. You can achieve variety or uniformity by mounting your images on frames or applying washes or treatments like drop shadows- Picnik
will do all this and more, quickly, easily and most importantly: gratis.

Extra Credit:

Prezi For The Win? Ten Top Tips To Make a Good One- Ned Potter Edited 29/09/11: Ned has pointed out that this guide is now out of date. His revised version is here: The ultimate guide to Prezi.
Prezi: The PowerPoint Alternative?- Lora Helvie-Mason, Communication & Higher Education Blog

Slideshare: does exactly what it says what it is on the tin

Got an idea by horrigans, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  horrigans 

Panning back to PowerPoint, let's look at one of its biggest hangouts: Slideshare.The difficulty with Slideshare is pinning down exactly what it is: it's an archive, a ready made audience, an inspiration factory and a place to get yourself noticed. Let's try and untangle this one:

Your personal archive- shared

If you do a lot of teaching the chances are you have a lot of PowerPoints knocking around on your machine, your website, your shared servers, your institutional repository, your cutlery drawer... well maybe not your cutlery drawer, but you get the picture. Slideshare gives you an opportunity to host all of your teaching materials in one place, and makes them available in an easily embeddable format for others wishing to share and promote your work. 

It's a small point, but really worth mentioning. This is not your institutional repository, this is on the open web and can be discovered by a much wider and variable audience. If someone is looking for an inspirational teaching presentation they can cite in an article or use as a great example they are not going to come looking for your work. Put it where it can be easily found. 

Can you think of materials you have produced which could gain a new audience on Slideshare?

Inspiration for you

Okay, so presentations vary from awesome inspiration to terrible, terrible warnings, but if you are a visual person you might find that browsing a handful of good presentations on Slideshare will equal an hour reading how to guides.  From individual presentations to browsing the channels e.g. Pew Internet and American Life Project, The White House, or the Economist Intelligence Unit, there is a wide range of excellent slide sets available for you to learn from.

Browse Slideshare in search of the good, the bad and the ugly. Can you find anything that you could draw inspiration from?

Shareable teaching products, okay, predictable, but what else? What was that about getting noticed?

At a very basic level Silideshare is just a way to host PowerPoint presentations and .pdfs. The reason that it mostly contains presentations is only because we have a pretty fixed mindset regarding what PowerPoint can do. If you stop thinking about a room sized audience and start thinking about a panel. One of the most interesting new uses is to sell not just your service but your self. Have a look at this great CV
Do you think this could replace (in certain circumstances) your paper CV or resume?

Monday, 12 September 2011

Thing 19: Catch up week on integrating 'things'

Jigsaw-ing by lilahpops, on Flickr
Fitting pieces together
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License

Wow, isn't the programme progressing quickly! It barely seems two minutes since I was writing Thing 3 about personal branding and yet we're now only a few things away from completion.

It's time for a little bit of a breather and some reflection on what you've gained from the programme so far and how you might continue to use what you've learnt. We've covered a number of social media tools (e.g. blogs, RSS feeds, Twitter, LinkedIn) and productivity tools (e.g. Google calendar, Evernote, Google Docs, wikis), as well as considering a number of different elements of our professional development (e.g. personal branding, reflective practice, advocacy, events). You can see a full list of the things we've covered so far here.

The purpose of this week is to look back at your previous posts and consider which elements you have found most useful and how you might integrate them into your working routine. You might already have done this, so feel free to blog about how you have done that if so. Maybe you've started using RSS feeds or Twitter during breaks to catch up on news. Maybe you're using LinkedIn for group discussions on professional topics or to share updates about your professional developments. Perhaps it's a technical solution you have discovered which updates multiple services at once or enables you to manage a number of different things. Or perhaps you haven't had chance to think about integrating anything yet. Now is your chance to review the previous tools and think about how you might continue to use them. Choose one or two (or more if you're feeling ambitious!) and share your thoughts in this week's blog post.

P.S. We haven't forgotten about thing 17 - it will be posted soon.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Thing 17 - postponed

Thing 17 (Prezi / data visualisation / slideshare) will go live at some point next week. The cpd23 team apologises for the delay.

Thing 18 is ready and will be published in half an hour.