Thing 5: Reflecting on CPD23

Having kept a journal for years, I am used to private reflection. Reading the CPD23 post on reflective practice was therefore a huge “Duh!” moment for me. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought to record reflections in a professional context before. Until I started this blog, I was unlikely to share these, but I think the process itself is helpful. I wish I had reflected properly after submitting some library school essays! I liked Borton’s “What? So what? Now what?” model best, though I generally found that theories on reflective practice boiled down to critical thinking + critical action.

In this post I will reflect on CPD23.

What? (Recall it)

For the past month I have been carrying out various tasks designed to help me learn more about the tools/methods I can use to develop my career. Each task, called a Thing, is meant to introduce me to programs or tools that might challenge me at first, but will ultimately help me do my job better. Things have included creating a blog, using Twitter, learning about in-person and online networks and considering how I represent myself.

So what? (Evaluate it)

I’ve learned a lot more than just how to use tools during this process. Because the program is online and there is such an emphasis on networking (Thing 2 was meeting your neighbors, which introduced the theme nicely), I think the biggest thing I am taking away is that librarians really want to engage with each other. There’s so much sharing of information & discussion of ideas. And I think this is wonderful! I don’t contribute much at the moment, but it’s very encouraging. The program has really built my confidence.

Of course, some things have been easier for me to do than others. I particularly struggled with Things 3 & 4. My inability to cope with Thing 4 certainly points to my personal weaknesses. I’m old-fashioned in a lot of ways and, while I’m good at using computers, I don’t like to spend very much time on them. Thing 3 was just a huge concept I hadn’t considered much previously, and I am still thinking about it.

Now what? (Apply it)

I am trying to be more consistent about my use of Twitter & am trying to get more involved-tweeting at people & participating in at least one week of #uklibchat. I’m also thinking more critically about my online persona. I’ve made a few changes to Twitter, but don’t have the time right now to do a complete overhaul to everything. Dreaming in the Stacks was actually a provisional blog title that I feel got stuck when I started CPD23. I haven’t decided whether I’ll keep it. I have a Google Reader feed now, which I check when I remember it’s there.

I mentioned earlier that CPD23 has boosted my confidence, and that’s definitely what I’ll be using the most.


Leave a comment

Filed under CPD23

CPD23 Thing 4: Current awareness

After feeling rather pessimistic about Thing 3, I was really looking forward to jumping into Thing 4. Current awareness is something I am more comfortable with, even if I am a latecomer who didn’t start paying attention to the library world at large until I began library school. CPD23 still found a way to challenge me, though, by asking me to use three tools I am only slightly or nominally familiar with.


Twitter was a complete mystery to me until I was forced to join it in an information resources module at the beginning of this year. Being generally skeptical of social media, I was less than thrilled to be joining it. Annie mentions on the  CPD23 blog assignment that there is a perception that Twitter is full of trivial information about people’s personal lives. I was definitely one of the people with this assumption. When I get bored and click on trending hashtags, I can still see that it is true for a lot of people. However, I use Twitter primarily for professional purposes. In fact, it’s where I found out about the most recent developments in RDA implementation and about the LC’s review of MARC (#marcmustdie)! The option to be selective about who I follow  keeps Twitter manageable for me. By following users related to libraries, I can keep my Twitter feed largely full of information I might be able to use professionally. I would get really overwhelmed if I used it for both social and professional purposes. However, I do have some overlap; I might tweet with  library school colleagues about going for drinks, etc., and I do follow some non-library/book-related users. My decision about whether to follow users not related to libraries is usually based on how much they tweet; I much prefer only occasional tweets if they’re not librarians/literary nerds like me.

For other people’s thoughts on Twitter, do go have a look Woodsie Girl’s post. She has some excellent advice for coping with Twitter overload, and I especially like her suggestion of looking at Twitter as a conversation. One of my favorite things about Twitter so far has been participating in live chats like #uklibchat last week.

RSS Feeds

Using Google Reader was a pretty strange experience for me. RSS feeds do not appeal to me by nature, so it was good to be pushed out of my comfort zone. The week did confirm some of my expectations, but there were some surprises as well. I expected to feel overwhelmed by the sight of several hundred things in a window that looks remarkably like my inbox, and I was. As an alternative to RSS feeds in CPD23 so far, I have been following some blogs on WordPress and Blogger by subscribing using my account. Though a great side effect of the bundle RSS feed is that I have more of a chance to browse, I think I prefer the method I’ve been using so far. It feels less overwhelming, and it also lets me break my reading down a little. I can read WordPress blogs one day and Blogger the next. My current method also helps me control my natural inclination to browse/procrastinate. Unfortunately, I could easily spend a day looking at all the posts that come up Google Reader. It’d probably be a better evening task for me, but I am not sure that’s what I want to devote my evenings to.

Some of the pleasant surprises of Google Reader were seeing that other friends were already using it to share links. I had no idea, but have found some really interesting information through them already. I also really liked that I could easily see a preview of each blog post/website before visiting it.

I don’t see myself using it in the long term. It makes me feel like reading is an obligation rather than something I should enjoy. I also prefer looking at one website in depth rather than getting an overview of several; i.e. I’d rather spend one evening looking at everything on and then the next looking at CILIP than go back and forth.


Pushnote reminded me a lot of a non-professional site called Pinterest that I basically use to share pretty things with friends. Pushnote has a similar premise — it is a way to share interesting links with people. The idea is a good one, but there are a few flaws. I can’t put my finger on why, but I don’t find the dialogue box as intuitive as it should be; I also think it’s strange that you (or at least I) can’t seem to access all content from it. I have to go to the website to look at friends’ profiles individually. I am also skeptical of the rating system. Why would you share something that wasn’t excellent?

I hope Pushnote keeps improving, but for now I have too many other things to follow to use it.



Filed under CPD23, Uncategorized

Learning to catalogue in 2010-11

The following post is my contribution to issue 163 of Catalogue & Index, a publication for members of CILIP’s Cataloguing and Indexing group. It’s a particularly timely issue about RDA and I’m honoured to be included. My piece provides the student perspective to accompany Anne Welsh’s article about teaching RDA. Do check it out if you can!


Elaine Sanchez recently released the comments from her survey, “Your feelings about your cataloging (metadata) profession”(2011). Questions about training were included and responses revealed the variety of ways in which cataloguers learned to excel at their jobs. Many mention the importance of mentoring, but the response that best summed up my thoughts on learning to catalogue was that which refers to learning cataloguing as an “apprenticeship process.” I love the phrase‟s association with craftsmanship, and how it also emphasizes the different steps in learning to catalogue. There is independent theoretical study, on-the-job practical training, and independent work. Though the last stage is theoretically independent, in reality it still involves a great deal of discussion and working with others in person or via listservs. Though I am still mastering cataloguing as a craft, I hope my experiences of learning to catalogue are illustrative of the steps and teaching methods encountered by many.
Some of my colleagues came across cataloguing while doing traineeships, but my first encounter with cataloguing was deliberate. I had missed the deadline for library school applications, but I was still able to take individual classes at the University of Missouri, near where I lived at the time. Being naturally drawn to detail and knowing cataloguing was a valuable skill, I opted for a cataloguing class. The class had both theoretical and practical content. While I now appreciate the thoroughness of this approach, it was overwhelming at the time. I kept getting caught up in jargon and, though I was creating dummy records each week, it was hard for me to see how theory related to the records I was creating, apart from punctuation. The sense of achievement that came when I got an A is what made me decide to continue my cataloguing education when I finally began my MA.
UCL, with a required cataloguing module as well as an optional advanced module, was the obvious choice for me. I started in September and was thrown into cataloguing right away. The best part of the cataloguing modules was the theoretical knowledge they provided. Even the basic cataloguing module had sessions on RDA, and the final assignment was to create my own cataloguing policy for a subject field of my choice. It was a daunting task, but class discussions of AACR2 and RDA provided the background knowledge I needed to identify strengths and weaknesses of AACR2. It is easy to see how this encouragement to think critically about the principles of cataloguing will benefit my career, whether I am working as a cataloguer or just talking to practicing cataloguers about their work. I also opted to take historical bibliography, which introduced me to the basics of DCRMB.
However, practical cataloguing and on-the-job training have been equally significant for me. As part of my course, I did a brief placement at Kew Gardens. I gained a lot of confidence from just that one fortnight of cataloguing books, pamphlets and serials with a small team of experienced cataloguers. I also felt comfortable in the knowledge that I would soon be getting more experience cataloguing; I had already spoken to my lecturer about volunteering. The libraries I had previously worked at in the United States seldom accepted volunteers, and I was unsure of how to go about finding a volunteer cataloguing position. I was delighted to hear that the Paul Hamlyn Library was actively seeking volunteers, so I contacted the British Museum and spent several months cataloguing there. Paul Hamlyn has a wonderful collection and the experience showed me some of the challenges I might face as a professional cataloguer. For example, running into realia in a museum setting felt quite different from cataloguing examples in class. Luckily I was quite familiar with AACR2 and able to find answers to my many questions using it and the museum‟s local guides. Perhaps what I learned most at Paul Hamlyn was how to trust my instincts. This is something that really cannot be taught in library school; it only comes with a lot of practice and encouragement from other professionals.

I noticed early in my cataloguing education that it was very awkward to create records for electronic resources using AACR2 and MARC21. My professor did mention a new standard, RDA, was being tested to address this, but I didn‟t really learn much about it until I started at UCL. Its use of FRBR terms was quite intimidating until I realized that it represented a completely different approach to cataloguing. RDA emphasizes users‟ needs. The changes in standards (the dismissal of both AACR2 and MARC21) will transform catalogues. It is an exciting time to become a cataloguer, but I am glad I was taught theory and encouraged to think critically. Even though standards will change radically during my cataloguing career, I will still be expected to find solutions to cataloguing problems; I would never feel confident doing that without understanding what lies behind standards.
What has struck me most about the process of learning to catalogue is that, like all crafts, it is hard work. As a young librarian cataloguing education was something I had to actively seek. I have now taken three cataloguing classes and have some cataloguing experience in the real world under my belt, I still find that cataloguing requires a lot of dedication. It is a changing field and there is always more to learn. I always seem to think of more questions about cataloguing when I am actually doing it. Nonetheless, my various learning experiences have made me a confident cataloguer who is comfortable consulting cataloguing resources and making decisions… even at my current stage in the apprenticeship process!

Sanchez, E. (2011) Your comments about your cataloging (metadata) profession. AUTOCAT, 19 May,


Filed under Uncategorized

Thing 3: Building a brand (or representing a personality)

I took this week’s thing with a heavy dose of salt. Unlike with Thing 2, I also wrote this without reading other people’s posts. That will be my reading over the weekend! The topic of branding and marketing myself is one I still have a lot to learn about, but I feel that CPD23 is meant to be about my own thoughts. I suppose this means what I say in this post may not reflect my thoughts forever. Unfortunately for my readers, it also means this is a contemplative post that includes rhetorical questions (or ones that could be discussed in a comment thread). However, I don’t see that as a problem-I think it’s important to form opinions, learn, and modify opinions according to experience.

The idea of building a brand for myself is one I don’t find particularly appealing. ‘Brand’ immediately makes me think of commodification and consumerism. I am happy enough to accept brands for products, but I struggle with the idea of branding individuals. Some celebrities (Lady Gaga springs to mind) have clearly worked hard to maintain a certain image or brand. I suspect they dislike being pigeonholed like the rest of us do, but in their case the larger purpose of the branding is to sell merchandise. Again, the emphasis of a brand is on selling.

So how does this relate to me and other librarians? If we create a brand, are we selling ourselves or our skill set? If we already have a job, is it still important to advertise our skill set? Why is it important to have an online brand at all?

This week, I have found it helpful to disregard the idea of building a brand. Instead, I have chosen to think of this as finding a way to represent my personality consistently. I hope this doesn’t mean I have strayed too far beyond the CPD23 brief. I am also aware that this is a tiny distinction that probably only exists in my mind. But, hey, it puts my conscience at ease. I am much happier with the idea of allowing colleagues and potential employers an insight into who I am than with the idea of marketing myself. I have already done several things to improve consistency in my (tiny) online presence. When I started to use Twitter, it was a classroom task. I chose a username I used on another website. I didn’t realize how difficult this name must have been for others until months later. When I started this blog, I took the opportunity to link my address with my new Twitter name @bibliojenni. It’s still a unique name, and by associating both Twitter and my blog with it I felt confident people would be able to find me. This is especially important as I have a very common name. Googling my name returns mainly results about a therapist and a former Washington Post book editor. Adding ‘library’ makes no difference, though adding my university does.

However, even personalities must be consistent. I have thought a lot about how much of my personality I should represent online, especially in professional settings. For me, this means Twitter and my blog. I use other media for keeping in touch with friends and am reasonably uninhibited in those settings. The visual side of my online identity provides readers with some information about me-my grandmother’s vintage photo album at the top of this page represents my whimsy and my love of old things. I think my Twitter photo represents these same things in a different way and will continue to do so even if I choose another image. These traits are further enhanced by my choice of blog title. I hope  my writing balances out the whimsy and reflects my professional thoughts. I have a lot of interests that I may occasionally tweet with friends about, but my feed is mostly filled with tweets that relate to my work in some ways. This blog is even more work-focused.  But, most importantly, I think all those who know me would say my online personality is just a distilled version of my real life personality. As far as I’m concerned, that is just what a brand or online presence should do.


Filed under CPD23

Thing 2: Meeting the neighbors

Approaching others has always been hard for me, in real life and virtually, so Thing 2 was a challenge for me. I try to read library blogs and library news, but am more of a lurker than a contributor. I know this stems from a lack of confidence. For some reason, I always doubt my thoughts are valuable or unique. In real life, this means I will always choose a one-to-one conversation over a group setting; virtually, this means I rarely contribute to discussions. I once apologized to someone I hadn’t met for tweeting at her, then realized that being able to contact people you don’t know personally is Twitter’s key advantage! Anyway, I am aware that this could affect my career negatively, so Thing 2 is an excellent step toward overcoming this fear.

I loved looking at everyone’s blogs. There are some very clever titles on the list and I did tend to gravitate towards those at first. I also browsed a lot of different categories: Germany, charity, higher education, rare books…my favorite thing about Thing 2 was finding out more about librarians who don’t do what I do. I think it’s interesting to see what traits are shared among all librarians and see what differences emerge in different settings. Unfortunately I had some commenting issues (I can’t seem to post comments to Blogger at the moment), so only left one comment. It was at In Which… a cleverly written blog with posts about 19th century pamphlets and food (including a recipe for garlic cheese biscuits, yum!). Sounds good to me.

Some other blogs I will be looking at include:

Trials of the Midwest Librarian I live in England now, but I’ll always be a Midwest girl at heart. Hopefully this will keep me up to date on what’s happening in the library world over there.

The Annotating Librarian A fellow procrastinator. I’m glad CPD23 will be keeping us both accountable.

Quotidian Opus I chose this for the title; a close friend has the word quotidian in her blog title, so I think it’s a sign of quality.

Love in the Library I’m looking forward to reading about the experiences of an Israeli librarian. Very intrigued to find out about any cultural differences/similarities. It’s also very well written.


Filed under CPD23

CPD Thing 1: Why CPD23?

I am a soon-to-be librarian just starting to make serious headway on my dissertation for the MA LIS programme at UCL. It looks at Anna Atkins’ cyanotypes and her role as a female innovator in botanical illustration. Not surprisingly, it also reflects the things I am interested in professionally: historical bibliography, illustration and science. I would love to be a subject librarian for a scientific field, or work in an art library, or work with rare books in some capacity. I still have a lot of thinking to do about my career, but I did recently decide on an ultimate dream job: librarian at Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. I know it doesn’t fit with all of what I said above, but I was an English major and love seventeenth century literature.

The decision to participate in CPD23 was pretty easy for me. I had been contemplating starting a blog when I went to New Professionals Information Day at CILIP and heard Bethan Ruddock talk about getting involved. CPD23 was just the motivation I needed to actually do it. For me, blogging is primarily about practicing writing. I love it, but suffer from a severe lack of discipline sometimes. CPD23 will keep me accountable while making me think about lots of things that are important to me. Plus, I will hopefully get to meet (albeit virtually) more librarians through this exercise, and librarians make awesome friends.

Leave a comment

Filed under CPD23

On the significance of public libraries

In the past year, library advocacy has been pushed to the forefront of the public’s mind. I hope that the WI’s recent announcement of support will increase the presence of library campaigns around the country.

This post, though, is just a short one to remind us that public libraries have always been wanted for various reasons. Now we often promote libraries as community centres of information, but there was a time when they imagined as making scholarship available to the public. Today I came across an excerpt from an 1833 letter by Henry Fox Talbot to William Jackson Hooker, then director of Kew:

“In my opinion public libraries ought to be established in all our principal Towns at the national expense. A considerable sum should be voted annually for the encouragement of science, which should be in part expended in patronizing literary undertakings of merit. From 20 to 50 copies of sucsh works should be purchased by government & distributed to these provincial libraries, which small at first, would soon become important.”

(Quote referenced in Beauty of Another Order)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized