Monday, 27 August 2012

Thing 5 - Learning to Reflect

I was lucky enough to have the chance to attend a ‘Reflective Writing’ workshop organised by the Career Development Group (Scottish Region) last year. Although I was interested in the topic, the concept was new to me and I wasn’t entirely sure how it would fit with anything work-related. During the seminar, we were introduced to the technique of applying the questions ‘What? So what? Now what?’ to any given activity. The basic intention here is to ensure that you have a clear idea of what you want to do, why you want to do it, how to gauge whether or not your goals are met, and how to apply what you’ve learned. Despite my initial reservations, this is the framework I’ve consistently gone back to over and over, manifesting principally in a notebook of the things I want to achieve on a weekly basis. I’ve found that the routine of keeping a notebook like this has focussed my thoughts on these questions even when I’m not writing it, leading to a much more productive approach to my Chartership.
One of the most useful tools I learned was to reflect on the same activity at different times – immediately afterwards and then a few weeks or even months later. Using this technique, I’ve noticed that my initial perception of the same thing can change significantly over time. I was surprised to discover, for example, that I’m particularly critical of work I produce at the time of writing, only to find I have a more positive approach when some time has passed, most likely as this enables me to consider the worth of my work from a more detached perspective. Similarly, I’ve been able to benefit more fully from visits and seminars by purposefully taking time to reflect on what I learned from them weeks and months later when perhaps a new aspect to my job gives that information added relevance.
I can’t say that reflective writing techniques have become instinctual for me yet, and I find I still have to struggle against falling into the trap of simply describing an activity rather than reflecting critically on its purpose and what I’ve learned. Writing reflectively as a routine certainly helps, though, and I can strongly recommend applying the ‘What? So what? Now what?’ questions to every activity as one of the simplest and most effective ways to ensure you’re thinking reflectively. The answers can be surprising!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Thing 4 - Becoming a professional Twit

Familiarity with big name social media tools, such as Twitter, was one of the main reasons I was attracted to the CPD23 course. It was with some trepidation, then, that I embarked on setting up my first Twitter account. Three things I've learned over the past few tasks:

1. I spend an inordinate amount of time on the seemingly small things, like photos, layout, what to call myself etc.;

2. It takes twice as long to complete the social media tasks than I originally plan for;

3. This is mostly because I become completely absorbed in all the information suddenly at my fingertips!

Setting up my Twitter account was no exception - I'm an instant convert to the value of the format, not only for the passive benefit of keeping up to date with current issues and events in the library and information world, but also for the active benefits of networking and finding opportunities to get involved.

I've been looking for voluntary opportunities, so @GlasgowLib has given me some inspiration. I'm part of the Multimedia, Information and Technology Group Scotland (MmITS), so now I can follow my group's Twitter account @MmITScotland and post comments. I can find out the latest event being organised by Glasgow Library Tweet Ups (GLTU) from @AnabelMarsh and and also by using #GLTU. I've found that my chartership mentor has a Twitter account, so I'm eager to investigate this as a quick way to keep in touch and ask questions. I can also ask Stuart Bain of @OrkneyLibrary what type of biscuits the kind folk of Kirkwall have donated to the library this week.

And all of this in a couple of hours!!

Ok, so I admit that RSS and Storify attracted far less of my attention. In many ways, I feel that Twitter is now doing the job of several RSS feeds, but in a more compact way. Although I have used RSS feeds before, I found I just didn't use them often. I might revisit RSS when I have created a longer list of blogs and other sources to follow, though. Storify looks like an excellent tool that can be directed towards various audiences, but it isn't something I have a use for as yet. I really wanted to try it out simply for this course, but time is already getting away from me. Another one for the future to-do list!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Thing 3 - I have a brand already? When did that happen?!

I stare at screens all day long, just one of the reasons I haven't yet made the leap to things like Facebook and Twitter. I was quite confident until embarking on Thing 3 that my online presence was minimal if not entirely absent. Personal branding wasn't a concept I was familiar with, so I was a little disconcerted to learn that I already had one, even though I wasn't aware of it. And so I took the plunge suggested and googled my name: Leigh Bunton.

Unlike surnames such as Smith or Jones, Bunton isn't too common and I fully expected to find only references to the Spice Girls. Following the initial shock that I'd apparently died suddenly aged 33 (rest in peace, Benjamin Leigh Bunton!) I was surprised to find that 5 of the 10 hits on the first page referred directly to yours truly! This was quickly followed by relief that each hit reflected either something that I'd written as part of my chartership activities, my membership of the Multimedia, Information and Technology Group (Scotland), or staff information from my workplace website. Nothing too offensive or damaging then, and thankfully along the lines of how I would like my personal brand to develop.

As this course progresses, I fully expect to be staring at more screens for longer as I journey into the sci-fi world of Facebook, Twitter and the like. I'm grateful to realise at an early stage, though, that it's important to have a clear idea of my personal and professional identity - it's out there whether I like it or not!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Thing 2 - Commenting? Surely Not?!

I've always been such a lurker when it comes to blogs, message boards or anything web-related with the option to comment. Like many who aren't natural to blogging, I would constantly ask myself - why would anyone want to read my opinion? As a result, the closest I'd gotten to posting comments on the net was to answer some movie related questions on the IMDB. Not anymore!

One of the reasons I decided to follow this course was to improve my confidence and to get involved. The fact that the blogs I'm visiting are part of this community certainly makes it easier, so I don't think I have to worry about starting any flame wars! I must confess that I've been drawn to blogs with quirky names, which makes me wonder if I should have put more thought into my own blog title. That's probably Marketing 101.

So I've taken the plunge and commented on some of the blogs that caught my interest. I had expected to maybe just run in, say hi, and run back out, but it doesn't take long to see how much diversity is out there - far too fascinating just to say hi! I think it's going to be a great way to speak to people I would never have the chance to otherwise and find out about the information world beyond academic libraries.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Thing 1 - Jumping into the Blogosphere

I'm really interested in social networking technology and different ways to pursue professional development, but so far only from the sidelines. To be honest, it feels like jumping in at the deep end to start off with a blog of my own. In the last few hours, though, I've already learned that my browser is way out of date and that I'm overly obsessed with template themes, so I think this process is going to be much more educational than I first suspected!

I'm looking forward to setting myself challenges as I work through these 23 things, so this blog will help to chart my progress - the successes and the pitfalls.

Here goes!!

Leigh 23