Monday, 27 July 2015


This has been quite an easy "thing" to do as I'm already on both these social networking sites.

Joined Facebook first and love it. It's good to be able to share news, photos, etc. with family and friends. A lot of it is rubbish and you have to watch out for scams but generally I would miss it if it wasn't around. That said, it's quite nice to go away occasionally and have a complete break.

I also like the way you can pass on information about events (or even organise them yourself), participate in various groups, make comments about all sorts of random things ... and some of it is genuinely amusing!

Twitter I joined at a later date. Was a bit wary at first as it's so public (and yes, I know you can make it private but there doesn't seem much point) and you are always hearing horror stories of people's tweets or unfortunate photos going viral. But I was at a conference and wanted to "join in" with tweeting so I signed up.

I tend to use Twitter for more professional things, putting links to reports, making comments about books, reading, libraries, literacy ... although I do occasionally throw in something more personal but I figure that people following me are doing it because of my librarian connections and aren't really interested in my latest knitted creation or fantastic food I've just eaten. I also retweet professional stuff ...

Whereas my Facebook is a real mix of personal, professional and my obsessions ...

As much of what I tweet I would also like to add to my Facebook page (a lot of Facebook friends are library/book related ... and even if they aren't then they all know I'm a librarian so these sort of comments wouldn't be amiss), I have set things up so that any tweets go straight to Facebook ... saves me having to do it twice!

Regarding both these platforms, I find the amount of information on them staggering and it's so easy to miss things if you're out of the loop for a couple of days. No wonder people become hooked on them! You also really could waste half your life away reading comments, watching YouTube videos and doing quizzes (now then, must try and get to the next level of Candy Crush before I sign off tonight ....).

Monday, 20 July 2015


So ... I've done what was asked of me in this session. I already had a Google mail account set up for my blog so logging in and playing around with it wasn't a problem. But I never use this email ... I use my Hotmail account which I've had for years. That's the one listed on my cards, the one everyone contacts me through and it's also an upgraded account that I pay for. I'm happy with it so don't see why I also need to use another email.

When I became CILIP Vice President, people started emailing me using my name and the CILIP handle and these messages were disappearing into the ether. I also soon realised that checking the official VP account as well as my Hotmail (and I also have a work email) just meant more for me to do, so the IT guys at CILIP set everything up so any emails sent to either the official account or my name@CILIP were automatically directed to my Hotmail. Perfect! I'm all for making things simpler and life easier.

Have also had a look at the rest of Google+ ... have added some extra things like a photo and profile summary but not sure why I need to fill out all the details that I also have on my LinkedIn profile. To me, it's just more of the same. A few thoughts ... what are the advantages of having a Google+ account over LinkedIn ... or of having both? Are people using Google+ instead of Facebook and Twitter or are they using all of them?

The way I see it is the more places I have online where people can contact me means the more places I have to check out ...

But I do agree it has some useful features and have used some of them, such as Google Drive, to share and collaborate.

I'm currently working on my PC. Prefer this to my netbook as it has a nice large screen and is on a big desk with lots of space. But it doesn't have a webcam so haven't tried the hangouts feature yet. It's not a problem though as I can either connect my phone or camera, or use my netbook instead. I can see why skyping would be great if you had friends or family living at a distance, or if your partner worked away a lot and I've used video-conferencing before but generally wouldn't be bothered viewing people whilst I talked to them.

Have to say, I'm never very comfortable being viewed, would much rather be on the other side of the camera!

Friday, 17 July 2015


So ... I've done the task for this which is searching for myself in an incognito mode and am pleased to say that nothing unexpected came up! Which didn't surprise me because I've always been aware that anything I put online is "out there" so have always been a bit cautious. In fact, this is why my Twitter handle is @bcb567 ... when I first signed up to Twitter, I wasn't convinced about it's usefulness or practicalities but I was at a conference and wanted to join in. So I made it something that didn't immediately identify me ... in retrospect and considering how useful Twitter can be, I think I would have just gone for my own name.

I also don't use different names or different information for the various sites I'm on ... so I am "me" on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads and Pinterest. Plus anything else I may have signed up for but have forgotten about!

I do belong to a couple of groups on LinkedIn and occasionally make comments but I'm not sure how useful it is as a means of finding contacts for employment and advancement opportunities. I know potential employers look at it but I don't know anyone who has actually found employment via the site. That said, I need to update my profile ... so that's a task for this weekend and the hyperlink in the MOOC has some excellent suggestions.

I'm also registered on About.Me but have never taken it any further than that. I sometimes feel that my life is swamped by all this online stuff ... the need to update profiles, tweet, post images, write blogs, etc. If it was on one site that would be fine but there are just so many of them now. I haven't added anything to my Pinterest boards for a while, partly because I'm so busy doing other things ... including reading books, something us school librarians do like to do from time to time!

As for "my professional brand" ... I would like to think that it's one of a Chartered librarian, experienced in school libraries, and passionate about the value and benefits that all libraries can bring to every section of the community. An organiser, someone who is reliable and gets things done, who is committed to CPD and supports colleagues, and who looks for opportunities to promote and advocate for libraries.

But I guess you'd be better off asking the people who know me what my brand is ....

Monday, 13 July 2015


I never had any desire to be a librarian. In fact, the thought never crossed my mind when I was at school, despite a love of books and an obsessive need to be constantly reading. And I’m not sure why my careers teacher didn’t suggest it as an option; perhaps I was a bit too loud to ever be thought suitable for such a profession. So I headed off to do Business Studies at uni and then found myself working in project management.

It was only after I’d had my second daughter, and realised that I couldn’t go back to the previous job if I actually wanted to see my children grow up, that I started looking around for something else to do. I saw an advert in the local paper for a position at a school as a “Media Resources Officer”. They wanted somebody who liked reading, could create displays and encourage students into the library. I applied and got the job. School libraries were very different then, no IT to begin with, and I’m not sure if I was going into the job now with the lack of experience that I had then I would be able to cope. But I’m glad the school took a chance on me because it has been the best job ever. I loved it from the very beginning and walked around in a state of euphoria, hardly believing that somebody was actually paying me to do this.

School librarianship is not an easy option. It has a very wide remit so you find you’re juggling many facets of the role; the whole reading for pleasure agenda and reading across the curriculum as well as information skills throughout the school. Not to mention the management of the physical space and resources. Being a solo librarian makes it hard to do all of this as well as you can which means, sometimes, accepting that good enough (rather than perfect) has to suffice. But there’s something about the job that keeps you at it. It’s hard to describe; part of it is the autonomy you have, the way you can direct your own time and effort. Every day is different, even if you’re delivering the same programme each year it’s to a completely new intake. Working with the students is fantastic albeit frustrating at times but then when you manage to make that connection between book and student it makes it all worthwhile. I found that after a while I wanted to qualify as a librarian; I had the experience and wanted the piece of paper to prove it so I undertook a distance-learning degree. It seemed a natural step from that to become a Chartered librarian.

The job definitely has its ups and downs. There’s not actually any part of the job I dislike, even shelving books; the hassles tend to come from people outside the library itself! And there have definitely been some great moments. It’s hard to choose just one. I guess personal achievements are up there, such as getting my degree, becoming Chartered, being nominated by my pupil librarians for the School Librarian of the Year Award, being awarded the inaugural School Library Association Founder’s Award. But it’s also the small things that make the job special: recommending a book to a student and them enjoying it; being able to have great conversations about books with like-minded people regardless of their ages; when you finally manage to connect that anti-reading student with a book they enjoy and actually ask if there’s a sequel.   

As for the downside, it can be a bit isolating, the pay isn’t brilliant and there are never enough hours in the day. Fortunately, there are some fantastic networks for school librarians where you can share ideas and good news as well as asking for advice and sounding off occasionally. Budget cuts suck and it’s horrible when you hear of colleagues being downsized or re-graded. Yet we still carry on so I guess there must be something about being a school librarian that keeps us going.

If somebody was thinking about school librarianship today, I’d say “go for it” but be aware that schools are very different from other sorts of libraries. Qualifications are important as is maintaining your CPD; the world of education does not stand still nor does publishing or technology and experience is vital but this will come with time. I was inexperienced and unqualified when I started but somehow managed to stay ahead of everything. Having an assistant helped as she was able to show me the ropes whilst I found my feet but I think you need to have a certain type of personality too. Forget the stereotype of the quiet librarian working in a lovely peaceful place; school libraries are busy, buzzy, can be noisy, and have a constant stream of teenagers wandering through them, their librarians need to be able to juggle a multitude of demands, deal with both the ordinary as well as bizarre requests, and be ready with tissues when there are hormonal overloads.

The one thing I would like to change though is the status and professional recognition of the role. School libraries are not statutory which is rather crazy when you think about how important literacy is to accessing the curriculum. And to me, literacy means reading which needs books. Statutory school libraries with a minimum of standards including a professional librarian would be a good start; the next step would be the recognition of the wider remit of our roles within schools. The system needs to realise that teachers are not the only qualified staff in schools and there are others who can, and do, play a valuable role in the education of the students.

Thursday, 9 July 2015


Have decided to sign up for this MOOC as, although I do social media stuff, I'm aware that it's an area that I need to develop my CPD in. Most of the online activities I take part in are fairly basic and I'm hoping this course will stretch me a bit and help me to explore and discover more.

The first thing is to set up a blog which I have already done so I guess that's box 1 ticked. But it talks about linking your email to your blog ... why would anyone want to use their email to blog from? I tend to write my blogs in a word document (although I'm not doing that now!) so I can proofread them, think about what I'm writing (bearing in mind this is on a public forum), leave it for a couple of days and go back ... and then post when I'm happy.

What are the advantages of blogging from your email? Also, my main email is not my Googlemail account as I only set that up for the purposes of my blog but my Hotmail, would it work from that?

Anyway, have already learnt something new. I've been blogging for a while but was always aware that it was pretty basic and I wasn't sure how to add things or change the layout ... but now I do! I had never bothered to explore the blogging features before, I'm one of those people that like to get on and do things (classic case of not reading the instructions) and partly this is because I'd never really given myself the time or space to explore so I'm hoping this course will do just that!