Thursday, 19 December 2013

The E. T. Bryant Memorial Prize, for early career music librarians

Do you know any early career music librarians, or early career librarians who did a dissertation on music librarianship? The E. T. Bryant Memorial Prize is prestigious and valuable, but hurry! Deadline is 10 January 2014. And here’s the link:-

Thursday, 28 November 2013

CILIP Professional Knowledge and Skills Base, and Vitae Researcher Development Framework

A couple of years ago, I helped a research supervisor colleague plan some research skills training for doctoral students.  The framework was based on a handy diagram, available from the Vitae website.  (Vitae is a research support organisation, and their diagram is called the Vitae Researcher Development Framework.)

Now, here I am in my librarian capacity (and a CILIP mentor), looking at CILIP's new Professional Knowledge and Skills Base.  It's a great idea.  And guess what?  We have our own circle too, now!  Here's a brochure about it - you have to be a CILIP member to download the fuller document.

All about professional knowledge and skills in librarianship:-


Friday, 8 November 2013

My name is Karen and I'm a CILIP Mentor

Earlier this year (2013), I attended a CILIP mentoring course.  Although I did supervise someone through the chartership process some years ago  (I was on maternity leave, and that baby is now nearly 18!), this was long before supervisors became mentors.  Somehow it never occurred to me to become a mentor under the present system.  I suppose if someone had asked me to be their mentor, it would have jolted me into action.  Anyway, now I've been a Fellow for a couple of years, and younger colleagues have expressed interest in becoming chartered, it seemed like the right time to take the necessary steps.

So here I am - a mentor at last.  I have two new mentees, another would-be mentee that I am meeting later this month, and a fourth initial approach.  I feel like 'the old woman who lived in a shoe'!  I don't know how many mentees a mentor normally takes care of - if you're a CILIP mentor reading this, I'd be interested to hear from you.

I thought it would be a good idea to put a few thoughts on this blog, since it's devoted to CPD things.  I set it up when I was participating in the "23 Things" initiative.  I won't try to cover everything in one posting, so do revisit it.

Meanwhile, I'll repeat what I've said to my mentees already.  Do keep a journal of significant achievements, or problems and subsequent solutions.  Blog about them if you like - obviously, there's no need to bare your soul publicly if something went pear-shaped and you'd rather it remained private!  Keep a record of what you set out to do, how it turned out, whether you got any feedback from colleagues or library patrons, and whether you'd have done anything differently in retrospect.  And keep a folder of any handouts, guides or reports you've written - or courses you've attended.  It's all 'evidence' for your portfolio.  If you've put things online, do keep a list of the hyperlinks.  (I use Diigo for favourites, and for my more scholarly outputs - the latter is probably more useful if you're in an academic environment.)  If you've written journal articles or book reviews, keep them - and make sure you keep proper bibliographic citations so they can be traced or cited later. 

Also - I'm a great one for social media in professional development, so I warmly recommend joining Twitter and following discussions like the #chartership chats that take place on Thursday nights.  You get to meet other people following the same journey as yourself, and I hardly need to spell out the benefits of that!!


Sadly, librarianship is full of acronyms.  I expect every profession has its share of them, though.  If you've stumbled across this and you're not a librarian, here's a quick key:-

CILIP  Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals
CILIPS is the Scottish branch of CILIP
CPD    Continuing professional development (in any profession!)

WEBSITES (and here's mine) (look me up if you like!)
CILIP chartership wiki
(The wiki is for candidates, so I haven't joined. However, it offers sample portfolios, which I think is a great idea.  It takes away some of the fear of the unknown.) 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Library Camp Glasgow - A piece of Reflective Writing about Creativity in Libraries

I was at McConechie's Tyres at 8 am on Saturday morning, got my burst tyre replaced, and took the car home.  Took the bus into Glasgow, and was at the Mitchell Library in good time for Scotland's first Library Camp.  Good time?  I was almost the first delegate to arrive.  Armed with my 'bingo card', I cheerfully filled in everyone else's cards with "I play a musical instrument", and collected their distinguishing statements in return.  It was a great ice-breaker.

We had rants (a one-minute soapbox performance).  We had pitches.  These were longer presentations, allowing time for discussion afterwards.  I hadn't indicated my intention to do either, since I couldn't make up my mind what to rant about, and didn't think I had a topic that I wanted to 'pitch'.  However, as I got ready yesterday morning, I had an idea for a rant, so I spent the bus journey pondering it.  Yes, it would do.

After three other rants, on co-production, the 'dead hand of organisation' and e-books in the Higher Education context, I stuck my hand up and indicated I was ready to rant.  I mentioned the old 18th century fiddle tune book I was shown on Friday (by the father of one of our piping tutors), and our James Simpson flute manuscripts, and urged people to recognise the value of our national musical heritage. If it's old, whether printed or manuscript, urge patrons to consider depositing it in the library, because these things tell us much about attitudes to Scottish music, perhaps the preferences of a particular compiler or collector, and also much about Scottish history.

Then came the pitches.  There were choices at each of four sessions.  I attended a lively session about the next National Libraries Day, then a paper on library provision for disabled patrons. 

After lunch, I heard Delphine Dallison from Glasgow School of Art Library.  A graduate of GSA, she is currently their library graduate trainee, and she is interested in how libraries can inspire creativity in their patrons.  Delphine told us first about her undergraduate project, hiding small cards between books for patrons to find (not in the art school);  and then about a new project at the art school, called The Hatchery - where various artists were asked to seek inspiration from the library's own collections in making various resources for the collection.  There were three "virtual books" - just catalogue entries, in fact, as there are no actual physical books attached to the records.  Then there were "artists' books" and "tableaux vivants".  I was interested in the fact that, whilst the GSA encourages visual creativity, the Whittaker Library quite naturally focuses on the spoken word, vocal or instrumental music. Although we have been known to have exhibitions of pictures or costume, we are more likely to sponsor book launches, poetry readings, or Scottish oral history and music recitals.  It's still creativity, just our own brand of it.

There were staff from the Glasgow Women's Library at this session, and they had also done project work involving creativity. Theirs was called 21 Revolutions - 21 artists and 21 writers taking inspiration from the library collections.   All were agreed that the results were both effective and moving - the words "gorgeous" and "lovely" were expressed by more than one library camper.

Finally, I heard Richard Aird from West Dunbartonshire talking about a new opac and content mannager, aggregating e-content to make user access much more streamlined.  What an excellent idea! This was a really interesting presentation.

It wasn't until I got home  that I started thinking more seriously about the talks I'd heard, and most particularly about fostering creativity in libraries.  I've blogged about this on Whittaker Live more than once.
I suppose it's only natural that creative and performing arts libraries are going to be interested in this subject, since the colleges' very existence is predicated upon creativity.  If students' creativity isn't developed, then something is seriously wrong!

As I thought about it, all manner of questions flooded my mind.  For a start, why did we feel the urge to foster creativity in our patrons? In art colleges, conservatoires and drama schools,  chances are the creative urge is there already.  It's only natural we should want to share the treasures in our collections, and what could be more fitting than to display the artistic outcomes of these explorations and collaborations.  In other libraries,  the motivation can be subtly different,  helping individuals discover fulfilment in skills they didn't even know they had, and maybe making new friends into the bargain.  If library patrons are from some marginalised element of society - maybe hindered by language barriers, poverty or domestic turbulence, then working on a creative project in the peaceful environment of a library may be even more meaningful for them.

The other big question,  though, is almost one of aesthetics.  How do we describe the outcomes, these commissioned art-works or  spontaneous outpourings of creativity?  If we want to write professionally about our initiatives, we need to develop a critical vocabulary with which to do so.  I'm a musicologist as well as a librarian, and I'm used to writing about music, not just theoretically but also in performance.  I'm not a visual artist, though, so I haven't as wide a vocabulary for describing (and maybe in some circumstances,assessing) these aspirational, visually motivated projects.  However, if we're to continue a conversation about creativity in libraries, then we do need to be able to articulate why we set up these projects, what we hoped to achieve, what the outcomes were, what was particularly successful, and what was maybe less so.  

The "and" Factor

If I learned one thing during my time as a research student - apart from a whole bookful of facts about Scottish songs - it is that every short statement can be expanded upon.  I call it the "and" factor.  Let's say a particular piece of music has a distinctly Scottish feel about it.  If I'd said that in my viva, the examiners would quite rightly have asked me to expand upon the statement and justify it.  "And ....?"

In the same way, whether we as librarians coordinate a fabulous exhibition, provide the inspiration for a piece of improvised drama, or offer performers the opportunity to explore an early Victorian flute manuscript, we have to find a way to talk and write about it, if we want to continue the conversation and drive it forward.  What makes this collage gorgeous?  What makes that saxophone sound so seductive?  What is so touching about that book of poetry?

Saxophones in the Whittaker Library
This is not intended as any kind of criticism of the session I attended last Saturday.  It was an informal, "unconference" - the kind of event where anything goes, and we weren't trying to be quasi-academics.  I found it a really interesting subject, and I was delighted to find other people of like minds to myself, albeit in different arts.  (I'd like to find a way of inspiring students to do creative writing, too, but I've never thought the idea through.)  But the point I'm trying to make is that the more we talk and write about creative inspiration, the more impact the idea will have.  And for that, we shall have to work on - as I said - our vocabulary and our aesthetic appreciation. It's just another aspect of the reflective writing that we're all encouraged to do as part of our professional development.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Library Camp Glasgow 2013

Before the Event ...

I've attended loads of conferences over the years - librarianship, music librarianship or musicological.  However, I've never attended a library camp before - the new-wave, unconference kind of conference where informality and spontaneity are key.  Tomorrow, I'm giving it a try - I'm attending the first Scottish library camp, at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow. 

We were asked to make our own badges.  Anabel - Queen of West of Scotland Tweetups - tells me there's a competition for the best one.  I don't think I'll come anywhere near best, but I have crafted my own take on the theme, using tiny alphabet beads, my own Twitter handle, and that of the Royal Conservatoire Library.  Look out for me - @karenmca @whittakerlib!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

A Question of Continuing Professional Development

August 2013

I see from my stats that this blog was visited yesterday, despite having been dormant for several months.  The fact that someone looks but finds nothing new, will never do! So, in case anyone else happens upon this blog, which I started when I was following the 23 Things initiative in 2012, I thought I'd just post an update.

Since completing 23 Things, my contract has changed. (The change is unconnected with 23 Things, I hasten to add.)  My working week has been modified, as I am currently 60:40 music librarian : postdoctoral researcher on an AHRC-funded project.  A new professional covers my non-library days.  Spending two days a week on music research is work, not specific, scheduled training, but it nonetheless develops my research skills, so you could argue it's a kind of Continuing Professional Development. 

Also since completing 23 Things, I've signed up to be a CILIP Mentor for new library professionals embarking upon their Chartership training.  It's time to put something back into the profession.  I already have one shiny new mentee, with the prospect of a couple more.

The most recent formal training event I've attended was the Scottish Storytelling Workshop's Stagecraft Workshop: How to be the Social GlueIt was basically about hosting an event - being the compere - as I thought it would be a good idea to brush up my presentation skills for non-academic audiences.  And why?  Because I've done various talks for special interest groups, and I had a book-launch of my own in April 2013!  My husband has since reflected, 'You basically used that book-launch as an excuse for a full-scale concert'.  He's half-right.  I was introduced by a senior manager, then gave an illustrated talk.  The performers were our students, a former colleague of mine, and me at the piano. 

For years, I've represented the Whittaker Library at SALCTG, the Scottish Academic Libraries Cooperative Training Group, and last summer I became Convenor of the group, so that's the last piece of news in my CPD update.  I'm not just updating myself, but helping develop other libraries' staff too.  I gave a pecha kucha presentation about SALCTG's aims and objectives, at a seminar earlier this summer.

It's possible that CILIP may have a new name soon.  The voting at the AGM will be whether to accept Information and Library Professionals UK: the Chartered Institute for the Knowledge Professions, as our new name.  I'll index this update under both the present name and the potential new one, to aid retrieval.  (Once a librarian, always a librarian?!) 

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Social Media in Libraries

I was meant to give a presentation at a music librarians' seminar last week, but a heavy cold prevented me from travelling to Birmingham that day.  So the presentation was given 'in absentia' by a colleague.

I'm sharing it here for people working in other kinds of libraries:-

The Jungle Beat of the Tweet

I raised some issues about running multiple accounts across different social media platforms.  Apparently this provoked some discussion!

So last night I sat down and wrote another presentation, which I share with you here:- 

Multiple Identities in Social Media