Dear Mr Gove, please speak to some actual teenagers before assuming that you know ‘what’s best’ for them…

I am very angry about Mr Gove’s comments on teenagers’ reading habits. I realise that lately this blog has largely turned into an outlet for my school-librarian-wrath, so instead of another rant I’ll just say that I agree wholeheartedly with this article: and that I would be delighted to see any teenager in my school reading Twilight as it is age-appropriate, it has resonance for modern teenagers (i.e. falling in love with the wrong person, being different to your peers) and it demonstrates an awareness of current trends and culture.

Perhaps if Mr Gove spoke to some actual teenagers he would understand that given the plethora of alternative modern distractions, a teenager enjoying any book is something to be celebrated and encouraged.

Infuriated Information Professionals

I was very angry and saddened to hear Terry Deary’s recent comment that “libraries have had their day”. I’m not sure why Deary has failed to notice that libraries offer free internet access to people who would be otherwise completely unable to take advantage of ‘the electronic age’. Public libraries also offer people who did not grow up with computers the opportunity to learn how to use them, in turn allowing them to participate in an increasingly digital society where everything from job applications to shopping is done online.

If anything, the increasing use of digital resources is making libraries more prevalent. The library is the place where my pupils do their internet research and print off their homework – many of them do not have access to their own personal computer or printer. The library is also the place where reliable information sources can be found when Wikipedia or Google prove to yield insufficient information on a topic.

The irony of his comment makes me feel very sad as the Horrible Histories books are still very well borrowed in my library by pupils who may not have access to many books (particularly non-fiction) at home.

Despite Deary’s swipe at ‘sentimentality’, this word aptly describes the emotions I feel towards the Horrible Histories books, having grown up reading them…at my local library…because my parents couldn’t afford to buy me them and the library offered a safe haven from my often hectic household.

Rant over. I’m still angry though.

Thing 17 – Prezi

Communicating with our library users at the University of Bradford - my Graduate Trainee Project

Communicating with our library users at the University of Bradford on Prezi

Thing 16 – Advocacy

I know, I know… this is very very late. I could give many excuses (starting a new job, my LIS course…) but I’ll just get on with it!

As you may know (I’ve gone on about it lots!), I’ve fairly recently started a new job as a School Librarian(ish – still working on the MSc). Advocacy in school libraries is HUGE, and is a bit of a hot potato at the moment. I’m still getting my head around it really, so I decided to cheat a little and start small – advocating the library in my own school. Which essentially is the most important thing really, as the students and staff at the school are my library users after all!

October is International School Libraries Month, which gave me a great excuse to try a bit of self-promotion. Because I work with kids, I thought it would be essential to get them involved. This allowed me to (rather lazily I suppose) turn school library advocacy into a competition, and let the pupils do the promotion for me! I did think it was really important to get the user voice, and for me (as the new librarian) to hear what the students love about their library. Librarians can go on about how great libraries are until the cows come home, but it’s the user perspective that really matters.

So I created a display about International School Libraries Month and asked the students to write, draw or create something to represent why they love their school library. I’ve even added some jazzy colour photographs of my display and some of their responses below!

Library display

Library poster competition entries

Book of the week (1/10/2012)

My book of the week for next week is Howl’s Moving Castle (yes I’ve started my new job as a School Librarian, but more on that later). I’d almost forgotten how much I loved the Studio Ghibli film, and now I finally have a good excuse to re-read the book! Revisiting the magical world of Sophie, Howl and Calcifer actually makes me look forward to my morning train ride.

I found these amazing postcards on and couldn’t resist sharing them :)


Braving the real world

lecture room

Imagine this room full of people… Now panic!

It’s the last day of my traineeship tomorrow so I thought this would be a good time to look at thing 15, as this is the only library job I’ve had yet where I’ve been lucky enough not only to be allowed to attend events, but to be actively encouraged to go.

Before I did this job, I worked in libraries but I had no idea that so many library-themed events existed. Yes, some are very expensive (particularly the huge conferences, where you would also most likely need accommodation) – but the Lis-Cilip-Reg mailing list advertises loads of cheaper events all over the country.

I’ve attended quite a few of these, and others that I came across on Twitter or via colleagues too. Although I am as yet quite inexperienced, and don’t always feel that I have enough to contribute, I find events really beneficial. Sometimes I have just been in awe of the knowledge and experience of the people around me, but every event I’ve been to has allowed me to take something valuable back to my job. Because I’m a graduate trainee, I haven’t always attended events that were directly applicable to my job – but I think an event is what you make it, and almost any piece of information can be tailored to apply to your role. But overall, I think the most important thing about events is meeting other people. I’ve often learned more from chatting to people during breaks or working in groups than I did from the official speakers. That’s why I also love impromptu ‘unconference’ events like library camp, where everyone gets an equal opportunity to give their opinion.

The only ‘events’ I’ve organised are within the University library and library visits for trainees. I guess you could say my incompetence in this field is matched only by my enthusiasm – although I’m not the most organised person in the world, and my events don’t always go quite according to plan, I absolutely love doing it!

In the library I ran an event for National Libraries day, where we encouraged students to tell us about their own libraries (we have a lot of International students here, so we got some great library stories from all over the world). I also ran a stall at our ‘re-freshers’ fair at the beginning of this term to gather student feedback about the library. I love working with our students, and it’s exciting to be engaging with them in a way that’s slightly more interesting than issuing their books. It gave me loads of confidence in my job and because Bradford is a fairly small University the students I spoke to remembered me and have been greeting me around campus ever since, which is just lovely.

However, this library-fame has come at a price, because now whenever I’m doing any other events outside the library (we are piloting a pop-up library service around campus) students think ‘ooh it’s feedback lady’ and start telling me how the toilet doors bang too loudly and that we need more PCs.

Today I stood up and gave a presentation about how we communicate with our students in front of all my colleagues. My previous job involved demonstrating and promoting a website to large rooms full of people. Somehow this never phased me – I just got on with it. But put me in a room full of people I know quite well and I fall to pieces. As soon as I tried to log in to the PC everything went wrong – I had to restart it to log in, my presentation wouldn’t load in Firefox, there wasn’t enough room for everyone to sit comfortably. I panicked, ignored my carefully planned flash-cards and babbled on incoherently for half an hour. I also forgot to ask the essential ‘any questions?’ at the end and had to be prompted! Despite all this, I think I got away with it – people were so dazzled (or seasick) at my use of Prezi that my rambling paled in insignificance. I even got some complimentary comments!

I really want to make sure that I’m still able to attend relevant events and conferences in my new job. In fact I even asked about it in the interview. I’ve already seen loads on the mailing lists that I’d like to go to, but sadly most of them seem to be on the day I start my new job, which I guess would be slightly inappropriate! Eventually, when I have more experience to draw on, I’d really like to speak at an event. Weirdly, I actually quite enjoy getting up in front of people and talking. It takes me right out of my comfort zone which I guess is a bit of a buzz, and I feel a real sense of achievement afterwards.

Reference management

I am currently writing up my Graduate Trainee project (almost there now!), so if ever there was a good time to experiment with referencing software, this is it!

When I wrote my undergrad dissertation I didn’t use any type of referencing software, I just wrote my own reference list. I find this easy as when I am taking notes from a source I include a full reference anyway, so can just copy and paste.

We use Endnote at the University, and although I haven’t used it in my own essays I have helped students with it and feel like I have got to know it pretty well.

I was planning to use Endnote for my project but this was a good excuse to try something new, so I had a go with Mendeley. I found it easy to use and very intuitive. It also contained lots of different possible referencing styles, which is useful here as the University has a different style for each school (and sometimes even different styles within schools!). I like the drag and drop function and the simple no-nonsense layout.

However, my project included lots of sources about social media in libraries, many of which were blog posts and websites. Obviously Mendeley was not able to find details for most of these, so I kind of gave up and went back to creating my reference list manually.

I feel like I really should be persevering with this, but I just find it simpler to do it myself! Maybe I’ll give it another go when I’m a student again. I can certainly see how it could save time – and time is something I’ll need when I am working full time as well as studying!

I also had a little look at CiteULike. I thought the noseying-at-other-people’s-references aspect was interesting, and it could be a good way to remember what you’ve already used. I can’t see any immediate personal uses for it though.

Another interesting tool I found while looking at this was I love the idea of this -it could be a great interactive way for students to learn how to cite more unusual items, such as interviews and dissertations. You can also download your references into word when you’ve finished. However, I’m not sure about it’s reliability as my results were a bit hit and miss. I tried an interview which didn’t seem to work very well – it only has options for TV, Radio or in person (mine was online) and I’m almost certain that the resulting reference wasn’t accurate. I also tried a blog though which seemed to work absolutely fine. The site currently only generates Harvard style references, although the website advertises some changes from Friday (24th August) – so watch this space…maybe?!

Collaboration tools

A dog on a beach

A photo of a small dog to brighten up an otherwise rather dull post.

Google Docs

I have Google Docs as I signed up when I got my Gmail account. However, I have to admit that I have not yet got around to using it. It’s not that I don’t collaborate with others on work – my current job requires me to do that a lot, and I often share my written work with others to get their opinions. Unfortunately, it just never occurs to me to use Google Docs for this. I guess by the time I’ve logged into Google Docs and created my work, I might as well have emailed it to them. I know, I know – it will save me time in the long run, but my mind works on impatience rather than forward-planning. I do think this tool will be really useful when I go back to Uni, as I am now doing the course Distance Learning (starting in September at RGU!), which will require me to share work remotely more often.


I downloaded Dropbox a while ago and have only just started using it properly. It’s a real godsend at the moment as I am working on my Graduate Trainee Project and it means I can access and update my research both at home and at work. It is great for working from home, which I have only done once so far but it went very well, because I could access all my work documents at home via Dropbox. It also serves as an excellent storage space when your flash drive is getting full (which mine always seems to be!)


I have only contributed to one Wiki so far, the one for Library Camp Leeds, but I am fascinated by the idea that anyone can contribute (and say what they like)! As a soon-to-be-Library-School-student, I probably shouldn’t say this – but I love Wikipedia. I know it shouldn’t be used in an academic context, but if you just want an idea of what oleaginous means it’s great. It has also revolutionised the  idea of an encyclopedia.
In a work context, I think that wikis are a great way for staff to communicate changes to everyone who needs to know. At the University Library where I work, there is a divide between library Customer Services and Librarians, so a Wiki could be used to quickly update everyone on new procedures etc that might affect both services. But this of course relies on everyone contributing and checking the Wiki regularly, which many people may not have time to do.

Joining the social (media) club


As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve only quite recently come back to using social media. I now realise that it is essential for my job. I’m currently doing my Graduate Trainee project, which is about how we communicate with our students, and it would be impossible for me to advise on this if I am not using these communication methods myself.

I love the collaborative aspect of social media, and the fact that library users can comment on announcements made and really feel involved in the communication process (despite the problems this can cause, I do think it is a very positive way of getting feedback and opinions). People simply do not have time in their busy lives to answer lengthy questionnaires or have a conversation with strangers in the street – social media is a way to guage people’s reaction to any given subject in a non-intrusive way.

Sadly, I am not so confident in my ability to communicate using my personal social media accounts. Tweeting often leaves me feeling like I’m just shouting meaningless rubbish at people, and I shy away from involving myself in conversations in case my opinion is not relevant or wanted. Facebook is, in my opinion, just a way for people to covertly spy on others, and despite my inquisitive nature, I am now extremely bored of it.

I do enjoy following other people’s conversations on Twitter, and I realise that I need to make more effort to join in (that is what social media is about, after all). At the moment, I am most enjoying writing this blog. I like to go on a lot (as you’ve probably noticed), so 140 characters is not really adequate for me. Overall, I give myself a ‘must try harder’.

Lost Librarian seeks kind-hearted mentor for no-strings careers advice.

Flowers.Although I’ve never had an ‘official’ mentor in my career so far, there have always been people I’ve looked up to and hoped to emulate in some way.

Having only ever worked in para-professional roles so far, I think that having a great manager is really important. Especially in my first couple of jobs, having someone (preferably someone who’s ‘been there before’) to give advice, talk things through and support my decisions made a massive difference. My first job after graduating from Uni (as a Public Information Officer – not exactly library-related) was really tough at first – I (an inexperienced writer in her first ‘real’ job) had to go into a social services department where people had years of experience and tell them that their leaflets/posters/website/promotional materials were not up to scratch. Needless to say, they were not thrilled at the prospect of being told what to do by an extremely naive 21 year old.

I can honestly say that I would never have got through this experience at all (never mind getting through it AND actually winning the respect of my colleagues AND ending up loving my job) without my absolutely amazing boss. One of her most admirable qualities was the absolute support she gave our team – almost to the point of being fiercely supportive! If you made a decision and had a good reason for doing so, she would always back you up – even against the highest authorities. That made a real difference to my ability to have confidence in my own judgement, not only in that job but in everything I’ve done since.

As I’ve already mentioned, from September I’m going to be a School Librarian, alongside studying for my Masters distance learning. I’m really anxious not to allow myself to become detached from other ‘library’ people, as one of the most positive things about my traineeship has been the huge library-based support network I’ve been able to build. I think I really need to look into finding myself an ‘official’ mentor. I’ve heard from lots of different people that school librarianship can be very isolated, and I will no longer have the benefit of real-life-Librarian contact on my Masters course. So as much as I dislike the idea of approaching someone and asking them to give their valuable time to help me, I really think one-to-one support will be essential for me to continue to develop.