Michelle's Library Stuff

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Library school student day in the life - Friday

This is my final post for Hack Library School’s Library Student Day in the Life. Posts for the rest of the week are here:





Fridays are an all-day work day for me, as usual. One of my colleagues is opening up the Centre, so I arrive around 9am. The morning is spent dealing with email enquiries and sorting out appointments – an adviser is ill so her bookings need to be cancelled first thing. Calling a student just after 9am always yields their voicemail, so I leave messages and also email them.

At lunchtime I visit the public library to pick up some reservations – I’ve been waiting for Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Prisoner of Heaven (follow up to The Shadow of the Wind) for ages so am glad to finally be at the top of the queue. The other book I collect is the latest in the series of Colin Cotterill’s Dr Siri mysteries, set in 1970s Laos. I probably wouldn’t have discovered it by myself but I was introduced to this series by a book group I joined – reader development in action!

In the afternoon I do some research for a careers adviser on apprenticeships in mechanical engineering, for an appointment she has next week with a student. I also book a student in to our interview room as he has a Skype interview on Monday – this also involves checking that the computer is ready to go as it’s recently been upgraded. I’m often the go-to person in the office for tech issues! A student using one of our PCs asked on Wednesday to see our graduate employment co-ordinator, who wasn’t in the office at the time, so I check to make sure he’s managed to get in contact – he seems surprised that I remember him! I like to try and remember as many students as possible although I can’t beat my employment team colleagues who manage to remember the couple of hundred students they have registered for on-campus jobs. I also email my information team colleagues to catch them up on the week – I’ll only be in one day next week because I have a ton of leave to use up before the end of the month.

We close the centre at 4.45pm, and I put on my out of office. I go for delicious churros with a friend, before heading up to campus in the rain to pick up some books. It’s not a normal Friday night activity for me, but I have a reservation to collect before tomorrow morning. I visit 2 of the campus libraries to pick up all the books I need – one of my annoyances is that the books for our course are spread over three of the campus libraries. I check my university email and am pleasantly surprised that a librarian has got back to me already saying the book purchase recommendation I made is being ordered. Hopefully it will be available soon for my assignment.

This is my final post of HLSDITL, but not the end of my week as a student! Over the weekend I’ll spend more time reading and thinking about my dissertation and making a start on my assignment for Research Data Management. I try and give myself one day off as I spend so much of the rest of my week on library school stuff, it’s good to have a break. Nevertheless I’m sure I’ll spend some time on catching up with blog posts, especially about this week; doing some research for the save Sheffield libraries campaign, and keeping active on Twitter. Librarianship is such an engaging profession, it’s hard to switch off sometimes!

In some ways this has been a fairly typical week for me – lots of time spent studying and working. This academic year I’ve been trying to get a better balance between work and relaxation, with more time spent taking care of my physical wellbeing in particular. It may not seem so from this week’s snapshot, but I’m definitely achieving that goal.

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Library school student day in the life - Thursday

Normally Thursday is a full work day for me, and I don’t generally do anything student-y until after work at least. This Thursday is an exception, as there’s a lecture I want to attend, given as part of a module I don’t take (Academic Libraries).

So, I arrive into work at 8.30am, and have a chat with colleagues whilst eating some breakfast and checking emails. The Careers Centre opens at 8.45, so I head out to staff the information desk. I collected the newspapers on the way in, so I have a flick through them while it’s quiet. In my Information Literacy module last semester we talked a lot about information encountering, and I recognise this happening as I come across an article relevant to the campaign to save Sheffield libraries – apparently there’s already a petition with 6,500 signatures on it!

Around 10am we have a sudden influx of students, then at 10.30 I head out to my lecture. I’m lucky as my work is fairly flexible and supportive of my studies. So if I need to take a day off or take some time out of my day to attend classes, they try and accommodate me. I get to the iSchool a little before the lecture starts at 11 and catch up with my coursemates. The lecture is on library support for research, which I thought would be useful for my assignment for the Research Data Management module.

The first part of the class is presented by Stephen Pinfield, a new addition to the department this year. I really like his style of teaching, he is enthusiastic and engaging, and makes us all laugh within 5 minutes! It’s a shame I don’t have more classes with him. He first asks the class to come up with the ways they think the library supports research – we come up with the collections, skills training, advice, space, the repository and undertaking research – which are then added to. Stephen gives a short introduction before introducing Wendy White, Head of Scholarly Communication at the University of Southampton. Wendy discusses her role and how she got there (she started as a cataloguer!), and the different ways the library can organise itself to provide support for research. She talks a little about the skills needed to be in research support, including networking, collaboration/group work, problem solving and project management. We move on to some discussion about open access before the session wraps up. It was a really good session and I think I got some good information for my assignment.

At the end of the session I head back to work, picking up some lunch along the way. I eat at my desk while doing some filing and checking emails. Our graduate intern has brought in cake as it was his birthday yesterday, so I scoff some of that before heading back to the information desk for the afternoon. Usually I’d only spend half the day on the desk and the other half in the office doing productive things like designing the session on LinkedIn I’ll be delivering next month, but as we’re short-staffed I’m spending the majority of my time on the desk this week.

The afternoon passes by pretty quickly, mainly booking students in to appointments and helping with enquiries. I spend some time dealing with emails from advisers who want to switch appointment times with each other – the bane of my life! We have a really old appointments database which can be incredibly slow and crash if you look at it so this takes up a lot of time. It’s being replaced at some point this year hopefully.

After work I head to the gym, before coming home to write this blog and perhaps do a little course-related reading before bed.

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Library school student day in the life - Wednesday

Wednesday is the day I magically transform (at around midday) from library school student to busy working person. I work as a careers information assistant for half the week, from Wednesday afternoon to Friday.

Wednesday mornings I try and do some study, and today is no exception. I’m at my desk for 9am and spend a couple of hours catching up on personal correspondence, looking for some books on research methodologies (all the ones on my reading list are checked out!) and doing some more dissertation reading. Normally I might go to the gym before heading into work for around 12.30pm, but today I want to attend a ‘bitesize’ lunchtime session at the library, so I head there for 12.15 and aim to be at work for 1pm.

The session is supposed to be 20 minutes about creating surveys using Google Forms. I’ve previously put together a survey using Forms but winged it a lot so am interested to see what is said in the session and pick up some tips as I plan to use an e-survey for my dissertation. The session is small – only 3 postgrads (including me) in attendance, but there are free cookies! Unfortunately the session starts 10 minutes late, and the presenter starts by saying “so we’re all set for the next 45 minutes then?” This immediately annoys me – why advertise it as a 20 minute session if it’s a lot longer? I also really dislike how disrespectful the presenter has been of my time – if a session is supposed to start at 12.15, it should start then.

It doesn’t get any better as the presenter talks to us about surveys in general, despite asking us all what level we’re at (all postgrads, so all presumably have some general knowledge about research, research ethics, etc. I certainly have covered it already). Almost 20 minutes in, he starts to introduce what I came for – the Google Forms software itself. At this point I decide to leave as I have to run across town to work. Luckily the session is being recorded, so I can catch up with what I missed, but it doesn’t do much to stop my annoyance (although I did learn a few things about running a workshop!).

A speed-walk across town and I arrive at work. I find out that my job share partner has been off sick, meaning I’m the only member of our 5-strong information team in this week. My afternoon is spent on the information desk in the careers centre, helping students and graduates book appointments, use the computers and find their way. In between enquiries I check and respond to our email enquiries which have built up over the past couple of days, plus my personal emails. A number of admin duties (the curse of the careers information team) take up the afternoon, including photocopying some handouts.

This evening I’ve mostly been catching up with the blog. Before I switch off for the evening I need to ask the library to buy a book I’d like for one of my modules and send a couple of emails about assignments. Then I can cuddle up with Ian Thorpe’s book, which I nabbed from the library the other day.

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Library school student day in the life - Tuesday

I mentioned in Monday’s post that I’m taking three modules this summer. These are Research Methods and Dissertation Preparation, Public Libraries and Research Data Management (RDM). You might notice over the week that I won’t be attending any lectures for RDM, and I’d like to point out here that it’s not because I skip them!

RDM is a new module this year, and I’m one of only two students taking it. It’s different from all the other modules as it’s taught with library staff from Leeds, York and Sheffield Universities (the White Rose consortium) over 4 full days. I’m sure I’ll blog more about it at some point as it’s been interesting taking a module in this way. The final day of the module is next week so perhaps I’ll blog about it after that.

Anyway, Tuesdays is Public Libraries day, but the lecture isn’t until 2pm. With the whole morning free it’s tempting to have a lie-in, but I make sure I’m at my desk at 9am ready to start. I start off tidying up my desk as it’s become a nightmare of paperwork after last week’s initial dissertation proposal submission. I file away some notes, check and re-stack my books, and sort out my letter rack. With calm restored, I sit down and do some dissertation reading for a couple of hours.

After lunch I head into uni to attend my lecture. I arrive a little early to catch up with my coursemates, some of whom study Libraries for Children and Young People in the morning so hang out at the school during their lunch break. One of the things I dislike about being part-time is the lack of contact with my coursemates – last semester I regularly had lunch with them as we were all doing the compulsory modules, but this semester is mainly optional modules so we all have different schedules. We’ve organised a couple of course dinners and I try and catch up with people as often as I can.

Public Libraries is probably my favourite of the modules I’ve taken, along with Archives and Records Management last year. The lecturer is engaging and we have a lot of guest speakers (last week it was the Registrar from the Public Lending Right, for example). This week we talk about reader development and the promotion of reading for pleasure, something I’m really interested in and will form a part of my dissertation. Some of the lecture is based around Opening the Book by Rachel van Riel, which I’ve recently read, so a lot of the material is familiar. It’s fun to talk about reading and books for a change as I feel I’ve mostly been focussed on tech and developments in the profession for the past year and a half. It’s good to learn about one of the core services of a library.

We do an exercise on reading promotion – the lecturer has brought a stack of books and in groups we have to organise a display. I tell my group about a library I used to visit that would display books based on colour – so any book with a red cover would go on the display for example. I absolutely hated it, as it made it really hard to choose something and there wasn’t a unifying theme for the books. So of course my two classmates decide we should do a colour display! Ours is much better though, we go for greens and blues and choose mainly modern fiction. Each group presents what they’ve done and the lecturer asks questions about how we would improve the display – with more books, posters, reader recommendations, etc. It’s a really fun and thought-provoking exercise.

In the evening I attend the second meeting of a group set up to save Sheffield’s public libraries from closure or being handed over to volunteers. The council has said that 14 of the city’s 27 libraries need to be closed or volunteer run, a depressing situation. The group make headway with ideas and  volunteer to look into other campaigns to see what we could apply to ours.

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Library student day in the life: Monday

I’m a little late to the party on this, having only just decided today that I wanted to blog about my week for Hack Library School’s Library Student Day in the Life. This is mostly because I looked at the wiki and saw no British part-time students were represented, and I think it’s valuable to see the part-time experience too.

I am a part-time student on the MA Librarianship at the University of Sheffield. I’m in my second year, and aim to complete my degree this year, therefore I spend a lot of time pretending like September is very far in the future. This semester I’m taking my final three taught modules, before attempting to complete my dissertation this summer.

So, here’s what I got up to on Monday. It’s fairly typical for my Mondays this semester.

Monday mornings mean a 9am lecture. It’s the only 9am lecture I’ve attended throughout my time at the iSchool, so I guess I can’t complain too much. It’s for the compulsory Research Methods and Dissertation Preparation module, and today’s lecture is on the ethics approval process we need to go through for our dissertation research. My proposed dissertation topic is whether undergraduate students read for pleasure (or not), which means I need to get ethics approval asap to survey undergrads in the next couple of months. I make a few notes and plan to fill out the form and get it to my supervisor in the next couple of weeks.

The lecture finishes just before 11am, which means I have the rest of the day free. The main reason I always make myself get up for this lecture is that it motivates me to get on with other coursework throughout the day – otherwise I’d likely still be bed! Today I have a few errands to run, before I get home and have lunch.

In the afternoon I check and reply to my university emails, and receive a book I ordered. It’s a ‘Pocket Study Skills’ guide called Doing Research which I hope will be really handy for my dissertation. After an hour or so I head out to attend a gym class with a friend, and return some books.

I tend to work best in the evenings so after dinner I sit back down at my desk to do some dissertation research. I found a lot of relevant articles last week so spend some time downloading and filing them in Mendeley to read later. I read and take some notes from a past dissertation I’ve borrowed – I’m currently looking for a relevant dissertation to critique as this forms part of the assessment for the research methods module. Finally, I write a blog post for work – I’ve been a freelance blog writer for a few years now.

This year I’ve been trying to be stricter with myself and my time, as last year I spent all my time either working or studying. So I try and wrap up whatever I’m doing by 10pm and keep a list of things to do for tomorrow. The lovely Helen prompted me to start a study journal in her handy tips on the Aber degree, so I write some notes in this also.

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Library Camp Sheffield was my second library camp (after the national one last year) and my first as an organiser. I wanted to share some thoughts about organising this event and how different I thought it was from the national camp.

My first thought is: Organising Library Camp is easy! Five of us volunteered to organise this one, which made it even easier (many hands make light work and all that). The only bit that was a little difficult was a venue, but this is the case with all free events as most venues want to charge for their space.

The other things we needed to decide on were the date, times, number of attendees, and whether we should have cake or savoury items (we decided to invite people to bring a mix of food). We emailed back and forth a lot so everyone contributed to the discussion. In the end this yielded some extras like cutlery and pens, but these aren’t totally necessary for a successful camp. It was probably the most relaxed I’ve been running an event, although as ever there were last minute details to take care of (free sandwiches, hurrah!).

I felt this translated into the day, it felt really relaxed to me and with less of a sense of someone in charge. I was asked some questions as an organiser and a few times we had to stand up and make announcements, but I generally felt like I was more a participant than weighed down with the responsibility of being an organiser.

For me, Library Camp was a bit big, so I preferred Library Camp Sheffield. It was much smaller (only around 40 or so people), more local and I got to chat to more people – those I already knew and those I didn’t. I was a bit worried about a turf war starting between Sheffield Hallam Uni staff and University of Sheffield staff, but luckily (unluckily?) that didn’t happen.

Two sessions I attended are most relevant to me at the moment: Research data management (RDM) and open access. This semester I’m taking a new module on RDM, so I proposed a session on it. I see open access as tied in to the questions around RDM, so I went to that session too (run by Steph).

Some people were unsure what RDM is, so I explained it’s all about managing the data that researchers create when they carry out their research – the data can be anything from maps to lots of stats to research logs. Libraries currently manage outputs (journals, books, etc.) but there is a growing argument that they should also be involved in managing the data also and helping make it open and accessible.

We discussed whether librarians and libraries should be involved in managing data and what form this involvement might take. Some roles are already appearing – one attendee had applied for a post as Research Support Librarian, which involved liaison with academics, training early career researchers, altmetrics. It was pointed out that many researchers bypass the library when they are looking for information, so they perhaps wouldn’t want the library involved in their research.

The group thought some current skills might come in useful if RDM catches on in academic libraries, mainly cataloguing skills, liaison and teaching. There is also the international perspective to consider – Americans are much further along with this and are well funded.

The session gave me some ideas for my RDM module assignment, and a big thank you goes to Penny, who has more knowledge of this area than the rest of us combined!

In all I think the day was a success, and that I learned more than at the national Library Camp. I’d encourage anyone to organise their own camp, it really is that easy! Especially if you remember it’s essentially just a day for people to get together and talk library stuff - no bells and whistles needed.

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Manchester NLPN Info Lit Day

On Saturday 10th November I attended Manchester NLPN’s training day on Information Literacy.

It was a great day, and I found it really informative (although MadLab was a bit chilly for my liking!). One of my modules is Information Resources and Information Literacy; it’s quite theoretical so I thought it would be good to engage with the practical side of IL.

The first presentation was from Rosie Jones and Emily Shields on Teaching Information Literacy.

This was a really practical session, as Rosie and Emily said the best way to show techniques was for us to actually try them. Their 6 areas of interactivity were:

  • Icebreakers
  • Creative presentations
  • Problem solving
  • Voting
  • Technology
  • Peer instruction

I was a little surprised by icebreakers being included, as they are generally seen as a bit cheesy. When a colleague recently suggested we use an icebreaker in a workshop, I cringed. I can see the benefit though – a lot of times I go to lecture sessions expecting them to be a bit dull and to be talked at for 2 hours. If I was immediately surprised by being involved and hopefully having some fun, then I think lecture sessions would probably go better for me. Rosie and Emily also pointed out that the attention span of adult learners is about 7 minutes, and that making sessions interactive means people can pay attention to a lecture for longer after.

Another technique I liked was the use of voting. This increases audience participation and provides knowledge checks for the person running the session. I liked that they pointed out that voting doesn’t have to use technology – it can be as simple as giving out handouts in different colours and asking people to show the colour that corresponds to their answer.

Rosie and Emily also went over learning styles, and said that it was important to relate to as many people’s styles as possible during a session. A couple of days after the session, I saw a tweet saying that there was no evidence that learning styles actually exist, which I found intriguing. The theory of learning styles has always been presented to me as fact (perhaps this shows why you shouldn’t accept ideas without questioning them!), as indeed it was in this session with the assumption that learning styles are a thing to be considered when designing classes. Here’s the blog post that the tweet linked to (I like the illustrations). I certainly think it’s a good idea to bear in mind the different needs of your audience when teaching, and make your sessions varied and interesting, but perhaps this theory is not the only one to subscribe to when doing so.

Overall, this session made me feel inspired and also a bit relieved. I’m taking my first steps in teaching by starting to run workshops for my careers service, and it was heartening to know that I’d incorporated a few of the techniques mentioned in a workshop I designed on networking. My new mentoring has offered me some work shadowing and possibly teaching experience, so I have plenty to build on over the next year or so while I finish my degree.

After lunch (I went to the fab Arndale Market for some soup), it was on to Sue Lawson from Manchester Libraries Information and Archives, who talked about the public library context of information literacy.

When I started out in libraries, two years ago now, I wanted to work in public libraries. Lots has happened since then though, to the point where I’ve become disheartened and am looking to other options. Sue revitalised my enthusiasm for public libraries by talking about the many initiatives she’s involved in with a lot of passion. I didn’t write many notes about Sue’s session, but as I told her afterwards, the biggest thing I got from her talk was that I really want to work at Manchester Libraries!

Finally, Alison Bond-McNally talked about her role as Reader Development Librarian for Bury Public Libraries. Another talk that made me want to work in public libraries! It was also interesting as I’m considering doing my dissertation on reader development in academic libraries (as in: do academic libraries do this, and if not, should they?) so good to hear about it in practice. Again I didn’t make many notes on Alison’s talk, but did come away with an overall view of what reader development is like in practice.

Thanks to Manchester NLPN for organising another great event! Here’s their blog post about the day.

Filed under manchester nlpn events cpd information literacy

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Love this. Barack should use it a lot more!
P111512PS-0111 by The White House on Flickr.
HA! LOVE!Via Flickr: President Barack Obama jokingly mimics U.S. Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney’s “not impressed” look while greeting members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics teams in the Oval Office, Nov. 15, 2012. Steve Penny, USA Gymnastics President, and Savannah Vinsant laugh at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.


Love this. Barack should use it a lot more!

P111512PS-0111 by The White House on Flickr.


Via Flickr:
President Barack Obama jokingly mimics U.S. Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney’s “not impressed” look while greeting members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics teams in the Oval Office, Nov. 15, 2012. Steve Penny, USA Gymnastics President, and Savannah Vinsant laugh at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

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Postgrad funding: Getting free government money

Everyone needs funding, not a lot of people get it. On my course this year there are 3 people with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), although 2 of us are part-time so I guess that adds up to 2 full-time equivalent funded places. The first thing to note is that you need a first or a 2:1 from your undergraduate degree, plus a good academic record to even apply.

For me, the processes of applying for my masters and then AHRC funding were somewhat shrouded in mystery. I only knew one person at that time who had applied for funding, so I was more or less on my own with the application. I thought I’d write this blog post to help others with some ideas, but with the big disclaimer that obviously what I wrote isn’t necessarily what you should write!

I’m not sure what the process is if you’re a new student – whether you get told about applying for funding at your interview or if you have to find this out yourself. But for a part-time student going into her second year, I had to ask the course leader if I could apply, and she in turn had to ask the research office, who had to check with the AHRC if I was eligible. I got the impression that it wasn’t really desirable for me to be applying; that the funding was something they used to attract new students, not for the students already there.

Anyway, when it was determined that I could apply, I had to fill in a short form with my details and then answer two questions. The first of these was:

Using no more than 500 words, please describe your proposed course of study, in language which can be easily understood by a non-specialist. (required)        
Please include the reasons for your choice of programme and your proposed route through the course (e.g. module choices, proposed dissertation topic).

Five hundred words. That’s all you get. At this point you have to bear in mind that the panel will also have your application to look at, so it’s worth not repeating yourself too much. You’ll need to have a good look through the module information available and make some decisions. My best tip for this section is to be as specific as possible. Choose modules and link them to a career choice. Don’t forget, it’s a Professional Preparation Masters, so whilst you need to be academic, you also need to be career-focussed.

You’re probably thinking that you don’t have a career choice in mind, and have no idea about choosing modules, let alone your dissertation. That’s OK. Just make something up, and make it sound convincing. I wrote about wanting to become a media librarian, and also proposed a dissertation on the ethics of using biometric data for library management systems in schools (sounds impressive, eh?). I am interested in becoming a media librarian as it links to my degree, but the ethics idea… not so much.

I think for this section in particular, having already done some of the course helped. I was able to point to my good marks so far and what I’d already achieved. Obviously this is not something everyone has to go on though, so perhaps you could use your library experience and undergraduate degree more. I mentioned my degree once as it is linked to being a media librarian, but didn’t think it was especially relevant since I graduated so long ago.

The second question:

Using no more than 250 words, please state why your skills, experience and plans for further research or study (or career plans in the case of applicants for a Professional Preparation Masters Award) make you a particularly suitable candidate for an award.

Yep, in this one, you have to toot your own horn. This isn’t something that comes naturally to many people, especially not future librarians. But in this case, you really have to spell out why you’d be the right person to get the award. Think of the money!

I wrote three short paragraphs for this section, total of 249 words. The first paragraph was the shortest, and included a bit about my background. I wrote about how I’ve lived and worked in a few different countries, the transferable skills this gave me and how this was linked to being an information professional. Again I think previous experience helped for this section – I’m not a new graduate so could point to other things I’ve done.

The second paragraph I used to write about my library experience – as a graduate trainee and over the past year. I mentioned my professional involvement, with CILIP and LIKE North. Whatever you can write to show you’re connected to the profession already, I think this helps.

Final paragraph, I mentioned returning to study as a mature student and how last year I worked 3 jobs to pay my way, so the money would be really, really helpful. I also said how I’d use my extra time – going to conferences and events and getting work experience. So again, linking my studies back to my professional goals.

Again, I think it helped that I was going in to second year so could show what I’d done already during my first year to work on my knowledge of the profession and get involved. New students who were graduate trainees will likely have lots of things to write about from that.

Further application writing tips:

Write and re-write. You don’t have many words at all, so keep writing and editing until it is concise and says exactly what you want to say about yourself.

Get someone to read it over. It’s a bit embarrassing to have someone read what you’ve written about yourself. But it will be helpful in making it more focussed, and that person or people might give you an idea for strengthening your application. I asked my personal tutor to read it for me, and he was very helpful – although he did suggest I include plans for doing a PhD in the application. I have no intention of doing a PhD, so I chose to ignore this, but if you have any interest in doing one, then perhaps you should include it.

My tutor also reassured me on the part-time front by spinning around my thoughts. I told him I thought they’d rather attract new students, but he said that they also need to retain students and make sure they complete. As someone who works in a university, I should know that it’s all about retention rates!

So that’s how I was successful with my AHRC application. Other funding is available:

Career Development Loans have been written about by Lady Pen.

Prospects produce a guide to postgrad funding which you should be able to get from your university careers centre.

There’s also the Alternative Guide to Postgrad Funding – requires a bit more work as you have to investigate which charities you’re eligible for and then apply.

Other AHRC funding recipients – are these the same questions you got? Do they change from year to year?

Filed under masters funding

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Thoughts on my first library camp

On October 13th I finally attended a library camp; I wanted to go to Leeds Library Camp earlier this year but couldn’t because of an injury.

I was excited to attend, see what the fuss was all about – and eat lots of delicious cake. In preparation, I paid a baking colleague to make brownies for me, and roped in another non-library- staff colleague to come with me. So I started off with lots of points, which Carolin told me could be converted into eating extra cake. Win!

The day started off with a real buzz (sugar high from cake breakfast?) as people pitched their sessions. Throughout the day I felt this buzz really tapered off, when I was expecting it to build as the attendees got to interact and share ideas. For me this showed after lunch, when only a few people stood up to pitch more sessions. For the number of attendees, I would have thought a lot more sessions would have been suggested.

This isn’t to say I didn’t have a good, interesting time. Just perhaps not in the way I expected. Perhaps it was the sessions I attended, and not feeling confident to move around sessions (there didn’t seem to be a lot of that going on). I was in the session on open source software and couldn’t hear anything because of the air conditioner – I would have liked to have moved but it would have felt rude to walk all the way across the room to the door. Instead I managed to get involved in the UKLibChat session on Twitter. It would have been nice to go to that session, but I hear it ended on a bit of a downer.

Pre-camp I didn’t want to run my own session; as it was my first time I wanted to experience instead. But Rachel’s interest in a session about living and working abroad and my constant search to find contexts in which to say sentences like “when I was doing a circus class in Melbourne…” led me to a small room with a small amount of people, talking about my experiences overseas. I actually enjoyed this session more than the ones I attended (vanity alert!) as a) it was really small and b) I got a chance to speak. Joy has basically written all my thoughts on sessions and how they could engage more people, so go read her blog post. Suffice to say I think this smaller group format worked better as (hopefully) everyone got the chance to speak, ask questions and share experiences and concerns. Rachel’s done a good write-up of my session (top tips: just do it; you can never have too much money) and I will eventually get round to posting about living and working overseas myself. Honest.

So, what did I take away from Library Camp? Cake and a full stomach. Seriously, I didn’t go to Library Camp with an agenda - I just wanted to experience an unconference, and catch up with people I don’t get to see often. With the past few professional development events I’ve attended, I’ve found it useful to have an idea of what I wanted to get out of it. It’s difficult to do that with an unconference as you don’t know what the sessions will be about. I did have in mind to talk about  games and gamification in libraries but the session I attended wasn’t exactly what I’d imagined.

The main thing I took away was being roped into helping out with a local library camp in Sheffield! I have been promised that it’s “not much work” but we’ll see. In addition, when I got home I thought perhaps it would be good to run a camp for careers staff (Careers Camp!), so I’ll see if that idea can get off the ground after Christmas. From what I hear these smaller camps might be more my style, so I look forward (with trepidation) to being involved in organising them.

Filed under library camp libraries cpd