Monthly Archives: October 2012

Wiki Update

I was recently reading The Victorian Librarian’s post for Thing 13 and it reminded me about my promise to update the section about wiki’s when the NHS Midlands Regional Trainers Forum project I am working with had set ours up. The short story is that we haven’t yet – because we’re all on NHS computers most of us are limited to Internet Explorer 7 due to it’s use for interfacing with Clinical Systems on the wards, but all of the wiki’s we’ve tried (and phoned to ask) no longer fully support Internet Explorer 7. My Library Service has recently upgraded to IE 8 – but that took a few weeks of nagging the IT department and arguing that we didn’t use the clinical systems anyway (don’t get me started on the response I had to the request to install Firefox instead!) – I know of at least one other NHS Library service who use IE 8, but again, that was just in the Library, not Trust wide.

Does anyone know of a wiki (or a suitable alternative) that is suitable for using with IE7?

Even if we as creators of the wiki have access to IE 8, we are intending to share the content with NHS Libraries across the Midlands, and hopefully eventually further afield, and a lot of them will be limited to IE7 for the time-being at least.

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Thing 23: So long and thanks for all the fish!*

I found the 23 Things programme very positive – I learnt a few new things and about a few new online tools (especially Prezi and Evernote which I will be using again) and I made a few friends, as well as finding new people to follow on Twitter and new blogs to follow on Google Reader!

What’s next? To be honest I’m not 100% sure! I’ve handed in my CILIP Certification and I’m just waiting for the results, so I don’t think it’ll be anything study related (for a little while at least) but I imagine I’ll find something to fill my evenings!

My SWOT analysis …

I actually spent Wednesday morning in a Directorate strategy meeting and a few projects came out of that which I would like to get involved in (let’s call them opportunities!) including a Trust wide ‘Health and Well-Being’ promotion. I’ve already signed the Library up to get involved with the roadshows – I think it’s an excellent way to promote our Leisure collection (fiction, cooking, gardening etc books) and Book Club. My annual review is coming up as well – and it is 12months since I started in my current role, so I’m anticipating that that will hold some goals for me too.

I have a variety of Strengths – not all were listed in my SWOT analysis, I was trying to keep it focussed – but I think my voluntary work needs to be filed here. I’ve done a lot of things and learnt a lot of transferable skills in these environments – and to tie into the above it counts towards my work/life balance too! I think threats was a difficult one – my job feels very stable at the moment so there’s no threats there. The few threats I did identify I can see ways to avoid them – though I suppose that’s the idea of a SWOT analysis.

Having completed a PDP for my Certification I found it quite useful – even simple things like wanting to do a First Aid course seem different when they’re written down – and setting a target date can be a real motivation rather than leaving it as a ‘One day I’d like to…’ A question my NHS Trust has been asking recently is ‘Why not now?’. They’re mostly asking it regards to patient flow, but it’s been cropping up in planning meetings too (even at Trust Director level) and it’s an interesting question when posed about training – especially if like me you have a habit of putting it off – Why not do it now?

I definitely intend to keep blogging – it’s actually something I’d been thinking about before I started CPD23. I might start by posting my notes from the HLG Conference from July – better 3 months late than never – and see what sort of conversations that starts and go from there…

*PS – If you don’t know where the title/quote is from I suggest reading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, although I’m well overdue re-reading it myself!

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Thing 22: Volunteering to gain experience

I worked as a voluntary library assistant at my local branch library in 2007, partly because I was unemployed and partly because I’d been turned down for a job at the big public library in Shrewsbury due to lack of experience. Granted this can be interpreted as anything from ‘the other candidates had more experience than me’ to ‘they don’t want you and are just being polite’, but I started volunteering to gain some experience. If nothing else it filled a time gap in my CV, so while I had yet to make up my mind regarding my chosen career path it seemed like a good idea.

Two years later when I next applied for a library job at Shrewsbury Health Library, I have no doubt in my mind that my voluntary experience made a difference to my application; I got the job. My boss potentially has other things to say about this, but my only other experience in a library was during my school years so whether it was just demonstrating a desire to work in the library sector or the experience itself I know that my voluntary work helped.

I think volunteering is an excellent way to gain experience as well as allowing people new to the profession to get to know other professionals, or even if it’s just to find out a bit more about working in a different sector to your own. I think the only problem comes when volunteers are being used to replace paid staff.

As a volunteer Brownie Guide Leader and Swimming Teacher I generally find volunteers to be less reliable – if something comes up (work commitments, childcare issues, just plain lazy) a voluntary commitment can be, and often is, dropped, where paid work cannot be (at least not as easily). Don’t get me wrong, I find that a core set of people turn up time and time again, and are extremely reliable, but a small number don’t show up and don’t have the courtesy to call and let you know either, and to me they give a bad name to the rest of us volunteers.

On the plus side I find that volunteering in these environments has given me a range of transferable skills. An obvious one is working with budgets and running an account sheet for the Brownies, which is not something I do in my current role, but is experience I will need when I take the next step. I am one of the senior Swimming Teachers at the club, which has given me supervisory experience when mentoring newly qualified volunteers and dealing with everybody’s information and allergy/medical info has made me an expert in data protection. Even better, I get to tell great stories at interviews when I explain how I helped organise a trip for 40+ Guides and Leaders to Switzerland to the World Guide Centre in 2008, or how the swimming club raised over £1000 for a local children’s charity at their last swimathon (yes I wore a Pirate costume, no there aren’t any pictures!)

For librarians I think volunteering is very useful – it shows that you are keen on working in this sector; it shows that you have identified a gap in your knowledge or experience and are working to fill that gap. I don’t think it devalues the sector as long as we don’t replace paid staff, but I think it highlights your value as an individual.

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