Thing 13: Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox

I use all three of these, so here are some thoughts about them!

Google Docs

I love Google Docs – I first started using it when I was doing my Masters, partly because of the benefits when doing group-work, and partly because I commuted to university, used my netbook at home and while travelling, used cluster/library PCs when I was on campus and work PCs on breaks/in quiet moments! Google Docs made it incredibly easy to just open the document and carry on from where I left off, without having to remember to bring a USB stick with me or make sure I was working on the latest version of the document. I use it fairly regularly now for Voices things, for example if we’re working on a statement or blog post and someone sends it round for tweaking – I’ll save it as a Google Document, add annotations or make amendments and then Share it. Saves a lot of time saving it to my computer and uploading it as an email attachment! One of the best/funniest/most horrendous things I’ve used it for recently is a collaborative BBC Question Time Watch-along Tweet-along Drinking Game Rules document, which at one point had about thirty people editing it at the same time (oh by the way, you should totally come if you’re in London on 8th September). Blame unfortunatalie. There’ll be #savelibraries ribbons for sale and a bunch of brilliant speakers I’m not allowed to talk about yet. But they are terribly exciting.

Dropbox

My sole use of Dropbox is no way illegal file-sharing. Nuh-uh. Oh, I’ve got my CV in there in case I need to get hold of it, but I’ve also emailed it to myself and dumped it in Evernote, so I’m going to have to decide which is my Definitive Storage Place, or it’ll get messy soon. Too much choice!

Wikis

I’ve found Wikis can be very useful if everyone who’s using them knows what the aim is. At one of the places I used to work, there was a staff wiki that people used as a reference point for useful information – FAQs on the desk, storing door security codes, meeting minutes, that kind of thing. It worked really well and there was a clear structure for who was responsible for what. Voices have a PBWorks wiki that was incredibly useful when we were in the very early days of planning – it meant that within a couple of weeks we’d all brain-dumped and come up with aims, a structure, a website, content, and a plan about how we were going to get support and publicise ourselves. All for free! Oh collaborative software, you beautiful thing. We still use it now but far less; it seems to be a place for storing important documents and things like press release templates, passwords etc. and for planning events. All useful stuff and it means there aren’t quite so many emails flying around.

Thing 12: Putting the social into social media

I’ve written about my love for social networking in Thing 6: Online Networks. My absolute favourite social network is twitter and I can’t say enough good things about how incredibly useful it is for finding information and asking people to point me in the right direction, sounding people out about things, asking for and giving advice in an informal mentory kind of way and as a way of developing genuine friendships with great people. Without twitter, Voices for the Library wouldn’t exist, and without Voices for the Library, I wouldn’t have just spent the weekend in Oxford with a handful of folk who are now some of my Absolute Favourite People Ever, most of whom I’ve only ever met once or twice, but thanks to social networking, get to call colleagues and friends. Finally, after hours of twittering, emails and phone chats, I got to meet Johanna!

Adrienne, me and Johanna down t'pub

Other than the advantages outlined in the post for Thing 12, I’d say the main ones for me are the deliberate serendipity, as it were, of people mentioning things that are Very Relevant to My Interests, that I never knew I was interested in or didn’t realise there was an event/article about, and the professional acquaintances and friends I’ve made. Bethan wrote a piece for Information Today about the rise of the New Professional and covers the benefits of social media brilliantly (not just for new professionals, I must add):

The rise of social media has definitely been a factor in the New Professionals Revolution. While they’ve been acknowledged as a distinct group for quite some time (Facet published the New Professional’s Handbook in 1999, and will be publishing a New Professional’s Toolkit in 2012.

It’s only recently that New Professionals have become so visibly active in the profession.  Social media has enabled this in a number of ways:

  • Breaks down geographic boundaries. The simple fact of being a New Professional probably means that there aren’t many other New Professionals in your organisation, or your local area. Social media makes it much easier to find and connect with other New Professionals.
  • Breaks down hierarchical boundaries. CILIP’s past-president, vice-president, and CEO are all active on Twitter, where they chat to, encourage, support, and debate with info pros from across all areas and stages of the profession. New Professionals are welcomed, and their opinions heeded. They are counted influential enough to be named Library Journal Movers and Shakers. Social media has enabled professional mobility, and free and easy discourse between professionals at different levels.
  • Provides platforms for sharing and debate. New Professionals do seem to have quite a lot to say for themselves, and social media provides them with places to say it. They can share ideas and listen to those of others. They can be anonymous, if they like, or self-promote to the rooftops. They can speak, or just listen. They can find out about what it’s really like to work in other sectors, other countries, at other levels. It allows them access to hundreds of years of accumulated vicarious knowledge.
As for disadvantages, I know some people are worried about a possible clique. I don’t agree with them, but I’ve already written about that! I can’t think of any other disadvantages. We’re not going to forget how to converse in person (as long as there are plenty of IRL meetups in pubs :) ) and we’re not going to lock ourselves away infront of computers, spurning the physical realm. I have to say that I’ve not yet found that CPD23 has helped me make contact with people I wasn’t already in contact with or otherwise wouldn’t come across. I haven’t seen that much CPD23 activity on my twitter feed and I keep forgetting to check the hashtag, but there’s still time and I think that’ll change in a couple of weeks when I’m in charge of a Thing myself (eek!)
In response to the last two questions, if you couldn’t guess my answers – yes, I already used social media, I won’t be giving it up, and yep, it absolutely does help foster a sense of community!

Voices for the Library in Oxford

Thing 11: Mentoring

I don’t have a lot of experience with mentoring, but here’s my little contribution!

My first experience of having a mentor was during my graduate traineeship. I was very fortunate to have a fab formal mentor, who had just finished her MA and was working towards getting her first professional post. It was a funny situation, where our mentor sessions tended to involve cups of tea and complaining about the less brilliant parts of our jobs. The thing I got out of it the most, to be honest, was knowing that I wasn’t alone, but that can be really important I think, and it certainly was for me. As well as the ‘formal’ mentor, I was taken under the wing of a really lovely librarian who kept both me and my mentor cheery! Again, knowing that there was someone there whose shoulder I could cry on when things were grim was great. She was also able to give historical insight into why things were as they were, which is always helpful! My experience is definitely in the Mentoring School of Tea and Sympathy.

Since then, I’ve neither been mentored nor been in a mentoring role, at least formally. I don’t know if it’s like this in every profession, but it seems that there’s a natural tendency for people to help each other, and that can sometimes take the form of a kind of informal mentor-type thing. When people have more experience, they’re happy to impart their wisdom in a non-pushy way. When people need advice, they seem to ask, and people seem to help. It’s good! With all the asking and the helping and the information come professional relationships, if you want to call them that, and within those relationships there seem to be different degress of informal mentoring.

One example of informal mentoring I can give is the work that goes on in Voices. We’re a varied bunch, drawn together by a shared desire to publicly stick up for public libraries. We share a lot of the same values and beliefs, but we’re a very diverse group in terms of age and experience. The things I’ve learnt from just having email conversations about how we might consider dealing with a sticky situation, for example, have really helped me to develop and given me an insight into things I otherwise wouldn’t find out about. Mick has years of experience behind him, so if I’m unsure about how I ought to tackle something, I know he’s a good person to ask about stuff, and he’s kind enough to put up with me! My campaign BFF, Jo, is an absolute brick – we’ve both had to deal with a lot of pressure with the local campaigning we do, so we’re able to support each other, bounce ideas off each other and work out how we feel about things when stuff’s particularly complex! Ian and I appear to share the same brain and tend to email/tweet the same thing at the same time…perhaps this is the sign of mentoring gone horribly wrong, when two people develop some kind of mini hive mind… I’d like to think that I’m of some use to people too, but I guess you’d have to ask them!

Outside of Voices, I’m very fortunate to have a really ace bunch of people I know I can turn to for advice, guidance or an opinion on something. I shan’t list them and get gushy (done that already in my Movers and Shakers thank you post), but I hope they know they’re appreciated. I certainly try to express my gratitude for all their support!

In terms of a medium- or long-term mentor-style thing, I still feel like too much of a baby to help much there, but it’s something I’d like to do in the future, formally or informally, to help people in the way that I’ve been helped by so many kind people who’ve been mentors to me.

Thing 10: Graduate traineeships, Masters Degrees, Chartership, Accreditation (and my Library Roots/Route)

I keep meaning to write about my library root/route, so this is my contribution. My roots and route are ever so traditional, as far as librarianship goes, but I hope there’ll be something of interest and use in there.

Roots

Undergraduate Degree (2005 – 2008)

I did an undergraduate degree in English Language and Literature at The University of Leeds (I stuck heavily to the literature and did as little language as possible!), because I’d always been strong in arts and humanities subjects at school, and out of my A-Levels (English Literature, Sociology, German, ICT, Critical Thinking and General Studies) English was the one I thought would be the most interesting (and, to be honest, make me sound the cleverest, because when you’re 18 that’s all that really matters eh?) I was already under the impression that it didn’t really make that much of a difference what particular artsy/humanitiesy degree you do, they employment prospects are massively limited unless you particularly excel, so I didn’t think too much about a career. I figured the choices would probably be teaching, office work or doing a more vocational Masters degree, and I’d worry about it later.

By the end of my second year at university, I began to curse 18 year-old me for being quite so relaxed about career prospects, and 16 year-old me for picking the A-Levels I did, and 13 year-old me for picking the GCSEs I did, and 11 year-old me for not listening more in Science, and then I realised there was little point in all of that and started panicking about what the heck I was going to do for a job that wouldn’t destroy me. I’d seen my mum have a horrible time of secondary school teaching so that was a definite no, and I’d watched friends go through the incredibly competitive and often soul-destroying process of getting into newspaper journalism, so despite having spent most Friday afternoons during sixth form in the newsroom of my local paper doing work experience (instead of General Studies classes – time well spent!) I decided I wasn’t going to go into that either. If not teaching or the media, where’s an English graduate going to go?!

I had a think about the kind of thing I wanted to do, and a couple of things stuck out; I wanted to help people learn without having to do it in a classroom/school environment, and I wanted to make a contribution to improving society in some way. Grand aims indeed, but I do think sticking to my guns with the big themes was helpful at that point. I started looking at prospects.ac.uk – I don’t know how I found it, but find it I did – careers in academic librarianship. Spot on! I had a look at how to get into it, and two recommendations were general work experience in a library environment, and a graduate traineeship. So I promptly set about getting both.

Route

Library Work Experience (2007 – 2008)

During my third year of university I worked for 15 hours a week as a Senior Information Assistant at Leeds Metropolitan University. The post was a maternity leave cover and worked really well around my studies. I made an effort to find out what people there did, what kind of roles there were and what made an academic library work. There were lots of opportunities to get stuck in with different things when it was really busy and there was a real emphasis on improving your customer service skills.

Graduate Traineeship (2008 – 2009)

I was able to use my experience to apply for three graduate traineeships – Manchester University, Leeds University and Leeds Met. I was interviewed by Manchester and Leeds Met, and was successful with the Leeds Met one. It was an educational year and I’d recommend trying to get a graduate traineeship, because although it’s not the only way to get into the vocation, it has the potential to be a very focussed, clear-cut route with opportunities to find out about what’s out there. Keeping a reflective diary proved invaluable and it’s good practice for later on. It’s well worth keeping your eye out for conference bursaries, visits and other opportunities because as a graduate trainee you should be in a perfect position for a) writing a good begging letter about how you really really need this opportunity and b) getting given time off work to do CPD things. Among other things, I was able to go to the IAML (UK & Irl) Study Weekend and helped design a poster for the LILAC conference. I also started to meet people working in other libraries in the area, like the graduate trainees at Leeds University and the brilliant team at Leeds College of Music. It all helped give me a bit of an insight into how vast the LIS profession is.

Masters (2009 – 2010)

I had the option of studying at Masters level at Leeds Met or Sheffield, and decided on the MA in Librarianship in the Information School at Sheffield. Having spoken to people who’ve done their Masters at different universities, I’m really glad I chose Sheffield and continue to be impressed by the work they’re doing and the standard of teaching you get on the MA course. Even though I never did get to formally learn about cataloguing (long story!), I think the opportunity to study, debate and present on areas such as ethics, emerging technologies, management, budgeting and issues such as open access was incredibly valuable and has provided me with an excellent grounding in the field of librarianship. Liz Chapman wrote a piece for us at Voices for the Library about the value of a professional qualification, in which she wrote:

“While the MA provided me with skills and knowledge in a number of disparate areas – from finding and assessing high-quality information resources to basic web design – its key advantage for professional practice was that it provided a wider and more strategic overview of librarianship than it would have been possible to gain from working in an individual library service.  This gave me the ability to consider the relative merits of various competing demands, and awareness of the different ways in which things are done in different library services.  I learned about the laws and professional ethics governing librarianship and information provision, and gained a greater awareness of the socio-cultural value of libraries and their contribution to other agendas, such as education, employment and quality of life.  While the course included more abstract and philosophical elements, it was – like much librarianship research – primarily geared towards professional practice.”

A Masters is very much what you make of it, in terms of what assignment topics you decide to study and what extra-curricular activities you get up to. As well as throwing myself into the degree and really enjoying being in an academic environment doing research about things I found incredibly interesting, I was very busy with paid work – between the August after finishing my graduate traineeship and up until I started a full time job a couple of weeks before the dissertation deadline, I worked in a lot of different libraries/information services. At one point I was juggling a full-time MA and five part-time jobs. I shan’t pretend it wasn’t for the money, but it was also for the experience, and the variety of experiences I had, the different users and environments I encountered and the skills I built upon have all been of great benefit.

Library Advocacy (2010 – ongoing!)

I got involved in library campaigning for Save Doncaster Libraries in June 2010 and co-founded Voices for the Library in August/September 2010, and well, it’s been an incredible year and a bit! I was honoured to be named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker 2011 and have done all kinds of bits and pieces of writing, public speaking, media interviews and other things. I try to keep tabs on it here.

Post-Masters Employment (2010 – 2011)

For money and life reasons, I needed a full-time job as soon as possible after my Masters. I spent June and July applying for any vaguely interesting and well-paid jobs going (there weren’t that many library jobs to be had) and took a job back at the University of Leeds, as a Learning and Teaching Support Officer. I work in the School of History, making sure all things learning and teaching related run smoothly. Although this isn’t directly related to libraries, I’m involved in a small degree of library liaison, and I give lectures and support to students about learning resources, referencing, plagiarism and other things that they could ask the library about but often don’t seem to want to. I spend a lot of time advertising library services to staff and students! I’m also responsible for content and Turnitin assignments on the VLE, which is, I think, going to become an increasingly relevant part of academic librarians’ roles.

The Future

PhD (2012 – 2015)

My Masters dissertation topic was the role of public libraries in supporting and encouraging democratic engagement, which I found incredibly interesting and more importantly, very relevant to what’s going on in society and libraries at the moment. I decided I wanted to look into the topic more, and do something that would hopefully make a real difference to the way public library services are understood and viewed by stakeholders. I’m starting a PhD at the University of Strathclyde in January and am very much looking forward to it. I’ve read a couple of blog posts over the last few days about the direction LIS research is/should be heading in (including this one by libcroft) and I’d very much like to make a positive contribution to the field and help take it in a direction that enables us to clearly articulate the role and value of library and information services.

Beyond that? Who knows! So much has happened in the last year that I really didn’t see coming the day I turned up at a protest to save a library, that I can’t even begin to guess what might happen next.

Chartership

I looked into the possibility of chartership a couple of months ago and although CILIP said that my campaigning and involvement in various conferences and events demonstrate that I can address a “wider professional context and active commitment to professional development”, I don’t think I’m going to do it. My current job doesn’t really offer me the opportunity to collect enough evidence to put together a good portfolio, and I think realistically it’s just not the right time (not least because of the time it requires that I just don’t have). I’ll save that one for later, I think.

Thing 9: Evernote

This is one of the Things I’ve been looking forward to and a bit reluctant about in equal measure! So far I’ve:

  • Downloaded it onto my work PC and home netbooky thing
  • Installed the clipper in my browser
  • Started a document
  • Imported a PDF
  • Tagged stuff

I’ve not quite worked out the layout and what I can actually do with it, but I think it’s got potential to be a useful tool. I’ve not had occasion to do anything collaborative with it yet, and I think I’ll probably stick to Google Docs for that because I know how it works and it does everything I need it to do (or does it? Is there something that Evernote does that Google Docs doesn’t?) and I’ve got lots of stuff on there already.

One thing that I find a bit annoying is the synchronisation note that pops up at the bottom right of my screen every two minutes – I must try and find out if I can change the settings so it does it less frequently.

One thing that’s brilliant is the Ink Note bit, which I’m sure is more useful for people who actually own a Tablet (work have just bought a couple so I’ll see if I can download Evernote to one of them and have a play), but for me it means I can pretend to be the Magic Pencil.

All the way round, down and flick...

Hopefully with a bit more exploration I’ll find out how it can be really useful. It certainly has potential!

Thing 8: Google Calendar

I sorted myself out with a Google Calendar when I read the list of Things. I got all excited and thought “ooh, I’ll set it up now and have a go for a couple of weeks and see how I get on”. What really happened was I got it, and even managed to get the IT team at work to allow me to sync it with my work calendar (this had only apparently happened once before?!) at the same time as allowing me to install Evernote (“Ever-what? Aye all right then”). After that, I didn’t look at it!

It’s not that I couldn’t probably benefit from using it more (or at all). At the moment, I have a work Outlook calendar and a colour-coding system: red for priority things and key dates, green for meetings, orange for people on annual leave or when the University’s closed, yellow for non-work events or lunch meetings, blue for training sessions and things I need to ask the intern to do (poor mite), and…I haven’t had occasion to use purple yet, but when I do it shall be for something Very Special Indeed. This works well for me at work. It does not work for me at home, because, for some reason, I can’t get the Portal to work on Firefox or Chrome. It only works on IE, and for the amount I check my work emails at home I can cope with firing up IE just for that. It does prevent me from using my calendar effectively though.

At the moment my workload and event organising system goes something like this:

  • Put stuff in work calendar – which is, at a glance, mostly yellow, which suggests I could do with something to sort out all the non-work stuff (by non-work I mean all the library stuff)
  • Memorise the Stuff I Am Doing this week and hope nothing gets lost in my brain. Happily, nothing does. And if it does, well, it can’t have been that important eh?
  • Occasionally write the Stuff I Am Doing on a scrap of paper and carry around with me at all times if there’s an unusually heavy list of Stuff

Needless to say I could be more efficient with it all, so I’ve been making a bit of an effort and I’ve had a play with Google Calendar. It’s had a strange effect…I’ve got hold of a paper academic diary and I’m using it. I’m very happy with it! I forgot how happy I am when I have a book of Stuff I Am Doing! It means I can write notes next to it and ticket booking reservations and that kind of thing. I know I can do that with an online calendar, but there’s something very reassuring about an actual paper diary. This is a system open to loss/theft/water damage etc., and you can’t share it as easily, but I’m happy.

My new best friend!

Thing 7: Face-to-face networks and professional organisations

I’m a bit late to Thing 7, but I’m quite glad because it means I’ve been able to read other people’s posts about professional organisations and think about where I agree, or where my thoughts differ. I was originally going to just reflect on what I’m involved in and how I think it’s been of benefit to me, which I find quite difficult because:

  • It’s hard to tell where involvement in certain things has given opportunities or helped to develop skills I wouldn’t have had otherwise;
  • I don’t keep good enough track of what I actually do;
  • It’s hard to assess the direction of causality;
  • And besides, that’s not the reason I’m involved in professional organisations or other networks.

The two blog posts that have stuck in my mind are lemurph‘s If only Benedict Cumberbatch were CEO of CILIP and meimaimaggio‘s Extracurricular committees and professional networks: I’m taking it lying down. I’d intended to respond to Helen’s post with a post saying “noooooo you must must must join CILIP!” and giving a lot of reasons, and then I remembered that Phil Bradley had written a post about it a while ago and I didn’t get round to distilling it all and working out how to express my own views. (There are lots of comments on Helen and Phil’s posts that are really worth a read, by the way.) Then I saw Mei’s post last thing last night (the perils of scrolling down your tumblr dashboard before bed) and it made me so sad that it reminded me about my intentions but made me think I needed to address it in a slightly different way. So. Here is my attempt, and I don’t want it to sound preachy but it might, but it comes from the heart, as usual.

The posts, though different in approach, pretty much say the same thing, when you boil them down: I’m not active in a professional organisation because I don’t think they’re for me. There are lots of reasons:

  • I already have a strong and useful alternative network
  • I don’t need the professional organisation(s) for training or as a network (at the moment)
  • It’s expensive
  • I don’t think I have anything to give to the organisation (time, skills etc.)
  • I don’t like networking in person
  • I don’t understand the difference between different organisations
  • I’m not interested in the CILIP groups and committees

These I can tackle by shamelessly cutting and pasting from Phil’s post. He basically says that regardless of the above (which you can only change by having some faith, becoming a member and seeking to change it from the inside, with the power of your vote and your input), the thing you can get from being a member of a professional body is helping to ensure that the professional body and professional ethics actually exist in the future:

If there isn’t a professional body, which sets standards, qualifications, monitors those and fights for their upkeep, we cannot have professional librarians. We’ll still have librarians of course – or at least, people who call themselves librarians, based on anything they want. They won’t need to have any kind of qualification because no-one can advise an employer on what they should be asking for; ‘a love of books and learning’ will be appearing on all job adverts (and not just a few at the moment) and anyone can apply. Now of course, at the moment it’s perfectly possible for an employer to get someone to look after their information centre without any qualifications – I think that’s bad and I suspect you probably do as well – but that’s the way that it’s going to be. An obvious knockon effect is that academic courses in various aspects of librarianship are going to be less common – as there is no actual need for librarians any longer (because remember, and it’s a point worth hammering home, no professional body = no professional librarians), no need for courses.

If there is no need for the academic aspect, I wonder how much work is going to be done in the field of librarianship and information science in the UK. Where is this stuff going to get published? Are we still going to have professional journals any longer? Will publishers see the value in them? Will foreign journals be interested in publishing material written in the UK from a UK perspective? ‘Well, yes it’s an interesting article but of course you’re not a professional librarian are you, so we’ll give it a miss thanks’ is a phrase that I find scarily possible. The people in charge of academic librarians are going to have even less credence than perhaps some of them do now for the same reason.

There will be no single coherent voice for librarians. It’s going to be down entirely to voluntary groups and local groups for that. The media will have no single organisation to approach. In this thought experiment I would encourage you to compare this bleak situation which doesn’t exist – yet – with the rather more powerful one that I’ve previously described. Regional groups will – or perhaps not, spring up, based entirely on just how keen particular individuals are. They’ll have to create their own rules, try and run their own training courses, and how’s this for another scary line ‘training? What do you want training for? You’re not a professional!’ No-one will know what’s going on, because these groups will be created and will break up almost on a whim or because of personal disagreements since there won’t be an overarching professional body to give them some backbone and consistency.

In short – there will be no profession. No professional librarians, no professional organisation. Let that sink in for a while. Nothing. That’s a very scary thought. It’s also a very possible situation as well. Are there any benefits to NOT having a professional organisation? I can’t honestly think of any, can you?

It’s not always obvious what CILIP is doing for you as an individual on a day-to-day basis (even if you have achieved a CILIP-accredited Masters and are working in a post that you could only have got with that qualification). But this is bigger than the individual and the day-to-day. This is actually quite similar to what I deal with when I’m campaigning for public libraries – and in the back of my mind there’s always the thought that I don’t use the NHS every day but I’m very glad it’s there if I do need it. The analogy doesn’t work perfectly, but the idea’s there. You might not think you need CILIP at the moment, but if you need training, or need careers advice, or need legal advice about employment, or your sector needs advocating for, or a million other things that CILIP provides, then you’re going to need the professional body to exist, and you’re going to need it to respond to the needs of its members. The only way CILIP can exist is through people paying for membership, and the only way CILIP can respond to the needs of its members is for the members to tell it what it needs.

As, for that matter, does your professional organisation!

It’s really hard to convince people to be a member, and I know that many of the reasons are big ones and often hard to get around – the main one being cost. I hope that changes in the future, I know it’s being looked at. But we really, really need members, and we really, really need ones who will actively contribute and if it’s not obvious how they can, ask about how they can.

One of the things Mei said felt like a kick in the guts (though I’m sure it wasn’t intended that way):

“Seems like if you’re not giving extra, not being exceptional, you might as well lie down with a duvet and let yourself get trampled by the hoards of new movers and shakers. It’s kind of cutthroat out there.”

It’s an important point and it’s important to address it. I feel like I can/ought to say something about it, because of what I do – I’m an actual Mover and Shaker this year, and I won an award during my Masters for my dissertation and my contribution to public librarianship. I do local campaigning and I co-founded a national advocacy group and I’m standing for Vice President of CILIP and I’m starting a PhD and no, I don’t really do anything other than work (in a non-library-related job) and campaign and tweet about work and campaigning. But I don’t apply the same unrealistic standards to others. I don’t expect everyone to be doing the same type, or amount of stuff as me. At the same time though, I’m not doing this so that nobody else has to. I started doing it because nobody else was, and then quickly, other people started doing it too. We got a bit of a profile, which by may be misleading or paint a picture different to the reality – we’re normal people with normal jobs and normal limits. We’re not superhuman, and there most certainly is not an army of us. We are few and far between. And to be honest, we’re knackered. We need people to participate. All kinds of people, all kinds of sectors, all over the place.

Just because other people are doing really well or doing a lot or doing something loudly doesn’t mean you get to feel insecure or unconfident or like you don’t have something to give. Just because you have a certain perception of something doesn’t mean it’s true. Professional organisations and other networks are really easy to get involved in. They’re desperate for your membership, your involvement, your support. They’re not exclusive groups. Librarians are one of the friendliest, most generous groups of people you could hope to meet. As a librarian or info pro, you have a professional reputation to uphold – and that professional reputation most certainly isn’t milquetoast! Yes, competition for jobs and awards and bursaries from organisations etc. is tough. Is that really an excuse to not be the best that you can be and giving the most that you can give? This isn’t about comparing yourself with others. No benefit can ever be had from that. If you ever feel trampled, the only person trampling you is yourself – because we’re really sodding nice and we’re going to drown you with our loveliness.