Maybe it’s been there the whole time and I’ve never paid attention, or maybe it’s new. But today, I stumbled across a really useful feature of the primo library interface CSU uses.
When searching for an article (actually I had the article open, I was looking for the journal website because “Access” is a great title for a journal unless you’re trying to Google the website…) for my assignment I noticed the “related reading” column on the side of the screen. This pointed me to another related article (that’s the point!) that I had read last year and forgotten about, but as soon as I saw it in the list I knew it would be perfect for what I wanted to say! This little column helped me so much and I have no idea if it’s been there the whole time – if it has, I have obviously ignored it!
NLS9 was held in Adelaide on the 5th-7th of July, with tours held on the 5th and the conference proper on 6th and 7th July.
I’ve thought long and hard about what I wanted to say about this conference, and at the prompting of Sally Turbitt I’ve decided to share my thoughts.
The upshot is, I didn’t enjoy this conference. There were some factors that were well within the organisers’ control however there was a lot that wasn’t and was simply about me. From “what could be improved” I found that the breakout space wasn’t really kept for downtime as advertised (it was multipurpose, used for meal breaks, meetings and chill out time) and I also thought that the keynotes had zero promotion about them, and they didn’t even have titles/topics in the programs, so I couldn’t make an educated decision about whether I should go to the keynote or skip it and get some rest. On a personal note, I was worn out going into the conference, and ended up with a migraine on Sunday morning as a result. I’m starting to think that conferences just aren’t my jam – there is so much information to absorb in a short space of time, and so many people. As an introvert and a neurodiverse person (ADHD including sensory processing issues) conferences are really, really hard.
I was disappointed by the keynotes, as some seemed to be a bit too niche interest for me and some rehashed ideas I’d heard before (however, I must also note that not everyone – ie most people at NLS9 – did not have the privilege of attending ALIA Information Online 2019 and hearing the amazing keynotes there). As I said earlier, I couldn’t make an informed decision about whether or not to attend because there was no information given about them leading up to the event. I was also disappointed in the one teacher-librarian lightning talk – the speaker has no experience as a teacher librarian and just presented the sort of stuff we write in assignments and blog posts, not anything inspiring.
While there were things the organisers could have done to improve the conference experience, please don’t take this post as saying the conference was awful. It wasn’t. It was pretty groundbreaking for Australia with a strong sustainability focus and the organisers worked really hard. It’s just I think… maybe conferences aren’t for me.
Study visits can be a really exciting part of a library course, but they can also be hard work. Here’s ten tips to help you get the most out of your study visits.
Be prepared. Work out what needs doing at home while you’re away, especially if you have family to care for. Your study visits might involve being away from home for days or even if you’re local there could be some really long hours. Make sure you have reliable care for any kids you might have, make sure the pets will get fed while you’re away. Plan well to make sure they are taken care of in advance. Also, know what the procedure is at your institution if something goes wrong and you can’t make it on the day.
Plan your outfits. Comfy shoes are a must as you’ll do a lot of walking. Personally, between the four days of study visits, including getting to and from the city and my after hours commitments I clocked up 57,000 steps! The same goes for your outfits. Check the weather in the lead up, especially if you’ll be in a different city to where you live.
Take notes. You’ll likely need to write some sort of report after the study visits, so take lots of notes to help you remember who said what at each library.
Take photos. Photos are also a great way to jog your memory later about what you’ve seen. Make sure you get permission first and be cautious about posting on social media. Some of our sites allowed us to take photos on the provision that they did not go on social media. Any photos you take should not have any library patrons or fellow students in them.
Do your research. If, like me, you have to write a researched essay, incorporating what you saw on study visits, do your research before the visits if you can. It will give youthings to look out for, maybe prompt some questions to ask your hosts and help your essay in the end.
Check out transport. Check out your public transport options ahead of time or use the discussion forums or Facebook groups to meet up with a travel buddy if you’re anxious about getting to the right places. Know when the public transport options are good or when you might be better off bringing the car or booking an Uber. Remember you can use travel time to chill – read a book, listen to a podcast, or write some reflections about your experience.
Take time off. If you can afford a little more time off work, give yourself an extra day to recover from the visits. A study visit can involve long days in an unfamiliar city with lots of information to absorb – it’s tiring.
Enjoy the experience – Plan to have some fun while you’re on study visits. Organise to meet fellow students for meals, or look at exhibitions at the venues or in nearby locations. Most study visits will have an attached Students and New Grads group event – join us for a chat!
Expect the unexpected. Serendipity is important for library users but it’s important for us as well. Be ready to embrace opportunities. Be willing to meet new people and chat to people you don’t know.
Know thyself. Know what you need to help you get through the week. Are you someone who needs regular fresh air and sunshine? Try to have your lunch in a park or an outdoor cafe. Like to process what you see by chatting? Organise to debrief afterwards at the pub or on transport between venues with other students. Need time alone? Stick your headphones on and scurry off after a visit to get some alone time. Know what you need and make firm plans to get what you need.
Recently, the Sydney Morning Herald published two stories on public libraries. First there was An Ode To the Local Library, which told of how visits to the local public library to borrow audio books on CD improved the author’s father’s quality of life after his eyesight failed. This really resonated with me after I spent time yesterday with the Home Library Service Manager and we discussed what the Home Library Service does and why. She said, we cannot do anything about our patrons health problems but we can improve their quality of life. This article (while not specifically about a home library service) was all about how libraries improve people’s quality of life.
The second article was An Ode to Sydney’s Public Libraries. It talked about the architecture and facilities in many of the libraries in the City of Sydney and the greater Sydney area, although it did not mention my local public library service, which is on the very outskirts of the Sydney region. It has made me want to organise to go and visit Green Square Library, which I hope to be able to do soon.
I wish I had the headspace to write an ode to my public library right now, but at this very moment I am living a taste of my dream, sitting at the circulation desk of the quietest branch of my local public library composing this post, on my prac placement. Plus, I have a tattoo inspired by my childhood library (also a part of my local library) so isn’t that ode enough?
I want to straight-up start by saying I am a person who is sick of reading books and blog posts about life hacks and how to achieve your goals from single, straight, affluent, white, American men. As a married, Australian middle-class woman with five kids, most of those suggestions are unattainable at best.
This will not be a blog post like that.
I want to tell you how you can hack your degree and make it work for you. I cannot promise you’ll get all HDs or get a job at the end, but I can tell you how to make the most of your opportunities as a student, to give you the best chance of success once you get that piece of paper to say that you are a fully qualified Librarian. (Or library technician, archivist, teacher-librarian or whatever your study is in. Use your imagination).
Join. Join your local library/records association at the student rate while you can. ALIA has great student rates (and also offers discount rates to new graduates) as do RIMPA. Not only that, but take advantage of the benefits it gives you. Members of ALIA can sign up for mailing lists that give them articles to read for professional development, you have access to ebooks and ejournals, you hear about great events and get a discount when you go to a paid event. When you go to events you meet new people, especially in the industry you are hoping to be employed in.
Volunteer! Volunteer for ALIA – the Students and New Grads group are always looking for new team members. You can learn great skills, network with other new professionals and students, and it looks great on your CV as you then have proven skills in social media platforms, event coordination and the like. You can also volunteer at events. Earlier this year I volunteered at ALIA Information Online 2019 and I got so much out of it. While the volunteer role is important, most of the time I was still able to listen to the keynote speakers, and participate in workshops. I learnt so much and met so many new people. NLS9 is currently calling for volunteers – they want you to volunteer a day of your time in exchange for free entry to the conference the other day. If you’re able to volunteer at a conference like this then take the opportunity.
Jump in. Join committees and working groups. While this isn’t something that’s exclusive to being a student, you possibly have more time now as a student than you will as a full time employee, plus its something students feel like they have no place putting their hands up for. IFLA have working groups you can join from anywhere in the world. ALIA have sub-groups, working groups and conference committees. If you see a call out for volunteers to be involved in something you are interested in, put your hand up!
Learn. Most universities have student subscriptions to online learning platforms such as Lynda. If you look at job ads in your preferred field and notice they are all asking for knowledge of or experience with budgeting, social media marketing, project management or change management, take a look at these platforms to see if there’s a course you could do that can skill you up in this area.
Complete. Complete your assignments, but not just as an assignment. When you write that collection development policy or disaster recovery plan, treat it like a piece of work that you would do for an employer. Have it as evidence of your knowledge in this area. Treat essays as though they were articles to submit to journals, and then rework them a little and submit them to journals or blogs.
Write. Beyond your assignments, write. Write for Incite. Write for shared blogs. Write for journals. If people read what you’ve written and like it, they’ll remember you and it may just come in handy one day.
Connect. Join Twitter, Linked In or another social media platform and connect with librarians around the world, both in your preferred field and outside of it. Get to know what other librarians are talking about. Learn the problems with the theories and ideals we are taught in university. Join the conversation.
Look. Look out for any free or low-cost professional development activities in your area. Look for free webinars. Attend whatever you can, and learn. You’ll meet new people and learn a lot. If you’re an ALIA member, even as a student member, you can log your PD hours on the website.
Ask. Ask for help if you need it. Ask for recommendations of papers to read, journals to read, libraries and librarians to follow. Ask for a chat over a coffee with someone you admire. And don’t be upset if it doesn’t work out first time around. Librarians are generally generous people and if you ask a few, telling them you’re a student and would like to buy them a coffee and pick their brains for an hour, you’ll find someone willing.
Deviate. Don’t be afraid to deviate from the norm. I didn’t like the remaining electives I had to choose from, so I requested permission to complete a different subject (that was in a closely allied field) and was given permission. So now, I’m studying Game Based Learning. Don’t assume you have to follow the cookie-cutter course. I can’t guarantee you’ll get permission to study a subject on pure mathematics or viticulture as a part of your librarianship degree, but if you’ve got a burning passion for something in a related area, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Maybe you can’t do all of these things. That’s ok. Just take one step.
If you’d like to hear more about this, I recommend the final episode of the podcast Beyond the Stacks, which inspired this post.
No work at least Mon-Tues-Wed – ✔︎ I succeeded even though it meant turning down work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I worked Thursday and Friday, though.
Get five hours of work done on my escape room – ✔︎ Done. I worked really hard on this game this week. It’s not quite complete but is fully functional and is being play-tested but family and close friends.
Get either Part A or Part B of ETL505 Assignment first draft complete – ✔︎ I’ve completed Part B draft, which means that next week I need to tackle Part A, proof read and edit it all and then it’s ready to submit Monday-week.
Begin work on the other part of my INF541 assignment – rationale for my game and a reflection – ✔︎ These are both done or close to done but very much in draft form.
Work on the readings of Module 6 of INF541 – ✔︎ I’ve explored some more of these although I will confess that I have spent more time on the game than on the readings.
Work on the readings of Module 6 of ETL505 – ✔︎ I’ve completed the readings for this subject.
Edit genrefication essay – ✔︎ This is done, and it’s just waiting on a final proofread.
Week Twelve Goals
Week Thirteen (for me) is four days of study visits in the city and Week Fourteen is my prac placement. Plus my two assignments are due in week Thirteen (Monday and Friday) so this is the week it all has to get finished.
Get first draft of Part A for ETL505 complete
Proofread entire ETL505 assignment and get someone else to proofread
Submit ETL505 assignment
Finish first draft of INF541 Rationale
Finish first draft of INF541 Reflection
Complete the last small section of my escape room
Submit INF541 assignment (this isn’t due until the following Friday so I do have a little wiggle room if needed)
Re-read expectations for Study Visits, and the ETL507 assessments, especially the post-study-visit one
Ideally I would like to write a blog post about the classification of a book I borrowed from my local library, but this is not a priority this week
I ideally don’t want to work more than two days next week, although I will make an exception if the third day is a library day and my uni work/assignments are on track
I’m Week ten didn’t entirely go as planned. I ended up working (casual teaching) both Monday and Tuesday, then Wednesday was taken up by driving five hours to and from Bathurst for the Executive Dean’s Awards, followed by a child’s medical appointment and then the meeting – I chose ETL505. Then I was offered a day of work in a local high school library, so I took the opportunity even though it cut into uni work time. So I only had one day (instead of four) to get the work I assigned myself done. I also had ALIA SNGG commitments to complete.
Week ten’s goals were
Complete ETL505 module 5✔︎
Continue working on my escape room, for at least four hours next week – I got about 90 mins completed so short of goal but I was also assuming I had four days to get uni work done.
Attend the Executive Dean’s awards, which will take a whole day since the ceremony is in Bathurst, a 2.5 hour drive away. ✔︎
Begin module 6 of INF541 – edited to add: I managed to get started on this while we had a quiet moment at work and there wasn’t any meaningful library work I could do ✅
Begin module 6 of ETL505 – edited to add: I managed to get started on this too 🙂 I’ve actually read all the module content for this but I need to catch up on the textbook reading ✅
Attend my meeting for ETL505 ✔︎
Participate in #auslibchat on Tuesday night ✘- I didn’t manage to participate this month as I was exhausted after teaching for two days, attending hockey training and then having to come home and wash dishes, get three teenagers to bed etc. I did contribute something to the discussion the following day, however.
Complete the first draft of my genrefication essay ✔︎ – it’s currently longer than it ought to be – by about 200 words – so I need to cull it down.
Week Eleven Goals are:
No work at least Mon-Tues-Wed
Get five hours of work done on my escape room
Get either Part A or Part B of ETL505 Assignment first draft complete
Begin work on the other part of my INF541 assignment – rationale for my game and a reflection
Write a blog post about Reality is Broken and Masters of Doom✔︎
Start research on genrefication (part of my ETL505 assignment)✔︎
Catch up on uni forums, especially for collaboration on INF541 game proposals✔︎
Come up with a name for my escape room✔︎
Begin work on my escape room game✔︎
Work on some questions June gave me re my escape room game – still in progress
Work out where I am up to on modules and get one sub-module done from each subject (in an ideal world I would like to have completed module 5 in both subjects by the end of the week but 🤷🏻♀️) INF541✔︎ ETL505 – I haven’t done module work on ETL505
Continue listening to Masters of Doom (finished it now)✔︎
I took Friday off uni work (except writing this post) as a reward for a non-uni related goal. I went for a walk and watched almost all of the documentary series The Case Against Adnan Syed (10 mins left when my children came home!). This day off is part of the reason I didn’t get module work for ETL505 done. In addition to these goals I completed some paperwork for my prac placement and attended the ALIA Sydney Social event last night.
Week ten’s goals
Complete ETL505 module 5
Continue working on my escape room, for at least four hours next week
Attend the Executive Dean’s awards, which will take a whole day since the ceremony is in Bathurst, a 2.5 hour drive away.
Begin module 6 of INF541
Begin module 6 of ETL505
Attend either my meeting for INF541 OR the meeting for ETL505 – they are both at the same time on the same day.
Participate in #auslibchat on Tuesday night
Complete the first draft of my genrefication essay
Well, the kids are back to school tomorrow and I can’t wait! LOL! It’s so hard to get uni work done while they are around AND my husband works from home so I have to try to keep them quiet so he can work.
I have my game proposal approved, so that’s good news and means I can get started on that!
This week is a bit busy – today I have kids at home still and Wednesday is pretty full, no uni work until the evening, so I have to make sure I can get enough done and make enough progress on my uni tasks without burning out. Just a few more weeks left!
This week’s goals are:
Write a blog post about Reality is Broken and Masters of Doom
Start research on genrefication (part of my ETL505 assignment)
Catch up on uni forums, especially for collaboration on INF541 game proposals
Come up with a name for my escape room
Begin work on my escape room game
Work on some questions June gave me re my escape room game
Work out where I am up to on modules and get one sub-module done from each subject (in an ideal world I would like to have completed module 5 in both subjects by the end of the week but 🤷🏻♀️)
Proofread, and have someone else proofread my ETL505 assignment (Due 23rd April). Ideally I would like to submit it before Easter so that means having it done this week.✔︎
Read more of Reality is Broken ✔︎ I think I have 3-4 chapters left of this book.
Read more of Atomic Habits✔︎ Finished!
Start listening to the Masters of Doom audiobook I bought today✔︎ I’m about nine chapters in now.
Play digital games for 2 hours✔︎ I’m not getting two hours of gameplay a week. I’ve decided to give up on Limbo – it’s no longer satisfying just frustrating and difficult.
And get some house keeping done – some deep cleaning and decluttering.✔︎
Work on my game proposal for INF541 – this is due right after the holidays. – we have a meeting re this tonight so I will get onto it either tomorrow or Friday. It is due Monday but it is only 300 words.
Complete ETL505 Module 5.4
Complete INF541 Module 5.2
Play board games ✔︎
I haven’t gotten everything I hoped to achieve done but, to be quite honest, I’m a bit over it all. I think I just need a break – I started uni work two weeks before session started and haven’t really given myself a proper break over the holidays. I didn’t do any uni work yesterday or today (aside from reading the comments on my marked assignment, and writing this blog post plus tonight’s meeting coming up). I’m hoping to take one more day’s break and then on Friday write my proposal and once the kids are back at school on Tuesday get stuck into my game plan, module work and the next round of assignments. Taking a break is important and sometimes I forget that. It’s especially important because this year I am doing my prac in the break between sessions!