P2 : The multiple dimensions of ‘PD’

Well it’s been a LONG time since I’ve written here, and much has changed. I’ve returned to Australia (thank you Covid!) and settled into an awesome job as a secondary school library coordinator.

After taking a year off working and travelling the world, then coming back to a position where I had a lot to learn, it got me thinking about professional development. Yes, I’ve signed up to webinars, training and a variety of events. Bu there’s more to it, isn’t there…

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Five Months on the Road

I’m on a five hour bus from Granada to Madrid, with lots of time to think. I haven’t worked a single day in the past five months. A new city every week, living out of my backpack and seeing the world… Sounds dreamy right? Well, in many ways it is. I haven’t known what day it is for months.. Tuesday? Saturday? Who knows? Who cares! There’s a lot of freedom in not working.

But after such a long break, I’ve come to realise something. And I never thought I would hear myself say this – but I miss my job.

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Taking Risks in 2019

For the last five years, I’ve been busy working away at building my librarian career. I established my social media presence through this blog and Twitter (@MissLibraryGrrl), I volunteered for library organisations, presented at conferences, wrote articles, read widely, built a supportive network of GLAMR peers, and took lots of professional development opportunities. I had two great (permanent!) jobs that I enjoyed, with challenging work and wonderful colleagues.

Yet this year, I left that all behind. It’s a scary thing to spend all that time and effort on establishing yourself, to then step away from it all. At the end of 2018, I quit my jobs and left on a one way ticket headed to the UK with my partner (with a three month stopover in South East Asia first). I don’t have anything lined up – no place to live, no job, nothing.

It’s a risk I knew I had to take, and I’ve got my fingers crossed it all pans out. This is the last year that I’m young enough to qualify for a working holiday visa – that helped give me the push I needed, though I’ve always been determined to work and travel more before ‘settling down’.

There’s lots of questions I’m yet to answer, and many hopes and anxieties around my choices:

  • Will I find a good job overseas? Will my skills and experience transfer across cultures?

  • Will I be able to get another good job if I return home? Or will I have to start from the bottom again?

  • Will all my hard work from the last few years be wasted?

  • Will I forget all I’ve learnt? Will the field move ahead and I’ll become ‘out of touch’?

It’s hard to strike a balance between taking a break, stepping back and living my life, while also keeping a toe in the librarian world. I don’t want to temper my travel time with professional duties, but I also fear falling behind in my career.

I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know what I’ll be doing in a few weeks time, let alone where my career is going to head. It’s a risk and a challenge I’m excited to take on, and I can only hope it leads me to more opportunities to learn and grow.

I hope I will be able to write again in some time, with some answers to my questions. And perhaps it might help to inspire others to take the leap and follow their dreams (or perhaps I will serve as a deterrent if it’s all a disaster!)

Right now, I’m writing this on a five hour bus ride from Mui Ne to Nha Trang in Vietnam. Yesterday, we watched the sunset over red sand dunes, and ate pad thai with two amazing travellers we met. Who knows what we’ll do tomorrow. I might have slacked off from my library related reading, writing and networking – but so far I think it’s all going to work out.

To sign off – here’s a gif I made of me at the Cu Chi Tunnels near Ho Chi Minh.


Perfecting the Interview

Job interviews are not easy. They can cause many people a lot of anxiety, and this nervousness then means we aren’t able to portray ourselves in the best light. We can stumble over questions that we would otherwise easily discuss in normal conversation.

I have had many interviews were I have simply gone blank from being so worried I wouldn’t say the right thing. I have also had interviews with incredibly challenging questions. Once, I was given a four part question – I managed to answer part one and part two, but had to continually ask for a reminder of the question (needless to say the interviewers said they perhaps needed to rethink the structure of that one!). I have had complex hypotheticals asking for very specific answers that required so much more information than was provided. Some interviewers really like to put you on the spot, and while some people thrive under this pressure, others find it very challenging.

There are many interviews I have succeeded in, and even more that I have not. So I thought I would share some of my learnings and tips for others in similar positions.

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Controlling your online data and privacy

In the wake of the ‘Facebook data scandal‘ it seems a pertinent time to write a blog post I’ve been thinking about for a while – sharing my tips and experiences for controlling my online data and privacy.

Some people may not have thought much about this until the news broke that Facebook had shared and used people’s data in some dubious ways (shock horror!), however, many librarians and people in the information services industries have been harping on about these risks for years.

So, if you haven’t already, what are some simple things you can do to get on top of your data and maintain your privacy online?

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Technology in Teaching

I read an interesting article recently about using technology to enhance learning: Putting Learning First With New Tech Tools (in Edutopia).

Too often, I have been told to add a video to my content, simply because it is showing that we’re using technology. People want to look like they’re keeping up with advancements with technology, so throwing in a few videos gives that appearance.

But many times, the videos are too long, or don’t really add anything to the content. The learning in that instance isn’t really enhanced by having a video. Using technology in your teaching isn’t as simple as throwing in a video. It has to be carefully sculpted and considered, and used to support and enhance what you are already doing. It is ideally interactive and thought-provoking, helping students to make connections between concepts and solidify their understanding. It must ADD VALUE.

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The Old and the New

So it’s been four months since I last wrote, how time flies! I suppose one reason that I have written less recently is because of my new involvement with Twitter. Instead of saving up all my thoughts for a full blog post, I can throw them straight out in little micro-blogs and start an instant conversation. It’s been a great way to get more connected with the library community, and I’ve gotten to know some great people and learnt a lot of new things through using the platform. So I highly recommend getting on board if you haven’t yet – and then follow me @MissLibraryGrrl

2017 was an amazing year. I never realise how much I have achieved until I sit down and reflect on it, which is why I actually really value my end of year professional review. Writing out all the things I did to achieve my goals is so satisfying, and encouraging to see that I am heading in a positive direction.

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Tips for Working with Images

Do you publish blogs, or maybe a Library guide? Or make posters and marketing materials for your Library? Or maybe you are just doing a PowerPoint presentation and need some images to jazz it up a bit?

As many Librarians would be aware, you can’t just go and take any old image from Google Images, because these are usually under copyright and not free to use. Too many times I have seen images with watermarks being used without permission – and the user doesn’t realise that this is what the watermark signifies!

So what images can you use for free?

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Librarians in Pop Culture

It always makes me especially happy to see Librarians represented in books, movies and TV shows. So I thought I would share with you a few of my very favourites:

  1. In Terry Prachett’s Discworld series, the Librarian of the Unseen University Library (full of magical books for the wizards) has some time ago been transformed into an orangutan, and he doesn’t really want to be changed back. Though all he says is ‘ook’ his character is quite endearing, and I love the description on the fan website (which really could be describing any one of us 😛 ):

    When worried, the Librarian tends to hide under a blanket in his book-lined nest in a cubby hole under a desk in the middle of the library. He is generally naked but he does wear an old green robe after he has had a bath. He is also a Special Constable of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. In his spare time he visits the pub, leaving a trail of peanut shells behind.

  2. Did you know that Batgirl, aka Barbara Gordon (Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, NOT Alfred’s niece as shown in the movies), is a Librarian by day? HEAD Librarian of the Gotham City Pubic Library to be more specific. It’s nice to think of us Librarians as butt-kicking superheros, thank you very much.
  3. Speaking of butt-kicking, Evelyn ‘Evie’ Carnahan – the female lead in ‘The Mummy’ movies, is an exceptionally intelligent and strong Librarian. Her knowledge of ancient Egyptian mythology and hieroglyphs would shame any scholar. And she won’t let no undead jerks tell her what to do!
  4. I was recently shown an amazing movie called ‘Desk Set’ from the 1950’s starring Katharine Hepburn as ‘Bunny Watson’ – a sassy and highly intelligent Librarian whose role and department is at risk of being replaced by a fancy new computer (sound familiar?!) There’s also a pretty cute love story intertwined in the very witty and humorous dialogue.
  5. While not technically a Librarian, I absolutely love the sneaky Carl Conrad Coreander who runs the antique book store in the ‘Neverending Story‘ film. I always think of the library as a safe place for all, especially for those kids who need a place to go at lunchtime in school, just as Bastian is saved from the bullies by entering the book store. I can’t help but laugh at Coreander’s sentiments “the video arcade is down the street, we just sell small rectangular objects, they’re called books and require a little effort of your part – and make no pllffbb beeps! Now on your way” haha oh I feel you!
  6. I could go on and on, so I’ll leave you with a quick few others to check out on your own – if you haven’t heard of Rupert Giles, the Librarian in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, definitely have a watch. Of course, ‘The Pagemaster‘ film has a great eccentric librarian, Mr. Dewey (lol), who is willing to bend the rules a little. Then there is ‘The Librarians‘ film series and TV show from the USA which again has supernatural elements and a very clever Librarian. Finally, ‘The Librarians‘ TV show from Australia takes a more realistic approach, with a horrible librarian who is actually painful to watch (but its very funny).

So, from this list you can see: there is mostly an even split of male and female Librarians – interesting. Also we seem to be quite eccentric, and involved in lots of supernatural events, and are also very intelligent, quite funny and sort of rule breakers. I’m quite happy with this profile 🙂

Who are your favourite Librarians in pop culture?