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League of Librarians: beginnings

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Reaction to my blog post on Tuesday evening has prompted action ‘while the iron’s hot’ to progress with the idea of a new and revived collaborative blog. I hope we can maintain momentum on this idea with a view to blogging and igniting professional conversation beyond #blogjune.

Partly self-nominated, partly nudged, I’d like to jot down a few ideas about what we need to get this going. There are a few things I think we need right now and there a things we can develop once started.

What we need right now

  • a small team – these people will assist with initial set up of the site, write and invite others to write content that can be posted in early days.
  • decide what the website/blog is and what it isn’t – to me, this blog is a launch pad for conversation in other spaces such as Twitter. The blog is an anchor, a landing page. So I’m thinking it doesn’t need its own Twitter or Facebook accounts, etc. People can tweet what they find on the blog. Allow the community to spread the word. This blog is for the community, by the community. It’s a meeting place. It’s a ‘making connections’ place. It is also a space for info pros to find their voice in a welcoming environment.
    This blog is not for job listings. There are enough channels for this purpose. Would you agree?
  • a purpose and aims – fostering connections, knowledge building and sharing; it is inclusive of different perspectives, job titles, sectors, etc, and it is welcoming.
  • a blog name – League of Librarians has been suggested and there is some agreement on Twitter. I find this name quite powerful. Yes, there are other jobs out there without the ‘L’ word and there are increasing numbers of jobs where librarian skills are needed and being used in some of the most traditionally unlikely of places (which is awesome, by the way). If there are any other suggestions, please comment below.
  • platform – WordPress might be easiest? I currently run two blogs on Bluehost and haven’t had a hitch yet.

What we will need in the short term

  • some idea of the kind of content to blog about (a focus) – rough ideas include different perspectives on a trend or issue; innovative or cool stuff happening; challenges we might be facing, both on an information service and personal professional levels; questions and figuring stuff out.
  • an admin team, an editorial team and regular contributors – these could the same people or people might be interested in contributing in different ways. Admin team might look after emails, comms and website maintenance. Editorial team will keep track of submissions and the publishing calendar. Regular contributors might set their own frequency.
  • a leadership support crew – these people are senior members of our community who may not be directly involved, but who we can call upon for guidance along the way and guest content. I have a few ideas about who these might be :)
  • site features- what we need it to do will inform what is needed, but do we want an email subscription function or sponsorship to cover web hosting costs?

If you’re interested and haven’t checked out this conference paper about how LINT started, please do have a read.

I don’t have an official online form as yet, but if you’re interested in being a member of the team, start up or later on, please comment below with how you’d like to be involved.

Please also contribute your ideas and vision for this blog. I acknowledge that what I have envisioned here may not be what you had in mind. So please do share what you’re thinking.

So that’s all I have right now. I won’t have thought of everything, but at least this is a start.

Time to step up on blogging

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It’s about time I joined in the conversation about blogging. A colleague has called me out. And yes, I have a contribution. This isn’t the first time I’ve put thoughts down on this topic over this month. I’ve been scribbling almost daily. Only now I think I can put them in some kind of order to be understood (hopefully). While I’m supposed to be doing other work, this topic is all I can think about right now. My thoughts have bubbled to the surface and have no where else to go but out. Now, do you have a cuppa? Good. Me too.

We have heard from a number of ‘nodes’ on the topic of blogging this #blogjune. Much of what I’ve read I agree with. And those who have given their thoughts and ideas to this conversation, I thank you. I can’t and won’t attempt to respond to each of your posts. Con has, however brought together a bit of a list. :) What I can do here is bring my perspective and thoughts.

I’ll start with my own experience and the journey so far. Ive been in this profession for five years. I know, it feels a lot longer. And when I started blogging, I guess you could say I joined the party a little late as it was 2010/2011 and the beginning of what has been described as the downturn of the blogging ‘golden age’. At this time, my experience was much like Kate described. I felt welcomed. I wrote posts and commented on others. I read a lot of blogs and looked up to a number in the library blogging arena. I felt safe. Keeping up to date with what was happening was overwhelming as a library student, but oh so exciting! Blogs and the conversation on Twitter that ensued fuelled my beginning passion for this profession. I turned to who I saw as leaders on their blogs and sometimes without getting in contact or conversing, I also saw them as mentors but they probably didn’t know it.

Fast forward a few years and I blogged less and less. I’ll be honest, I’ve only really been blogging about ‘safe’ topics and topics I felt I knew and had confidence writing about. This, I realise now, has defeated the purpose I had for this blog back in 2011. A learning and connecting tool. I put together a list of ‘must follow’ blogs for students this semester and I really struggled. Where did we all go? I started to panic that I was the loner kid who wasn’t told the party had moved on somewhere else. Truth be told, there are two reasons (not the only ones though) why I haven’t ventured into unchartered waters with blogging of late.

1. There has been limited content to respond to. Cue Lionel Richie “Hello? ….is it me you’re looking for?”
2. I have this perception that people are now just too busy and have no time anymore (which might be partially true).

These two reasons though, have had an impact on my confidence with blogging and putting my thoughts out there. Because really, where’s the incentive to contribute if people won’t even make virtual eye contact with you? And this is where not using the spaces available for conversation can and may well be detrimental to our future professional conversation and knowledge.

It’s not just me who isn’t blogging (as often). And it’s not just senior members of our professional community and leaders. I don’t see many of my peers blogging. People who I’ve ‘grown up’ with and have been in the profession for about the same time. This worries me.

There appears to be, at least to me, a disconnect in a ‘changing of the guard’. We don’t have a conversation issue in our community. We have a leadership or a succession issue. It’s not just the workplace where we risk losing knowledge when people wind down to retirement. It’s in the professional conversation too. I call to others at a similar career stage to step up. Share the cool and exciting stuff you’re doing. We can’t leave the conversation to a few. For knowledge to grow, we need diversity. Momentum must keep going. It’s time to step into ‘big girl/boy shoes’ and start owning what we think, contribute and do. It’s time to start growing into leadership roles in professional conversation and discourse. But we also need our leaders to stick around to nurture the transition.

This is no time for libraries and library and information professionals to be passive and accepting of what is given. We must have active participants.

How do we do this? How do we get over our imposter syndrome and just hit publish?
Think of blogging as an ‘out of session’ conversation at a conference. You walk up to people who you may have seen around previously, or you recognise their Twitter handle on their name badge. You introduce yourself and say ‘Hey, how was that last presentation? It got me thinking about…’ And so the conversation starts. You might suggest a solution to a problem. Or have an idea about how to implement something. This happens as naturally as heading back to the buffer for a second helping of lunch. What we don’t notice is that we’re sharing our thoughts and ideas as ‘half baked’. We haven’t thought it all through before approaching the person. We bounce off one another. An idea is built upon, developed and massaged until you walk away to the next session with a much better idea that what you started with. I believe this can happen with blogging. Blog posts need to be allowed to be ‘half baked’ if we’re to keep up momentum (and knowledge growth). We need to, in the words of John Farhnam ‘take the pressure down’ (do-do….do-do, “cause I can feel it, it’s rising like a storm”…oh please Lord, let them be the right words).

Where do we do this?
I agree, a lot of conversation happens on Twitter. As long as I’ve been around, always has been. But with the absence of blogs and blogging, I have a tendency to miss conversations. My work breaks don’t seem to line up or don’t have a Twitter conversation radar that beeps at me like a car reversing camera. So I and perhaps others, miss out on these conversations. We miss out on the opportunity to learn and share. Blog posts are better than Twitter at sticking around. We can dip into them when we can. So I think we owe it to our ideas to blog. I think blogs should be here to stay for a while longer at least.

This discussion had to happen. I’m glad it did. Because now we can move forward. I have loved #blogjune conversations this year. But it isn’t enough. Let’s keep the conversation going. If we make time for #blogjune, what’s stopping us from blogging throughout the year? I’m not advocating for daily blogging. Holy crap, no. But a thought or an idea fleshed out and reflected upon won’t hurt us.
The idea of a collaborate blog is a good one. Perhaps we can build on that idea. What about a website for a community of bloggers? May be much the same thing in practice, but I’m thinking about concept. A space for a cheer squad for professional conversation in this space.
We could also have moderated Twitter chats at various times each month. This way, those who wish to participate can put the dates and times in the diary.

What I want to focus on is the future. Where are our spaces? Where do students and new graduates see professional conversation when they ‘grow up’? All I can say now is, let’s do this. Let’s rock it. Let’s find a way and just do it.

Committing to the ‘other’ side of #blogjune

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I write every day in my diary. I reflect often. And on days when I try to find something on the bottom of my handbag, I find a scrap a paper with a blog post idea scribbled on it. The purpose of #blogjune for me is now more about connecting and re-connecting, than the habit of writing. So this year, instead of attempting to publish a post every day this month, I will be committing to the ‘other’ side of #blogjune. The engagement side.

I contemplated participating in a ‘post every day’ capacity, but I’m learning to pause and consider the workload and commitments I have on my plate before adding something else. I have to be realistic about what I can achieve. Like many of us, I work full time. I also teach and have marking to do. I have another blog called Notebook + Tea. I’m unpacking and settling into a new home. I’m re-arranging my finances. I have ongoing executor duties for my late mother’s estate. I’m preparing to have surgery at the beginning of next month. I have research assistant work to progress. I couldn’t place the extra expectation of #blogjune on myself. I’m hard enough on myself as it is.

What I’ve found over the years I’ve participated in #blogjune is that my focus tends to be on publishing the next blog post, leaving me barely enough time (and energy) left over to really engage – read, comment and contribute to conversation on Twitter sparked by #blogjune posts, thoughts and ideas of the LIS community. This part of #blogjune is what I fell in love with in the beginning. Along the way, I fear I sort of forgot what #blogjune meant, both to the community and myself. I love being a part of this community. I love learning from you. I have enjoyed reading what you have all been up to this past year and what you’re thinking about these first couple of days of the challenge.

You’ll see a guest post or two from me on the NLS7 blog, but for the most part, my participation and commitment to #blogjune this year is to comment on at least one post every day this month. I want to let you know I’m around, I care and am interested in what you have to say. I appreciate your thoughts. And I’ll offer mine.

Be okay with not knowing the way

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This semester, as part of a unit called Professional Practice, I’m aiming to guide a new bunch of new recruits into this profession by being a facilitator of conversation and source of encouragement (and hopefully wisdom). There is something I feel I need to share at this point. If I’ve learnt anything about my career in the last five or so years, it’s to be okay with not knowing exactly where I want to go, where I’ll end up or how I might contribute to this profession over my career and the organisation of which I am (or will be) a part.

The winding and somewhat rocky path

When I first started my LIS Masters back in 2010, all I wanted to be was an academic librarian. Liaison or discipline librarian. As it turned out, there was a line up a mile long or more just to get in the bottom of the food chain in the academic sector. Well, I wasn’t going to wait or rely on anyone to launch my career. So I sought other avenues to gain skills, knowledge and experience.

What's the next step? CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Sacha Fernandez via Flickr

What’s the next step?
CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Sacha Fernandez via Flickr

My first library job was in a special library in the aviation industry. I then progressed to being inspired by the cultural heritage sector working in archives and government information management. I now finally have a job in the academic sector, giving it a crack to see if, really, this is where I want to be. You see, the experiences I never thought I’d have are the ones that are guiding the future of my career. Had I only focused on the academic sector from the start, I may or may not have developed the skills and knowledge I now possess and place me in a position to add value in my current roles.

Upon reflection, I had merely an idea of where I wanted to be. And when I had this idea, it was before I caught a glimpse of the endless possibilities in this profession. The point I’m making here is to those starting out or perhaps in those uncertain, early years, please know that it’s okay to have only an idea. Pathways in this profession are not set in stone from the minute you step into a LIS classroom.

Have a skills focus, rather than a specific job focus

An idea is good. It’s a place to begin. Know that it is a starting point, and not the destination. It’s something to work towards. Let the skills development guide professional development planning, especially in the beginning. Not a job or job title. Chances are the job you really want hasn’t been thought of yet.

When I seek out new opportunities, the skills and experience I can gain from the role as well as where I can add value, are what guide me in making decisions. To do this, I need a well-developed understanding of the skills I possess ….and the gaps. I also need to have an idea of the kind of information professional I want to be and where I can potentially fulfil my career mission.

Tip: Collect position descriptions. Forget the titles, focus on the duties and responsibilities of the role (Is this what you can see yourself doing? Will you enjoy the tasks this role involves?). Then take a look at the skills you need. When you build up a bit of a collection of position descriptions, you may find common themes of the kinds of roles you might enjoy, as well as the skills and experience you’ll need to land yourself something like it.

Skills and experience are gained in a job. Knowledge can be acquired either here…..or elsewhere.

Explore and participate

Explore your interests. Participate in relevant groups. Read. Blog. Present. Do a training course or a MOOC. There is no harm in exploring and trying out different things. Jump in, you never know what opportunities will arise or what you might learn about yourself.

Working in a special library, I was also a solo librarian. I had no immediate access to like-minded people and other information professionals. No one ‘got’ me. I felt lonely and isolated at my workplace. Enter Twitter and ALIA New Graduates Group. These were just the beginning of a string of activities I launched myself into. I wasn’t working exactly where I thought I fit, but I was gaining valuable experience in managing information and providing an information service. So I indulged my professional interests elsewhere and connected with others.

Tip: Find resources that will help build your knowledge in areas of interest. Subscribe to elists. Dive in.

The problem with goal setting

Goal setting can be incredibly difficult to do in these early years. At times, both the process in setting them and the working towards has felt like doing so with moving goal posts. This profession changes so much and frequently. And because you’re learning more and more about the profession and yourself in these early years, something shiny is always just around the corner where you haven’t explored or discovered yet. I’ve personally found it hard sometimes to have the confidence in making informed decisions. Either I’m super diligent, or I lack focus and patience.

My advice here is to prepare for the opportunities and allow your more broader career mission and values guide the way. This is where exploring and taking a skills-based approach to professional development comes in. By developing the building blocks for the skills and experience you want, you’ll either more easily spot the opportunities or create them yourself.

From my experience, landing the first few jobs in the information profession can feel a bit uncertain and since you’re only just learning the possibilities out there, the best you can do is to be informed about yourself – the information professional you strive to be; the skills and knowledge you have and the skills and knowledge you need.

Be okay with not knowing. Ask yourself, what’s the next step?

How to kickstart your professional conversation

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So you’ve started a LIS (library and information science) Masters degree….or

  • information, knowledge or data management, or
  • records management, or
  • archival studies, or
  • information systems…

(tick and apply relevant area)

Essentially, you’ve entered the information professions.

If memory serves me, you’ll be about halfway through your first semester. You may have already heard things along the lines of ‘Are you on Twitter?’, ‘What’s your Twitter handle?’, ‘Did you know Twitter is a great channel for meeting and building connections?’….or quite simply, are you online?!

CC BY 2.0 Daniel Iversen via Flickr

CC BY 2.0 Daniel Iversen via Flickr

These (unseemingly) words of wisdom are imparted by those who have experienced the benefits first hand of having, and committing to an online presence.

An online presence or identity enables participation in the conversation within a community that shares and is passionate about delivering the very best information services and/or experiences to whom they serve, in whatever shape or form or sector. The conversation and information to be found online provides endless opportunities for learning about what you might enjoy in the information professions and what you might need to do and learn to achieve success in your career.

Now, as my current LIS students will know, I could keep talking on and on about starting and building an online presence, but truth be told, how it contributes to your own learning and development will only be realised when you actually experience it. This will look different to everyone. But if you need some convincing to at least have a crack at it for yourself, here are some reasons why developing an online presence or identity is important:

  • like it or not, this is a networked profession;
  • demonstrate your willingness to learn and skills in using technologies to potential employers;
  • establish support groups with your peers (and overcome feelings of isolation);
  • keep up with trends and issues in the areas you’re interested in (trust me, this is an edge when you go for jobs). You’ll drive yourself mental if you try to keep up with everything yourself. Let your network be your other set of eyes and ears;
  • make your first conference experience easier (because you’ll already know people from online);
  • participate in the wider professional community (read: sharing is caring).

I’m sure there are other reasons but they’re enough to get started.

I didn’t jump into the Twittersphere until my second semester of the LIS Masters. If you’re hesitant right now, don’t stress. You’re probably getting your head around this super amazing profession you’ve just signed up for. You are allowed to ease into it. There’s a lot to take in. Find your own pace.

Getting started: sign up for Twitter

Tips for setting up your profile:

  • (Please, please, please!) include a photo. Even if it’s not one you’ve paid hundreds to a professional photographer for. We’re still human after all. I personally don’t like talking to an egg.
  • Complete your bio. Interests (information profession related or not), hobbies and the fact you’re studying the Masters is a good start. Your interests will evolve over time but please put something in there so people have an idea of what to expect from you.
  • Pick one or two people who you know and see who they follow. Follow those who interest you. Or alternatively, use the list below.
  • Lurk awhile. That’s okay. Just get used to being in the space and watch what comes through. Resources, updates, conversation.
  • Then dip your toes. Re-tweet. Offer encouragement. Say Congratulations (not to some random person but someone who has actually announced an achievement or update).

Here are 20 Twitter peeps to get going on Twitter:

Gurus and leaders – @TrishHepworth; @flexnib; @kimtairi; @ned_potter; @janecowell8; @katiedavis; @partridh

Organisations and groups – @ALIAnls7; @INALJNaomi (I Need A Library Job – great resources); @InterLibNet; @ALIANewGrads; @aliangac; @aliaqld; @qutisg

Peers and other peeps I enjoy chatting with – @MichelleCoxsen; @LeeBess1; @katecbyrne; @ccmcknz; @sallyheroes; @megingle

Getting started: set up a Linkedin profile

Complete as much as you can but keep it relevant. For example, I haven’t included my work experience prior to my starting in the information profession. I do not disregard the skills and experience I gained in my early years as an administrator, executive assistant or PR consultant, but I intend to keep my profile consistent. (I may or may not change my mind about this in the future) But, say for example you’ve worked on creative projects or have contributed as a volunteer to an organisation or event. Pick out and highlight the skills you think contribute to your unique self as a professional and what you wish potential employers to see.

Again, please include a photo.

Getting started: set up Feedly or other aggregator

Some may say aggregators or RSS is dead. It isn’t. Yet. I still find value in following blogs and news feeds I won’t necessarily find on Twitter.

Adding RSS feeds to your aggregator service is pretty easy. I’ll let you discover that for yourself. :)

Here are some resources to get going:

  • Two New Librarians
  • David Lee King
  • In the Library with the Leadpipe
  • Ned Potter
  • Attempting Elegance
  • SLQ
  • INALJ
  • Future Proof (IM/ records focused – State Records NSW)
  • Records Connect (Queensland State Archives)
  • Databrarians

 

You’ll find no shortage of help and encouragement in the online community. We’re not scary. We’re real people. And there are plenty of advice and resources available.

Exporting favourite tweets from ALIA Information Online

Author:

Following last week’s ALIA Information Online, a task on my post-conferencing ‘to do’ list is to review my notes and pull out some key takeaways.

I took notes on my iPad into Evernote in most sessions I attended. Some presentations however, I couldn’t quite articulate key points in 140 characters or less or I just couldn’t tear my attention away for a split second to do so. In these sessions, other tweeters did a much better job than I and so I ended up with many ‘favourited’ tweets.

This morning I wanted to export my favourite tweets from the conference to incorporate and review with those notes I took offline. Logged into Twitter this morning and couldn’t find a tool to do this. Then I searched for one. What I found were a number of stats and analytics services, most requiring a monthly subscription. How annoying is that? I just wanted a one-off export.

Then my ‘ah ha!’ moment and I found a workaround. I thought I export and curate content regularly using Storify. I’ll give that a go. And it worked!

Here are the steps I took to export and save my favourite tweets from ALIA Information Online.

Logged into Storify and began creating a ‘new story’. (If you don’t have a Storify account, then you’ll need to register but it’s a really cool tool anyway, you’ll likely use it again.)

To pull out the tweets, I clicked on the ‘Twitter’ icon, then selected ‘Favourites’.

Entered my username then clicked on the search icon.

Search results for favourited tweets appeared in the right hand side window.

Scrolled down to bottom, then clicked ‘show more results’ a few times to bring up all my favourite tweets.

Clicked ‘add them all’ (as you would for any Storify).

Arranged tweets, added title and description, and published.

Viewed the published story.

Clicked on the ‘…’ button at the top, selected ‘Export’.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.18.56 am

Selected the format I wanted to export.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 11.19.48 am

Then voila! My exported document appeared in a new browser tab for download.

Hope others find this useful! Happy Friday!

What’s in a name?

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Why is ‘Flight Path’ called, well, Flight Path? Some will already know the answer to this question. Those who are relatively new to following my blog, Flight Path may not. So where did the name come from?

I started Flight Path four years ago now. (Wow! *happy dance*) I had completed my first year of the LIS Masters program at QUT and having played around in the sandpit of social technologies in the second half of the previous year, I thought I’d have a crack and venture into the world of blogging. I started this blog because I wanted to learn how to do it – setting up a blog, committing to a writing schedule (ish), putting the word out there that I’ve shared my thoughts. It helped that I had newly developed an ability or okay, my fear lessened somewhat, to learn as I go and learn though experimenting and play….out there, in the open.

But I needed a reason to write. I thought I had nothing useful to say or share. I was a complete newbie to the online professional conversation and community. What value could I possibly add to discussion? Thankfully, I was given a confidence boost from the same lecturer who provided the sandpit the previous semester. It’s no secret who that lecturer was – Kate Davis. Kate encouraged me to submit to NLS5 at the beginning of 2011. Then so my blog became both a platform and data gathering tool for my project which looked into how newbies like me can develop their personal learning networks (PLNs).

Now that’s a bit of background into the beginnings of Flight Path and blogging, but what about the name?

Well, at the time of setting up Flight Path I was working in the aviation industry as a Technical Librarian. My role was to manage and maintain a collection of technical manuals and data that was used by engineers to schedule and undertake maintenance tasks on the aircraft fleet. Aviation is an exciting industry, by the way. I fell in love with the beauty that is an aircraft. Really, they’re magnificent pieces of machinery. An engineering marvel. And so, put this together with my starting out in the profession and you have a newbie information professional finding their way. Here’s my first blog post :)

All I knew at this stage was that there was (and still is!) so much cool stuff out there as an information professional to discover, explore, learn about and play with. Where to start?! Before I could embark on the runway, I needed a few things on board, like agility, an open mind, perseverance and a toolbox of apps, gadgets and a couple of social media accounts (Personal Learning Environment or PLE) that would help me in (career) flight.

Flight Path is about navigation. Navigating a career among all the possibilities of information professions. Flight Path is about being attuned to what is happening and the blog is my space for thoughts and sharing information and experiences. Reflection aids like a GPS, checking every now and then how I’m going and what is drawing my attention and interest, so I can navigate my career steps and develop myself as a professional in a more informed way.

The name ‘Flight Path’ is still relevant to me now as it was four years ago. Except now I’m not so new and hope my stories and tips help others take off from the runway in their careers. For me, ‘Flight Path’ is my navigational tool – should I go this way and why; should I go that way instead? Am I challenging the status quo? Am I on to something? What am I finding as my professional interests now? In two years time? What drives me?

To those new to the profession, I encourage you to start a blog. Grab a little space on the internet for your own and start documenting your path. You will benefit yourself as well as others and contribute to professional discussion. Start with something you’re interested in. Read about it. Share it. Share some ‘must reads’ on the topic. Share an experience. What is it like interviewing for a library or information service position these days? What are you learning in your course? To know where you’re going, you need to know where you’ve come from. Blogging and reflection are ways to understand where you’re at and over time you can look back at any patterns to make informed career choices.

I may be ‘in flight’ but I’m still ascending, not cruising at optimum altitude just yet. I may still take a turn or two before that time too. My ‘flight path’ may be different to what I had originally envisioned, but with my toolbox, communications and GPS, I should make the most of it.

Letting go to embrace what comes next

Author:

Today I had my farewell morning tea at my workplace. I officially finish up at Queensland State Archives (QSA) on Friday. As my hands shook, tears flowed (how embarrassing!), I’m sad to be leaving some amazing, knowledgeable and professional people whom I’ve had the privilege of working with and learning from for the past three years…..but I don’t think it’ll be the last I see of them!

Is this a reaction to recent events?

No. My decision to not renew my contract isn’t a reaction to my Mum’s passing last November. Actually, I advised my manager of my decision one or two days before. Though I never got to tell Mum.

Why didn’t I renew? (…am I crazy?!)

My plan going forward is simple – love what I do. Some months ago I stopped loving what I did every day. In fact, I grew frustrated, down right miserable and I didn’t like the person I was becoming. I had gained all I could from both of my roles within the Government Recordkeeping unit, initially as a Research Officer, then a Policy Officer. Believe me, I looked in all the nooks and crannies to find the smallest scraps of learning and refill my inspiration tank. I sought professional assistance and the guidance of mentors to find a lesson here, a lesson there. While I’m passionate about what archives aim to achieve, and I hoped to be a part of it, it’s not to be at this time.

As an early career information professional, my learning and growing is very important to me. Though I possess nearly five years in the profession, I seek opportunities to learn everything I can. If my work is unable to feed my appetite for continued learning (outside professional involvement didn’t completely fill this void, unfortunately) or my manager is unwilling to help me drive and progress forward, value me, utilise what I have to offer, walk the talk….turning up day after day does, and did not, sustain me.

I’m also a passionate life-long learner and I aim to inspire others to step out and do the same, because you would otherwise never know the wonders of the possibilities and what might become of the learning.

I could no longer lie to myself my current role was for me. I’m not a policy person. I’m a librarian (or archivist in denial).

It’s time to let go of what isn’t working, to make room for what comes next, the positive and the new. I’m a little scared, but very excited.

So, what does come next?

At this stage, I’m not sure. I’m open to opportunities. I’m loving writing; hours fly by on weekends when I’m tinkering with my websites. I’m a born-organiser of information. I’m interested in online engagement, information use, cultural heritage and the arts, information and knowledge management. I also have a lot of responsibility on my plate at the moment with Mum stuff. The best thing I can do right now is channel my energies to what drives me. I have a few job applications floating about. I may even return to QSA in another role. I’m really looking forward to learning heaps and catching up with those in my PLN and info pros I’m yet to meet at ALIA Information Online in a couple of weeks (sooo excited!).

What have I achieved at QSA?

Plenty.

  • I worked with my manager to develop a database of public authorities under the jurisdiction of the Public Records Act 2002. Why is this useful? To understand who is undertaking government functions and is responsible for managing records. Machinery-of-government (MOG) changes happen all the time and we need to keep on top of where the records are, who’s creating them, so we can help ensure records are created and managed for as long as they are required and those with permanent value to the state are safe guarded as much as they can be. This project also helped to deliver top notch records management advice that is relevant and helpful to our clients.
  • I forged a path for the organisation to learn about, introduce and embrace innovation. I facilitated discussions about innovation with people from across the organisation to come up with a strategy for us. This paved the way and helped to prepare the organisation to take on a significant project (led by a colleague) that has produced results and gained recognition across the government department.
  • I practised my research skills gained in my Masters studies to gather the information needed to produce project outputs that met client needs – this project was the Recordkeeping Policy Framework review. I managed to have approved, an approach that was very different for the organisation. I went out to consultation without a polished draft (gasp!). I went out to gather client needs and views first. I initiated a conversation. I undertook a client-led approach to developing project outputs.
  • I delivered project outputs shaped by our clients, for our clients. Outputs that achieve objectives, move understanding of records management forward and helped to redefine the way QSA delivers recordkeeping advice in the future. The new Framework diagram in particular, has received positive feedback from other archival peers and organisations.
  • I have developed an appreciation for archives and built on my knowledge gained from my Masters studies to participate in robust conversation with my colleagues (and learned to not take opposing views personally).
  • I’ve gained experience in liaising with different stakeholders and speaking internally and externally.
  • I’ve grown into ‘big girl shoes’ – the confidence to own what I say, believe in what I know and to not feel intimidated by people with years of experience on me and just do what needs to be done, professionally.
  • I’ve rocked the boat from time to time, challenged the norm, the status quo and been a bit of a thinker and shaker. I make no apologies for this, by the way. And I still think ‘Lego’ (retention and disposal) schedules are a goer. Aka macro, high level appraisal of records and issuing disposal authorities for functions and activities to the government instead of individual agencies.

What am I looking forward to?

Possibilities. My next step. Loving what I do. Grow more.

I’m very fortunate to be in this position. I appreciate my first QSA manager who hired me in the first place, saw my potential and allowed me to grow into my ‘big girl shoes’.

I hope I’ve made a meaningful contribution to the organisation. And I hope I will liaise with, or even work with or for QSA in the future when the stars might align again.

Changes to my Twitter account and activity

Author:

First of all, happy new year!

I thought I’d share with you a story of two Twitter accounts as I move into the new year and beyond…..

Over the last year or so following the completion of my Masters degree, I have focused more on my other interests such as travel, writing and photography in an attempt to bring back a little balance to my life and professional commitments. This means I have followed Twitter accounts and have tweeted about things unrelated to me as an information professional. I believe this sends mixed messages to other library and information professionals who may wish to follow me, but not sure which ‘Alisa’ they can expect in their feed. I believe people follow me ( @acrystelle ) do so with a reasonable expectation that I am an information professional tweeting and circulating information on topics related to the profession, and not about how to travel through Europe on a budget. While there are possibly more than a few tweeps in my PLN Twitter who are more than happy to see my travels in my tweets, I fear having my professional conversation and other interests in somewhat a ‘mixed bag’ of a Twitter account may stagnant future professional connections, interactions and indeed dilute my own focus on this (very important) part of life. This is not to say my Twitter account will be sterile or void of my personality, I’m just bringing back some focus.

I never thought I’d be a person with two Twitter accounts. But I am now. And it’s working fine so far.

In the last few months, I have (soft) launched a new website called ‘Notebook + Tea’, and so, a new Twitter account and Facebook page to match. :) This is my new channel for pursuing my other interests and a space to develop a photo portfolio (over time, of course) and write about my wonderings unrelated to the LIS profession. Some may recall I had a blog called ‘Leaps n Bounds’ where I shared my travel stories. After some consideration, I felt the name wasn’t quite me. I love making my pot of tea in the morning and I can always be found with a notebook. So then became Notebook + Tea.

Notebook + Tea is about my passion for continuous lifelong learning; gaining the most out of life experiences, improving yourself through them, and hopefully inspiring others to step out to learn something new or something they’ve wanted to learn. I share my stories and practical tips from travel to home organisation. I wish to promote positivity, balance and noticing the small things in life. I’m a late 20-something tea drinker who can always be found with a notebook. As a 20-something I also have ’20-something’ challenges such as career progression, buying my first home, wanting to keep traveling, relationships and finding balance in day-to-day life in between. Here are some of my latest posts.

Having two Twitter accounts will enable me to maintain focus on each and provide content for followers that is consistent with my account profiles. I’ve set up the second Twitter account for the same reasons as above. For my current and future followers, I’d like them to know what they’ll see in their feed. Who knows? Maybe these parts of my life will meet and merge at some point. But at least for now, I believe them to be separate pursuits. The fact that I’m a Brissy girl won’t change between these accounts. I am aware of the possibility I’m overly proud of this.

I share this with you, my PLN in case you’ve noticed my travel pics absent from my tweets, or perhaps you wish to follow me and my writing at Notebook + Tea too. And just to clarify, having the two Twitter accounts and a new website doesn’t mean the end of Flight Path. This blog will stay attached to my ‘info pro’ Twitter account @acrystelle and I will continue my commitment to post on topics related to the LIS profession.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately, in case you were wondering. :)

Plan your next year: here’s 5 helpful (and popular) posts

Author:

Looking back over the past year, my most popular posts here on Flight Path have centred on professional development planning and creating your own learning environments – all geared towards continuous learning and moving the career forward. Here are five posts that may help you get your next year off to a rolling start…

What is the LIS profession?

The LIS profession is constantly shifting, adapting and transforming in response to the role of information and technology in people’s lives and how the need for information, and in what medium or form, is changing. The profession moves rapidly and so we have to take a somewhat brief pause every now and then to ponder – what is the LIS profession and where do I fit? What is working or not working? What gaps or needs are not being met? Where does the LIS profession have a role in information needs, experiences and even outputs? Whatever your thoughts, take a quick stocktake of your skills and knowledge and adjust your professional development activities to work towards what you believe is needed and what you’re passionate about.

Developing your PD plan: a presentation

In this presentation, I break down the mystery around planning your professional development and outline some steps you may take to develop a plan of your own. A PD plan needn’t be complicated, nor jammed pack with high reaching goals or unreasonable demands on yourself and your time for doing PD activities. A couple of focus areas of where you need development can be all it takes to achieve goals and move your career and learning forward.

PD planning: thoughts for LIS newbies

This post reflects on a time when I had to discuss my career with the big, big boss at my workplace. What prepared me? My professional development plan I had developed as part of my Professional Portfolio for my Masters. This post demonstrates that even a few notes tucked away can give you focus on what to speak about when an opportunity or a similar situation arises.  Further to this, if you have performance reviews, performance planning and development, whatever the program is called at your workplace, a professional development plan can make the conversation with your manager a more productive one and takes your workplace on board with your development, making you and the workplace work together towards your goals.

Make your mark. Develop a career statement.

All the thinking around the LIS profession and your place within it comes together here with the development of a career statement. Much like a mission statement, a career statement is a clear and concise couple of sentences that can help guide your professional development focus. I wrote a career statement as part of my PD plan and when I review my plan soon after the new year, the statement will help ensure my short-term goals and PD activities are aligned and work towards that mission. This post steps through a thought process and give reasons why you should have a career statement. Start developing one for the new year.

And, finally, check up on your personal learning environment with an audit.

I really need to do this myself. Engaging in professional conversation and filtering professional reading, keeping up with what’s happening, etc require a presence on a few different platforms and the use of some tools. Many come and go, and while as LIS professionals we should be diving in to try these different things, some just don’t mesh with our individual way of gathering, reading and disseminating information. That’s okay. Plus, professional development may become cumbersome or tiring because you’ve worn your attention and task too thin across different tools and platforms. Hone your focus on which channels work with you (not against you) by doing a quick audit and tweak your own learning environment for the new year.

Happy new year and all the best.

About Alisa

I'm an early career information professional and library and information science (LIS) Masters graduate with experience from the special library environment (aviation industry) and archives sector, specialising in records and information management.

I'm interested in cultural heritage collections and online engagement, information and knowledge management and how information is accessed and used for creativity, knowledge generation and sharing and innovation.
I'm also passionate about new and early career information professional issues and trends.

An active participant in the library and information professional community, you can usually find me on a committee or two.

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