Photo of Katie Fraser

Katie Fraser's blog and website

I'm an academic librarian, working in the UK Higher Educational sector, supporting academics and students. Prior to this, I was a researcher, working with social and learning technologies.

My interests include the application of emerging and traditional technologies, research support in libraries, learning spaces, evidence-based practice and the professional development of library and information workers.

You can find out more about more about me from the links to the left. Note that the views expressed on this website/blog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other individual or organisation.


April 6th, 2010

Chinese New Year fireworks

Photograph of Chinese New Year fireworks at University Park, University of Nottingham, 2010.

Since I last posted a lot of things have changed. I’ve started my new job and finished my old one, in that order, as I was asked to carry on working part-time in my old maternity leave cover post while I started my new (permanent) part-time post. I’ve submitted my personal development plan for chartership, moved from subject support for Business to Science, and had to adjust to a whole new institution.

I’ve also just (before Easter) returned from LILAC (Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference) 2010 where I ended up presenting a workshop solo, due to last minute changes of plan. I’m not surprised I haven’t updated for a while, although as my chartership plan involved updating this blog (and as blogging LILAC seems to be becoming an annual activity for me!), I’ve been feeling bad about it. I’ve also been involved in meetings and work on the renamed Big Conversation and spent yesterday evaluating consultants’ bids: more on that soon.

The good news is that I have a backlog of blogs waiting to be written on my new job, LILAC, and various bits and pieces. I’ve also migrated my blog to WordPress, as Blogger was suspending support for FTP and I’m still not convinced enough by the cloud to stop hedging my bets. Plus, I’ve got all this webspace, may as well use it! The particularly observant may notice a few small changes in the layout, and I’ll continue to fiddle with it for a while until I’m completely happy, but both blog themes were based on the styles from my main site, so things mostly look the same (except perhaps in Chrome, where the background seems to be broken – working on it).

Anyway, this really constitutes a) a shout out to say I’m still here, b) a brief update of what I’m doing and c) a way to remind me to make the updates that aren’t here yet!

Google Wave: exploring new technology

November 22nd, 2009

Well, as I’m in my first professional post I’m starting the process of chartership with CILIP. I’ve stumped up my £50 to register, and now have 6 months to compose and submit my chartership plan. It’s still not fully formed as yet, but one of my aims will be to maintain my knowledge and awareness of new technologies (something which I try to do anyway, but it’s nice to acknowledge and record). One such technology is no doubt Google Wave, and as my invitation arrived a couple of weeks ago I thought I’d record my first thoughts.

First up, who thought Google Wave was a social networking tool? Well, me, for one, but it turns out I was wrong. When you’ve added someone to your list of contacts they’re not prompted to add you. It’s more like an email system with a contacts list. In fact, if you watch any of Google’s explanations of ‘what Wave is’ then you’ll find they’re pretty keen to tell you it’s like email too. It took me a while to work out what Google meant here, but I think what they mean is it’s like a step forward from Gmail… I haven’t been able to see the links between Wave and Outlook without going via Gmail myself.

There’s various information out there on the web. Most people I’ve spoken to have been directed towards and immediately put off the 120 minute launch video. Like me, you may be relieved to discover there’s an 8 minute Google Wave video that isn’t directed towards developers. This is a pretty good overview of what Google would like Wave to do, but it isn’t yet a guide to what it does. Currently, for me, it’s been a bunch of email conversations in which I discuss what on earth Wave is, and one big public collaboratively edited conversation in which even librarians are struggling to organise themselves into alphabetical order while everything goes slowly.

So, do I like it? Well, currently that’s an emphatic ‘no’, but if you’d asked me about Twitter when I first signed up I might have said the same thing. I think, and this isn’t the most original thought on Wave I’ve had, that it lacks critical mass. If Google really are developing something to replace email then it needs to be available to everyone. What’s the point in trying to arrange a barbeque through Wave if only two people I know have invites? Furthermore, half the functions Google would like it to have they’re kind of waiting for someone to develop (that’s what the 120 minute video’s about). It’s interesting to see what it does currently, but I think I’m going to have to withhold judgement until the critical mass of people and apps is reached. If it ever is.

Note: tenuous photographic connection: Google Wave / sea. Taken on holiday at Gower this year.

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, librarians gotta charter?

July 22nd, 2009

There was an interesting conversation happening on Twitter this week about whether or not to charter. I understand completely that many people feel rather disenfranchised from CILIP, and don’t feel like they get their money’s worth from the organisation. Chartership, similarly, is an aid to professional development, but not the only way to expand ones knowledge and self-awareness (and I’m sure there are some who (whisper it) cannot be bothered… although I’ve never met any self-proclaimed non-bother-ers).

My background is in psychology, and there a completely different conversation is happening: whether the unchartered should even be allowed to call themselves psychologists. It is understandable that people are more worried about ensuring a certain level of training from someone playing with their minds than someone fetching them a book. As Joeyanne Libraryanne pointed out the equivalent conversation in librarianship is whether a qualification is needed at all. However, isn’t the whole point of calling us a profession to point out that librarians do more than just fetch books? I really hope we do, as I get bored of fetching books quite quickly.

For me, CILIP membership and chartership is a complete no-brainer. I have been indoctrinated somewhere along the line to believe that professional organisations are a good thing and CILIP does seem to have given back to me for everything I’ve put in. I’m a CILIP blogger, which has given me incentive to keep on blogging, I’ve been sponsored to attend the Mashed Library Conference via CILIP, and I’m a member of the CDG Yorkshire and Humberside committee where I’ve helped organise events which gave me experience and information. I even read the Gazette and Update on the train. Oh yes, I’m one of those.

For me, the process of chartership is the unimportant part of the equation. I’ve not gone through it, and the stories I’ve heard indicate that it may not be the most well-developed programme in the world. But idealistically, the idea of chartership is important to me. If librarians really are a profession – if there’s some benefit to shared training and continuing professional development – then we need to have a chartership process to reflect and validate our professional activities. My thinly veiled opinion is that there is a benefit. Now, how do we make that benefit more evident, CILIP?

Note: photograph shows view across the lake, University Park, University of Nottingham.