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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.

CPD23 Thing 7: Face-to-face Networking

July 23rd, 2011

Burlington House, home to learned societies for many of the subjects I support

Burlington House, home to learned societies for many of the subjects I support

This blog is part of 23 Things for Professional Development, a course encouraging information professionals to explore online tools.

Thing 7, Face-to-face networks and professional organisations, asks me to consider networking through professional organisations. Getting out and about and talking to other professionals is one of the parts of my job I enjoy most, and I always find it revitalises me and encourages me to try new things.

Networks I already know

Those who read this blog regularly will know that I have particularly strong connections with CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, so I guess that’s a good place to start. I’ve been involved with some central CILIP activities, such as the Defining Our Professional Future project, but like a lot of members the majority of my involvement with the organisation has been through the special interest groups (SIGs) and regional activities. I previously sat on the Career Development Group Yorkshire and Humberside division Committee, and have also attended events from the increasingly active East Midlands Branch.

Overall I’ve found these subgroups of CILIP are a fantastic way to meet other information professionals (from a range of sectors), and they organise a number of events I’ve found invaluable for my career development. In attempt to give back more, I recently joined the University, College and Research Group East Midlands division Committee, and the division was also kind enough to fund my attendance at one UC&R National Committee, which I found very enjoyable and educational. I’m not sure I’ve got a lot of scope to increase my involvement in CILIP right now, but I should probably aim to be more active and proactive on the UC&R East Mids committee.

Here’s some other kinds of groups I’ve really found equally valuable for training and / or networking:

I’m also hoping to get involved with the newly launched LIS-DREaM network of library and information science researchers soon: they’ve got a series of upcoming events and I’m hoping to find a way of getting to one or more.

The Other Contenders

A couple of the groups Bethan lists for this ‘Thing’ feel particularly relevant to me, but I haven’t engaged with them. Why not? The first is the Special Libraries Association (SLA). I did apply for SLA Europe’s Early Career Conference Award for a couple of years in a row but  never got anywhere with it. Plus, the majority of their events are in London (I know there’s been one in Manchester, but that was harder to get to than London!) and so they’ve seemed really been compelling for me. Sorry guys! Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) is something I might consider aiming for, but the HEA seems to be heavily hit by current cuts, and I’m not sure it’ll still be there by the time I’m ready!


I feel I’m pretty active with face-to-face networks, but I have to be realistic about what I can manage in my own time, and what I can get the blessing to do at work, so I wouldn’t be comfortable taking on much more. That said, I’ve got two definite goals identified from this ‘Thing’: becoming a bit more proactive with UC&R East Midlands, and seeing how I can become involved with LIS-DREaM.

CPD23 Thing 6: Online Networking

July 21st, 2011

Online at work

Shot of my old PC at work, whence I networked.

This blog is part of 23 Things for Professional Development, a course encouraging information professionals to explore online tools.

Thing 6, Online Networking covers a bunch of online social networks of which I am already a member. Namely, LinkedIn, Facebook, LISNPN, the Librarians as Teachers network, and CILIP Communities. I’ve linked to all my profiles on these networks, in case any CPD23ers are interested in adding me on them. You’ll see the one exception to this is Facebook: I use this for personal rather than professional networking.

Over the last couple of days I’ve been looking at these profiles a little bit and thinking about how I use them. There was some discussion which prompted this in the online chat CPD23 I participated in earlier this week. That was a little bit Thing 6, a little bit Thing 7 (face-to-face networking)!

Professional Networks

LinkedIn is where I really see myself networking professionally online, but during the chat it occurred to me that my profile is actually fairly static (I mostly maintain my profile as an enhanced professional CV). I’ve made the effort to join a bunch more groups this week in the hope that this will prompt me to be a little bit more dynamic! I did have a similar account on the network Naymz, which I found out today had been rebranded It’s not something I used or updated much, so I’ve done a little bit of housekeeping and deleted my profile.

I’m a member of both LISNPN and LATNetwork, and I think they’re both great ideas, but I don’t interact on them as much as I’d like. There’s a fair amount of lurking going on on both, I suspect, as neither is highly active, with LISNPN (which has greater numbers) seeming a little more so. However, I like being part of both as I think the topics which are discussed are important. Similarly, I’m not particularly active on CILIP Communities, but I think it’s important to be part of that space and have the option of engaging with conversations when they are happening.

Academic Networks

There’s another category of social network that isn’t mentioned in Thing 6 as it isn’t relevant to all information professionals, and those are academic networks. I’ve got an account which is static in a similar way to my LinkedIn account. is a site where the academics and postgraduate research students I support have accounts, and so it’s nice to put myself in that space, and demonstrate that I’m also a researcher. On a related note, I have a Researcher ID which allows me to promote my own identity as a researcher, and test some of the features in Web of Knowledge it provides. Just like with LinkedIn and Naymz I was also half-heartedly maintaining a ResearchGate account alongside, but it wasn’t getting any use, so I’ve given that the chop as well.

So what’s the winner?

At the moment, LinkedIn is the king of all these accounts for me, and it’s where I’ve made the most connections by a landslide. It’s also a place where I interact with contacts from my pre-library life, so I think it gives a broad picture of my experience and skills. Most of the other networks I maintain because I think it’s important for me to join the discussions which happen in those spaces, rather than because I get a huge amount out of them, and the relationships I do have in them are usually maintained in Twitter.

The new challenger is definitely Google Plus. In fact, I just went onto it to get my profile address, and then got stuck reading things for ten minutes until I remembered what I was doing, suggesting it’s pretty compelling. I love that the circles feature allows me to interact with different kinds of people in very different ways, and I’ve already got a lot of friends, librarians, academics and others in circles of various kinds. The main thing I think it might be missing is a way to form a self-nominated group, otherwise it could pretty much cover all the networks I use. One to keep an eye on.

East Midlands Members’ Day: CILIP’s future, the WI and information literacy

March 28th, 2011

Crab apple blossom

Springtime blossoming in the East Midlands

Last Tuesday I attended the Members’ Day and Annual General Meeting of the East Midlands Branch of CILIP, the regional wing of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. It was held in Derby this year, and featured the Annual General Meeting of the branch, alongside talks from Annie Mauger, CILIP’s new Chief Executive on ‘The future structure and role of CILIP’ and Biddy Fisher, CILIP’s Immediate past President on information literacy.

As one of the project board who worked on the Conversation section of CILIP’s Defining Our Professional Future (DOPF) programme I was interested to hear Annie talk about the institution’s new approach to advocacy, identified in the DOPF Conversation Report as an area of future focus for CILIP. I’m not the only one who’s noticed that CILIP’s presence in the media has grown hugely in the last few months, and I’ll confess that I’m just a teeny bit proud that my work on DOPF contributed to this change.

The part of CILIP’s future which generated most interest around my table at Members’ Day was how advocacy for public libraries could grow to include other sectors in which information professionals work (academic, government, corporate etc.) and it was nice that Annie explicitly asked us to feed back on what we’d like to see in those areas (while reassuring us that they’re next on the agenda). Discussion around our table also focused on CILIP’s qualifications (primarily chartership), which I believe are currently under review. It was interesting to me that because of my work with CILIP I’m pretty well clued up on how such procedures work in comparison to the average member, which suggests that communication about what’s available does need to improve.

One thing I didn’t know about was that on the 8th June the National Federation of Women’s Institutes are voting on whether to make local libraries a focus of their nationwide campaigning and there were many calls for information professionals to engage with our local branches to promote the cause where possible – do check out the link for more details.

The Annual General Meeting was the usual fare, with the exception of a change in committee, from outgoing president Joan Bray to incoming president Mary Bryceland. I know there’s also a review of branches and groups going on at the moment, and there was some discussion of impending changes, but mainly of a ‘watch this space’ nature.

Finally, Biddy Fisher spoke about information literacy and its potential as a central uniting issue for CILIP members. In redistributed groups we discussed some of the issues, and agreed that information literacy was definitely a uniting concern for information professionals, no matter where we worked. We found our group task – unpacking CILIP’s definition of information literacy in simple language – quite hard. The consensus was that it was something we did so naturally ourselves that it was often hard to make explicit what we did. This contrasts with what I’ve found in universities – that librarians can be better at describing what being information literate involves than the (often highly information literate) academics we support, especially when it comes to teaching skills to students. I guess it’s a challenge for anyone! Our major conclusion was that the concept was better explained by example than by description.

I had an absolutely fabulous day – kudos to the East Midlands Branch committee for arranging it, and Annie and Biddy for making their presentations highly engaging, and giving us the opportunity to feed back on what we discussed. I’ve often been unsure what the exact role of regional branches of CILIP is, and this seemed an excellent exemplar of what they can do: bring discussion about the purpose and future of CILIP to the region, and allow engagement with profession-wide issues in a scalable way.