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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 21: Promoting yourself

January 9th, 2012

Gateway on Nottingham University's University Park

A gateway to new opportunities?

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

Thing 21 covers promoting yourself in job applications and at interview. As I recently went through a job application and interview process I’ve was thinking about this quite a lot recently. Thing 21 starts off by asking me to answer some questions:

What do you like to do?
I actually like most of my job, particularly working with staff and students directly on their research, but also some of the less direct stuff: for example, improving the resources available within the library by optimising our collections.

What do you dislike?
Checking reading lists! Anything where I feel like I’m not having to engage my brain, really.

Do you remember the last time you felt that feeling of deep satisfaction after creating, building, completing something? What was it about?
I do get this a lot from my work. The most recent was probably working out a different way of updating book collections in a particular area and applying it successfully.

What skills do you need to do the things you like?
My example was quite specific, but the generic version of this is that I tend to enjoy anything that involves analysing my work and coming up with ways of improving it. To do this I need reflective skills, research skills and technological skills.

The next suggestion is to make a kind of database of my interests and achievements. I don’t have anything as structured as this, but I have naturally kept a record of these things through job applications, CV updates and appraisal activities, and I’m actually a little reluctant to structure them too much, as I tend to package the same achievement differently for each job application. However, I have made sure I’ve organised and backed up all the relevant materials.

Lastly, I’ve been asked to share interview tips that I’ve found useful in my career. It’s not exactly an obscure tip, but I think the thing I’ve found most useful is finding out about the organisation. As information professionals we’re one step ahead on this, and I really think that doing your research (looking at websites, and making use of contacts) is one of the most productive things you can do before an interview. Also, don’t think that this stops once you’ve crossed the threshold of the organisation: you’ll probably be given quite a few clues as to the organisation’s priorities on the interview day itself (in a tour, in a discussion, or even in the questions you’re asked) and can benefit hugely from awareness of these.

Plans for 2012

January 6th, 2012

New Year Fireworks

New Year Fireworks

Happy new year! This new year represents a new start for me, or at least, it will soon! In February I am starting a new job at De Montfort University. I’ll still be in a liaison librarian role, but I’ll be looking after various applied social science departments including criminology, social work, housing, health studies, public policy and politics. Readers of this blog may recall that my first professional post was a temporary role at DMU in late 2009 to early 2010; I’m pleased that I’m going back to work with a team that I liked immensely.

My main plans for the year therefore emerge from the transition between the job I’m leaving and the job I’m starting. I’ve got lots of loose ends to wrap up at the University of Leicester. I’ve been increasingly happy with the relationship I’ve built up with the physical science departments at UoL, and I want to make sure I pass-on lots of information about the departments’ ongoing activities and needs so that they get all the support they need once I’m gone. I also intend to take advantage of my last ‘proper’ part-time month in January (in February I am working part-time at UoL and part-time at DMU) to break the back of writing up my dissertation into a paper. Then once February starts there’ll be lots to learn about the changes that have happened at DMU since I was there before, and about the new subjects and departments I’ll be supporting.

In addition, there’s a lot of blogging on my to-do list. I was following the CPD23 programme last year, but stalled on Week 16 ‘Promoting yourself in job applications and at interview’, as it was rather close to the bone for me to reflect on in a public space! Obviously, I did do some of the activities suggested in this exercise as part of applying for my new job, so I plan to return to CPD23 and document some of that process soon. I have several other events and activities I want to blog about from last year, and the next DREaM workshop is at the end of the month, so I’ll need to blog that, and consider how my desired outcomes from the workshop are going to change with my change of job.

It’s been a hectic few months, and will continue to be, with completely different working patterns in December (full-time at UoL), January (part-time at UoL), February (part-time at UoL and DMU) and March (full-time at DMU). However, I’m delighted that I’ve achieved my goal of finding a full-time academic librarian post, and really looking forward to the challenges 2012 will bring.

And breathe….

November 13th, 2011

Victoria Park, Leicester

Victoria Park, Leicester, of which I have been seeing twice as much.

It’s November already? How did that happen? Well, the answer is that I have been working non-stop since the start of October, doing literally twice as much as usual. At the end of the last academic year one of my colleagues at Leicester left us for pastures new, and I have taken on some extra work, covering her post. I’m working full-time on a temporary contract until the end of this calendar year, (we’re currently in the process of recruiting her replacement).

The start of the academic year is notoriously the busiest time for academic librarians, so it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. As well as the usual departments I support (Chemistry, Geography, Geology and Physics and Astronomy) I’ve added on Criminology, Education and Lifelong Learning to give a total of 7 departments. It’s been good to try my hand at social science support again (I used to support Business, and have kept my eye in with Human Geography) but I doubt anyone could to sustain the combination of posts long-term: it’s just too wide a spread of disciplines!

Because the majority of teaching we do is loaded into the first semester, October was packed with sessions. Including one-to-one appointments with students and staff, I taught (or at least talked) for 39 hours 45 minutes. That’s over one week of working hours! Repeated exposure has been a good way of reducing the nerves I have about standing in front of a class, and also has allowed me to experiment a little with how I approach concepts by slightly varying what I cover over several similar repeated sessions. However, I’ve missed the luxury of ‘properly’ planning a session and reflecting back on it!

Things are just starting to calm down in terms of numbers of hours of teaching per week, and I no longer fear losing my voice. But what do I do with myself now? Well, catch up with everything else, of course!