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.

Bitesize CPD23 Things 10 & 11: Librarianship and Mentoring

August 18th, 2011

The sky through the Winter Gardens ceiling, Sheffield

The blue skies of Librarianship

This blog is part of 23 Things for Professional Development, a course encouraging information professionals to explore online tools. The current post is in ‘Bitesize’* format.

Librarianship, my route in and my hopes and dreams are Thing 10, and mentoring is Thing 11. These things have pretty much gone hand-in-hand for me throughout my working life, even before I entered librarianship. I’ve only had two ‘official’ mentors in my time (in my current workplace and in the Chartership process) but there are countless individuals, both senior to me and among my peer group, who have supported my development and challenged me in similar ways. The majority of these would probably be incredibly embarrassed if I described them as mentors!

For a bit more about my career and progression in librarianship, I’d recommend you check out my library routes posts. I’m currently developing myself in my science librarian role, still awaiting judgement on my Chartership application, and still looking for a full-time librarian post in the East Midlands.

*A truncated post to allow me to briefly consider CPD23 Themes I didn’t have the chance to investigate more deeply.

CPD23 Thing 3: Consider your personal brand

July 4th, 2011

My desk: a mixture of professionalism and junk?

My desk: a mixture of professionalism and junk?

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

I already started thinking about my personal brand during week 2 of CPD23, when another participant commented on how my blog and website appeared to someone who didn’t know me. Long story short, I come across as professional (score!) but also a little bit serious, which is a bit more of a mixed blessing!

Me and My Site

This got me thinking about the history of my website came about. I created its first version in around 2003, before the concept of social media had really started to catch on. It was a combination of a place to put up information about myself, such as my CV, and a place for me to practice my html. I guess this is history is part of what gives the site its serious flavour!

Am I happy with this? Well, yes and no. Having looked a bit at my blog with fresh eyes I decided it was very dry, and I at least needed to add a picture of myself (already done). I’m also considering making my blog my front page on the site. I don’t think too much of a redesign is possible as I hand-code the site in html (except for the WordPress blog, where I hand-code the template!) and don’t have much time to make changes currently. I know there’s mixed opinion about the need for having a personal website at all in the social media era, and I know the URL I have chosen is impossible to remember, but I do love my site, and I like reminding myself I can use markup language occasionally!

My Visibility and Web Presence

The pay-off for having maintained my own website for a while is that I do quite well in Google searches for my name. I knew this already as I search for myself quite a lot! Part of this is to keep an eye on how visible I am, but I also teach searching techniques and different search engines. As I know what tends to come up about me, I find searching for myself a useful way to compare and contrast different sets of search results!

In searches, there’s a few other Katie Frasers with quite high visibility: especially the one who works for ‘Take a Break’ magazine! Generally, my website features highly across search engines, as do my Twitter account, my Linked In page and my page, all of which I update fairly regularly. For some reason, Google is the only search engine which offers another Katie Fraser’s Linked In page first. I tend to fit the way my style to the kind of service I’m using. On Linked In I’m professional, and on Twitter, I post a mixture of personal and professional stuff. I’m not consistent with my profile pictures, but I do always use a picture of my face, and my face IS consistent!

Generally, I’m quite happy with the way I appear online. I do concentrate more on my professional identity in things I post on the open net, and save my more personal thoughts for either places where my information is quite locked down (such as Facebook) or for face-to-face encounters. However, I don’t think anyone reading my Twitter account would think that I’m always a serious person!

Meeting with my local MP to discuss public libraries

July 1st, 2011

Following up on my blog post last January, today I met with my local Conservative MP, Anna Soubry, to discuss public libraries. While the library cuts in Nottinghamshire have long ago been enshrined in policy, I still felt it was worth meeting with her to discuss public libraries in general, and the wider national picture. Here’s some of what we discussed:

Our local situation
Nottinghamshire have cut opening hours at many branches, and generally we were in agreement that their approach to cuts were not particularly strategic, and their solutions not particularly imaginative; i.e. reducing opening hours and cutting book budgets, rather than thinking about how best to serve their communities and looking at alternative revenue sources. MPs can only make recommendations to councils, but it’s good that she would encourage ours to take a different tack.

Changes to library services
As a trained lawyer, Anna was keen that volunteers did not replace professionals, so we were generally on the same page here. I also made her aware of some of the issues around charging for library services, and the (profession-wide) suspicion that charging for internet access or non-paper books (both have happened in local authorities) set a dangerous precedent which might eventually lead to charging for e-books, if not traditional book loans.

The national situation
Anna was quite interested in The modernisation review of public libraries, which I’ve found immensely informative. She did offer to raise a question about what happened to this report in parliament, but as Ed Vaizey seems to have ruled out implementing any of the ideas in the report, I suspect that there’s little that can be done. It’s a shame, because many of the recommendations in the report are small, but only seem implementable at a national scale.

As the Nottinghamshire Public Libraries service is not one where intervention on the grounds of the statutory duty seems appropriate, there’s not a huge amount to be done at this stage (apparently MPs are expected to only raise questions about issues that affect their own constituency) but it’s good to have made contact and raised awareness of the issues we’re facing, and I’d encourage others to do the same with their MP. I’ve urged Anna to get in touch with me if she has any questions, or would like further information on libraries in general, so I’m hoping there’ll be some follow-up.