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.

CPD23 Thing 20: Library Careers

September 29th, 2011

Summer flower

Okay, I need to come up with some more photos. And some more puns. Have a pretty flower photo.

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

Thing 20 covers library careers, specifically the library routes project, a wiki detailing the origin stories of those working in libraries in all sectors. I’ve already blogged about my library roots / routes in the past, so I’ll focus more on my conclusions, having read the my way round the wiki a little.

What leapt out most at me, from the stories I read, is that I’m not at all unusual in having been around the houses a little, career-wise. When I took my Librarianship course there was a wide range of ages and levels of experience on the course, but I very aware that I’d done a similar Masters course 5 years previously at the same age as many of my fellow students!

Taken from others on the wiki with previous stories, I think there are some shared points to tease out, gleaned from us ‘late’ entrants to librarianship.

  1. Try it to see if you like it. I’ve not really read any entry which claims extensive foreknowledge of libraries before working in them. The best way to find out if you’d like a job in libraries is to try one. (I guess this applies to most careers.)
  2. Librarianship is a great career to get into late. Having done something else before working in libraries is incredibly useful. It’s verging on a truism to say that libraries change all the time, and new, or unusual, skills and ideas are seen as a boon in the field.
  3. There’s no need to hurry. This is almost a combination of the two above points, but I think it deserves its own! Trying out an entry level job in libraries, or going and doing something else, doesn’t really slow down your career. It can do quite the opposite, and in a sense, it IS your career! In an eclectic field, there’s no need to hurry to the next ‘logical’ stage, be it a degree, a job or Chartership.

I think these points would have been useful for me to know earlier in my career (and that last one is also an interesting way to think about some of the challenges I’ll face in the future). I don’t think knowing them would changed my trajectory, but it might well have changed the way I thought about it! I’ve always been concerned my career looks quite purposeless, but all along I’ve been gathering all the skills I need to do a job that fits my preferences. Librarianship really is a career where learning-for-fun is almost guaranteed to be career-relevant!

CPD23 Thing 19: Integrating the ‘Things’

September 22nd, 2011

Lake views in Wales

This week is relatively calm.

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

So, Thing 19 is my chance to think about the tools I’ve looked at so far, and we’ve been given an extra week to tackle it, so I’m in no hurry! I’ve found the tools covered fell into three categories:

  1. Unknowns. Tools I’ve heard of, but never looked at.
  2. Could-do-better. Tools which I’ve signed up for, or am even using, but where I could be better exploiting the features.
  3. Knowns. Tools I’m using, and I love.

The could-do-better tools have been interesting, as these ‘Things’ have made me think about how I use and integrate web tools into my everyday life. I’ve made a few resolutions associated with these. Now seems like a good time to summarise them:

  • Make my website less stern-looking (I’ve made a bit of progress on this one, but still want to move my blog to the home page)
  • Keep an eye out for opportunities to use file sharing in my work (ongoing)
  • Try different tools to vary the delivery of my teaching (ongoing)

The unknown tools were my favourites to look at. Some of these I have loathed immediately (i.e.Pushnote!), others were more succesful. Mendeley is far away the most successful tool I’ve tried: I was always sceptical about trying it, as I’m not really bothered about its pdf annotation features, but so far it’s really working for me as a reference management tool, for my out-of-work research. In work, well, it’s a crying shame that I can’t use the desktop client, and this stops me from recommending it to students too.

Of course, there’s been a bunch of other themes and resolutions of a tool-free nature. I’m thinking I’ll come back to those as part of the final ‘Thing’.

CPD23 Things 17 and 18: Tools for presenting information online

September 19th, 2011

Picture of fuschia

Making your message flower depends partly on content, partly on presentation

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

Although Thing 17 – presentation tools Prezi and Slideshare – and Thing 18 – screencapture through Jing and podcasting through Audacity – appeared out of order, my slowness in getting to them allows me to tackle them as intended! All are tools which I’m familiar with in various detail, and my engagement with them has varied according to need on a number of different levels. This post primarily discusses how I have / might use these tools for teaching.

Let’s start with Prezi. It’s a really fascinating tool, and one which I’ve seen applied with great success. Here’s a Prezi I prepared for use with a class of Physics and Astronomy students last year. It all needs updating over the next couple of weeks, as a few of our systems have changed. The idea behind it was to contextualise the hands-on elements of the session (using bibliographic databases and RefWorks) within the broader picture of information literacy skills, so that students (hopefully!) see the tools we’re learning as part of a wider picture. Feedback on the session was mixed (some were very positive, some were slightly seasick!) but I’m persevering this year, and the positive comments were very positive! I’d recommend it, especially if you literally want people to ‘see the bigger picture’ behind a concept. I’ll be delivering our Graduate School Media Zoo training on Prezi this coming semester, so I’ll be revisiting Prezi then (and to update the Physics and Astronomy session).

Slideshare, well, I have an account, but it’s a big old non-event. I’ve uploaded the slides for one session I taught there, but students weren’t impressed, and they all got me to email them the ‘real’ presentation instead! Presentations I’ve delivered for external events have usually been hosted elsewhere, but I will make more of an effort to duplicate them in my own space in the future. Addressing the question asked in Thing 17, I don’t think that Slideshare could replace my online CV right now. It doesn’t fit the skills that I see as my selling point!

Screencapture via Jing is a flat ‘no’ from me. I’m asked to use the tools my workplace provides – Adobe Presenter and Captivate – to make this kind of presentation for my job, and while I’ll enthusiastically revisit Jing whenever I have the need, now’s not the time to be learning two overlapping tools! I’m currently designing three Chemistry tutorials on finding information and the literature in Chemistry using Presenter. I’m facing a similar aim and challenge here as I describe for the Prezi, making sure I contextualise step-by-step ‘how to use this tool’ information within an information literacy framework.

Finally, Audacity. I actually learnt how to use Audacity in my MA Librarianship. I like the tool a lot, but I haven’t found a reason to make a podcast since. It’s not because I’m not an auditory person – I listen to podcasts, and music a lot. But for me, a tool doesn’t really enter my consciousness until it meets a need, and I don’t see a need for solely auditory information the types of session I currently offer, or want to offer.

What thinking about all these tools has revealed to me, is that my teaching takes a very set format: communicating information through a combination of visual and audio channels, and then asking students to try things themselves. This is a combination of the kind of session I find easy to deliver, and the kind of session I am asked to deliver. Perhaps a long-term goal should be to break out of that box a little!