cpd23: Thing 22 – Volunteering

Thing 22 is discussing working for free to gain experience. According to the blog post, benefits of volunteering are:

  • Demonstrate transferable skills and experience
  • Increase your confidence
  • Extend your professional network and broaden your knowledge of other sectors
  • Get a foot in the door

I have little experience of voluntary work in the library and information sector (excluding internships), as I have been fortunate to have worked full time throughout my career. I have volunteered to run an English for librarians workshop for colleagues in the Bremen public library and an internet literacy workshop for colleagues in Bremen libraries. I am actively involved in the Bremen librarians’ regular table (BreBiStaT). However, I have not yet volunteered conciously and target-oriented for acquiring new skills or experiences, i.e. in a different library sector. For me, volunteering is no option at the moment as I am working towards a master degree in a distance education program. However, the Freiwilligen-Agentur Bremen will definitely be a point to start for looking of volunteer work in two years. I will also keep volunteering in mind when planning the next steps in my professional career.

In Bremen, the university library as well as the public library are supported by friends of the library (Freundeskreis, Freunde der Stadtbibliothek). As far as I am aware there is no official volunteer work in both libraries.

Considering the latest developments in the UK, there has been a very lively discussion of the topic in cpd23 posts, i.e. the overview by Ed Osborne. Taking on volunteers is a balancing act: “I’m determined not to use the post to compensate for our vacant library assistant posts, but at the same time need to find something that will be useful to our users and rewarding to the volunteer” (Claire Charnley).
Volunteering has also been a focus of the German library association BIB. In its statement, presented to the public at the Bibliothekartag in Berlin in June 2011, the association welcomes volunteers as supporters for additional services: “Der Berufsverband Information Bibliothek e.V. (BIB) begrüßt das ehrenamtliche Engagement in Bibliotheken ausschließlich dann, wenn damit zusätzliche Angebote ermöglicht werden und die Stärkung der hauptamtlich und qualifiziert betriebenen Bibliothek Ziel und Anliegen ist” (Bibliotheken haben einen öffentlichen Auftrag: qualifizierte Bibliotheksarbeit erfordert qualifiziertes Personal – Leitlinien zur Freiwilligenarbeit in kommunalen Bibliotheken, 2011).

For me, volunteering should not be not only about the work, but first and foremost about meeting new people with the same interests, different backgrounds and experiences. From my point of view, volunteering is also a two-way process – volunteers receive training and provide support and time in return.

Further reading on volunteering in German libraries:

Photo: Maligne Lake, Canada, September 2011. (c) Sabine Rauchmann.


cpd23: Thing 21 – Promoting yourself

Thing 21 is about “how to promote all the hard work we do and the abilities and skills we have acquired in our career and life so far.”

Part 1: Identifying your strengths; capitalising on your interests
I have been thinking about my strengths and weaknesses a lot in the last few months, but I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea of posting all my thoughts on a public blog. I am surprised, however, about the amount of things I have done and how many activities have been target-oriented.

Part 2: Applying for a job
Even if I am not looking for outside opportunities at the moment, putting together interests, strengths and skills achieved and acquired so far as well as reflecting on my skills and experiences is relevant for developing the role and myself within my current job. I really like the idea of a CV database including all the training and conferences I’ve attended, so I will certainly get on to it.
For everybody who is unsure if she/he should apply for a job: I was told that it is worth applying as long as you meet at least a third of the given requirements.

Part 3: Interviews
In my experience, you will be successful in job interviews when you pay attention to the questions and answer those concisely and authenticly. It is helpful when you can create a positive relation on a more personal level to the interviewers and come across as enthusiastic person. In the end, the interview is about getting to know you as a person, so be personable – with the invitation, you can already be sure you are fitting the formal requirements. Some more tips by fellow cpd23 participants that I find very helpful:

  • “It’s not you, it’s them” […] It’s all to do with how different people perceive you, and if you don’t fit with what they are looking for, or they don’t ‘get’ you, do you really want to be working for them? (Laura Steel)
  • “Be honest and true to yourself and personality.” (infopromom)
  • “If you have an interview, take the time to evaluate it after the fact.” (infopromom)
  • “Go with your gut.” (Daniel)
  • “[…] you need to make the research personal to you and the job – so instead of reeling off stats about how many students the university has, I could perhaps talk about the student demographics and how these will affect the service I will work for (in terms of information we will provide and types of enquiries).” (Michelle)
  • “My second tip is to remember that if you’re at a job interview, it should be a two-way process. You should interview the prospective employer too, to check that you’ll be happy there, that the job really does match up to the description, and that you like the people you’ll be working with. […] It’s your chance to check them out too!” (Lost and found)
  • “[…] never answer a question that you have not properly understood, always ask for clarification!” (Erin)
  • “From looking at the last post I did I have to say one of the biggest tips I have learnt is to put yourself foward and believe in yourself. If you don’t think you can do something you aren’t going to persuade a panel that you can at an interview.” (Kelly-Anne)
  • “Whilst I’ve prepared for them (listed my strengths, read and analysed my skills against the job spec, researched the organisation and thought about the questions I might be asked), I’ve never really rehearsed my answers to the questions I knew I’d be asked.” (Liza Moore)

Apart from the further reading provided in the cpd23 blog post (Ned Potter’s What’s the key to a good interview, Guardienne of the Tomes’ Jobseeker Tips, Open Cover letters), I came across the ingrographic “Western Civilization’s Historical Guide to The Job Search” by Colin Dobrin. More serious resources in German are the Karrierebibel.de and Die Zeit’s Karriere and Job category and newsletter.

Photo: Bridal Veils, B.C., Canada, September 2011. (c) Sabine Rauchmann.

cpd23: Thing 20 – Roots & Routes

Thing 20 asked the participants to write about their library roots and how they got into libraries for The Library Routes Project.

The roots or: why I became a librarian

  • I like books and I love to read (I know, it is a cliché and most of my fellow students gave the same reason). I have always been a library user for as long as I can remember.
  • I embrace the quiet and studious atmosphere of the library.
  • I want to work in contact with people providing assistance, support and researching information.

In the Easter holidays a few years before finishing school, I completed an internship at the Department for Children and Youth Books at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – my first encounter with a research library.

The routes, or: how I became a librarian
I completed a four-year diploma in librarianship at the Faculty of Information Sciences at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam (diploma thesis). The programme required three internships in various libraries and information institutions. I took the opportunity to get a look behind the scences of different special libraries in Berlin. As student assistant, I was retro-cataloguing books at the library of the Wissenschaftsparkt Albert Einstein in Potsdam. My first encounters with an academic library and its operation and services (apart from using the library of my university) was an internship at the Music Library at Trinity College Library and at Alexander Library, Rutgers University Libraries, New Brunswick, NJ.

Returning to Germany after 6 months in the U.S., I got my first job as Technical Services librarian at the Information Resource Center at Jacobs University. Asked by the library director to fill-in for a few months, it has been a great opportunity for starting for my professional career and turned into a permanent position, providing me with a very comprehensive background knowledge about cataloguing, publishers, electronic resources, licences and consortia.
However, I always wanted to be in closer contact to the library users. That is why I changed jobs and applied for my current position as deputy librarian in the Branch Library for Engineering and Social Sciences at the Staats- und Universitaetsbibliothek Bremen. I am a liaison librarian, responsible for the collection development in various subject areas as well as information literacy instruction for several bachelor and master degree programmes. So far, I have been lucky, being in the right place at the right time.

While working, I finished a doctoral dissertation at the Berlin School of Library and Information Science at Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin in 2010. Currently, I am working towards a MSc in Management via a distance learning course at Fernuniversität in Hagen. I am looking at areas of business administration and management that are completely new to me and hopefully this qualification will open up doors in the future.

Having a look at The Library Routes Project
I enjoyed reading about other peoples’ career starts and paths. It looks that most people just fell into the profession and didn’t set out to be a librarian in the first place – unlike me. In addition, the project demonstrates the variety of job titles and tasks in the library field. I am surprised about the number of career changer from completely other subject areas, from one focus (i.e. cataloguing) to another (i.e. reference) as well as from one library sector to another (i.e. public to special or academic or vice versa – this does not happen very often in Germany). Each described path into library and information work appears to be individually formed. While browsing through a number of posts, I came across two citations that I completely relate to:

“I enjoy every bit and I don’t think there’s any other job that would give me this much variety and all in a building that’s filled with my favourite thing – books.” (Felicity Cross)

“Our profession is so varied and constantly evolving that there is absolutely no chance that what I’m paid to do each day becomes tedious or mind numbingly boring. You can take your career in lots of different directions just by being open to possibilities and transferring skills from one sector to another can be really useful.” (Colette Blair)

A few weeks ago, I also came across the posts by Lauren Smith (“What do public librarians do?“) and Phil Bradley (A library is not…) – both advocacy texts about what librarians do. Two very interesting infographics are “One week in the life of one librarian” by Janie Hermann and “A Librarian’s Worth” by Masters in Education.org.

Photo: Woods near Bremen, October 2011. (c) Sabine Rauchmann.

cpd23: Thing 19 – Integrating things

The purpose of Thing 19 is to look back and consider

  • “which elements you have found most useful and
  • how you might integrate them into your working routine.”

So far, we have covered:

  • tools for professional development: social (blogging, RSS feeds, Twitter) and productivity (Evernote, GoogleDocs, Dropxbox, Wikis, GoogleCalendar, Mendeley/Zotero/CiteULike, Prezi, Podcasting, Screencapture software)
  • methods and structures for professional development: personal branding, LinkedIn, reflective practice, advocacy, events, networking, mentoring.

Things that have become a habit

  • Blogging – I am continously adding new posts to the BreBiStat weblog, but neglected my own. I still need to decide on the focus of my blogging.
  • Prezi – I really love the presentation effects of Prezi and will definitely use it in the future.
  • Dropbox – I am using Dropbox for sharing big files, first of all with family members.
  • Reading blogs/RSS feeds – I am checking my RSS feed collection in Netvibes daily.

Things I’m trying to integrate or would like to, but aren’t there yet

  • Blogging – commenting on other people’s blogs.
  • Twitter – not only reading, but also posting things. Finding just the right amount and topic-related feeds to follow on Twitter and get involved in discussions.
  • Evernote – integrating it into my working routine.
  • LinkedIn – spending some time familiarising myself with it’s features.
  • Networking – identifying opportunities of networking and organising my existing network.
  • Reflective practice – reflecting my actions on a more regular basis to identify weaknesses and potentials.

Things I’m not going to use (for now at least as I have no need in practice)
GoogleCalendar, GoogleDocs, Zotero, Mendeley, Pushnote

I completely relate to Emma Davidson‘s statement: “For me the real success of the programme has been learning about a few new things, and earmarking some resources to come back to when the time is right. I’m a firm believer in using the right tool for the right purpose […].”

Further reading
How I learned to stop blogging everyday by Joshua Becker

Photo: Pinantan Lake, Canada, September 2011.
(c) Sabine Rauchmann

cpd23: Thing 18 – Screen capture tools

Thing 18 introduces software tools to record screen and audio sequences:

  • Jing – install on your PC. Be able to annotate (insert text boxes, highlight part of the image, add arrows).
  • Screencast-o-matic – web-based, requires Java. No annotating after recording is finished.
  • Audicity – install on your PC for free. Record podcasts.

In addition, I got to know a few new podcasts related to careers and library:

If you haven’t [used these tools before], explore them and let us know how you think you could use them.
Video and audio podcasts can be used in the library for

  • guided tours through the library,
  • weekly updates on special search features and issues (i.e. truncation, ebooks, alerts etc.),
  • introducing (new) ressources,
  • introducing your favourite webpage, book etc.

A few years ago, Stephen Abram created a very comprehensive list of possible uses of podcasts in libraries. I think sreencasts have great potential for demonstrating information resources and search strategies. I have some ideas of my own, but as instruction sessions for first and last year semester students are prevailing at the moment, I am postponing the deeper look into the tools to the end of the semester.

Audio podcasts relating to library instruction:

Audio podcasts by German libraries and librarians are very rare – a lot of them started in 2006 or 2007, but discontinued in 2009. Only LIBREAS audio as well as recorded talks of the conference “Die lernende Bibliothek 2011” are fairly new from this year. Somehow, it doesn’t seem to be en-vogue anymore?

Further reading

Photo credits: Lotus, New York Botanical Gardens.
(c) Sabine Rauchmann, September 2011.

cpd23: Thing 17 – Prezi and SlideShare

Thing 17 looks at online presentation tools.

Prezi is a very nice tool. I breathed new life into my library introduction powerpoint slides and likee the result. The effects on the students watching have been amazing – it catches their attention. However, last time I got stuck because the Internet was down – so it is always a good idea to have a Powerpoint presentation as a backup.

Thewikiman’s introduction to Prezi is very helpful. For me, it also shows to use as many pictures and as few text as possible. I love the zoom in and out dynamics as well as the possibility to apply a mindmapping approach. I can see me using this a lot more in the future.

A few Prezis I liked:

Is a great place and archive for sharing powerpoint presentation on the (social) web. The disadvantage: only persons with an account at Slideshare can download the presentation.

Some presentations I liked:

Can you think of materials you have produced which could gain a new audience on Slideshare? No.

Visual Resume – do you think this could replace (in certain circumstances) your paper CV or resume? No, would be overkill at the moment.

Photo credit: Grass hopper, New Jersey.
(c) Sabine Rauchmann, September 2011.

To save/have another look: Zamzar for free conversion to png or pdf, Picnik for photo frames and other treatments.

cpd23: Thing 16 – Advocacy

Thing 16 talks about advocacy for libraries outside of the library world. Expanding the lobby group for libraries is a challenge in Germany as well.

CILIP as well as ALA provide a wide range of advocacy materials and resources, i.e. the Campaigning Toolkit. In the last few years, advocacy for libraries in Germany received an increasing emphasis by librarians’ professional associations in Germany. Projects and activities include (amongst others):

Consider why it’s important to advocate for the section of library and information sector that you work for or want to work in.
Show and actively promote the competences that libraries’ staff offers beyond the print and electronic collections as well as working spaces.

What advocacy have you been involved?
Open Day to mark the library’s 350 anniversary (Tag der offenen Tür 2010). The library is planning a “Recherchetag” (search day) with various short and long presentations on plagiarism, electronic books, RefWorks etc. this year.
At my location, I am taking part in faculty meetings as well as student workshops.

Photo credit: Statue of Liberty, New York City.
(c) Sabine Rauchmann, September 2011.

Think more about: If you haven’t been involved in advocacy, reflect on what your skills are (or which you want to develop), what you’re most passionate about and think about what you might be able to do.