Thursday, 28 July 2011

Thing 5 - Reflective practice

Day 115: Cookie in the looking glass
Cookie cat reflected in the kitchen window
It's taken me a while to write this post - I think I've been reflecting too much it's taken over the actual writing! I'm a serial planner so I spend a lot of my time reflecting on where I am, where I want to be, and how I'm going to get there (in all aspects of my life). I'm not sure that I'm so good at sharing this or writing it down though.

I read Emma's post with interest, as I really enjoy reading her blog posts on Librarians on the Loose. She writes in a very conversational way which I like, but I also really admire the way she reflects on everything she does and thinks about how she can apply lessons she has learnt in practice.

My blog, Joeyanne Libraryanne, was always intended to be a reflective blog. I write the posts primarily for myself (though sometimes I like to stimulate conversation in the comments on a certain topic), and my blog post tend to discuss either things I have done or things I have been thinking about. However, I've realised recently that many of my posts aren't exactly very reflective, they're more of a descriptive nature.

So what am I going to do about it?

Well, I'm hoping to start the CILIP Chartership process next year, so I definitely want to develop my reflective writing skills in preparation for developing my portfolio. I really like the model described by Emma originating from Borton in 1970; a cycle of What? So what? Now what?

I think when I'm recording future things which might be of use for my portfolio, I'm going to use this structure. I'm hoping to set up a wiki to support the Chartership process and I think I might use these 3 questions as the basis for each activity I do.

I'd also like to try to incorporate more reflection into my blog posts, so I'm going to try to think about including the lessons I have learnt into my posts, as well as recording planned future actions. I'm a user of the GTD system (more on that in a later thing!) so discrete actions to follow up the lessons would be good for me to record in my to-do list app. Hopefully this should help catch the follow-up actions that I often miss due to not allowing enough time for reflection before moving on to the next thing. And by reflecting on reflecting I've definitely got some points to add:

  • Use the What? So what? Now what? model for reflective practice in Chartership wiki and blog posts
  • Attend a training session on reflective writing (often organised by CILIP)
  • Include follow-up actions for relevant blog posts

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Thing 4 - Current awareness: other tools

As I was tidying my RSS feeds and my Twitter account, it reminded me of a few other tools I have been wanting to start using...

Read It Later

One of the reasons I don't check my feeds as often as I should is not having enough time to read the longer posts which I enjoy. Something I've been meaning to try for a while is Read It Later which Tina recommends. This works with a number of different applications across platforms and browsers so that you can send articles to read later. I've signed up and got the plugins so that I can send things from my browser or directly from Google Reader (I added it to the Send To menu). Read It Later also works with the Twitter and RSS apps I use (Osfoora HD, Twitter for iPhone and iPad, and Byline), so that you can scan items quickly and then you can read the full articles in the Read It Later iPhone or iPad app (which even works offline once you have downloaded the items). I'm impressed so far and hope I manage to integrate it into my routine so I'm not so scared to open Google Reader in future!


I keep seeing some really interesting articles being tweeted about which are from Zite (a personal news app on iPad) so I thought I'd see what it was all about. I've tried a few others of these before (Flipboard, Pulse) and have to be honest, I've not really liked them. But Zite seems to have a nice interface and integrates well with other tools. Now that I've removed my more general feeds from Google Reader, I think Zite could be a good way to browse topics that interest me when I feel like it (the equivalent of reading a newspaper every now and again). I've set up some topics and the app learns what you like by the things you rate as interesting. It's picked up some really good stuff so far, including some library blogs I already subscribe to, but also some education or tech blogs that I probably don't want to subscribe to but have the occasional item of interest to me. Really impressed with it, and love that I can tweet links directly from the app, or send longer articles to Read It Later.

Another tool I've been wanting to use for a while but not got around to setting up is a way to save the links I tweet so that I can find them again in future. I've decided to use which adds them to my Delicious account using any tags in the tweet as Delicious tags. This seems to work well and should mean any links I think are worth tweeting will be saved. I'll see how it goes but if it's saving too many I can set it so that it will only save links if I include a certain tag (which I can define). Really flexible service - I'm impressed so far.


The final tool recommended for thing 4 is Pushnote, which is a way of sharing feedback and notes about websites. When you visit a site with notes or ratings you can see them, and those from your friends will be shown above others. I'd read a few other negative reviews from other #cpd23 blogs but I thought I'd give it a try to see what I thought. Unfortunately, I agree with most people - I just can't see the value of it at the moment. Maybe if it reaches critical mass in future and people actually use it, but for now it's joined the stacks of applications I've tried but stopped using - I very much doubt I'll continue using Pushnote. I did actually set up the account a while ago though I can't remember doing so (I only know because when I tried to register it said I already had an account!); I think that says it all really.

Thing 4 has been really useful for me - I already use most of the tools mentioned, but it was good to dedicate some time to maximising my use of them and organising them into a more effective system. Fingers crossed it will work in practice and I can manage my current awareness far more effectively.

Are there any other tools you would recommend I try? Let me know in the comments if so.

Thing 4 - Current awareness: Twitter

I've been using Twitter (I'm @joeyanne) since Dec 2007, though at first not many people were on there so I didn't use it much for the first few months. In the last 2-3 years it has become a very popular way for librarians and information professionals to communicate. I use it mainly to:

  • follow events (and share information from events I attend)
  • find out about new developments in tech, education and libraries
  • share good practice 
  • inform my work
I also use it to ask questions (my professional network are far more reliable than Google!), and just to get general advice (I find it particularly useful when travelling to different cities which I now do quite a lot of through work).

I currently follow over 1100 people, but I don't read every single tweet from every single person. I treat it more like a conversation tool - when I'm around I follow the conversation, when I'm not I don't. I do however make use of the list features to help me filter my tweets. The main way I do this is by having a private favourites list which I check when I'm busy. This includes my close friends and family, as well as tweets from key people within my network whose tweets I don't want to miss. My favourites list isn't static, it changes all the time so I like to use Twitter apps that support lists and editing lists (my current favourite apps are Tweetdeck for Chrome and Osfoora for iPad and iPhone).

I also usually set up public Twitter lists for events so that people can follow those attending an event without having to individually follow everyone, and I have lists of people I'd like to meet and people I have met (for example, I recently set up a list of all people I met at the American Library Association Annual Conference).

I also use text messages with Twitter - I have it set up to receive messages when certain people tweet (mainly family) so that I get those even on those rare occasions when I don't have internet connection, and I did use it to send a couple of tweets recently whilst I was in New Orleans and had no internet access outside my hotel and the conference centre. 

One thing I stopped doing (which I've started again as part of this thing) is receiving email notifications when people follow me. I was getting overloaded with them but now my email is more under control I've turned these back on as I'm finding that I forget to check my account for new followers to follow back. I've also been through my recent followers and followed some back.

Now for some other tools I played with as part of this digital tidy...

Thing 4 - Current awareness: RSS

I originally wrote thing 4 as one blog post but it turned into an epic post so I have split it into 3 separate parts - RSS, Twitter, and other tools. I've been a fan of using social media for current awareness for a while now. Managing it is my current challenge so for this thing I took the opportunity to tidy up my RSS and Twitter feeds (as well as take a quick look at Pushnote).

RSS feeds

I've been an avid user of RSS feeds for a number of years now, mainly using them to subscribe to library blogs. When I first started blogging in 2007 (and following other blogs before that), most of the library bloggers I could find were based in the US. RSS meant that I could read all about the innovative things they were doing at the libraries and I found it really inspiring. Some of these have since stopped blogging, but there are a number of these who I still subscribe to and love reading their blogs. I feel I should particularly mention (and recommend you subscribe to) Attempting Elegance, Pegasus Librarian, The Sheck Spot, and Information Wants To Be Free.

Now there are many more library bloggers in the UK, including a lot of new professionals. I enjoy reading those blogs too, as well as some of the newer library bloggers in the US such as Library Hat and Library Scenester (both of whom I got to meet at ALA Annual!). Over the years I've collected more and more feeds and it's beginning to get out of control, particularly when some of those I subscribe to post very frequently (particularly tech blogs but also some library blogs like Stephen's Lighthouse).

It was definitely time for another weed of my feeds, so today I used Google Trends to identify the feeds from Google Reader which are no longer active, as well as any I'm just not reading. I get a lot of my news from Twitter now, so I don't need the more general feeds I used to subscribe to such as tech news feeds.

I used to be pretty good at keeping up to date with my feeds, starting each morning with checking overnight emails and RSS and checking them throughout the day on my start page. But my habits and work patterns have changed and I've gotten out of the habit of checking them frequently, often to the point where I actively avoid opening my feeds for fear of how many unread items I will find. Just look how infrequently I've been checking them recently!

My reading habits for the last 30 days (the  blue bars show items published, orange bars show items read)
So as part of my clean up, I reorganised my Google Reader folders too. I have a folder of favourites (which I call A* feeds so that the folder is always on the top) and folders for other topics such as library blogs, crafts and gluten free. If I'm behind on my feeds, I can just look through the A* feeds folder which are the blogs I don't want to miss.

I also share interesting feeds on my shared items list which is publicly available (feel free to subscribe if you wish or follow me on Google Reader). I have to confess find the sharing system a little flaky though, so I also share these items to my Twitter account using Reader2Twitter. This shares the title of the post, the URL, and any notes you want to add (I use notes to add Twitter hashtags or usernames of the author or people I think might be interested).

So that's my RSS feeds organised, now time to organise Twitter...

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Thing 3 - Your personal brand

It's a bit weird setting a task for other people and then being one of the participants too! Will be a good test of the activity though...

Thing 3 is all about personal branding, and is something I'm pretty passionate about (apologies upfront for the long post!). My boyfriend runs a marketing business, and marketing has always been an interest of mine. I've given presentations before on brands for academic libraries (with Emma Illingworth), and using social media to market yourself and your skills. I was really pleased to be asked to write Thing 3 on personal branding for 23 Things for Professional Development.

I've been reading some of the other posts people have written for Thing 3, and it is clear that some people are uncomfortable with the term branding. I'm not too surprised by this, my dissertation on strategic marketing in academic libraries uncovered a wealth of literature commenting on librarian's uneasiness with marketing terminology (though things do seem to be changing). Most people seem to be quite comfortable with the concept however, often preferring to use terms such as online personality. Anyway, onto the tasks...

Search engines

I Googled myself (logged out of Google and using a browser I don't often use) and also searched on Bing. I searched for Jo Alcock and the results are shown below:

Google search for Jo Alcock

Bing search for Jo Alcock

It's interesting to see the different results (Google's are more useful in this case - Bing shows three results just from LinkedIn). I'm pleased to see my main blog (Joeyanne Libraryanne) as the first hit on Google - that's the first place I'd probably want people to find when they're looking for information about me. It's a lot further down the results on Bing, but it is still on the first page which is good. My LinkedIn profile, Facebook profile and Twitter profile are on both results pages, and the Google page also includes my Academia profile, my committee profile page on the CILIP West Midlands web page, my Lanyrd profile (though this is a little misleading as seems to include events I am following, not just those I am attending or speaking at), my Google profile, my Slideshare profile and my New Professionals Network profile.

The only result on the first page of results on Google which doesn't refer to me is the directory listing for Jo Alcock, which lists 19 Jo Alcock's in the UK, none of whom are me. It's a more common name than I thought - there was also a Jo Alcock a couple of years older than me at the college I went to. Whilst I was at school we had the same German teacher and he was always getting our class documents confused as we were both the first on our register! The Bing page also includes a link to an Australian Jo Alcock on LinkedIn but my profile is listed before hers. I'm pretty pleased with what the search engines find about me, though I do spend a lot of time online so I'm not too surprised.

I thought I'd also briefly mention my approach to each of the areas I discussed in my original post.

Name used

In professional communication, I refer to myself as Jo Alcock (well, it is my name!). On official documents my name is Joanne but no one calls me Joanne and I never introduce myself with my full name, so I use Jo (apart from the odd occasion where I mistype it as Ho!).

With online accounts, I use joeyanne - I've grabbed this name on most services I use (if you want to check the availability of your chosen username on different services, you can use NameChk). Joeyanne is a nickname initially given to me by my boyfriend (who bought for me a few years ago), but as it almost rhymes with librarian it became Joeyanne Libraryanne for my blog, and joeyanne become a name I use for professional activities online.

My current Twitter photo
I try to use a recent photograph of myself on any online profiles, so that people know who I am and recognise me when I'm at events. I had a few complaints earlier this year because my Twitter photo was quite old (and I was wearing glasses when I usually wear contact lenses) so people didn't recognise me. I've recently changed the photo but I do need to change it on other profiles. Slapped wrist for not sorting this yet!

Professional/personal identity

As mentioned in my post over on 23 Things for Professional Development, I favour a "profersonal" approach. I don't like to separate the different areas of my life as they all blur into each other. I'm involved in a number of professional activities outside my job, and I have hobbies that many librarians also have (crafts and cats!). I like to get to know people through their online accounts, so I enjoy following people who keep everything in one account (though I know some can't due to restrictions at their workplace).

Visual identity

Joeyanne Libraryanne blog header
I've been using my penguin and purple flowers now since I rebranded my blog a few years ago. I try to maintain consistency by using these elements in other profiles when I can (though I prefer to use a real photograph where there is only the option to have one image). Thankfully, these were designed very much with me in mind - I've always loved penguins, and I like the colour purple. I have the flowers as my background on my desktop and iPad too. I haven't got tired of seeing them yet!

Things to work on

I definitely need to be more consistent with my photo - and make sure it's up-to-date. I don't want to change it too often though, maybe once a year. I'd like to work on my elevator pitch. I still find it difficult to describe what I do to other people, and I'd like to have relevant responses both for other people within the profession as well as those outside the profession. I also have lots of different interests (marketing and communication, social media, mobile technologies, transliteracy...) and I'd like to try to focus these and make sure my blog covers my interests so that it is clear to others. I also need to get round to adding my presentations and a list of my speaking engagements onto my blog - these were initially on my CV but I think it might be better to have the full list on my blog and a tailored list on my CV. 

What do you think? What does my brand say to you? Are there elements you think could be improved on that I haven't mentioned? I'd love to hear your opinions.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Thing 2 - Explore other blogs

This thing took me longer than expected - so many great blogs to choose from! As I've recently returned from USA, I initially thought I would narrow it down to participants from there, though I discovered that many of them are currently behind on their things (pot... kettle... black, I know!). But as I wrote thing 3 for the programme about personal branding, I thought I'd take the opportunity to read and comment on some of those posts. I also already subscribe to a number of the blogs involved in CPD23, so I tried to discover new blogs. There were some really interesting reflections on personal branding (more on this when I write thing 3), and the ones I chose to comment on included:
I'm amazed by how many people are involved in the programme, there are currently over 800 registered participants! I'm really looking forward to following some new blogs :)