About Me

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I'm an almost, nearly qualified Librarian, currently a distance learner at Aberystwyth (and have been for some time!)

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

# Thing 5 - Reflective Practice

A tricky one for me. I know I should be reflective, particularly when it comes to work matters, yet it's not something that comes easily. Life is just so busy that I don't seem to find the time to stop and look back.

I'm also one of these people who just gets on with stuff. When life deals you a tough hand, you just play it and carry on to the next draw. Chances are the next hand will be better; the odds can't always be stacked against you. I guess I'm a glass half full kind of person. So I don't tend to look back, only forwards.

Now I realise this isn't the way to approach work and I like to think I'm getting better at this (reflective practice in action!). It can be hard to stop and look at your work practices with a critical eye, especially when it's so easy to get bogged down with the day to day things. I keep telling myself to set aside a regular time slot to gather my thoughts together and bring order to a frequently chaotic day.

I did have to find the time to be relective on an assignment I'd been working on last week. I had to design and create a web site for an organisation and include a reflective blog post about the whole process. I quite often get to the stage in an assignment where I think, 'that's it, I've had enough, hand it in!' And I do. But with the reflective element of the assignment, I found myself thinking of the improvements I could have made, items I could add and tweaks I could make. I made amendments that I think have improved the assignment, and more importantly that will improve my marks (fingers crossed!)

It also helps to have someone else to talk to. My husband pointed out a few areas of the website that could be improved. It sometimes takes a fresh eye to point out the obvious. I have Lovely Libraries in work to keep me on my toes. Taking the advice of Joeyanne Libraryanne, I volunteered us into giving a presentation about our social media project at the FE in HE, Welsh Collaboration in Action event at Newport University. It's my first time to speak at a conference and I'm already feeling sick at the prospect. The presentation slides weren't going too well so I did a quick run through with Lovely Libraries and it all suddenly became very clear. Talking it through and reflecting on the project really did help. Sometimes I find I need someone to voice my thoughts to, to hear things said aloud (and you don't look so mad if you're actually talking to someone!).

On reflection, this is the hardest post I've had to write as it is the most personal one so far. Casting a reflective eye over my previous posts I realise I need to include some pretty pictures (so here's one I took on holidays last year) and to keep my posts shorter (as promised in # Thing 4).

Bluestone, Narberth.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Thing 4 - Current Awareness (or slightly behind in my case!)

Digression and Procrastination

Only a couple of weeks behind schedule with Thing 4 which isn't so bad considering it's half term and work is the last thing on my mind (who am I kidding, I've spent most of the week thinking about what I have to do when I go back in tomorrow!)

Digression and procrastination are two of my worst habits (although I'm sure my office companion Lovely Libraries will tell you I have far worse!) and current awareness is a wonderful way of doing both. When I started my job several years ago I had to actively go looking in journals and websites to find out what was going on in the library world. Now I can just sit back with tea and cake in hand, feet on the desk and wait for it  all to come to me!


I'm a huge fan of Twitter and have been on it for about a year now and whilst I rarely Tweet, I do like to lurk on the edges and keep up to date with what is going on in the library world. As I mentioned in a  previous post, I use Facebook in an entirely personal capacity and Twitter is the tool I use for current awareness and professional news. I follow very few celebs and tend to follow fellow librarians, LIS students, information professionals, professional bodies or organisations. Anyone who Tweets far too much incidental stuff gets unfollowed. I think people forget that you can be discerning on Twitter. It's no good complaining that it's all about what people had for lunch. If you're finding too many sandwich details on Twitter then you're following the 'wrong sort'.

The main benefits for me are that I now find out information far quicker than mailing lists I'm on. They're also replacing some of my RSS feeds, as I'm picking up Tweets about CPD23 blog posts, before I've checked my Google Reader account.

The downside of using Twitter in work  is that our Techie guys view it with an element of mistrust and see it as yet another social media site that could cause our entire network to implode on itself if open access is given. So it's great between the hours of 12 and 2.00 pm and if you're reading this and I follow you, please bear this in mind! Only Tweet the important stuff at lunchtime and please don't tell me what was in your sandwich!

I do find I have to be very disciplined as I have a tendency to explore all the new things that pop up on Twitter. Which is all well and good, but not when you've also got a million and one day to day job stuff to do. Whilst it is great to update myself with all the new tools and info coming out, I've also got to do the 'bread and butter' stuff of my job.
It doesn't help that Lovely Libraries role includes project work and e-learning, so she has carte blanche to look at all these things and gets ever so excited and passes them on to me! An example from last week was when I was all ready to start putting through book orders and we ended up creating a Wunderlist for a Social Media project we're working on. Granted, it has already helped us enormously in organising our project, but it hasn't got my book orders through; hence the worrying about what I have to do next week! Since starting CPD23 I'm determined to start using Twitter more proactively and start Tweeting. I'm going to Tweet about this post when it's finally finished.

RSS Feeds

I'm already well acquainted with RSS feeds and use Google reader to aggregate them. I've signed up to news feeds, subject realated areas that interest me, and topics relating to course modules that I'm currently studying. Again though I find myself frustrated in work as so many blogs are blocked by network filters. I'm not sure who decides what should be blocked and I'm not sure we have any policies in place, but 'they' deem it inappropriate that I should be accessing material of this type. It's very short sighted and ill-thought out as the type of blog I'm trying to follow are useful tools in the world of information studies, (library gurus such as Phil Bradley and Ned Potter). To enable us to start CPD23 we had to contact our support guys to relax the filters and allow us to download the CPD23 blog.

(There's a recurring theme here with network filters, censorship issues and possibly a dissertation topic about how this impacts on student research).

I've now added my work colleagues to my feed and several other CPD23 participants that I've enjoyed reading. This also keeps me motivated as I see others progressing through the course and I don't want to get left behind!


Storify is one of the social media tools I've heard about but not come across or investigated. I signed in via my Facebook account and had a play with it. As usual when you have nothing in mind to create, I had a complete mental blank about what to search for. Inspiration struck and I searched for CPD23! It was very easy to create a story by dragging items onto the storyboard. I didn't bother publishing my little creation and I haven't yet worked out why I would need to use Storify in a work capacity but I'll store it away for a time when inspiration strikes and it's what I'm looking for.


Despite my initial reservations about blogging I now find that I'm enjoying it enormously. It's quite liberating to be able to write freely and not be constrained by the rigidness of academic writing (and let's not forget that I'm now entering my fifth year as a DIS student!) So I'm apologising to you as my blog posts seem to be getting longer and longer. It's probably not helped by the fact that this is a gin fuelled Sunday evening blog post and ther's nothing on the telly apart from football.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Branding - Thing 3

I'm starting to relax with this blogging lark. It's doesn't seem half so bad now I'm getting into it!

Branding is one of those things we easily overlook. I have a tendency to sign up to sites and online tools with very little thought as to how I'm going to use them, tie them all together and keep on top of them.

Some of the sites (the ones I can remember!) I've signed up to include Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Flickr, Slideshare and Google+ . I mainly use Facebook and Twitter and have only dabbled with the others and use them very occasionally.  All have different profile pictures and very little to connect them with each other. I do try and use my name but sometimes find that it's already been taken by an imposter as surely I am the real jo mather! To get around this I tend to add the first available number at the end (hence jomather2 forTwitter - not ideal but you can't always come first!)

I'm currently involved in a social media project at work and have had to create additional accounts for work purposes (I sense an opportunity for a quick plug, so please 'Like' us?  NPTC Libraries). Guidelines stated that our accounts had to be linked to our work e-mail so I now have 2 Facebook accounts,  3 Twitter accounts (my personal account, one for work and another I signed up to during a social media training session!), this blog and this morning I unwittingly created myself a Google+ account when creating a You Tube account for work.

In terms of my profile, I do like to keep the personal and professional separate and I tend to use Twitter more as  a professional tool. Facebook is slightly different as I most definitely use my personal page to connect with friends and family. I don't think I want people that I communicate with for professional or work purposes to see my 'lighter' side. My privacy settings are quite high so I'm more difficult to find on Facebook and I quite like it that way.

So to remedy my branding issues I've tried to link all my 'worky' stuff together, so if you find my blog you can find me on Twitter and vice versa.
I've changed my profile picture on my Twitter account so it's the same as the one on this blog. It's the photo we had taken in work for official use and appears on college moodle and library pages. The next step is to change my Twitter background so I've got a visual connection with my blog page.

Lastly, I googled myself (admittedly not the first time!) and there are surprisingly more Jo Mather's out there than you'd think. My Twitter account came up on the first page but all the Facebook search results were for imposters. My Flickr photostream of birthday cakes I've made came up on page 2, which I wasn't expecting (possibility of a lucrative little sideline?). I had no results for my blog so I'm going to have to work on improving that. If I search Google images it appears I'm a world class baseball player.

If I'm feeling brave, I may ask someone in work to comment on my branding. But for now, I'll leave it as it is and tuck into the jaffa cakes.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Panic - Thing 2

Ok, it's Thing 4 already and I'm only on Thing 2! The Fear has now turned to Panic! I don't want to get behind but how do the weeks go by so quickly?

It wasn't so bad investigating other people's blogs as I'm a naturally nosey (curious?) person. I resisted the temptation to look for and contact  people I sit next to, (Lovely Libraries), and looked instead for blogs with interesting names. Made contact with a few people in Wales, as it made sense to narrow my search down somewhat, including How many things? Only 23 and Taken for Binding.

There are a lot of interesting people out there, working in libraries, and living up to the stereotype, a lot of gin-drinking, cake-eating, cat-loving, knitting, Librarians! (I fall into 2 out of 4 categories). What a great profession to be in!

I must admit that despite my blogging reservations, I did have a little thrill when I had comments left on my first blog post, and an even bigger thrill when the lovely Library Wanderer tweeted about it. Thanks Helen.
After seeing so many 'good-looking' blogs, I need to tidy mine up, but I guess that'll come with Thing 3 .
Onwards and upwards!

Thursday, 10 May 2012


I'm starting this blog with a feeling of trepidation. I'm not sure if trepidation is the correct word to use; it should probably be fear!

I'm wondering why anyone would possibly want to read my ramblings. The inner workings of my mind are often chaotic and sometimes confused. To me they make perfect sense, depending on how I'm feeling.
Fear of plunging into the blogging world is probably more apt. I'm definitely feeling a little (actually a lot!) fearful as to what I should write, how much and how often. Who really wants to listen to me?

I'm also fearful at signing myself up for another course, when I haven't yet finished my MScEcon at Aber. What am I letting myself in for? I guess I'm hoping that all the formal stuff I've covered in Aber will be backed up by more current topics and things that are definitely trending. Stuff (for want of a better word) that we Librarians really need to know about, use and share.

It's also a great way of meeting new people and catching up with friends I've met along the way. (Is that why I'm taking so long to finish my Distance Learning course, as I don't want to lose touch with some great friends?)

I'm currently working as a Supervisor in a very busy F.E. College Library. The work is challenging and often stressful, and if you're stuck in a room with up to 1500 teenagers a day, you'll know where I'm coming from!

So I think in best Librarian tradition, I'm going to publish this blog and have a nice cup of tea and a jaffa cake, before I start thinking too much about what I've written, whether I should edit it, make it longer, what will people think, and on and on and on...