It started with a…


CILIP PKSB Wheel. Copyright CILIP

PKSB   Analysis. This was my first step on my CILIP Fellowship journey. As part of the requirements you have to undertake a self analysis of your skills using the PKSB. Under each of the categories there are a number of skills, and you score yourself on a scale of 0 (none) to 4 (advanced) as to where you are now and where you want to be.

Sounds easy doesn’t it? Actually I found this incredibly hard. Trying to distinguish between what was 3(good) level of knowledge versus 4(advanced) is something that even now I have questions about. I decided to go through  the whole PKSB and rate myself in every section. Whilst I have put areas where my existing knowledge is lower than my ideal level, I’m not intending on improving all of these over the next year. It’s more a case of trying  to think where I want to be at some point, and this is how I feel about it now.

Being overly critical

I am very critical of myself. I have high expectations, and in my first attempt at my PKSB analysis this really showed. When I went through each item with my mentor, and discussed it she queried some of my ratings. We went through it changing some of the values – on the whole increasing the scores of my current level of knowledge in a number of areas. It helped to discuss this, as through talking through what I felt I knew in different areas it clarified to me that actually maybe I did know a bit more than I thought.

I think it would be helpful if CILIP could provide more guidance on what the scores mean. Also it would help if the statements from the PDF PKSB version on p4 were included on the gap analysis spreadsheet. I used that to do my analysis and it just shows the numbers not the detailed info.

Deciding what to prioritise

We also discussed where I should focus my efforts for my CILIP Fellowship. Although I had shown a number of areas where I felt I could improve my skills, not all of them were a priority for me. Again having the mentor to discuss this was really useful, as she helped clarify my thoughts and when I asked for suggestions on taking it forward she gave me some great ideas too. Areas I want to progress are:

  • Technology – keeping up to date with new tec and improving my systems level knowledge of the CILIP VLE
  • Data analysis – I want to improve my analysis skills. There’s so much data collected by the VLE logs and I’m not really doing anything with it.
  • Info behaviour – this links with the anlaysis. I’d like to drill more into user behaviour and user experience so that I can improve the VLE for our members.
  • Networking – I feel I have slipped into a black hole of obscurity over the last few years, and want to become more active in the profession.
  • Leadership – am keen to develop these skills

where next?

So following on from my mentor meeting to discuss the PKSB analysis I went back and annotated the spreadsheet. I’ve added comments explaining which areas I want to prioritise, and those I am leaving for now and why. I’ve uploaded this into my Portfolio along with the initial one, so that the assessors can see the ongoing thought process.

I then used those areas I had identified as priorities and put them into a plan on the CILIP Portfolio. Each heading has a couple of actions, and I have tried to set some dates as a way of motivating myself. Using one of my #Fellowshipfridays I then started to try and identify how I would do these – I’ve signed up for a Mooc or two, and arranged some meetings with colleagues as starting points.

So I have made a start. It’s a very small start, but hopefully if I keep taking these small steps I will eventually get there. Which is rather like my running… slow, steady, stumbling and staggering but eventually I make it to the end.

On mentoring

As part of my CILIP fellowship process I have decided to become a CILIP mentor.  I have mentored in the past: students as their dissertation supervisor or personal tutor; and colleagues for their professional development. To ensure that I was up to speed with how CILIP view the process I attended the mentor training at CILIP HQ in September 2016.

The session was led by my colleague Helen, and as part of the process we had a debrief afterwards so that I could provide her with some feedback to help her reflections on how the session went. The session itself was very useful, down to the facilitation by Helen, and the willingness of the participants to share their experiences. One of my dissertation students was in the session, so it was interesting when we were both discussing mentoring and reflecting on that aspect!

As a trainer when I attend sessions I immediately start looking at how they delivered, and try to pick up tips I can use in my practice. One lightbulb moment for me was watching Helen demonstrate the techniques of being a mentor through open questioning to get a participant to find the answers to a situation they had described. The initial context of the query had to do with avoiding the mentor. Helen cleverly used probing questions to peel back the layers, modelling the mentor  behaviour in the process and at the same contributing to the theme under discussion.

When I fed this back to Helen, she hadn’t consciously realised that she was doing it, but had done so because she felt it was an issue that needed further exploration and discussion. It worked because she was in no way threatening in her questions, she had created an atmosphere of trust and sharing already in the room, which meant the participant was able to reflect and share their reflections with the group. It helped that Helen was completely outside the situation being discussed, so had objectivity and distance.

For me this was the most useful aspect, reinforcing  the need to create that feeling of mutual trust and respect. The technique of asking questions not offering solutions, giving thinking time so the mentee can reflect. I hope that I can bring these skills to my CILIP mentees. It also served to emphasise why you want someone outside of your sector for your mentor, because they can ask basic questions that make you see things from a different perspective.

So now I am officially a CILIP mentor, I’m on the mentor list ready and waiting for my first mentee. I’ll be bringing a questioning mind, trying to create a supportive environment for them, as well as an in depth knowledge of the CILIP VLE!

And I’m not just doing this to help my Fellowship application, I see it as a way I can give something back to the profession. I know I have benefitted from excellent mentors throughout my career, and  it feels right to pass on that to others.



Revalidation – how not to do it

After much procrastinating I recently submitted and passed my CILIP Revalidation. I thought I’d post some comments on things that I noted to do differently/better next time around.

1. Do get the word count right!

In my mind I thought I had 750 words to play with – imagine my horror after composing a glorious 750 word reflective statement to discover it needed to be 250. There was some serious hacking and slaying of words that was painful. I cheated a bit, using a table I had produced as a piece of supporting evidence. You don’t have to add supporting evidence for revalidation, but I felt it showed reflection and didn’t want to lose it.

2. Put your CPD in one log

You have to log at least 20 hours of CPD to revalidate. This wasn’t a problem, but I had thought it would be nice to create separate logs for each category of CPD activity e.g. one for Moodle Development, one for Digitisation etc. This meant that when I came to assemble my Page for submission on the CILIP Portfolio I had to add multiple logs – which looked a bit scrappy. For next time I’m going to do one log, but use the tagging feature to categorise things.

3. Log things when they happen

I had not kept my log up to date, so ended up adding in things in a bundle. This meant I had to rely on my not so hot memory. I’m sure I missed things out, so I have made a resolution to try and add things as they happen and be more proactive about this.

4. check the guide before submitting

In the excitement of completing my statement and log, I went ahead and submitted my page on the CILIP VLE. And forgot that I had to share it with the assessors! [Yes I should know better as CILIP employee]. Luckily my colleagues in the office pointed this out to me, and I was able to go in to sort it out, but if I had bothered to check the lovely revalidation guide Matthew Wheeler had produced I would have seen this instruction on it.

final thoughts

The revalidation process wasn’t that difficult. I know I can easily do more than 20 hours CPD a year, its just a case of noting it down. And actually the process of doing this made me think about what I want to do over the next year to develop myself. I’d recommend doing revalidation as it creates a record for you that goes beyond your current job – I’m on a temporary contract at the moment, so for me I see this as a way of helping me to record what I am developing now for when I have to start job hunting again.

On the success of passing my revalidation I have decided to take the next step and have enrolled for CILIP Fellowship. Again I think it will help me for future career moves, and will provide a focus for working out what areas I want to develop my skills in. So watch out for future posts on that.

So go on – if you haven’t revalidated why not give it a go?

Freedom to be

I was inspired by the CILIP Conference to resurrect this blog. Something I’ve been meaning to do for a while but it was the Keynotes that have really fired my enthusiasm.

Our Human Rights

Liberty's human rights posterShami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty spoke eloquently about our human rights. You can get this The Human Rights Act poster from Liberty which summarises it. As an information professional the ones that stand out for me are:

  • Right to respect for a private life
  • Freedom of thought
  • Free speech
  • Right to an education

These are the rights that we as information professionals can contribute to and support. As a member of CILIP when you sign up you agree to abide by CILIP’s ethical principles. These include

Concern for the public good in all professional matters, including respect for diversity within society, and the promoting of equal opportunities and human rights.

Commitment to the defence, and the advancement, of access to information, ideas and works of the imagination

Impartiality, and avoidance of inappropriate bias, in acquiring and evaluating information and in mediating it to other information users.

Respect for confidentiality and privacy in dealing with information users.

To me they also link to what I believe Information Literacy is all about. Cees Hamelink (1976) in his article “An Alternative to News” discusses how information functions as an oppressive tool since, by its manner of presentation, it keeps people from shaping their own world.He calls for a “new information literacy is necessary for liberation from the oppressive effects of institutionalised public media.” It’s not just the finding information; it is the critical thinking, questioning and going beyond the easy sources to get a comprehensive view of the world.

How can you have free speech, freedom of thought if you do not have access to a diverse range of information sources, or learning oportunities? Librarians and Information professionals support this through initiatives such as:

  • The Library Freedom project set up by Alison Macrina. You can read about this on the CILIP Blog, and see a video of Alison discussing this on the CILIP VLE Privacy course.
  • Initiatives such as Radical reference – sadly on hiatus but their information sources are a useful list
  • Public libraries in the UK which provide free access to information, a safe place for people to go to find out about their rights, with professional staff that can guide them to relevant information sources

I’d love to see a Library Freedom project UK version – perhaps something CILIP and Liberty can work together on? And this is why I feel that there is a potential danger in the move to volunteer led library services – as do those volunteers have the commitment to these ethical principles that we professionals do?

Social reform

What I found most poignant after Shami’s talk was to hear Erwin James’ testimonial. Erwin presented his talk “you never know where a good book might take you” reflecting on his transformation from a lifer to a writer. Hats off to whoever scheduled the keyntoes, because hearing this after Shami’s talk made it so much more pertinent for me. His story is an impact case study in action, showing how literacy, prison libraries and their professional staff can contribute to the rehabilitation of offenders. How reading can open minds, change your perspective and lead you to new heights.

His words “Best I could do [for my victims] was to find the freedom to be who I should have been” are a rallying call for us all. We as information professionals have a role to play in supporting people’s freedom to be the best they can. We need to be the best we can be to support Human Rights, Social Reform and the individuals in our communities.

Be the best you can beI’m going to work on improving myself now by going to my local library to borrow Shami’s book – who knows where that will lead me? In the words of @andytraining “be better, thx”.


CPD23 Thing 3 – Who am I?

Am rather behind on my CPD activities. However today it is wet and I’m at home so good excuse to do something productive. I have to say I am impressed at @joeyanne’s branding with purple flowers and penguin. I’m not (and don’t think I ever will be) that coordinated.

Having read the Thing 3 post I went ahead and googled myself. Here are the images of that search – page 1 and 2.

I’m pleased that on page one it has my profile at Aber and relates to my linked in profile, then on page 2 it has links to papers etc I have written in the past. As far as personal branding goes I try to have my “professional” self visible, and my “private” self separate. My Facebook account is locked down as tight as I can make it, it’s for sharing with friends and family not the world in general. I have JFJ24 as my ID for twitter and delicious – just because it was my OUID when I set them up and was easy for me to remember. Plus at the time I wasn’t sure how open I wanted to be.

In terms of tone I try to write on here like a conversation. It’s my personal style, reflects me and given that I am writing this to help my reflection I have to write in a way I am comfortable with. Because it is a professional blog I try to ensure the tone is appropriate and I self censor – I only write things I would be comfortable with an employer viewing. My twitter is a bit more informal, but there is still a line there.

I don’t think I’m very good at self publicising and getting my brand out there. And I’m not sure how much I want to go that route. Its something I want to ponder a bit more, so will sit back and mull.

#fslt12 Reflective Activity

I’ve enrolled for the First Steps in Learning & Teaching MOOC organised by Oxford Brookes University. I’m doing this as part of my ongoing personal development as an academic to improve my teaching practice. I’ve been hearing about MOOC (Massively Online Open Courses) via my networks and the literature and wanted to see what one was like. Having recently completed my PGCTHE I’m not doing this for accreditation but to see how it works, whether there are ideas I can bring into my own teaching practice, and hopefully extend my network of colleagues I can bounce ideas around with. This is my first reflective post for that… be warned it’s a long one!

Prior Experience

So… I guess my experience in teaching started with User Education sessions when I worked as a Library Assistant at Templeton College Oxford. I’d do sessions on databases, how to reference and inductions. I discovered I was good at this and in fact became responsible for  a staff development programme for the other Library Assistants. There was a bit of theory applied there, but mainly it was trial and error.

My serious teaching began at the Open University. I undertook the MA in Online and Distance Education there and really got interested in the educational theory and the process of technology mediated learning. I got to apply my new knowledge in the writing of TU120 Beyond Google, and also in a train the trainer project and exploring web conferencing as a medium for training. Working with academic colleagues in the Open University where innovation and creativity was encouraged, where there was a definite team teaching approach really helped me to develop my skills and learn a lot. I was part of a community of practice and learnt with them and I think contributed to their learning in a small way.

I then got a job in Aberystwyth as a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Information Studies.  I am teaching full time undergraduate students, and postgraduate students in both full time and distance learning courses. I’ve been heavily involved in developing an online module for the MSc ILS programme, which has been an “interesting” experience.

The hurdles

Transitioning from a Librarian who does a fair bit of teaching to an academic  who teaches has been a steep learning curve. For me the hardest thing was “flying solo”. At Aber you are given your modules and sent out to teach – albeit with the help of a mentor (and I have been blessed with a good one!). You’re enrolled on the PGCTHE but the day to day teaching and marking is down to you. Coming from an open plan office and a team teaching approach this was a large culture shock. I can and do bounce ideas around with my mentor and have called on other colleagues but it isn’t the integral experience I had at the OU.

Over the 3 years of my probation I have grown more confident in my teaching, I have used the teaching cycles of my PGCTHE to reflect on various areas. Looking at how to design assessments that are meaningful, realistic and yet are achievable by students is something I have explored – and I’m still looking for ideas on this one.

I’ve  found that the hardest/most difficult teaching situations i.e. the ones I’ve lost sleep over, are the ones that have helped me learn the most as a practitioner. When things haven’t gone to plan, or not worked as anticipated having time and a colleague to discuss WHY or think about what could I do differently have helped enormously.

I also find the comments from my learners are really useful, and seeing the assessed work as a form of a feedback for me. The queries students have about tasks, comments they make in emails, can help me see the stumbling blocks in my learning design and I do reflect on them and try to tweak activities and assessment based on them.

What I’ve learnt and enjoyed

I guess the biggest thing that I have learnt over the past three years is the iterative nature of teaching and learning, and actually how accurate Kolb’s learning cycle is. Yes I had considered it before, but I think teaching full-time you see it with a greater intensity.

What I enjoy most in teaching is the dialogue, the sharing of ideas, the learning in an active and collaborative way. I love it when students share links or put forward an idea or question you hadn’t considered. I try to encourage this in my sessions but I have to say that not all students want to learn in this way and some do refuse to participate. When it does work though, and you get a learner coming back to you saying they really enjoyed a session, or have used the learning elsewhere or submit an amazing piece of work – that’s when I remember why I’m doing this. It helps make the admin tasks bearable.

There’s always more to learn and develop, and I hope this course will enable me to do that.

Thing 2

Cat in the hat crafts

Wendy Piersall (2010 mar 4). Cat in the hat crafts. Retrieved from

I can’t help it… when you say thing 1 and thing 2 to me I just automatically think of Dr Seuss and the Cat in the Hat! But this post is meant to be about my CPD23 thing 2 and other people’s blogs.

There are a few blogs I regularly dip into. Phil Bradley’s weblog is one of them because he keeps me up to date on all those things I don’t necessarily have time to explore myself. I also like his naughty sense of humour – as evidenced by the Online Pharmaceuticals post. I refer my students to his blog and also his search site as useful resources for keeping up to date in these areas, and that’s certainly how I use them.

Karen Blakeman’s blog is another favourite, and I use this one to support my Business Information module. Again she has a great website for business information sources, and produces a regular newsletter “Tales from the terminal Room”.

I’ve also dipped into other blogs of people I know/follow on twitter e.g. Joeyanne Libraryanne and Libreaction being a couple of those.

I rarely comment on blog posts – I tend to lurk reading them and may even retweet the link to them for ones I like/think are useful. Which is how I tend to identify them – via my twitter feed. I’ve explored RSS feeds in past but haven’t got into them in any big way – that may change with this course. So my main method of identifying them is when someone I follow tweets about a post.

M Glasgow (2007 Mar 18). Nessie. Retrieved from

So for those of you blogging out there I do appreciate it, I may not make a big impact in your blogspace like thing 1 and thing 2 but I am definitely lurking. More of a Nessie than a Thing maybe…