Learning Log 106 – Away Day

Date:  19th July 2018

Number: 106

Significant Experience: Attended departmental/directorate away day

What Happened?: I attended my departmental away day in London that covered a wide range of interesting topics from Information Governance and records management – to quality within the organisation, through to an examination of the concepts of ‘Agile’ work and how it could benefit us at a team, department and organisational levels. Within these many different resources, standards and tools were also discussed.

So What?: There was very much a ‘ways or working’ approach to the day – as shown by the presentation themes above – I found it very useful to recognise some of the issues I had noticed in my bubble, such as occasional missed opportunities of joint work due to the size and scope of the organisation – have been recognised and are being challenged. There was also many other challenges AND opportunities that I was not aware of – including PHD opportunities and a research structure I had not yet encountered.

Now What?:  I am going to investigate the effectiveness Mentimeter as a tool to evolve how I deliver information skills sessions to improve learner  experience and outcomes, and I have also offered to look at how we can take the concepts of ‘Agile’ and use them within our organisational structure/resources to improve how I individually, and as part of a team can be more effective in our project work.

When & Where?: 18th July, Imperial War Museum (London Branch)


Learning Log 105 – CILIP Mentor Training

Date:  22nd June 2018

Number: 105

Significant Experience: I signed up for and completed the CILIP Online Mentoring course

What Happened?: I signed up for the online mentoring course, completed it and am now a CILIP Mentor!

So What?: I have had very positive mentoring experiences – through my Chartership, Fellowship (ongoing) and other positive experiences such as coaching. I am able to positively give back to my profession and help other people professionally develop.

Throughout my roles – be it CILIP NW Chair, on any of the innumerate committee/working groups/task and finish groups or even in my role as a work place and sector leader I have informally mentored both library and non-library staff both directly and indirectly. I am now in a position where I can positively contribute to other professional’s development whilst learning and growing myself.

Now What?:  Now the real work begins. I get to support a professional on their journey through professional registration

When & Where?: Online – June 2018

Learning Log 104 – Presenting at Health Libraries Group – HLG#2018 Conference 2018

Date:  18th June 2018

Number: 104

Significant Experience: I presented at my first ever conference – Health Libraries Group Conference 2018

What Happened?: I was given the opportunity to present at HLG 2018 by Kevin Burgoyne a Primary Care Librarian from Brighton and Sussex NHS Library and Knowledge Service. I presented on the role of Public Health Library and Knowledge Services in supporting Local Authority Public Health. With guidance /support from library colleagues I was able to prepare adequately and deliver to the standard I wanted to, in front of c60 people in a larger venue than I had done for CILIP NW/PHE/previous roles.

So What?: Presenting generally, but especially to larger groups has been something I have always actively avoided, but I now move towards things I historically avoided – such as being interviewed/recorded and thanks to Kevin  this opportunity to present presented itself. Although it was hard work, both preparation and delivery (for which I had help in both) I found the actual presentation quite exhilarating and well received – with both key note speakers from the morning congratulating me on the delivery and content which was very pleasing. Whilst I do not think I am a natural public speaker yet, I have shown myself that with proper presentation preparation I can do my best when presenting to larger audiences including those of my peers.

Now What?: This has given me a lot of confidence in my ability to speak publicly at larger knowledge sharing event. I am going to use this new found confidence to promote my profession to diverse audiences and promote myself as a leader in libraries

When & Where?: 14th June 2018, HLG Conference, Keele University,  Stoke.

Learning Log 102 – ‘Practical Tips for Library Management’ Interview

Date:  5th June 2018

Number: 102

Significant Experience: I was interviewed as a case study for the upcoming book ‘Practical Tips for Library Management’ by (principal?) Author Leo Appleton

What Happened?: Leo contacted me directly having heard my interview on ‘Librarians with Lives’ and wanted to interview me about how I use management techniques in my role, not traditional management but other aspects in my less traditional role.

So What?: It was interesting to get Leo’s perspective on my role, and his prompting (Friday afternoon Michael is not the sharpest knife in the drawer) on how I use management techniques was interesting. I would like to hear how other people have answered! It was really interesting to reflect both on my time as a manager, and what lessons I have learnt (mainly around expectations and standard setting) but also on how I manage other aspects of my role – from relationships to work load and to how I spend my time, and how much of a benefit my recent coaching experience has been for me. I think I probably benefited more than Leo from this conversation! I was also able to extol the virtues of the bullet journal to Leo – though I panicked and described it as a hipster to-do-list…

Now What?: I am going to reflect on what management techniques I use in these softer aspects of my role and see if I can fine tune them to increase my effectiveness.

When & Where?:

Learning Log 93 – CILIP North West Study Day 2018

Number: 93

Significant Experience: I attended (and full disclosure hosted) CILIP North West’s Member Network Study Day: The Next Chapter: Growing your Career in Libraries.

What Happened?:  Due to weather issues, we were a little light on numbers and one presentation down but we had speakers looking at career paths and how CILIP can support your progression. Helen Kiely has produced a very excellent summary of the day and key themes, so I am going to focus on the presentation that most stuck out to me was Michelle Madden’s on her career and non-traditional career progression. I would strongly recommend catching Michelle speaking about her career path and for CILIP NW – (her presentation can be found here CILIP Log in required), especially about her perspective on key skills and characteristics

So What?: Michelle’s discussion of her career was fascinating, and I found many parallels to my own (though not as outstanding as Michelle’s!) in terms of non-traditional development and working beyond a traditional setting. In her presentation Michelle mentioned ‘luck’ numerous opportunities though I would politely disagree and frame it as bravery for taking new opportunities coupled with a love of learning! The key messages I took from Michelle were:

Doing what you love (and making it work)

The most important message I took was the importance of finding something you love doing. Having a strengths based career approach is not a given, and I am very fortunate to have been given the opportunities to follow this path like Michelle. I think this has breed passion in what I do, which is visible to others and can often serve as a motivator.

Progression Paths

Many of us have been on the receiving end of the Peter Principle – having a manager promoted beyond their ability due to what they *were* good at, rather than what they *are* good at. I suspect many of us also worry about becoming Peter (if we get the chance of course).

Should career progression be linked to increased responsibility, especially those of becoming a line manager?  Not everyone is suited to become a line manager, and it was refreshing to see development around excelling at a particular set of skills (not networking) and even if it is not always vertical progression it is good to see opportunities there.

That is not to say I would rule out a managerial position in the future. Having being a library manager in the past, my line management skills (or lack of perhaps) have weighed heavy on my career choices after that. It took a while to reflect on the fact I have strengths as a line manager – the ability to develop people who wanted to develop and that I should not hang my whole experience on my failures, without resolving my self of blame for the failure – especially if the failure has proved to be unmanageable elsewhere. An important lesson from my time as a  manager is that there are times that it is equally important to allow people to fail for the longer term benefit as it is to give people platforms to succeed.

Be the ‘Evidence Expert’ 

Knowledge was one of Michelle’s key skills. Something I have shouted from the roof tops is for librarians, especially librarians who may be in non-traditional settings such as embedded within a team or as part of an outreach offer, is the need for us to sell ourselves as the ‘evidence experts’ within that setting. Often we as a sector suffer from impostor syndrome and are afraid to stick our hand up, but something I have learnt both from personal experience and from the Knowledge for Healthcare Leadership Programme is that we need to be our biggest advocate – especially away from a traditional setting. We need to be able to sell people on what we do, why it matters to them and their work, and why we should be doing it.

Now What?: I think there is scope to examine career progression for talented Library and Information professionals who do not wish to manage to progress and succeed. I have joined the CILIP Leaders Network to see what resource is available on this beyond the walls of LKS and I may speak to a few colleagues who are in a similar situation to see what we can do.

When & Where?: 1st March 2018


Learning Log 94 – Coaching Session 5

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Number: 94

Significant Experience: This was the 5th coaching session

What Happened?:   I had wanted to talk about how I was feeling mentally fatigued and strategies to improve but ended up talking about the underlying feelings driving this.

So What?: Although there wasn’t an overtly ‘challenge’ feel to the session, to me it was the most challenging – because it was focusing on how I was feeling and why I was feeling that way. It was immensely beneficial to be able to speak in confidence about how circumstances (professional uncertainty and my foot injury) have been causing my mental discomfort and the negative themes that these had been projecting – mainly around perception of failure and the lack of change, To be able to discuss these openly, have them challenged and speak about my professional journey over last few years (version 3.4!) and clarify to myself, why these thoughts were prominent was almost instantaneously a mood lifter (like waking from an afternoon nap on a hungover Sunday)

Now What?: I need to have conversations with different people to further clarify the situation which will diminish the lack of control over my own direction I have been feeling. Also I am going to more actively rehab my foot as I am a grumpy arsehole when I can’t exercise.

When & Where?: 14th March 2018, The Internet