Everybody Lies – my thoughts

This is my first book in my #52in52 attempt (to try and read a book a week for a whole year). This is going to be reading for pleasure, so whilst this title was non-fiction, future books will be a mix of fiction and non-fiction and not necessarily professional development focused (though I would argue increased reading for one’s own self will have non-direct professional benefits)

I should say outright that I really enjoyed ‘Everybody Lies’ by Seth Stevens-Davidowitz and would recommend it to anyone interested in this area – and who wouldn’t be!

I have some very basic experience I  this field – having in the past used market segmentation tools (ACORN from CACI) to focus offers but this didnt dampen my enjoyment and I don’t think you need any prior experience/knowledge as it’s written in the informal academic style that is informative but not exclusionary.

The basic premise is one of introducing and espousing the concept of big data without the need for a background in data science and that of a ‘digital truth’. 

The author uses (intentionally?) attention grabbing topics and examples especially earlier in the book such as racial prejudice and voting patterns and po*nhub  preferences (I’m not one for censorship but I suspect there would be some spamming involved)

It may be my public health background but I was most interested in the randomised trials and A/B testing section.  It was fascinating to see how big data and especially big data organisations have adapted certain scientific principles to improve their offer or services.

The book gives examples of how big data is most effective where strong systems are not in place and gives a fantastic example in linking health searching to poorer cancer outcomes (pancreatic I think…) and how big data can be used to highlight a particular population. Again, with my Public Health background, it would be interesting to see a full cycle of big data problem solving – not just the issue/population highlighting but an intervention at said group and evaluation of it’s effectiveness. I am sure this has already been done/in process though.

As the book drew to a close, it did look at the potential pitfalls of big data usage on both commercial and public sectors. Issues such as ‘correlation not equalling causation, generalisation and the curse of dimensionality. Don’t trust your lucky coin…

It’s always nice to reach same conclusions as the author (and the sign of a good read) so the discussion about how big data is underused and wonderful, yet not *the answer* rather an undervalued part of the wider answer wasn’t unexpected and the point about data science moving from social to ‘proper’ science was strongly made.

My final thought would be I hope the author enjoyed his beer (if you read to the end you’ll know what I mean)

As you can tell, I really enjoyed this! Now onto my next book…


Learning Log 68: Growth and the realisation its OK to be yourself.

This isn’t really about the podcast, more the journey to it…

What Happened: I was interviewed by Jo Wood for the ‘Librarians with Lives’ podcast series. It was my first time being interviewed ‘live’ – having done print interviews and first time on a podcast. The very excellent Jo Alcock put me us in contact. I’m not going to go too much in depth about what was said because

  1. That’ll be covered by Jo W. herself;
  2. I can’t really remember fully – but we did look back at my career in libraries and discussed people who I thought were really important in my career.

So What: So doing this podcast – although only an hour out of my day got me to thinking about how how much I have grown– both professionally and emotionally in last few years.

To do something like two or three years ago would have been unthinkable. The thought of putting myself  – not just myself as a librarian, but myself as the ‘whole’ –  on display in an uncontrolled manner even on this small scale – would have been a  stone-dead no-go. (I still dreaded it, was so very nervous – and had a great urge to back-out. But I didn’t.) Personally, beyond (vapid, cringe-inducing*) opinions on Twitter, I had never been much of a social creature beyond my inner-circle of friends & colleagues, through lack of confidence and shyness. Professionally – I was a bit better, but only due to having important people bringing this out in me.

However, personal growth (interlinking maturing and understanding some wider concepts – such as imposter syndrome, authenticity …thanks again Leadership Programme!), has allowed me to accept myself – personally and professionally. This started from quite a sad place but I feel like I have grown into my own skin.

In the past I felt like I had been trying to portray a better version of me, especially professionally,  – which in truth was just bits of people I admired splodged together, rather than honestly seeing who I was and working with that.

It’s OK to have flaws (mouth being quicker than brain being a recurring one!), be a bit boring – something I talk about in the podcast – not even Ryan Reynolds is perfect!  Doing your best and doing the best are two different things – and that is OK. If you do your best, you can do no more . I truly understood this out training for a half marathon in 2016.

This is not to say I am immune to personal and professional criticism, in fact – probably the opposite. But I am comfortable enough to accept that not everyone will like or respect me. That’s OK. If they don’t, fuck ‘em.

But… the podcast – yeah it was alright 🙂

Now What: Well, the podcast goes live on the 31st October, so hopefully I won’t be ran out of town! There is a chat between Jo & I about running due out early in the new year. In terms of growth, I have mechanisms  in place to ensure I don’t step back to far on down days (mindfulness, running, family time) and I am trying to challenge myself professionally and personally to continue to grow and appreciate life.


Also my Twitter opinions are still vapid, but don’t make me cringe as much reading them back…

Learning Log 58 – PKSB for New Role

Date: 18th May 2017

May 2017 PKSB Full Report.

Number: 58

Significant Experience: I produced my Professional Skills and Knowledge Base (PKSB) for my new role

What Happened?: After the first week or so in my new role, I realised that the PKSB I had produced in March 2017 was not fit for purpose, and for both my new role and for Fellowship, the most sensible approach would be to re-do my PKSB as this would also provide a baseline for my new management team

So What?: I found this a really useful exercise, as in only 2 months, that had been a significant change in my professional development needs. Reflecting back on my March 2017 version, it included areas that were not relevant to the role, but had been previously and in which I was not confident. This new one is purely about me as a professional in 2017 and is about developing me, not an idolized version (March 2016 version) or what righting past wrongs (March 2017 version). I also feel that I will have more support beyond ‘time’ to develop professionally.

Now What?: I shall use this document to form the basis of my professional development in the upcoming months, to help me become better in my role and more effectively support my end users.

When & Where?: Home, May 2017


Private: Learning Log 55 – Public Health Bolton Skills Audit

Date: 18th May 2017

Number: 55

Significant Experience: Creating and undertaking

What Happened?: I have summarized the activity here

So What?:  I found this to be very interesting and challenging piece of work to produce. It was nice to effectively transfer the skills I had developed producing the Knowledge for Healthcare Development Needs Analysis into a Public Health setting. I produced a good quality piece of work that I am proud of. However, despite it being undertaken successfully, the project itself was never fully realized within Public Health as after a change in the power structure within the team, appetite for it quickly died as new senior management already had development needs in place.

There were also issues during the creation with staff input, as with being an internal project, there was a lot of preconceived ideas and internal politics that impacted the quality of the project.

Now What?:  Now, when next working on such a wide piece of work I shall ensure that I have complete senior management buy-in to assure that I do not end up wasting several months of work due to power issues between members of staff within senior positions and to avoid professional disappointment.

When & Where?: Office Based – September 16 – March 17

Learning Log 53 – Fellowship Meeting 3 #Fellowshipfive

Date: 25th April 2017

Number: 53

Significant Experience: The 3rd meet up on the fellowship working group the #fellowship 5 (aka rising stars)

What Happened?: Not going to discuss action learning set but following that update and new goal setting in a roundtable discussion, then a focus on a couple of individuals CV’s

So What?: This approach is really working for me. It gives me clarity in a time that my brain is scrambled trying to get everything done before I change roles. The group is well-rounded and different enough to offer a variety of perspectives and experiences that enhance all aspects of discussion from concepts of good and evil to commuting options to myers-briggs in the Star Wars Universe! But the aspect I would like to highlight is the roundtable feedback on previous goals and setting of new ones. I think this aspect of the session blossomed today, becoming a min-hot bed of fellowship innovation and best practice. I have picked up lots of different tips and approaches on what has worked (and what hasn’t) and why people have approached a problem in a certain way or the order they have been tackled. I have so many thoughts and opportunities that I want to tackle all at the same time!

Now What?: I have decided on a start point for my ‘fellowship journey’ – March 11th 2016 – Day 1 of KfH Leadership Programme, potentially finishing 6 months into my role. This is  not a complete journey but the start of this new chapter in my life. I have 4 main goals for the next meet-up (Group themes from PKSB,find & upload previous PKSB, Annotate previous JD, Update CV). When I complete these I shall have a solid framework for my Fellowship portfolio.

When & Where?: Manchester, 25th April 2017

Learning Log 56: CILIP North West Member Network Study Day & AGM


Date: 23rd March 2017

Number: 46

Significant Experience: I hosted the member network study day & AGM for CILIP NW

What Happened?: The full event agenda is here

So What?: This is probably my favourite ‘library’ day of the year. It is a fantastic opportunity to find out what other services and library sectors are doing. It was really eye-opening on both a local best practice and national scale and this year covered areas that I had not considered ‘library’ before -such as independent publishing and enabling authoring in children through a specialist library service. I was rubbish at the AGM section though!

Now What?: This was incredibly impactful for me. I am going to take what Maria Grant discussed in her presentation and  be on the pathway to academic publication by March 2018.

When & Where: 7th March 2017, Anthony Burgess Foundation

Learning Log 48 – Creating ‘Tasks I Finished’ Section in my Bullet Journal

Date: 13th March 2017

Number: 48

Significant Experience: Creating an ongoing list within my Bullet Journal – ‘ Tasks I Finished’

What Happened?: Created a list of tasks I had finished/completed

So What?: Due to the nature of my work, some tasks are quite cyclical (for example a daily blog and a monthly newsletter) and when viewed upon through a negative lens (which I can do when my mood is low) it may seem that I am not achieveing much. To combat this, I decided to create a section in my monthly bullet journal sections dedicated to things that I had finished. This has been helpful because whilst crossing out something in a list is satisfying, I have relasied that writing it down adds a floursih to the finished task and is a good tool to reflect on quick wins and larger projects that our broken down.

Now What?: I shall continue to add items to my ‘tasks I finished’ list as it helps with both my confidence that I am supporting my organisation which improves my effectiveness and wellbeing.

When & Where?: Ongoing, my beautiful bullet journal.