Monday, 27 June 2011

And another (few) thing(s)...

I've been watching the 23 things movement with interest. Having worked in staff development for a few years at cpd25 I have a well ingrained belief that continuing professional development is fundamental in (what has now deservedly become a cliche) the fast changing library world.

The 23 things selected are excellent, and credit to the organisers. However, I think there a few universal things that those who really want to push their development should definitely look at (once they've done the other 23, of course). So think of this as an auxiliary list - if the original 23 didn't push you outside of your current comfort zone, hopefully these suggestions will:

1. Learn about open culture.

Absolutely essential for librarians. Be it relating to software, content or anything else, the principles involved here should be part of any librarians motivations for being a librarian in the first place. Here's some places to start: Access, Bibliography, Citation, Data, Source. If you're going to be a librarian for a while, at least one of these will affect your work in the future.

2. Learn about electronic access management.

Every librarian who works in a library that wants to provide access to electronic resources needs to know about this, public, academic or otherwise. It can sound complicated, and because of the technology involved this topic puts people off. Don't let that happen to you, because once you understand this you'll make more out of your content and look less silly in front of library users less often. Extra points for learning about DRM.

3. Get more opinionated.

You might think you can skip this one, but there is almost certainly some important development affecting the future of libraries out there that you currently don't care about. The next time you're not sure about something, find out more about it and try and decide what you think. Informed ambivalence is still an opinion. Ignorance isn't. By developing considered opinions on library related issues you'll be ready to be part of the conversations you'll need to have as your career develops.

4. Talk to someone who interviews for library staff about what it's like to be on the other side of the table. 

If you've only ever been interviewed and not done it yourself then there is a lot about the process you may not realise. Find out about how shortlisting is done, how interviews are marked and so on. Don't wait until you next get selected for interview to think about this - understanding the process in advance will mean you'll be better prepared when the chance comes.

5. Learn the difference between targets and strategies. 

This is simply about getting things done. Even simple change in many libraries can be hard to achieve, but knowing the difference between what you want to do and how to get there will help enormously. Even if you're not involved in doing the strategic thinking or the planning yourself, it'll help you understand what your bosses are trying to do.

If you mange the first 23 and then do these 5, you'll probably end up a better librarian than I am! If there's interest, I've got some ideas for a blogpost on things to avoid and common pitfalls - let me know what you think!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Commuting Gadgets

I'm planning to move house soon, and I'll be spending a lot more time on trains. This is the perfect excuse for a new gadget! My requirements:

  • Good for watching video (I'm going to catch up on all those series that everyone recommended to me while I was persevering with Prison Break)
  • Great battery - I'm already a slave to my nearest plug, I don't want to make it worse
  • Something i can read a lot on - I"m planning to actually read my 'to-read' list (you know, all those JISC, RIN, DCC etc reports you've filed for reading and never get to, just like me)
  • Something I can work on - spreadsheets, word docs and pdfs. This probably means I need a physical keyboard.

Existing travelling gadgetry: I've got an Android phone, a 4th gen iPod touch and access to an iPad2 at work. So these are my options:

Chromebook:

The idea of only working with the cloud is quite tempting - this device will fill the gap between home and the office. Nothing needs to be native to the device for this purpose. However, relying on 3G could be a folly. The offline performance would be key, and they're very new to market.

Asus Transformer:

Ok, I like this because it's called a Transformer. It's also an Android tablet that can be turned into a reasonable netbook very easily - with giving you a real keyboard, extra battery power and USB/SD slots. They've also been reviewed very highly. It's also just received a bump to Android 3.1. Only thing lacking is a 3G version. I could use my Desire as a hotspot, or buy a 3G dongle.

Galaxy Tab 10.1 (slim version):

This is brand new, and has immediately been hailed as the best Android tablet available. It looks great on paper. The hardware is as good as the iPad. It's simply a question of whether Android is mature enough.

Kindle:

No chance. It won't run tweetdeck, for a start.

iPad2:

Well I use one of these frequently at work, but I can't load it to the brim with my own apps etc. It's great - very light, endless battery etc. There's also the promise of iOS5 later in the year. However, I don't like the silly magnetic cover, and I really don't like looking like an Apple fanboy.

Conclusion:

The Transformer is definitely the most tempting. The Chromebook could be great, but seems a bit limited - it's not a computer, but not as flexible as a tablet. The iPad is super slick but I think Android will only accelerate faster and faster. There is an issue with fragmentation and obsolescence with Android though - where will I be with an Android tablet in 1 year?

In fact if I wait a month, things will probably have moved on again. Time to get my hands on the Transformer in real-life to see if it lives up to the reviews!