Thank you so much to those of you who participated in our first joint Twitter chat with #SLAtalk on Tuesday. We think our experiment went very well and led to a really lively discussion and a chance to network with overseas colleagues. We’d love to hear your feedback though of course!
We’ve summarised the discussion below, but the archive of all the tweets from the session can be found in this Google Drive spreadsheet. Alternatively, for those of you who prefer the Storify format, the tweets from the first hour of the session have been Storified on the SLA blog.
The first four questions had been set in advance by the SLA team, and questions 5-8 were posed by participants through our open agenda document
1. What tools or technologies do you use to assist you in today’s global workplace? Describe a success story and share the impact of the project.
Lots of tools were shared by participants, which fell broadly into a couple of categories:
- Online translation tools for informal/quick translations – including Babelfish, Google Translate, and Leo (German-English)
- Time zone tools – Time.is , timeanddate.com, and setting up multiple clocks in your desktop in Windows (In Windows 7 this is under Control Panel > Clock, Language & Region > Add clocks for multiple time zones)
- Currency converters – oanda.com and xe.com, and also searching Google e.g. searching “gbp 60.00 usd” to get answer. ($98.42)
- Video and telephone – GoToMeeting conference calls, Google Hangouts, Skype
- Collaboration and networking tools – Google groups, Google Drive, Dropbox (downsides – blocked at many institutions – DM @LibrarySherpa for some ways round this!), blogs, Twitter, Facebook
- News – Newseum
2. Have you successfully performed research using another country’s resources or researched in another language?
Lots of you have! Examples included:
- Library catalogues – e.g. Library of Congress, WorldCat, KVK
- Translation/transliteration tools – Yandex for Russian translation and Kurrentschrift.net for deciphering German script
- jobs resources from India, Ireland, UK, Australia and South Africa
- researching Chinese Records Management Law, using Chinese Gov Websites
- Subject specific glossaries
- Google site search (site:) to find embedded PDFs on foreign site with info I needed that was hard to find
- Used @ResearchGate to ask an academic in Spain about an article of theirs requested – and found an ILL on there too
- SLA’s transportation div list to help find US transport policies
- IFLA Facebook group
- getting translation help from a local professor for a Saudi equine legal question
3. Share a challenge caused by working beyond your own borders, and how you overcame it.
Common challenges included:
- language barriers – can be overcome by finding common ground such as pidgin French or Spanish. Difficulty understanding accents were overcome by listening more carefully and using visual clues. Email or other text can be easier to understand than spoken word.
- time differences – SLA committees often span 15-hour differences in time zones. Use Doodle to find a time that works best and take great notes for those who cannot be there. Use email, forums, Google Drive etc. so that people don’t need to be all in one place at one time.
- communication – simple things you’d usually mention in passing get missed because you don’t think of it in formal meetings!
- culture clash – “I learned (the hard way!) that conference customs are different in UK than in US. I made apologies, then adjusted.” Try to avoid using slang or other cultural terms which may not be well understood outside of your country.
4. What skills do you think make you more successful in working and collaborating in a multinational environment? How can you better network beyond your borders?
- sensitivity and openness knowing you’re dealing with different language & culture (even between US & Canada!)
- staying dedicated and open to embracing differences. Collaboration can convert differences into strengths!
- curiosity to learn new things.
- networking professionally through an association (e.g. SLA and IFLA) or through more informal networks such as #uklibchat.
- going outside your comfort zone and networking with a wide variety of people – not being afraid to approach people
- several people recommended going to international conferences, or a national conference that’s not in your country
5. How does your own culture affect how you work and communicate?
This is quite a tricky question to answer, and we also discussed what could be meant by ‘culture’.
- In UK and US we need to work harder to see international context. Need to be aware that most media is English-language centric.
- Living and working with non-English-speakers means a sense of empathy for those facing a language barrier, and a greater awareness of differences
- Countries don’t define cultures
- Digital divide and other differences in tech – it can be easy to forget how privileged we are
- Social media cultures – barriers between those on social media and those not, and also each media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) has its own culture
- Differences in organisational structures – e.g. Finland have pretty flat organizational hierarchies, so not afraid to talk to anybody because of their status
- Cultural differences in communication exemplified?!
6. What are some ways to get involved in the international library/information community?
Lots of ideas were suggested (and many had come up elsewhere in the chat)
- through our own companies – colleagues, exchange programmes, interns from foreign countries
- join organizations that are international in scope and get involved – volunteer for active roles within the organisation
- social media – chats like this one, blogs, feeds
- exchange during studies – Erasmus can fund CPD trips to Europe for those in HE
- When you are travelling, try to have local colleagues take you out – send some emails/get in touch on social media in advance and see if anyone wants to hang out!
7. Which professional groups have a good international mix of members?
- IATUL (for academic/research STEM community)
- CILIP ILIG
- SLA – Although @SLAhq has many US members, they embrace the international community. 2014 President @KatefromUK is UK-based.
- IFLA – IFLA New Professionals group on Facebook: on.fb.me/1iwzfil
- SCIP (Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals)
- “Librarians without Borders”
- Hashtag based communities such as #kidlit, #libraryschool tend to be international as well as of course #uklibchat
Groups from other professions that we might be able to learn from:
- IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police)
- IAWP (International Association of Women Police)
- International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals
- SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition)
- SSP (Society for Scholarly Publishing)
- The Wikipedia community
8. If you’ve visited a library or library organisation overseas, what were the differences that you noticed?(Particularly interested in non us/uk libraries)
Several people had visited libraries overseas, including:
- State library in Melbourne – a really buzzing place. Felt like a real hub for studies, and very open.
- Hong Kong public libraries were very well used. Students would queue up for study spaces
- Latvian libraries – a blog post by Ned Potter talks about what we can learn from them
- Toronto’s Lilian H. Smith Library – gorgeous statues at entrance and a well attended Teen reading group going on
- Libraries in the UK and in Santiago, Chile \- aside from the language (signs, etc.), there was no appreciable differences.
Our Across Library Sectors chat took place on Tuesday 9 July and attracted wide participation – we trended on UK Twitter for the second time in #uklibchat history.
We’re trialling a new way of doing our chat summaries this month, in part to deal with the increased volume of participation we’re sometimes getting now. This post will be a narrative summary of the chat, recapping key discussion points and views expressed, and giving any relevant links. It won’t give a full listing of individual tweets, just quote selected ones. If you want to view the full archive of tweets from the chat, you can find that separately here.
The chat was about people’s experience of working in different sectors of the library and information world – differences, similarities, and advice on moving between sectors.
Q1. What library sectors have you worked in?
We had participants from the school, academic, law, public, government, careers information, media, further education, museum, corporate, and NHS sectors. We had quite a few participants who had changed sectors, some multiple times. Others said that they’d tried to change but found it difficult.
Q2. What is your favourite thing about the sector that you currently work in?
I think an interesting way to look at this question is to divide it by sector and see what people from different sectors have said:
- @libmichelle Think it’s the contact with students. Get to talk to them every day. Also the look of relief when you say “so you have no idea what you want to do? That’s okay!”
- @spoontragedy Contact with students, ability to learn more digital/web skills, and interesting subject matter of service
- @herslantfinely Best thing about health libraries is helping health professionals access information for evidence-based practice
The satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting patient care was echoed by others.
- @poetryghost I love that we deal with everybody. Babies, children, parents, singles, elderly, everyone. This can also be a downside!
People discussed how they love seeing customers grow up – sometimes from baby bump onwards – and getting to know the regulars. Some people also loved that in public libraries, you never know what’s coming through the door or what enquiry you might get next.
- @VickiMcGarvey feeling you are making a difference to someone’s life
Making a difference to individuals was mentioned by other people from the academic sector, and came up quite a bit in general.
- @BishopWalshLib The pupils! And being able to decide what I do and when I do it.
Autonomy was mentioned by many as a favourite part of being a school librarian. Others also mentioned the variety of the role.
- @LibrarySherpa the variety, the fast pace, dealing with legal topics, and some more … the int’l and various domestic jurisdictions, office culture
- @CaraClarke I like working as part of a team. My previous job in a school was as a solo librarian. I find team working more enjoyable
Several managers said that they valued not being too remote from the service and still being able to work ‘on the shop floor’.
Q3. What are you curious about regarding other sectors?
As this one involved a lot of participants answering each others’ queries, I’ve reproduced more of the conversations here. One of the greatest parts of #uklibchat is people who might not otherwise interact sharing knowledge and experience with each other directly.
I’d be interested in health libraries but all jobs seem to want health library experience – how did ppl get into them? #uklibchat
- @libmichelle@LibraryEms I’ve seen quite a few posts in health libs recently that are suitable for new grads. Mostly @UKLibraryJobs I think#uklibchat
- @herslantfinely@LibraryEms Grad trainee then contract extended. Definitely NOT the norm! #uklibchat
- @samanthaclare@LibraryEms #uklibchat that’s how I feel about some other sectors needing experience I apparently haven’t got.
- @samanthaclare@LibraryEms #uklibchat as an NHS library mgr I would employ someone with clear library experience even if they didn’t have NHS experience
- @rugabela@samanthaclare @LibraryEms #uklibchat I ask myself the same question. Hard to get into other sectors w/t previous experience in them. Unfair
- @theangelremiel@samanthaclare @LibraryEms as an NHS library manager I WAS employed without NHS experience. #uklibchat
- @rugabela @libmichelle #uklibchat Got training on media, but hard to get into it (and the crisis ruins every chance). Difficult to get into law libs
- @wiley9000 @rugabela @samanthaclare @LibraryEms Doesn’t always work but worth talking to people. Think if shortlisted you can convince#uklibchat
- @samanthaclare @wiley9000 @rugabela @LibraryEms #uklibchat or if you can show that you have an interest outside work by volunteering, hobbies, education
- @wiley9000 @samanthaclare @rugabela @LibraryEms yes I think that’s always good #uklibchat I wrote something longer here too:http://t.co/GlHtIh2dbN
@LOLintheLibrary I’m curious about staff-customer contact in public libs. Do you have regular customers that you get to know over time?
- @spoontragedy.@LOLintheLibrary Yes, I would say you do. Only the real regulars but there can be quite a few of them. #uklibchat
- @theangelremiel@LOLintheLibrary @uklibchat from my experience, absolutely. Especially in a small town, you become “the librarian guy”
- @spoontragedy.@LOLintheLibrary Working in a public library is a great way to get to know the community #uklibchat
- @BishopWalshLib@spoontragedy @LOLintheLibrary I once worked in a mobile library – you certainly got to know the community there! #uklibchat
- @Kari_LuanaThe thing I miss most about public libraries is getting to know the customers really well & feeling part of the community #uklibchat
- poetryghost@LOLintheLibrary @uklibchat Oh yes, many customers visit every month or week and some every day #uklibchat q3 this can be great and awful
- @poetryghost@LOLintheLibrary @uklibchat #uklibchat q3 it is easier if it is a smaller library but it happens even in the larger ones.
@VickiMcGarvey how do public library colleagues cope with constant resource challenges?
- @poetryghost@VickiMcGarvey #uklibchat q3 I would say the way anyone does. You do as much as you can with what you have & fight yr corner as best u can
- @LOLintheLibrary@HelenKielt I think there are fewer opportunities for career progression in schools. Definite ‘glass ceiling’ for support staff#uklibchat
- @spoontragedy.@rugabela @samanthaclare @LibraryEms I think less well paid sectors eg public, school are easier to get into #uklibchat
- @shibshabs@HelenKielt I think academic libs offer more opportunities, even if just in the form of secondments #uklibchat
- @herslantfinely @shibshabs @HelenKielt And CPD/training budgets are bigger than other sectors (maybe I’m wrong – that’s the impression I get!)#uklibchat
- @theangelremiel@libmichelle depends. Most just staff facing but some have a patient role too. Also some clinical librarians go on ward rounds
- @order_and_light@libmichelle I worked for a health info service and library was primarily used by colleagues, with a few researchers. #uklibchat
- @herslantfinely@theangelremiel @libmichelle Yes, check out @librarianpocket‘s amazing #ub13 keynote – ward rounds in critical care #uklibchat
- @theangelremiel@order_and_light @libmichelle also, some health libraries are deliberately in non-patient areas. #uklibchat
- @herslantfinely @LibraryEms @theangelremiel Staff know what we do, patients/public often think its a public library in a hospital #uklibchat
- @LibraryEms @herslantfinely @theangelremiel Most ppl I’ve spoke to think it’s public library in a hospital, not that wld be bad thing! #uklibchat
- @theangelremiel @LibraryEms @herslantfinely one of my very longterm aims is totry & get funding for exactly that #dreambig #uklibchat
- @herslantfinely @theangelremiel @LibraryEms No bad thing but not remit of prof health lib. We have tiny pub lib stock for patients & staff
- @theangelremiel @herslantfinely @LibraryEms that’s why it would need a different funding stream if it were to happen #uklibchat
- @herslantfinely @theangelremiel @LibraryEms Combining two & providing health information literacy for public would be brilliant use of NHS#uklibchat
- @theangelremiel @samanthaclare @herslantfinely @LibraryEms That’s a great area. We’re trying to work with local county council over it. However every now and then I do have to remember my lib service is only 2 people
- @mishdalton @theangelremiel @HelenKielt @Librarianpocket LOL I hear you Ian And outreach so difficult for solo/small libraries in big orgs#uklibchat
- @theangelremiel @herslantfinely @LibraryEms An area we’re developing is library services for a Recovery College - a non-clinical life skills college for mental health service users. Lib service staffed by volunteers
- @herslantfinely @theangelremiel @LibraryEms Sounds fab (aside from the volunteering – “grumble grumble*) Wish there was more money for staff
- @theangelremiel @HelenKielt @mishdalton @Librarianpocket If I had a pound for every time I heard “Oh, we have a library?”… #uklibchat
@amycrossmenzies I’m curious about how public libraries decide on their “quick picks” sections. Does it involve lots of research or random?
- @spoontragedy.@amycrossmenzies Most libraries have guidelines eg less than 2yrs old, paperback, eye catching covers, beyond that pretty random #uklibchat
- @Kari_Luana@amycrossmenzies We used to pick out the good looking books from the popular genres ie crime, modern etc #uklibchat
- @theangelremiel@amycrossmenzies sometimes you have guidelines, sometimes you have reading lists, sometimes you make it up #uklibchat
- @amycrossmenzies@theangelremiel thanks, always wondered if it was responding to most popular or presenting new things #uklibchat
- @st1red@amycrossmenzies @theangelremiel most popular will usually be circulating! have to highlight books related to popular trends#uklibchat
- @LibraryEms@theangelremiel We’ve had info from health librarians at library school, but non-librarians don’t seem to have heard of you!
- @spoontragedy.@theangelremiel Yes, I think other librarians know you exist, but awareness seems pretty low in the general public. #uklibchat
- @amycrossmenzies@theangelremiel @uklibchat didn’t know much until heard @emilylovedhim talk at a couple of events, sounds like u do great stuff
- @libmichelle@LibraryEms @theangelremiel Tis the same for careers info peeps. People think we’re careers advisers, if anything. #uklibchat
- @wiley9000@libmichelle @LibraryEms @theangelremiel Yes very frustrating at #careeersinfo events when speaker says: “Hi careers advisers!” #uklibchat
- @herslantfinely@wiley9000 @libmichelle @LibraryEms @theangelremiel Q3 for you guys then – what IS the difference #uklibchat
- @LibraryEms @herslantfinely @wiley9000 @libmichelle Yep, ashamed not be 100% sure of difference betw. careers libr & advisors! #uklibchat:S
- @libmichelle @herslantfinely @wiley9000 @LibraryEms Well the simple answer is that careers advisers advise and careers info provide info!
- @wiley9000 @herslantfinely @libmichelle @LibraryEms @theangelremiel In my service we don’t give advice/guidance. Focus on information side
- @herslantfinely @spoontragedy Excellent, thanks! So no advising just provision of options/information
- @libmichelle @herslantfinely @LibraryEms Careers adviser is whole different profession, involves guidance interviewing skills, 1-1 w/student
- @spoontragedy @herslantfinely Yes, the Careers Advisor role is a little more counselling-y. Helping people think about their options, advising
- @wiley9000 @herslantfinely @libmichelle @LibraryEms @theangelremiel Like all librarians, our expertise is selecting+organising resources then training people to use them effectively #uklibchat
- @wiley9000 @herslantfinely @libmichelle @LibraryEms @theangelremiel Careers advisers offer feedback on applications, mock interviews etc.
- @wiley9000 @libmichelle @herslantfinely @LibraryEms Haha yes mine was the longer version Explain often to our users, understandably
- @herslantfinely @wiley9000 @libmichelle @LibraryEms @theangelremiel Its so obvious when I think about it! Duh!
- @wiley9000 @libmichelle @herslantfinely @LibraryEms I don’t mind now that people don’t get it. I just tell people what I can help them with. Completely understand you wouldn’t realise – I never did
- @wiley9000 @herslantfinely @libmichelle @LibraryEms @theangelremiel Same with NHS – once you know there are librarians it seems obvious!
- @wiley9000 @LibraryEms Recommend @libmichelle‘s post on the #uklibchat website for more about #careersinfo It’s a great area to work in!
- @Schopflin @libmichelle in my experience there are more perks in public sector eg pensions although of course that’s changed #uklibchat
- @libmichelle @Schopflin That’s interesting. Worked in admin in private sector previously, would have said more benefits there.
@samanthaclare do other librarians see clear trends in library usage? I expect Academic librarians see this strongly? Summer quiet in NHS
- @VickiMcGarvey #uklibchat Q3 we have peaks & troughs of library usage in the yr increase in eresource usage in HE
- @libmichelle Q3 In careers summer is a busy time – not as many students coming in but lots of work and planning for next academic year.
@SarahLeaphard I’d love to know about ‘weeding’ in other sectors. Is it sector specific or do we all follow similar ‘rules’? Just finished mine!
- @spoontragedy @SarahLeaphard Just been ‘weeding’ our digital careers library; different than public lib as user needs are much more focused#uklibchat
- @SarahLeaphard @spoontragedy Are your weeding criteria led by the user needs then? Do you use data to decide? #uklibchat
- @spoontragedy .@SarahLeaphard Yes, informed by data & experience of what people are searching for/reading.
- @theangelremiel @SarahLeaphard Principles are the same, practice can be very different. Depends on library size as well as sector #uklibchat
- @theangelremiel @SarahLeaphard @spoontragedy the way I’ve mostly seen it done is to start with the data, then get a human to say yes or no#uklibchat
@CaraClarke Im curious abt role of academic liaison librarian in a uni lib. Being linked to a curriculum area intrigues me.
- @VickiMcGarvey @CaraClarke #uklibchat integration of skills development in curriculum is increasing & working with teaching staff is the best approach 4 HE
- @CaraClarke @VickiMcGarvey #uklibchat Working with a curriculum area to deliver tailored sessions sounds interesting. I fancy giving it a go one day.
@order_and_light I want to be a music librarian:that’s the dream! Any media librarians got suggestions how to attain said dream?
- @rugabela @order_and_light @uklibchat #uklibchat Hi!! I did a course on Music librarian in my country through my job centre. It was the most beautiful course I’ve ever done but it requires a lot of knowledge of music language and found a few offers who wanted a musician specialised in libraries. Hard to get into it!!
- @samanthaclare @rugabela @order_and_light @uklibchat sometimes the experience require is SO specific, i.e. subject first degree then library postqual.
- @order_and_light @rugabela @uklibchat Thanks so much for the reply! I do read music and took it for GCSE (ha!) but am aware that opportunities are limited
- @order_and_light @rugabela @uklibchat I wish I had more of an opinion! Music lib in town is being downsized and librarian was hired on account of having contemporary musical knowledge.
- @Kari_Luana @LOLintheLibrary We found that thanks to the self service we were free to offer more things especially for children #uklibchat
- @Kari_Luana @LOLintheLibrary I used to let children stamp their own books when it wasn’t too busy & they loved it
- @samanthaclare @Kari_Luana @LOLintheLibrary #uklibchat & my public library has great staff that come over & chat anyway without being stuck behind a desk
- @LOLintheLibrary @Kari_Luana Our branch library has a separate children’s room. Self-service means the children don’t see or speak to staff :( #uklibchat
- @CaraClarke @LOLintheLibrary #uklibchat When using the pub lib i also prefer not to use self-service machines if given the choice. Miss the interaction.
- @Kari_Luana @LOLintheLibrary That’s a real shame. Encouraging kids to enjoy the library & not be scared of it is a huge part if the job#uklibchat
@mishdalton A bit late joining, sorry! Question for academic liaison librarians – whats the biggest challenge/difficulty you have?
- @wiley9000 @mishdalton Definitely is difficult communicating things clearly to busy academics! What’s biggest challenge for you?
- @mishdalton @wiley9000 Similar actually – communicating info to busy doctors who are rushing off to treat patients! #uklibchat
- @wiley9000 @mishdalton Hehe I did wonder if it might be! Do you find they generally value your work? #uklibchat
- @mishdalton @wiley9000 Those who use the library definitely, but many aren’t even aware of it. I’ve 8,000 users as a solo lib which is tricky
- @wiley9000 @mishdalton That does sound tough! More extreme version of my ‘wishing I could get out into department’ problem
Q4. What sectors do you think are easy/hard to get into?
Many different sectors were mentioned as difficult to get into for different reasons. Media, health, law and corporate libraries were all mentioned as difficult to get into without prior experience. However, @spoontragedy thought some small sectors eg. careers information could be easier to get into as recruiters didn’t expect niche sector experience that not many people had.
Some thought academic libraries made a lot of internal appointments, making it hard to break in. Some people from more niche sectors felt that sometimes jobseekers didn’t consider them, or recognise their roles as information work. @CaraClarke thought that health libraries seemed hard to get into as the language used in the sector was different to others.
Salary levels in a sector are a big part of how easy it is to get into. Some participants had accepted a lower level post to get into a higher paid sector – eg. moving from a qualified librarian post in public libraries to a library assistant post in an academic library, with similar pay but a lower level of responsibility. @niamhpage thought it was easier to move early on in your career.
Q5: Why did you (or do you) want to move sectors? Or if you don’t want to move, why are you happy where you are?
Many people had pragmatic reasons for moving sector:
- @order_and_light Q5. I moved sectors after redundancy from my public library job.
- @libmichelle Q5 I want to move as can’t progress where I am. Also only work p/t and need full time.
- @Kari_Luana Q5. I was also forced to move when my pay was frozen but the train costs kept going up #uklibchat I cried a lot when I left
Seeing a lack of career progression in their current sector and wanting to develop new skills, or get the chance to use skills like research, were also mentioned by many. Several participants who had moved out of public libraries, or were considering doing so, were reluctant to leave but felt they had to because of the difficulties and cuts in public libraries. This put off potential new entrants to public libraries too.
Not many offered reasons for staying in the same sector/workplace but @Schopflin did:
- @Schopflin #uklibchat I genuinely respect what my manager is aiming for and have great colleagues. And I know how rare this is!
Q6: If you have moved sector, what do you think helped you move successfully?
According to our participants, understanding your skills and how they might be used in other sectors is important here. Some people thought that the combination of their library experience and qualifications and other experience they had from other jobs had been important for them. Working in a varied role that allows you to use a range of skills definitely helps. Professional development is an important way of learning and a lot can be learned from networking. Networking is particularly important for those working in small teams or solo, for example in health and school libraries.
There was an interesting discussion about the trade-off between quality and quantity in service provision. If you are a small service attempting to serve a large number of potential users, is it better to provide a high quality, intensive service to a few or a more shallow, basic service to many? @mishdalton said ‘I think its better to reach & bring real benefits to a small number than a bigger number but not deliver real value’.
Q7: What skills were transferable from your previous sector? What new ones did you have to learn?
Skills most mentioned as transferable were enquiry skills, customer service, being calm and diplomatic in pressured situations, and understanding user needs. New skills that people acquired included classification, records management, budget management, web authoring, and event management. It seems like the new skills you have to acquire when you move sector tend to be more ‘hard’ skills and the ones you bring with you more ‘soft’. It’s also important to get to grips with the culture and aims of your new organisation. @jwebbery thought the differences between sectors had decreased in the last 10 years.
- @theangelremiel It was like going from playing the violin to playing the guitar. Principles the same, practice very different
Q8. What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to adapt to a new sector?
The most common challenges were culture shock, building new relationships with colleagues and other services, and learning sector specific jargon. Moving to a new sector can be scary, especially for those that with management responsibility in their role, but also could be exhilerating and lead to lots of new learning. School librarians who’d moved into the sector mentioned managing pupil numbers at break times. Several people who moved away from public libraries found it hard to get used to a less diverse customer base, or less customer contact. Some people who’d moved into special libraries found acquiring new subject knowledge challenging (eg. chemistry in a pharmaceutical library, weaponry in an army library!)
Q9. Have you moved from a library role to a less traditional information role? How is your job similar/different?
People who had made this kind of move often were now working with a narrower customer base with more focused information needs. Some had more customer contact than before, as they’d moved from a large team to a smaller one which was quite customer facing; some had less customer contact as they were more desk based. @Kosjanka felt she had to more flexible than before, as her role and organisation changed frequently:
- @Kosjanka Q9. Government policy can have huge impacts on our work and direction, and we need to keep moving to keep relevant.
Q10. Do you have any advice to people who are considering trying out new sectors?
- @theangelremiel Go for it! I always recommend living in another country or doing another job. Teaches you about yourself
- @libmichelle Q10 Use a careers service to check over your application! Either your old uni (will generally see grads for a few years) or try the National Careers Service
- @theangelremiel re: “the cutting edge”, all edges cut. Make sure you look at how people in all disciplines do their jobs.
- @shibshabs Q10. Spend time thinking about everything you do even ‘minor’ tasks, and think abt transferable egs for application & interview
- @libmichelle Q10 I did lots of library visits as a grad trainee. Found people are very receptive to this, and I loved doing them!
- @Doombrarian Q10 I haven’t moved for a while,but I’d speculate that up to date skills, engagement with new tech & networking will be important
- @OrionCards to just do it & give it a go. Apply for stuff even if you think you have no chance. It worked for me.
- @theangelremiel Q10. look for library jobs in nontraditional places. Ask yourself which skills transfer. Better to apply & fail than not apply
- @Kosjanka Q10 #BlatantPlug Follow @VoicesLibrary. A new librarian / library advocate every week! We have folk from all sectors tweeting.
- @shibshabs Q10. If you expect to be asked for ideas (and you prob should) look overseas – USA libs are innovative!
After the end of our agenda, @theangelremiel asked: if you had to leave your current sector, where would you want to work next? The answers to this included public libraries, museum libraries, NHS and academic libraries.
For those interested in the law sector, see this slideshare presentation debunking myths on legal info by @mariegcannon and @LibWig.
@stjerome1st wrote a blog post about his experience ‘across the sectors and through the decades’ inspired by our topic.
Have a look at our Library Sectors tag to see all three of the feature posts from #uklibchat blog contributors we published in the week leading up to this chat.
On 21 February, #uklibchat did a special session on Librarians and Personality, which was linked to a session at Library Camp London on the same topic. The chat was very well attended and got #uklibchat trending on UK Twitter!
Because of the volume of participation in the session, this summary includes a selection of tweets rather than all of them. Please see #uklibchat’s Twitter archive for all tweets from the discussion. You can search by Twitter name.
1) How would you describe your personality in reality?
@HelenMaryH: I did the test 10 yrs ago and was ESTJ but thought I was more INTJ. I did something like this with a room full of lawyers with colour types – you’d think lawyers were a type but the colours were more or less evenly distributed!
@LibraryEms: I failed at the personality test, kept giving me completely different answers. Seem to be 50/50 introvert/extravert. My problem with those tests is I ponder too much about what each question means :-). Maybe that means I’m a ‘ponderer’
@poetryghost: Hmmm not sure what to say: Loud Silly Creative Passionate Friendly. Was perfect for children’s lib, but I’m more general now. On the test on the agenda I got erm ESFJ “the hostess” sociable friendly etc. I would not argue with ESFJ to be honest. Seems reasonable. I can be introverted if I’m unnerved by a situation but rarely
@RosieHare: If we’re talking ‘types’, I’m an ENFP, which I think is fairly correct. Others have verified this for me also! Definitely extraverted and get my energy and excel in situations when I’m around others
@Annie_Bob: according to the test I took the other day I’m an ISFJ – can’t remember exactly what all that meant but introvert is right. I prefer to listen rather than talk, in most things I’m organised & methodical but others not (all my clothes are on the floor)
@AmyJoyHolvey: I’m sociable and find I’m happiest when in groups or working closely with others- Test was very accurate = ENFJ
@_joelfe: I’d describe myself as quiet but not shy. Self-contained. In Myers Briggs terms I’m an INFJ, which is exactly me and hasn’t changed in last 12 years.
@theatregrad: I’m loud, talkative, very competitive, stubborn, a little scatterbrained and rather over emotional. The personality test told me I was ESTP which has some truth. Definitely extroverted as I am a former drama student.
@LottieMSmith: I think pretty service-orientated, like to help people, perceptive and looking at the bigger picture and the future than details. I am an INTP, which I think is pretty accurate. Although I am quite introspective in my personal life, professionally I am more able to network etc. via experience
@pmshort Friendly and outgoing, I think!
@nckyrnsm I was ISFJ which is about right I think. Definitely introvert and judging, but other two very close to 50/50
@BishopWalshLib: I’m an administrator who wants to be a seller – which as a school librarian is quite good. I do a lot of “selling” books in talks.
@SimonXIX: I would self-define as a thinker. Though I’ve gotten a lot more outgoing over the past year especially. The test said I was an ENTJ. Which I’m not sure about. I’m also neat and organised. Which fits the librarian stereotype. But again I was lot more borderline-OCD a few years ago
A lot of participants talked about how they thought their personality has changed over time:
- @preater: Recently did an MBTI & came out ENFP but am about 50:50 on the extraversion scale, not super-extraverted. That said, I’ve worked on extraversion the the last 2 or 3 years, was more of an “I” when I was younger.
- @poetryghost: I think that’s often true. I was an introvert in school because I was bullied, have changed with experiences
- @SimonXIX: Same here. I was so much quieter and shyer a few years ago. Librarianship has been the making of me. (for me) It’s not something I’ve actively worked on. Just a consequence of my development and the people around me
- @preater: I worked on it because I knew I needed to be more E for work, networking etc
- @KrisWJ: I agree, found I’ve become more extroverted because work has required it
- @LibrarySherpa: @SimonXIX is right on point with this: “Librarianship has been the making of me.” Once you’ve made it here, you’re family. While I think ESTJ is spot on for me now, I think it’s important to realize that it can change. Would have been diff yrs ago
- @HelenMaryH: I am different to when I took the test 10 yrs ago – a lot less judging and a lot more feeling I think
- @spoontragedy: My test was ESTJ. I think I’ve got more extroverted as I got older, always been quite responsible & a planner. I think ESTJ is quite accurate for me right now but like @LibrarySherpa I think it can & will change.
@tomroper: Can anyone offer a scientific basis for these types? I have yet to be convinced; seems more like astrology to me
- @SimonXIX: I agree with you. I’m not 100% sold on Jung’s theory or 20th Century psychology in general
- @tomroper: Freud much more solid, IMHO
- @LibraryEms: introvert, strict, humourless, rule-oriented, detail-oriented
- @sarahlmasters: booklover = lots of reading = glasses (or hidden contacts)
- @KrisWJ: the shushing spinster librarian in her twinset & glasses is a favourite stereotype, v unimaginative!
- @preater: Scherdin (1994) says the classic libn type is ISTJ/INTJ, to me that seems more of a “cataloger” type whereas libn is broader. Scherdin bases this on MBTIs of library workers.
2) What is the stereotypical personality of a librarian, and is there truth to that stereotype?
Unsurprisingly, few people thought there was much in this stereotype. Some thought this was a product of changing times, as much as inaccurate stereotyping.
- @RosieHare: The more I’ve looked into types and seen people’s results, I’m less inclined to think stereotypes are prevalent.
- @SimonXIX: The stereotype is currently changing. From that of hair-bunned strict spinster to youngish techie kind of person. To some extent, there is no ‘current’ stereotype of librarians since IMHO librarians have been pushed back in the culture
- @pmshort: When I was young, librarians could be strict and forbidding!
- @LottieMSmith: Perhaps used to be easier to be quiet and a non-forward facing librarian as less need for advocacy/teaching/networking etc.
- @clareangela: introverts shouldn’t be drawn to corporate/legal librarianship. Unless they want to be in tears every day *controversial face*
- @HelenKielt: I visit a lot of public branches through my work and meet ALL types of personalities.
- @LibrarySherpa: I do not believe in a stereotypical librarian personality. Only common denominators which our profession brought us together
- @HelenKielt: it’s definitely the variety of people involved that make librarianship an attractive profession
- @ASLIBInfo: In Managing Info mag we compared the personality of libs. to those born in the year of the snake: influential, motivated, insightful
3) How do you think social media affects how introverts engage with the wider profession?
Some people were not comfortable with making a distinction between introverts and extroverts. However, most agreed that social media was very positive in helping people interact and engage.
- @SimonXIX: I don’t believe in the introversion/extroversion distinction. Certainly it’s too broad a distinction to be useful. That said, I do think social media has had a positive effect on my ability to engage with people. More confidence now
- @LibraryEms: As far as I understand, there’s a difference btw introversion & being shy? Introverts can be good at networking too
- @AgentK23: yes it does. imagine people who get terribly shy, or go red when in group, something like uklibchat lets ppl interact.
- @HelenMaryH: it’s fantastic, much easier to engage with people you don’t know from behind a screen – I’m not a natural networker
- @KrisWJ: I find it easier to start talking to complete strangers than I would if face to face
Many people found social media helped them make the most of real life networking opportunities:
@LottieMSmith: Social media helps me to network IRL as I can socialize with conference participants before events etc. Def an icebreaker
- @Annie_Bob: I’m the same, can be much more confident online than at a conference etc.
- @preater: that’s very interesting, the ‘So you are X on twitter’ opener.
- @LottieMSmith: yep I find it gives me a basis on which to hang an introduction (often the hardest bit of networking for me!)
Participants talked about how people’s personalities on social networking platforms differed from their personalities in real life.
- @Annie_Bob: I’m more extroverted online than I am offline. Perhaps because of the extra time to reflect before speaking?
- @preater: suspect it’s much easier to engage with the wider profession – I find a lot of people seem E online but in real life very I.
- @AgentK23: I wonder if my IRL personality matches my twitter personality, what do you guys think?
Many people felt social media had really helped them engage with the wider profession:
- @spoontragedy: Social media certainly opened up a whole world for me in terms of professional engagement & meeting ppl from different sectors
- @HelenKielt: social media enables you to connect with the library community at large, without it we would be a much more insular profession
Some people had qualifiers to add:
- @clareangela: Online is perfect for hiding behind. Not good for introverts. Need personal interaction to maintain social skills.
- @poetryghost: Should we not be defining which social media? I’m not sure facebook makes anyone more extroverted & interactive, twitter maybe
- @LibrarySherpa: From my point of view over here on the other side of the pond, wondering if any of these points are also cultural differences
4) Do you think certain personality types are suited to different fields of library work?
Opinion was quite divided on this question. Some people thought emphatically not. There was a discussion of whether personality was a valid consideration in the interview process.
@tomroper: I hope not. I’m interviewing tomorrow. I am emphatically not looking for a specific personality, but skills, experience, ideas. Which raises a question, do those of you who think that ‘personality’ is measurable agree with testing in selection for jobs?
- @RosieHare: As it should be. Very difficult to avoid subconscious bias when recruiting though I imagine
- @tomroper: But I know colleagues who make recruitment decisions on whether someone’s personality will fit
- @AgentK23: do you see that as a bad thing, or a reasonable thing to look at? (whether someone will fit in)
- @tomroper: Bad, I fear, @AgentK23. A justification for the exercise of prejudice
- @spoontragedy: I think that happens all the time, and people don’t always admit it even to themselves
- @SimonXIX: True that. Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow says a lot about these unthinking judgements
- @RosieHare: Subconscious bias. It’s very difficult to NOT pay attention to it. Perhaps impossible?
- @HelenMaryH: the trinity is can they do the job, will they do the job, will they fit in? Not an unusual approach at all
Some did think personality was part of what made people suitable for a job.
@SimonXIX: I used to believe that anyone could do any job if they put their minds to it. I don’t believe that anymore
- @AgentK23: what changed your mind?
- @SimonXIX: Natural talent and ingrained personality has more of an impact that I acknowledged when I was young
- @SimonXIX: You’re more likely to excel if you have natural talent
- @AgentK23: i think perhaps there may be a path of least resistance dependent on personality, background, inclination.
- @LibraryEms: natural talent plus hard work plus a bit of luck/the right opportunity maybe?
Certain roles seem to be seen as ‘for a certain type of person’ much more than others, for exaple children’s librarianship and cataloguing.
- @HelenMaryH: I’d guess you need to be more extraverted for outreach and work with kids; if you are a cataloguer you need an eye for detail? But ultimately you get all types and you learn the skills required, even if you’re not a natural.
- @SimonXIX: The stereotype is that cataloguers are a certain ‘kind of person’. And I think management takes a certain personality type
- @poetryghost: I think if you are going into cataloguing you need certain abilities rather than personality type. I’d say cataloguers need a certain way of thinking & eye for rigid detail. Those aren’t necessarily personality types
- @cjclib: not really following but bristling a bit at the “cataloguer type” comments…
- @RosieHare: Perhaps if people prefer more methodical, systematic work, certain roles would suit them over others.
- @preater: my feeling is E types will do better in certain roles, but it’s not cut and dried – eg. a 1 to 1 ref interview in detail could work well for an I type although it’s customer-facing. I certainly think my own type works for my role as I think much better about complete systems than I do about details.
- @spoontragedy: As a children’s librarian, I actually resent the perception that children’s work is ‘only for certain types of people’. I’m not actually sure why- maybe because I don’t think children should be seen as ‘other’ as they are. They’re just people
- @RosieHare: Similar to the ‘children’s TV presenter’ kind of stereotype?
- @spoontragedy: Yes, something like that. I think that children benefit from interacting with different types of people
- @poetryghost: I’m not sure I can agree with that. Although many people can work with kids, many just really can’t. But I wouldn’t necessarily say that is personality, I’d say it is about skills and abilities
- @nckyrnsm: but perhaps you are more likely to have those abilities if you are a certain type of person…
- @theatregrad: Personally I have no idea how to interact with or talk to children so not sure I could do library work involving kids. Whether that is having the wrong personality or not having the skills to I’m not sure? Mix of both?
- @poetryghost: that’s very much true that kids are people too but relating is not the same otherwise everyone would just do it.
- @spoontragedy: A lot of ppl feel that way, imo it’s a symptom of our society seeing children as separate & other, which I dislike. I don’t mean it as a judgment, though.
Many people were uncomfortable with what they saw as pigeonholing people:
- @pennyb: Many introverts are go-getters and good at outreach. I know avoidant extroverts who find management too solitary
- @RosieHare: I don’t think there can be such a thing as a ‘wrong’ personality. We’re all beautiful and diverse.
- @_joelfe: Not sure that there’s only set personality type for certain roles. People more complex than that.
- @pennyb: Exactly. I think people can write themselves off from things they might enjoy/excel at because of this, too. Fundamentally hate the idea that you are more/less suited to jobs based on type. Extra touchy about it due to autism stereotypes
- @SimonXIX: I agree it’s not clearcut but I think certain natural inclinations help with certain roles
- @davidclover: Late #uklibchat contribution want to emphasise difference between personality, or preferred style and behaviour, way we accommodate to needs
@LibrarySherpa summed up her viewpoint on what we have in common as librarians:
5) What do you want to see at #libcampldn to encourage greater introvert participation?
@pennyb: Some of the people who hardly say anything at camp are the most outgoing in the social mingly bit and the pub after. Proves it’s not lack of social confidence stopping them talking, it’s not understanding camp. I guess the main thing for camp is to get across that it is more like the pub than a meeting & participation is vital
@esuffield: I Love to network online as I have zero confidence approaching people deffo ice breaker for me
- @SHelmick: That’s an excellent point. Most of our staff introverts offer great advantage through connections and crowdsourcing.
- @SHelmick: Our #social network marketing is done through people (myself) who are absolutely lost in p2p exchanges.
@dangleroughly: Many people have unfortunate fear of speaking in public. Offer practical tips on how to manage this?
- @daveyp: I find it helps to treat public speaking as a performance. It’s a chance to be someone else
- @LibrarySherpa: Exactly! I find it helpful to channel the persona of Oprah for public speaking engagements.
Some participants were uncomfortable with targeting introverts as a group, and implying that something needed fixing:
- @AgentK23: why particularly target introvert types as a group?
- @LibraryEms: Yes, better to just encourage everyone’s participation rather than target introverts
- @nckyrnsm: May be my percep, but wonder if introverts are seen as needing to be ‘cured’ – when actually their way of operating has value too
- @uklibchat: That’s a good point- maybe people are happy not contributing. I think it goes both ways, some are and some aren’t.
There was a good deal of agreement that large groups in Library Camp sessions tended to end up being dominated by a few participants, and that splitting into smaller groups for part of the time could help to prevent this.
Because of the diversity of different sectors in the library world, some people had been to library camp sessions that they were interested in, but felt that they didn’t have much to say because it was so different to their work. Encouraging people to ask questions if they don’t know much about a topic is one way to address this.
6) Do you think your job has influenced your personality?
People talked about how their job had influenced them as people:
- @HelenMaryH: being a lawyer made me have to work on attention to detail, working in a public liby on “performing” in public.
- @SimonXIX: Absolutely. Though it’s mostly due to the people I’ve met and the things I’ve been asked to do. Having to suddenly work with boisterous soldiers helped me get more confidence. And managing people changes you. Although Hume would say that continuity of self is an illusion so it’s impossible to identify myself with my past self
- @preater: systems librarianship has made me more outgoing! No, really… because I have to network, speak, etc.
- @poetryghost: I think my former kids lib job has pushed me further along the road of being helpful and enjoying the company of children. Volunteering roles have made me more leadery sometimes, which is not my natural inclination.
- @esuffield: yes definitely I have matured so much and been told my attitude and professionalism has grown I took that as a good thing
- @AmyJoyHolvey: this stage of my career (1st year in) personality has influenced job and career opportunities not the other way round. Maybe not the job per se, but being around like-minded people has probably made me more confident and outgoing
- @spoontragedy: Not to sound dramatic, I think any service job where you work with the general public involves a certain loss of illusions
- @AmyJoyHolvey: this is v.valid- not in current role but whilst in previous position, difficult situations/people does affect the way you work
There was some discussion of whether our personalities were so susceptible to change.
- @_joelfe: Not sure your personality changes like that. Outward manifestations of it maybe.
- @SimonXIX: I disagree. I feel like I get a lot more energy from being around people than I used to. People change
- @LibraryEms: I agree, I’m not sure I can identify an intrinsic “personality,” even my present self changes with diff situations. May be why I struggled with the personality test.
- @tomroper: And we spend far more time at work than anywhere else, at least while we’re awake
This question again demonstrated the difficulty of distinguishing between skills and personality traits. For example, is confidence a skill or personality trait?
- @nckyrnsm: Confidence has increased but not sure it’s changed my personality type. Not sure they are the same thing?
- @pennyb: A skill, because it can be learned.
- @preater: Agree. Think personality defines where you naturally start from.
- @nancecc: I’m e.g. more confident *at work* but doesn’t mean now call myself confident – just learn new skills for diff situations
- @JamesAtkinson81: Confidence can seem like a skill when you make an effort and put it on a bit at work.
7) What personal traits must a librarian have?
Some traits that people found helpful to them in their work:
- @SimonXIX: Being organised and relatively logical helps me do my job. It helps me understand and interface with computers. Ideally of course I’d strip out all the human personality from my mind and just leave the logic. Then I’d be a robot
- @daveyp: Ah, good ol’ Librarian 2.0 http://t.co/DC01lRxwLv
- @spoontragedy: I think my tendency to plan and look ahead helps me in my work
- @nancecc: a desire to help – too cheesy?!
- @poetryghost: I don’t think that’s too cheesy at all
- @LibraryEms: In most of the jobs I’ve had so far, fitting in well with team, willing to help, not being easily distracted, enthusiasm. Probably if I get a more senior role will take other skills, so not really related to personality.
- @HelenMaryH: confidence, ability and willingness to help, tenacity and some attention to detail. Ability to deal with all sorts of people.
- @RosieHare: I think communication and teamwork are key for me. I start to get sad when these things break down.
- @AmyJoyHolvey: I agree with @poetryghost communication, organisation skills and often people/project management skills
- @LibWig: Need be confident that you are providing users with up to date, accurate information – but that doesn’t mean over confident. Perhaps assuring to your users is a better way to describe it rather than confident
- @preater: I think the feeling (Jungian) aspect really helps thinking things through in a management role. But would apply outside libs.
- @SHelmick: Approaching the #reference transaction as “us” or “we” learning the answer together is good too.
- @liz_jolly: self awareness as shown by knowing, for example, your MBTI is key part of being reflective practitioner…knowing about others’ MBTI can be key element of being effective in an organisation including managing your boss
Many people thought that empathy and the ability to think about things from different perspectives was of particular importance in most areas of librarianship, although not in all roles.
- @spoontragedy: I think ability to think of things from different perspectives is one that is particularly helpful in librarianship, as you need to be able to understand how people are approaching a question/problem to help them best
- @KrisWJ: Definitely this! RT @LOLintheLibrary Q7 Natural empathy with others, helps when thinking of user perspective
- @SimonXIX: For most librarians, empathy is very important. The ability to understand user needs and think as others do
- @LibraryEms: Are they skills that can be developed or personality traits? Hmm
Some thought that we were really talking about skills and not personality traits.
- @poetryghost: I keep going back to skills not personality traits. Communication, lateral thinking, willingness to help
Were any of these things specific to library and information work, or are they things that would help in any job?
- @poetryghost: I think willingness to help and understanding systems are possibly semi specific to libraries
- @BishopWalshLib: I think being friendly, helpful and organised would help in any job, but it’s essential in a librarian.
- @RosieHare: As Linsey mentioned…a lot of these skills could be applied to most service-based jobs.
8) How can you match your personality with a job advertisement & know whether it’s the right thing for you?
Many participants thought that job descriptions didn’t have enough information for people to tell whether the job would suit them. Some people thought that in an interview, you had a better chance to assess fit.
- @LibWig: don’t think you can match a personality to a job desc – that part comes at the interview and the feel you get from the org. Sometimes it is easier to tell if you won’t fit than if you will – I’ve had that a couple of times.. views that interviewer put forward about direction and projects that a service was taking indicated that I might not agree/fit in
- @theatregrad: Agreed. On a couple of ocassions I’ve been convinced I’d found the right job until interview changed my mind
- @AmyJoyHolvey: My experience is also that interview gives you the clarity of whether you will fit/ job will be right
Some people thought there was really no way to know until you were in the job:
- @HelenKielt: you won’t know till you’re in there!
Some people didn’t think personality was really a relevant consideration in whether a job was right for you:
- @HelenMaryH: it’s not about matching your personality, it’s if you have essential and desired skills. Back to skills over personality again
- @nancecc: Never considered my personality for a job – just can I do it and do I think I’ll like it…
- @spoontragedy: I think it’s about identifying that you share values & ways of approaching things with the panel- not personality so much?
There was some discussion of sector and personality:
- @RosieHare: e.g I feel like my ‘personality’ would not suit working in a law or corporate library. Now I’m not so sure if my previous answer is just me being picky. It kind of reflects my social and cultural views though.
- @preater: tend to agree with @RosieHare, feel I ‘need’ to be in HE as a place I can work in a service that has transformative effects
- @theatregrad: I think my current sector suits my personality as well as my interests. I imagine others might hate the environment
Some people had been interviewed by people they didn’t work with day to day, which they found made it harder to assess fit. Some tried to interview their interviewers:
- @poetryghost: To work at trying to interview your future employers as much as the reverse. Hard to do when nervous. I think this is so important but also as a role reversal. Will these people suit you, not “will they like me”.
- @LibraryEms: It’s never been an issue as I’ve always been desperate for any job, wld like to be in the position to assess this!
10) How can interviewers guess the personality of a candidate at a job interview? How can they tell what you are like?
@LibWig: It can be tricky when people are nervous! Hopefully interviewer will calm you down and help you to demonstrate what you are like
@rugabela: By tricky & unexpected questions. That way, they see reactions & can get useful info about your emotions
There was discussion of how much people are ‘themselves’ at interviews:
- @pennyb: Depends how open you are. I tend to state explicitly what I am like these days, works better. More intense, but they’d see that later in the job. I hate employers who look for “fit” over ability & potential
- @JamesAtkinson81: That’s tricky – only if you allow more than a formal version of yourself out – perhaps through q’s about you. Strength based interviews might be a key here.
- @LibraryEms: Also, I have to say I slightly change my personality in an interview, doesn’t everyone?
- @pennyb: No, but then I can’t suppress myself or fake anything – another autistic thing. Chameleons more employable?
- @BishopWalshLib: I think most people have an interview “act” when they project the person they would like to be rather than the person they are.
- @theatregrad: I always try to show some of my personality at interviews. Not sure if that is wise but doesn’t seem to stop me getting jobs
- @KrisWJ: obvs you present best version of you, but if you misrepresent too much you may find yourself in job that doesn’t suit you
There was a discussion about whether it was appropriate (or inevitable?) for interviewers to try to find about your personality:
- @SimonXIX: I wouldn’t want an interviewer to judge me on my personality. All that matters is my ability to do the job or not
- @daveyp: Your application mostly covers your ability to do the job
- @poetryghost: ah an ideal world…seriously though what should people do when candidates are equal?
- @SimonXIX: Flip a coin. If they’re equally skilled, then the outcome is immaterial
- @LibWig: think we need to differentiate from manner & way of dealing with ppl (imp in public/user facing roles) from personality
- @SimonXIX: Intuitive human judgement is fundamentally flawed. Sometimes algorithms and mechanistic frameworks are the solution. NB. I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on the flaws of human intuition. Good times
11) How can you discover your hidden talents or personal abilities?
Many participants thought that getting out of your comfort zone was key to this:
- @preater: I think by trying new things: moreover *asking* to do so, being a person that says yes, & getting out of yr comfort zone. Have a strong view on this – I find excuses and “I’m scared” so tiresome.
- @pennyb: RUN TOWARDS THE SPIKES. Deliberately doing things I think I can’t do is part of my raison d’être. Failure is part of learning.
- @spoontragedy: I think that’s a good raison d’etre
- @LibraryEms: If depressed it sometimes seems impossible to do this tho… whereas at other times, it seems more fun to try new things
- @KrisWJ: doing the unexpected, might think unsuited to task or role until try it & surprised to find enjoy/excel at it
@daveyp: “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission” has become my mantra — just try new stuff & experiment lots
- @spoontragedy: Yes! That’s very true, I’ve done that more as I’ve become more confident in my job.
- @daveyp: One of my bugbears is when new staff with great ideas are knocked down a peg by management
- @preater: definitely agree, always want staff to act on initiative, do things and tell me / ask forgiveness afterwards.
- @poetryghost: my new bugbear, being told they want me to use my initiative then smacked down when I do it. Hate the contradiction.
@uklibchat also asked: Have you ever done something new at work and realised that you were unexpectedly good at it? Or unexpectedly bad?
- @theatregrad: I realised that the policy writing element of my last role didn’t come as easily as I had thought it would
- @JamesAtkinson81: Recently put together two trolleys – discovered I’m better at DIY than I thought
- @DonnaGundry: teaching, I never thought I could stand up in front of 20 students and keep them interested
- @BishopWalshLib: Helping to build a new library website on the school’s VLE – I loved doing that!
- @DonnaGundry: working on our website at the moment, using google. Tricky but interesting with some fun. I can see the appeal
12) Have technological changes in the profession encouraged different personality types to join?
Many people thought yes, but some thought technological changes just meant a need for different skills.
@RosieHare: I’d be inclined to say yes…more scope for ‘techy’ types rather than people who think it’s all about books.
@SimonXIX: Yes, I would argue that the growth of digital information decreases the import of intuition and increases import of logic
@HelenKielt: technological change has surely brought out skills in ppl who wouldn’t ordinarily have been exposed to this environment
@LibraryEms: I guess digital technology encouraged different skills but maybe not different personalities?
@LibWig: Yes – was article online recently about the rise of “Pink collar workers” – men being drawn into librarianship through technology
@SimonXIX: Digital information changes people. It’s changing society. It changes how people think. It definitely changes librarianship
@poetryghost: maybe mainstreaming of digi tech changes people’s attitudes to those who use it more than the personality type?
@spoontragedy: In some ways digital technology requires less precision than old technologies eg card catalogues
- @SimonXIX: I disagree. I think it requires more precision. But perhaps precision of a different kind
- @pennyb: Nah, metadata requires absolute precision to be worthwhile. It’s just the point in process those skills are needed.
- @spoontragedy: I think it partly depends on which type of LIS job you’re in- eg reader services vs. systems. I think I’m coming at it as a library worker using metadata to serve people, not the one creating the metadata
- @preater:I think we’re back to that (fairly old now, but coming back) idea of convergence of library and IT roles there. My view, get to 80% & call it good. Throw it all into a lucene/solr discovery layer and don’t fuss too much.
@daveyp: I’m frequently disappointed that libraries aren’t on the cutting edge of new technologies and aren’t setting the agenda
1. Have you been involved in any library activism?
- Website for Friends of local branch library group
- No – because so far there are no cuts in local public library service (but would get involved if there were)
- Worked with students (in US academic library). Worked with campus diversity and social justice groups: connecting people with resources on issues they felt were important campus-wide
- Local authority library workers can’t speak out: but other professionals can speak out without immediate accusation of self interest e.g. nurses, teachers
- Disappointed in the lack of protests from the general public about the general state of some of our libraries – e.g. messy shelves as no time to shelve
2. Aside from marching what else can we do, and are they effective?
- Campaign - anything that gets attention (media, public) for your cause is good
- Use Twitter to build influential contacts, especially in the media. They are all out there waiting!
- Target school kids & teens! They are the library users of tomoro, we need them on board to secure a future for libraries
- Create events aimed at youth so they grow up with libraries being a major part of their lives they can’t do without (what happened to CILIP Start with the Child programme?)
- BabyBounce/Storytime, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man for life”
- We need services for younger people, too. Services for 11-14s often get “lost”
- Reaching out to teens and kids is good, but not sure what will be left by time they’re old enough to vote!
- Work with young people i.e. DoE volunteers 6th formers doing enrichment activities
- The point is to reach people at all ages. Don’t just reallocate staff; have staff dedicated to young people’s services
- On retirement as academic librarian became chair of local Friends group: speak to parish councils and write for parish magazines re public libraries
- Activism doesn’t have to be national, local can often have a big impact on service users.
- What became of the WI petition which garnered 17,000 + signatures bit.ly/oSYuEJ
- Testimonials and petitions – it seems politicians don’t want to listen to people saying libraries are important
3. Are you going to the 13th March London Rally, how are you preparing for it?
- Going [to the rally] for @whlibraries#lovelibraries #savelibraries. Hoping to lobby MP
- I’m not attending any rallies, I am helping with library camps. Get togethers for staff to meet and swap ideas
- Library camps are a great step, but how to inspire demoralized staff to attend/find time for them
- I will be going to the library rally! I’d be good to meet up with fellow tweeters
- I’ve never been to a rally before, but I feel like if I don’t do something to show my support, can’t cry when it goes
- I can’t go to the library rally, as I am currently in the US! Otherwise I would be there for sure
4. If a million people marching in London failed to stop the war with Iraq, what does it take to directly affect government policy?
- The advantage over the Iraq war protests is that opposition to library closures truly cuts across political lines
- But ‘library’ can mean opposite things for different supporters: for a lot it’s still a quiet place with books, none of that fandangly technology DVDs taking up space
- The failure of one is irrelevant. We try or we give in. Need to engage, debate and argue our case persuasively
- The public loves its’ libraries, even if they don’t use them. We need to harness this, get them to use libraries
- The issue is not how we get people to use libraries but how we integrate services with public education & access, and also how we provide outreach so that libraries are where people see them/need them
- Need more plans of actions for individual libraries, as well as a forum/demonstration that brings them all together. For example, no library closures where I worked, but significant staff cuts that hugely damaged the service. But didn’t know how to fight back
5. What action could we take that might make politicians fear for their parliamentary seats?
- 50+ age group very important politically and to libraries. Surely we can find support there?
- Difficult to argue with councillors about library cuts when they have no budget from central government
5.a. Why do the libraries not have a single national presence? Does the fact we speak as individual authorities diminish our voice?
- Central control might be damaging to services individually tailored to specific groups, but it does seem to diminish solidarity, even awareness of what is going on in different authorities
- I think I’d like to see library workers have a single presence, but libraries remain under local control
- Until recently there was MLA, which of course was central (if not necessarily effective)
- Scandinavian countries have a national library system. The public can borrow from any library.
- Localism better for public libraries since funded by councils, and perhaps in future by districts
- We need both local and national activism. At the moment activism is almost, solely localised
- It might make a huge difference to be able to “attack”/collaborate on both fronts
6. What are the ethics of motivating volunteers in sectors being cut?
- Volunteers keeping libraries open in evening or offering story time doing jobs paid staff used to
- How would you feel about volunteers in other areas of local government, if it could bring your council tax down?
- Who’s coordinating the volunteers? That’s a huge task in itself, likely requiring at least one paid post (possibly more)
- Looks as if Friends group may be coordinating volunteers – OK if you have time and experience
- Would be open to volunteer-run services only if they are effective & implemented by those working in service
- Problem with many volunteer schemes: they seem to be set in place by those unfamiliar with spec. service demands
- I volunteer for delivery of books to housebound but that service is not offered by paid staff
- The main concern is if volunteers leave. If someone’s coordinating, programme has longevity. If not, service dies
- Better that library service coordinates volunteers and have job descriptions, CRB checks and line managers (as opposed to Friends of Library group).
- I’m a volunteer at a museum, however I go in when I like, I’m under no obliged hours, and museum doesn’t depend on me to run!
- There is room for volunteers and it’s a good way to pick up experience, but SHOULD NOT be used to replace paid staff completely
7. Is there a quantifiable economic argument for keeping public branch libraries open?
- If you use the library, it’s incredible value for money (a few pence for all that service!).
- If you don’t use the library, other arguments can still be made (i.e. quality of life for others = quality for you) but that isn’t really an economic argument. (However I suspect there are many that can be made.)
8. What role do you think that central government should have in local authority library policy?
- I like the idea of there being national communication, but any type of national agenda/control worry me because part of a vibrant library is its response to a specific local community. That’s harder to meet with national agenda
- Central government should ensure local authorities do not ignore their duties or run down lib service
- Hard when it seems to be central government who wants to see everything dismantled and privatised. Not holding my breath
- The question was what central government should do rather than what the current government is doing – Ed Vaizey and Jeremy Hunt should be reminded of their job
- MLA standards – but what now that MLA is gone?
- National standards sound good, but I worry libraries will have to cope with demands unreasonable to their specific service
- There are currently no standards of any kind. Up to the Secretary of State to uphold “comprehensive + efficient” service but no definition.
Q1: What does gamification mean?
- Making games of tasks users have to do for promotional/user experience reasons
- Basically game features (levelling up, grinding, quests, achievement etc) added to every day situations.
- Making real life tasks seem like a game
- It is a term that is used about shop loyalty cards
- Gamification = introducing game mechanics into everyday situations, behaviour patterns etc.
- Game= using library assets or content in a game.
- Post by Brian Herzog about gamifying library fines http://t.co/LY78bAq3
- http://t.co/LkqfvbOW : Post that talking about game design criteria, and application to libraries
- Does it only mean computer games?
- Can the six book challenge be considered gamification of reading experience?
- Does the carel press reading game count as gamification? - @call_me_cathy posted a step by step on how to set up this game http://t.co/UXUH5dAN
Q2: Have you heard of any projects bringing libraries and gamification together?
(some of the replies may be more about games rather than gamification)
- Nanowrimo , novel writing in a month could count. Some school libraries have hosted it.
- Using Scrivener makes Nanowrimo seem like a game with project target bars. If you set goals there is a bar that changes colour as you get closer to your goal.
More info on Scrivener: http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php
- @annie_bob’s notes from the Library Camp UK 2011 Games and Gamification in libraries session provides lots of examples: http://intothehobbithole.blogspot.com/2011/10/libcampuk11-session-2-games-and.html
- Four square with its checking into places to unlock levels can be used for libraries
- A university in Taiwan provides students with Gold or Platinum cards, depending on their use of libraries, which means they can borrow more books.
- Huddersfield university are gamifying their library user experience, implementing a reward system for borrowing books: https://library.hud.ac.uk/lemontree/ and http://library.hud.ac.uk/blogs/projects/lemontree/
- ALA in America supports a National Gaming Day in libraries http://ngd.ala.org/about/
- One library offers users a chance to clear their fines by challenging their librarian to a game of Dance Dance Revolution!
- Bookstart book crawl stickers/ certificates are gamification of library use- rewards for borrowing books http://www.bookstart.org.uk/professionals/get-involved/bookcrawl/
- Digital Toolkit in Finland uses games to engage people in crowdsourced work on digitized records: http://t.co/kWKyiZkI
Q3: What role do you think games/gamification can play in a library setting?
- Gamification can eb used to get tasks done (e.g crowdsourcing, tagging etc.); it can be used to make library ‘tasks’ more fun. But it is also easy to do badly. At worst it is basically giving out points or achievements like loyalty cards or airmiles.
- Giving out points may be the most unimaginative, but may be the easiest/cheapest to implement and most accessible?
- How the gamification is packaged is important to sell it. Humour works.
- QR codes can be used to add a virtual layer to the physical objects in libraries. Gaming context can be created. Example: find right QR codes from clues, add sound/animation. QR codes have been used in treasure hunt as part of library introduction [?]
- Games are often used for treasure hunts. Example the Cephalonian method has a ‘game’ feel to it. http://www.sconul.ac.uk/publications/newsletter/32/2.pdf
From Wikipedia: “the method consists of giving the students at a library orientation class cards with prepared questions they are to ask during the session for the instructor to answer”
- http://www.sconul.ac.uk/publications/newsletter/40/21.pdf – overview of library induction methods
- School libraries are about people. Games are important, but it’s about the actual human interaction.
- It could be fun to run a scavenger hunt in libraries a la New York Public Library : http://game.nypl.org/#home
- Gamification and gaming in libraries are different things and both have their place.
- A concern with gamification is that it can become patronising/gimmicky to users who just want to get on with their work.
- There are students who would see libraries as a quiet place to get work done.
- There are also many students who never go to the library for work, so maybe just getting them through the door (by providing ‘fun’ things) could break the barrier.
- Reaching new users whilst still looking after the old has to be carefully balanced.
- @gamecentralIWM is working with Library of Birmingham on creating a gaming experience for users for the launch in 2013 http://libraryblog.birmingham.gov.uk/2011/11/pitch-opportunity/
- Academic libraries are using SCVNGR (scavenger hunt on mobiles) : http://t.co/o8vhYN7x
- Giant connect four is a success at one library
Q4: Does gaming have to be digital?
- Offline meetings can be used to support online activities, or vice versa
- Libraries could reach out e.g to Dungeons and Dragrons gamers and offer space. This could be used to support a special collection, use books as references. Libraries could stock rule books.
- Some college libraries offer jigsaws for stressed students!
- Yu-Gi-Oh is very popular in the public library that @calire works in.
- There are books that were ‘choose your own adventure/fighting fantasy’ . This is reading and playing. Some are now being reissued on iphone/ipad: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/steve-jacksons-sorcery!-the/id358760776?mt=8
- There’s a boardgame cafe in Toronto with a huge collection of games, that are ‘catalogued’ www.Snakesandlattes.com/#games [What a cute name!]
Q5: How do you promote it to users? What should libraries be wary of?
- Maybe use the libraries out of hours, so core users will get more time due to the promotion. (but there’d be staffing costs to consider)
- E-media and posters etc would be great for spreading the word, but maybe avoid taking up physical library space.
Q6: Why use gaming?
Skipped as covered in previous questions.
Q7: Do any eReaders other than Kobo use gamification?
- Kobo uses ‘reading life’ where awards pop on the screen for the things you do, times you read etc.
[Question remained unanswered, if you have an example, feel free to post in comments page!]
Q8: Is gamification a good idea? Would you want it at your library for users/you?
- “The biggest complaint we get in the library is noise levels. If that can be kept down for our existing users I’m in!”
- “I like the idea, and would like to try it out. But I really don’t think it would go down well with lib committee at current job!
- “We like to think that gamification is a means to an end, its one small step towards making libraries more attractive ‘now’
- “I’d love to see it! But I think pub libraries would need to first see evidence that it increased user stats. Also, costs??”
- “collection is a compelling mechanic! And there’s something nice about a tangible reward there”
More links that were added to the agenda setting document:
http://paper.li/MoriasEnkomion/1319929422 lots of articles on gamification.
http://libcampuk11.wikispaces.com/Session+notes - scroll to the notes for the games and gamification session that occured during library camp uk 2011
http://www.readingagency.org.uk/adults/reading-for-gaming/ are two recent reports produced on the subject of using digital games to engage adults with low literacy in reading for pleasure:
Gaming for Reading (June 2010) – you’ll also find a film at www.youtube.com/readingagency of our roundtable discussion
Game On (October 2011)
http://www.chartergames.co.uk/ <–This website looks to sell/rent games to libraries
I would like to thank everyone who took part and contributed to the twitter session!
@agentk23 (Ka-Ming Pang)
Q1. How will/does the use of self-service machines affect libraries?
- Changes the dynamic between staff and patrons
- When first introduced customer / staff interaction is usually increased
- Enables more time for staff to focus on supporting student learning
- Frees up staff to do other tasks and eventually might end “librarian as bookstamper” stereotype
- Can spend more quality time with customers
- Can offer more services and have more time to explain them
- In theory as lower skilled jobs disappear staff can move on to higher skilled jobs. But in practice staff are worried they will be relocated in current economic climate
- Complete reorganisation of staff – roving support etc.
- Reduced staffing a possibility
- Big challenge for managers when RFID is introduced
- Important for managers to give staff clear idea of their changed job role post-RFID
- Makes libraries seem more up-to-date. Some patrons see this as positive, some don’t .
- Need to have good relationship with suppliers
- Depends how people define libraries – if defined as somewhere just to get stock, could affect heavily
- Depends if introduced as service enhancement or cost-cutting measures
- Impact of smartphones and smartcards, and RFID will go beyond self-service
- Loss of a source of tacit knowledge – though cafes etc can make library more human
- Will need to find other ways to engage with patrons
- Technology will lead to a better library service – is anyone measuring this as a goal?
- RFID Technology may be superceded by QR codes (or is it the other way round!?)
- Possibility of more theft of materials?
- Interesting data on RFID here http://t.co/orDOLu25
- E-books will coexist with hard copy. Many patrons not interested in ereaders or can’t afford them
- Hard copy purchasing won’t decrease dramatically any time soon
- Need to break the hold on Kindle / Amazon ebook model quickly, as predominant use of public libraries is book loans
- Importance of children’s books for public libraries – and kids ebooks are lacking at the moment
- Depends on type of library
- Mix of formats required, partly due to problems with licensing
- How will things change when there is more creativity with ebooks – not just PDFs?
- Librarians should get involved with publishing to change things
- Interesting blog on how Amazon is screwing libraries http://t.co/gVlb2p5V
- Limited promotion at the moment on ebooks, but could potentially reach new users
- Libraries should not provide a service where a feasible commercial service provides the same (1964 Act). Amazon not free.
- Ebboks can be difficult in corporate environment but will be well-received
- Greater facilitation, help members create content, become credible/authoritative source on social media
- Librarian job role in constant state of flux
- Public libraries – staff need to be comfortable working with children as that is the more successful part of the service
- Redeployment or smart management will use free staff to provide added value services
- More of this sort of job (library and social media assistant) http://t.co/hV4bTBK4
- Outreach important for public libraries
- Some HE libraries – super-convergence. Learning support and employability more important
- Greater potential for reader development, including social reading
- More back-office knowledge work
- More involvement in special projects e.g. http://t.co/kXQRQH9a
- Creating own content using our own expertise
- Embedding librarians into workplace
- More personal service provided
- Collaborative approach – have to be able to turn your hand to anything, not just one speciality
- Even job titles change – library no longer even part of job title
- Information architecture
- Space librarian http://t.co/DM4M82jA
- Need to find new sectors and new groups to work with. Can’t expect them to come to us. Must be proactive!
- Public library staff doing lots of new things but creating new roles out of these is difficult because of the cost
- Computerised stock management
- A major problem is that librarians are associated with the tools they use, not the results they achieve (Ed.: I think this is easily the quote of this week’s #uklibchat)
- Where to start!?
- When you are unemployed and benefits are cut, a library is the best source of information, and its an open place free for all
- Collective memory, free education
- Skills to handle and manage information
- One of the few public spaces you don’t have to have money to go in and use
- A public space with no bar to entry where no-one will tell you what to do or expect you to buy. Totally unique
- Local studies (often not available online)
- The IFLA / UNESCO declaration says it all! http://bit.ly/6kTL Also see http://bit.ly/rI7Nk1
- Please come up with a list as per Monty Python’s What has the Romans ever done for us!
- Look internationally to see what they are doing to keep relevant
- It’s a civic space, with value & role defined by members
- Interesting use of libraries in modern age mentioned at #libcampuk11 http://t.co/BUgyu1pd
- People will want to invest in countries that kept their skills and expertise. So education matters
- Student said he would have never got the grades he did if not for quiet study space & resources in public library
- Internet access is vital
- Song about why libraries are necessary http://t.co/Nf4YENMi
- Value lies in librarians rather than libraries
- Mixture of people and the resources in it
- 3 legged stool analogy of resources, space, support provided by staff. Stool useless without all 3!
- Sector needs to be proactive and get much better at marketing, PR
- Best “literary ecosystem” on the planet
- Need to make the non-users believe in us and offer them something to entice them in
- Must be relevant by having information skills the public need
- Increase market share of users – this is what local authorities judge us on
- Listen to what is wanted don’t just dictate, engage, be proactive, be bold
- Need to link with more schools. See Michael Rosen comment bit.ly/fsgNMd
- Librarians are there to empower users. We need to have power to do that, & that comes from users themselves. Beneficial circle. Show users we can save them cash etc
- Opportunities for libraries to be providers of e-books, other digital resources
- ”Academic librariess here to enable & enhance learning in all forms – whether a 1st yr undergrad or a Nobel Prize winning scientist” – Peter Brophy
- Important but can be difficult when creativity is not encouraged elsewhere in organisation e.g. by councillors
- Arguably creativity starts as what you need to find training and opportunities in the current climate
- Creativity can be difficult to implement because of lack of resources
- Need to find partners to help e.g. businesses
- Technology means strategy needs to be inside out
- Use of IPads for on the spot enquiries
- Lots of options just need to dream them up, resource them and make them relevant to users.
- Stock recognition, guides, e-readers, self-issue, access to accounts and catalogues etc.
- We should ensure our digital resources are fully accessible on mobile devices
- Augmented Reality could be used to give people more info about books they have near them, interconnections, locations etc.
- Floorwalking – gadgets for all staff
- Loaned mobile devices
- Augmented Reality
- Library apps e.g. City University http://bit.ly/oAzRSx
- QR codes; graphic novels on mobile devices; junior library mobile site
- Must remember not all have smartphone – public libraries must cater to all, not just techies or rich
- Remember how things change – tech will become increasingly widespread
- The technology will become better and more will have them
- There will still be library buildings – huge symbolic and actual value still persists
- May not be a library building – if so it will be a a knowledge centre valued for lifelong learning and a social leisure space
- Would be a shame if it wasn’t still a physical entity. People socialise in libraries, it’s a space for all
- More use of zoned space in HE libraries
- Students need study space still despite technology
- The Hive, Worcester as an interesting example (combined university and public library) http://t.co/0JZHTHol
- Future of Academic Libraries Project from SCONUL, RIN, British Library and JISC http://bit.ly/coRfmB
- An attempt to dejargon management and organisation planning for anyone interested http://t.co/gtZxGo5p
- It was mentioned that it might be better to use a chatroom for #uklibchat rather than Twitter – although convenience and serendipity of using Twitter was also mentioned
- The problems of self-service were mentioned, particualrly pre-RFID systems. Issues mentioned included: misplaced books, confusing for patrons
- Problems of self-service show that even if librarianship were just about stamping books, it’s not as easy as it looks!
- Whilst some RFID machines can take fine money, some libraries still don’t even have a till
- National marketing campaign. Take out bus adverts, cinema adverts. Could CILIP do this? (Though question of funding is difficult)
- Interesting article about mobile technology that could be relevant for libraries http://t.co/FEwWIJyV
- Should be a union specifically for librarians as well as a professional body
- Home grown ad http://t.co/ZYkKOxrE
- Too much in-house advertising and marketing
- Take a look at Welsh Gov ad targeting FE library students http://t.co/y7BUwXWr
- Have libraries been in a topdown efficiency driven planning mode for so long they cannot now switch to an inside-out creativity and technology driven planning mode?
- Amazon figures re Kindle sales outstripping hard copy sales refer to hard copy hardbacks – which few people want
- Wondering how many people follow #uklibchat on their mobile…?