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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

10 reasons why YOU specifically should apply for the SLA ECCA prize

10 Dec

Hey you, yes you! You may not think you are eligible for the Special Library Assocation’s Early Career Conference Award, but there’s a good chance you are. You may not think the SLA is relevant to you because you don’t work in a ‘special’ library, but it IS, trust me.

Winning the ECCA award could change your whole outlook. It could be incredibly beneficial. Here are 10 reasons to apply:

  1. You don’t have to be THAT early in your career – it’s within 5 years of obtaining your Masters. So in other words, I could apply! (Former winners can’t actually apply but the point being, I qualified in 2009 so I am eligible in that sense.)
  2. It’s probably the best single prize it is possible to win in librarianship. To quote SLA-Europe’s website: “Each Award is worth about $4000. It covers the full cost of Conference registration, hotel lodging, economy return airfare to Vancouver, and meals and appropriate incidental expenses.” I mean, come on! I should just copy and paste that for the remaining 8 things. It’s a ludicrously good prize by any measure.
  3. Whatever your sector, the SLA has relevance to you. The SLA isn’t all about special libraries. There is, of course, a lot of good content (both in the conference and the organisation more generally) if you’re a legal, health, business or pharma librarian – but a huge percentage of members are from the academic library world, for example. There’s public librarians too. But the information you can glean from the talks will apply to any sector – it’s just really high quality speakers talking about really relevant things.
  4. The SLA Conference is completely and utterly brilliant. It is SUCH a good event. I have only been once, but by all accounts it’s amazing every year. I am going in 2014, I have FORCED myself to find a way back* because it was the single greatest experience of my professional career. It’s on an epic scale but it’s focused – you come away inspired, no longer gripped by whatever existential crisis is wasting our time in the profession, buzzing with ideas, and equipped to be a better information professional.
  5. The SLA Conference is made more brilliant by experiencing it with the other ECCA winners. There will be 3 winners this year, from different divisions. The three of you will form a little gang and roam around Vancouver together and it is SO much richer for that. I won’t labour this point because people told me about it before I went and I didn’t really appreciate what they were going on about until it happened – but basically you make friendships and you have this great communal experience in a sort of ECCA bubble and it’s ace. Also, everyone is incredibly friendly and welcoming to the ECCAs.
  6. There is a very flat hierarchy at the conference. There aren’t cliques of senior people and junior people. Everyone mixes with everyone, everyone has time for everyone else. It’s a great opportunity to actually exchange ideas with very high-up people and be treated as an equal. You are, as Penny Andrews put it, valued. She also points out something I’ve mentioned a lot – the LMD (Leadership and Management Division) is NOT just for senior people, it’s for people who want to become or learn from leaders and managers.
  7. You get to travel and interact with the international community. Every time I’ve had the chance to go abroad I’ve found the international perspective on libraries and our profession invaluable. And you get to hear amazing speakers like Stephen Abrams and Mary Ellen Bates who rarely come to England (and then chat with them afterwards – see number 6, above).
  8. You will become an SLA member if you aren’t already. Becoming part of SLA is awesome. Everyone I know who is a member values it enormously. I’ve written before about how being part of the SLA gives you confidence. There are plenty of relevant events in the UK too. Also, you tend to go on to get involved with the SLA in some capacity or other – for example Sam Wiggins who won an ECCA the same year as me is the Chair of SLA-Europe next year, I’ve served on the main SLA Online Advisory Council and as an ECCA judge – the list is endless really. The ECCA is just the beginning.
  9. There is a serious emphasis on fun. The SLA take the profession seriously but they take their fun seriously too. There are events and parties every night, there is a ludicrous amount of booze, and you have to really go out of your way to actually pay for anything. The conference never really stops the whole time you’re there. It’s intense, overwhelming, but, as Simon said, you still feel like you’re buzzing a month later.
  10. If you win the ECCA, then on June 11th 2014, you’ll be on a plane back home, a more knowledgeable, creative, inspired, happy, confident and future-ready information professional.  It really is that good.
    .

Notice that none of the above are ‘it’s good for your CV’. Of course, it IS good for your CV, to win a prestigious international prize. But it’s really not the winning itself which matters, it’s what you get from it – and you get so much from it, that the CV is just an afterthought.

Finally a couple of quick tips for your application (speaking as a former judge):

  • You will be representing SLA-Europe as an award winner. Remember that – it’s not just about all the amazing things you’ve done in your career so far, it’s about actually being in Vancouver as a sort of ambassador for the division.
  • On a related note, your letter of recommendation matters too. The judges want to know what your referee things about you – they also want to know what they think about you winning this prize and going to Vancouver, interacting, networking, learning and so on.
  • Part 2 of the application – “What specific benefits and knowledge do you hope to gain from attending the 2014 SLA Conference and working with SLA Europe and your chosen SLA Division in the future?” – is important. There are a LOT of very good applications for these awards, so it’s really nice for the judges to be able to filter out a whole bunch and put them on the pile marked ‘apparently just fancies winning an award / going on a free trip abroad’. You need to talk about the relationship you are entering into with the SLA and how that will develop over time.
  • If you’ve applied before and not won, don’t let that put you off. I didn’t get it the first time I tried, I know other winners who were second time lucky.
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If you have any questions, leave them in a comment and I’ll endeavour to answer them. Basically I can’t recommend applying for this highly enough – it will make your life awesome if you win.

Finally, you can read my own reflections on the 2011 ECCA experience on SLA-Europe’s blog, and embedded below is the video I made at the conference. GOOD LUCK!

 

(Here’s that application link, one more time.)

 

*It’s amazing how many ECCA’s find a way back. Many have gone most years since they won. Despite the massive logistical effort it constitutes, and having to find ways of paying for it, it’s so completely amazing that you find a way back.

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Making your message stick – presentation skills for information professionals

01 Oct

On Tuesday the 12th of November I’m running a workshop on presentation skills in London. So many of us have to do presentations now, and it makes a big difference if you feel confident about it, and know some tips and tricks to make presenting easier and more effective. I’m really looking forward to it – it’s the first time of doing this outside the British Library, where it’s gone down really well. We’ll be covering how to make lovely PowerPoints (even if you have to use a dreaded template), how to make your audience remember the things YOU want them to, tips for presenting itself, an introduction to Prezi and a bunch of other stuff too.

You can read some of the kinds of things we’ll be talking about in this 10 non-standard tips for public speaking post  and this presentation on making presentations

It’s hands-on, at PCs. The details, including a booking form, are here.

UKeIG website picture

Click the pic to go to UKeIG’s website

One of my favourite ever pieces of feedback came for this course (it was unsolicited, too):

What I enjoyed so much about the presentation workshop:

 1.      Expertise in the subject matter

2.      Relevant and highly useful information: presented and practiced

3.      Clear and engaging presentation style

4.      Professionalism with a great sense of humour, no hidden agenda

5.      Dedication to collaborative professional development, to high standards, to excellence

… so I promise it’ll be good! :) Hope to see you there.

Ned

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Running sessions on Web 2.0 tools for researchers

12 Aug

Edit: This post has been sitting, completed and tagged, in my drafts folder for over a month – it was meant as a direct follow up to a previous post (linked below) but then the gender and digital idenity thing came up (which is now EVERYWHERE in the media – glad the issue is getting proper coverage) and after that my second daughter was born, so it all got pushed back… Anyhow, here it is.

I recently ran a suite of 3 workshops, collectively entitled Becoming a Networked Researcher. I’ve put all the presentation materials elsewhere on the blog, so check them out if you’re interested. This post covers the approach, what worked, what didn’t, and general stuff about librarians getting involved with running researcher events that cover new online tools.

a tangled web

Flickr CC image by Jenny Downing (click to view original on Flickr)

It’s definitely time to do this

I’ve been wanting to do workshops like these for years… I run workshops for information professionals so I know how valuable it can be to learn about these tools – and blogs like the LSE Impact Blog show that in Higher Education generally, more and more people are finding Web 2.0 essential. As info pros a lot of us have this knowledge, so why not share it with an academic community who will be grateful for it and will benefit from it?

Previously some people may have thought I was something of a stuck record on this topic – just banging on about Twitter because it was what I knew about, when actually the Library should be focusing more on the traditional things we do with Researchers. (No one directly said this to me so I may well just be projecting!) But the thing about stuff like this is it opens doors – it positions the library or librarian as expert, and gains us respect. It means researchers become more open to the other things we have to offer.

Anyhow, demand for these sessions was huge. We’re going to be running them twice a year from now on as once isn’t enough. So if you have expertise in this area, try and make something happen!

What to cover?

I’d previously run an ‘Enhancing your online reputation‘ workshop for academics which mainly covered blogs and twitter only, due to time constraints – I still see these as the big two. They’re arguably the two most important platforms or tools, and they’re definitely the right foundations on which to build a useful presence.

I also ran a taster session on online tools for academics which covered no less than 9 different things – interestingly, lots of them put in their feedback forms that of all the tools we covered, they’d want more training on Prezi. So I put Prezi into the collaboration and dissemination session, but actually it needs its own bespoke training really – it’s too big to cover as part of something else.

I put in Academia.edu because I think it’s actually quite useful, I put in LinkedIn because everyone else TELLS me it’s useful, I put in Slideshare because I think it’s the great underrated secret weapon of communicating ideas. I left out ResearchGate because I’d heard they’re pretty aggressive in emailing people once they sign up, in a way which is annoying.

Anyhow, the Blogging session and Twitter session were much more successful than the other session, so I’d advise starting with these, and adding more if there’s demand.

What worked

  • Collaborating with RDT. The Researcher Development Team are nothing to do with the library, but thankfully they’re open to collaboration. I managed to meet up with Russell Grant, who runs a couple of social media courses anyway, and suggest the suite described above to build on what he’d already done – in theory, an academic could have attended his two workshops and then my three workshops and they’d have all worked together, building knowledge and understanding. I really like working with departments outside the library generally – not least because then the events aren’t ‘Library events’ that no one shows up for, they’re University events which happen to be delivered by a librarian
  • They What, Why, Examples, How method. I try do this in most of my training. You have to introduce a tool and tell an audience what it is – but it’s vital to then go on to why they might want to use it before you go into the detail of how it works… With relevant examples if at all possible. Lots of the feedback suggests people really value this approach.
  • Enthusiasm. I’m really enthusiastic about these topics, and that always helps…

What didn’t

  • Doing the workshops with only one-day gaps between them – I felt like it completely defined my week and didn’t leave much room for anything else
  • Not enough example – I tried to put loads in (academic examples specifically) but I could always use more
  • The Collaboration and Dissemination session tried to fit too much into the time. We’re splitting it up in future (see below)
  • I can’t make LinkedIn sound exciting… I know it’s important. Everyone says it’s important, researchers particularly. But I can’t seem to convey its value well
  • Some logisitical stuff to do with rooms and timing, with which I won’t bore you now…

Future plans

We’re running a tweaked programme in the next academic year, and it’s going to be different in a few ways.

  • It’ll be run twice, once in the Spring and once in the Summer – the Autumn term is just too crazy for everyone concerned
  • It’ll have one session per week. Last time round I did all three sessions in a week and I’m not sure that really benefited the participants much – it just made me feel like I was having a crazy week
  • There’ll be a blogging session as before, a Twitter session as before, but the Collaboration and Dissemination session we’re splitting up into two. We’re doing a Prezi session, and then a ‘social networks for researchers’ session – I’ve asked a colleague from the Researcher Development Team if he can do the latter, because I think he’d be better at it than me
  • I’m splitting the blogging and Twitter sessions into a ‘PhD and Masters researchers’ session and an ‘academics’ session – there’s 90% crossover between those two groups, but the other 10% I found it frustrating only giving examples that worked fully for one or other group. Seeing as the sessions were over-subscribed anyhow, we may as well provide targeted workshops for each group
  • So what this means is, in consecutive weeks we’re offering an Introduction to Social Media (talk, given by my colleague Russell Grant), Enhacing your Online Reputation (workshop by Russell), Blogs (workshops, by me – one for postgrads and one for academics), Twitter (workshop, by me – workshops, by me – one for postgrads and one for academics), Social Networks For Researchers (workshop, by Rusell) and Prezi (workshop, by me). All one and a half hours except the Prezi one which needs to be 3hrs – I’ve tried teaching Prezi in less but it doesn’t really work…
    .

Exciting stuff!

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Becoming a Networked Researcher: a suite useful of presentations

10 Jul

Web 2.0 tools have finally moved firmly beyond the ‘potential fad’ stage, to gaining widespread acceptance as valuable weapons in the Researcher’s arsenal. Statistics about social media are almost meaningless because a: there’s so many of them and b: the information becomes outdated quickly, but at the time of writing it’s thought that around 70% of academics use social media for personal use, and in my view we’ve most definitely reached the tipping point where social media’s utility for professional use is properly understood.

This is directly linked to the ‘impact agenda’ – the research shows that blogging about and tweeting about research results in more citations for that research, and pretty much everyone wants more citations. But becoming a networked researcher is about more than the REF-related bottom line, it’s about being part of a mutually beneficial, supportive, and intellectually engaging community.

With all that in mind, I ran a suite of hands-on workshops at my institution, the University of York, on behalf of the Researcher Development Team. The suite was entitled ‘Becoming a Networked Researcher’ and it covered firstly blogs and blogging, then collaboration and dissemination, and finally Twitter. Rather than divide these up into three blog posts I thought the most useful thing to do would be to have them all here – so below you’ll find various links to, or embedded versions of, presentations and handouts for the course. I’ve tried to make it so they work without me there to talk over the top of them…

The workshops themselves were really enjoyable and the researchers themselves very enthusiastic and engaged – a whole bunch of blogs and twitter accounts have already sprang up since they ran!  But I’d like to improve them for next time around (we’ll be running them twice a year from now on); whether you’re a Masters / PhD researcher, an academic, or an information professional reading this, I’d be interested in your views on how useful these materials are, and any advice or tips or, particularly, examples, I should be referring to in future sessions.

The workshop materials

The three parts of the suite were designed to work together and separately – if you’re only interested in one aspect of becoming a networked researcher, you don’t need to look at the materials from the other sessions.

Part 1: Blogs and Blogging

Blogs and Blogging was the most successful session. The advice here is slightly York-centric in that we all have Google accounts, so we all automatically have Blogger blogs; if you’re reading this at another insitution it’s definitely worth considering WordPress.com as your blogging platform. Better still, WordPress.org, although that requires some technical knowledge.

Here’s the Prezi presentation:

And here’s the handout which goes with it:

Blogs for researchers: workshop handout by University of York Information

 

Part 2: Dissemination and Collaboration

I’ve decided against embedding the materials for this one – there was a lot more group and collaborative work and the session was slightly shorter, so my presentation doesn’t cover as much ground. But you can view the Dissemination and Collaboration Prezi here (the handout doesn’t really add anything); it covers LinkedIn, Academia.edu, Prezi itself, and Slideshare.

Interestingly, I really struggled to convince people as to the value of LinkedIn. I’m suspect of the value of LinkedIn myself, but I’ve heard countless researchers talk about how important it is, so I flagged it up as a key resource anyway…

 

Part 3: Twitter for Researchers

I really enjoyed this as I think Twitter is such a vital tool for modern scholarship and communication – you can see the Slides from the session here:

 

And the handout is here:

Twitter for academics: workshop handout by University of York Information

Any questions, comments or queries, leave them below.

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