Oh hi! I blog under the nom-de-2.0 of thewikiman, but actually my real name is Ned Potter, and I’m an Information Professional. This is my contribution to the Library Day in the Life Project; Day in the Life offers an opportunity to increase awareness of, and potentially change public perception of, what we really do these days, and how and where we do it. Communicating that kind of information doesn’t work well within the confines of anonymity. As such I want to take full ownership of this post, of my job, and of these three days in my library life.
So. I work for the University of Leeds Library – I used to run the service which offered digitisation to support learning & teaching, but this year I’ve been seconded to the LIFE-SHARE Project. This is what I looked like about five minutes ago, when I took a photo of myself outside my house, using my phone:
I’ve made it black & white to make it look moody, rather than just a picture of someone looking entirely expressionless, but you get the idea. If you follow the link later, you’ll see a picture of my wife; she’s much better looking than I am.
Day 1: internal communication
On the train to London by a painful 7am – off to JISC headquarters for a workshop on communicating effectively with internal stakeholders. As JISC provide so much funding for the LIFE-SHARE Project on which I am working (see the website, the blog, and the very embryonic Twitter account), they want to ensure that the libraries and their wider Universities involved (Leeds, Sheffield and York) actually know about what is going on and take an active interest in the project. Embedding these things properly is something I am all for; too many interesting projects fail to become integrated with the whole, and are forgotten about 6 months after completion.
A lady is asleep over the plug-socket on the train, so I cannot plug in ancient Laptop which can hold less charge than is required to boot up Windows. But an email from Joel Kerry is interesting enough that I labour through the process of replying with my iPhone! We’re discussing a workshop I’m running at the CILIP Yorkshire & Humberside Member’s Day in April. It was originally going to be called Marketing the Profession or some such, but with all the #echolib discussions it seems like a really good opportunity to talk about moving beyond the echo-chamber. Turns out Joel had thought the same thing (he’s the Events Coordinator for the region) and, more spookily, had also had the same idea that had been forming in my mind of getting a certain fellow professional involved in presenting too… She’s currently away in sunnier climes but I’ll ambush her with it when she gets back.
Arrive at JISC – never been before, it’s in an absolutely prime location just opposite the South Bank complex, and a very plush premises indeed. I meet the lovely Ben Showers for the first time (he’s looking after all the projects in the e-Content funding strand which ours resides in) and settle down for what turns out to be an INTENSE day of marketing stuff, led by the dynamic, excellent, and unrelenting Rosemary Stamp. It is serious stuff – we even had to work during our lunch… But, it was really useful, full of marketing information which makes you think “that’s so obvious and yet I am not doing it – why!?” and featuring a nice package to take away with you and reuse. I’ll probably have to devote an entire blog post at a later date covering all that we learned, but basically it was a very productive day. I also saw one of my best friends on the platform of King’s Cross – this always seems to happen. I think Londoners just hang around waiting for the rest of us to come down to them so we can stumble into them in public places.
On the way home the plug-socket is free, and I finally write an article about Library Routes for ALISS Quarterly. They approached me and Woodsiegirl earlier in the month about contributing something to the journal, and it was decided that I should handle this one; hopefully I’ve covered all the important points. My laptop (as well as having precisely no battery life) has this brilliant thing where there’s several thick, immovable white lines down the middle of the screen, so you can’t read one word in ten that you’ve written. Makes for good times writing articles on a train, I can tell you.
Day 2: presentations
I’m working from home this morning as we have a presentation for LIFE-SHARE in York in the afternoon (part of the embedding process) and as I live in York, there’s no point in commuting to Leeds for half a day. This is where I am working – I took the pic using the Hipstamatic app to try and make it look more interesting that it really is:
If you look very closely, you’ll see that this picture of my home office-space has my PC in it which has Lauren Pressley’s Day in the Life post showing on the monitor which has a picture of HER office in it - pretty meta, no? Also, if ever there was a visual metaphor for the way in which my work / fun balance has shifted in recent years, it’s the sad site of my work-related cup of coffee sitting on one of my turntables – SAD TIMES.
I haven’t had a chance to write any slides for the presentation yet, so this morning is all about getting something good down quickly. My part is about the Leeds and Sheffield case-studies – digitisation to support collection management, and digitisation for preservation and access respectively. I decide that less is more and go with only two slides in total (only having a few slides has worked well for me before) but I write a bunch of notes to go with them and try to memorise them. With memorising presentations, it’s all or nothing for me – I either have to not look down at my notes at all, or I have to check them all the time even though I can remember what’s coming. Otherwise I inevitably end up in the dreaded situation of staring down at my notes, trying to find where I’ve already done up to, as a long, agonising silence descends on the room…
Interesting email exchange with Bobbi Newman after she blogged on the subject of the echo-chamber – really glad she’s got involved with this meme. We both noticed with some awe that David Lee King, who left a comment on Bobbi’s post, has 6000 subscribers to his blog. Wow. I guess there’s different levels of echo-chamber…
After lunch I walk up to the University, meet up with my fellow Project Officer and my boss, and we go over our presentation and refine certain things. Then we go to a room in the lovely Borthwick Institute and deliver our presentation – it seems to go well, and we’re repeating it to a larger audience on Friday morning. I found myself doing it from memory and therefore not able to look down at my notes even though I had them there – God knows how much of it I forgot to actually say out loud.
Day 3: minute by minute
Hilariously, I get up ridiculously early to watch a Webinar about preservation, having worked out the difference between EST and GMT in the wrong direction. Come back later, the screen tells me. It doesn’t need to add: it’s 7am, what are you doing, this doesn’t start till 9pm your time, you fool. But I bet that’s what it’s thinking.
I take the opportunity to work on the minutes for the inaugural LIFE-SHARE meeting which took place the previous Friday. We Project Officers have to minute these meetings, and they are huge – nearly 20 people are on the Advisory Group (there are people from JISC, JISC Digital Media, Leeds, Sheffield, York, the British Library, and the ULCC) and go on for two hours plus lunch, so I was mightily relieved to have borrowed a laptop from the Systems Team to write everything down on. My handwriting is so appalling that by the end of two hours of solid scribbling, nothing at all would have been recognisable as words. It was a really productive meeting though.
Once I later get to work I carry on working on them – it takes absolutely ages to do, as pretty much all that was said is pertinent in some way. Here is the LIFE-SHARE office in all its splendour (that thing pinned to the board is a GANNT Chart I made which maps out the entire 15 months of the Project, with special shapes for the bits I have to do myself…):
After a quick lunch with the even-lovelier-than-Ben-Showers Mrs Wikiman, I have my probation meeting with my boss. I’ve worked here for 4 years but whenever you change grade you have 6 months probation, so we go through objectives and all that stuff. It’s easy to do with LIFE-SHARE as all the objectives are clearly laid out in the Project documentation; much more straightforward than in my previous role, where we’d be searching for meaningful objectives beyond the standard “continue to deliver an excellent service” etc. Project work is very focused – you have certain objectives that need to be accomplished by a certain time, and you just juggle them and do them until they’re done. I enjoy that.
I then spend about a million hours putting all the hyperlinks into this post, and get ready to click ‘Publish’. I will sadly be back online at 9pm, to attend the bloody webinar that I thought was this morning…