Monday, 26 March 2012

Legal Deposit at the National Library of New Zealand

Well I’ve just started my sixth week at the National Library in Wellington and I have to say it’s been a busy and interesting month.

My job title is Collection Management Librarian and I work within the Collection Services section, this covers Legal Deposit and Acquisitions. My main tasks for the week change weekly and for the first four months I worked with Legal Deposit. Part of our department also includes the New Zealand ISBN agency. Unlike many countries an ISBN is available free to anyone publishing their material in New Zealand.

For Legal Deposit, we aim to collect and archive ALL material published in New Zealand, with some exceptions such as forms, catalogues, financial reports, calendars (apart from the odd one or two which have information on them) and things which we describe as ephemera. One copy of each item is placed in the archives of the Alexander Turnbull Library, the second is placed in the National Library of NZ and is made available for collection delivery (inter-library loan) to readers around the country. Only if the print run is less than 100 do we only take a single copy for the Alexander Turnbull Library. This Alexander Turnbull Library is a “library within a library” and is a heritage collection and includes everything published and unpublished produced in the country, including paintings, photos, etc.

My first two weeks were spent dealing with monographs and monographs within a series. These are generally one-off publications, or items which are published as part of a series. Some of this material is interesting, but I have to admit that some of it seems a bit of a waste! There is so much vanity publishing which goes on and we see it all! “I’ve written this book about myself so my grandchildren can find out about my life and what I did.” Trust me, this is common! I’m not against someone writing about their life for a personal family archive, but I don’t know why they feel they need an ISBN and publish it for the National Library! Many monographs now are published electronically too and we also archive these on our National Digital Archive.

All items received on Legal Deposit have a catalogue record. Within Collection Services we just create a brief record and an associated purchase order for our records. The items are then taken to Cataloguing who create the full catalogue record. Any monos-in-series have their own catalogue record and then are checked-in under the series record, which has a serial record on the catalogue. It can get very confusing sometimes! Electronic/digital items have a separate catalogue and purchase order record. There’s a lot of basic cataloguing!

My third week was spent checking in the many daily and community newspapers we receive. It’s surprising in such a small country, population-wise, just how many newspapers are published. There must be about 30 daily papers as well as the hundreds of community papers, and yes, we still take two of each. Many of these are available online and we also ingest the e-version of these papers on our Digital Archive.

In my fourth week with legal deposit, I continued with the papers and on top of that checked-in the serials/magazines we also receive. We take all the published serials, and the majority of the newsletters produced by societies. Part of this serials collection includes company annual reports and council plans, etc, not to mention all the papers published by parliament and government.

There’s a lot of material in our collections! I have a pass to go down in the basement of the Lending collection in Wellington (the National Library) and there are two floors below ground which have a floor area larger than the main National Library which stands above it. On one floor we even have a road sign telling us which direction the roads on ground level go! The Turnbull Archives are even larger and I believe take up three floors below street level! For those of you wanting to know what it looks like – well it’s a large mass of rolling stacks! Yes it is easy to get a bit lost, but having been down a couple of times, I’ve got a reasonable idea where I’m going and haven’t got lost yet. It does feel a bit lonely in some areas, particularly if you’re the only one down there and the movement sensitive light goes out! :-)

Our ILS (or LMS) is Voyager from Ex Libris. I used Voyager some time ago when I was a Systems Librarian and Cataloguer in the UK. It’s about four/five years since I’ve used it, but I was surprised at how much I actually remembered. I think it’s also helped with my learning the job, since I don’t need training on the ILS. For our digital archive we use another Ex Libris software, called Rosetta. This taps into the ILS, so all records created within it are displayed in the main public OPAC. It’s interesting using Voyager for a different employer, since due to the nature of the work we use the software completely differently. We also use a lot more of the software features which I only touched on before. With our enormous numbers of serials and community papers I’m getting very good at learning the different types of publication patterns!

I’m certainly enjoying my job. We’ve no time whatsoever to be bored, we are non-stop. Material is coming in all the time. Having finished in Legal Deposit, I’m now working in Acquisitions, which is a completely different kettle of fish. More of that in my next post...

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Job hunting in a new country

Kia ora!

Well it's about three months since my last post and what a busy three months it's been!

Three months ago I was in the UK and still getting myself around my new position having gone through a transformation in July and not really knowing when our dream might come true. I had a new set of colleagues and additional aspects to my role, including local studies and delivering taster sessions. We also had a new library to plan for. It was all go.

Then suddenly, we had success! We had a buyer for our flat and we could finally start to plan our dream! So much to do and so little time to do it in... We had to respectively hand in notice at work, decide exactly where we were heading and look for jobs.

We decided to head for Wellington, and fortunately for me before Christmas a number of posts were advertised within the Wellington area. Time to make sure my CV really was up to scratch!

This is where job applications in New Zealand differ completely to those in the UK. From personal experience in the UK, I've generally had to complete an application form with limited amounts of space to really promote yourself. CVs are often an added extra and aren't really encouraged. If you do enclose a CV, woe betide you if it's longer than two sides.

In New Zealand all posts I applied for were by CV and covering letter. CVs include so much information. Mine was three sides without details of referees. There is a completely different emphasis. From templates I reviewed, you are encouraged to say who your customers are, focus on major projects and personal achievements in a position. Applying for posts in this way I have found quite an eye-opener. Tailoring a CV and covering letter really encourages you to see how your skills and experiences fit the position you are applying for. I found the whole task so much more rewarding. A company application form is only for that company and by the time the general information sections are completed, it takes me time to get enthused by the remainder of the form. I actually enjoyed the whole CV and letter experience. There is no fixed format and you're really encouraged to personalise the application and make your whole character and experiences come through in the way an application form cannot do.

Something must have worked... I'm now writing this from our new home in Wellington, NZ. We've got an amazing apartment overlooking the bay and best of all I have a job! I was interviewed the evening before we left the UK. That was an experience in itself. I've never been interviewed by phone before. I can remember sitting in the kitchen with my mobile on speaker trying to imagine the three people attached to the voices at the other end of the phone! Not to mention the fact that it was 9am in NZ and 8pm in the UK!

I'm in the process of finishing formalities now. I've had the formal offer through the post and am now waiting for my IRD (the NZ equivalent of a national insurance number or social security number) to come through the post before I can finish off the final parts of hte acceptance.

With any luck in the next couple of weeks I should be in post as a Collection Management Librarian for the National Library of New Zealand...

My next post no doubt will be about work for my new employer. I'm really looking forward to the job and can't wait to get started. In the meantime, it's giving me the chance to really get to know the capital city of New Zealand. Not to mention the fun we've had over the last weekend with the Hertz Rugby Sevens and then a family day on Monday with Waitangi Day. With the absence of family we spent the day getting to know people with a barbie on the beach!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Life goes on...

I've not posted anything on here since I finished CPD23. I feel a bit guilty about that, since much has actually gone through my mind and I've had plenty to muse over.

So what has been happening, well work has been busy, we've had events galore - the delights of working in a public library.

In one library we've had a history event, launching a DVD of the town. We used the event to also publicise our HertsMemories sites.

One of our local HertsMemories volunteers demonstrating the website

We also hired some oral history booths from our local university. We can set these up with specific questions and get members of the public to talk into them. We then put these videos onto our HertsMemories sites. Nifty bits of kit, huh??

The oral history booth

We've hosted an image roadshow for the local museum at another branch. They hired our Meetings Room and displayed photos from their collection along with our large collection of old photographs too. Then... we've also held a Family History Open Day. We have library subscriptions to Ancestry and FindMyPast, so we got a local family history group to come in and help as well. members of the public could come in for free and learn how to use the sites, amongst others such as FreeBMD, etc and our family history books.

We've also held a drawing event during the last week of October at another library. This was a combination of Family Learning Week and The Big Draw. Children were invited to draw what they thought their dream library would look like. I sat in the children's library with a lovely box of colouring pencils surrounded by children laying on the floor, sitting at the table, etc drawing pictures. It was good fun to do and gave me a chance to interact with them (believe it or not, the future of the country...)

We also had some contributions from big kids (staff to you and me...)

The posters are going to be displayed in our new library when it opens.

We're now in the process of organising the next set of events and displays. We've a new library opening in one town, so we're getting ready for that. The museum in another town has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to display a piece of furniture from the Victoria and Albert Museum, so we're tapping into events on the back of that. And that's just the start of it!

In the library world as a whole, I can't describe how brilliant the result is from the High Court ruling over Gloucestershire County Council. The full statement is on the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries website. All I can say is well done Johanna, Demelza and all those involved in the campaign, you worked tirelessly for something you believed in to get a result. I am definitely in awe of you all. As much as I can support you from a distance, I know I could never have done so much as you all have. I feel proud to have worked with Johanna a couple of years ago and her enthusiasm is infectious!

The last thing I saw which interested me... The Times newspaper in the UK has been publishing a Graduate recruitment section on Tuesdays. On 8th November, they published an article about a graduate career in libraries and librarianship, entitled "Why life as a librarian can be an open book." The article basically described how to get into the profession through Graduate trainee schemes and studying for a Masters.

There is a description of the possible role we may take and the type of person we need to be. Annie Mauger quotes that we need to be "enthusiastic and proactive, asking 'what can we do for you'?" I do however disagree to some extent where she says "One of the big advantages of our profession is that you can move easily between sectors - public, private, education, commercial. It can be a very flexible career." From my experience this needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. I have moved between sectors and have not found it easy. Certainly you can move but don't expect to remain at an equivalent level. You will most likely go down. I came to my current post from managing a small university Learning Centre, with staffing and budgetary responsibilities. I now work for a public library with very little, if any responsibilities which I can call my own, I'm constantly checking if I can do something, have no staffing or budgetary responsibilities. When I tried to apply for an equivalent level post, I was told I didn't have enough public library knowledge... I've also moved from FE to HE, depending on the university, beware, since there is a definite pecking order and FE (and possibly where you did your Masters) does not count for some universities in the UK. If you want to change sectors, make sure you do your homework thoroughly and don't be afraid of rejection.

So possibly on the back of that, it's time to get my own CV up to date and ready following on from what I learned in CPD23...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Thing 23: The end, but not as we know it!

This is quite sad. I've really enjoyed doing this "course". I've virtually met so many interesting people and I'm going to miss the contact. I know we all say we'll continue writing our blogs, but will we? Certainly I doubt if I will write so many posts on this blog.

I have a lot to look forward to, however, and my SWOT gives me a lot to think about. Some points from my personal SWOT include:

Much greater awareness of web 2.0 resources and software
The use of at least four or five things constantly in my daily work life meaning that I'm more organised and more productive
Willingness to exploit new technologies to show how they can improve our day-to-day working
Willingness to learn, even outside the work environment

Not keeping on top of new technologies as much as I can, particularly now 23 Things has finished...
Not convinced by my brand, I have two currently, one professional, one not - how can I combine the two and make it look professional like Joeyanne Libraryanne?

The new technologies from 23 Things which were a great opportunity
Learning from other people by reading their blogs
My impending move to New Zealand - this is a BIG opportunity and is taking up a lot of my life currently

My impending move to New Zealand... I know I've repeated myself, but however much I ask questions from friends/colleagues, read up and rely on past visits, the country is still a relative unknown, particularly with the world of work. I'll be completely out of my "comfort zone" and will be a big change, but I'm up for it!!

So where DO I go from here? Well it's all a bit up in the air, my current job contract finishes next July (and most likely not renewed) and if I'm not in New Zealand by then, I'll be job hunting in the UK, mainly as a stop gap. Perhaps I can get involved with something locally for CILIP which may give me something else to aim for. I've never been a mentor, but I think it might be quite a rewarding thing to do, but starting training and finishing it before I move may be difficult. I have also considered Revalidation of my Chartership, but I think it's getting a bit late in the day to start that too.

In the meantime, I'm also trying to keep up with LIANZA and the job market in NZ. I may do best to see if I can join in with their activities from a distance.

This all seems quite indecisive, but it's difficult in my current position to say right, this is what I will do. It may be that I get to NZ and find I can't get an information post, in which case I'll be falling back on plans B or C... That means re-learning teaching methods and mathematics or doing lots of sewing to get my confidence up!

In the meantime, thanks 23 Things, this has been useful, interesting and I've a lot to take away from this. I won't say it's been easy, but how can I learn if it's all easy. I've had to do a lot of this at home, however, the main frustration I had over this, was the fact we have these fantastic technologies with which to improve our daily work and services, and they're blocked. What I need to do is to continue practising with them to ensure I don't forget them! I certainly will continue to read any blogs which are still updated, I've no end saved in my Google Reader!

As for a 6-word story, I may have to pass on that one, or could I put "Here's to the next 23..." Ooh, that's only five words - how's about that then? :-)

Monday, 10 October 2011

Thing 22: Volunteering

What an excellent post by Jo. So what are my own experiences of volunteers and volunteering?

Very much like Jo, after finishing my library qualification I found it hard to find employment. Jobs just didn't seem to exist. I'm possibly also guilty of trying to get my thesis finished and passing, that job applications were the last things on my mind!

A friend of mine worked for BAe (British Aerospace) in Bristol at the time and managed to secure me work experience (voluntary work) in their information centre. I'd never worked in a special library and haven't worked in once since. However, I consider it a valuable experience. I loved the chance to deal with really complex in depth queries, sometimes working with confidential information. It was a very interesting place to work too. At the time they were building the wings for what is now the Airbus A380, all I'll say it, they certainly didn't call it the A380 then, it had just a slightly different codename!!

I'd love the chance to do this sort of work again, but due to my experience since, I think it would take quite a bit of persuasion, not to mention self-promotion to get the job I want in that sector. (Not to self: check Thing 21 again!)

I volunteered years ago to organise the music in my church choir library. I loved that, starting from scratch, but actually knowing I was making the music more accessible in the meantime. I also used to volunteer for the National Trust. Not libraries, but I learned basic budgeting, teamwork and leadership skills, so all in all a positive experience. Certainly in both of these, I felt valued - a great morale booster.

On the other side, I've not had a lot of experience from volunteers. We had a shelver when I worked in a college library, strangely enough, he now volunteers in the public library where I now work. He's been doing this volunteer shelving work for about ten years now, but is very reliable and helpful. Possibly one of the best volunteers you can get. He thrives on the thanks he gets from the library staff.

We also have a lot of volunteer editors for our local history site Herts Memories. We don't see these volunteers much, it's more of an electronic relationship! However, if we organise a local history event, they are often the first to come along to help publicise the sites, or encourage contributions.

If you count work experience as voluntary work, my experience of these has not been so good. Much of the time, they seem to find the work boring... How can work in a library be boring, there's always loads to do??

Currently my authority does not have many volunteers working regularly in the libraries. I know there are authorities which use volunteers on a regular basis and would be interested on how you work with these. What sort of work they do, how often they come in, etc. Plus there's the whole question of training volunteers, how does this get done?

It can certainly be a minefield, the whole volunteering experience, but I personally think it can be a positive experience for all involved.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Thing 21: Job applications and interviews

Over the years I've written so many job applications that I know what I'm doing - mm, OK, I'll believe myself!!

A couple of times recently I've been in the unfortunate position of either being made redundant or nearing the end of a fixed term contract which may or may not be continued. At these times, a list of what I've done has been invaluable.

I've got an old spreadsheet which has details of ALL the jobs I've done since I started work, including the part-time shop work while I was at school. (This may seem a tad over the top, but I learnt a lot about customer service skills and basic till use from that experience - so I dare anyone to mock it!) The only thing I haven't done with this spreadsheet is to include a brief description of my role and duties, this is still all in my head. So this may be a good time to create that database or Evernote folder with details which Maria suggests. I've also got a list of all the training I've done and conferences I've attended. My qualifications so far are mainly in my head, but I can easily check my certificates. Perhaps this is NOT the best way to record them! I have got a brief resume on LinkedIn, so I can turn to that if I get stuck too. :-)

The concrete details are the easy bit. The difficult bit is remembering my strengths. Every job application I do, I get my partner to read through. He is excellent at this and questions such as "why haven't in included that?" or "what about this" are getting less and less as I pick up skills. I read a job application, description and person spec thoroughly before starting any application, ticking off the essentials and desirables as I go, writing notes in the margins where something relates to my experience. I have at times used the exact wording in their descriptions to really plug the fact that I know what the job entails and I've got the skills to do it.

Application forms can sometimes be problematic, particularly if they have fixed word lengths on an online form and state that a covering letter will not be accepted. As you can probably tell from my posts, I can talk for England, but can I reduce the number of words by cutting out the rubbish - no I cannot!! My Masters thesis took ages to go through and cut out what was surplus to requirements!!

My downfall has always been interviews. About 18 months ago, I was applying for jobs left right and centre and I think my interview rate was about 85% or higher, but could I get a job - nope! I like Palely Loitering's comment from her friend “It’s not you, it’s them”. You can also tell if it's not been a good interview. I can't put my finger on what it is, there's just something which says it was not good. We also need to remember that going to an interview is not just about them finding out about you, but also you finding out about them. It's a two-way process and if your potential employer can't grasp that, then they are doing the process all wrong. Presentations are all very well, but I like the chance to chat to possible colleagues in a staff room or informal meeting. You can pick up a lot from faces, comments, etc in those situations.

I would be interested if there's anyone reading this about the length of a CV... In the UK here two sides of A4 is the maximum and then you bulk it out with a covering letter. I've recently been given a CV template for jobs in New Zealand and 2 sides just won't fill it. It goes on for pages and pages! Are there any Kiwis here who can help me??

My final word goes back to the detail and keeping a record. There are so many tools online to help us keep out details up to date for that moment in time, we really have no excuse. You may be ecstatically happy in your job, but they could come back to you tomorrow and say sorry we're closing down and you'll be made redundant. We all hope it won't happen to us, but sorry, it can, believe me, it can, so I recommend you keep that CV and database ready for that possible moment in time. Our job includes organising information in a way that it can be easily retrieved, so we should be excellent at organising our own information...

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Thing 20: Roots and routes

Well I blogged quite thoroughly about my roots in librarianship in Thing 10. I've put a link to my blog on the Library Routes project site now. That wasn't without it's frustrations, someone else was trying to edit the page at the same time and it caused me endless frustration trying to save the page!! 'Tis done though!

Like Laura on CPD23 I'm a nosy so-and-so and have enjoyed reading through all the posts about roots. I've also been looking through other responses to Thing 20. Like many I didn't decide upon libraries for a career until the first choice of career fell apart and then discovered librarianship, not really knowing that it was a professional career for which you could get qualifications.

A lot of us seem to have a fondness for books, although I'm not sure if this will be as important in the future with so much technology around. Maybe a fondness for reading, but books to me mean a tangible object made of paper - no Kindle for me if I can help it, I can't rescue it if it falls in the bath!!

Looking around a lot seem to have come from more of a humanities/arts background. I know when I did my Masters that I was a minority having a science background. Being the show-off I am, I quite like that!!

There's also quite a lot of us, who somehow "fell" into libraries, Auntie Daniel, Laura's CDLC, and the Hobbit Hole, basically by helping out or doing some work for someone, or myself by doing some quiz in the university library during my final year of my undergrad course!

I certainly agree with Palely Loitering, I honestly don't think that going straight into a librarianship degree at at undergraduate level is best. I think we can bring so much more to the profession from our previous experiences and knowledge, ie Jan Learns 2.0 is using her teaching background, very much as I do given the chance to deliver training sessions.

I don't think careers advisers (possibly along with 90% of the population) know what a librarian does, but then our profession is so varied and different depending on the sector we work in, how can they?? As the Hobbit Hole suggests, we do need to market ourselves at careers fairs, but in doing this we need to make sure we have a representative from the major sectors to give a fuller picture.

So yes, I think all in all my route into the world of librarianship has been typical. My recommendation to anyone entering the career is get some experience behind you before doing the qualification. It makes so much more sense. I am lucky to have worked in both a public library, an academic library and even three weeks voluntary work in a special library before I did my MA and it broadened my mind considerably. I actually enjoyed going back to uni to do the Masters. For me personally, studying for the qualification there gave me the chance to discuss experiences with my peers, which I certainly wouldn't have got if ACLIP had been around then.

I think Paulamarie sums up the profession in her last few paragraphs, illustrating what a rewarding career we actually have the privilege to work in. Libraries are certainly not on their way out, we'll just be working in a different way. There will always be a need for organising information in a way in which it can be found when the certain person asks that certain question. I know from experience that many have not a clue how to search and cannot find the information they need. Who can show them how to do this?? Yep, it's us, those with hair in a bun, glasses, twinset and two piece... (And don't get me started on the image...)