Friday, September 29, 2006

R&D induction

This induction was a little bit like the company one but on a local scale. It was also a lot more personalised (not least of all because it was a one-on-one session) in that we focussed on my role and how it fit into the department. Having been here almost two months, now, we were able to discuss where things were going to go rather than day-to-day topics (e.g. processes). Earlier in the month, I had an induction with HR which covered a few personnel things and this department one picked up where the HR one left off as this was part of the official process that my line manager and I had not yet completed.

Like the company one, it was useful in terms of understanding the unique governance of the R&D programme (which is only managed by the company and is not funded by the company).

Chartership Group

Well, K fulfilled her action point from our meeting and got me invited to the next meeting. Unfortunately, it was roughly around the same time as my wife was due so I declined. Maybe I'm being paranoid but I was keen to be able to dash home at a moment's notice.

Well, that was a shame as she had the kid two weeks early! So now I'm a daddy (and thrilled to pieces about it) but have to hit K up for another invitation...

Publication in Library and Information Update

At my last job as Senior Information Manager for the Networked Learning Group at NCSL, I carried out a pretty hefty project of archiving some 10,000 documents. At the suggestion of one of the consultants that I employed to help with the job, I wrote a little article about the work and how we went about ‘putting theory in practise’, as they say.

The editor of Library and Information Update has agreed to publish it probably in the December issue but possible in the January/February one. I’m pleased:
  • it is something that I can add to my CV (academic institutions love seeing that you’ve published)
  • it raises my profile in the profession
  • it will contribute to my Chartership application
It may also help me get more articles published. This is something that I enjoy doing but haven’t really spent the time or made the effort to do since I was working on my MLIS.

Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for “Using metadata to organise an online collection for the education sector” in Update. Not the most pithy of titles...suggestions (you shouldn't need to read the article after reading that title to know what it's about)?

Web 2.0 and business

The concept of Web2.0, for those not familiar with the term, refers to a shift in the content of the World Wide Web from creation and publication to something more akin to evolution where readers can leave their mark. Blogs, for example, allow readers to post their comments meaning that the next time someone reads the blog entry, it is different to the last time. Wikis are another example. The best known is Wikipedia which allows individuals to update entries. I could go into the problems of allowing anyone to edit an entry – mainly authority and accuracy of the entry – but others (such as The Guardian) have already done so and done so better than I can.

What interests me is the use of Wikis in a business setting. Don’t laugh – why shouldn’t businesses use wikis? They have web pages, online purchasing, email, Intranets and bulletin boards. Wikis basically allow your organisation to generate documents in a truly collaborative fashion - a challenge with which many organisations struggle. The challenge then becomes how you protect that content with your content management system (CMS). According to an article in the August 2006 issue of Information Age, The impact of wikis on ECM systems, Gartner recommends “positioning wikis as an authoring environment only, and when the document is ocomplete a copy should be moved to a formal content repository”. While I can see the logic here, it seems to me that we’re back to Web 1.0 – create and publish.

How does a business protect content generated on a company wiki while maintaining all of the benefits that a wiki offers?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Company induction

Today, I joined a few other ‘new starters’ at a company induction. It was a chance for us to meet with one of the directors and have him take us through the company’s strategy, business plan, governance and structure. It was a pretty useful overview in that it helped me to understand how funding and reporting is arranged as well as knowing where the company is trying to go. Some of the others in the room had started this week. They seemed to be a little overwhelmed by the volume and complexity of the content of this presentation (especially around governance) and I think that it helped that I had already been here about a month before the session.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Corporate Communications

I attended the weekly Corporate Comms meeting this morning. It offered an opportunity to meet the team and to find out a little about what they are working on. After that, I had bit more of an in-depth meeting with a couple of the more senior members of the Corporate Communications team. We went over different things (publications processes, different projects that we would each like to talk about – a wide-ranging meeting that delved into some aspects of the company’s corporate communication function and just glossed over others).

One thing that I did learn is that we are no subject to the Freedom of Information Act. This struck me as odd (and frankly, a little wrong). I understand that the company, as a member-funded not-for-profit, like any other organisation that is not public, does not have to comply with FoI requests. I work in R&D, however, which is funded entirely by the government and managed on their behalf by my employer. Because the company that is managing it on their behalf (my employer) is not a public organisation, we are not required to comply with FoI requests. This seems a slippery slope to me and a bit of a loop-hole that unscrupulous individuals in government could use to spend public money, sheltered from public scrutiny. I will have to investigate this a little further to confirm whether it is indeed the case that we do not have to comply with the FoI.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Project Plan

I'm wishing that this software would allow me to assign categories to my posts. Some of them, you will have noticed, are specifically about the Chartership process, others about things that I have done or am working on which will support my application, and still others that are somewhat more information-generic.

Well this one is about Chartership process. One of my actions coming out of my first mentoring meeting was to create a timeline for this process. I have done it and I have to say, it doesn't look too gruelling (famous last words). I guess the idea is that you do work towards this goal 'little and often'.

I now need to focus on going through all of my physical and electronic files from previous jobs to identify some bits and pieces for my portfolio. I also need to set up the folders on my work PC so that I can store shortcuts to relevant pieces of work as I go along (little and often, little and often - this is going to become my mantra for this process).

Friday, September 08, 2006

First Meeting with Mentor

Well, we arranged and have now had our first meeting (yesterday) and agreed that we could work together. In the name of privacy, I shall refer to my mentor as Karen.

Karen and I went through the things that we needed to do to get started. Now I'm not the best at following protocols and filling in forms. My partner thinks this is strange given I love organising information. I guess I'm all about organising information "my way"...

Anyway, fortunately, Karen seems to be on a similar wavelength and wasn't too stressed out by the fact that I hadn't really done any of the forms that I was supposed to have done before our first meeting.

Out of the meeting came a few actions (looks I'll be a little busy):

Action: D - complete the mentoring agreement document and forward draft to K (did it this morning - one down!)
Action: D - get written confirmation of CILIP's recognition of my MLIS in order to pursue "Pathway 2" (did it this morning - two down!)
Action: D - get written confirmation of the guidelines that I'm to follow in this process (did it this morning - three down!)
Action: D - set up folders (structured according to CILIP categories) on work and home computers to capture bits and pieces of work over the next year to put into portfolio
Action: D - trawl through home computer files for suitable evidence to put into portfolio (specifically, things from last job and from Diploma)
Action: D - start a journal to capture ideas and thoughts as part of this process over the next year (hey hey - you're reading it! four down!)
Action: D - prepare a timeline (project plan?) of activity based on the requirements in the Guidelines (the idea is that as we go along, we can add the training schedule and the regular meetings that we'll be having - a picture of where we're going)
Action: K - find out about the Chartership Group at her organisation and "get me invited"

So that's it. I've got a few more things to do before this ball is well and truely rolling (setting up the folders, have a trawl and putting together a project plan) but it's off to a start - properly this time. I need to inform my employer that I'll be pursuing chartership. Normally, I would have done this earlier and in fact, I did inform my employer way back when I registered but I have since changed employers and after only a week and a half in the job, my boss went on leave for three this is all going to be a bit of a surprise. I'm not worried, though. The organsiation and my boss seem to be pretty reasonable and so will no doubt be happy to support me through the process. He's back on Monday so I'll give him a day before we have a little "catch-up".

Now that I've written about the journey to date, I'll start focussing a little more on the thoughts, experiences and ideas aspect of this journal.

Finding a Mentor

First stop, the CILIP Chartership webpages. Working as a sole professional (has always been the case for me), I really needed some help finding a mentor for this process. Fortunately, CILIP provide a list of mentors (by region) and an indication of their mentoring workload.

When I first consulted this list (back when I had originally registered), it wasn't really a helpful list. It contained name, email address and current mentoring workload. Not much there to use when selecting a mentor. My solution? I complained. I'm not proud but I was frustrated. Since then, the page has been amended to provide additional information regarding the mentors' organisations and job titles. Much better.

So how did I choose one? Well, I started by looking at the company names. I wanted someone who worked in a similar organisation under similar circumstances (i.e. not traditional library setting). Then, I used the job titles to identify someone who was not doing a traditional librarian's job. I know that job titles mean very little and that in the great scheme of things that it shouldn't really matter but... Basically, I just didn't think that I would really have much in common when it came to professional difficulties, experiences and ambitions with the "Librarian" at "Some Council Public Library".

So, having identified a few names that looked suitable, I started down the list. The first couple of emails bounced back! This was a little frustrating but I pressed on. I tried another person who already had one mentee on the go (and capacity for two more) only to be told (very politely I should add) that she already had a full case load. Hmmm... this webpage wasn't looking too up to date. My solution? I complained - again (I'm sure CILIP's Qualifications team are building a file on me). I suggested that the site ought to be updated and requested that I be sent an updated list in the meantime. Quite what my rush was after letting it sit for the better part of two years, I don't know; I guess it was just that I finally had momentum and didn't want to risk losing it!

CILIP replied promptly and I went through my selection process again and tried another name. This time the email not only worked, but the individual didn't have a full case load. Hurrah!

We agreed to meet to discuss the mentoring aspect of the Chartership process and to see whether we could work together (code for "see if we can get along").

So, with a mentor lined up (albeit provisionally), I was feeling a little more on top of things...time to set the first meeting.

First Steps

Some time ago, I decided that I really ought to get my chartership sorted out with the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). Colleagues of mine had done it and many of the jobs that I was considering (especially those in the public sector) required it. So I registered.

At the same time, however, I also regsitered and started a Diploma in Management at the University of Leicester. Unfortunately, it appeared I had bitten off more than I could chew and as the company was paying for the Diploma, it took priority.

Now almost two years later, I have finished off the Diploma (or at least all of the requirements - I'm now just waiting for the next convocation process in January 2007 to take place) and am getting down to sorting out my chartership.

First thing to do is check which regulations I am to follow. There are some recently-introduced ones that might have come into effect after I email has been sent off to CILIP asking for confirmation.

Second thing to do is to get confirmation that my Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) from the University of British Columbia (UBC) is considered a CILIP accredited course. CILIP's website says that they have a reciprocal agreement with the American Library Association (ALA) and UBC's School of Library, Archival and Information Studies (SLAIS) is ALA accredited so should be okay...but I'd like that in writing - just in case I get to the end of this process and am held up on a email has been sent off to CILIP asking for confirmation.

Third thing to get sorted out, is a mentor...