Friday, 28 June 2013

CILIP rebrand - Let's help the process, not trip it up

I'd like to say a few things about the CILIP rebranding. There's not much more to add to the debate, but  this is my take:

  • Most people agree CILIP isn't a very good name. I've heard no dispute on this one.
  • The CILIP logo and colour scheme are over 10 years old. That's quite a long time for a brand, how much longer could it last?
  • £35,000 is actually not that much money when you think about CILIP's annual income and expenditure. The project cost detailed by CILIP includes designs and implementation, as well as consultation. If the new brand lasts another 10 years and contributes to the professional body becoming more influential then it would be hard to argue this is anything other than value for money.
  • Most people don't like change. The consultation process has not managed this fact very well at all.

I don't think the rebrand should be stopped. I agree that the existing brand is holding our professional body back, and I don't believe that it will be able to grow its influence without a clearer identity.

I do want to see the dialogue continuing though, and I'd like to see evidence of what the branding means to people outside of the existing membership. The existing c15000 members that CILIP represents matter greatly, but that number should be higher - people who may join under our umbrella in the future if they felt the identity of CILIP matched their own. Also, many of the the people CILIP needs to influence are not members. The brand needs to be able to reach them as well as reflect us.

We've all got pet lists of things we'd like to change about CILIP (mine include: stop paywalling the magazine!) but I believe it is a fundamentally good thing and deserves our support when acting in good faith to sustain and develop itself for our benefit.

The process may not have been handled brilliantly so far, but stopping this work in its tracks would undermine attempts to develop what CILIP does. Let's help them find a better name and brand, not trip them up.

Monday, 24 June 2013

OAI8 - What I heard, talked about and learnt

I spent three days last week at the 8th CERN Workshop on Innovations in Scholarly Communication, known as OAI8, in Geneva. The conference runs every two years and I attended once before in 2011. This year saw a record attendance of over 300 librarians, academics, information scientists and other interested parties. The event manages to feel more like a big workshop than other familiar information conferences, and attracts varied speakers and participants. Among the things it does especially well:
  • Encouraging sharing and asking of questions. From the tradition that everyone bring a drink from their own country to the café style workshops that encourage people to learn something new, sharing of experience is central to the appeal and value of OAI. 
  • Being international. Simple really – no national agendas lead here. The thinking is macro-level and all better for it. 
I attended pretty much every available session apart from one morning where an extra half an hour with a coffee and croissant were too irresistible. Highlights from the programme are easy to pick out:
  • Open Access Café – a great format that gives small groups time to discuss a particular issue with genuine experts. I spent time with University of Glasgow’s William Nixon, RLUK’s David Prosser and Dr. Rupert Gatti of Open Book Publishers and the University of Cambridge, who all shared their insights on repository development, Open Access advocacy and the potential of OA monographs respectively. 
  • Plenary 5: Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences – Perhaps the highlight of the whole conference. An excellent session, which put disciplines often starved of attention in Open Access discussions right in the limelight. The discussions on the humanities in and for the digital age, open monographs and opening up the World Bank were provocative and vibrant. This bodes well for the forthcoming Open Access Monographs in the Humanities and Social Sciences Conference at the British Library.
  • Metrics – all three sessions here were good but I'd particularly recommend Johan Bollen's overview of this super fast moving area. Check out his 'metrics cubed' diagram (snapped here by Natalia Madjarevic).
  • Research Data: the overview of research data policies by Dr. Wolfram Horstmann was excellent, and Kevin Ashley provided food for thought on what different people want from research data.
My key takeaways and interpretations from this very enjoyable event:
  • Libraries need to do TONS more on making excellent OA research books discoverable. Thanks to Rupert Gatti and Marin Dacos for reminding us.
  • Open Access = global readership. We seem to forget about this but I think we should be saying any chance we get.
  • Gold Open Access and Article Processing Charges are not the same thing – other models are available! The lessons we learnt we to think creatively, think about value for money and be flexible.
  • (Open) Access and Reuse are not the same thing. I think we should be wary of letting issues or enabling reuse slow down the progress towards access.
If you are looking for an event that goes beyond detailed discussion of repository software, that nourishes collaborative efforts, and will inspire you to support innovation in scholarly communications, then I can highly recommend that you put OAI9 on your 2015 horizon. 


Other minor OAI things to share:
  • CERN is amazing. If you ever get to visit Genva go and see the Globe - they do tours.
  • The conference back-channel was so good someone archived it (of course):
  • Photographs including images of your author standing around, waving his arms at people and drinking coffee can be found here.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

And you may ask yourself - how did I get here?

I often say that your career path only make sense backwards, and that's certainly true of mine. I'm certain that luck has played a big role in the path I've travelled so far but I do think there is something to learn about being in the right place to make the most of your luck when things go your way.

There are a few things I'd like to recommend to you if you're not sure what the future holds, but you want to be ready for whatever comes along:

Update your CV when you don't need to

Those quiet times when you're comfortable in a job are the perfect time to update your CV. I used to update mine with tired eyes usually on the evening that a job application needed to be submitted. Now I force myself to update it when I'm settled in somewhere. 

This works well for me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's a great way of taking stock of where you are and how you are developing professionally. Second, it can save you a lot of pressure if a job comes up at short notice. Finally, you can match it against opportunities when they come up more easily. I just find it so much easier to see a picture of what my experience looks like when it's written down.

Write down your publications, presentations and events attended

I've never included these on my CV before so I'm sure I can't be the only one who fails at this routinely. Recently I decided to collate them, and it was much harder to do now than if I'd kept track at the time! It amazed me to see it all written down together. It seems so strange now that I'd never done this before.

Remember that it's a small sector really and people you meet now often turn up in unexpected places:

I'm pretty bad with remembering names. Anything that helps me here is welcome, and I do use LinkedIn to help me keep touch with people. One thing I've just done is to turn on the feature on that lets people see if you look at their profile. It should allow me to learn more about the clicks that my profile gets, but I also decided that if I wanted to look at other people's profiles then there's no reason why I should hide it. I guess if you're a stalker then this advice won't be for you, but otherwise I think there is nothing to lose. Also, in terms of building a professional profile I don't mind if my name pops up occasionally on there.   
    I can't tell you how often people I've met at conferences, tweeted, read and listened to that have ended up working with me, interviewing me (or interviewed by me), or just reappeared somewhere in my professional life.

    These are fairly small scale, common-sense suggestions I think, but doing these things has helped me feel just a little bit more in control when your career will have a life all of its own.

    Sunday, 24 February 2013

    CV Do's and Dont's - a shortlister's perspective

    I've already spent an improbable amount of my life reading CVs as part of recruitment processes. From my perspective on the recruitment side of the process, the first phases from application through to shortlisting are all about finding out who can do the job to the level you need. As an applicant, your number one objective should be to make sure the shortlister has good evidence to conclude that you can do the job. Here are my tips on how to make sure your CV helps you do this the next time you apply for something.

    Tailor: Tweak your CV for the post you're applying for. If your CV comes across as a piece from a completely different jigsaw puzzle you're already in trouble.

    Give evidence and demonstrate ability: If the job asks for experience of managing large teams, please don't just put 'I have managed large teams'. It might allow the shortlister to say you meet the criteria but you'll certainly be up against others who've given some insight into what makes them good at this, or shown enthusiasm for it. Space is always an issue but you can do clever things to get a nuanced picture of yourself across. For example:

    I co-ordinated the work of a large team
    I was responsible for appraising, directing and motivating a team that included a range of roles

    Both take one precious line on your piece of paper, but the second is so much more informative.

    Avoid excessive personal details: This can be really counter-productive as it can seem over-familiar and undermine an otherwise professional CV. The biggest crime for me is putting your date of birth. I can honestly say that I've never taken any notice of seeing this on a CV. Experience and ability is what counts. A colleague recently told me how having put '10 years experience' on an application she was asked if she had 10 years experience of doing different things or 10 years experience of doing the same thing over and over again for 10 years.

    I've also seen people put their picture at the top of a CV. It partly feels old fashioned to say this in the age of LinkedIn, but if an employer is asking to see your CV then the black and white facts are going to be your main selling point, and a CV with your picture on it does not tell me that you've got the skills and abilities to do a job and it won't make your CV any more likely to get nearer the top of the pile.

    The same goes for whether you are married, have kids, have a dog or have hobbies. Employers are likely to be searching your CV for demonstrated evidence that you have a customer-focussed attitude or something similar, and taking up space on this sort of personal information can just get in the way.  Keep if short and put it at the end if you really want to include it.

    Typos: It will really undermine your application if on one hand you express your dedication to attention to detail whilst on the same page you leave glaring typos, unfinished notes like "[insert more here]", or my personal favourite, you copy-and-paste in a reference number and/or job title from a completely different job.

    Don't linger on past glories: Your GCSE grades may be exemplary but if you're applying for a professional post it's probably your degree and postgraduate experience that matters. Include them if space allows but keep it brief.


    Many posts do not require a detailed application form and your CV might carry a lot of the weight in demonstrating that you're worth calling to interview. Shortlisting is in my experience a surprisingly mechanical process, driven by a list of criteria that the shortlister is going to be measuring your application by. If you bear this in mind and present to them the right information - ideally demonstrated evidence that you can do the job - then you'll maximise your chances of your application making the impact you want it to.

    Friday, 11 January 2013

    If at first...

    This week I learned that a conference proposal that I'd jointly made with my friend and former colleague Natalia was unsuccessful. We were hoping to talk to a wide audience from across the library and information world on how we feel so-called 'generic' skills are underplayed in their importance to contemporary and future librarianship. I like to think we'd have given a positive and provocative take on this.
    The initial disappointment has now passed, but I found myself thinking soon afterwards that maybe it would be interesting to blog the proposal anyway. Librarianship is a remarkably open profession so it feels comfortable doing this. The paper contains no big secrets, and nothing that Natalia or I haven't ever said out-loud or on twitter before, so why not give it some exposure on here?
    The profile that a slot at a major conference can give your ideas is certainly very desirable but it's no longer the only way to reach an audience. As I stand by the ideas that we were putting forward, it would be a shame for the proposal to end here. Perhaps others will find the proposed content interesting and maybe it can be useful elsewhere. 
    I'm hopeful that by sharing it and taking any comments that I might be better prepared for the next time. In that spirit I was surprised and pleased then to see the Library Camp people doing the same already via Google Docs. It's also reassuring to see that we're in excellent company in not making the programme this year.
    So here it is via a Google Doc. Please let us know what you think either in comments here, on twitter or on the document itself!