Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Annual Scottish E-Book Conference 2012

I found out today that I had won one of the MmITS sponsored places to the annual Scottish E-Book Conference. To say I am excited would be an understatement, not only do I get to spend a day learning and talking about e-books but I also get to visit Edinburgh, somewhere I haven't been before. 

Now that my place is confirmed I thought I'd blog the application I wrote back in August. I'm not really sure if this is good practice or not but I put a lot of work into this piece  and want to share it. If it's on here at least I don't have to worry about finding it in a few years.

If Twitter was a classroom and the announcement of the MMITS E-book conference sponsored place a question I’d have been the geeky kid at the front bouncing up and down with my hand in the air.
The thing is that I really like e-books and not just because I no longer have to make impossible choices between shoes and books when holiday packing.  Whether it’s supplier platforms, e-lending, DRM, publisher supply or the ongoing debate about PLR payments, just mentioning e-books is guaranteed to get my attention. So when I saw these sponsored places retweeted I knew I had to apply. However I’m not going to write a list of reasons why I want to attend the 12th Scottish E-Books Conference. I’d rather try and explain how passionate I am about e-books and e-lending and how important I feel they will be to the future of library services. I want to show that while I’ll be attending the conference to develop myself I have my own knowledge and opinion to offer to the table.

To see some of this passion you only have to look at my blog,  Jenny’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Created a little over a year ago it was originally a mix of professional posts combined with my love of art. After starting Chartership in 2012 I made the decision to use the blog to reflect on events and my CPD. I also started writing opinion pieces which increasingly have focused around e-books and e-lending. I never intended for the blog to become so bias towards one subject but I’m glad it did. In discussing e-books I’ve opened my eyes to wider issues in the library and publishing sectors, both here and across the pond in America. 

Currently working in a FE College I started my career in public libraries. I left just as Overdrive was starting to find a foothold in the UK and despite most academic platforms being very different I followed developments in both sectors. Meanwhile I led my college in building up our own collection of e-books and continue to look at ways of getting the most out of available resources. Our most recent project is investigating the feasibility of introducing PDA on a small budget. 

Just as the internet instigated radical change in the LIS sector during the 1990’s I believe e-books will contribute to an equally radical transformation in the next five years. The problem is that we have issues around licenses and format to sort out first, not to mention the image of library e-lending as a threat to publishing and authors. We also have to stop thinking of e-books as flat, unengaging copies of a printed book. E-books have the scope to be so much more than this and although small steps have been taken we are a long way off reaching their full potential. 

With e-books and e-lending regularly featuring in the national press their profile has risen significantly in the last few months. As a consequence I think we will soon be at a pivotal point for e-books and the issues surrounding them. There needs to be ongoing dialogue between the right parties in order to reach a resolution and at the moment this dialogue is only just starting to get going.  As a developing professional I want to be involved in these discussions, whether it’s through consultations, blogging, Twitter, or conferences. 

I’m well aware that the implications are far reaching, while e-books in public libraries are currently high profile any resolution or legislation is bound to have wider reaching implications across all library sectors. Although I can’t hope to keep up with every development in the library and information sector, e-books are a subject where I want try to do just that. Most of all I want to see all sectors of libraries in the future able to offer the e-books their users need, whether this be the latest best seller, a core text book or an obscure medical text. I just hope that I can be part of making that happen.

I'll be Tweeting during the conference and will be writing a report for MmITS afterwards so I will share that when it is published. 

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Another (Very Pretty) Departure From E-Books

I've not written about e-books recently. This isn't because I haven't been thinking about them, in fact a letter of mine regarding lending third party content was published in Update this month. It's just that with the new term starting the last thing I want to do at the weekends is start researching a new blog post. 

That said I have been busy, last week I ran a half marathon and yesterday saw our first hockey game of the season. Even so, rather than retreat for my customary Sunday afternoon nap today, I decided to follow up on an idea developed from an article on 3D printers. While the modern printers in the article use plastic I had a vague recollection of older models that used wax. This reminded me of the lost wax castings I did at university and by proxy the other work I did with wax during my art foundation year. 

I used to do a lot of work with wax, some of it very successful. It got me thinking about the flowers I had made and how wax would change them. I even toyed with the idea of whether they could be cast themselves if coated in wax. So, with it being a particularly cold and rainy afternoon I decided to have a little play.

The observant among you will notice I've snuck some tissue paper flowers in. Tissue paper and wax work SO well together so I couldn't resist. However I'm equally pleased with my recycled book flowers, I tried to use a variety of techniques so each is slightly different although they are all made from just the original paper flower and wax, nothing else. The differences are due to the temperature of the wax, the way it is applied and the thickness of the layering.

Creating these flowers took less than a couple of hours and was a lot of fun. If you want to have a go I would suggest using a bain marie, such as you would melt chocolate in, to melt the wax. Be careful not to heat the wax to much as it has a flash point, I kept taking it off the heat, letting it cool and then reheating once it got to thick. Apart from that all you need is some paint brushes and bulldog clips to hold the "stem of the flower" while the wax hardens. Enjoy.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Chartership Progress - September 2012

I've been working on my chartership portfolio for over 8 months now and at last I feel like I am making some real progress. Over the last week I have made a list of the evidence I want to use, made notes on how each meet the criteria and started collating it all in a folder. I also have a near completed CV, my job description (haven't read that for a while) and an updated PPDP which sort of relates to the evidence I have decided upon. I am struggling to get hold of a organisational structure but that's just because the current restructure means it is constantly changing.

As someone who has worked professionally since completing my MA six (seven? - I should probably know that) years ago I could have backed dated my portfolio evidence. However I made the decision early on that I wanted to go through the full year of chartership and really commit to my CPD. Even though doing chartership has been difficult at times, especially with work and home life hectic, I haven't regretted that decision at all. 
Throughout I have enjoyed the process of chartering but recently it has dawned on me that my attitude to chartership itself has really changed in those eight months. When I first started I saw it as a box ticking exercise. I thought I would go through the year as I had gone through previous years with the only difference being that I would keep better records. 

This hasn't been the case at all, I am more reflective, I actively seek out opportunities to improve my knowledge and most of all I am more confident in myself and my skills as an information professional. I have started using learning logs, I make public commitments on this blog (not all of which I keep but I do try) and I engage actively with the profession through Twitter. Best of all I have met (both physically and virtually) people from other sectors who I might never have crossed paths with otherwise. I now see chartership and CPD not as an exercise to satisfy someone else's requirements, like an exam or a test, but as something much more personal and self rewarding.

Doing chartership has created a sort of momentum that has seen my professional development snowball over the last few months. I hope that once I complete in a few months I will be able to keep this momentum going. I like to think I will, it certainly helps that I'm in a stable job that I enjoy and that I have this blog to update regularly. I find it acts like a sort of virtual conscience nagging me to put something out there.

In the mean time I'm going to press on with the hope that I will be able to submit my portfolio before Christmas. I still have a bit to do, not least organising a NW Chartership meet up, but I hope I will get it done this year and that it will be good enough for the board.