2016 Sum Up

Obviously, this year has been atrocious for many many people. Apart from all the current horror and fear in the wider world, many people I love have had hard times of it. So I feel kind of guilty for doing a Positive Things post, reflecting on the things I’ve done over 2016, but as I did set myself some challenges last year, I felt it important to address them.

Once again, I want to reiterate that I am very very lucky. I have a whole heap of privilege attached to me that means my life is considerably easier and I have opportunities available to me that others don’t. 2016 was a mixed bag of a year, with some disappointments that I’ve learnt loads from, but also some rather large wins in the second half of the year as I’ve tried to stamp out who I am professionally and where I see myself going . As I cross the threshold from new professional to been-around-a-bit I’m still conscious that cpd is lifelong and I’m happy to have been given some rather fat challenges for 2017.

In terms of last year’s goals, well I went to Lilac, the Playful Learning Conference and the RLC gathering in Brighton. Next year I’d like to add an international conference to my agenda, and continue to try attend as many non-librarian events as possible to get out of my UK-centrist silo. Next year I’m also presenting at Lilac, as well as being on the committee, so I’m really pleased that I’ve got a good conference experience to look forward to.

Writing more stuff-well although I haven’t had loads published this year I have published a book review for the Journal of Information Literacy, and I have written an awful lot! Look out for some exciting writing projects that should hopefully come to fruition in 2017….

LISDIS was once again a successful day and I’m looking forward to hopefully being involved with it again in 2017. As our baby grows, we’ll no doubt be developing it so again, watch this space.

I wanted to get more involved in local CILIP groups, and although I have failed to see the CILIP Y&H lot this year (due to every (excellent sounding) event they’ve done been on a day I couldn’t do!) I have continued to be on the local ARLG committee and we’ve done some good local teaching and training events.

I have spent a lot of the year thinking about what sort of librarian I want to be. I am a teacher. I love it, it is something I love thinking and learning about. I love exploring ways of motivating people to try new things or cross thresholds, especially in regards to how to see and approach information as its such a fascinating and important topic. I also love organizing things! So next year my goals are as follows

  • Finish my PGCHE and be a better teacher, working more closely with colleagues to design materials and lesson plans that really inspire students to critically analyse their approaches to information seeking, consuming and creating.
  • Successfully take part in the Lilac conference as a committee member.
  • Continue with LISDIS, ARLG and other conferences. Continue interest in RLC.
  • Do Exciting Extra Curricula Projects

Less of them, a bit more focused, a bit more manageable! Hopefully!

Have a wonderful New Year, and here’s to a positive 2017.



Brownies London Trip Fundraising

My wonderful Brownies told me they wanted to go to London at our last big chat. Obviously this will be VERY expensive and money can be tight. In order to get the costs down as much as possible we’re trying to raise money…

The link to my justgiving is here  https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/10thLeedsBrowniesLondonTrip

Any and all donations will be hugely gratefully recieved and you will be making a little girl’s wish come true!

Thank you!

Eagle Owl Jessbears-pic

LILAC, thoughts and reflections

I attended the Librarians Information Literacy Conference at University College Dublin, from Monday 21-Wednesday 23 March 2016. I presented, alongside my colleague Andrew Walsh, on the collaborative workshops on various information and academic skills we are currently conducting within my School at the University of Huddersfield.

These are my reflections from the conference; they are not an exhaustive list as many thoughts will have come and gone throughout the three (long) days. Throughout the conference I kept a video diary, which you can watch on my YouTube Channel, giving more of a ‘as and when’ flavour of my thoughts and feelings throughout the conference.

Day One

I attended four parallel sessions, presented at one, and one keynote.

My take-homes for this day were mostly playfulness-related. The keynote was a highlight as it got us running around, however owing to being a swot I volunteered myself to play, and was also sat near the front. Did any of the vibes I encountered below transmit themselves all the way to the top of the room?

The thing I’m going to nick –  using music videos in helping students think about key concepts and keywords/synonyms-adapted from the talk by Eileen Wright.

The thing I’m going to do more of – creating places to ‘fail safely’ is obviously a Biggie, and I think may help with library anxiety. Suggestions on a postcard please.

The thing I’m going to read up on – ethnographic studies of library use and how to think critically about spaces. The talk by the LIU librarians was my highlight of the day in terms of making me think about Future Practice.

Day Two

I attended two parallel sessions, one keynote, and the Lagadothon

The Lagadothon was a brilliant idea and I thought all the ideas were very well thought out and presented. Going to think of something that doesn’t just involve post-its and hope to put in to it for next year.

Today got me thinking about reflective practice, information privilege (and privilege in general) and teaching ‘for the moment’ as well as thinking about The Big Picture-am I responding to the needs of the class in front of me rather than to some big theoretical ideal in my head. The keynote, Char Booth, was excellent, mostly because of her exceptionally polished performance and presence in the room. On reflection much of what she said I already at least attempt to do….however…

The thing I’m going to nick – thinking about reading in terms of how many students see it- a chore. This comes from Pamela Kessinger’s session on reading critically and reading aloud and making observations as you do so on how that makes you feel/the process you are going through-may do a vid on this in the future.

The thing I’m going to do more of –  three question reflection, and trying to be more ‘Mindful’ (hate that word, soz, brings me out in hives) in the classroom.

The thing I’m going to read up on –as m’colleague handily checked, we have three copies of Char’s book in my library (love the wonders of modern day technology, can you imagine reserving a book written by the person you were watching speak, whilst they were speaking, seamlessly, using your phone, ten years ago?) so shall be getting that out for Summer Reading.

Day Three

I attended two parallels and one keynote and drank about a litre of Club Orange. The Temple Bar is Strong in This One.

I was, to be honest, a tired a grumpy mare for most of this day, which started with me getting all ranty about power and gender and its role in information source selection, and ended up with me sitting behind a stag do on the flight home.

The thing I’m going to nick – encouraging my (mostly women-School of Education, innit) learners to take intellectual risks – through teaching them easy and quick methods of evaluating sources so that they don’t worry so much about what they’re including. And getting in on this from Day One.

The thing I’m going to do more of –  assess my digital capabilities and actually use tools such as our VLE to their full extent-which I am very guilty of not doing.

The thing I’m going to read up on – aside from Word for Dummies, I’m going to have another look at the FASCINATING statistics from the content filtering in public libraries research Daniel Payne presented and look for some individual stories I could possibly flesh out and turn into some sort of book. Because I think that would be an interesting project. Anyone fancy joining in on that one for funsies, not for any higher intellectual purpose?

And those were my thoughts.

Other reflections

  • I am really really rubbish at visual note taking. This is something I was trying out as a result of seeing lots of folks talk about it on the Twitters, and watching some lovely vids. I also did a mindmapping workshop a few months ago that stressed the importance of visual clues to memory and got me all excited about colouring in and felt tip pens. However, my notes ended up looking like this…

…and I have no idea what any of this means…

  • I do, however, LOVE making video diaries. And seeing as YouTube is the second most popular learning tool after Google for many many students I am going to continue to do so.
  • Conferences are a zillion times better when you know other people! The first time I went to LILAC two years ago I MET a lot of lovely folk, however this time I felt so much more confident in approaching people as I already knew some and in fact traveled with colleagues and presented with them. Conferences are sociable events and I can understand how bloody difficult it must be for anyone with social anxiety-could there have been more support for folks like this? Not for me to answer as doesn’t apply to me, but maybe something to think about in conferences I help run in the future.

Here is the marvelous Woodsie and me in our corporate sponsored hats and beards. Conference dinner photos are best left elsewhere on the net, but we all had a lovely time…

me laura lilac

My YouTube Vids

Just realized I’ve not put this up on my blog!

I’ve been making little YouTube talk-to-camera vids for the last few months, which haven’t got any views and aren’t meant for any purpose but that I wanted to try it and enjoyed making them so thought I’d make more. They are about teaching/information skills etc etc. Here’s my referencing one to whet your whistle, more can be found on my YouTube Channel. It’s a lot of fun, talking to yourself, people should do more of it.



2016 Professional Development

Inspired by Woodsie’s blog on 2015/16 I’ve decided to reflect on the last year and make some goals for the new!

2015 was an excellent year all round for me. I started working in HE: I presented at a couple of conferences: I attended some other excellent conferences and some wonderful LIS events across the UK and Dublin (I love Dublin): I started reviewing books for CILIP Update, and I wrote for CILIP’s blog a couple of times (which was excellent and really painless-thanks to the web team for that!): I was on the organisation committee for LISDIS and that went very well indeed. I’m also counting Chartership as a Win because I’ve done everything for it, I just can’t afford to submit until the end of the month! So all in all I am Very Pleased. I am also Very Very Lucky and, as I said in my Chartership blog, Very Very Privileged. All these wins would not have been possible were not my personal circumstances as they are. So whilst I am Very Pleased I’m also feeling a bit Whelmed (you can in Europe).

Anyway, that aside, here are my Goals for the coming year.

  • Go to Moar Conferences. I bloody love conferences, both speaking at and attending them. I’m going to be doing both at LILAC (in Dublin! Joy of joys!) and would very much like to do more.
  • Write Moar Stuff. Actual Stuff. In Journals and The Like
  • Be on the committee for LISDIS 2016  (IT WILL HAPPEN)
  • Get more involved in local LIS groups, including RLC West Yorks (will happen) and CILIP Y&H
  • Continue to think about the sort of librarian/teacher/researcher I want to be and develop along these lines (wishy washy I know but it makes sense to me)

And on a personal note, I am going to continue my new found love of walking and am thinking of doing a Big Walk in the Summer-but watch this space for that!


Favourite Reads 2015

I’ve had to stop writing regular reviews as the demands of the day job have taken over, but I thought I’d go through my favourite books I’ve read this year.

Queen’s Gambit, Elizabeth Fremantle. This was one of World Book Night’s 2015 selection, and I’d never read it so thought I’d give it a go. A well-plotted and fast paced, if very dense, novel of the later life of Catherine Parr-from the courtship by and marriage to Henry VIII, to her final betrayal by Thomas Seymour. Loved it.

The Imaginary, AF Harrold. There’s a tribe in my office that love children’s books, and this terrifying illustrated anti-fairy tale about a girl’s imaginary friend who must save himself from the most horrifying perilous death was a clear favourite.

The Bees, Laline Paull. So skillfully done, the hive is a dystopia, but also chillingly real. Made me look at the bees in my garden in a completely different way.

The One Plus One, JoJo Moyes. I feel no shame for loving decent chick lit, and this ticked all my boxes. It is absurd, but very readable. I expect a film adaptation will be forthcoming. Think a very British version of Little Miss Sunshine.

The Cazalet Chronicles, Elizabeth Jane Howard. This series was my discovery of the year. The story, over five books (last one yet to read) of an upper middle class English family from the end of the 1930s to the 1950s. I also read Jane Howard’s memoirs, the first half of which made it clear that most of the Cazalet stories are taken from her own (amazing) life. Shame the second half was so dull.

The Last Kingdom, Bernard Cornwell. The TV series was a bit naff, but the first book of the saga of Uhtred the almost-Viking is a cracking bit of historical writing, and the battle scenes alone (must be read at breakneck speed) make it a thrilling read.

The Empress of Rome, Kate Quinn. I LOVED this series, and this, the third book, is the best. Sexed up, sumptuous and modern in it’s outlook, the characters are marvelous and the story so compelling I couldn’t put it down. Brilliant summer read.


Climb Every Mountain….

This isn’t a book review….  in fact this is probably the most non-bookish thing I’ve ever done.

I’m climbing a mountain for Nepal.

Now, this might not seem like big deal for some of you. But trust me, for me, this is big. I am not sporty, not outdoorsy, not even half as fit or health conscious as I should be. I vastly admire people who are, but I have always found exercise, whilst fun, to be hard work. My school reports for games always went along the lines of ‘Jess tries really really hard but unfortunately is just rubbish’.

So when my friend Hannah tried to get me to join her sponsored climb I initially was like ‘yeah, no’.

Hannah and me have been friends since she gave me my first makeover aged 12. We spent our teenager years together, being bad influences on each other, supporting each other through a lot of angst, exam pressure, boy heartache and cocktail making.

When travelling through Nepal she witnessed the devastation of the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck on 25th April 2015. Now she’s trying her hardest to raise money for the people who, with the monsoon season, desperately still need help.

And has guilted me into joining her.

Of course, this is also a jaunt. I’ve had an an absolutely wonderful summer of “training” walks around Yorkshire, including around Haworth (blogged by DrNeevil), Whernside and Emley. I’m doing Ilkley Moor tomorrow, and plan on also doing Great Shunner Fell as well as more local walks in Leeds- so really you’re not just sponsoring me for Ben Nevis, but for everywhere! Though Ben Nevis is the big one. I feel a bit fitter, more confident in knowing I CAN walk a long way, I CAN climb a mountain, and although I’m still pretty slow and pant a LOT I feel I’ve discovered a new hobby and also rediscovered my love for my county.

I climbed Whernside, highest mountain in Yorkshire.

I climbed Whernside, highest mountain in Yorkshire.

Please, help us reach our goal of raising money for the DEC, every time I look at see someone else believes in my ability to actually do this thing it makes me even more determined to do it!

Thank you to everyone who has supported me in my training (esp DrNeevil, who is a cracking walking buddy, and Ads who patiently talked me down the horribly steep downhill track of Whernside) and any sponsors are so incredibly welcome.

Jess xxx