Looking back -#BlogJune wrap-up

Looking_back (2)

Photo from Cole Patrick via Unsplash


#BlogJune 2016 has finished (I know, I should be up with the times, but I’ve been away in Vanuatu, completely off the grid for two weeks, so just settling back into NZ life again :D). It’s my habit to write a bit of a reflection post at the end of the month, so here goes 🙂

In terms of numbers crunched, I published 9 posts – not as many as 2014 (didn’t do #BlogJune last year; trying to remember why?), but I’m happy with the out-put. I haven’t published many posts this year (apparently only 10!), so glad to get back into the habit of writing  I really do enjoy blogging; I’m just not always disciplined enough to put in the time to do it.

In terms of quality, I managed to blog relatively practically this year, and explore some thoughts about work which was really fun. It was great to reflect on things that I am learning and doing (particularly in the area of health librarianship), although it was also challenging to blog in an honest way about work while still being professional and positive. I’m sure everyone has issues and challenges in their workplace, but for me, I don’t necessarily feel comfortable discussing those on a public blog. I prefer to blog in a constructive way about what I’m learning/thinking/reflecting on at work, so that’s what I chose to share here.

Turns out my most popular post was about live-tweeting a design thinking workshop; this one certainly garnered quite a lot of attention on Twitter – not sure which aspect (live-tweeting or design thinking?) was most popular 🙂

And a few numbers here (for those interested in stats):

Stats for June 2016.PNG

Stats by postStats by country.PNG

Some of the other highlights for me were just being able to read other people’s blogs, and follow their stories and thoughts and ideas – so much inspiration! I’ll have to go back and catch up on those posts that I missed in the flurry of #BlogJune 🙂

So what was the highlight for you from #BlogJune? What did you enjoy most? What did you learn? Did you surprise yourself? 🙂 I’d love to know…


10 things that energize me at work

blog post energize.jpg

Image by Aleks Dorohovich available from Unsplash

As a few others on #BlogJune have done, I’m going to blog today about the top 10 things that energize me at work. Thank you to Ruth Baxter & Katie Davis for your inspiration 🙂 So here’s 10 things that energize me at work (in no particular order):

  1. Coffee breaks with friends – there’s something about the combination of a warm moccachino (yes, I know they’re not real coffees, but they are still my drink of choice :D) and chatting with friends at work (either about work stuff or other stuff entirely) that just helps reenergize me and get some other ideas flowing
  2. Using pen on paper to write lists or to get my thoughts together. I find that working on a computer all day does not always help me to think creatively (and my eyes get sore – worn glasses since I was 4 :D). So having a wee break from the computer and going to pen and paper helps stoke the fires of creativity and envisage things in a new way.
  3. Closely related to number 2 – use pens, colour and paper to mind map (and not just write things in a list format). You can see one of my mind maps below:
    Mind map of professional development ideas rotated
  4. A change in routine – attending a workshop or talk, going to see a poster display, just mixing up my computer work with talking to people and getting fresh ideas. One thing that is really great about working in Ko Awatea is that we have many professional development opportunities or can sit in on workshops or seminars (like the design thinking workshop I attended the other week).
  5. Deadlines or being under pressure. Much like Katie noted, I am motivated by deadlines – I love starting new projects and rotating between things, but I’m not always the best (or motivated at) following through on things, so deadlines help me focus and be productive and complete things.
  6. Interacting with people – I really enjoy one-on-one tutorials or helping folk, and being able to interact with their problem/challenge and help solve it together. Helping other people does make me feel good, and I enjoy the challenge of working on something together and both learning more out of it. Often I have an ah-ha moment as I understand something about the topic together, or I have to figure out how to answer a question that I might not have thought about before.
  7. Sharing things & reading things on Twitter. Just having a wee break in my day to see what’s happening on Twitter, to exchange a thought or interesting article, and be inspired by what other people are thinking about and working on.
  8. Taking a short walk – I have been trying to build more exercise into my routine this year (particularly as my position is rather sedentary). I find taking a brief walk outside in the fresh air really helps to reenergize me (as sitting down for hours tends to make me feel a little sluggish).
  9. Music. As Katie said, often she’ll have a concert party in her car on the way to work. I find listening to music can help me focus on getting routine tasks done, and can sometimes calm down the ‘imposter thoughts’ that others have mentioned – “Am I really doing this right? Is this the best possible work I could be doing?”
  10. Talking with colleagues about ideas – often we’ll come up with some interesting ideas/problems/challenges at our weekly staff meetings which can help start some interesting ideas & collaborations.

So that’s what energizes me at work! What energizes you at work?

One small step for man…


One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind…

That’s a little bit the way I felt as I participated in a health conference – the first ever non-librarian conference I had been to. It felt like a whole new world, and a new place to explore. I’ll try to capture just a few of my thoughts and impressions from attending this conference, and the wealth of knowledge that I learned.

My current position is Information Specialist (Liaison Librarian if you like) with a special focus on Allied Health & Projects. A large part of my work is getting to understand the many different occupations and specialties that are included in Allied Health and help support their research and best practice. This involves doing literature searches to support projects or work initiatives, teaching information tutorials and one-on-one research tutorials, and attending Allied Health events where possible. Just to give you a bit of an idea, a really simple explanation of Allied Health is anyone working in health that isn’t a doctor or a nurse. Some of the many occupations that fit under the umbrella of Allied Health are:

  • audiology
  • dietitians
  • occupational therapy
  • physiotherapy
  • psychology
  • speech and language therapy
  • social work

I had a poster accepted that talked about how my role was created (probably about a year before I came on board) to specifically liaise with Allied Health & Projects to help support research and evidence-based practice in these areas. I’ve included it below, in case you are interested to see it:

Stronger together - Allied with the Library poster - Abigail Tarbotton

Anyway, my overall impressions from the conference (and from some of the themes that were raised) is that many of the same challenges that face Allied Health face librarians as well. The first keynote by Professor Sharon Mickan focused on the importance of using evidence-based research to support our practice, and she also mentioned what a useful resource health librarians are in both locating resources, creating search strategies, and also co-authoring the research along with the relevant health professionals. The other two keynotes, by Professor Susan Nancarrow, and Dr Graeme Benny, picked up the key themes of education, and how many people are going through long years of training, and then the difficulty of getting jobs that are appropriate to their specializations. They also picked up on the importance of being generalists as well, but still utilizing our areas of expertise and providing that guidance and expert knowledge in multidisciplinary teams. Many of these themes would be equally applicable to librarians, I believe – particularly being generalists, learning new skills, but also making the most of the traditional librarian skills & knowledge as we also work in multidisciplinary teams, and get outside of the library and embedded into wider work teams.

One of the other themes – which I know a lot of other librarians can say Amen to! – is that we are not getting more resources, but we need to keep offering and often extending our service. So the little mantra is “Instead of getting more resources, we need to be more resourceful” – for librarians, what can we do with what we have already to work smarter, to help more people, to allow better & equitable access to resources and knowledge?

Many of the presentations were also inspiring, with many great examples of working together, working smarter with the resources we have, and keeping it focused on the customer/user/patient/person – what do they need and is the service we are providing enough for them?

It was encouraging being able to interact with a lot of different people from different disciplines and perspectives, and to learn more about what they do, and how they are doing it differently in response to changing needs.

While there wasn’t an offical hashtag, one of the participants suggested that we all use #nzahconf16 to index our tweets. Many of the conference participants weren’t on Twitter, so it was really exciting to see some of them pick it up for the first time, or dust off their old accounts, and join the conversation. You can also read a storify of the tweets that I collated from the two day conference.

Overall, I had a blast at conference – thank you very much to my workplace for the support to go and present a poster, and network with Allied Health professionals from around the country. It’s definitely helped me understand some of the key challenges facing Allied Health practitioners in their practice, and hopefully it will help me continue to grow my knowledge of each of these areas so I can support them better in my on-going work.
 So back to you now:
  • Have you been to a conference other than a library conference?
  • What were your impressions?
  • How do you think attending professional development events that are not focused on librarians will help you develop into a better information professional?

Learning to see like your heroes #BlogJune

You dont want to look like your heroes.png

I think I’ve mentioned before how much I love @AustinKleon’s writing, and this is one of my favourite quotes from his book “Steal like an artist: 10 things no one ever told you about creativity.” The main point of this quote is that it’s fine to begin with imitating our favourite heroes, artists, mentors, but it needs to move beyond that. We need to not be content with imitating them (looking like them); we need to see things the way that they saw them and produce art like they might have (but with out own particular spin on it).

I suppose this also extends to professional practice; I’m sure we all have people that we look up to, or who we think about doing this whole librarian-thing really well. But we can’t be exactly like someone else; we have to put our own spin on it. But we can definitely learn from others before us, and the more influences we have – the better our own work will be!

So (at the risk of sounding like Buzzfeed) – you do you 🙂

Emergence – How #BlogJune has helped me discover my voice

Emergence by ALice Popkorn
Emergence” by Alice Popkorn licensed under CC BY 2.0

I usually always look for a Creative Commons image to use with my blog posts; typically, I start out with an idea in my head and then find an image to match my theme. In this case, I was looking for images about “creativity” and this one really stood out to me. It’s slightly different from the theme I’d planned to write about, but it has set in motion a whole other line of thinking for this post – which I love! Serendipity – isn’t it a wonderful thing?

Anyway, this image is lovely because it perfectly captures the feeling of the new things I blogged about for #BlogJune – creativity, inspiration, things that make me laugh or smile, and creative writing 😀 Last time, I blogged more about work and library profession issues, but this time around, I really enjoyed exploring my creative side. I’ve found some fantastic books to read over the last month, and some interesting videos (like TED talks, Columbo, and more Monty Python clips – always good).

It also is a metaphor for the emergence or growth of my blogging ‘voice’ – I didn’t realize that creativity was a theme that resonated so strongly with me, but I discovered some great resources and writers this month which have really helped feed my interest in this area. I love the use of light and colour in this image and the vitality and hope it emotes – I hope my blogging voice continues to grow in the coming month and that this #BlogJune won’t be the shot in the dark for a largely dormant blog…

Out of interest, here are several other images I toyed with for this post (but ultimately decided it didn’t quite match the theme of this post – I may use them later on) 😀

Creativity is intelligence having fun
Creativity is intelligence having fun” by BK licensed under CC BY 2.0

I thought this was a really clever use of light and creativity, plus it’s coupled with an excellent quote by Albert Einstein – very hard to pass up!

Creativity vs art
Creativity vs art” by Conor Thaxter licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another excellent quote about the importance of creativity, but also a reminder that you need to be selective after you have been creative.

Creativity” by Mark van Laere licensed under CC BY 2.0

This image also elaborates on the theme established in the last one; creativity is important, but you may toss out many ideas to find one that’s a keeper. Loved the use of light, the physicality of the paper, and the shadow of the broom – very nice composition!

In closing, I hope everyone enjoyed the process of #BlogJune! I’m looking forward to catching up on more of the posts over the next month – see you on Twitter and in the blogosphere!

The road goes ever on and on…

Bag End (Hobbiton) a photo I took on my trip earlier this year

As you probably know by now, I *love* all things Lord of the Rings, and this just seemed an appropriate title for this blog post although I have a sneaking suspicion I may have used it before 🙂

Wow – what a year it’s been!

I haven’t posted on this blog for a while (actually since before LIANZA conference in October)  – whoops – but had the urge to do a post now I have finished work for the year.

I love this time of year as you have some time off from work and therefore some time to look back at the year that has just passed and plan for the year ahead.

Some of the highlights of this past year include:

  • Six-months full time work on a cataloguing project at Te Wananga o Aotearoa Library
  • Finishing my degree – BA with a double major in Library & Information Studies and The Humanities in June
  • Running ANZ 23 Mobile Things with Kate Freedman
  • Presenting two sessions at LIANZA Conference 2013

And some of the things I’m looking forward to next year:

  • New job! (more information below)
  • Starting my year of mentoring for LIANZA professional registration

Some of you may have seen on Twitter already that I have a new job lined for next year – Electronic Resources Librarian at Wintec here in Hamilton!

This job involves looking after all the electronic resources, such as the website, databases, and research repository as well as investigating emerging technologies – it’s a fascinating role and I’m really looking forward to starting!

Some of you may know that for the last three to four months, I have been working in a reception/admin role at a law centre. This has been both a positive and challenging time with working in a different sector, learning more about NZ law, and helping a variety of people in a huge variety of situations. It’s been really good for me, and I’ve learned loads and made some great friends, but I am super excited to get back into the library world. This is also part of the reason I’ve been quieter on Twitter with trying to get a handle on a different new job, but I hope to get right back into the swing of things next year and get my library mojo back!

Merry Christmas to you all and I hope you have a great new year, full of new challenges and surprises.

A little bit caught up…

Caught Up
“Caught up” by Nanagyei via CC license on Flickr

I was just looking at my blog and realized the last post was titled: “This could be a hard habit to break.” Well, maybe not that hard – seeing as I haven’t posted in over a month!

It was quite unintentional to follow up 30 days of non-stop blogging with (over!) 30 days of not blogging, but I’ve been enjoying some time off and a slightly different pace of life.

In the past month, I have wrapped up my six-month contract role on a cataloguing project, enjoyed a week’s holiday away with the family, and spent a couple of weeks at home catching up on stuff and applying for jobs.

This post isn’t an excuse for not blogging, but rather a realization that I needed some time away from this blog to focus on some other things in my life. I feel that I am coming back more refreshed with more clarity about the priorities in my life.

Sometimes it can be a hard balance to be both disciplined with blogging (because we all know it’s a discipline, right?) and to also allow yourself the freedom to skip a day (or a week!).

I really enjoyed Blog June and the challenge of posting something every day, but feel that is quite a frantic pace of blogging to maintain. Then I completely fell off Comment July – and I don’t even feel bad about it! I’m hoping to continue in the spirit of Comment July with “Blogger Friday” as I still feel it’s important to comment on other people’s posts, but I’m glad not to have the pressure as July was a busy month for me. I’m hoping to make a more realistic return to blogging now with at least one post a week – maybe more. I have a habit of writing or blogging when I feel the urge, but then sometimes find it hard to motivate myself when I am busy and tied up with other stuff.

What are your tips for keeping motivated with blogging?