Life in the UK

I have spent most of September and October reading and re-reading the same book, Life in the United Kingdom: A Guide For New Residents. My house and handbag were littered with flashcards and post-it notes full of facts and figures, I bored everyone around me with facts and questions about the corn laws, James I and VI, Henry VIII’s wives, the devolved admininstrations, etc. – and yes, I passed the test. Compared to other exams I have taken so far in my life, this one feels like the one that makes me most proud. Weird, no? Some of the information I gained has been valuable (did you know they still have sheriffs?!), and I can’t wait to visit the National Civil War Centre!

Also, it was interesting to find out how much of the information and knowledge required for the UK citizenship test British citizens have actually learnt at school or in everyday life. As a language practitioner I also found it fascinating to see how the information was presented in the literature designed to prepare me for the test – it took me a while to get my head around the structure of the book, to be honest.

In the end I have become quite fond of the – now very tattered and marked – book… and I don’t just say it because I don’t have to read it again. If you want to see some sample questions, have a look at

[By the way, I did okay on the German citizenship (practice) test as well, you’ll be glad to hear. The German education system has served me well.]

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#uklcchat no more

Today’s #uklcchat is finished and take-up has been very low again, so this trial will come to an end (background).

It has been an interesting experience to set this up and there may be things that could have been done differently, especially in regards to marketing. Also, I wonder if the needs I tried to address with this are already covered elsewhere, for example as part of AULC activities. By the way, AULC now has a Twitter account (well done!), so get involved with that if you can.

Thanks to those who have taken part in #uklcchat and those who may have followed proceedings without getting involved further. There are many other great chats to join, so find the ones that suit you and enjoy! šŸ™‚

Here’s a picture of a half-eaten pie to illustrate the joy of potentially half-baked ideas šŸ˜‰

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Reading 2017

Now the darker nights are coming, I have taken stock of what I have read so far this year… and it turns out that 2017 has so far been a year of primarily reading popular (and what some might call ‘trash’) fiction.

The thread that weaves itself through the year so far is the series called Rutshire Chronicles, by Jilly Cooper. Nearly everyone I told I was reading these told me that they had read them as a teenager, either giving me funny looks or being very enthusiastic, wanting to share who their favourite characters are. I am glad that I read these: I learned some new words (Well, I say “learned” – I have a list of words I didn’t know before and can’t remember now), I learned what a regard ring is (and, as part of research, also what an adore ring is), and I was entertained by (most of) the stories.

I also read some Jerry Cotton novels, some books by Jeffrey Archer, some detectives novels I have picked up in pubs, and some books on information behaviour and mentoring. And as in previous years, Goodreads has been an invaluable tool to keep track of my reading. Some of the reviews have also helped when I was unsure whether to give up on a book or stick with it for a few more pages. (Generally, give up when it’s boring. It’s unlikely to get better.)

My to-read list has nine books on it at the moment, which should get me through the rest of the year, but any recommendations are welcome!

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First #uklcchat – summary

Access the first #uklcchat Storify by clicking here.

And the agenda for the next #uklcchat on 11 October.


Here’s a bowl of apples to illustrate new bright-eyed beginnings

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23 Things for Information Skills

OK, so there’s a new “23 Things” blog on my radar and in my diary: RudaĆ­ 23. The course starts on 9 September and is – like most other 23 things programmes – self-directed.

I am looking forward to learning about new tools and reflecting on my own professional practice, while finding out a bit more about librarians in Ireland. And it may also encourage me to blog more often, especially now that the nights are becoming longer (but that might just mean more sleep).

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First #uklcchat on Twitter


#uklcchat is planned to take place every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 14:00 to 15:00 UK time.


#uklcchat is aimed at those who work in University Language Centres, such as language practitioners, teachers, librarians and administrators, and anyone else who is interested, and will be shaped by those who participate in the chat.

It is modelled on existing Twitter chats, such as #eltchat and #uklibchat. As it is early days I haven’t set up a designated Twitter account or website, but may do so in the future. This idea will be initially explored until Christmas and then I (we?) can decide whether it’s worth carrying on in the new year. So if you don’t take part, it’ll disappear again.

Don’t have a Twitter account?

Find instructions and support on how to set one up atĀ

How to take part?

To join in you just follow the hashtag #uklcchat.Ā  Anything you tag with #uklcchat will be part of the conversation.


Tweet example

How does it work?

  1. One of the moderators (initially: me) will put up a blog post or tweet asking people who follow #uklcchat to propose topics for the next chat. Suggestions can then be added to a Google document, meaning that people can go to the document and suggest topics there.
  2. Once the next chat topic has been decided, an agenda will be published as a Google document that people can add to. (Re decisions on topics: do you want a poll or do you want moderators to decide? Please comment below.)
  3. On the 2nd Wednesday of the month from 14:00 to 15:00 UK time, the chat will take place live on Twitter.
  4. Participants are welcome to collate the chat themselves, blog about ideas, etc.


Here is the link to the document where you can add suggested questions for the first chat on marketing and promotion.

For now, future dates and information can be found on the page “About #uklcchat“.

Get involved further?

If you would like to get involved in development and moderation of this Twitter chat, please get in touch with Carolin @bumsonseats.

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To #uklcchat or not to chat?

Inspired by the successful #uklibchat, a discussion group for librarians (and others who are interested) that takes place on Twitter, I would like to propose a lunchtime Twitter chat for those who work in University Language Centres, such as language practitioners, teachers, librarians and administrators, and anyone else who is interested. To group chat responses I propose that we use the hashtag #uklcchat.

I suggest that chat topics are proposed by participants. An openly available agenda can then be created in advance of the chat and people can add things they would like to discuss. I think I’d need some helpers to do some admin and moderate chats, so contact me if you are interested in getting this up and running!

Please suggest topics and convenient times in the comments section or on the “Topics” document on Google Drive.

(PS. I’d also love to run a Language Centre unconference, so let’s plan that as well, while we are at it! ;))

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A few days ago I used I used for the first time, to create an illustrated version of my library’s annual statistics, inspired by recent CILIP Conference workshops I attended. It is really easy to use and turns out to create quite an impact! Late to the party, but perhaps there are others out there who’d beenfit from this useful tool.

Below is another example:


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Further notes from #CILIPConf17

A few days ago I posted initial thoughts on the CILIP conference 2017 (programme) and had planned to write a full set of notes, but it turns out that most of my notes are basically my Twitter feed of the two days. Which can be found here: Twitter feed: @bumsonseats #CILIPConf17

Below are some additional notes, but I’m sure there are far better accounts of the event out there, such as those that will surely appear through NPLN or CILIP special interest groups.

Keynote: Dr Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress

This was a very engaging talk about public service, needs of communities (“lifelines”), creation of spaces for community dialogue, accessibility for all and the importance of listening to other people’s perspectives.

One of the main points that I took away from this was that technology can distract from content when skills are not adequate, meaning that you should accept help from others who know more than you (whether they are younger, older, less senior, etc). This can create valuable connections between generations of colleagues, and users, bring the professions closer together.

The LIS professions are global and inspire trust; plus we have the strongest professional stereotype out there, apparently.

A more in-depth write-up of this session can be found on the CILIP website.

Notes from sessions on marketing, impact and evaluation (Terry Kendrick, Selena Killick, Frankie Wilson)

  • Experiments/pilot project usually more successful than surveys.
  • Service needs to be consistent at every level.
  • Add value by targetting information to different stakeholder groups.
  • Choose which groups are worth your effort when communicating information.
  • Check if any other services can match your users’ expections. If so, that’s your competition.
  • Is it more convenient for users to use your service than not to use it?
  • Testimonials are powerful: people use things and services that people who are similar to them use.
  • Engage with users’ lives. Actually: delight your stakeholders! Know and (help them to) solve their problems. Use storytelling and infographics to make statistics come to life (but don’t go overboard).

Some other notes include:

  • The OODA loop (observe, orient, decide, act), suggested as a tool to aid staff engagement
  • The Public Library Skills Strategy has been launched – to cover 2017-2030.
  • It is essential that (successful) change involves development of the workforce.
  • Sharing is caring.
  • Everyone needs the right information at the right point in life.
  • Remind yourself of the core purposes of your service (and therefore your role and institution).


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Notes from #CILIPConf17

I have just spent two days in Manchester, at theĀ CILIP conference 2017. It was my first time and as a result of attending I feel really proud to be a member of this vibrant professional LIS community.

Key message from #CILIPConf17: get loud and shout about what you’re doing, tell everyone! šŸ“£Ā (thanksĀ @amybelch!)

Favourite quote: “Failure is a bruise. Not a tattoo.” (Jon Sinclair), shared during theĀ session about empowering staff.

If you want to know exactly what I tweeted during the day, here’s a link to a relevantĀ TwitterĀ search. I am planning to write up my notes in the next few days.


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