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 the 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! ūüď£¬†(thanks¬†@amybelch!)

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

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


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Launch of The Language Scholar #langscholar17

Here’s my Storify of yesterday’s launch event of one of the journals published by the University of Leeds (illustrated by the beautiful card shown in the picture below).


This is not an edition of The Language Scholar.

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CPD needs analysis

In my work place we are lucky that there is a wealth of training offers we can access, both on and off the job, as well as some funding for external events and courses. But how do you decide what training is approriate for yourself and your team?

I usually find that colleagues I manage will tell me about training options they would like to pursue and if they make a good case they can attend the training session or take some time to train themselves to fill skills gaps. I do a similar thing with my line manager and most of the time we can agree on what kind of training is relevant and appropriate, and affordable. I have paid for training myself when my workplace would/could not fund it, especially when I have been keen to attend some training or event for my own development, learning and networking (and often enjoyment). This is why it is so important that regional professional networks are present and accessible to everyone, alongside professional development grants.

How is your training and development organised at work? Do you have a list of relevant/appropriate training option and/or providers you can turn to?

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Reblogged: Thinking of a career change?

Glad to see that someone else has been thinking about careers lately, too. I really like these tips from the Future Library and Information Professionals Network:

Future Library and Information Professionals Network

Our latest post is a short one which comes as a result of a few messages in our inbox from people who have already had successful careers in other fields deciding to pursue a career in libraries. We thought it would be good to share some of the advice given to a wider audience!

Librarianship is a field which encompasses a lot of skills you may well find in all kinds of careers. To perhaps oversimplify, if you are interested in helping people and solving problems, then you will probably enjoy working in libraries. If your current career has involved either or both of those two things, it is likely you would be suitable for a role in the sector.

It is interesting to see that of the people who have contacted us for information about making a career change toward librarianship, often state the same thing:

‚ÄėI don‚Äôt know‚Ķ

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Every so often someone asks me if I think they should consider pursuing an MA/MLIS or MCLIP, so it feels like it may be worth sharing my thoughts here. The tips below are amended from my latest email about this topic, to someone who already works in libraries:

1. Masters. I think the main thing to consider is what qualifications you may need for future roles, or what your other motivations for doing another degree are (and yes, just for fun is fine). Assuming you are considering this for career reasons, I suggest that you look a LIS Job Net and similar sites to see what kind of jobs are of interest to you. That will give you an idea of what you need to show when you apply. Existing library and life experience may already get you places without further completed qualifications (which you may be able to complete alongside a new role). I cannot comment on content of a LIS MA but I suggest you choose one that is likely  to sustain your interest, meaning one that allows you to choose subjects that you are  interested in/that are relevant to your career plans. Would another degree be more enjoyable and still relevant to your career plans? Will the degree you choose be relevant in other countries (if moving abroad is something you are looking at), and how do their library systems work?

2. MCLIP. This is a professional registration, not a qualification, meaning that you lose the letters after your name when you leave CILIP. (In contrast, a qualification is for life.) But: CILIP registration shows commitment to CPD, and you have a ready-made network of professional contacts to draw on. Also, consider whether the future roles you are looking at are based in sectors that value/know of CILIP. I get the impression that school libraries are fairly keen on CILIP, while more specialist libraries may have other organisations they are keen(er) on. Think SLA, BIALL,… If you are interested in using your MCLIP abroad, check out CILIP’s website. (And¬†if you want to read my initial thoughts on the chartership process, click here for an old post about this.)

3. Time. An MA will take you at least a year, with approx 5 essays (= approx 36,000 words) and a formal structure. CILIP registration is a portfolio (= approx 2,000-3,000 words) and can take as long as you like – you have to organise your own structure though.

4. Money. How much do you have and what other aims do you have? Is it realistic to spend several thousand £s(*) on an MA if you cannot be sure to benefit from having it (or is the joy of having learned stuff enough, and could you do that cheaper?)? Or is it better to invest that in a mortgage/deposit/life generally? How quickly can your earn the invested money back in a new role that you get after qualifying (if that is something that you are interested in)? Are there ways of getting funded (which may add another motivator)?

5. Over to you. Good luck with your decision! You could aways do both, as they can complement each other. ūüôā

PS. If you can access careers advice anywhere, do so. For example, CILIP members can access careers support via the Careers Hub. Also, aspiring and new professional may want to check out the NLPN blog.

*Note: Slight amendments were made to this post on 22 February 2017, concerning MA fees. Initially I estimated approx £6,000 based on Aberythwyth University fees, but have been informed since that you can do it for as little £2,000 if you already have a PGDip.

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Notes from #AULC2017

Last week I attended the annual AULC conference, held in Belfast. It was a very inspiring and fun event! Here are some notes from the sessions I attended, plus My Conference Storify. Copies of all presentations can be accessed on the AULC 2017 website.


Keynote speech 1: Translation and Translation studies in the Foreign-Language Classroom (Professor David Johnston)

  • there has been a rise in translation and translation studies related HE courses
  • translation can be seen as a “fifth skill”, rather than as a learning method or tool
  • if there is a lack of understanding people are more likely to fixate on specific meaning
  • is there sucha¬† thing as “culture shock”, or does thae assumption that it exists inhibit real experiences?
  • it’s baout the life of the text, not necessarily the context
  • translation as a “third place” between two languages = “no-place”

Session 1: Making the most of free online tools and technologies for language learning & teaching (Liza Zamboglou)

Session 2: Developing Co-curricular Language Learning Activities (Carolin Schneider & Melinda Whong)

Here’s my presentation, delivered together with a colleague. It was great to engage with colleagues and be able to share the good work we do in Leeds.

Keynote speech 2: Multilingual and Creative: Rethinking University Language Classrooms (Libor ҆tńõp√°nek, Masaryk University LC)

  • use your creativity!
  • creativity requires fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration
  • importance of decreasing the amount of success/fail situations to create a pro-creative environment
  • importance of peer collaboration and student-generated materials

Session 4: Encouraging Students to Learn Deeply and Broadly (Daniela Standen & Ugo Marsili)


Keynote speech: Exploring Multilingualism and Identity: the benefits and challenges of a large interdisciplinary project (Professor Janice Carruthers)

Session 1: Providing languages for All and much more through digital media (Andrew Grenfell)

  • using existing streamlining platform to create teaching and learning materials
  • expansion across compus
  • allowing added content, comments, downloads

Session 2: The Italian Digital Project (Patrizia Lavizani)

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I have just found out that I have been awarded my MA in Technology, Education and Learning. Here’s a picture of a cat to celebrate!


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