Monday, 4 June 2012

Design a website? Why, don't mind if I do!

An exciting opportunity arose at work last week in the form of re-vamping our Education and Development department website. Currently there are two websites - this one for our Bromley site and another one hosted on our intranet for the Woolwich site - the two departments have now merged and need one single website, and our existing library website will also be hosted here.

The way it came about was that I was recently involved in designing a logo for the E&D department, using the same Wordle applet I used for our Library & Knowledge Services logo. Everyone is mad for word clouds at the moment and Wordle is a quick and easy way of creating them. The management team got everyone to contribute words and concepts for the cloud then I spent a number of hours (I won't say how many!) playing with fonts, colours and designs. Along the way I also discovered the NHS colour palette and in the end we focused on colours which matched this palette - blue, aqua, purple and grey.

Anyway somehow this has now made me the go-to girl for all things design-wise (not that I'm complaining!) and when the IT guy in charge of re-vamping the website asked for some design input my manager volunteered me for the job. It's the best of both worlds for me really - I get to play with pretty design stuff, which I love, and somebody else will take care of the coding! I had a good chat on the phone last week with the guy in IT and so far the only requirement he has is that the pages should be 990 pixels wide. We'll be using the same Joomla! program I am used to with the library website (although a more updated version) and he has installed a open source Photoshop-like program on my PC called Gimp for images so I'll have fun playing with that. So far I am thinking we should use the colours in the logo, and maybe incorporate some photos of staff in the department training.

Just gotta dust off my Information Architecture for the World Wide Web book now...

Structuring my portfolio

Well it's the long Jubilee weekend, I am off work for four days, how better to spend a gloomy Monday than building up my Chartership portfolio? The path to Chartership has been rather rocky so far - there always seems to be something else I need (or want) to do...but if I don't get cracking the whole year will have slipped away and my Chartership portfolio will remain nothing more than a blank white page!

I have at least written my PPDP, attended a Chartership workshop at CILIP in February and had a meeting with my mentor at the end of April. I find now I need some kind of structure, something tangible which I can populate with evidence. Unlike some Chartership candidates I have no shortage of evidence - it's just choosing what areas to focus on and selecting the most appropriate evidence to demonstrate my competence. My mentor had the excellent idea of looking at the new CILIP Body of Professional Knowledge and Skills (currently still in draft) and choosing a few of these competences to provide some structure to my portfolio but I have to admit I'm struggling...

I have two excellent example portfolios to hand which my mentor lent me but they are both structured very differently. Both start out with the usual CV, PPDP and Personal Statement but then Portfolio 1 has chosen the section headers "Context of post and service" where she outlines the various organisations relating to her job from the top down, "Service performance and CPD" where she discusses various aspects of her job role and finally "Broader professional activities and interests" listing a number of groups in which she actively participates. Portfolio 1 puts all her supporting evidence at the end of the document and refers to them throughout the sections above.

Portfolio 2 also has a section where he discusses the organisational structures, but this is followed by the headings "Intellectual property and professional ethics", "Information services", "Website development", "Library management system: scoping and implementation" and "Staff training I have developed". The supporting evidence is displayed within these sections. The only other obvious difference is that Portfolio 1 has her mentorship evidence at the beginning while Portfolio 2 has his at the end.

I think I prefer the structure of P1 but would worry about being too descriptive. The structure of P2 is closer to my mentor's BPKS idea but I wouldn't want to feel I had to force various activities into certain 'slots'. Perhaps what I need to do now is gather together all the evidence I want to use and see what categories emerge - if it fits into the BPKS competences all well and good but if not I could maybe refer to the BKPS when reflecting on it. In any case I want to get the structure right from the beginning as it will make the portfolio more 'real' to me, which hopefully should encourage me to keep cracking on!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The road to chartership

Well I have finally done it - I have filled in my registration form for CILIP Chartership! I haven't actually sent it off yet but am planning to do so this week. It may not seem like such a big deal to most people but I have been ummming and ahhhing about Chartership now for well over a year, trying to decide whether or not it's worth going for. On one hand I can see the value in being reflective about your practice, getting support from a mentor and developing a portfolio of your professional development. But practically will it really change my practice? And will it price me out of the job market at this point in my career? And do I really have the time?

The Chartership question all came to a head this week when I read over the job description for the post I currently hold and found Chartership had been put in the person specification as essential. I should say this job description is a re-vamped one for the consultation we are currently undergoing at the Trust whereby we all have to reapply for our jobs (or jobs very similar to ours). I want to give myself the best possible chance of getting the job as I don't know who I may be up against (possibly my manager - how is that for awkward?) and at least if I don't have chartership yet I can show I am in the process of obtaining it. Anyway it has been on my PDP for this year as well so now will do as well as ever.

One of the main reasons I have been holding off is because I wanted to make sure I have a bit of experience behind me first. I just don't see the point in launching straight into Chartership after qualifying - what can you realistically bring to the exercise? Now I have 2 years of experience I have quite a few examples I can draw on. It might even encourage me to blog more regularly! Watch this space....

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Living your life with one arm: a beginner's guide

I am not the first person to fall off my bike and fracture my shoulder and I certainly won't be the last. To help all of those folk out there who live life one-handed I have developed a very non-scientific rating scale for the activities one might encounter in daily life as a guide to aid decision-making:

1: Very easy (makes you question why we even have two arms)
2: Fairly easy (can be accomplished without much trouble)
3: Moderately difficult (can be undertaken but better to get some help)
4: Very difficult (do not attempt unaided)
5: Impossible (don't even bother)

So for example I would give a rating of 1 to something like putting something in the bin or pressing a light switch, 2 to making a glass of squash or typing on a keyboard, 3 to making a cup of tea or food shopping, 4 to baking a batch of brownies or cleaning the floor and 5 to rock-climbing or playing the saxaphone.

This is meant to be a guide not gospel and it will very much depend on how you're feeling that day. For instance I would probably rate "making spanikopita" as a 4 (fiddly filo pastry, messy feta cheese, all that washing up...) but I really fancied it this evening for my dinner and made some without falling down dead. Also the examples may be slightly skewed toward female activities, as that is what I am!

Reading a book: 1 (although more difficult if you try to combine reading with another activity, like eating)

Packing a suitcase: 2 (but give yourself plenty of time)

Taking a shower: 2 (make sure to go slowly and carefully so you don't slip)

Washing your face: 3 (the flannel is your friend)

Putting on a bra: 3 (was originally a 4 but then I discovered that if you turn the bra round backwards and attach it round your waist you can slide it round to your front, hook the straps round your arms (bad one first) and shimmy it up til it's in place! Note: for all clothing matters there is generally a fair amount of shimmying involved)

Washing dishes: 3-4 (uncomfortable and pretty ineffective)

Putting on a t-shirt: 5 (go for buttons or vest tops)

Contact lenses: 5 (glasses are the way forward)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

My one-armed life

The following blog post doesn't really have much to do with libraries or information of anything of that ilk but last Thursday on my way to work I fell off my bike after a rather stupid-looking black Alsatian ran into me. Fortunately it happened in the park right behind Lewisham Hospital so I made my way over to A&E and was seen and tended to by the lovely staff there very efficiently. The upshot of the whole affair is that I have fractured my humerus, of which the only humorous - ha, ha! - thing is that I can say I now literally have a chip on my shoulder, and am reduced to living my life with one arm.

The timing isn't great - I am maid of honour at my sister's wedding in two weeks time and while the colours of the occasion are yellow and purple, I'm not sure the horrendous bruising on my inside upper arm are really what people want to see! But it could have been a lot worse - it's my left, not my right arm that is out of action, I fell just outside a hospital and I have incredible family, friends and work colleagues who have rallied around and given me so much love and support I am overwhelmed with gratitude! It has also been interesting seeing the NHS from the other side and I am so impressed by the care I was given at Lewisham Hospital. All the staff I encountered were friendly, efficient, professional, and up on the latest evidence. The nurse practitioner who wrote out my pain meds prescription came back a few minutes after giving me the scrip and changed it based on new research she had heard about from consulting with a colleague.

I am back there tomorrow morning for an apppointment at the fracture clinic so am hoping all shall be well. At some point I am going to write a post on living life with one arm and rate various activities one takes for granted on a sliding scale from relatively easy to impossible. Which shall hopefully be quite amusing but also remind me how lucky I am. After all, some people live their whole lives missing a vital limb and this will be my tribute to them!

A new library website

Tomorrow (18 May 2011) sees the launch of a shiny new website for SLHT Library & Knowledge Services. The library manager at PRU and myself have been hard at work over the last few weeks and months getting all the pages ship-shape to launch for Knowledge Awareness Week 2011. We have been fortunate in that we only had to adapt an already-existing website but has still been quite a challenge deciding what to keep, what to get rid of, how the whole thing should be organised and how to make it visually appealing!

The website is run on the open source content management program Joomla! , which I had no experience of previously but I found it pretty easy to use. We decided quite early on that we didn't want just text and had the idea of using blue textboxes of varying hues for people navigate round the site. One of the trickiest parts was trying to get these boxes all the same width and height as they are all dependent on each other.

We also had to agree on the language used across the site and ensure everything was consistent across all the pages, like what pages should open in a new window and having hover-text over links. It's always the small things that take the longest!

However the last documents were uploaded today and linked in so it looks as though we have ourselves a website! I am pleased with it and really glad to have something decent to present to our users that they can use on and off-site. Now we just have to make sure everyone knows about it!

Healthy Lives, Healthy People need a Healthy Information Strategy

I stumbled across a news item in this week's CILIP Update/Gazette which I wanted to make a note of as I thought it was rather good. A blog post by Guy Daines, CILIP's Director of Policy and Advocacy on the official responses to yet another of the government's White Papers on health and the NHS. This time it was the turn of public health in "Healthy Lives Healthy People" and once more there is no mention of the role of information, evidence-based practice, information literacy, research or the part libraries have in bringing about change and influencing clinical practice. As Daines points out, "it remains important to assert the crucial role librarians, knowledge officers and other information specialists already play in promoting and facilitating an evidence-based approach and how a modest investment in such skills and services can help effect the transformation desired" but as always the question is how best to convey this message to those making decisions.

There are already clear signs the huge plans for the NHS are foundering - perhaps if Mr Lansley had consulted a library professional and had done a bit more background research we wouldn't be in this mess right now....