Kicking 2018 off with a RAWR! Enter Librarians and Dragons…

Success, we have an idea!

In 2016 my demigorgon loving friend, Michael Hawks, and I decided to embark on an epic quest together. We decided to throw caution to the wind and write/record a proposal for the New Librarians Symposium 2018 aka NLS8. After brainstorming (and procrastinating) we came up with our concept, to somehow mash Dungeons and Dragons with our experiences working at QUT Law Library. And thus the first kernels for our workshop, Librarians and Dragons was born!


Librarians and Dragons is a transferable skills workshop. We did incorporate Role Play Games like Dungeons and Dragons into it as well as Escape Room and Build Your Own Adventure concepts and mashed it with transferable skills within the GLAMR industry. We could both relate to using our transferable skills to get our jobs at QUT Law Library and after looking at the ALIA Employment Trend Report we could see that not so many new graduate librarians were working within our industry. So we thought, why not use our own experiences and show students and new graduates all the amazing skills they have already and how they can apply them in a library setting, well a haunted library setting, but same same…

Inspiration for overcoming our nerves as first time presenters!

We took our workshop to NLS8 and had a blast presenting it. Although it took a few power poses and inspiration from RuPaul’s Drag Race to get over our nerves but in the end #librariansanddragons was #supereffective! Since NLS8 we have had such positive feedback and have presented it a few more times, including at QUT Library for library staff and as part of Game of Libraries with the charismatic Dr Matt Finch to some of our regional library colleagues, and a mini version at the 2017 ALIA Qld Mini Conference.

Our very own logo #librariansanddragons

We are now launching our very own website for Librarians and Dragons #exciting! Here you can read more about the workshop, download our presentation and get a sneak peek at our characters, designed by the incredible Lewis Crooks. We want to continue to show GLAMR students, new graduates (and existing GLAMR professionals) that they have amazing skills already to start/progress/move their GLAMR career. So if you would like to play Librarians and Dragons with us, let us know! You can find us on Twitter at @maddymedlycott and @mikeyh177. And yes, we are willing to travel to play library games with you 😀



Game of Libraries – Dragons, frozen yoghurt and so much more!

Game of Libraries promotional materialOn the 28th November Toowoomba Regional Library opened their doors for a group of excited librarians ready for an action packed day of professional development. They had been promised, by USQ, QUT Library and ALIA QLD, quests, learning, Dr Matt Finch and a free lunch and they were not disappointed!

It kicked off with a bang with myself & Michael Hawks presenting Librarians and Dragons: A Transferable Skills Workshop. Not only did everyone get badges (#swag) for participating but our workshop is pretty much a library quest, fun! Our  workshop focused on players understanding what transferable skills you have developed over your life experiences aka completed quests, and how these can be used effectively in a library setting. But in a fun way!

The  workshop is gamified and takes players on a library quest through a haunted library where you battle ghost catalogue cards, poltergeist reference librarians, dragon library directors and zombie patrons. Participants worked in groups as four different characters, Take life by the horns Library Manager, Ace Academic Librarian, New Graduate Cat and Old Man Hoot the Teacher Librarian. Each group would take a turn to solve obstacles they faced, such as calming down those dragons (!!) with either their #SUPEREFFECTIVE top transferable skills or their somewhat effect other transferable skills.

Luckily, all the characters made it out of the haunted library (yay!) by using their transferable skills. After the adrenaline of facing a zombie horde had worn off, everyone had time to create a character profile for themselves. This gave everyone time to reflect on what skills they can bring to the table. You could also identify what skills you don’t have and how you can get them and ‘level up’ you career. Overall. Librarians and Dragons was #supereffective at showing participants all the skills they never knew they had, plus questing is fun! To experience the thrills and ghosts yourself, download the presentation or get in contact with me (@maddymedlycott) & Michael (@mikeyh177) on Twitter or check out #librariansanddragons.

The second half of Game of Libraries featured Dr Matt Finch and his workshop, Library Island. There were a few ice breaker activities to rejuvenate everyone after lunch, such as writing postcards from the future and having some walking meetings (yes, you heard, meetings within a workshop!). And after this, the battle for Library Island commenced.

On Library Island there is the Ministry of Shelves, three libraries, some librarians to run them plus a whole bunch of community members running around with their own wants and needs. During each round (5 years in the life of Library Island) your role changes. You could start out as a young indigenous family then morph into an employee for the ministry and then become a librarian! Library Island is chaotic and it is meant to be that way. You get a real feel for each different role you play and understand their motives and the difficulties that affect them. The great thing about Library Island is that there are very few rules therefore the outcomes and experiences are always different. One iteration ended up with Donald Trump taking over one Library and a Homeless person and indigenous student banding together and forming their own library complete with a bar (for the homeless person) and beds (for the student)! Another version of Library Island was based around The Good Place and players had to either keep the fact that they didn’t belong and wanted to escape a secret OR hunt down the people who didn’t belong in the Good Place. And you better believe that frozen yoghurt was on offer at the library! You can read more about Library Island on Matt’s Blog – matt finch / mechanical dolphin or find Matt (@DrMattFinch) on Twitter.

Game of Libraries was a great day of professional development. It is a nice change to actually move around, meet new people, have some fun and learn a little bit. Next time you are looking for some innovative PD, break the wheel and play the Game of Libraries!

Learning and Research Desk Training

To gain some further knowledge and develop my skills as a Library Adviser for QUT I attended two and half days of Learning and Research Desk Training. During these days I developed my skills in searching for information, helping students with study problems and how to deal with emotional clients. By completing this training I have grown as an information professional by improving my customer service skills allowing me to better help users and their library experiences.

One session taught was about searching for information and the tools available for students regarding studying. This was a valuable class as it highlighted to me that various searching techniques that are useful such as searching for synonyms by putting all similar words together inside brackets. I was also unaware of using questions marks as wild cards within words when words could be spelt differently in different countries such as searching for colo?r. It was also useful to see all the study skills resources QUT has available to their students such as CiteWrite, Studywell & Study Smart tutorials. The most enlightening aspect I took away was that as a first tier point of contact for users of the QUT Library my job is about pointing users to these resources and skills and explaining how to best use them, promoting independence and allowing the users to develop their own study skills.  Overall this session has allowed me to develop my searching skills further and define my professional perspective on how to best help and empower users to utilise the library resources.

Learning about dealing with emotional clients has really allowed me to improve my customer service skills and thus grow as an information professional.  We listened to a speaker from QUT Counselling services who explained when dealing with an overwrought clients it is best to empathise, stay calm and advise them of the options available to them such as counselling services, financial services and academic language and learning services. We should empower distraught clients to help themselves. When dealing with irate clients staying calm is best and this was reiterated by counselling services and from the Library Services Manager, Nicole Clark. Knowing how to deal with emotional clients is vital as these people usually need the most help. By learning these techniques it has allowed me to grow as an information professional as customer service is crucial role played by many information professional roles.

By attending these training days I have been able to grow as an information professional.  I learnt that as a first tier point of contact for library users it is my job to show clients the many options they have available to them for the study, financial and emotional needs. If I cannot help them directly it is important that I can point them in the direction they should go and make sure they get there. It is also crucial that I have the skills to deal with emotional clients in order to become a successful information professional. By attending the session from counselling services I have been able to further develop my customer service skills and thus develop my professional skills too.  Overall the Learning and Research Training days have allowed me to develop several of my skills including searching and customer service which has allowed me to grow as an information professional.


Go back to Part C: Professional Development Activities

Working as an Administration Officer within an Academic Library

Over the summer I worked as an Administration Officer at QUTs Garden Point Library while their usual AO was on holidays. It has definitely given me a new take on the library, much more of the bigger picture! I now notice building issues, which can affect staff and clients alike and know who to liaise with to fix these problems. Working in role has allowed me to meet new people associated with the library but not part of main library team ( librarians & library advisers) such as cleaners, facilities management and tech support.

I have compiled a list of the generic capabilities I gained and developed whilst in this role as well as the interesting things I learnt about libraries as a whole.

Generic Capabilities I am learning as a Library Administration Officer –

  1. Written communication via email & logging jobs.
  2. Organisation – developing key register, stationary room.
  3. Time management – working through work efficiently & with priority.
  4. Communication – with supervisors and other staff ranked higher than me & my supervisors. Professionally liaising with other departments and staff members.
  5. Problem solving – analysing problem and applying appropriate solution or assigning problem to the correct person e.g. moving furniture from loading dock.
  6. Technology – improving skills using outlook calendar, editing sharepoint site, using suresite, BEIMS.

Knowledge I am learning relating to Libraries –

  1. How they run i.e. professional breakdown, maintenance.
  2. That many people, besides the librarians, are involved with the library such as academics, cleaners, IT staff, finance officers, teaching staff and managers.
  3. There needs to be a lot of organisation in order for everything to run smoothly.
  4. The library is managed by the Branch Library Manager who reports to the Director of Library Services who reports to someone higher. Essentially the library is middle management.


Go back to Part D – Professional at Work

Working as a Collection Access Assistant

During my first semester of studying my Masters in Information and Technology I managed to get a contract position working part-time as a collection access assistant at QUT’s Gardens Point Library. Whilst working there I learnt a lot of things and gained some valuable experiences. Fortunately, the staff I worked with, including my direct supervisors and the branch library manager, Helen Hobbs, were all supportive of my goal to become a well-rounded and successful librarian and wanted me to gain as much as possible from my short stay there. I was allowed to shadow both the Business Liaison Librarian and the Science and Engineering Librarians to find out what they do on a daily basis. I also was able to spend some time on the Learning and Research Desk where I could utilise my customer service skills. Overall my time as a collection access assistant has given me valuable experience and helped me grow as an information professional.

I learnt many different jobs and systems at Gardens Point Library as a collection access assistants. These include working in returns where I learnt how to use the millennium computer system to process the incoming books. I was able to successfully follow prompts and clear sanctions, put books onto the hold shelf and identify books designated for Kelvin Grove, Document Delivery or Course Materials. Another job that I successfully learnt was sending documents via document delivery using the Ariel Scanner. I also was able to spend a couple of shifts doing Document Delivery. At the end of my time there I understood the whole process of Document Delivery, from receiving the requested from different students/universities, finding the correct document and scanning and forwarding it to the client. I learnt how to use LADD to process the requests and reply to the universities. I also used LADD extensively when I had a list of damaged books and had to determine if the same books were held at any other universities. Other duties I completed on a daily basis was shelving books, which helped me become familiar with the dewy decimal system, tidying the library, making labels for books and sorting out the serials. A lot of the times my shifts were made up of shelving books, especially towards the end of the semester. I had to work together with my colleagues to get all the books shelved efficiently. All of these tasks that I completed were important behind the scenes customer service jobs that helped give the clients the best experiences possible regarding the QUT Library services.

Whilst working at Gardens Point Library I was also able to spend a couple of hours on the Learning and Research Desk. This was an enjoyable experience as I shadowed Library Advisor Amanda Perrins and was able to ask her questions about her job. I saw what kind of queries came through the desk, such as sanctions, document delivery pick ups and lending questions. Amanda also advised me that they experience a lot of referencing questions also particularly Endnote questions. During my time on the desk I was able to utilise my customer service skills and help some clients with their queries. Working in this section of the library highlighted to me how much I enjoy helping people with their queries and that this particular role is something I will aim for in the future as I can utilise my proficient customer service skills and grow as an information professional.

I was also fortunate enough to spend two shifts shadowing the liaison librarians from both the Business Team and the Science and Engineering Team. The librarians from the Business team took me through their individual roles with the three of them having their own tasks such as ordering, research and classes. I was able to attend a vendor meeting with the librarian in charge ordering. The vendor was from Alexander Street Press and the meeting was regarding updating the current librarians with their new additions to their video database. It was very interesting as they explained as each video was transcribed you could search the transcripts and then by clicking on the area in the transcript you were interested in it would start the video from this section. We found out that they don’t have many videos relating to Business but they were still expanding as my Liaison Librarian was very interested in it they would make it a priority to build this topic for the library. Shadowing the Business team also introduced me to study guides which the librarians put together for students to help them with their units. These seem very important and interesting to put together as they include videos, pictures, links and text.

Spending time with the Science and Engineering Team allowed me to do some actual work. Using a particular data base I went through all their articles relating to Environmental engineering in order of how often they were viewed by others. I then looked them up on the QUT catalogue and made a list of all the articles and journals that are popular in the engineering world but that QUT doesn’t currently hold. The appropriate Liaison librarian would use my list to see if they should purchase any of these articles for the QUT collection. Shadowing and working with the Liaison Librarians gave me great insight into their duties and reinforced my goal of becoming a successful librarian like them.

I have also attached my completed Performance Planning  and Review for Professional Staff. This was completed at the end of my contract at QUT Gardens Point where I worked as a collections access assistant for semester 1, 2012.

QUT – Collection Access PPR[1]

Overall my time at Gardens Point Library as a collection access assistant was hugely beneficial to me. I learnt many new skills and gained some valuable insight into various roles that are played by the staff in the library. It has reinforced my desire to become a librarian and given me some further goals regarding becoming an information professional.


Go back to Part D – Professional at Work

INN634 – Workshops Reflection

During my first semester back at university I have participated in six workshop activities as part of completing one of my courses, INN634 Professional Practice. By completing these workshops I have learnt many things about what it means to be an information professional and the places it can take me.

During the first workshop in week 3 we had several guest speakers including Lynn Macallister and Kate Davis. I learnt about the significance of having a presence in the information profession and how an online portfolio could aid in my career development. From this workshop I discovered that there are many ways in which I could construct my own portfolio including using QUT’s ePortfolio or use Blogger or WordPress. After this workshop I did my own experimenting with the various systems available to me and decided to go ahead and set up my own domain name with WordPress as I found it easiest to navigate. Whilst listening to all the speakers it really hit home to me how important communicating my skills and capabilities to the wider community was in respect to networking and finding jobs. Workshop one was a great tool to push me towards starting my portfolio and really taking an interest in it as it will help me with my development as an information professional.

Workshop two also had a variety of speakers but they brought up the issues of what professions and information professional can fill. It was interesting at the variety of jobs the ladies all had including research assistant, web editor, records management and of course a library manager. As I want to be a librarian I had never really thought about the other career opportunities available to me after completing my Masters in Information and Technology. By listening to the ladies describe their jobs it really opened my eyes to how my studies could be applied. At the end of workshop two, even though I still wanted to work in a library, I found it very interesting and comforting knowing there are a wide variety of choices out there after completing my Masters.

Completing workshop three was an interesting and enjoyable experience for me. Our personalities were discussed and completing the online test I found out I am an ISFJ and that jobs that suit my personality include nursing, teaching, housekeeper and LIBRARIAN! When going through all of the personality traits an ISFJ has I found it scary how well it had pegged me. The majority of dot points associated with ISFJ described me exactly. I was so impressed with it I made all my friends and family do the test also. Most of the answers were so spot on it was freaky. This workshop was really interesting in showing me how different personalities are suited to different tasks, perhaps not jobs especially. Obviously I am on the right track according to my results!

During workshop four I heard from Ann Gillepsie, a Teacher Librarian. Coming from a science background myself it was interesting to hear about how the framework for research regarding Teacher Librarians. It was obviously different from the structure I am used to regarding biological scientific research strategies and I had not known there was any serious research being conducted by librarians. I find this reassuring as it shows that librarians still want to grow and make their field and the work they perform recordable so that others can see the results of their hard work. Overall I found this workshop enlightening and reassuring regarding the librarian profession.

Workshop five was interesting as it let me know about some further career paths that I had not considered. Elham Abdi talked about doing her PHD and why she is doing it. I had never considered doing this myself as I like to be actively out in the workforce, however I can see how it would be a good experience allowing yourself to learn a lot more comprehensively. I think overall though I would still prefer to be out in the workforce learning things practically and by being able to apply my knowledge to complete my job.

I really enjoyed workshop six which concerned the nature of ethics within a library context. By completing the reading and the case scenario it allowed me to see what some current ethical issues can appear in a library and what I should be prepared for in this profession. I think it is important if I am to ever have some responsibility in my future roles as a librarian that I become familiar with the ethic code where I work and also construct my own code of ethics regarding the library context in order for me to have a fulfilling and fair work environment.

During all the workshops a common theme always stuck out at me, how important networking is. This had not occurred to me at the start of my degree however now I can see it is a vital part of the career I wish to have. It worried me at first as I am a shy person by nature and do not feel comfortable approaching strangers. Over the last semester, however, I have learnt to accept the challenge of building my professional network. I hope by the end of my Masters I will be more comfortable with this concept and have started to build my own network through my current jobs and through the work placement schemes.

Overall I have found the six workshops very constructive and informative. It is always a great opportunity and motivation to hear from people already working in the professional environment that you wish to enter shortly. These workshops have motivated me immensely to build up my social networking skills, develop a professional portfolio and to make sure I stay current with all the issues surrounding the information profession such as research and ethical issues.


Go back to Part C: Professional Development Activities

Twitter Reflection

As part of my studies at QUT I have had to complete five Twitter activities over the last semester. By participating in these activities I have learnt a lot about Twitter and the Library and Information industry. I have also discovered some of my own strengths and weaknesses. This post will reflect on my experiences and learning outcomes as a result of finishing the five Twitter activities.

I have learnt many things from my experience using Twitter. Firstly, I learnt how to actually use Twitter and I discovered what the big fuss was about. By completing the five different activities I was able to learn different skills needed to be a successful Twitterer. For example I can now successfully post a tweet and know that there is a character limitation to these tweets. I can search for groups or people and sign up to follow them and also include them in my tweet. One activity also showed me how to post pictures along with posts which I think is very useful as posting pictures and/or documents could be important when establishing contacts.

The twitter activities also allowed me to see why it can be a great networking tool. Many people and organisations from around the world are connected to Twitter and by including them in a post or following them it is an easier and less awkward way to contact them or simply introduce yourself to them when compared to an email or phone call, even if it is slightly less formal.

By completing the activities I have also learnt about some interesting ideas and facts about libraries. This was especially seen from the responses by mentors and lecturers. I learnt about some interesting links such as organisations and twitter groups that can help me improve my knowledge about the Library and Information industry and was also introduced to some of my peers using these activates.

I have identified some of my strengths after completing the five Twitter activities. One strength is that even though I had not used Twitter before I had used several other social network sites such as Facebook and Myspace and this allowed me to easily navigate around Twitter and feel comfortable with it. Another strength I identified was also concerning not having used Twitter before and that is that I was not afraid to jump right in. As soon as we were advised we would need to use Twitter I signed up and started joining several communities I am interested in including QUT, WWF and ALIA. My time management was also a strength in these exercises. I completed all activities within their allotted week even overcoming the challenge of being overseas with limited internet access to complete the photo album activity. I feel that by completing these exercises I have been able to identify several strengths of my work ethic and ability to use new information tools.

Some weaknesses were also identified when doing the Twitter activities and also during a reflection of the activities. As I had not used Twitter before, this was a definite weakness. However I feel that by completing the five tasks I have overcome this weakness at least with the basic uses of Twitter.  Also because I had not used Twitter before and I didn’t know anyone in my social or work life who used it I found a weakness I had did not know many people on Twitter to begin with. This made it hard for me to connect to others, i.e. friends of friends, and initially made me dubious of its potential staying power in my life after completing the activities. By completing the activities I have seen that all my peers are using Twitter as are my mentors and many industry professionals, thus showing my weakness in doubting twitter longevity in my life was wrong. It is a valuable networking tool that I shall continue to learn about and use. Another weakness I identified was that I am not very knowledgeable or aware of the Library and Information industry. The activities forced me to engage in the industry and explain why I wanted to join it. I feel this weakness has slightly been strengthened but I need to invest much more time and energy into learning about the industry, networking and staying current with the information available regarding the Library and Information industry. After finishing the five Tweets I have been able to identify several weaknesses relating to myself and my current knowledge.

Overall these Twitter activities have enlightened me in a surprising way. I have learnt a lot about Twitter in general and also about the Library and Information industry. My strengths that I identified include using other social networking sites such as Facebook and being comfortable to throw myself into Twitter. The weaknesses I have found vary and some are minor and will be overcome just by using Twitter regularly but others have shown me that I will need to actively work, listen and read about the Library and Information industry in order to be informed and knowledgeable about it. In conclusion the five Twitter activities have helped me immensely and was a useful aid towards my future as Library and Information Professional.


Go back to Part C: Professional Development Activities