Today CPD23 starts, though I suspect many participants are off at the New Professionals Conference. As I'm about as far off being a new professional as its possible to be without being in one's grave, I shan't be there.
Nevertheless, as they're all in Manchester, perhaps I can steal a march on them and be one of the first to complete my assignment.
The CPD23 project is best explained at the project website, but in a nutshell, it's a sixteen-week online self-directed programme of professional development, exploring how library and information services can use social media. It has its roots in a programme run by Charlotte & Mecklenburg County Public Libraries in the USA, which has been adapted all over. I ran a version of it (in an afternoon; it was very much cut-down) at a CPD event at South Thames College two years ago, and Cambridge University librarians, who seem to be leading the profession in so many ways at the moment, ran a version called 23 Things Cambridge.
This week is about blogging, and we are enjoined to do the following:'To start off your cpd23 blogging write a post about why you're taking part in the course. You could talk about where your career is now and where you'd like it to go, what you're hoping to learn from cpd23, which of the Things you're most (or least) looking forward to, how you feel about being a new blogger or how you'd like to improve your blogging, or anything else that relates to why you're doing this!'
Where is my career and where would I like it to go? Good question. I've been working in libraries for thirty-three years, and I've worked in most sectors in my time. The sector I've spent most time in is health, working in District General Hospital libraries, a regional library unit, a Royal College, and a new medical school. I've been unemployed since the end of March and economics dictates that I must find work, any work. I have reached the point where it looks as if I must leave the profession. I've had some interviews, but no offers, and it's hard not to conclude that candidates as old as me look very unattractive to recruiters. So right now I would take anything, but, given a choice, I enjoy most working in environments where one can see a direct link between what one does and the creation and dissemination of knowledge, in other words, supporting research, in a learned society, a university or the NHS. I have been a service head, but I'm not fussy about my place in the hierarchy, and would accept any professional or non-professional role. I sometimes think recruiters don't understand or believe this, so don't appoint me using the excuse that I'm over-qualified or over-experienced.
But I haven't spent my time in the pub and the bookies. I organised, with Emma Illingworth, the Brighton LibTeachMeet; I've been doing some work as part of the Voices for the Library team, and I've been going to professional conferences and meetings. I have a place at Umbrella.
What do I hope to learn from CPD23? Lots. I like to think that I know a fair bit about this area; on blogs for example, I've been running this blog since December 2003, and was the first in the country to use a blog to deliver current awareness services. I blog elsewhere on my running; I'm currently taking part in Juneathon. And last year I ran Cravatomancy, a blog about ties. However, things change, and change quickly. There's always more to learn, new skills to acquire and old ones to update.
What am I looking forward to? I think learning from the other participants. The syllabus looks great, and I can't see any part of it that might make me think, 'ho-hum, this isn't very relevant'.
How could I improve my blogging? Well, I could try to be more serious, and not post my racing selections. But to me, a blog is a place where conventional barriers between personal and professional break down. I think the crucial thing would be to post more regularly. I have a backlog of posts on various events I've been to, which I still want to write up, though I'm conscious that they have lost their immediacy. To give a flavour, and perhaps to shame me into writing them, they are the CILIP in Sussex AGM, where Phil Bradley spoke, a symposium on Art and Medicine at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, a meeting at the British Academy on New Light on Ancient Medicine and a conference on patient information, Patients First (pdf).
If I'm nervous of anything about CPD23, it's that I'll be the oldest participant, and that perhaps people will think I am Saturn, there to eat his own children to prevent them from taking over from him.