14: Continuing professional development

Wordle of words about libraries

CC Anna-Stina

There’s a multitude of reasons why you should be using the internet for CPD. Here’s two:

  1. Blogs and RSS feed readers allow you to keep up with developments in librarianship and libraries, and to a certain extent have taken over from the trade press.  If you follow the right people and blogs, you will always hear the news first, and you’ll get a wide variety of opinions.
  2. Linkedin is increasingly important.  There are statistics that say that 90% of employers now use Linkedin.  Take this with a pinch of salt – but keep your Linkedin profile up to date, and make sure you make useful connections when you can.

RSS feed readers

Many influential people write blogs.  You can keep lists of these and visit them when you can, but it’s easier to “subscribe” to them.  If you subscribe, blog posts will be collated in one place for you, so you don’t have to remember a multitude of addresses, and you can visit the central reader whenever you get a chance.

To learn more about RSS, have a look at this video from commoncraft: RSS in Plain English

In the information world, RSS is not only revolutionizing the way news, media and content creators share information, but it also is swiftly changing the way everyday users are consuming information. You will find RSS referred to as “feeds” or even “news feeds”. You may have seen one of these icons on various websites as you’ve surfed the web:

RSS icon

Which feed reader should you use? We can recommend The Old Reader from personal experience, but there are plenty of others.  Take a look at this list of possibilities.  Once you’ve decided on one, register with it and it will take you through the process of setting up an account.

Bear in mind that RSS isn’t just about getting news, but also about publishing it.  RSS allows you to publish your information (whether it’s news or a blog post), so that other people can read it via their RSS feed reader or aggregator.  Using RSS files, you can create a data feed that supplies headlines, links, and article summaries from your Web site into other peoples’ readers if they subscribe to you. You can also feed these into Twitter, your blog, Facebook page without the need to retype the information.

(By the way, RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”.)

How you can use this:

Once you’ve registered with a feed reader, subscribe to a feed when you’re browsing the Internet. If you spy the orange RSS Logo on the web page, click on it and then copy and paste the feed URL in the address box into your Add a Subscription box in your feed reader.

Or…

You can add an RSS widget directly to your blog and subscribe to your favourite RSS feeds there.

  • Log into your blog
  • Go the the dashboard and click on ‘Appearance and then ‘Widgets’
  • Drag the RSS widget into your sidebar
  • Open a new browser tab and find a website you would like to subscribe to
  • Click on the RSS icon or on RSS/Subscribe link from the feed you want and copy the URL
  • Go back to your blog and paste the URL into your RSS widget box. Give the feed a name if you wish and then save
  • Check your blog – the feed should be displaying down the side of the screen
  • Repeat this process to add subsequent feeds

Whose blogs should you subscribe to?

Phil Bradley has compiled a very useful list of UK library blogs, which is well worth a look.  But it’s really up to you, and what you’re interested in.  Books?  Try Farm Lane Blog.  E-publishing?  Try Do Authors Dream of Electric Books.  It’s up to you to cruise the blogosphere, looking for the professional subject areas that interest you.

Linkedin

Everybody who is interested in building their career should make sure they have a Linkedin account.  Linkedin has three main functions:

  • A contact list, where you can build up a network and keep in contact with people even while changing jobs
  • A curriculum vitae, where you can put down all your skills and experiences for your own record-keeping (and for prospective employers)
  • A source of information.  Once you’ve set up an account, explore the “groups” function, and ask to join relevant groups.  Sometimes useful discussions take place there.  For example, CILIP has a Linkedin group, and the e-books group is one of the best places to learn about self-publishing.

If you’re ambitious, and you don’t have an account, you should really think about setting one up.

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