Closing up shop

I no longer update this blog, but for various reasons, it still needs to live here at the moment.

If you’re looking for updated crafting and how-is-this-my-life content, head over to Made In Oxford


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Up and Running

I feel that this post should begin with a pile of dusty books and maybe a cobweb or two, given how long it is since I wrote anything in here. And even now, I’m running late. Maybe it’s time for that cobweb.

Picture by Practicalowl on Flickr

Yesterday I started my new job. As of yesterday I am the Circulation and Customer Services Librarian for the Sainsbury Library at the Said Business School. Yes, that is a bit of a mouthful, especially once you add ‘University of Oxford’ and no, I haven’t worked out how to get it all on my business cards yet.

This is my third subject change in seven years, since I started out in Classics before moving to Law. Business is very much its own beast again, and I’m going to have to do a lot of reading very quickly to get me up to speed. Fortunately, I’ve already found some great Business Librarian blogs to get me going – more recommendations appreciated!

But mostly the last couple of days have been about settling in, finding the coffee and getting to know my new colleagues. Considering I started today by turning my desk through 90 degrees and subsequently rearranging a large chunk of the workroom, I think they may need a while to get used to me too! Next on my list is a trip to IT to see if they have a mouse that doesn’t have the ball falling out the bottom. Once I’ve got that and my network drive sorted, I’ll be ready to make a start.

New jobs and new subjects are always a little scary, and I’m really going to miss my colleagues at the Law Library, but staying within the same university helps, as does a good induction programme and people willing to answer your questions eight times an hour (thank you, people!). Hopefully as part of getting myself up and running again, I won’t be quite so neglectful of this blog. For various reasons, 2011 got off to a bit of a rocky start, so I’m declaring this the first week of the rest of the year. There’s so much to learn, so much to do, and so much to talk about that I’m still a little bewildered right now, but looking forward to what lies ahead.

Interesting Times, for sure.

Picture by Ian on Flickr

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Comment on Twitter at conferences in 140 words

I’ve been following the discussion here with interest. Personally, I don’t Tweet during presentations (notes in 140 characters requires too much concentration for me!), but I do like being able to follow along using the hashtags. Other people have put the case far more eloquently than I could, so my only contribution to this is as a reader rather than a Tweeter.

From my point of view, I would really appreciate it if there was a way to separate out the Tweets from people *at* the conference from people Tweeting *about* the conference, since separating the notes from the general chatter can be incredibly difficult. Maybe Twitter lists could be used for attendees, or perhaps they could use different hashtags? It’s a classic information overload issue, and I refuse to believe that librarians can’t find a way to solve it!

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See, this is what I was talking about

So, no sooner do I write a post about the stigmatising of mental illness, something comes up to perfectly illustrate my point. Writing in the Daily Mail, Janet Street-Porter argued that depression is now trendy, and essentially that if people bucked up their ideas, they’d do a lot better. Oh, and apparently we shouldn’t have sympathy for men with depression, although I honestly couldn’t figure out why.

Now, I’m not actually going to dispute that there are some circumstances in which just getting on with things is a good plan. There are definitely times when you just need to stop, get over yourself, then carry on. But – and this is the important bit – that’s not the same as depression. One of the major problems people with depression have is that others think it’s the same as feeling a bit miserable. It isn’t. Everyone has days when they feel better than others. As far as I’m aware, it’s called “life”. Depression is like living that life in a sucking black hole that not only drains the colour out of everything, but feels like it’s consuming you as well.

When you’re feeling miserable, you might eat more than you mean to, or yell at someone when you don’t mean to, or you might burst into tears if someone looks at you in a funny way. It’s a bad day, and it passes. Being depressed is feeling like that times about a million all the time, as well as lacking the energy/willpower/sense of self that allows you to perform complex tasks such as getting out of bed or cleaning your teeth. On slightly less bad days, you might manage that, only to be defeated by getting dressed.

There are several eloquent rebuttals of the Mail article, if which probably the most high-profile is Alistair Campbell’s blog here (article from Daily Mirror). Whatever you think of him and his politics, he’s been an eloquent and loud spokesman for Mind over the years, and he includes the statistics on depression, that apparently Janet Street-Porter couldn’t be bothered to Google for.

[NB I haven’t linked to the Daily Mail article, because I don’t want to go and seek it out again, but running the words “Janet Street-Porter Depression” through a search engine will bring it up quickly enough.]


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By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea

I heard this morning that I’ve been awarded a busary to attend the BIALL conference in Brighton next month, which I’m absolutely delighted about. I had such a good time last year, not only socially, but also hearing more about the nitty gritty of law librarianship. I’d only been in the job 9 months at that point and was still rathe bewildered by all the terminology and peculiarities of how Law works as a subject. Now that I’m coming up on my 2 year mark, I feel more confident not only that I know what I’m talking about (sometimes), but that I’m really going to be able to take useful information away with me.

Of course, that does mean I have a to-do list as long as my arm, what with trains and seminars and wanting to do some reading up before I go and, most importantly (of course), what to do with the evening before. I’ve only been to Brighton once before, so hopefully I’ll get to see more than just the conference centre!

What do other people do when they know they’re going to a conference? Suggestions to pack a bucket and spade will be taken under advisement…


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Stamp Out Stigma

It’s taken me a long time to compose this post, and it’s going to take you a while to read it! But I make no apologies for length, not on a subject this important to me.

I just ReTweeted the link to MIND’s Stamp Out Stigma campaign, which aims to tackle the stigma attached to learning disabilities and mental health problems. It asks people to think about the language they use, and to recognise that mental health problems are no different to physical ones. They’re aiming for 100,000 pledges, and want to reach 50% of the UK population with their message.

You probably know someone with depression. In fact, if you’re reading this, you’ve met someone with depression.


Hi. My name is Laura, and I have depression.
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We come in peace

I’ve seen this practically everywhere over the last few days, but as someone who actually likes Powerpoint, I couldn’t resist re-posting it.

We have met the enemy, and he is Powerpoint

I fully accept that there are a lot of things wrong with Powerpoint, but it’s also an easy-to-use, decent enough application that does the job. A bigger problem is teaching people how to give good talks. Powerpoint is just a computer programme, it can’t turn your speaker into Barak Obama. I don’t give a lot of talks, and so I don’t have much cause to learn anything other than Powerpoint. In fact, I don’t need to learn how to use Powerpoint, since I find it pretty instinctive. I do get frustrated when people literally read out what’s written on their slides, or use the jaunty animations that look so entertaining while you’re sitting at your desk but are usually such a bad idea when you’re standing in front of an audience. Hopefully somewhere out there are tutorials on how to use Powerpoint to give a good talk, rather than just how to turn your text upside down or explode in fireworks.

Of course, having said all this, you’ll have to judge for yourselves how well we do in using it when it comes to our talk at the New Professionals conference…

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