Web Design day

An early start at the station in order to get to a 9am lecture.  Today is Web Design, my elective choice.  I’ve made a few websites before, but always used Front Page or Dreamweaver and I’m completely self taught so I’m finding I’ve a lot of learning to do to get myself writing well structured, clean HTML!  After the lecture we had an hour in the lab (which turned into two hours) but I managed to write a web page using Notepad and it even had an external CSS.  Finished most of the task and got my code validated, so quite pleased with myself. 

Back to Warrington and into work, on the counter today so busy helping borrowers and shelving.  Got a few more books out from the library too, at least I won’t get fined on overdue books from work!

No time for any great theorising and reading, but have spent the last hour trying to sort out some grouping and lists for my Twitter account and have found and followed a raft of new people connected with MMU, my course, libraries, information management and HTML.  Need to find some more interesting folk to give me good links for my essays.  You can follow me on twitter, I’m DGtherunner. 

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Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more stupid!

Another couple of loads of washing on the line by 8.30am this morning, but this time off to work for 9.15am.  I was supposed to be in the Archive search room all day, but at 9.30am my SLA came in and said the librarian who runs today’s Rhymetime had gone home ill so would I step into the breach!  Rhymetime done and I went for my break where I found a text from my husband to say I’ve been accepted for the London Marathon next year!  Don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  I’ve been applying now for a few years and always said I wanted to do the marathon in 2012 so I’d be running the Olympic course, and I’ll turn 40 just a few days before, but now I’m studying and working too I have no idea how I’ll find the time to run.  You should be careful what you wish for!

A fairly quiet day in the Search Room today meant I could clear a few queries and help a couple of people with their research.  Also meant I could finish reading my censorship book.  Need to e-mail the IT Manager about how and why websites are selected for blocking.  Also need to find out where our book buying policy is. 

After work rushed around to take my daughter to a secondary school open day.  Couldn’t stay long as she had to get to a dancing practice.  I’d spent all lunchtime rushing round looking for a black waistcoat to make a costume for my eldest too (without success). 

Worked through another of the ‘catch up’ papers for the Web Design module I’m starting tomorrow.  It was all making sense until about page 7 of 35 and then my brain started to ache.  Hopefully the lecture tomorrow will be a bit easier to follow. 

More new subjects

Before I set off for Uni today I made packed lunches for 4 (Paul made his own as he left really early), a lasagne and had two loads of washing on the line, and I still left the house before 9am!  It’s been a beautiful hot and sunny day today perfect for sitting in lecture theatres…..

Anyway first lecture today was Research and Practice, the first semester is library practice and the second will be research.  Today we were looking at whether we live in an ‘Information Age’ now, what are the signs and how would we know we have moved into a new ‘age’ or not?  Quite interesting but not sure it’s where my main academic interest will lie. 

Had lunch in the park with a guy from our course.  Quite a revelation to have an academic, stimulating grown up conversation over my butties.  We covered everything from dissertation topics to dsylexia and the current situation in public libraries.  Then tried to get into the library, but the gate system still didn’t like my card!  They let me in though and I’ve borrowed some books.

After lunch we had ‘Information Futures’ which is about current issues in the Library and Information Management world.  Pretty bleak really in some ways, but I don’t see my future solely in a public library so I’m not too depressed.  It was encouraging to realise that I already knew a lot of the issues from following ‘Voices for the Library’ on Facebook and Twitter, and I even managed to contribute a couple of things to the lecture.

A short break where I managed to get my student card replaced (hopefully the library will let me in and out now) and then we had ‘Search and Retrieval’ a fascinating subject which is at the core of the information profession: how do we store information and catalogue it so it can be retrieved and how do we get good results from our queries.  A lot of food for thought on the all encompassing nature of Google, but some salient reminders that it isn’t infallable and that we as users need to make our queries understandable to the search engine and then evaluate how reliable the output is. 

On the (packed) train home read a pamphlet about Censorship in Libraries.  A much more subtle subject than I had originally thought.  It also threw up quite a few questions about what is the role of a library professional and how do we eliminate subtle censorship due to our own thoughs and life views from our work. 

Finally arrived home and got to enjoy the results of my early labours as a lovely Lasagne was waiting for me in the oven, even though it was already two-thirds eaten by the rest of the family who were out at football training. 

Tuesday 27th September

Up early to take eldest swimming, then into the library.  I’m working in the Archives today and after finishing the e-mails there’s a bit of a lull so have a read through the Financial Times.  I’ve never, ever read it before, but I’m trying to research management issues.  It’s quite a scary paper reading about MBAs and people building networks and pushing through agendas.  It all seems to be such a ‘man’s’ world with one recent MBA graduate talking about how a good golfing handicap is a great aid to business in China.  There was an interview with Michael Porter and his theory of Creating Shared Value which was interesting. 

Had some customers then so had to do some work.  It was good though, because I managed to help a couple of people.  Think I’m beginning to find my way around the archives a bit now.

Home and started writing this blog, which shows just what lengths I’ll go to in putting off doing real work.  At the moment I need it all seems to exciting and interesting and I want to become an expert in everything.  I realise that isn’t possible, but I need to explore enough to find out what I want to specialise in for my dissertation.  Tweeting and its impact on learners seems a really exciting topic, especially how it can raise asperations and academic expectations of teenagers applying to university.  But then how Local Authority libraries are managing the change that comes with huge budget cuts seems interesting too.  I’m sure after tomorrow’s lectures I’ll have another raft of ideas.

Can’t quite believe I’ve been on Havard Business School websites.  The web is a dangerous place though, because when you start linking from page to page you suddenly find you’ve passed two hours and there’s no tea for the children.  I’ve started using Delicious too to store some of the interesting webpages I’ve found. 

First proper day

We’ve had a big family party this weekend to mark my daughter’s confirmation.  40 people at our house afterwards for a buffet etc and I had to sort it all out as Paul was away with football on Saturday.  Youngest having a big swimming gala didn’t help.  Anyway it all went brilliantly and I had a lovely day, but drank too much wine and champagne which may not be an ideal preparation for the first day of a proper, serious uni course (but may of course be compulsary student behaviour!).

Part of the problem with getting the house and food ready for the party is I’ve done practically no pre-course reading (was it wrong to read a management textbook all the way through the swimming gala?).  I’ve read about half of one book ‘Understanding Organizations’ by Charles Handy as it was all there was in the town library where I work (and yes, I couldn’t find it on the catalogue because of the American spelling!).  It’s really interesting though and I’m boring Paul with it all the time.

One of the things it talks about is how we make snap judgements about people in order that we ‘know’ how to deal with them, and how important it is to give off the right signs and visual clues so that others will compartmentalise us correctly (as we see it) and treat us as we wish to be treated.  Which gave me a problem:  I have three roles to play today:  Rhymetime leader at the town library; professional MA student and bike communter.  The real spanner in the works is the biking bit as when I wear my helmet, trainers and flourescent jacket I can easily give off the signal of wimpy, push-over, mild mannered eco-warrior, and not strong, decisive, focussed student professional.  Also in rhymetime I need to consider the practicalities of sitting down and jumping around with toddlers.  A tricky sartorial conundrum!  And don’t even start me on what bag I should take….

My day starts with biking into the library for some paid work running Rhymetime for ten lovely toddlers and their carers.  I love doing it, but I’m glad when it’s over too!  Then it’s a quick bike across town to the station to catch a train to Manchester.  I get my ID card and now I’m an official student, with the official invoice for my course to prove it.  I decide to check out the library, but my card won’t work and I have to charm my way in.  I browse around the library section of the library then realise I don’t have the booklist with me, so head for the computers to find the booklist.  After ten minutes of looking I can’t find it so settle down to spend an hour or so working through the pre-course workbook for the Web Design bit of the course.  I think I’m really going to enjoy that course.

Then, it’s time, off to my first proper lecture in, oooh, far too many years (13?).  Management is probably the area of the course I feel most intimidated by but the lecture is interesting, but still a bit daunted by ‘reading around’ the subject.  Not sure where to start.

Then it’s off to Designing On-line Learning which I’m hoping, as a former teacher, will be very approachable.  Spent the lecture discussing learning styles, contexts and barriers.  Already have some ideas for my end of unit assessment, but need to give them a lot more thought.

Then train and bike home.  Eating my tea by 7pm and realising how much I’m putting my mum and Paul out dealing with the children when I’m home so late.  Utterly exhausted though so not giving it too much thought!

Back to School

As my children keep reminding me ‘It’s my first day of school and I shouldn’t be frightened as I’ll make lots of new friends’  Good grief, where did they learn that sort of talk from?  Oh yes, that would be me….

But still I am terrified as I start an MA in Library and Information Management at Manchester Metropolitan University.  My fears stretch far beyond making new friends though.  Will I be intellectual enough for the study?  How will we cope financially?  What about work?  Who will organise Christmas if I’m busy at Uni? 

Running a family takes so much time.  We’ve already had the talk about helping out more and Paul says he’ll make a real effort, but he works full time in an academic and demanding job and he runs the largest local junior football club in the area.  Then there’s the children, three of them, all bright, intelligent, beautiful and very, very busy.  There’s the dancing (2 of them 4 times a week), swimming (1 competitively 4 times a week, one casual, but used to be competitive, twice a week) the football (practice and matches) the music lessons and youth orchestra.  Its all fine in a ‘normal’ week, but as soon as there’s a gala, show or concert all hell breaks loose.  I’m often planning the week so I can be in three places at once. 

And then there’s me.  Failed teacher, aspiring crafter and part-time library worker, oh and I produce weekly notice sheets for my church.  Into this mix I’ve decided to do an MA, full-time and not try to give up anything else.  Well I guess I can kiss goodbye to a tidy house.  Not that it was ever very tidy anyway. 

I’ve done the induction day now and it all seems really interesting but the questions I’m asking myself are far bigger than ‘What should my dissertation be on?’ there are all these big questions about where am I going and who am I?  At nearly 40 you would have thought I’d know some of the answers, but really I don’t.  This feels very much like my last chance to get things right and do something with my life.  People keep telling me I shouldn’t discount all that I already do, but somehow it doesn’t see to add up to enough.  I know I’m in a hugely privileged position to have this chance to go back and try again at a career and I don’t intend to waste it.