Library School – Hypermedia Module

Second in the two-part series on Semester 1 (Autumn 2014) of library school. For my previous post explaining generally about the course, click here.

This module was called Hypermedia for the Information Professional and introduced hypermedia, e.g. the web and digital technology. Tech skills was a key component that I wanted to do in this qualification and I was mostly satisfied with this module. We covered web design and learned basic web mark-up (XHTML and CSS). This part was ok and I think it definitely helped that I had a bit of knowledge of code already. I found the course material very lacking when completing the assignment which was to write code for a simple, two-page website. This deficiency was due to the content itself and the interface for the teaching material which was a kind of animated, power point type thing. I ended up watching videos on Youtube to solve various problems I encountered when creating my website. One of my “ah-ha” moments was watching a video of a guy talking through and creating all the elements for a basic webpage (sorry can’t give you a link, as I was a bad library student and did not note it down and now cannot find it again). This video made something click for me mainly because of the presentation. It was his voice over explaining the concepts and what the guy was doing, and then there was a split screen video with his text writer window open where he was inputting the code, and then the other side of the screen was the webpage itself being updated in real time, so you could see the effect each bit of code had on the page. As quite a visual person, this method really helped me understand because you could both see and hear what was going on. Anyway I got there in the end with my little website but I think this is a topic that’s best to learn by doing rather reading about about it and it would have helped to have a live person to ask all my questions.
html tattoo
We also looked at usability and information behaviour, both subjects I found absolutely fascinating. I ended up referring back to this material and the sources in later modules quite a lot. For the SEO (search engine optimisation) portion, the main thing I remember is reading through Google’s SEO guide for web developers. A very helpful document with practical advice on how to improve the SEO of your site – an important concept for library websites to understand since most people start an information search on a search engine rather than the library website nowadays! Social media was another area we studied. The set textbook, Managing Social Media in Libraries by Troy Swanson, was excellent and it’s on my list to finish reading.

I think each of the topics we covered in the module could easily have been an entire module in itself…which leads me to say that the main downside to this module was that there were really too many topics under the hypermedia umbrella to cover in one semester. It was very much an introduction, which is fine, but I would have appreciated more time and more depth.

Image: “html tattoo” by webmove available on Flickr CC license


I have been job hunting since about February 2013 in the fields of music and library and information science and archives.  The strange title number sequence is a shorthand of my journey so far:  0 job offers, 5 interviews (with 1 interview invite I had to decline due to a change in circumstances), 26 applications.  This post will share what I’ve learned.

Look about you, because there are lots of resources and information available online.  I’ve found many, many useful blogs, websites and information from professional associations.  Disadvantages being that it can tend toward information overload and it’s quite time-intensive to keep up with everything!  Some of the most useful advice for new professionals came from this  blog post by The Wikiman (more on that later).  Other useful blogs: Off the Record, Manchester NLPN and various other librarian blogs.  My memberships in professional associations (CILIP, IAML-UK&Irl) have been great ways to network and see what’s happening by attending their events; next I want to join SLA.

Pay attention to the negative space.  What I mean is not necessarily looking for things that aren’t there but for things that you may not have been looking for or didn’t know you needed to know…For example, a skills test I did (ok, kind of bombed) during an interview process was helpful because it highlighted some gaps in my knowledge.  Similarly another conversation with a potential employer resulted in learning information I didn’t know I needed to know about working abroad and archiving vs. librarianship.

Importance of remaining proactive, persistent and indefatigable.  Let’s face it, it’s tough handling rejection after rejection, but the only way to get anywhere is to be proactive and persistent in keeping up the hunt.  I’ve also done a lot of speculative emailing to try and get voluntary work (even this proved difficult since I often struggled to get any response), but my work at WYAS and M&S Company Archive is a result of speculative emails.  I’m learning to be indefatigable because, as someone close to me says, it takes work to get work!

In a related vein, I’ve been thinking about two suggestions from TheWikiman’s post: 1) How can I proactively anticipate my career needs (i.e. start building the skills I’ll need in the future NOW) and 2) Where can I make things happen for myself (i.e. starting projects, writing articles, etc).  I’ve started compiling a list of skills I want to work on based on job descriptions for posts I’m excited about, and I’m thinking creatively about where I can make things happen.  Currently natural ways to do this include writing research-based blogs about my voluntary work projects and creative thinking regarding my new role as Bursaries Administrator with the Music Libraries Trust.

Importance of social media.  Thank you PennyB for this one:  actively using social media is more important than ever to network and promote yourself in a super competitive field.  Also since none of these technologies are going away, it’s best to get on board now, especially because many institutions already are!  I’ve also seen social media related things on job applications, so I definitely want to demonstrate an active engagement with this area.  Hence I’ve starting blogging more and using Twitter; I was already actively using Facebook and LinkedIn.  It’s proven quite useful so far in terms of networking, gaining awareness of the field and promoting my contributions to a wider audience.

Basics: write a good CV and keep it updated (I’ve also written a one page biography), use an email signature, dress professionally for everything, do your homework on the places you apply and ask questions.

Sharing time, over!  Any advice or suggestions are very welcome!