NMS Library tour and Rip It Up, 13 September 2018

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As a librarian friend observed, collectively, if we info groups (CILIPS, EDINA, SLLG, SWOP) haven’t visited every library in Scotland, we’ve made a darned good attempt in our race to dwell among the untrodden alcoves.

Building on the success of last year’s trip to the Moving Image Archive in Glasgow, the SLLG Committee suggested a group outing to a very popular exhibition, Rip It Up: The Story of Scottish Pop, running 22 June to 25 November 2018 at the National Museum of Scotland (NMS). There followed the magic words, ‘Maybe they have a library we can visit.’ Why, yes they do.

Research Library

You know you’re going off the beaten track when the meeting point is the staff entrance. Ines and Morven, our hosts for the afternoon, guided us expertly through the maze that is the NMS.

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Our tour began in the basement which houses the museum archives acquired at various points in its fairly complicated history (see Wikipedia). As with many libraries, across the sectors, the NMS Research Library has been charged with a significant number of items (many from the founding Society of Antiquaries’ collection) which require surveying, describing and preserving. While time and expertise to do so are at a premium, natural museum curios are not: see signs for GIANT OCTOPUS or that well-known cutie, the BLACK RAT SNAKE, with its ‘reputation for being a bad-tempered creature’.

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This basement area also contains the rare book collection used by staff including the museum curators. We noticed several classification schemes on the go along with familiar-to-some carbon copy borrowing slips and several volumes of Acts of the Old Scottish Parliament!

The Library’s main reading room is on level 3 accessed from the Royal Museum side of the building, with study spaces, wifi, periodicals and around 10% of the total book collection on open shelves. This selection aims to assist visitors to further understand the Museum’s objects and activities, and is open to the public so I’d encourage you to seek it out.

(Scottish) life isn’t rubbish

A real gem of the Library is the Scottish Life Archive finding facility. In a world of OPACs and LMSs, this wall of binders brought real cheer to the group with its unceremonious subject headings. Under T alone you’ll find Tartan, Turnips and Turra Coos. You can read more about the Archive here.

So from ‘Popular Disturbances (See under Law etc – 117C)’ to popular music and the next stop on our magical history tour…

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Rip it up and start again

This Stopfordian has loved Scottish indie music since hearing Tigermilk as a teenager. Our visit to Rip It Up, though, demonstrated just how we have our own unique memories of gigs, bands and record stores. Our more ‘mature’ members recognised the bright red carrier bags claiming ‘I found it at Bruce’s’. Others came to life on seeing the stage outfits of Alex Harvey or Shirley Manson, or the huge mixing desk used by Chemikal Underground. We can’t keep living in the past so it was also good to see a nod to recent SAY Award winners such as Sacred Paws and Young Fathers (the latter having a connection to law libraries, I’m told).

Clearly, a huge amount of work went into researching the history and sourcing material, both for the exhibition and the accompanying BBC series which comprised archive footage and stills, and contemporary interviews, not to mention music! So engrossing were the exhibits, our group has to be ushered out as closing time fast approached.

Hip ship

After a tipple at Greyfriars Bobby, we made our way to Checkpoint which, according to the Times, is one of the ‘25 coolest restaurants in Britain’ which proved fairly accurate – we were seated in a shipping container. I ate a whole roast cauliflower followed by avocado dessert (both delicious). Now there’s an entry for the Scottish Life Archive.

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SLLG at the Hidden, 15th August 2018

One wet Wednesday evening 8 intrepid SLLG-ers braved The Hidden at Edinburgh’s Central Library, putting our well-honed librarian skills and information spidey-senses to the test.

Being honest souls we declared from the outset that we were not mere lay participants, but did have a level of library knowledge. This was met with much enthusiasm from the team at Visible Fictions, who were running the event. We on the other hand realised we should perhaps have kept that under our hats in case we somehow failed to solve the mystery and let the profession down…

Once the remaining participants had arrived we were taken down into the library for a short talk from one of the librarians. She began her presentation on the history of the library, discussing the influence of Andrew Carnegie and taking us through some PowerPoint slides. There was then an issue with the computer and when she went off in search of IT, things took a bit of a strange turn…

It was revealed to us that one of the librarians, Daisy Sinclair, had disappeared, missing for a number of days following some mysterious behaviour as she researched a secret of seemingly monumental and dangerous importance. Before we knew it we had agreed to investigate, as the librarian showed us the first clue. Working in groups we set about cracking the code, and before long it we were moving round the library on the trail of Daisy and her Secret.

The general public were still in the library which added a certain something to proceedings, and it was certainly an atmospheric and more authentic setting than other escape room challenges. The allotted hour passed quickly, and my team certainly found ourselves frantically trying to decipher clues as we moved around the main room of the library. Without giving too much away clues were hidden in books; written on old index cards and scribbled on photographs tucked within the pages.

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Returning to base after an anxious search of the library, each team reported back its findings as we tried to work out what was going on and what had happened to Daisy. With a few prompts from the librarian we were able to work as a group to solve the mystery. Whether we could trust her, or her requests to upload our findings to the mysterious computer was another matter!

This was a fun way to spend the evening, and a good opportunity for this particular SLLG member to reacquaint herself with the collections held in the Central Library. The team from Visible Fictions ensured a slickly run event.

HiddenGroup2

Visible Fictions are keen to roll this out to school groups and I can definitely see it appealing to older teenagers. There are no smartphones, tablets or web searches involved so tech savvy teenagers will have to rely on their wits and some old school code cracking with pen and paper to solve the mystery.

Underneath the fun escape room style adventure, there is a serious message about the power of media, the reach of the internet and trust. Perfect for the Fake News era.

Emma McLarty

HiddenExLibris

Downie Allison Downie book repair course

SLLG member, Kirstie Hustler of the Advocates Library, reviews one of Downie Allison Downie’s bookbinding courses which are taught on Saturdays throughout the year at their workshop in Glasgow.

This was the second course I had attended at DAD Bookbinders and I was really looking forward to it. I had given my dad a place on the course as a birthday present so it turned out to be a very enjoyable “Daddy Daughter Day” as well as a day for learning new library related skills.

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Take this hammer: book repair in action

The workshop was easy to find and close to the station. There was a cup of coffee and introductions on arrival and then we got stuck in. On this particular day there were four students and two teachers (Karen and Gemma) which ensured everyone had help when they required it. The atmosphere was friendly and supportive and we were even provided with lunch.

Each person had brought some books which were candidates for repair and we discussed them with the tutors and made our selection. My books weren’t very old (well no older than me) but were definitely well-used and well-loved.

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Before…

First of all we had to mend any pages which were torn. This involved cutting paper to match the torn edge and attaching it using heat sensitive tape. I couldn’t believe I was ironing and actually enjoying it.

Using the techniques learned in the beginners class we created new covers for our old books. Some people peeled away the old spines and reattached them to the new bindings.

Another part of the process I really enjoyed was hammering the edges of the pages into a curve and rolling the new cover across a metal bar to create a curved spine. One of my books was an old paperback which was shedding its pages. I made a hard cover for this and it looks great. My other book was a big book of children’s stories and I had brought wrapping paper to use as a facing for the inside covers. I was very happy with the finished effect.

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…and after

Finally we used a machine to stamp the book titles onto their new covers. At the end of the day we had breathed new life into old books and I really felt I had elevated old favourites into new treasures. I would really recommend you have a look through the scruffier parts of your library and sign up for this course.


Kirstie attended the Book Repair course, held on 28 April 2018 from 10am until 4pm, priced £75.00 including materials and lunch. Details of future bookbinding courses can be found on the DAD website.

CILIP CV-writing webinar, 12 July 2018

This is a guest post from former SLLG Convenor, Alison Wainwright, reviewing a recent CV-writing webinar organised by CILIP. After being made redundant from her post of legal Research and Information Manager, Alison has launched a web content/copywriting, CV writing and proofreading service, Dipitus.

Earlier this month, CILIP partnered with the CV & Interview Advisors (CVIA) to host a webinar on Advanced CV Writing for Experienced Professionals. As I’ve recently been made redundant, I signed up for this session to ensure my existing skills from recent qualifications and experience as a recruiter were up to date. As with all training, there’s always something new to learn, and for me the mention of the applicant tracking systems was of most value, triggering further research into the area (these don’t just track application progress, they are used by 40% of employers to screen applicants, sometimes incorrectly)!

The CVIA hosts several such free webinars, using the same presentation but rebranding the slides. For CILIP they also used examples for librarians in the case studies. In return the CVIA hopes to acquire new customers by offering attendees a discount on its relevant services. [Note: discount may not apply at time of publication.]

The presenter was very natural and friendly and whilst an appropriate amount of plugging the services was made, there was definitely no pressure to buy. Sessions run to about an hour and twenty minutes (including attendees’ questions at the end). Some points were laboured making it frustratingly slow at times. However, the webinar contained a lot of useful tips so it’s well worth signing up for any future sessions if you want to make sure your LinkedIn profile or ‘just in case’ CV is up to date with modern practices and technology. If you want to save time, here is a much shorter summary of the CVIA presentation.

Audience

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Know your audience (Credit: John-Mark Smith http://www.pexels.com)

Make sure you target your application to your audience – initial screening is usually performed by junior HR members or even an automated applicant tracking system (ATS) before your application is even seen by the hiring manager. They are looking for your use of all of the exact keywords in the job description.

Tailor your CV to every position applied for.

A business case, not a list

Ensure you aren’t just providing a list of jobs and qualifications. Think of yourself as pitching for a six-figure investment sum in Dragons’ Den (ie a salary of £25k over 4 years, plus other employment costs) and present a compelling business case as to why the recruiter should interview you.

First page

An effective first-page structure to create your business case is:

  • Profile/summary. Use this to make sure you stand out from the other applicants. State what you are good at, what your core value proposition is, and align yourself to the current hot skills in your market.
  • Key skills/areas of expertise. Bullet point all the core technical and functional skills required for the role (not personal attributes – more on this later) in 2, 3 or 4-word statements.
  • Career highlights. Three of the best examples from your past that show your experience and ability for this role. Use the STAR method to ensure they are quantifiable (introduce the Situation, the Task required, your Actions, and your Result). Put them in order of best example first, not chronologically. They can be from any time period but avoid citing dates if they are older examples.

Subsequent page(s)

  • Career history/recent experience (last 8-10 years).
    • Briefly cover background, duties, responsibilities, and achievements.
    • Ensure you don’t have any date gaps. Include entries that explain gaps, ideally adding anything you can to bridge any skills gap eg voluntary work with relevant or transferable skills, training or self-study.
    • If you are currently in a similar role to the one you’re applying for but your job title doesn’t match, or particularly if it’s not clear from your title what you do, you can change it.
    • If you aren’t in a similar role, it’s important to put your career history on the second page so that you can sell yourself on the first page with your transferable skills and relevant experience, rather than being dismissed because you’re ‘not the right fit’.
  • Earlier career. One line for each role.
  • Education/qualifications/professional development. Not every training course you’ve ever been on; only those that are relevant to the post applied for.
  • Contact details
  • Recommendations/testimonials. It’s good to include strong, relevant testimonial evidence rather than ‘references on request’ but ensure you have permission to use the referees’ details in each instance to cover you for GDPR.
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Fancy layouts: great for designers; librarians not so much (Credit: Lukas http://www.pexels.com)

Don’ts

Don’t include personal/soft/behavioural skills which you can’t demonstrate in your CV, eg conscientious, hard working, analytical etc. Many people open their application with what they think are strong statements about their personal attributes. As everyone says the same thing, they actually make candidates hard to distinguish from one another, and as the recruiter isn’t interested in these skills, they usually don’t even read as far as the candidate’s technical suitability for the job before throwing the CV on the reject pile.

Even if the recruiter requires these skills in the person specification, there is no way of demonstrating you possess them on a CV. You will be judged on them at interview at the earliest, and thereafter during the probation period. Sections headed by the word ‘personal’ will be omitted by an ATS.

Don’t include hobbies unless they help to demonstrate essential skills or experience listed in the job spec.

CVIA advised not worry too much about length, at least for ATS purposes, but it is customary in the UK to limit your CV to two pages. Academic CVs tend to be the exception.

Cover letters

Your cover letter shouldn’t stand alone – always ensure any key content is in the CV as they will become detached.

Again, use this to sell yourself.

LinkedIn

85% of recruiters will look at you on LinkedIn before inviting you for interview so an effective presence on the platform is crucial. Your profile should be broader and less detailed than your CV. The bit of text under your name (‘headline’) is key so it has to be compelling. The order of skills on your profile matters so put your key skill(s) at the top. Also, who has endorsed you matters; they should have the same skills and be at a higher level.

Further information

For more information on the implications of applicant tracking systems for your CV, and other tips on how to write a winning CV, please see my recent blog.


With a free initial review and her insider knowledge of our industry, Alison is offering a basic CV creation at the discounted price of £35. She is also holding a prize draw to win a keg of Wainwright’s Golden Ale for quoting your favourite word on Dipitus’s Facebook post by 28 July.