Insights from practitioners in Information Management

Issue 107 – WSH and CPD

As we mentioned in the April edition of this newsletter new work health and safety laws are on the way (assuming of course the governments don’t change in the mean time). To make life easier for you, we have added a new page to our website which covers the most important information –

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
And with that let us turn our attention to what you are currently reading.

Your current reading material is a good indication of how serious you are about Continuing Personal and Professional Development. Did you know that the last half dozen books you’ve read is a good indication of where you will be headed in the next 12 months? Given that we are now half way through the year, it is perhaps a good time to ask – how much have you read in the first half of the year? And of those items which were not works of fiction – how much have you learned and what changes have you made to your work and home life as a result of the knowledge you have gained?

I don’t keep an active tally of the books I’ve read, but on average I read the equivalent of one book per day. Be they:

• RSS Feeds,
• Blog posts,
• Web based articles,
• E-books,
• Magazines and Journals, and of course
• Books themselves.

Consequently I don’t watch a great deal of television, I don’t read the newspapers (or as a friend calls them – the oldspaper), junk mail (including things like women’s mags), tv guides or the menu guide of the closest fast food joint. Does that mean I miss some things – absolutely! But the reasons I don’t watch the TV most of the time or listen to the radio for that matter are:

• I have no desire to know who is wearing what, and how much weight they have put on…
• I prefer to use my time doing other things,
• I cannot bear some / most of the programs being shown, the negative slant on the news and the guffawing on the radio, and
• Adverts

I prefer to play sport rather than watch it. I’m not a foodie or a gardener, I hire someone to do my maintenance and I loathe and detest reality TV.
Does all this sound like I should be polishing my halo?! Not at all, it was just a conscious decision I made a few years ago when I started setting up my own business. As you know I work full time down at IEA, I now have a very successful web based business. It took time and a lot of hard work in the beginning and something had to give. The easiest thing to give up for me was the TV. 

But the main reason I read so much is so I can share what I find with my clients, so they can improve their own lives and businesses. 

But why is reading so important? 

As you know, your formal education has a very short shelf life. Take an extended break from work and you will be forever playing catch up – anyone who has taken long-service leave, been on maternity leave or seconded to another department that isn’t directly related to our own sphere of knowledge, and those on extended medical leave will attest to what I am saying. Technology is continually changing, and with it the software, the applications that run on the software and how our work as information professionals changes as a result.

I’m sure you’ve seen the debate / discussions / arguments raging over the internet on e-books and libraries:

• Whether publishers should or should not provide their books in e-book format to libraries at all.
• Should e-book readers be pre-loaded with books?
• How many times should an e-book be lent out to patrons before it expires?
• Should they expire?
• Should they be licensed?
• How long for?
• How many formats should a library have to buy? (think Kindle, Kobo etc with their DRM software)

Of the people working in a library:

• How many people currently working in libraries own an e-book reader?
• What sort?
• How many own tablets?
• What sort?
• How many have downloaded all the e-book readers apps on to them and played with them?
• Downloaded material onto them and use them?
• Shared their knowledge with colleagues and patrons?
• Had FORMAL training in the use of the technology? 

What we are really talking about here, is Continuing Professional Development. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) should be exactly that – continuous. And it doesn’t just apply to reading of course as we mentioned in the previous edition of Overload.

Continuous activity says a lot about your commitment to your own self worth and knowledge, to the organisation that you work for, as well as to your colleagues. 

In an ideal world of course we would all be reading works relating to where we feel our goals are headed. But I find valuable information from a wealth of subjects – not least of which includes:

• Psychology
• Management and Business
• Human Resources
• IT
• Writing
• Health and Fitness
• Motivation, and
• Library and records management journals of course.

And because of the technology I own and use I can now read on the go. I have a large personal library of books at home, but have taken to buying e-books of some of my favourites as it saves me having to carry the paper version. And given I can buy and download immediately I don’t even have to wait for the hard copy to arrive.

And that may be one of the problems. There is so much information available, we could be forgiven for wanting a night off and sitting down with a bowl of takeaway while watching a weight loss show.

But then, isn’t everything about the choices we make.

We are of course coming up to the end of yet another financial year – take a look at your returns:

• How many books and courses will you be claiming for this year?

While you are at it, take a good look at your CV, have you updated it recently? If your courses were professionally related, these should be added to the document. In a separate document (if you are so inclined) make a note of how those courses and / or books have helped you change the way you now work. What benefits did they provide you with? 

Why should you bother with this last step?

Well it is very easy to forget, and extremely easy to return to old ways of working and behaviours if the commitments aren’t cemented into your sub-conscious. It also helps if you decide to apply for other positions – given that behavioural interview questions are based on how you handled the past, because that tends to prove how you will handle the future, you can improve your chances of second interviews and job offers if you can prove that you are still learning – and are willing to apply new knowledge to your current life.

A challenge to you, if you don’t read very much:

* Try reading 1 chapter a day, every day for the next year, and see just how far and fast your life can change (if you apply the knowledge that is).
* A second thought if you would like to share. What is the best item you have read this year that has helped you the most. 

I look forward to hearing from you.