If it wasn’t for the Internet, I wouldn’t have got very far with my knitting. I still count myself as a novice knitter, but without the Internet I wouldn’t have got much beyond casting on. Most of what I’ve learnt about knitting has been learned from the Internet – from blogs, Twitter and particularly YouTube. I know there are lots of books about knitting, but they tend to be relatively expensive, and, being somewhat lacking in coordination and (I have discovered) the ability to decipher diagrams of yarn and needles, I find it much easier to learn to knit by watching someone else actually doing something than by looking at a 2D image or trying to follow written instructions.
I suspect that a lot of people learning to knit now have the same experience – using the Internet where previously we would have asked our parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents. I’m sure many people are still taught how to knit by their parents, particularly, but for a lot of people this is no longer as practical as it would have been in the past where people tended to stay living close to family for most, if not all, of their lives.
It could be said that the learning of knitting skills is an example of a microcosm of how society and particularly learning have changed over the past twenty years or so.
As I’ve said before [I repeat myself a lot, don't I?], I’ve started learning how to use my new camera. I think it’s sort of like learning how to play an instrument – you have to learn which bits to press to make things happen, how to hold it, how to be comfortable when using it, what the sequence of events will be if you do particular things. Instead of trying to get the correct notes and tone out of a musical instrument, you’re trying to get the camera to take the picture you want it to take.
In both instances, there are several things to consider. When learning an instrument, it’s not just about playing the correct notes, but also about playing with the appropriate tone, at a suitable volume, with the right intonation and expression. When learning how to use a camera, you have to take the picture of the ‘right’ subject, but other things come into it too – lighting, colour, shadow, perspective, focus and lots of other things I don’t even know the proper names for.
I have a book, which is a bit like a book you might use if you were learning an instrument. First, it shows you what all the bits of the instrument are called, then the basic notes and some simple tunes and then progresses on to more complicated pieces and techniques. I am diligently following the book, very slowly.
These are some of my favourite pictures I’ve taken with the camera so far:
One of Mr C's model ships (HMCS Snowberry) being painted and put together in the kitchen.
Stripy kitten from next door.
A bee approaching the rosemary. Sorry it's a bit blurry but he was buzzing very quickly, as bees do.
So, my time as an assistant librarian is over. I wonder whether I’ll ever be one again in another place and time. At the moment I’m not sure that I want to stay working in libraries for ever, but I’m not sure what it is that I really want to do. I’m hoping this time where I should have more mental space will help me to work that out. We shall see. Anyway, I thought now might be a good time to reflect and make a list of some of the things I learned during my time as an assistant librarian, so here we are (the list is not exhaustive and is in no particular order):
Among other things I learned…
- I’m not good at managing people
- I really don’t like confrontation (actually, I knew this before)
- How to use the Aleph library management system (circulation module)
- Getting involved in office politics is to be avoided if at all possible
- How to successfully pass the CILIP Chartership
- Friendly and supportive colleagues are worth their weight in gold
- It is very important to feel valued
- On a related note, line managers need to say thank you more often
- It is extremely difficult to do a job if you don’t believe in what you’re doing
- Rotas are much more difficult than you might expect
- In fact, rotas are Very Bad Things
- Unhelpful line managers cause untold damage
- As does poor communication
- I’m not good at training people
- I am good at being too sympathetic to people who have library fines
- I quite like doing presentations, even if I’m not very good at them
- A lot about Excel
- A lot about Word
- A lot about Outlook
- A bit about computers in general
- Sometimes putting things at the bottom of your in-tray really does make them go away
- But sometimes it doesn’t
- Not as much as I should have done about the Dewey Decimal System
- To count a lot of money
- To be responsible
- I’m more subject to my emotions that I thought I was
- To rely on God to get me through the day
- The self-returns machine needs to be carefully nurtured otherwise it gets upset
- To [try to] behave like an adult
- Diaries are very useful
- Outlook reminders are even more so because you don’t have to remember to look at them
- The people who can most afford to pay their fines are often the people who most vigorously dispute them
- It is impossible to keep everyone happy
- Being the filling in a sandwich is not very nice
- It’s always good to have an emergency supply of chocolate