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June 25, 2012 / bethan

Honest tips for wannabe archivists & SAA spontaneous scholarships

Kate Theimer over at ArchivesNext has posted a great set of (crowd sourced) honest tips for wannabe archivists, which are just as relevant for those starting out in libraries, archives, or special collections.

Some of my favourites (but make sure you go read the whole lot!):

If you love books/old stuff, collect them. If you love helping people have access to information, become a librarian/archivist.

Be willing to do whatever job is needed, even if it isn’t what you planned on when you went to/graduated from grad school.

You have to love learning, experimentation and failure. Or at least have made your peace with them.

Willingly take on new tasks in which you don’t have experience; it’s good prep for a constantly evolving profession/world.

Don’t be afraid to look at the unconventional. Not all jobs are found in more traditional places. Expand your comfort zone.

Be creative and be a creator. Approach your work as a craft to be learned and honed.

You have to love the future as much or more than the past. Absent that, drink beer and get a tattoo.

The hardest part is articulating archival science to stakeholders using similar-sounding words w/ totally different meanings.

You have to like talking about your collections, why they and your professional skills matter to anyone who will listen.

Above all, remember that the professionals you meet generally have a lot of expertise which they are happy to share with you.  Never miss out on an opportunity to demonstrate to them how much you value their knowledge and willingness to share their experiences with you.

A great way to get to know what a profession or specialism involves is to attend conferences. Kate is running spontaneous sponsorships to help people attend the SAA Annual Meeting in San Diego. This is a great way to show your support for others’ professional development, and donations of any size are very welcome! At last count, the campaign had raised $3,412.01 towards helping people attend SAA.

See the website for details of how to donate, how to apply for a scholarship, and how the money will be used. (Although the official closing date is 30th June, Kate has confirmed that she will accept donations past this date.)

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June 6, 2012 / bethan

Lone archivists & reading room provision

Thanks to Helen Weller, Archivist at Westminster College, for this guest post. Helen posed a question to the Archives-NRA list asking for advice on providing and invigilating a reading room in a small archive when you are the only member of staff, and this post is Helen’s summary of the guidance she received.

Preparation for the visitor

Almost everyone asks visitors to make an appointment, books only one or two visitors at a time, or books visitors for specified time slots (am or pm). This ensures readers get the help and attention they need!

Most ask users to identify in advance which documents they need, so that these can be waiting (though several people point out that of course, what readers request is not always what it turns out they need!). Opening to visitors half an hour late and closing half an hour early will give you time to prepare and return everything – extra documents can also be fetched at lunchtime. Make it easy to keep track of your documents: allow only (eg) three documents at a time; or have a system for checking documents in and out (also useful for statistics!)

Be clear on your website and in your initial contact about conditions and rules (eg lunch breaks, photocopying, requesting things from off-site storage). Many replies emphasised that most readers are happy to see the items and don’t mind whatever policy you have as long as they know in advance.

Reading Area

It was a fairy even split between organisations which take their readers to a meeting room or library to which the Archivist accompanies them (and brings their own work to do); and those which seat users in the Archivist’s office – either way, you are on hand to answer questions and discuss.

Obviously it is inconvenient to work away from your desk, and you need to plan your workload to do so. However, if readers are sharing your office, you may not be able to discuss sensitive issues with colleagues or on the phone. You would also need to make sure any confidential documents you are working on cannot be read by users, and that your personal possessions are secure. And you should not eat or drink at your office desk if readers can see you doing so – or, if you must, you should at least emphasise you haven’t got any original documents there.

Additionally, if you have a reader’s desk in your office, you need to ensure that it doesn’t get taken over by a member of staff (leave bookstands, handling regulations etc on it to highlight that it is a reserved area).

Make sure your basic searchroom security is easy to administer alone. Suggestions include: have a signing in procedure with address and contact details (make sure they’re legible!), and / or photo ID; ask on their first visit that researchers sign a form to say they agree with the terms of use, which is effectively a promise to behave; provide a designated area for coats and bags and restrict what researchers can bring with them; sit facing or side on to researchers, not with your back to them; consider installing a CCTV camera – real or fake! – or a webcam; or use mirrors so you can keep an eye on people. As one respondent said, users should be able to see you seeing them.

Lunch breaks

Almost everyone closes their reading area for lunch. Most people try to agree with the reader in advance when a lunch break should be scheduled, so that they both leave together and meet at a set time to recommence work. Some negotiate leaving for coffee breaks as well; some take their readers for coffee with them; some just do without. Again, most readers seem happy with various arrangements as long as they’re explained in advance.

Short absences / fetching further documents

Some archivists are willing to leave readers alone – particularly known and trusted readers – very briefly (eg two minutes to go to the loo, or to fetch more records if the store is nearby and you can lay your hands on the item quickly). One person made a point of not telling visitors how long they would be gone. Some ask a colleague to cover for them; some ask readers to wait outside the reading room.

Some archivists put one item away as they fetch the next, so the reader is not left alone with anything. Some mentioned that readers are usually willing to hold doors and help carry outsize or awkward items, and one pointed out that this also keeps them with you!

If you need to leave the room to photocopy records, ask if you can post them on to the reader after they leave, or ask them to wait while copies are made after all other records have been put away.

Long absences (eg meetings)

The verdict is almost unanimous: if you have a user, you cannot normally attend a meeting, and vice versa. Use your Outlook to block off a reader’s appointment as busy so you cannot acquire further meetings. And having to decline or cancel meetings because a user is coming may even help to get the message across that you need assistance!

However… some organisations allow trusted long-term users to work alone, particularly when invigilation would mean the Archivist working away from their desk. One person with long term researchers (coming in for days or weeks at a time) said they made sure they were present for the whole first visit and then tried to ensure the researcher had everything they needed while the archivist carried on with their normal work, including leaving the room to go to meetings – though this was with a proviso that if the archivist ever felt uncomfortable about leaving a researcher, a colleague would cover for them.

Help from other people

Many archivists get helpful backup from librarians (usually give long term cover if you take your users to work in the library), reception staff or other colleagues (mostly for quick cover), and trusted volunteers. One organisation says they give a ‘trustee’ status to people who have volunteered in the past or who have come in very frequently. Some respondents have mentioned that although it’s no substitute for proper invigilation, if there’s more than one user they keep an eye on each other.

Extra security

A company policy for invigilation makes it easier to refuse to leave readers alone with documents, as it’s then obviously not a personal decision. If your rules have been approved by (non-archival) senior management they will be understandable and defensible.

Remember your personal security: you may need to consider the implications of the archivist working alone, in terms of having either a panic button or just other staff who will come on call if the archivist feels threatened or would like to ask a user to leave.

And finally, The National Archives have published draft guidance aimed at non-archivists with archives in their care – on pages 11 and 12 there is the section ‘Supporting safe access’: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/information-management/archive-principles-and-practice-an-introduction-to-archives-for-non-archivists.pdf

May 29, 2012 / bethan

My first month: Amy Icke, school library

What’s it really like to start work as a new professional? In this series of guest blog posts, we’ll hear from new professionals about their first month in a new job. What have they learned? How have they fitted in? What’s been the best (and the worst!) thing? If you’d like to contribute the story of your first month, get in touch!

Moving sector is traditionally seen as something you might do later in your career, but Amy Icke moved from a traineeship in a large university library to a post in a small school library. In this post, Amy tells us how to cope with the change.

After completing a traineeship, I moved straight into my current role as Assistant Librarian at an independent secondary school in London. I have been in post for two years and am now approaching the end of my first year at UCL, studying part-time for the MA in Library and Information Studies.

As a trainee I had been working in a legal deposit, university library and so the jump to a small school setting was quite a leap. I really wanted to work with young people as they prepared for university and to explore bridging the ‘information gap’ between school and higher education. So in my mind, my previous academic library work and this new challenge complemented each other well but on a practical day-to-day level I soon realised the work was going to be very different!

Simple library processes that many trainees would be familiar with had passed me by, for example I had no prior experience of book processing, stock selection, weeding and to be honest only very limited experience of circulation! So yes the first few weeks were a steep learning curve and I relied heavily on the expertise, experience and patience of the librarian. Having said this, if you’re interested in exploring a new sector or fall into a job in your ‘not preferred’ area then don’t panic! Lots of the skills are transferrable, you soon pick up new ideas and you learn lots about yourself and the profession in the process.

One major question, which deserves careful consideration is, do you enjoy working in a team or are you happy to work with one other person or even as a solo-librarian? Most school library jobs fit into this latter category and so communication and building relationships which other members of staff is really important. For me, my support network at school includes teachers, the alumnae department, those involved in outreach, the archivist and maintenance and caretaking staff who regularly help me out. These relationships reinforce the library’s role in the school community and emphasise the importance of having a strong network who you can help and vice versa.

An aspect of my job which I really enjoy is its variety and breadth. In a reasonably small library, run by a team of two, you get to be involved in every aspect of the day-to-day running and the longer-term planning of the library. When I started I didn’t expect to be involved with compiling the library development plan or reviewing budgets or bidding for funds. Working in a small team means you can share your opinions and expertise and feel as though you are making a real difference. At first this variety was a little overwhelming and I struggled to manage all the different components of my job but I’ve now become an expert list maker and absolutely everything gets written down in my diary.

I felt less confident working with IT and new technologies when I started in my new role and it is still an area I would like to develop. Getting to grips with a new library management system, especially the reports module, continues to be a challenge but echoing others advice, mine also would be, to give things a go. Play around with things, see what works for your institution, think about how to reach readers in a way they understand and make things as user-friendly as possible. We have a subscription to Bridgeman Art Library, which has been invaluable for displays and presentations but I also make use of free resources such as Wordle. The library currently maintains an extranet page so I have learnt how to update that using Dreamweaver and I have just started populating an image gallery with photographs from our archive collection.

The reason I enjoy what I do is because I can make a real difference on a daily basis and as a member of the library team I help to provide a safe, neutral and intellectually-curious environment where everyone is welcome. You feel part of the school community by playing a supportive role at times of stress and anxiety such as exams, by providing that ‘vital’ book during the coursework season and by stamping out that all important relaxation reading for the summer holidays. Like many libraries, school library work is cyclical and some aspects, such as induction, research sessions, and reading lessons are predictable, but there are so many opportunities to run new events, experiment with stock selection, put up interesting displays and promote the library that time passes very quickly. Spending time getting to know what the students enjoy, what they’re reading, what they want from the library and to see them develop is great fun and highly rewarding.

I am only one year into my MA course and much of what we’ve covered so far has impacted greatly on my daily job. However, I am looking forward to the module on services to children and young people which I will take next year and have enjoyed hearing a wide variety of speakers working in libraries, archives and publishing. The dissertation also provides a great opportunity to research an area which particularly interests you.

If you’re interested in working in a school library or have a story to share then feel free to get in touch at amyicke@hotmail.com or @aeilib on Twitter.

May 15, 2012 / bethan

My first month: Elly O’Brien, Information Specialist, Bazian Ltd

What’s it really like to start work as a new professional? In this series of guest blog posts, we’ll hear from new professionals about their first month in a new job. What have they learned? How have they fitted in? What’s been the best (and the worst!) thing? If you’d like to contribute the story of your first month, get in touch!

What if your new job isn’t one you applied for? Elly O’Brien tells us about coping with your contract being transferred to a new employer.

Firstly, I must confess that my first week was over a year ago!

I had been working on a project (the NHS Evidence Specialist Collection for surgery, anaesthesia, perioperative and critical care) at the Royal College of Surgeons for around a year when the project’s commissioners, NHS Evidence, announced that they were planning to change the business model of the project and put it out to tender. Following a tendering process, I was transferred to a new employer under European legislation called the TUPE (ACAS provides a good overview) which protects employees’ rights when a project changes provider. The tendering and TUPE process was understandably stressful, at various stages I did not know whether I would have a job come April 2011 and if I did have a job where that might be based. Thanks to supportive colleagues and excellent HR in all parties involved, I had secured a job and was moving to a new employer.

The biggest adjustment I had to make was that I was no longer based in a library. I had bid farewell to seemingly endless desk shifts, mending staplers, stopping users trying to sneak coffees in…I am being deliberately facetious here! In all seriousness, it was a major change. In particular I had to further develop and hone my communications skills because I now would have very little face-to-face contact with clients to whom we deliver our services and products.

The team I was in was entirely new, previously the company’s Information Team had been one person – now there were seven of us. Being an entirely new team was very comforting, after the disruption of the previous few months it was nice not to be “the new person” but to be part of an entirely new team. I knew three of my new colleagues through our previous work on the Specialist Collections, but still we had to figure out the dynamics of our teams, our personalities and ways of working. The lasting legacy of this unique context is that our team is communicative and collaborative, with people always ready to ask for (or offer) help and for the opinions of others.

One of the aims of changing the business model was to standardise practice and output that had varied from collection to collection. This involved a lot of work looking at different methodologies, taking best practice from each of them and amalgamating to form new processes. The aim was that once we had looked at these different methodologies we would then write an overarching process and methods manual as well as standard operating procedure documents for specific workstreams. Obviously, this was not all done in week one! I have never been someone who has the “we’ve always done it this way” attitude, but I’ll admit I did find this challenging. I had to look objectively at what colleagues across different collections and I had done in the past. As we were putting in place new processes, I also had to continually review the processes we had put in place in order to improve them. There was no room for sacred cows!

Before I began this job, I had learned about critically appraising research papers, but only in the context of teaching critical appraisal skills to peers and library users. It was clear that I would be regularly critically appraising a large volume of papers once we began producing Evidence Updates. Trying to understand a variety of research methods and the implications this variety can have on the quality, reliability and generalisability of the research paper was probably the single steepest learning curve. In my first week we had an internal training session run by one of the Health Research Analysts from our Science Team, who is very experienced in reading and interpreting papers. The session was great as it helped to give me a foundation of knowledge, but equally helpful was the open culture of the company and our team, one of my colleagues dubbed our philosophy: ask early, ask often.

In this role I regularly draw upon knowledge and skills acquired during my Master’s degree (Library and Information Studies, UCL). Part of our role is to trawl different websites for content to add to the NHS Evidence website, I use my cataloguing and classification skills when adding these documents via the new Resource Management System created specifically for this project. I am responsible for our website and use the HTML and web design skills I learned during my Master’s and further developed in my previous job. Even the management module, that at the time I found quite dull, has been useful as it gave me a theoretical knowledge of concepts such as Key Performance Indicators which, as contractors, are used by our client to regularly measure our performance.

April 13, 2012 / bethan

Indexing

One of my last jobs before finally saying goodbye to the manuscript forever was doing the index. I did have a choice about doing this – I could have paid for a professional indexer to do it, but I decided to bite the bullet and produce the index myself, for two main reasons:

1) it seemed like a good Information Professional skill! And a good chance to add ‘indexed a book’ to my CV – who knows if I’ll ever have that chance again?
2) (and this is the deciding one) Phil Bradley told me it would be fun. And when Phil Bradley gives you advice like that? You take it!

But however sure I was that doing the index was the right thing to do, it was a daunting prospect. The closest I’ve ever come to doing an index was constructing a thesaurus in library school (and I think that was my lowest mark of the course…). So to get myself feeling a bit more prepared, I attended a Society of Indexers Introduction to Indexing course.

The course helped me feel a lot more confident about preparing an index, and taught me some of the basics of how to go about it. The most valuable lesson of the day? An index is not a thesaurus! You’re not preparing a controlled vocabulary, where you decide that one term is the ‘correct’ term – you’re offering a way in for your users, to find the information they need. Double-entries are not only acceptable, they’re encouraged!

Indexing is all about trying to identify what people might look for – what they might want to know from your book. I can’t decide if indexing your own book is an advantage or a disadvantage! One one hand, you know the text inside-out, and it probably takes you less time to pull out the main index points than it would take someone who’s coming to the text cold. On the other hand, you maybe know the text too well, and might miss some really obvious points that an outsider would pick up on.

The guidelines from Facet came with the warning that ‘Remember, reviewers often notice poor indexes’, which definitely contributed to my performance anxiety… But they also gave me helpful advice and answers to my ‘this might be a silly question…’, and were kindly encouraging!

The practicalities

The trainer on the indexing course told us about some indexing software, and also mentioned that Microsoft Word had an indexing tool built-in, but that she didn’t recommend it. It seemed slightly superfluous to buy software for a single index, so I decided that I’d give the Word tool a go, and if I found it difficult or clunky I’d look for something else – or do the whole thing manually. The first job was to get my copy for indexing out of a PDF and into Word, while making sure that the page numbers matched up. This was slightly tedious, but not difficult – though my page numbers did get out of synch somewhere around p180, and I had to spend some time tracking down the mis-match and updating the index.

The Word indexing tool wasn’t hugely user-friendly! Having to create a bookmark first for entries across multiple pages was a particular annoyance, and I kept forgetting… But it was good enough to do the job, and I decided that the time it would take to find and learn another tool wasn’t justifiable, especially as I had only 3 weeks to do the proofreading and index.

Once I’d done my second run-through of the index, I copied the index out of the Word document, and saved it as a plain text document, to remove all of the links and ‘noise’. This left me with a plain old list of terms and page numbers. I then went back and checked this against the text – was the page reference right? Is that actually a big enough reference to justify an index-point? Did I spell everything correctly? Is there another term that people might use if they’re looking for this? What else should I put it under?

There are certain practicalities that would never have occurred to me without actually doing the index. For instance, I double-indexed most acronyms under the acronym and the full name (eg CILIP and Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals). I didn’t do this for QR codes/quick response codes. Why? It was the only entry under Q! I don’t know what the official indexing policy is on this, but it seemed to me that a double-entry there would be a waste of space. So they’re in as ‘Quick Response (QR) codes 82’ – I’ll be checking the printed version to see if Facet have kept it so…

So, with a finished index, my next concern: is it long enough? At home, on a Sunday evening, and with no LIS textbooks to hand, where do I turn to find out? My twitter network! And big thanks to @chaletfan and @merry30 who delved into their shelves and memories for me, and reassured me that 7 pages sounded just right for an index.

So, I learned a lot, and I’m very glad I did it, but is it a good index? I guess I’ll have to wait for the reviews to find out!

March 12, 2012 / bethan

My first month: Carly Miller, school library

What’s it really like to start work as a new professional? In this series of guest blog posts, we’ll hear from new professionals about their first month in a new job. What have they learned? How have they fitted in? What’s been the best (and the worst!) thing? If you’d like to contribute the story of your first month, get in touch!

What to do if your first professional post isn’t what you expect? Carly Miller tells us about how to get the most out of a difficult situation.

I should start by saying I didn’t really like my first professional post and that I left after three months. This means my blog post is probably going to be a little bit different from other people’s but hopefully still just as useful!

What was the biggest learning curve?
Really the entire experience was a learning curve. I think library school really focuses on the positives and presents a really idealistic view of librarianship; it didn’t prepare me for finding my job upsetting, disagreeing with management or what to do when your legal rights such as a lunch break are being ignored.
I think I was also quite surprised by the lack of understanding from teachers about what a librarian is. A lot didn’t realise I needed a qualification and I was often seen as the person who was there to solely fill the photocopier and stapler up. I think there needs to be some collaboration between librarians and PGCE courses to nip this attitude in the bud.

But my biggest learning curve was that you need to follow your instincts. In between the interview and start date there were things that made me realise the job wasn’t going to be for me; I ignored my instincts and just carried on when really what I should have done was voiced my concerns and then, if they weren’t adequately addressed, stepped aside.

What have you had to do that you didn’t expect?
What I really didn’t expect though was the lack of support. It was very much, here is the library now get cracking. A person had been in post temporarily for a year before me, they interviewed unsuccessfully for the permanent post and when I started they didn’t know what their employment situation was going to be once the crossover period ended. Neither of us were briefed or prepared for what was needed of us and we were just expected to muddle along; it was an extremely awkward, uncomfortable and unproductive situation that I had no idea how to handle.

What technologies have you needed to use?
Aside from the LMS (and the photocopier that teachers often needed help with!) there wasn’t much in the way of technology, most of my experience with it was trying to find free resources that would be useful and looking to the future.

I really wanted the students to have the opportunity to start using things like twitter and blogs to communicate with the library as a lot of universities are using them now so I set up accounts. Unfortunately access to them was then blocked and even though I requested the restriction be lifted it hadn’t been at the time I left.

One thing I became aware of where I was, was the potential danger for management to see something fancy and new and grab it without fully thinking how it would work in practice, which is obviously something I would have to work around if I’d continued in the role.

What new skills have you learnt?
The role really made me consider management skills, I don’t think the management was great where I was and since leaving I’ve worked in a job where there was an amazing line manager and a thorough induction process. The whole experience made me think about management and leadership skills; basic things such as ensuring people are introduced to each other and showing new starters where they can put their lunch are actually really important for putting someone at ease. I was also told when I requested a meeting that existing staff took priority over new which I think is a mistake, I think it’s really important to ensure new staff are settling in and given an opportunity to raise any concerns.

I really hope the experience has improved upon my management, leadership and mentor skills that I’m starting to develop as a new professional.

Biggest challenge?
The whole experience was a challenge; it was a challenge to work alongside the person whose job I had taken, it was a challenge to try make the changes to the library the head of sixth form had implemented work and it was a huge challenge to be honest with myself and admit to everyone I’d made a mistake.

Most fun thing?
I think working with the students would have been fun but unfortunately as I was not only replacing someone they liked but also making them unemployed it wasn’t that easy to start building a relationship with them. Plus they didn’t like the changes to the library, I didn’t either but I had to try make them work and so that put an additional barrier up.

Has what you learned in library school been useful?
Yes even if I wasn’t really able to put it into practice! At library school I learned the best way to run a school library, best practice on redesigning the physical space and advice on weeding stock. I had no say on any of this really but at least I knew that things were being done wrong!

Conclusion
If your first professional post isn’t right for you, it’s not the end of the world! Try talk things through at work, talk to your professional colleagues and just try and learn as much as you can from the situation.

February 28, 2012 / bethan

How this book was wroted

‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

This advice from the King of Hearts to the White Rabbit is often jocularly given to people who innocently enquire, ‘So, how do you write a book?’ – and seems, on the face of it, eminently sensible. How else would you tell a story?

But as with thunderstorms and children, no two books ever come into the world in quite the same way. If one person has ever managed to write a book by beginning at the beginning and going blithely on until ‘The End’, they can rest assured that I will never emulate their feat.

This book was certainly not written from the beginning to the end. It was written in circles and patches, and fits and spurts and starts and stops.

A good analogy might be that of a patchwork blanket. I designed the pattern, then delegated squares to contributors, who ravelled up their knowledge and returned it to me. These squares were being constructed by many people, in many places, and not even I knew how they would all eventually fit together – the pattern was changing even as the work progressed. I collected the squares, fit them into the pattern (with minor alterations where required), and sewed the disparate squares into a blanket that is much more than the sum of its parts.*

In non-metaphorical terms (phew! that’s the extent of my knitting knowledge), the process went pretty much something like this:

1) I talk to publisher, and decide overall framework for book. Chapters are sketched out, with vague ideas of what might be in each.
2) I write a plan for each chapter, including:
a) proposed word count
b) proposed topics of case studies, and how many
c) what sort of think I might say in the introduction
d) what bits I might need to write
e) what kind of exercise I could include
3) I look at the proposed case studies, and start thinking of people to write them. Most of my first choice contributors say yes, and start writing
4) I complete and send off draft chapter
5) I talk to the publishers again, and re-think the entire framework for the book
6) I write new plans for each chapter, and discover I need some more case studies. I contact new potential contributors.
7) Case studies start coming in. I slot each into its proposed place in the chapter, and start fleshing out the chapters around them.
8) I suddenly realise I’ve done very little research for the bits I’m writing. Cue flurry of inter-library loans.
9) Case studies continue to come in. I continue to work on whichever section of whichever chapter has the most case studies in.
10) I realise I still have some significant gaps, and recruit more contributors.
11) I now have at least some content for each chapter. Time to start revising them!
12) Case studies continue to come in. I now have some chapters complete, some at little beyond planning stage.
13) Repeat 11 and 12 until nearly all case studies are in. Panic about word count, and start chopping words out wherever I can.
14) Feel overwhelmed and devote several days to sorting out all of my references.
15) Proofread.
16) Put all chapters together into one document. Check for house style, references, and any stray words I can cut out.
16) Send to publisher.
17) Final case study arrives. Slot into chapter, hastily write introductory paragraph. Send to publisher.
18) Publisher accepts manuscript. Tears, champagne, etc.
19) (what, you didn’t think acceptance was the end of it, did you?) Hastily start work on adding content to companion website (hi!)
20) Answer copy editor’s queries. Discover typos in names of two contributors. Feel ashamed.
21) Three contributors independently have things that need to be changed in their case studies. Send increasingly grovelling emails to publishers (who are lovely, and make all changes)
22) Await arrival of proofs for checking and indexing…

So the story of this book is a long way from being over! And I guess it did have a beginning, after all, even though it didn’t start with ‘Chapter One’…

* I mean, really, I can’t think of more than 3 or 4 uses for a pile of knitted squares – but a blanket! You can do anything** with a blanket!
** As long as it’s vaguely blanket-based