A network for new and aspiring library professionals

BIALL, CLSIG & SLA Europe Graduate Open Day – Part Two

The next speaker was Danny Rees from The Wellcome Library (part of the Wellcome Trust- a medical charity). Danny was very passionate about his role and began by giving us an in depth history of the library that was started by Henry Wellcome (which holds both a global and local collection mostly consisting of medical and health resources but extending to works of art). Danny explained that he began his career in the sector as a shelver or ‘book monkey’ as he called it and worked his way up to his current position as Engagement Officer. The transition came about after a distance learning course, progression to library assistant dealing with ILL then promotion to Assistant Librarian before his promotion to his current role. His current role is varied and allows him to attend and run events in connection with the library which includes Library Insights which is held at the library (unfortunately living in Manchester I will probably not get to attend any of these but they look very informative and fascinating!).

Danny concluded by advising us to grab opportunities as they come along and to get out of your comfort zone and give things a go!

Marie Cannon, a newly qualified law librarian from Towers and Hamlin, was next to present and gave an amalgamation of tips on being a graduate trainee, attending library school and job hunting.

The tips provided for graduates trainees are as follows:

  • Expand your network by using twitter which is useful for current awareness and can be a good support tool i.e. #uklibchat which is a good way of communicating with others and keeping up to date.
  • 23 Things for Professional Development an online course which can be used to demonstrate continued professional development and enhance your reflective writing skills which will be useful if you intend to pursue Chartership.
  • Blogging is another way you can develop your reflective writing skills and can be used as part of your online brand.

How to get the most out of library school:

  • The core MA modules include: Information Sources and Retrieval which considers users and resources and is good for preparing you for a professional post; Cataloguing and Classification which provides a history and information on the main schemes i.e. Dewey and creating metadata; Principles of Computing and IT provides a very basic understanding of how computers work and website design using html.
  • Use your tutors as they are experts in their field.
  • Take options that interest you as these will be the ones you gain the best marks in.
  • Don’t panic and use your support network if you need help.
  • The MA is not designed to prepare you for the world of work so can not cover everything, employers know this, and therefore, they are able to mould you.

Job hunting tips:

  • Join LinkedIn, create an online CV, and remember your digital brand by keeping it consistent across social media platforms i.e. Twitter.
  • In order to demonstrate your commitment to the profession get involved by blogging, doing 23 Things and become a member of a professional organisation such as CILIP, BIALL, CLSIG, or SLA.
  • Volunteer and learn new skills i.e. events, communication etc.
  • Apply for awards and bursaries i.e. SLA Early Career Conference Award, which Marie won, or look out for them in CILIP Update, Twitter and Association blogs.

The next speaker was Simon Barron, a digital librarian at The British Library. Simon’s current role as a digital librarian involves creating a national digital library for Qatar. Simon began by explaining how we are living in an information age with various forms i.e. digital. Information is measured in bytes which is increasing exponentially, most of which is digital. He told us that networks and data are the future of information management/librarianship. Libraries are changing from analogue to digital. Information facilitates cohesion between sectors, many people use libraries i.e. commercial, health and legal. Therefore, the direction for the future is a joint library and IT staff role. This would involve the skills taught at library schools i.e. cataloguing, metadata, licensing and equally important IT skills such as hardware troubleshooting, coding and systems development. Skills which are also important include: communication, team work, relationship management, translating both sets of jargon i.e. liaising between the IT department and the library, problem solving, intellect, curiosity, willingness to learn and self teach.

Simon’s suggestion to become more IT savvy was to check out Code Academy.

The penultimate speaker of the day was Tracey Dennis, Librarian at Inner Temple. Inner Temple is an Inn of Court which provides training for those who want to proceed to be a barrister. The Inn of Court provides support for barristers in all areas including funding and training sessions. Tracey’s career started in Temple Inn, she then moved to the House of Lords Library, then Inner Temple, Lewis Silkin and back to Inner Temple; the movement was due to her career aspirations, seeking progression in every post.

In terms of the Inner Temple library, Tracy told us that they are well staffed and well resourced and receive many visitors and enquiries. The Inner Temple is very traditional and conservative but the library is keeping up with the times and has a significant web presence updating users by their blog, twitter and providing access to legal databases, both e-resources and print.

User skills are varied so the service needs to be tailored to individuals, there is a need to be patient and provide excellent customer service. The role involves providing databases and resources, providing training in how to use databases i.e. searching, providing tailored resources quickly and efficiently whilst under pressure. Tracy explained that it is never simple as the resources needed are not always online, incorrect information is given (spelling mistakes) or not enough information is supplied by the user (short abbreviations i.e. Jo for Jones) which then involves investigative work or more communication with the user.

Tracy concluded that is it really important to make contacts in your field as they are very useful if you ever need any help!

You can read part 1 of this post here, and part 3 here.


One comment on “BIALL, CLSIG & SLA Europe Graduate Open Day – Part Two

  1. Pingback: BIALL, CLSIG and SLA Europe Open Day 2013 | E.B.L.G.T.

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