A network for new and aspiring library professionals
#CILIPNPD12 was where it all started for ManchesterNLPN, so the team were disappointed that work schedules meant we weren’t able to attend this year’s CILIP New Professionals Day.
Not wanting to miss out on the action, we tweeted and asked our network if they wanted to blog on our behalf; Amy (@amycircleskirt) kindly submitted her post of the day. As always, the day is filled with so much activity so we have split this post into two parts.
This was my first New Professionals Day and I really had no idea about what to expect from the whole experience. It was a great day and I’d strongly recommend everyone to attend, even if you are ridiculously socially awkward like me.
The keynote presentation was delivered by Barbara Band (
@bcb567) on the Information Profession as a whole. It was a really engaging and inspiring talk, it was also refreshing to see a school Librarian delivering a presentation – all my previous experiences have been with University Librarians, and the diversity of professions in general at the conference was great. The idea of Librarianship being a career people ‘fall in to’ rather than are directed towards was mentioned, and this is certainly true for me and almost everyone I know. There are of course exceptions, but I wonder what implications it has for the profession that it isn’t one that people are naturally thinking of.
There was also exploration of the broadness of “information professionals” and the number of job titles which we all have – despite this enormous variety, Barbara believes that the fundamentals of our roles are all the same. We must relate them to our individual organisations and contexts, but our core values are shaped by the vision and mission of CILIP. I hope we can all agree that “A fair and economically prosperous society is underpinned by literacy, access to information and the transfer of knowledge” and hopefully we’re all playing a part in contributing to this.
Barbara also talked about the enormous levels of job satisfaction she gets from her job as School Librarian/Chief Librarianiser/Whatever title she’s been given that day despite having to sometimes battle with the seemingly insurmountable obstacles of constantly changing policies. We need to respond to changes that take place on a governmental level and consider how they impact on our roles – Barbara mentioned a number of newsletters and organisations that she is part of which contribute to her wider understanding of her role. Staying ahead of the game is really very important in our roles to ensure our relevance and success within organisations.
Looking to the future, we need to use our background and historical status as leverage, but pro-activeness and adaptability are vital in combating major issues – not-least changing modes of information delivery and access. Only by staying up to date and versatile are we going to be able to provide a service which is of benefit to our users and to society as a whole. Barbara really emphasised the transferable skills we develop as information professionals with a big list of the many roles we may take on; manager, teacher, organiser, facilitator, communicator, collaborator and researcher. When people think of what a Librarian ‘does,’ I imagine all of these things are not what spring to mind. We need to actively embrace this diversity in our positions, resistance in the form of “That’s not in my job description…” is harmful not only to your own career but to the reputation of the profession as a whole.
The successful, happy Librarians I know are those that are adaptable and embrace learning opportunities whenever possible; this includes ‘off-the-job’ activities which you may not even relate directly to your current role, but they help you grow and develop as an individual and inevitably positively impact on your profession. These leads in the point that Continuing Professional Development (CPD) does not need to be a formal exercise – engagement on twitter can be developing yourself as a professional as much as attendance at a conference. There are many free events which are available both on and offline; things such as Library Camps, Special Interest Groups on CILIP, UKLibchat on Twitter and so on can really boost your professional profile with minimal financial expenditure.
Barbara mentioned the notion that learning requires active involvement – this active involvement leads to advocacy for the profession as we endorse, promote and recommend our services in the process. Despite the whirlwind technological changes that have occurred in pretty much every profession in the past 20 years, there is an expectation that libraries have remained the same and surprise when it’s revealed that substantial changes have been made. If we don’t combat this, then who will?
The keynote really set the theme for the rest of the day; grab opportunities, say yes, embrace change, be an advocate for your profession by doing all of these things.
The first workshop I attended was delivered by Ka-Ming Pang (
@AgentK23), founder of the UKlibchat group on Twitter (and beyond). I’ve attended a couple of UKlibchat sessions in the past and so was quite excited about this session and Ka-Ming did not disappoint!
A lot of this session built upon the themes discussed by Barbara in her keynote, that participation in the sector is vital as it contributes to promotion and advocacy of our work. Ka-Ming talked us through the ‘behind-the-scenes work’ that goes on in order to achieve a successful UKlibchat. It has grown a lot since its first incarnation, and now extends to a website with feature articles; further expansion seems inevitable. I would just also like to say that Ka-Ming’s presentation was excellent in a really striking way, it’s the best use of Prezi I have seen and is definitely worth a look just to see what is possible with the software.
I found this session really inspiring – Ka-Ming was a student when she started UKlibchat and ‘filled a need.’ It’s really great to see how hard work and a good idea can really benefit the wider profession as well as providing a lot of personal satisfaction to the creator – Ka-Ming spoke very passionately about UKlibchat and it was really quite inspiring! UKlibchat is a fantastic initiative for professional development and for widening your contacts.
The second workshop I attended was delivered by Nick Stopforth (
@nickstopforth), “Digital Libraries: Modern skills mix for modern library services.” This glimpse in to public libraries was very interesting and much of it seemed applicable to academic libraries too. The challenges faced by public libraries would seem to curtail opportunities for innovation, but Nick spoke of ideas such as the Universal Offers, which would really benefit the service. Nick advocated the importance of marketing and future-proofing your services, and reminded us that Innovation is still possible without big investment, but imagination is required.
Lunchtime: Burritos! The biggest burritos ever seen. I would go next year purely to eat burritos like this again. You may think “Really? These people are freaks, they need to get over this ridiculous obsession with food as though it’s of any interest to anybody else.” But that just proves you haven’t eaten one, so go next year and be enlightened!