A network for new and aspiring library professionals

The Autumn Event

After months of discussion, ever-increasing to-do-lists and 28 million emails (conservative estimate), Saturday 19th October – the long awaited day of #nlpnautumn, passed in a cake-infused blur. It’s now just over a week after the event – a sensible time to reflect on a day filled with networking and knowledge.

The collaborative nature of NLPN lends itself to discussion and reflection, so as always, the team’s plans for our fourth event started with a review of the outreach and advocacy event feedback forms, alongside sharing of our own impressions of the day and areas for development.  #nlpnspring had ambitious aims: 4 sessions and 7 speakers covering 4 sectors. It was certainly a jam-packed schedule, but one which highlighted the wealth of innovation to be shared beyond apparent sectoral ‘boundaries’. This time, we decided to go for fewer, but slightly longer sessions on individually requested topics:  Open Access, Digital Skills and Copyright legislation. All attest to the specialist nature of our profession and will be compelling issues as we begin and develop our careers. We united them under the theme of #mustknowsforinfopros: essential content for a developing professional toolkit.

Helen's culinary delights

Helen’s culinary delights

We kicked things off with Simon Barron’s presentation on digital librarianship. I was lucky enough to hear Simon’s paper, presented under the theme of ‘Beyond Information Matters’ at this year’s Umbrella conference. “Rise of the Cyborgs: the growth of librarian-IT hybrids” focused on the increasing elision of traditional library and IT skills in professional posts, and on the changes and challenges that developing technology will continue to transmit. I remember being struck when Simon drew attention to a statement in a Science Magazine research paper: the quantity of digital data now exceeds the quantity of analogue information.  In one sense, I’m not really surprised by this at all, but it did put into context just how much digital data is out there – and to think of its exponential growth – how can this not impact our roles as information managers and specialists? Simon’s #nlpn presentation considered this, and the ramifications of technological advancements for aspiring professionals. Digital collections were highlighted as the bottom half of the iceberg that our users may not see – I’m sure many of us with involvement in user education recognise that this as a major bugbear- but the depth of our advocacy must match that of our resource provisions. Simon asserted that as new technology changes our perceptions of the world around us, it follows that it will affect our users’ expectations; our skills must not fall short. In considering the ‘digital librarian’, a review of person specifications made clear that IT skills are in demand, with an increased movement from desirable to essential, seemingly unavoidable.

Simon Barron

Simon Barron

Simon imparted practical tips for demonstrating ‘bankable’ IT skills; many stem from expanding our personal use of computers and experimenting with new software and systems:

–          Explore Linux – a free, open source operating system

–          Develop coding skills through Code Academy

–          Engage with Social Media platforms

–          Learn a programming language – JavaScript may be a good starting point

–          Consider completing a specialist MOOC

The will to self-teach and self-develop will be demonstrable by-products that will only enhance your professional profile.

Copyright legislation is a usual suspect in the “what topics would you like to see at future events” section of the NLPN feedback form, so we were beyond thrilled when THE Jane Secker confirmed that she would be able to deliver a session for us. Jane spoke from her extensive professional experience, particularly from a HE perspective in her capacity as copyright advisor at LSE. Jane made clear that technology has significantly impacted this area of professional practice – as the ubiquitous “upload” button makes it easy to unwittingly infringe copyright law and disregard intellectual property. Addressing the perception: if it is online, it belongs to everyone – is the job of information specialists and librarians; managing risk and education are important parts of this role.

Jane Secker

Jane Secker

The pervasiveness of e-learning  brings up key issues- notably: the reuse of text and images, uploading of  (instead of linking to) content and knowing where responsibility and liability lies. All underline the need for our professional advice and training, in the form of structured workshops, and broader staff development to build a culture of trust and understanding. Through quizzes and website evaluation we explored copyright restrictions and fair-use policies of e-resources, web content, images and multimedia. Taking the time to examine the differences in policy on sites such as Amazon and the Welsh Assembly was an eye-opening exercise; how often, in our everyday use of the web, do we look for this information? Do we always consider the implications of copy and paste? The need for user-education and professional advocacy was patent throughout Jane’s session.

Jane left us to ruminate over the implications of The OER movement, Open Access, Creative Commons, and MOOC Content, and in the process conveyed that engagement and awareness will be inevitable professional priorities.

David Jenkins closed the event with a practical look at the implications of Open Access for librarians. I’m embarrassed to admit that my involvement with OA hasn’t extended far beyond theoretical awareness, and a relatively small amount of independent research and reading.  I have found that my CPD efforts lean towards the development of my IL teaching practice, but David’s presentation provided the detail and the impetus to redirect my preoccupations! Access David’s slideshare here.

David Jenkins

David Jenkins

David explained Gold and Green OA routes, and considered the recommendations and implications of the Finch report, before examining the four ways OA may change our roles:

  1. Teacher – the hook! (for me at least!) OA holds the potential to expand our teaching remit and apply our existing skills in a new context. There is an appetite for us to teach people new things – many researchers and academics want to be informed about the potential for dissemination of their research, and users will still need to be guided to discover the best information to meet their needs.
  2. Publisher – with relation to institutional repositories – a chance for us to broaden remits and develop new skills.
  3. Technology Developer – modifying and creating resources/repositories/discovery tools
  4. Fund Manager – managing OA budgets, will this supersede the processes associated with traditional subscription-based resources?

David concluded with the assertion that change is inevitable; there will be challenges amidst opportunities – a theme implicit in all three of #nlpnautum’s presentations.

The NLPN team would like to thank Simon, Jane and David for sharing their expertise with us and for making clear the amount of work we have ahead of us! Ours is truly far from a static profession –  opportunities for service development await. We’ll need sustenance. I hope someone’s bringing cake.


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This entry was posted on October 29, 2013 by in NLPN events and tagged , , , .

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