A network for new and aspiring library professionals
With just 3 days to go until applications close for the next round of The International Librarians Network (ILN) peer mentoring program I thought I would share my thoughts on the program. I first became aware of the ILN when I attended a session ran by Ffion Bell at Library Camp 2013 held in Birmingham, as such I was keen to start on the program when it began this year!
So what is it? The ILN is a facilitated program aimed at helping librarians to develop international networks.
How does it work? ILN program coordinators collect information from participants and use this information to match them with other participants – this is via a form you fill in when you sign up. This partnership will be formally supported for four months through regular contact (emails with suggested discussion topics) and facilitated online group discussions. Once you have been matched with a partner you are sent their contact details and a list of suggested questions to ask each other in order to break the ice and to establish a preferred method of contact e.g. Where do you work? What does your job involve? How often would you like to be in contact? What is the most convenient method? My partner had Googled me and looked at my social media output and wanted to check if that was me – which was useful as it provided her with a background to me. Given our time difference (my partner was located in America) we decided that email would be the best method of contact for us. At the end of four months partnerships will automatically dissolve, and participants have the option to sign up for a new partnership.
What are the requirements? The ILN is open to anyone working or studying in the library and information sector. It’s free to take part and the only requirements are an internet connection, a spare hour each week, and a desire to build professional connections.
What do you gain out of it? I feel that with this programme you get out of it as much as you put in. If you engage with your partner you can form a friendship and also expand your knowledge of another sector and what it is like working in another country; through our discussions we found that both countries face the same issues e.g. cuts to funding, eBook access and copyright etc. My partner was also at a different stage of her career to me so it was interesting learning about the journey to her current post. The discussion topics provided by the ILN included library spaces focusing on the ones you love (and loathe) and what it is that makes them stand out – we also sent each other photos of where we currently work (our library spaces) and our previous places of work; the types of books you like to read, whether you have a preference for print or electronic; library advocacy and lobbying etc. These topics provide you with a good opportunity to reflect on these issues and if you haven’t thought about them already form your own opinions – which is great for CPD. When introducing myself to my partner it focused my thinking about my career which has been really useful as I have recently begun Chartership. This is a great networking opportunity, which allows you to connect with someone that is completely outside of your existing network. If you’re not swayed by all that you also receive a certificate on completion of the programme!
Want to join in? Sign up here for a great experience!