A network for new and aspiring library professionals
Recently I got up extra early on a Saturday, and travelled down to the Leeds Library Camp – it was a very fun day!
Arriving in Morley (and thanks to our hosts at Morley Public Library), I found a nice group of people already gathered. I sometimes travel to the Leeds office for work, but I thought this would be a great opportunity to meet some other library people in the region.
The first session I joined was a discussion on the changing structure of subject specialist teams within academic libraries – known as the ‘Manchester model’ – facilitated by Steph. Basically; re-organising the existing subject-specific teams into function-specific teams namely Research Services, Teaching & Learning, Academic Engagement. RLUK has some more information about it here: http://www.rluk.ac.uk/news/manchestersneworder/
There were a few different institutions represented from around Yorkshire (and I had a bit of insight from working in Aberystwyth University) – so we shared our experience of whether structural changes had taken place within the teams. The main difference that being in function-specific teams seems to be that librarians are required to have knowledge of a broad range of resources; covering all the different subjects. In some ways that’s a good opportunity to be multi-talented, but in reality it’s often the case that staff shortages and workload take away from the time needed to develop knowledge across subjects. We came to the conclusion that restructuring like this must allow for professional development in proper group training sessions, not just on-the-job, ‘fit it in when you have time yourself’ training.
Another point raised was what would happen to the different team roles for the traditional staff/student-subject librarian contact relationship. Would those students and staff that respond well to having a named librarian for their particular subject, then be happy with making an enquiry to the whole Teaching and Learning team for example? Some people’s institutions were re-jigging their library teams and some had plans to so, it was an interesting discussion.
The second session included everyone, as it discussed the formation of a Yorkshire-wide library services network. Although I was there as an infiltrator from Newcastle, I still found the talk very interesting. Plans are afoot for a wiki list/map of library services in the network, so that patrons can be directed to the most relevant information sources. A particular point was to show whether institutions or organisational libraries are open access, and open the public to refer to materials. Because though many universities, for example, allow anyone to come in (with ID for a visitors pass) some places don’t. A key point in this project will be advocacy and spreading the word about this resource list among colleagues.
In the final session, I suggested a nice cheerful topic of ‘What do you like most about your job?’ – which I find an important thing to think about if you’re getting bogged down in bad news or pessimism in the library field. So we had a really good chat about the highlights of our working roles, and people had some nice stories to share. We came to the conclusion that of course a best bit of a lot of our roles is helping patrons or explaining things to patrons. I added how ‘playing with databases’ and finding information or materials is pretty much a treasure hunt and is very satisfying.
After dividing the spoils and packing up all the cake to bring home, and pleasant debriefing in Morley’s most trendy cocktail bar (probably), we split up after a very nice day.
Ffion Bell, Library & Information Assistant at Bond Dickinson LLP.