A network for new and aspiring library professionals
In this interview Victoria Robertson discusses how she came to work in health libraries and consequently how she became a committee member for CILIP Health Libraries Group’s (HLG) Continuing Professional Development Panel. Victoria also offers advice to those who are interesting in entering the health information profession or those interested in joining a committee such as CILIP HLG.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you first become involved in the library and information profession?
From a very young age, I was always surrounded by books and couldn’t wait to join my local library so that I could lose myself in the world of books. At school when I told my careers adviser that I wanted to work in libraries, after having undertaken 2 weeks work experience at my local public library, they tried to get me to change my mind saying that I would not earn very much in the library sector. I didn’t listen to their advice and ended up working for 2 years in a public library in Kent where I lived until I went and did my undergraduate degree in information management at Thames Valley University (now the University of West London). After I finished that, I worked for 4 years as a Senior Library Assistant at the Strand campus of King’s College London mainly dealing with inter-library loans and undertaking issue desk work. I undertook my Chartership whilst working there. I then moved to St George’e Hospital Medical School Library in Tooting and worked there for 4 years as their Interloans Librarian. Whilst there, I undertook my postgraduate degree in Library and Information Management distance learning from the University of Central England in Birmingham (now Birmingham City University) before leaving to start my current post 12 years ago as Deputy Librarian / Reader Services Librarian at the UCL School of Pharmacy Library.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to enter the health profession?
My advice would be to gain some work experience in health libraries even if only for a very short period of time to build up skills, and to attend as many CPD events related to the health library sector as you can but also to think outside the box and gain experience of other library sectors as this could prove useful as well for collaboration purposes. I would also advise joining the Health Libraries Group of CILIP if not a member already as they offer a number of benefits and opportunities to library and information professionals; as well as undertaking as much networking as possible at events / visits you attend to build up contacts who could be useful to you in your future career. I would also advise undertaking Chartership as it would be a valuable achievement and the CILIP professional registration qualifications certainly help you reflect on your career.
Can you tell us about your involvement with CILIP Health Libraries Group (HLG)? e.g. when you first became involved, your reasons for becoming an active member etc.
I first became involved with the Health Libraries Group early on in my career when I attended their conference and became involved with the Continuing Professional Development Panel in as my line manager at the School of Pharmacy Library (Michelle Wake) was on the Committee at the time. Since joining the panel in October 2008, I have organised a HLG study day which took place in 2012 on “Getting started with research” jointly with the Library and Information Research Group (LIRG) and the Health Information and Libraries for Evaluation & Research Group (HEALER) and helped with administration for other events with colleagues. I also helped out with administration and events at the 2008 HLG Conference which took place in Cardiff which helped me put into practice skills I had learnt at work and also via the Committee.
What advice would you give to a new professional who is looking to gain CPD experience?
My advice would be to attend as many CPD events as is possible run by CILIP Special Interest Groups but also other sources e.g. CPD25 Consortium of Academic Libraries and other training networks; and to potentially think about volunteering to join a Committee of CILIP groups to gain experience and new skills i.e. organising events and visits, being Minutes Secretary or undertaking another Officer role. I found this opportunity put me in good stead and helped me when I became Newsletter Editor of the Information Services Group (London and South East Section) as well as Chair of the Academic and Research Libraries Group (London and South East Section).
How can HLG support new professionals (in general) or professionals looking to charter?
HLG offer a number of grants for HLG members and students to attend conferences and training courses e.g. LILAC conference, HLG Conference where there are opportunities to present, chair sessions, provide networking opportunities and provide general learning and CPD sessions about health and social care information, EAHIL (European Association for Health Information and Libraries) and HLG study days. They also publish the Health Information and Libraries Journal (HILJ), the HLG newsletter and HLG Nursing Bulletin and there are opportunities for publication for those new to writing and they are always looking for new contributors. The Core Collections publication series published by Tomlinsons offer opportunities for professionals to contribute to the development i.e. suggesting resources for inclusion. HLG have a website with a diary of events page and a Twitter account which helps to keep HLG members abreast of CPD opportunities, and there is also a monthly e-mail sent to members via CILIP.
HLG has a Committee and there is the opportunity for professionals to attend as an observer or to join the Committee as a way of gaining experience in a particular areas; as well as HLG Working groups which are smaller and less formal but offer the same opportunities.
We hope you have found this interview interesting, if you would like to share your career journey and advice with other members of the network please get in touch by emailing manchesternlpn[at]gmail.com or tweet us.