A network for new and aspiring library professionals
Many thanks to Elizabeth O’Brien for sharing her experience of NLPN OPEN with us.
On 4th June I attended NLPN OPEN, held at MadLab in Manchester. I just recently moved from Halifax, Nova Scotia so I jumped on the chance to attend the event and I’m really glad I did! The day included a number of different presentations by new professionals (and one not so new) and speed networking that introduced attendees to different areas of the information profession. The event allowed me to see a little of Manchester, meet other new professionals, and to hear about some of the work that is ongoing in the community.
Ned Potter was the first speaker of the day and imparted a little wisdom to new professionals with his presentation entitled “Life, Librarianship, and Everything.” I took away a couple of broad points from his talk that will definitely help guide me as I take on new professional roles. The first is paying attention to community building in libraries – “libraries are at the heart of communities, but you have to build them”. Ned discussed the importance of attention to detail for librarians, a concept often overlooked during discussions which highlight the grand motivations and world-saving aspects of libraries. As someone interested in community engagement and community-led services in libraries and archives, this point really resonated with me. It is easy to talk broadly about how amazing and radical libraries are (and they are!) but unless we put our weight, knowledge, and skills behind this, and really work to make the tools and resources available for actual action, then it’s all just empty words.
Ned’s presentation also provided some practical advice for new professionals. He discussed the importance of not just doing your job well, but being indispensable in your role. He also emphasized looking beyond work to joining committees to gain the skills needed for the job you want. Using Twitter, he canvassed other library-types for responses to the question: “what benefited you as a new professional?” Answers included using Twitter, attending events, connecting with mentors and other supports, asking for things, blogging, taking chances, saying yes, and saying no.
Following Ned’s presentation, there were three presentations from graduate trainees working at Manchester Metropolitan University. The presentations covered a variety of topics including: the ways in which Instagram can be used to engage with library patrons and market library services; promoting National Libraries Day at an academic library; and reflecting on music librarianship. It was great to see the variety of projects that these early career professionals were working on, and gave the group lots of food for thought.
Later in the afternoon, Penny Andrews and Jen Bayjoo both discussed open access. Penny from the perspective of a researcher and Jen as an Information Services Librarian in Research Support. Penny’s emphasis for librarians to outreach to researchers were they are (research days and conferences, for example) and ask them what they need, rather than expect them to come to you, is an important point that can be extended beyond research services and the walls of an academic library to all aspects of services in libraries.
Jen’s presentation was informative and engaging and discussed open access in practice. Jen stressed the importance of face-to-face contact, knowing your researchers, and individualizing the services and assistance you offer. Highlighting that you can learn the theory of open access, but what is really important are the communication and interpersonal skills, Jen was able to ease the fear of working in a techy role that frightens many information professionals.
Following the presentations, we had the opportunity for speed networking, which included professionals working in academic, health, school, and corporate libraries. It was a lightning round introducing us to their experiences in these fields and provided a taster of just how many avenues and opportunities are available in the IM field.
As a newcomer both to the library profession and the country, I found the day really interesting and engaging. It was a lovely way to be introduced to other local library professionals and the work that they are doing within the community. I’m thankful to have found NLPN and that the team has created a space where new professionals can connect, be exposed to new ideas, and have lots of information to mull over on the train ride home.
Thank you to LM Information Delivery for supporting new professionals by sponsoring the event.
Read the tweets from the day on our Storify.
Our MA colleague and speednetworker Kirsty has shared her thoughts on the day.
Ned Potter has written a blogpost to complement his slides.
Let us know if you have blogged about the event and would like us to add your post to this one!