A network for new and aspiring library professionals
As you may know NLPN has recently turned five years old, we thought it was time to do an interview with the founders covering what we’ve been up to in the last five years.
Amy: I was studying for my MA in Library and Information Management at MMU, working part-time as a library assistant for a hospital and volunteering at a Primary Care Trust library.
Catherine: I was completing the PGDip aspect of the Library and Information Management course at MMU and working part time as a library assistant also at MMU.
Helen: I was working part time at an insurance company whilst studying for my MA at MMU and working on my dissertation which focused on the use of e-resources by part time postgraduate students.
Siobhan: I was working at Asda, which was the part-time job I had while studying for the MA. I was also working on my dissertation on the use of blogs as a communication tool in academic libraries. In July 2012, I started work as a school librarian, which I blogged about.
A: I’m an Information specialist at NICE (a non-departmental Government health body) . Definitely, I’ve used my experience with the NLPN to demonstrate skills that I wouldn’t have acquired in any of my previous jobs, for instance I’d consider our events to be similar to project work, we take an idea and express it others (speakers) and are involved in every step of the process so I am able to use my experience in the NLPN to demonstrate effective communication and organisation skills as well as a commitment to the maintaining a current awareness of the wider information sector.
C; I’m a liaison librarian at the University of Liverpool. Whilst I had library experience before NLPN was formed, being involved with the network helped me to develop many complementary skills for example advocacy, professional awareness and organisational skills.
H; My current role is Senior Assistant Librarian working in the serials team at MMU. NLPN has helped me in many ways. As mentioned above I wasn’t working in a library context when NLPN was set up and as such I was desperately trying to get my foot in the door. Before applying for the MA I had gained experience working in libraries (temp position in an acquisitions team in an academic library and volunteering in a social heritage library helping to sort through their collections) which had led me to embark on the course as I was finding it difficult to get anywhere without the qualification. Post course I was caught in the trap of you need more experience for the job but was struggling to get that experience. Being part of NLPN allowed me to gain formal speaking experience and helped me to gain confidence in that area. In interviews, I could use this as evidence, in addition to my ability to organise and work collaboratively. One thing I will say I was initially too modest in interviews and sometimes didn’t find a way to fit this experience into my answers but once I got over this I was more successful (modesty is not appropriate in interviews!). A few months after graduating I gained a position as a library assistant and this combined with my experience with NLPN helped me to gain my next few roles.
S: I am now a Systems and Acquisitions Librarian at an FE college in Nottingham. I have become more confident as a result of my involvement with NLPN, which is helpful when applying for jobs and in interviews. It has been hugely useful for me to have the contacts and support from the network and I have learnt a lot from the people who attend our events and chat to us on Twitter. I feel like this answer is a bit vague because I think NLPN has helped me to develop the ‘soft skills’ which I find hard to articulate.
A: I can’t pick one! So I’m going to cheat and say that I’ve really enjoyed our visit to Chetham’s library.
C: Our second ever event, with Emily Shields and Rosie Jones. Their active approach to their Information Literacy workshop remains one of the most useful training sessions I’ve ever attended. And it was free!
H: My favourite event was our Summer 2014: Interview Skills event when we introduced the new professional speaker slots. As this was an area I had struggled to gain experience it meant a lot that we were able to provide this platform to other new professionals. I also benefited from the tips given by David and Neil and have since employed them in interviews.
S: I enjoyed our jaunt to Sheffield! I think that was the event where I learnt the most and was able to put what I learnt into practice; I’m particularly thinking of Darren Flynn’s teaching workshop. We also had speed networking at that event, and it also included the new professionals 10 minute presentation slot which is always interesting and informative. I think that was also the event that inspired LISDIS!
A: That the NLPN still going strong! We’ve achieved a lot in five years, from continuing to hold more than one event per year, blogging, publishing an article and winning a trophy (UKeIG early career award)!
C: The UKeIG award was a major highlight but any time I see NLPN listed on a blog post or website where new professionals are being signposted to advice or support about starting or developing their career, I feel very proud of what NLPN has achieved.
H: Winning the UKeIG award has been my highlight as it was such an honour to be recognised for the work we put in. As you know we are a non-profit group and all of the NLPN work (events, trips, blog, social media) in carried out in our own time. It’s also nice to read the feedback at the end of our events as both forms of recognition show us the hard work is worthwhile and what we are doing is beneficial.
S: Winning the UKeIG award is probably my highlight, I was really pleased that we had achieved that recognition. And, not to sound too cheesy, but I always enjoy meeting new people at our events and finding out about their interests. Organising the events can be stressful at times but I am always really enthused by the end of the day!
A: This is something I’ve thought a lot about recently. I’ve been asked what we will do when we are no longer considered ‘new professionals’ and whether we’ll pass the baton to another group of people. Although I’ve got 4 years of experience in health librarianship, I’m still learning. And my knowledge of other areas in the library sector is still at new professional level. Our events are a great way of maintaining awareness of new developments in other areas of the library/information sector and I’m of the opinion that a trend, a different approach, new technique etc. in one area ultimately trickles down to other sectors in various guises so there is always something to learn!
C: None of us are too far off the 5 year ballpark where you can call yourself a new professional. I think NLPN plays a valuable role so we need to think about how best to maintain its focus and provide events and support that will be useful to upcoming new professionals. I imagine that involving new graduates in the group and helping them to develop their skills in ways that we have enjoyed through NLPN would be rewarding.
H: I would like to continue with the work we are doing (events, trips, blog, social media). However, another rebrand might be appropriate at some point to reflect that we are not new professionals anymore.
S: This is an interesting one because the 4 of us are not really “new” anymore. I think we will continue to organise events if there is an audience for them. I’m interested to see how the job shadowing page develops – it has the potential to be a really useful resource for sharing of expertise.
Thank you for your support over the last 5 years; please let us know what you would like to see from NLPN in the future.