A network for new and aspiring library professionals
Many thanks to Emma Dent for sharing her experience of #NLPNVBY with us.
This was my first NLPN development event. As a mid-life retrainer in librarianship, I was looking forward to the opportunity to meet a variety of librarians and gain insights into a range of library settings.
There isn’t enough space here for me to go into masses of detail about every presentation (links to the presenters’ slides are at the end of this post) so here are some highlights from the day.
Leeds Library and Information Service’s reader and culture development manager Alison Millar told attendees how a relatively inexpensive marketing campaign had generated an impressive amount of media and social media coverage.
The #whatsyourstory campaign used the stories of how library users’ lives had been changed by the city’s libraries. These were as varied as local entrepreneur Ma Maposa, whose use of the Leeds Central Library’s Studio 12 service helped him turn his life round and found his own record company and local mum Kim, who started attending library storytimes to combat loneliness and has since become a massive library advocate and spoken alongside Alison at conferences.
Alison admitted that it could take some work to streamline social media so as to ‘speak with one voice’ but the service’s librarians now use Facebook to publicise library events, Twitter for information and Instagram to have some fun – including some excellent examples of #bookface Friday.
Next came job application and interview tips from clinical librarian Natasha Chowdory. She had some great advice on considering a range of sectors beyond the usual suspects that need information professionals. Natasha warned against applying for every single job but to know your strengths and weaknesses before making an application. She urged attendees to apply for jobs if they met three quarters of a job specification as hirers would rather have more applications to look at than not enough, to make contact beforehand to discuss the role and to get in touch with anyone you know working in the same place.
Other tips included – practicing your interview ‘any other questions’ slot (such as “what’s the best thing about working here?”). To handle any difficult questions, have a think while having a drink of water or ask them to repeat the question. And always remember to smile and shake hands, thank people for their time and follow up with a thank you note or email.
Presentations followed from three newly qualified librarians, Laura Palmer, working in HE, and Victoria Edwards and Amy Ward, who both work in FE college libraries. I know very little about libraries in either of these sectors and enjoyed hearing about the wide range of daunting challenges to librarians working in them. These ranged from teaching literacy skills to students who often won’t know why you or they are there, to behaviour management – with challenges from colleagues as well as students on what constitutes unsuitable behaviour, to trying to introduce students to e-books.
The day ended with a crash course in cataloguing from NLPN’s very own Helen Monagle and Siobhan Cottam, who noted that although cataloguing was not taught in detail on their library MA, they found it was a requirement for their entry-level jobs. They stressed it was not hugely difficult to pick up, gave tips on trickier items to catalogue and – much can be learnt on the job!
Many thanks again to everyone at NLPN and their sponsors for an interesting and informative day.
Read tweets from the day here.
Please see below for links to the presentations from the day:
Alison Millar: Digital marketing
Natasha Chowdory: Interview tips
Take the floor:
Helen Monagle and Siobhan Cottam: Cataloguing