On Friday I went to the New Professionals Open Day at CILIP HQ (I'm not missing out the ' by accident -it doesn't appear anywhere in CILIP or CDG materials - not sure why) and then on to the LISNPN meet up kindly arranged by Laura Woods.
I had a really good time and unlike many attendees I had been to another of these back when they were still branded as graduate open days.
-Great speakers, really enjoyed the vast majority of people I listened to.
-A slightly wider set of people than before - it was previously mostly people thinking about getting into Librarianship, graduate trainees and the odd LIS student. This time it seemed that there were more students and more newly (first 5 years) qualified people as well as the trainees and potential librarians.
-I would have very much liked name badges even if they were just sticky labels and a delegate list - it breaks the ice and allows you to remind yourself of names (I'm horrific with names so a major concern for me!)
The day was arranged so that we saw two sessions in the morning then the keynotes from Phil Bradley and Maxine Miller followed by two sessions in the afternoon. The morning and afternoon were repeats but there were three 'streams' so you could see at most 4 of 6 and some did clash (i.e. I really wanted to see Irfan Master on "The no-holds barred profession: do what you love; love what you do" but it clashed with Katie Fraser's talk).
My first session was Lex Rigby - "The Ronseal Effect: online personal marketing for career growth"
This was a really interesting session, when I was speaking to Lex afterwards offering my congratulations hse said she was a bit worried about talking to people like me (who are blogging and on twitter etc.) because she might end up preaching to the converted but I completely didn't feel that way.
I really liked this session because Lex stressed the fact that social networking is not compulsory. I feel like more and more you get the message shoved down your throat that if you aren't on every network alive then you are a bad librarian so it was nice not to be guilt-tripped.
That said, she clearly set out the reasons to engage with this sort of thing:
∙Employers will search for you online - it should be you they find (and the 'good' you)
∙It is easier to enthuse about libraries with the online community than the people in the office, especially if they aren't very engaged
∙Creating a mutually beneficial network helps you to do your job better
∙It also offers opportunities such as writing and speaking at events
∙Keeps you in touch with the profession
She also said that at first she did think "what is the point?" and that cheered me up because I look at everyone on twitter and blogs and wonder how they find the time to do anything and whether it is worth me trying...a really inspiring presentation and one which really made me think.
Next I attended Ned Potter's "Techno-geek?: What you have to know about technology as a library and information professional"
I have to admit that this session depressed me very slightly. When Ned said that he learned to build his website from the MA he took, I felt very stupid indeed. I took that module and although I can now do some basic HTML and CSS, Ned's website is really whizzy and almost certainly not something I could manage.
That said, it was a really interesting session - I really like the idea of getting the job descriptions for all of the roles you want to move into and working towards them even if they are some way off. I was also really struck by the idea of the library profession as being a climbing wall where you can't really just plough straight up like a ladder but you'll have to go sideways and up or maybe even diagonally.
He mentioned a few things thst I had never heard of like Perl when discussing the kind of technology needed in various roles. It was quite a good insight into the background of an academic library and would be of use if trying to move into that sector.
I came away from this session thinking about how my technical skills could be improved and where I should concentrate...something to think about.
He also said that a good blog should be a piece of two way communication not a soliloquy. I guess I have some more work to do there too...
The next session was Phil Bradley's "Around the world twice on a library degree"
I have slightly mixed feelings about this presentation. I was both inspired and interested but also quite annoyed in places. I found it really interesting that Phil suggested librarians were powerful because everyone needs us and the idea of being self-employed without knowing it but equally he got my back up slightly by showing a slide with eleven social sites which we "must" be on.
I hadn't even heard of some of these and now having looked into them I still don't know why I should be on them. Why should I be on Youtube or Flikr? I have no videos or photos which are library-related. Why do people care where I am? Who wants to read my delicious bookmarks?
I also was a little grumpy about saying that books aren't important. Now I completely understand that the point he was trying to make was valid but we do need to remember that what most people remember and know about libraries is the books so we shouldn't alienate them too much!
I found this an good presentation and I took a lot away from it because I was made to really think about whether I am gaining more experience or just the same experience over and over. I also became aware of some tools I hadn't seen before and got the joy of two slides of Buffy the Vampire Slayer which pretty much made my day!
After lunch I went to Katie Fraser's "Feel the fear and do it anyway: working with people at all levels"
I liked this session - it was good to hear about the CILIP Conversation from a different angle. I liked the narrative of this - always good to hear other people talking about how they got here and I found the idea that we do need to be brave about things and just go for it quite inspiring.
I was flagging slightly by this point so my notes are not as full as from other sessions but I really came away thinking that everyone in the library world is nice and having extremely good 'vibes' about the world!
My last session of the day was Sibylla Parkhill's "The good, the bad and the ugly: managing the expectations of a variety of stakeholders" which I went along to not really knowing what to expect but thinking it might be something to do with a council as the main time in my life that I heard the word "stakeholder" was when I was at school working with the Children's Fund committee.
It turned out to be a really intriguing session on the perils an pleasures of life as a prison librarian. There is so much about this sector that I don't know and I was really enthralled e.g. prisoners are allowed to read true crime books and Martina Cole novels; many prison librarians can't access emails.
The thingas I will take away from this session are to remember that as a solo librarian (or part of a small team) you are the library, to feel grateful that I have access to internet and emails at work, and to engage as much as possible professionally.
There was then a short Q and A session and we went to the pub! The meet up went quite well although I will freely admit that I was pretty tired by the end of it.
It was lovely to meet so many fresh faces and catch up with people I already know both at the day and in the pub. I hope I manage to stay in touch with everyone because so many of the people I chatted to were really nice and seemed interesting.
Final thought (Because this is a stupidly long post): be professionally engaged, be inspired by your network and try to maintain and increae it, don't be discouraged - put the effort in and a mutually beneficial relationship will come!
[I will go scout out links to everything at some point]