Saturday, 2 October 2010

CILIP New Professionals Information Day 2010

There was so much to take in yesterday that I'm not going to attempt to cover everything, just going to give a quick round up of my impressions of the day!

First task was deciding what workshops to go to, the afternoon was a repeat of the morning which meant we could go to 4 out of the 6 that were available. Hopefully someone who went to the two that I didn't go can tell me about what I missed out on :D

The first thing I went to was the lovely Irfan Master talking about his non-conventional route into LIS in a workshop titled The No-Holds Barred Profession. Irfan seems to be a guy full of ideas, most of which are ways of getting libraries more involved in the local community, whether it's with local 6th form colleges, WI groups, working men's clubs or the Premier League (take a look at this video for Kick into Reading). Irfan's main message was for information profs to think in creative ways, as he put it, "don't think outside the box because there is no box."

Next I went to hear Ned Potter (@theREALwikiman) whose workshop was called TechnoGeek - All you need to know about libraries and technology. This was one of the highlights for me, not just because of the whizzy map and muffin giveaways ("I'm not going to resort to bribes...but there's cake in that bag."). I feel fairly technogeeky myself, but his talk reinforced the fact that we have to keep constantly reinforming ourselves about what technology is needed. One great tip was to get the job descriptions for both the next job you want to go for, and for the job you ultimately want to end up in, so you can plan ahead and gain the skills needed. Then he brought out the whizzy map showing all the roles in a library and a rough guide to the techy skillzorz needed for each. Edit: I've now embedded Ned's Prezi below. It was a relief to hear that Ned didn't know what a lot of the software/protocols/who knows what else was, as most of that was just acronyms to me! (Got a lot to learn...)

The keynote speakers came next, Phil Bradley (@Philbradley) and Maxine Miller. Both were great speakers in different ways. Phil's presentation Around the World Twice on a Library Degree gained my stamp of approval from the moment he said "now is the best time ever to be an information professional!" *click*
The reason now is such a good time to be an information prof is that we can, in Michael Caine's words, "use the difficulty". Phil said that libraries are about power, which comes from our reputation, which we now have to increase by giving away information rather than holding on to it, knowing how to arrange it etc. He then went on to talk about how much we need to stand out and self-market ourselves (ego-checking on google! I get an indie rocker and a picture of a boat...)

Maxine, despite not having learnt to touch-type, was an excellent speaker. She works at the Tate Britain (what a great job!) and her emphasis was on doing what you love, and learning from each experience. She joked that now she'd heard Phil's talk she now realised that it was the power that she actually was in love with, but that being a librarian is only a powerful position if we listen to our users and ask "how can we change it for you?" She made the good point that when we interact with people we help move them along, but also move ourselves along as we learn from the experience.

After all of this in the morning it was definitely time for lunch, which was a good chance to chat with some of the other new professionals. Librarians are such a friendly group of people! It was really helpful to chat to trainees at other universities, people who were in the middle of library degrees, people who'd finished library degrees recently, CILIP staff etc....

After lunch I headed off to hear Katie Fraser's (@katie_fraser) talk Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway - Working with people at all levels. I felt I definitely needed this talk! Katie talked about her experience working on CILIP's Defining our Professional Future project, where she was working in a mixed team, mostly with more experience than her, which would be a bit overwhelming for anyone! But as it turned out, as all the members of the team were librarians, all interested in the same things, and all willing to help each other out, it wasn't as scary as it seemed at first. In fact, although others had more experience with recruiting etc, Katie had more experience with social media, which was a big part of the project. She went on to the idea of 'the infinite activities of others', where it always seems that other people are doing a lot more than you are. She got us to turn round and talk to the people around us and tell them about the new things we've done in the last few months, starting new jobs, new projects, learning new skills etc. She ended by talking about the 'echo chamber' effect, where LIS professionals are excited about a new development, so we tell each other about it...whereas we should be telling people outside the profession as well! Probably only people really interested in LIS will have had the willpower to read this far down this post, so I guess that's true!

The final workshop I went to was Nicolas Robinson-Garcia (@nrobinsongarcia) who talked about The Global Profession - the overseas perspective. I have to admit I was flagging a bit by this point after getting up at the (for wussy little me) ungodly hour of quarter to six, but it was still really interesting to hear about how the LIS network works in Spain. I also learnt about the International Federation of Library Associations which I didn't know existed, despite (as I now know) being a member of it! Nicolas then explained about embedded librarians (again, didn't know anything about this) - librarians who work 'in the field' with their users instead of in a library, for instance in the lab with the chemists who need the information. This is pretty cool, and is apparently popular in Spain and we're just catching on.

Whew, I tired myself out all over again thinking about everything as I was typing this post! Hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did, and if you went to a workshop I missed out on please tell me all about it!


  1. Glad you got something out of my talk, Annie. I had a great day too, as I got to see most of the talks which didn't run against mine, and they were ace! I'll definitely put my slides up after Newcastle so people can see my sources!

  2. Hi Annie. Didn't realise you had a blog (I followed you home from a comment somewhere...) :-) This is a lovely write-up, especially for those of us who didn't take any notes. I didn't see Irfan's presentation, and now I really wish I had done. Maybe there will be slides available at some point. It's really interesting how all the speakers on the day seemed to have the same overall message: get out there and make stuff happen, whether it's for your own career or for library users (and therefore also for the good of libraries themselves).