Sunday, 9 January 2011

Libraries@Cambridge 2011 - Graduate Trainees' presentation

Following on from Thursday's post about the Libraries@Cambridge conference, here are the slides for the trainees' part of the afternoon session. Edit: Since I posted these up on SlideShare last night, this morning we are now a featured presentation on SlideShare's front page! Yay <3

Libraries@Cambridge 2011 - Graduate Trainees' presentation
View more presentations from Annie Johnson.

Most of our slides are images rather than text so here's the script:

Becky's section:
Good afternoon everyone. On behalf of the seven graduate trainees  here at Cambridge University, we would like to give you an overview of the graduate trainee scheme, the opportunities it offers and how the trainees contribute, not only to the libraries in which they work but to Cambridge libraries in general. Firstly allow me to introduce the trainees - I work at the Faculty of Classics, we have Erin from St John's, Charlotte from Christ's and Tom from Trinity, and our colleagues Annie from Newnham, Jen from Murray Edwards and Natalie from Emmanuel are here today too.

Spanning seven College and Faculty libraries, collaboration across libraries of different sizes and foci is key to our learning trajectory throughout the year we spend in Cambridge. Whilst a large part of our time is spent working in our own libraries, we regularly convene for training courses, for collaborative projects such as this presentation or the trainee-run CATALOG website, which Tom will later go to explain, or for tours and visits to other libraries within and without Cambridge. We have recently visited the MRC Library of Molecular Biology, the Medical Library and the Millennium and Cathedral libraries in Norwich. As a result, we can observe different styles of information collection and provision at a range of different institutions – an experience which, apart from at events such as Open Cambridge, is not often available to most full-time librarians. As Erin will go on to explain, these opportunities allow us to feedback to our own libraries with new ideas and suggestions and to encourage new ways of thinking, personally and professionally, thereby enhancing our own professional development whilst giving back to Cambridge libraries. Erin will now look deeper into what it means to employ a graduate library trainee.
Erin's section 1:
Each year a new batch of trainees arrives in Cambridge libraries. They tend to be fresh out of university and untrained in the library sector. You would be right to think that this is extra work for our librarians as they have to go through the hiring process every year and then train us up. On top of this, the visits and tours, which we go on, mean that we are often out of our libraries for an afternoon or a day. So, I hear you say, what benefits do our libraries get out of us?
One of the main benefits mentioned by our librarians when questioned about the graduate trainee scheme is our enthusiasm. As Sandy Paul at Trinity said, trainees contribute "Enthusiasm, new ideas, someone who might question the way we do things and make us question our procedures." New trainees are eager and quick to learn, and, as the trainee year is intended as preparation for a masters degree, the trainees are focused on a career in the libraries and information services. Having only recently graduated, we are a lot closer to the student experience than other library staff and can provide a different perspective, focused more on what it is like to be on the other side of the issue desk.
The trainee programme of visits and tours around other libraries also has a lot of benefits. As we see how other libraries do things we can see what works and what doesn’t, and bring back ideas to out own libraries. On a recent trip to the English faculty, for example, I saw the benefits of the informal use of the plasma screen and have since begun to display interesting quotations from old Johnians on St John’s plasma screen, which engages students and hopefully encourages them to read the more important notices that follow in the slideshow! The sharing of expertise and experience is paramount in the ever expanding world of information management and, as the ucam_lib_discuss e-mail list demonstrates, it is in this way that the libraries of Cambridge can move forward in a unified and informed manner.
Tom is going to tell us about the trainee website, which is one of the ways in which the trainees work together and share experiences with the aim of helping those thinking about embarking on this career path.
Tom's section:
A good example of how the Cambridge trainees engage in collaborative work is the CATALOG website, which the trainees are jointly responsible for maintaining and updating. One of the main purposes of this website is to offer information about the graduate trainee scheme to prospective trainees who are looking to pursue librarianship as a career.
The website includes information for applicants about the different posts available within Cambridge libraries, including detailed job descriptions which give applicants an insight into the different work experiences offered by each library. There is also useful information on finding accommodation within Cambridge and what it is like to live in the city.
The website charts the experiences of each year’s intake of trainees, and as the current trainees we are responsible for writing reports on the various training courses and library visits which are included as part of the programme.
The website also gives advice on career development following the completion of a trainee placement. Information is provided on how to apply for library school and former trainees have also posted descriptions of their interview experiences at various different institutions. There is also advice on applying for funding and career development loans in order to finance a Masters degree.
The website gives details of the various career paths that trainees may pursue upon completion of their postgraduate qualification and provides some information on gaining chartered status with CILIP as a means of continuing with career development. There is also a page of well-maintained links which directs users to further information relating to careers in librarianship.
The overall aim of the CATALOG website is to encourage interest and enthusiasm for career opportunities within libraries and information services and to promote awareness of the variety of work which is available within this field. The management and maintenance of this website also gives the Cambridge trainees a unique opportunity to engage in collaborative work while at the same time championing information professionals and the diverse array of work which they do.
Erin's section 2:
We have shown how the trainees are involved across colleges and faculties and profit from working together but rather than just telling you about how beneficial we are to our libraries, we have asked our librarians why they employ graduate trainees and what profit they get from us. We got a fantastic response so unfortunately we can’t read them all out here.
The Library is blessed with a succession of keen, bright people bringing new ideas and new insights to bear on the operation. (Mark Nicholls, St John’s)
Established staff need to re-train regularly to keep a service relevant and useful and maintain their own professional expertise. Having a library trainee each year helps us keep pace with developments, by encouraging us to consider, and take advantage of, training programmes and opportunities on offer throughout each year. (Debbie Hodder, Newnham)
But of course we are not going to pretend that we get nothing out of this! A graduate traineeship at Cambridge gives us one of the best possible starts to our career, and as Charlotte will show you, graduate trainees from previous years have gone on to impressive positions in the library and information sectors.
Charlotte's section:
The graduate trainee scheme evidently encourages people to continue and progress in the world of library and information work as most trainees go on to study for a postgraduate qualification in librarianship. Out of 57 trainees whose destinations we know about, 49 stayed in the field of library work (some of them working towards Chartership), and 19 of them either stayed in or came back to Cambridge. This last statistic shows that trainees continue to be of benefit to Cambridge once they move up the career ladder. Inevitably a few trainees decide that library work is not the right career for them, but the skills and knowledge gained from the trainee year are beneficial to those who move in a new direction. For those who decide to stay in the world of libraries, however, a graduate traineeship at Cambridge proves to be the enjoyable first step of an interesting and progressive career in the sector.
I would now like to give you some examples of trainees from the last few years who have progressed to important positions in Cambridge libraries. Their biographies, and those of many others, may be found on the CATALOG website. Naomi Herbert, the trainee at St John’s 2006-7, became the Librarian’s Assistant there and studied for an Msc at Aberystwyth. She is now the Assistant Librarian at Christ’s College and has recently been Acting College Librarian. Colin Higgins, trainee at Christ’s 2006-7, also studied at Aberystwyth. He is now Librarian of St Catharine’s College and also writes for a range of library publications. Liz Osman, trainee at Trinity 2004-5, did her MA in librarianship at Sheffield, was acting librarian at Henley management college, and is now the librarian of Homerton College. These are impressive achievements from people who are proud to have been Cambridge trainees.
We are all really enjoying our traineeships so far, and realize the value of having this experience as we embark on careers in librarianship. We hope that this presentation shows you some of the ways how we work together as a group and with the rest of the libraries in Cambridge.

1 comment:

  1. Well done on getting your presentation featured on slideshare front page. As an ex Caths Librarian would just like to note that the College is spelt St Catharine's (2 a s) the Catherine spelling is used at the other place(Oxford).