by Laura Ashford
On a rainy Monday morning in November Library and Information Professionals flocked to Bristol to attend the CDG 2011 National Conference “The Practical Professional”. Over the six hours that followed delegates listened to a number of presentations from different sectors sharing their experiences in the profession, it has been a taxing year for all. It provided a welcome chance to network and meet those that we had already made contact with on social media sites.
The first half of the day was dedicated to becoming a “career chameleon”. Presentations given by Amanda Poulton, Emily Hopkins and the double act of Katie Burn and Kirsty Whitehead focussed on expanding and selling our skill sets by taking opportunities when they are offered either in the work environment or through CILIP visits, training or conferences. There was emphasis given to the importance of being able to audit your skills and update your CV when you are in a positive mood, also the need to be flexible and able to adapt to the situation at hand. In a time where budgets are being cut and services restructured, flexibility and transferable skills are vital whereas specific sector and subject knowledge can be learnt over time. We were also given top tips for continuing professional development. These included having clearly defined goals, being proactive and dynamic and being able to build effective relationships with colleagues and possible partners.
These three presentations alone gave us a lot of food for thought and set the tone for the rest of the day which was continued with David Clover sharing his experiences of the Future Leaders Programme. He had two main questions to leave with the delegates – Where do I want to be and how do I get there? In order to do this we must find out what’s available to us and be able to apply, review and reflect both on the profession as a whole and our individual experiences. Phil Bradley spoke about the importance of staying in touch with social media and the need for us as information professionals to be able to navigate these tools in order to help others. He left us with the view that our profession needs to be credible and empower people as social media is the way forward. Knowledge Manager Katharine Schopflin explained the unique way in which she works as a liaison between information teams and the organisation she works for, showing how strong relationships can really build effective information flow in an organisation.
After an impressive lunch spread we took part in a speed networking event where we were split into groups of three and were given a minute a piece to share our name, organisation and our unique selling point. This was a fun and educational exercise to make everyone think about the skills they have acquired through their profession and how to best advocate ourselves. It was also a good way of networking with all the participants at the conference and expand on lunch conversation.
The second half of the conference was about making a splash. In the four presentations that followed Miggie Pickton, Gill Young, Emily Hopkins, Tracey Pratchett, Jo Myhill and Lizz Jennings shared their individual development experiences and showed how they advocate their services to target audiences. The key themes taken from these presentations included the need to be proactive as a profession and within our own work environments. The need to be virtually and physically present, dynamic and adaptable to change and as a profession the need to embrace new technologies, best practice from different sectors, and get out and promote ourselves as individuals within the profession and advocate the profession as whole to the wider world.
The very nature of our profession is to learn to adapt to an ever changing society in which we are looked at to provide information and authority so we owe it to ourselves and the profession to continue our own development. I came away from the conference with a renewed sense of motivation and want to thank the CDG events team and all speakers for their time and effort in organising a conference full of thought provoking material and practical tips that can be used straight away.
Laura Ashford, Librarian, Wiltshire Council