by Julie Hoskins
This is the first year that I have attended this conference, so I was not sure what to expect. I am a sole librarian at a small independent girls school in Somerset and the chance to meet people from all over the country, working in a variety of Libraries, was one I wasn’t about to turn down.
The day was well planned, with a reasonable start, allowing everyone to get there and with regular tea/coffee breaks.
There were ten presentations in total during the day, starting off with Becoming a career Chameleon was Amanda Poulton from De Montfort University, Leicester who talked about “Changing sectors – developing skills and experience” She has worked in NHS, Academic and Public libraries. Lots of helpful hints were given to anyone thinking of changing sectors and how you could go about it. Amanda encouraged us to look at our skills and see how they could be transferred to other sectors.
Emily Hopkins, Library Manager at Manchester Health Trust talked about “We’re not in Kansas anymore” which looked at the way their Library was moved and re-structured. She explained how they had packed up the Library and had to run an enquiry service, directing people to other libraries for the resources as theirs were all in storage. Emily also told us about the integration of two libraries and their staff and gave us tips on how to approach and solve problems.
Katie Burn and Kirsty Whitehead spoke on “Compromise versus integrity: practical tips on how to be a career chameleon” Both Katie and Kirsty have ended up changing jobs and not necessarily ending up where they had planned to be, but both spoke positively of the ways in which we can analyse our skills and keep improving on our knowledge through training and networking. Katie has been in charge of a re-development of a library and spends most of her time wearing a hard hat and steel toe-cap boots and liaising with builders and contractors, so a far cry from a traditional librarian role. Kirsty had changed jobs and even taken a part-time job to stay in the field she was interested in.
David Clover who is a Head of Subject Librarian at the University of London spoke on “Think Big: investing in your professional and career development.” David encouraged us to get out of our comfort zone and be ambitious. He also suggested we get to know ourselves and see what motivates us and which skills we use best. Talking to people about their roles is often a good way to find out about them and asking advise from friends and colleagues if you are thinking of taking on a new job or challenge, as they know you best. He also talked of his trip to visit the USA through a CILIP grant.
Phil Bradley, Freelance Librarian & Internet Consultant spoke about “Librarians and social media – it’s not about ‘friends’ anymore (and never was).” Phil started off by giving us statistics on the increase in internet usage and the amount of people using social media like; Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Linked-in. He went on to explain that now brands are encouraging people to link to their Facebook pages and most of them are finding they get more hits via this route than the traditional internet searching. Phil encouraged us to make sure we have access to social media in our place of work as information managers it is essential. He ended with “social media is the way forward”.
Katharine Schopflin from the University of London spoke on “Knowledge management for librarians: how to become one and why you probably already are.” Firstly Katharine explained the term knowledge management as being the information that we have in our heads, which is not written down. We all have vast amounts of information relating to our jobs that we don’t document. Katherine’s job is to find out the information and share it with colleagues.
After a quick lunch, with time to network we were all called together to be sorted into two groups for our speed networking session. In our groups of 3 people we had 3 minutes to tell the others who we were, where we worked, our role and what made us unique. Most of us found the last thing challenging, but I decided that being a sole librarian that made me unique and the extras that I do that are not really related to my role, like training our Spelling Bee Team and taking a coach trip to The Clothes Show Live every December. This session was a brilliant use of time and some of the more organised members had business cards to swap. I know we all met a couple of people who we will be e-mailing in the not too distant future.
The final part of the day was Making a Splash – how you developed your service. This was started off by Miggie Pickton from University of Northampton talking about “Being useful: services for researchers at the University of Northampton” Miggie talked about how they had conducted surveys and focus groups to provide evidence of what services were needed by the researchers. She also talked about training people and the need to know the level of training they needed as some people much more aware of the information available to them than others.
Gill Young, Emily Hopkins and Tracey Pratchett spoke on “Negotiating the scramble net: the library professional in their 20′s, 30′s and 40′s.” They all spoke about their careers and how they had to deal with changing sectors, taking on further qualifications, whilst working full time and facing redundancy. Again, the value of knowing your skills and how they are transferable was mentioned and looking at change as a positive, not a negative.
Jo Myhill from the University of Bedfordshire spoke on “I didn’t know you did that” She manages 12 academic librarian. The library staff make a big effort to be seen by the students both physically, through being around in areas of the Library at the beginning of term and asking if students need help. They also have a web page with lots of guides on searching the library catalogue, writing assignments, web 2.0 and QR codes. There is a profile page for each of the subject librarian, so that all students should know who their subject librarian are and more importantly, what they look like. At different times of the year they run branding on the main university web page, which helps increase the number of hits by students to the library page.
Finally, after a long wait and no doubt getting more nervous by the hour, Lizz Jennnings from University of Bath spoke on “Every flavour career beans: sector changes and career development in libraries” Lizz has had a varied career working in the Library Association, an accountancy firm, a public library, a prison library and now an academic library. She encouraged us to all find out our strengths and weaknesses, to identify our skills and see how they can be transferred to another sector. If you are unsure of which sector to look to, Lizz suggested that we book visits to various different libraries. She also encouraged us to tailor our CV’s to the job we are applying for and not feel that we had to include all of our previous employment, especially if it ran to quite a few pages and was not relevant for the position you were applying for.
At the end of the presentations everyone cast their vote on their favourite presentation and the runner up was Amanda Poulton “Changing sectors – developing skills and experience” with Katie Burn and Kirsty Whitehead “Compromise versus integrity: practical tips on how to be a career chameleon” winning the £100 prize, given in memory of Viki Lagus, Honorary President in 2011, who passed away in March 2011. Viki was an active member of CDG committees at a local and national level for nearly ten years, making a significant contribution to the national events programme, including Umbrella. As well as her community-focused career in school and public libraries, she was a CILIP Mentor. Viki’s commitment to CDG continued literally until her last few days and she will be remembered as a great ambassador for the Career Development Group, CILIP, libraries and the profession.
Many thanks must go to all the organising committee for their efforts in making the day a highly organised and enjoyable one. I will certainly be looking out for next years’ conference, who knows I might even submit a paper!
Mrs Julie Hoskins, ACLIP
Librarian, Bruton School for Girls