Archive | June, 2012

Thing 7: real-life networks

20 Jun

CC image courtesy of Aidan Jones on Flickr.

Throughout my traineeship I’ve been lucky to have been given lots of opportunities to go out and meet other professionals in the field. The first proper “networking” activities that I was part of was with the London Research Libraries Trainee Programme. The graduate trainees of the various libraries of the University of London take part in visits and events to help them understand how different libraries run and the roles within them. The first event, a welcome party at the start of the year, taught me a couple of things about networking events: 1) that I will attempt to eat as much free food as possible and 2) that I freeze up whenever I’m told to “network”.

This is something I’ve consistently encountered with each event I go to. Socialising informally – fine, but when it’s timetabled in as “networking opportunity”, I get all awkward and begin to panic. What this “thing” has brought to my attention though is that, thankfully, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Joeyanne Libraryanne’s great blog post on networking for introverts has really been insightful and hopefully I can use the tips that she highlights from “Networking for people who hate networking” to take some of the pressure off next time I’m faced with the dreaded networking opportunity. But what’s really important for me is to not look at it as a structured activity but just as free time when I can chat to other people who are in the same place for similar reasons.

Though I feel like I’ve become more comfortable networking in real life as time goes on, there are a couple of things that I’ve found impact on what I get out of it: firstly, going to an event with someone that I already know. Though this is very nice, I do have the tendency to talk to only them for the whole time and personally, being on my own forces me to push past the awkward-barrier and have a chat to other people. Secondly, I’ve been finding that sometimes I’m just not “in the mood” for networking. I think I have a mixture of introvert and extrovert characteristics, and presumably this is the more introverted side of me that sometimes just wants to be alone or with people that I know and are comfortable with. For me, the only way around this is to just fight through the unwilling thoughts and get stuck in.

I became a member of both CILIP and ARLIS this year to take advantage of the fact that graduate trainees are charged at student rates (otherwise membership would be a really tricky decision as it is quite expensive). I enjoy being a member and getting the publications sent to me and I think I have been to quite a few events with both organisations. Admittedly I don’t have much of an excuse as I’m in London where most things are happening and I have lovely employers who encourage me to go to workshops, visits, conferences.

With ARLIS (the Arts Libraries Society), I’ve been to a workshop on art and design reference resources, an event on art librarianship as a career and a visit to the National Maritime Museum. All these events have been fantastically helpful and interesting in their own way and because it’s all about arts libraries everything is directed very much the way I’d like my career to go.

CILIP events are obviously much broader and I’ve really enjoyed getting a sense of other tempting routes of librarianship. The New Professionals Day held fairly recently was a fantastic opportunity and there was lots of time in between sessions and at breaks to network.

I’ve also been to a couple of things run by cpd25  including a visit to the Wellcome Library and a one-day conference on applying to library school. I’d recommend keeping an eye on their events page to anyone working in an academic library in London as they do arrange really interesting things.

These have, for the most part, been paid events but there are still a wealth of networking (and professional development) events that you can attend without paying a penny. The London LibTeachMeet is probably the best event that I’ve been to, for networking and for information. It had a great atmosphere and there was an opportunity to meet all kinds of librarians and information professionals. I’ve found that at London events, it’s often hard to meet someone not working at an academic library, so for me it was a chance to speak to people in other sectors. I’ve also attended visits and meet-ups organised online. LISNPN is a great one for organising nice pub meetups and, thanks to Rosie, I went on a visit to various libraries in Oxford which was organised through the forum.

Advertisements

Thing 6: online networking

14 Jun

 

LinkedIn

CC image courtesy of BlogMama on Flickr

I want to like it, I really do. But every time I get motivated enough to go on LinkedIn, I find that there are suddenly much more pressing things to do like making a cup of tea or staring out of the window. Let’s face it, it’s not the most exciting interface and the people on it aren’t posting amusing or terribly interesting things. It’s all very professional, which is – to be fair – why I want to use it.

It’s just that LinkedIn is not really doing anything for me right now. My fairly minimal profile hangs around in cyber space and serves the purpose of popping up as a pretty neutral top result when I google myself (see Thing 3).

In an effort to get more out of LinkedIn I added a photo and… well,  that’s about it. The information on it isn’t out of date but neither is it putting everything that I do out there – I feel a bit uneasy about basically having my CV up for the world to see. Things that I have done though are to join groups, so I’m now going to make an effort to keep up with what’s going on in the library groups.

 

Facebook

I point-blank refuse to use Facebook for professional networking. My profile has got the privacy settings ramped up as far as they go and I use it solely on a personal basis. I signed up in 2006 I think when it was fairly new and you could only join if you had a university email address. Since then it’s scary how big it’s grown. I use it for contacting friends and sharing photos. There are better mediums for doing both out there but everyone seems to be on Facebook so it’s just easier.

Although I’m not going to use Facebook for any sort of professional medium, I do see the merit in libraries having institute Facebook pages. It’s a great way to interact with users because, as I say, everyone seems to be on it.

 

LISNPN

I found out about the LIS New Professionals Network when I first started my traineeship and it’s been really useful. I’ve used it to connect with other graduate trainees and new professionals and a few months ago I visited Oxford and it’s libraries, an event organised totally on LISNPN.

There’s a lot of great information and it’s really good to have a community of well-wishing professionals that will help with any questions. It moves at a slower pace than Twitter and there’s no character limit so I’ve had some really helpful, detailed responses to queries that I’ve posted.

 

As for the Librarians as Teachers Network and CILIP communities, these are networks that I’ve been lurking around for a while and may continue to lurk for a little bit. And I guess some time in the future something may take my fancy and I’ll get involved.

Thing 5: reflective practice

11 Jun

I’m afraid to say I’ve been putting this ‘Thing’ off for a little while. I also took some time off last week and went back home to beautiful Bath so I haven’t had my library hat on as much recently.

I’m very new to this concept of reflection as it’s not something I’ve come across in previous jobs and have only just started to hear the term bandied about at different training/professional development events. My first impression was that it seems pretty integral to getting chartered which caused me to dismiss it, as chartership is a long way off for me. But the more I read around the subject, the more I realised that reflective practice was something I could and should be getting in the habit of doing now.

Throughout my traineeship I’ve been fortunate enough to be encouraged to go to external training events. For the first couple I took a notebook and made the most meticulous notes for every talk…and didn’t do anything with them afterwards. I definitely wasn’t getting the most out of these events. I was simply writing down what was being said at the time, which gave me no time to think about how what was being said was relevant to me.

In December I attended the ARLIS workshop “An Introduction to Art & Design Reference Resources” and volunteered to write up the event for the ARLIS newssheet and Students & Trainees blog. This was my first venture into doing anything of the sort and I agonized over the write-up for the week after the event. Although I was trying to give an objective overview of the day, going back over my notes and putting them into a readable piece made me think about what I was getting out of events like that.

Since then I’ve been trying to blog about conferences, workshops and visits I’ve been going to, first on the London Research Libraries Trainee blog and now here. I’ve found it much more useful to have my own blog rather than contributing to others because I feel more justified in talking about MY experiences.

At the moment I feel like my reflective practice is very much casual. Like everything I’m doing at the moment, I’m getting to grips with the idea and hopefully it’ll come with time. Yes ok, my model for reflective practice is more like this…:

 

Laurenson, 2012

 …than any of these…:

Kolb, 1984

 

Borton, 1970

…but I feel like this ‘Thing’ has really made me think about how I can make the most out of every experience I have. Pretty soon I’ll be having to look back on my graduate trainee year and by recalling and evaluating (what I’ve learnt, enjoyed, was good at, was bad at), I can look forward and plan my future accordingly.