Tag Archives: CILIP West Midlands Member Network

Pros and Cons of sitting on Committees

As a tangent on a CILIP Chartership reflection I started writing this list. Did you know that CILIP has 1700 volunteers doing 55,000 hours of work a year? Here’s my reasons for and against why you should join them!

Pros

1) You get to meet a lot of people…

In my various roles I’ve attended small local events and big national ones and I’ve met loads of people and had lots of different conversations with them. I’m a people person, I love doing this! Usually the conversation is library/work related (especially for conferences and workshops etc) but sometimes it isn’t and I enjoy this networking opportunity. I don’t always feel like I make the most of them all the time but sometimes I do, like when I organised a look around the new library in Telford: I met the person I needed to arrange it with at the CILIP AGM a few months beforehand!

2) …from lots of different sectors of librarianship.

Naturally some events are going to attract a specific type of librarian (for example the Librarians as Teachers events I’ve organised mostly attract academic and FE/HE librarians) but some are open to everyone and with a bit confidence you can find out about their sector. Most of what I know about Law Librarians came from a conversation with one at a CILIP AGM.

3) Visit other libraries

Maybe you’re like me and you just like seeing what other libraries look like, and maybe you want new ideas for layouts/displays/seating arrangements, but because most of our events are hosted in other libraries you get a chance to explore a wide range of them when attending and hosting events. Some events are even put on with this express purpose (see 1 above!)

4) Learn a range of skills

Want experience handling money? Be a treasurer (or start small and run the account for an event!) Want experience with Social Media? With event organising? Chairing a meeting? Join a committee! You can start small, chair one meeting when the Committee Chair can’t make it. Organise a small one-off networking event. Run the Social Media account(s) for a day because you’re at the conference anyway. Committee work is a great way to pick up new skills, brush up rusty ones or just do something for the love of it!

5) Improve your juggling skills!

I learnt this one the hard way, but juggling non-work commitments on top of work ones takes a little getting used to! Thankfully most of the tasks on a committee are flexible, and don’t take up too much time in one go.

Cons

1) Attending meetings

I always feel like this is the biggest hurdle for some people joining committees, and as one of the biggest commitments to the committee I can see why. Some bosses are less flexible about their staff attending on ‘work’ time, combine this with travel or childcare issues and sometimes I wonder why we bother trying to have physical meetings at all! But modern technology makes it easier to be on the committee even when you can’t attend meetings in person. The West Midlands committee have enough Academic Librarians on it to have been able to set up a JiscMail mailing list just for committee members (other emailing systems are available!), and we have a lot of discussion on it some weeks! We’ve also experimented with Skype meetings. When we have physical meetings we alternate the time of our meetings between daytime and evening so that everyone can attend at least two out of four meetings a year, and our travel expenses are paid by the committee, so you don’t need to shell out for these either!

2) Not having enough time

Some people genuinely don’t have a lot of time spare, I understand that (and some weeks I am that!) but it doesn’t mean you can’t contribute! A lot of roles lend themselves to job sharing (the previous CSO in the West Midlands was job shared) or even be a committee member ‘without portfolio’: which is just the posh term for being a committee member without a designated job/officer role. It means you can pick up tasks and odd jobs when you can, and still have a say in what goes on with the committee regarding bigger issues and events.

TLDR

TLDR: Join a CILIP committee! You’ll get more out of it than you expect!
I have genuinely loved working on CILIP Committees, yes it’s hard work, but in my experience all the most rewarding tasks are! They are also fun! I enjoy meeting people from all walks of life (and library sectors!) and while organising events can be hard work, it’s always great to see them go off as planned and to hear how much people appreciate it.

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The Importance of Blogging

I recently attended the CILIP West Midlands Member Network Annual Member’s Day. The day’s speakers had a focus of marketing and promotion for Libraries, and it was actually really interesting, because the speakers kept repeating each other, especially about how blogging is the future of Social Media – if only because as a platform it will outlive everything else!

Because my notes for the day get a bit repetitive, I’m trying something new with my write up, so please bare with me! As a member of the organising committee for the event I didn’t take my notes during the day, but rather wrote a list of ‘takeaways’ that had stuck with me afterwards, which I have written up below. Both Neil Infield and Adam Koszary spoke on the subject of Social Media, Neil from a Small Business point of view and Adam from a Library Promotion point of view. Their sessions were generally very different from each other but I think this made it all the more interesting when they were stressing the same good practices. We also heard from Andy Ryan, who directs CityRead London who spoke about promotion from an events planning point of view, but again she repeated something Adam said about not being afraid to take risks, which again emphasised the importance of their point.

There was also a session from Nick Poole, Chief Executive at CILIP, but I want to write about this separately and will post a link here when I have published it.

Takeaways:

Blogging is key – both Social Media speakers agreed on this point – it creates new and updated content for your website, as well as populating your various Social Media streams with regular content, which in turn helps drive traffic back to your website (and therefore to your business/service). Blogging platforms are also more secure long term than Social Media, Social Media platforms will come and go, but your website will remain (even if you end up changing service provider/blog platform etc)

Blog post titles should fully explain the article content (no mysterious riddles!) and all important points should be summarised in the first paragraph, for two reasons: 1) Google will include some of this in the search results so it will help inform readers why they should open your site, as well as meaning Google finds the relevant key words from the search term 2) skim readers won’t necessarily make it to the bottom of the page, make you point early and then back it up, rather than only making your point at the end of the page.

Good blog posts include images and are a suitable length for the audience (as a general rule, no longer than 500 words, but there are examples of longer posts working well, particularly in academia).

You need to clearly define your target audience and define what you want to achieve out of your social media channels.

Make use of Twitter’s trending topics to know what people are talking about – even if you use the subject on a different platform! Signing up for a Google+ page will also make your service more findable online, as Google includes these in search results! (Often worth having simply for this purpose, even if you don’t then populate it regularly)

Most Social Media platforms are image centric, as they are attention grabbing as users go through their feeds.

When using Twitter, make a point of engaging with your followers (the point of the platform is to have conversations!)

Two speakers both said “Don’t be afraid of taking risks!” (Adam and Andy) Marketing is iterative, you need to constantly evaluate what works and what doesn’t (and keep going/stop as appropriate) but you need to try new things as well as sticking with what has worked in the past. Don’t let fear of mistakes stop you – and it’s only a mistake if you don’t learn something from it!

For Andy, who spoke a lot about event promotion, a programme of events and marketing are intertwined: you can’t have one without the other.

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Librarians as Teachers 2015: Organising #LATAston

On the 10th June I attended the third West Midlands Librarians as Teachers conference. Once again the CILIP West Midlands Member Network committee I sit on worked together with the CILIP Academic and Research Libraries Group (West Midlands) committee (ARLG) to organise the event. This is the second time I have personally been involved in organising the conference (see my post from LAT 2013) and it felt like a very different experience from last time. This is possibly to do with the fact I had previously been involved in organising an event like this, so I knew what to expect and what I could offer as my contribution to the organising team.

We decided early on against having a separate event website this time and posted all of our promotional information to the CILIP Event page, as the page template meant we could include all of the information we wanted to, including Speaker information and an incorporated booking form. The main downside for this was all of the information was on one long page, but it meant we had the CILIP Branding etc on the page. The URL for it was long, so I used a URL Shortener which I edited to be easier to remember (bit.ly/lat2015). I think this was important when advertising the event as easy to remember URLs make things easier on potential attendees. This will also make things a little harder to make post event information such as slides and photos easily available, but we would be hosting these on sites such as Slideshare and Flickr anyway as they are available to a wider audience that way. I think a few blog/social media posts to the ARLG and CILIP West Midlands Member Network members as well as an email to our delegates should be sufficient to kick start the promotion of these resources. [During the run up to the event CILIP’s web team were doing a survey about the website – I have suggested the ability to create event micro-sites for big events, and apparently I wasn’t the only one!]

The live tweeting went well. LAT2013 was my first attempt at doing this and I think I struggled a bit with it, but I am more experienced now and a few people commented that I seemed to do it really well! These two people both said it was their first attempt at live tweeting, so maybe it looked more impressive to them than it was! The Hashtag for the event was #LATAston – due to hosting the conference at Conference Aston – we’d intended to use LAT2015 but this was used in America a few months before our conference! (I think this would probably be the same people that used LAT2013 a week or so after our last conference – it caused me some confusion doing the Storify, but thankfully didn’t confuse any other people! For the LATAston Storify visit Jess Haigh’s – she beat me to it!

This year the main difference we had was the decision very early on to pay for a conference room, rather than hunt around for free venues in Libraries. We used the biggest room we could find in 2013 and felt a bit squeezed in. This time we booked Conference Aston, in Birmingham. We felt it was easy to get to, being in Central Birmingham, and while the room costs weren’t cheap we knew we wanted to try and at least match the 65 delegates we had in 2013, if not get it a bit higher! I feel like paying for a room was worth it: The Conference centre itself was very impressive, with all the mod-cons (like coffee machines!) and top notch help from all of the staff, including Bill who helped us with all the AV set up at the start and end of the day. The food was fantastic as well – no dry/soggy sandwiches in sight! We had two ‘light’ options: soup and Jacket potatoes (with a choice of two fillings!) and three main course options, as well as two options for dessert – I went with the Lemon and Polenta cake! Yum!

We optimistically booked a room for 75-120 people, thinking if we had 75 then at least we would have some elbow space! We briefly discussed aiming for 100 attendees – I don’t know about the other organisers but to me this felt like a hard target to reach. When we hit the 65 delegates mark the bookings slowed down a little so I thought I had hit the mark. However we decided we had time before we had to confirm the number of attendees with conference centre so we kept accepting bookings – by the time we closed the bookings we had over 100 people booked in. We did accept a few after the closing date, as it was only a couple, but all in all I feel that this worked very well for us, and I’m certainly happy to have been proven wrong regarding the number of attendees we would get!

The official feedback is still being processed, but speaking to people at the conference yesterday and looking at the tweets I saw yesterday evening it looks like everyone enjoyed it and had a good time! I’ll write a separate post about my reflections of the content, but I can say for certain that I will be doing this again in the future, and I can’t think of anything at the moment that I would do differently.

 

Sorry for not posting this sooner – I’ve had a busy few weeks and didn’t get around to proof-reading the post!

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Changes, lots of changes!

Somehow I doubt three months is the longest my blog has gone without a post, but so much has changed since my last one!

I’ve started a new job: I’m now officially a Librarian (where previously I was a Senior Library Assistant). This means I can no longer put off my CILIP Chartership, but of course I have lots of things to learn for my new role, which I can include in my portfolio, so it’s a bonus really!

I’ve been busy with the CILIP West Midlands Member Network, most recently in organising our Annual Member’s Day (and CILIP Debate) which is on Monday and is currently filling my head with silly questions and niggles, but it’ll all be fine on the day! We’re already in the midst of planning our next big (should that say bigger?) event in June when we’re planning to host a Librarians as Teacher’s Conference to up to 90 odd participants.

I’ve also logged into my blog after a break to find that the stats of people viewing the site has boomed! Previously if I didn’t post anything in a while the stats eventually dropped to zero views/visitors, but at present I seem to have had a steady stream of visits since September, apparently mostly to view the post I wrote about creating Google Maps, but a few people seem to linger while they’re here! Unfortunately they seem to be mostly arriving here via search engines and WordPress is unable to see what search terms have led them to this site. This is disappointing in two ways: first as a blogger I want to see what topics people are interested in so I can write on those topics, and second is simply as an information professional: what are they searching for, and more importantly, are they finding it?

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