I’m lucky that I’ve been able to attend quite a few events so far this year. I went to a West Midlands Health Libraries Network seminar in February, the CILIP West Midlands Information and Networking Day in April and the Health Libraries Conference in July. I think that it’s worth asking your line manager about every event you want to go to. If they say no, or it’s not possible, at least they know you’re interested, and maybe next time they’ll say yes! Thankfully my line manager promotes our professional development and encourages us to attend (where the budget allows).
For the Health Libraries Conference, I applied for a free members place to attend, and not only was I awarded one, but they contributed to my travelling expenses too. I think if you are eligible for things like that then you should apply – all I had to do was send a copy of my CV and 500 words saying why I wanted to go. It was quick, pain free and it paid off! I’m really glad I went, I had a great time, I learnt lots of new things and I met some great people. The freebies from the exhibitors didn’t hurt either! In regards to what worked and what advice I would give, I have to say the main one would be to give your self time to travel. I travelled to Glasgow the day before the conference, and yes it meant I paid for an extra night at the hotel, but it was worth it. Not only did I get a chance to do the ‘tourist thing’, but I didn’t feel like I was rushing to get there. A lot of people left early too, and it seemed a shame to have travelled all that way to then miss some of it.
Because my July has been so busy I missed this year’s conference for the Career Development Group. It was disappointing because I recently joined the West Midlands division committee, it would have been nice to go and represent the group, and doubly disappointing because it was held in Birmingham this year so there wouldn’t have been much travel involved, but there’s always next year, and maybe I can visit another new city like I did for HLG!
In the future I’d really like to present at a Conference too. I think it would be an amazing experience, even if I were presenting as part of a group, or in a small slot. Public speaking doesn’t make me as nervous as it used to – doing the ‘library bit’ to 50+ people during hospital inductions for new staff solved that a long time ago! I don’t know how I’d fair in a lecture theatre to huge numbers, but it’s one of those things you work up to, so I guess I’ll face that one when I get there! I’ve already been published in both the Career Development Group West Midlands newsletter and the HLG newsletter, so I’ll start by working my way into Journal articles and see what presenting opportunities arise in the future!
I can’t even imagine how much work goes into organising something like the Health Libraries Conference, but I think it’s something I’d like to have a go at in the future (although maybe on a smaller scale!) I am a member of the West Midlands Para-Professional group, who organise training sessions for Library Assistants, but nothing has fallen on my shoulders yet, so maybe I’ll gather some training ideas ready for our next meeting and see what happens!