Tag Archives: networking

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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Information and Networking Day 2013

Thursday 7th February was my local CILIP Branch’s AGM – and to make it a bit more interesting they usually have a few speakers and a chance to network over lunch. According to the Branch chair, tickets were sold out in two days, so they’re obviously doing something right! (Just to clarify, by ‘sold out’ I mean the allocation of places was filled, it is a free day and lunch is bring/buy your own!)

This year we went to Birmingham City University’s Mary Seacole Library in the Faculty of Health. It is the biggest specialist Health Library in the Country, and was naturally of particular interest to myself as a Health Librarian!

The theme of the day was promoting our selves, and our service – we heard some very interesting Case Studies from BCU Libraries and Warwickshire Library Service and how they are currently promoting themselves. BCU’s talk was particularly interesting; the University is split across 6 faculties and they don’t have one main library, but 8 specialist libraries, spread across the campuses. Past efforts to promote the library as a whole service have fallen flat as they have been too generic to appeal to each specific student group. Each library now deals with it’s own promotion, lead by a Library Marketing Steering Group, and each does there own bit to promote services and products to their own students i.e. Health databases to Faculty of Health students etc, but coming together for things like Freshers’ Fairs. They’re also getting out of the Library itself to promote the library’s services – the Liasion Librarians have been taking laptops to cafes to promote eBooks and can show the students how they can use the library from these places, and from home.

Gill Colbourne from Warwickshire Libraries Service had some useful tips too. The council’s marketing department is used to having people approach them – people know what their County Council offers and know where to go when they have questions. This approach doesn’t work for the library, so they’ve had to learn to be pro-active in advertising their services. You have to tell people why they need the library, and promote the services they want, but don’t know the library offers.

The library tries to advertise in as many places as possible, included notice boards in sports centres, supermarkets (library staff always know good places to put posters) and on the sides of buses. She even replied to an internal staff email from a woman in the council who wanted Driving Test books for her daughter – even other Council staff didn’t know that the Library offers these books as well as access to an online example test. Gill said it was about using every opportunity you could find and believing in your product.

The Keynote was from Barbara Band, the Vice President of CILIP. She said she still sometimes sees herself as ‘just a school librarian’, but she had some very interesting points about how, and why, we should be promoting our profession. Barbara pointed out that the old stereotypes about librarians are still very prominent, but while we are happy to talk amongst ourselves as to how out of date this was, we didn’t do this outside of the profession which meant that it continues. We have to tell people that this is wrong and that libraries (and librarians) have changed; if we won’t do it, no-one else is going to do it for us.

This promotion of our profession is another form of advocacy, and shouldn’t jut be limited to outside of the profession. Barbara said we should be telling other librarians about our work too – when people in different sectors have a better understanding of these other sectors we can work together for a common aim (she gave the example of teachers – when they strike or speak out, they do so as a profession, not just as a group of people with the same job – and this gives them a louder ‘voice’.

Barbara said we need to be proactive – sometimes things as small as commenting on websites, re-tweeting, and passing relevant web links to colleagues all works towards a better understanding of the profession; ‘Every little helps!’ Barbara challenged us to think of one idea or action that we could take away to do our bit to promote the profession.

Simon Edwards, the Director of Professional Services at CILIP, came to give a round up of national projects at CILIP, before Roger Fairman, the incoming Chair for CILIP West Midlands gave a local round up. Simon covered a large range of topics, from an update on the PKSB (Professional Knowledge and Skills Base) which officially launched in September 2012, the Branch and Group review, to the changes coming to the CILIP website and proposed Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The changes to the Framework of Qualifications are due to be implemented from July this year and they are working to remove barriers, such as minimum experience, and broaden the appeal of the qualifications. They are also making the guidance clearer, as it has been confusing candidates, Mentors and Candidate Support Officers, as well as making the difference between Certification and Chartership clearer.

The presentations from the day are available at http://www.slideshare.net/cilipwm and photos are available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cilipwm. My photos are available in my Photo Gallery

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Thing 7: Real Life Networks

I joined CILIP so that I could work towards my CILIP Certification, but I’ve taken advantage of training and networking days as well. I also recently joined the committee for the Career Development Group (CDG) West Midlands having met a few of the members at the Information and Networking day in Coventry in April (they co-hosted with the CILIP West Midlands branch). Other events that I’ve attended include a Framework of Qualifications and Library tour in Rugby Public Library and in July I am attending the Health Libraries Group (HLG) Conference in Glasgow – so I can definitely say I’ve had my money’s worth from this year’s membership!

As previously mentioned I am undertaking one of CILIP’s professional qualifications and I’m hoping to take this through to Chartership. It was the clear stages and advancements that were on offer that attracted me to this over an NVQ as it allows be to build on my Masters Degree and eventually qualify as a Librarian.

In regards to publications, so far I’ve written articles for the CDG West Midlands and HLG newsletters, but I also have second articles for both in the works as well (one has been submitted for the CDG July Newsletter and I have agreed to write one for the HLG September Newsletter about the Conference in Glasgow). I think even in these relatively small publications, it is an easy way to get your name out there.

I’ve also been doing some work with the NHS Midlands Regional Trainers Forum on the ‘Sharing Training Materials’ sub-group and the suggestion has been made that when we finish our project we may be asked to write an article for the Health Libraries Journal. If we are I think I might offer to help co-write; the opportunity to get published in a ‘proper’ journal is too good to pass up!

In February I also attended a training networking event run by the West Midlands Health Libraries Network. This was a really good day – the focus was on marketing and I learnt a lot about what the other West Midlands Health Libraries are doing, both from the timetabled seminars and from the marketing ‘mix-up’ where everybody provided examples of what works for them. This was a really good opportunity and I would recommend attending future sessions, or even organising something similar for your sector.

I will be attending the CPD23/ CILIP West Midlands meet-up on Thursday in Wolverhampton so I look forward to meeting some of you there.

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