Reflections on the CILIP Conference 2018

The 2018 CILIP Conference was the second CILIP conference I’ve attended. And like the 2016 CILIP conference, I learnt loads. What, for me, sets the two CILIP conferences apart from other professional events is how much I’ve got from what Jo Wood called in her podcast “the bits in between” – all the conversations, twitter chat and stuff that happens beyond the keynotes, seminars and workshops in the programme.

These are my reflections on some of the big things that I got out of “the bits in between” at the CILIP conference 2018.

No longer new

I realised at the conference that I no longer feel I identify with the label “new professional”.

When I saw all the tweets from people saying how excited they were to be going to their first conference / first CILIP conference it reminded me about how I had felt a few years ago, but I didn’t feel part of the club. Conferences don’t make me feel nervous anymore; I feel I know what I’m doing when it comes to conferences.

Then there was the networking workshop in the first breakout session at the conference. It’s awesome that it happened and I understand that people at all stages in their career can struggle with networking, but for me I looked at the session and thought “that would have been really useful to me last time I was here, but not now”. It made me think about how I’ve changed and developed in the past few years.

There’s also how I feel in my job. I’ve been in the role I’m in now for two and a half years, and I now have a permanent contract. I feel settled in my role. My CPD and improvements I work on for my service are part of an ongoing process of continual improvement, rather than getting myself up to speed or setting up the service. I think the confidence I now have in myself as a professional, which I didn’t really have before, has also made a difference to how I see myself. This confidence comes from experience – not just of getting things right, but of dealing with the situation when things go wrong.

I started working in the LIS world as a graduate trainee in 2011 and studied for my MA in 2012/13. So in terms of years I seem the fit the “standard” definition of 5-years post-qualification for when you stop being a new professional. But really, I think it’s down to how you see yourself.

So, if I’m no longer a new professional what am I? After a short conversation on twitter I’m settling for ‘established professional’ and will be trying to embrace my new professional self-identity in the coming months.

CILIP: the team and how it works

An unexpected benefit of the conference was meeting lots of the CILIP team and getting to know a bit more about how CILIP works. Some of the CILIP staff I’d met before, but others I’d only ever ‘met’ as the name at the end of an email and it was lovely to be able to put faces to those names. Making personal connections with CILIP staff will, I think, make me more comfortable when I want to reach out and contact the organisation. Knowing there are friendly faces at the other end of the email black hole is always a good thing 🙂

I also spent one lunchtime talking to two of the CILIP trustees, Dawn Finch and Leon Bolton, finding out more about what the CILIP Board is and how decisions are made. I must admit I was pretty ignorant of CILIP’s governance before. The board is made up of members of CILIP coming from a range of sectors, backgrounds and perspectives. Having chatted to Dawn and Leon I feel confident that they really do want to represent the views of us as the membership. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to the open meeting of the board but think it’s great that this is now happening at the conference making it much more easily accessible to the large number of CILIP members at the conference.

Maintaining networks

One of the things I realised bumping into several old contacts at the conference, is that although I’m perfectly happy meeting and chatting to people at events, and I’d say pretty good at networking, I’m not very good at keeping in touch with people after the event if I’m not actively working with. I don’t have the answers to this, but I’ve added it to my list of things to work on.

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Finding people/things to talk to/about at #CILIPconf18

Ok, so this now seems to be turning into a mini series of posts for the CILIP Conference 2018. I mentioned in my Making the most of a conference post that I was going to make a list of people I wanted to meet at the conference. But, when I sat down to write it I felt a bit bemused at where to start.

If you get a list of delegates before you arrive that’s the obvious starting place. But I didn’t have that. So here’s some ideas I’ve used:

  • The programme: Look at who is speaking at the conference. Don’t automatically assume they won’t want to talk to little old you. That’s a mistake I’ve made in the past. But with growing confidence I’ve found that people – even those who I think of as the high and mighty of the LIS world – are far more interested in me and what I do than I thought they would be. It really is a kind, caring and welcoming profession.
  • Arrange a topic-based meetup: Is there anything you’d particularly like to talk to people about? I want to chat to other solo LIS-ers about being a solo-er. So I tweeted to ask if anyone else wanted to talk about that and we’re now having a meetup at the first coffee break on Wednesday (11:00-11:40, meeting at the School Libraries Group stand if you’re interested).
  • Say what you do and ask if anyone is interested in talking to you: I wrote a blog post about what I do, what projects I’ve got coming up on the horizon and other things I’d like to talk to people about. I tweeted about the post and let people come to me. And it’s worked!
  • My “Inspiring” twitter list: I have a list on Twitter of people who’s tweets I find inspiring. They’re people who do interesting stuff and are generally optimistic. It’s a mix of people I would consider peers and people who I look up to as it were, and a mix of people I know and people I’ve never met beyond Twitter. But I’ll be increasing the proportion that I’ve met in person at the conference.
  • Old colleagues: If you’re not in your first LIS job is there anyone from you worked with in previous jobs who you’re still in touch with, or would like to get back in touch with? Email, tweet or LinkedIn message them.
  • Twitter list of delegates: I was contemplating setting up a list on Twitter for all the people attending the conference. But Phil Gorman got there before me – https://twitter.com/philbgorman/lists/cilip-conference-2018/members. Sometimes people’s Twitter bios are enough, but mostly I’ve been combining this list with a LinkedIn/Google search to find out more about people. Is it nosy? Yes, but it’s useful.
  • People tweeting about #CILIPconf18: Now the conference is on top of us lots of people are tweeting about looking forward to, traveling to and arriving at the conference. I’m looking at their Twitter bios and searching for them to find out more about them.

The one thing I feel I’m missing out on with this strategy is that it misses anyone not on Twitter or speaking at the conference. If you have any bright ideas how to find out about those people, please share!

And if you’ve read all that and are now thinking you’ve got loads to do, don’t panic! You don’t have to do any of this. If you just speak to people who are stood next to you in the queue for coffee, who look lonely and who’s cardigan you like, you will meet interesting and engaging people. It’s just that this year there are some specific things and types of people I want to talk to – and I don’t want to miss them in the sea of faces.

Would like to meet at #cilipconf18

The post is aimed primarily at other attendees of the CILIP Conference 2018*. There will be lots of people at the conference and I’d like to increase my chances of finding people who I can have really useful conversations with – and knowing what to talk to them about. A job title and employer often don’t give you a huge amount to go on. So here’s a bit more about me and why you might be interested in speaking to me, as well as some other things I’d be particularly interested in talking to people about. Comment here or tweet me (@library_lizzie) if you’d to meet up!

If you’re coming to the CILIP Conference I’d encourage you to write your own ‘Would like to meet’ too.

My role

Officially my title is Leventis Library Manager and I’m employed by a company called CCI Services Ltd. From this, you probably wouldn’t guess that I am a solo information professional running a small workplace library for a collaboration of 10 organisations – 9 biodiversity conservation organisations and the University of Cambridge – called the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. I also run a training programme, facilitate access for the whole collaboration to library and training resources from each of the collaborating organisations, and provide advice on various topics from copyright and reference management, to web tools and research data management.

You can find out more on my LinkedIn profile.

Reasons you might find me interesting

I have experience of:
  • Merging libraries (from 4 partner organisations to create a library for a collaboration)
  • Moving a library into a new building (well, it was refurbished rather than new, but it was a very extensive refurbishment)
  • Running a library & information service for multiple organisations
  • Supporting use of web-based technologies & apps as a librarian / information professional
  • Science librarianship
  • Volunteer recruitment and management
  • Solo librarianship
  • Entering the LIS profession from a science background
Projects in progress:
  • Developing a training programme (in a workplace setting)
  • Setting up / managing digital display screens to share information
  • Supporting research data management
  • Setting up a Knowledge, Information and Data Management special interest group to facilitate discussions with colleagues in similar roles across the collaboration
(Potential) projects on my horizon:
  • Improving knowledge exchange within the collaboration
  • Developing resources/communications for new starters to introduce them to the collaboration and the central collaboration-wide team (not limited to the library & information service).
  • Digitising small quantities of our serial collection, currently unavailable online

I’d like to meet …

I’m particularly interested in chatting to anyone with experience in:

  • Moving into knowledge management from librarianship
  • Libraries / information services in charities, NGOs, other third sector organisations
  • Shared libraries / information services (serving more than one organisation)
  • Anything on my Projects in progress or (Potential) projects on my horizon lists above

*If you’re not going to the CILIP Conference, I’d still be very happy to hear from you on any of these topics! Comment or tweet me to get in touch.

 

Blog resurrection and Twitterfall

Hello! After nearly 3 years, I’ve decided to resurrect this blog.  There are various reasons for choosing to do this now.  I’m overseeing the setting up of a new library and information service, and am therefore thinking about lots of new things.  I’ve just properly started on CILIP chartership – I registered in February, but haven’t really got very far up until the past week or so.  Finally, in the past few weeks I’ve registered for 2 conferences, having not attended one for a couple of years, and am feeling a renewed enthusiasm for my CPD.

This evening I attended my first #chartership twitter chat.  I’ve previously used Hootesuite for twitter chats, but decided to try out another tool I’d heard of for this evening – Twitterfall.  Tweets fall into the Twitterfall screen a bit like a slow waterfall.

waterfall

Photo by Tom Hall via Flickr http://bit.ly/1LAq3qx

You can choose which tweets you see with a list, search or location and you can exclude searches too.  There’s also tick boxes to add tweets from your timeline, that you’re mentioned in or your direct messages.  I just used a search for #chartership and missed some replies to my tweets that were missing the hashtag.  Now I’ve found the mentions tickbox I’ll use that as well for chats so I don’t miss helpful replies!

I like how tweets fall slowly onto the page slowly.  If lots of people are tweeting at once you don’t get overwhelmed.  I’m quite a slow reader and the default speed worked for me, but you can speed it up if you want. Once I’d worked out symbol that looks a bit like a refresh button was a ‘View conversation’ button, that was useful too.

Twitterfall

I also realised partway through the chat that if you’re hovering over one of the tweets in the fall, the fall is paused so you don’t get any new messages.  This is a really useful feature if you’re taking a bit longer to read a tweet, trying to catch up with them or contemplating a response.  However, if you find yourself wondering why no one is tweeting, check you haven’t left your cursor hovering over the fall.

When you hover over a tweet an arrow appears at the right hand side giving you various options – DM, Follow, Favourite, Reply, Retweet, Report and View.  You can follow, favourite, reply and retweet satisfactorily from within Twitterfall, but when I tried View it took me to Twitter and when I returned to Twitterfall it started the fall all over again.  So, if you want to view someone’s Twitter page, I’d open the View link in a new tab/window.  One thing I found quite frustrating was that you don’t get a normal mini profile when you hover over someone like you do in Twitter – the pop up you get is missing their picture and blurb.

Twitterfall2

Overall, Twitterfall worked really rather well for following a twitter chat and I’ll be using it again.

The Art of Networking

This evening I attended a UCL Skills4Work workshop on networking.  I signed up for it because networking is on my list of skills I want to improve on in the coming year.  I came away with some useful ideas, so I thought I’d share them here:

  • If you want to start a conversation with someone start with an open-ended question about them.  Use the situation to help you think of something (you don’t have to go in with “So, what do you do?”).
  • If a conversation isn’t going so well and you want to move on there isn’t really an easy way to do it.  You just need the courage and to be honest.  A good closing comment could be “Great to meet you, hope you have a great event.”
  • Listening is really important.  Aim to spend 70% of the time listening and 30% of the time talking.
  • Your elevator pitch.  I’d heard of this before, but not prepared one – it’s your 30 second answer to “What do you do?”.  Say what you do, why you do it and what your passions are – don’t just list facts.  Practice it, but make sure it doesn’t sound scripted.  It should be flexible depending on the situation.

Things 6 and 7: Professional networking – better known, better connected, better equipped

This post was written for 23 Things for Professional Development, Thing 6: Online networks and Thing 7: Real-life networks.

Professional networking is all about building relationships with people, sharing information with them and helping each other.  I often find the initial connecting stage of networking daunting, particularly in a large room/online network full of people I don’t know, but it’s something I’m definitely getting better at.  Once I’ve got past that first stage though, I find networking really fun.  I love talking to people and finding out what they do, I really enjoy helping other people – that’s one of the main reasons I joined the profession – and having people I can turn to when I need help makes life much easier and less stressful.

On the cpd23 Thing 6 post Helen suggests all the advantages of online professional networking fall under the headings of becoming:

  1. Better known
  2. Better connected
  3. Better equipped

I like this way of thinking about networking and I think it applies to real-life networking as well as online networking.  If you want more information on the What, How, Who, Where, When and Why of networking I would recommend the recorded webinar on this blog post.  I’ll now go on to discuss some networks I already use and some I have investigated for things 6 and 7.

Colleagues

My workplace is where I do most of my real-life professional networking.  I work for a large library and get a chance to work alongside, or at least chat during tea breaks with, a fairly large number of library professionals at various stages in their careers and with various areas of expertise.  I also have a ready made network in the other Oxford University library trainees, who meet regularly for training sessions.

Twitter

Twitter is currently my main online networking tool.  As I said in my Thing 4 post, I find my twitter network really useful for keeping up to date with news and trends in the profession.  One of the best things about twitter as a professional network is that there are so many different people there – it’s not limited to one sector or one career stage like some of my other networks are.  Even though I’ve only been on twitter a few months I already have 99 followers on twitter (almost all library and information professionals), most of whom would probably never have heard of me if it weren’t for twitter, and I’ve had tweets retweeted so even more people will have seen my name in connection with something library-related.  Twitter has also helped me keep in contact with people who I’ve met at real-life networking events such as the CILIP New Professionals Day.

CILIP

CILIP, and other professional associations, have great potential as a source of networking opportunities.  So far the only one I’ve really taken advantage of was the New Professionals Day, but I’m planning to attend my first regional branch meeting on the 4th of July in Reading (on updates in copyright) and hope to be able to make it to more events in London once I’m studying there.  I really enjoyed the New Professionals Day not just because of what I learnt at the sessions, but also because I got to meet lots of other new library and information professionals.  Talking to other attendees between the sessions, at lunch and afterwards at the pub I got to find out more about where other people were in their career, what they do, where they were going and their opinions on the talks and workshops.  My only regret was not getting contact details for some of the interesting people I met.

Even though I’ve been a member of CILIP for about eight months I didn’t know about the existence CILIP communities, a collection of forums, blogs and people, until I started Thing 6.  It’s interesting to know it’s there, but looking through recent threads on the forums there weren’t any conversations I felt I immediately wanted to join in with and I seem to follow most of the blogs that I find interesting already.

LISNPN

LISNPN was the first online professional network I joined and it really made me feel part of something bigger.  I enjoyed finding out about other graduate trainees on the forum, which resulted in my first real-life networking event outside my workplace when I went to London to meet other trainees and LIS students.  I’ve also found the downloadable resources section with anonymous reviews of LIS degrees and how to guides for tasks such as using twitter, getting published and interviewing well (as the interviewee).

LinkedIn

The Oxford trainees had a session at the Oxford University Careers Service a couple of weeks ago which was amazingly useful and covered, among other things, LinkedIn.  Some of the top tips I came away with were:

  •  The headline, summary and your name are the bits that are searchable from a search engine, so make sure keywords are there. (The headline is the bit below your name, e.g. ‘Radcliffe Science Library Graduate Trainee at Bodleian Libraries’, and you can change it by going to Edit profile and clicking on the edit link next to your name)
  • Recommendations! You can get recommendations from anyone your connected with, which means you can basically have references from people you’ve worked with or for, but who aren’t your line manager.  I think this is brilliant, but it does have the rather large downside that you can only get recommendations from people who are on LinkedIn.
  • There are lots of sections you can add if you think they’re relevant, such as courses, projects and volunteer experience.  Find the link to add them just under the big grey box on the Edit profile page.
  • You can change your public profile url so that it’s your name rather than a string of numbers, for example mine is http://uk.linkedin.com/in/lizzieatkinson
  • A good LinkedIn profile can back up what you’ve put on a job application.  According to a 2011 US survey by Reppler 48% of hirers use LinkedIn to screen candidates and although (I strongly hope) you won’t be rejected for not having a LinkedIn profile, 68% of hirers had hired someone because of what they saw on a social networking site (not necessarily LinkedIn).  I’ve no idea what those stats would be like for library and information jobs in the UK, but if it might help me get a job it sounds like a good idea.

I came away from the session feeling very positive about LinkedIn and determined to vamp up my rather bare and neglected LinkedIn profile.  I wanted to include details about all the jobs I’ve had and all the volunteering I’ve done as they’ve all developed skills that would be useful for jobs I might want to apply for and I didn’t want to miss anything out.  Then I sat down and had a bit of a rethink.  I’m fairly open and happy for people to find me online, but I felt like I was putting my life history out there online and wasn’t really comfortable with that.  So, for now, I’ve stuck to my library work experience, with a description of my current post, and my degree with a bit of an explanation of what it was because the title doesn’t make it obvious, the projects I did and a list of the societies I was on the committee for and some of the outreach volunteering I did.

LIKE

LIKE is the London Information & Knowledge Exchange.  I’ve not been to any of their events before but had heard of them and some of their meetings sound really interesting.  I’m hoping to make it to some of their meetings once I’m studying in London.

Organise your own event

Finally, if you think it would be good if there was an event to share ideas about a particular topic or for a particular group of people to meet then make it happen.  It might involve a lot of work or it might not.  I organised a cpd23 meet up in Oxford last week.  All I had to do was suggest a time and place via this blog and twitter and I got to meet some interesting library and information professionals who I’d not met before (as well as some who I had).

cpd23 Oxford meet up – Wednesday 13th June

Are you taking part in cpd23 and would like to meet other participants?  Have you taken part in cpd23 previously and would like to share your wisdom with some newbies?  Or just like the idea of a sociable couple of hours with other library folk?  As next week is cpd23 ‘real life networks’ week I’m organising a meet up in Oxford next Wednesday 13th June from 5.15pm at The Mitre on the High Street.  Everyone welcome, cpd23 participant or not.