The New Professionals Information Day held at Ridgmount Street on June 3rd 2011 was an interesting and useful day, at the very least because it gave me the chance to look around CILIP’s London office. I picked up hints and tips from Alex Wilson-Campbell’s useful CV and interviewing workshop. I found out about new ways to get involved professionally. I met a group of people who value CPD as highly as I do, I learnt about sponsorship places for conferences, and I had the opportunity to network with lots of new faces. I can even cross some people off my “know on Twitter but not met in person” list.
This blog is going to be reflective; its purpose is to make me into a more reflective practitioner. Therefore this entry will not be a chronological description of events but rather an explanation of why I found the sessions as valuable as I did. The theme of the day was one of professional development and professional engagement. I think that these two processes definitely feed into each other; to develop ourselves professionally, we must be engaged with our profession. The more that we put into our professional body by volunteering and getting involved, the more we get from those membership subs. The central problem lies in trying to convince others of the value of such engagement.
Bethan’s session on getting involved allowed us to investigate in groups the type of engagement activity that we are involved in, why we do it, and what barriers we face. It was interesting for me to see that many people were not formally professionally engaged (quite a few delegates were not CILIP members), but they were engaging with the profession via social media and other grass-roots groups such as LIKE and LISNPN. I am a passionate advocate of Twitter but I am also passionate in my support of professional bodies such as CILIP. If we are not all CILIP members, advocacy becomes an even harder task. Trying to convince people of the benefits of CILIP membership transported me back to some of the barriers to development that I often encounter. If the profession is not valued by its practitioners, who will value what we do? Lack of value and lack of support are two huge barriers to development.
The other strand of Bethan’s session focussed on these barriers to engagement and development. Fear, financial pressures, location, employers: all these and more were named as barriers to professional engagement. Yet the overriding barrier was motivation: why should I put the time into this? This answer? Because it benefits us individually and as a profession. Through this event alone, I feel part of a new network of newly met professionals. We can build these networks together to develop ourselves, ultimately to improve our employability. Also, it is quite fun.
The other hugely inspirational part of the day centred on Maria Cotera’s session. She developed herself by just saying yes to things: yes I will join your committee! She works with librarians from all over the world. She travels in order to understand the ways in which libraries and library services in other parts of the world function. She helped to bring knowledge to African women to stop the spread of HIV. She works with IFLA to promote the rights of women throughout the world. She told us about her work with the African Prisons Project
The day was an experience that I would definitely recommend to any new professionals, whether you’re just starting your library course or going through the Chartership process. The networking opportunities allowed me to make new contacts and the motto of the day was truly inspirational: just say yes! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a sponsored conference place application to write.