CILIP Conference 2015

13 07 2015

I have produced a storify of my learning and reflections on CILIP Conference 2015.


Thing 21: Promoting yourself

14 11 2012

Creating a list of what I enjoy doing is actually much more difficult than I thought it was going to be.  If I wrote this list once a year I’m sure it would be different every time, according to what I’ve been doing at that time and how my skills and knowledge have broadened into new areas.

So, at the moment, the things that I really enjoy doing…

1. Organising things.  I love taking something chaotic and untamed and putting it into some order, whether that be ideas or words.  I get a lot of satisfaction from planning events and projects and thrashing out new ideas.  There’s nothing more satisfying to me than completing a list, plan or mindmap.  For every holiday I’ve ever been on I’ve devised a rota and have to make sure I have a selection of maps.  I admit it, I’m a geek.

2. Innovation.  My head is often turned by new and exciting things, and I love the thought of doing something that no-one else is doing.  I like to be at the front of developments at work and find that incredibly motivating.  I’m a  recent Twitter convert which is perfect for keeping me abreast of new ideas and professional developments. 

3. Writing.  I’ve always enjoyed turning ideas into words, and whether it’s a report for work, a reflective piece for my blog or an article for a newsletter, I really love trying to express myself and communicate to an audience using words.  And I adore reading too.. these days with an 18 month old son curling up with a good book is a rare indulgence.

4. Being around people.  I always thought that I was a shy person (and I was), but now that I’ve grown in confidence I’m finding that I get a huge amount of satisfaction and enjoyment from being with others.  I enjoy helping customers to find information, I love working alongside other professionals on projects and I get a real buzz when I talk to someone on the same wavelength as me who shares my ideas and passions.  I’ve grown to enjoy networking rather than seeing it as a necessary evil.  At home, my weekends are always spent catching up with family and friends, it’s happy time.

5. Running.  Ok, I don’t do much of this in work (obviously!), but outside of work it’s the only form of exercise that I’ve ever really found an affinity with.  I run with my dog and sometimes with other people, and it always feels like a real accomplishment when I finish a run.  It’s true that you get a buzz from running.  I feel sluggish and lethargic when I’m not running.

The things I really dislike doing…

1. Lack of human contact.  I could never work from home or work alone.  Being without human contact all day puts me in a bad mood and makes me withdraw even more into myself.  The endless days I spent revising alone in my bedroom as a teenager make me shudder.

2. Numbers.  I really can’t get over this one.  Anytime that I have to work with numbers, be it statistics, maths, finance…gah.  The very thought makes me feel nauseous.  My brain just doesn’t seem to work that way.

3. Not doing a proper job.  I get really frustrated when I haven’t completed something to the best of my ability due to lack of time or preparation.  I really come down hard on myself about it.  Last minute changes make me panic.  I also find it incredibly difficult to work with people who don’t pay attention to detail. Bad grammar and punctuation is a pet hate of mine.

This has been really interesting, it seems ridiculous that I’ve never actually stopped to think about what I enjoy doing and what I dislike.   I can’t believe I’ve never done it before.  And the final result is… I’m a geek, perfectionist and control freak!  Gah.

I’ve just completed an annotated CV for my Chartership submission, but I’m going to look at it again and see if I can include anything that’s more skills based.

I’ve not had many interviews, but the one thing I have always found really useful is to practice answering questions with a family member or friend prior to the interview.  You can get a rough idea of what questions will come up by examining the person specification.  I’ve sometimes used the book Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions for sample questions.

As someone who has been on an interview panel several times, I would say that you can definitely tell when someone has prepared or not.  The really impressive candidates are those who have done research into the role and some of the surrounding issues.  Also, don’t worry too much about being nervous.  A good candidate always shines despite nerves.

Thing 11: Mentoring

12 07 2012

It wasn’t until I started in my current role that I really started to understand the importance of mentors.  When you become a Clinical Librarian, there’s no qualification or course that you can take to help you understand the intricacies of advanced literature searching, how to develop a rapport with potential and existing customers and how best to evaluate the impact of your service.  A lot of this learning is ‘on the job’, meaning that experience in the role is invaluable.

In the early days, I learned a lot from a close colleague who had previously worked in this role.  I remember listening to how she spoke with customers on the phone and aspiring to be able to speak so confidently and knowledgably with colleagues.  She was my first informal mentor.  When starting new projects I would always ask her advice and I’m not sure she ever knew how much I valued (and still do) her input.  As my confidence grew, I started to shake off that feeling of “I’ll never be as good as that” and started to think that, actually, sometimes I might do things differently, in my own way.

I’ve developed informal mentoring relationships with several colleagues (and I’m not sure they’re even aware that they’ve been doing it!) and I’ve certainly learned a lot from them.  I have a huge respect for library colleagues who have more experience than I have and I’m keen to learn from them, but that’s not necessarily to say that I’ll always agree with them.  One of my most powerful mentoring experiences has been with someone outside of libraries but who has mentored me through a lot of career-related decisions.  I’d argue that a mentoring relationship can be just as valuable when it’s with someone outside of librarianship.

My only formal mentoring relationship has been with my Chartership mentor, someone with a wealth of experience in libraries in a completely different sector.  This has been a hugely interesting experience for me since someone at a distance from my own role can challenge me in ways that someone within health libraries might not. 

I’d also say that I’ve been mentored by professional communities; there’s a really active and supportive regional Clinical Librarians group that I’m part of, that has inspired and coached me through several projects.  I also find that I am more inclined to seek out support for specific problems via online communities. 

So, I think I’m fairly lucky to have such a network of professional support.  When I encounter a problem or reach a dead end I can usually think of someone who might be able to offer advice, even if it’s just my Mum!

Thing 10: qualifications and chartership

5 07 2012

When I was nearing the end of my undergraduate degree in English Literature, I visited the careers service to consider my options for the future.  I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do next and after three years of student life could not conceive of working in a ‘proper job’.  Looking back, my librarian tendencies were always there, and it was during a visit to my university library (the brilliant Lancaster University) that I made an aside to my friend, “Ooh, I’d love to work in a library”.  All of a sudden it seemed that there was no other conceivable career for me.

I went on to study a Masters in Information and Library Management at John Moores University and found myself as a library assistant in my local health library.  In hindsight, I wish I had only studied as far as diploma level, then returned to do my Masters at a later date.  I was naive to the world of work and had limited experience; I feel that doing my Masters later on in my career would have been more valuable.

However, I loved my job and found myself promoted to my first professional post after only 10 months in the job.  Two years later I was promoted again to Clinical Librarian and this is where I discovered my real passion for health information and librarianship.  I am passionate about the value that libraries can bring to the NHS, and feel that as librarians we are an untapped resource.  Libraries can improve patient care, contribute to cost savings and reduce knowledge-related risk.  Clinical and management decisions in healthcare should be based on the best quality evidence available, and librarians are perfectly positioned to provide this evidence to clinicians.  There should be a librarian attached to every board of directors in every NHS trust in the country.

It’s true to say I couldn’t do my job without my degree qualification.  However, nothing compares to the value of the experience that I’ve gained while working alongside more experienced and knowledgable colleagues.  After reading Sheila Webber’s CPD23 blog post, I look back and cringe at my own unconscious incompetence early on in my career.  And I’m not sure I’ll ever get to be unconscious competence because I still feel like I’ve got so much to learn.  In response to Sheila’s post, I’d like to encourage librarians who are later in their career to share as much as they can with less experienced colleagues.  When you leave the profession you’ll be taking a wealth of experience and wisdom with you.

I embarked on Chartership over two years ago and I’m just about ready to submit (nearly there!).  I’d love to undertake a formal teaching qualification at some point too, as I feel this is one of my weaknesses.  But let me get Chartership done and dusted first!

Thing 6: online networking

22 06 2012

I had misconceptions about Twitter; I thought it was just normal people (plus a few celebs thrown in for good measure) tweeting about what they had for breakfast.  It turns out while that is the case, there’s also a lot more going on that I hadn’t considered.  I’ve been on Twitter for a couple of weeks now and am using it mainly in a professional capacity – to follow fellow LIS professionals, listen to ideas, opinions and the latest developments in library land.  It’s a bit cheesy to say this, but it really does make me feel more involved and ‘part of’ the profession.  If it wasn’t for Twitter I’d never have found out about some of the amazing jobs that are out there for LIS professionals – Tropical Librarian, anyone?  I’ve also taken part in a live Twitter ‘Chartership chat’ with other people working towards Chartership. 

Facebook I use a lot for personal communcation, although I do have some library stuff and librarian friends on there.  LinkedIn I need to organise, but I’ve heard some people say (on Twitter!!) that they don’t find their LinkedIn profile very useful for online networking?  I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has found it useful and how they are using it to engage with online networks.

The LIS New Professionals Network seems like a group of really active and forward-thinking people, so I’ll check that out at home (NHS firewall blocks it!). 

I’ve really started to understand the value of online networks and feel that anyone not using them is really missing out!

Thing 5: Living a reflective life

8 06 2012

I’ve been working towards Chartership for the past two years so I feel like I’ve been in a reflective haze for most of that time.  At first I found that I had to force myself to reflect and that the “What? So what? Now what?”  mantra was necessary to stop me from digressing.  Further down the line it does come more naturally to me, but I do think I still have to work at being a reflective practitioner – it’s so easy for work / family / real life to take over.  I found that writing my reflective learning log (via PBWorks) makes me take a necessary pause for breath.  Often I think, “Right, I’ve got 10 minutes so I’ll just write a quick log entry”, then I find that 2 hours later I’m still typing!  It’s a bit like professional therapy for me.

One unnerving side effect that I have noticed is how wearing a reflective hat can overflow into my personal life; I’ll sometimes find myself likening children’s TV shows to professional development (I watch a lot of CBeebies – well, my son does).  Does anyone else find this?  Once you’ve activated the reflective switch it’s hard to turn it off!

My first post

18 05 2012

I hope to use this blog as a reflective learning log to chart my learning experiences as an information professional.  I’ve been keeping a private reflective learning log for a few years and now it’s time to share it with the world! 

Reflection has become a big part of my professional practice since I’ve been working on my CILIP Chartership submission, and I want to continue that reflection in the wider blogosphere.  So there may be a bit of Chartership angst thrown in here too…

I’ve just been updating the ‘About’ page on the blog and started to write a list of my ‘professional interests’.  Then I got stuck.  What are my professional interests?  I’m not really sure.  I’m staring at a blank screen waiting for light bulbs to start pinging above my head.  The theme tune from annoying CBeebies show, ‘Everything’s Rosie’, that I’ve been watching this morning with my son is on repeat in my head.  I might have to come back to this one.  Maybe this blog will help me work it out.