Reflection on ‘Get Career Ready’ event, 21 March

I’m attempting to improve my reflective writing, and found this really useful sum-up of what it is and how you do it, which I’m linking to for transparency as a useful document.

As part of fulfilling the ‘Wider Library, Information and Knowledge Sector Context’ criteria of the PKSB, and also because networking is Fun and Good, I attended the NLPN/CILIP Yorkshire and Humberside event on ‘getting career ready‘. I did feel a little bit of a fraud as my career is pretty ready already, but I love events where you get to meet other librarians in a slightly less informal way that a full conference, and really admire the NLPN for their ‘there’s a gap, let’s fill it’ stance.

First of all, hat tip to the NLPN and to Emily of CILIP Yorkshire and Humberside-who I MUST get more involved with as they are ace. The event seemed really well planned, the venue was excellent and, from a participants point of view the day went without a hitch. A heck of a lot of planning and thought and time goes into events like this so well done to all.

The day was made up of two guest speakers and three absolutely fantastic member presentations on various topics related to early-careers in library and information services. The day ended with a speed-date style hour, where people working in various professions such as corporate libraries, the BBC and NICE told us what they did, how they got there, and a bit more about their profession. There was, of course, ample time to network yourself and pubbing afterwards, and a great mix of participants meant I got to see some families faces from previous events, put faces to Twitter profiles, and make some new buds who get just as ranty as I do about certain things…*coughs* Barclays *coughs*.

I’m not going to give a detailed description of all the events as that would be very boring, and according to my lovely table, not reflective. I am therefore going to sum up for me the Main Things I Took Home and what I’ll be doing next to implement the lessons learned.

Main Things I Took Home

  • Just as I learned from the CILIP New Professional’s Day conference; the things that make you look good on your CV aren’t the things you do at work. Lisa Jeskins, chair of the LILAC Committee and fabulous trainer, gave some great examples and practical advice on volunteering and why it is a good thing. She made me think about my weaknesses, in the same way the PKSB did but in a slightly less soul destroying way, and how I can get more experience therefore turning them into strengths. So Committees watch out! I’ll be coming for you (in a few months once brain has readjusted to New Job/Commute/etc)…
  • Listening to people present their dissertations is a)fun and b)informative. Watching Lyn Denny talk about children’s picture books and gender-which I know nothing about-was a really valuable experience because you could see the passion and interest she had in the subject and it was great to see an example of putting research into practice in the workplace. It made me reflect on what I did with my dissertation results-understanding the ways in which different job roles like to be managed and how the definition of ‘team’ is taught in a parrot fashion that has no bearing on reality I think could be really valuable for somebody maybe in a more managerial role. Thinking that maybe presenting dissertations in a non-academic, informal context got myself and a few other people talking and it looks like now we’re going to be organising an event around these lines-which is great experience for my chartership but also a great thing to do in general. It seems such a shame that a document you spend months carefully working on becomes disregarded afterwards and I really hope this idea goes somewhere in the long run.
  • The most valuable part of the day for me was the presentation by Darren Flynn. A librarian working in a school in Bradford, Darren talked about teaching in libraries in a way that made me re-evaluate everything I’d basically ever done up to that point. I think I’m a good teacher, but I’m not. I teach to the middle, I tend to try to fill my students up with knowledge rather than concentrating on individual achievements, my lesson plans are shoddy, my lessons uninviting. The first thing I did when I got home was download NearPod, the tool Darren used during the presentation to show differentiation and I’ve spent the last two days trying to figure out how the heck I’m going to use it in an HE context. I felt utterly ashamed of all the teaching I did in FE previously, and using ‘I’ve never been trained’ as an excuse. Darren made me see my teaching as part of the ongoing problem of libraries-as-monoculture, something I really need to improve my thinking on.  I’ll be using tips such as ‘use culturally relevant examples and beware of idioms’ when I design some lessons for International Students later in the term. I was previously linking all my IL to the curriculum but simple things such as-if you’re not assessing group work, why make them work in groups, and why get people to present back to the class, just made me think about the classroom in a whole new way. Just because am confident and prefer group work and presenting doesn’t mean everybody does.

In general a really good, interesting day. I would recommend NLPN’s events to anyone either brand new to the profession or, like me, those who’ve been around for a few years yet but aren’t Library Celebrities and want to know more about what is out there. This event really brought it home to me how much I’ve got to learn about working in LIS and the value that this community can bring to each one of us within the sector.

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