LwL Episode 16: Nick Poole

In Episode 16 of the Librarians with Lives podcast I chat to Nick Poole, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). Nick was kind enough to give me 1.5 hours of his time back in November to record this episode in person at CILIP HQ.

We had a wide-ranging discussion (I asked some of the usual questions but several of them felt quite redundant, so it made sense to follow the flow of conversation for much of the episode) that included: the acquisition of and access to knowledge and information, routes into the information profession, efforts to diversify the workforce, living and working in the information age, “Librarian on Librarian Violence”, being part of CILIP, professional ethics, funding models for library services, and celebrating achievements without fear of ridicule. You can find out more about the CILIP Action Plan 2016-2020 here.

Nick also offers advice to both new and mid-career professionals, we chat about networking and speaking at conferences (please note my – frankly – shameless plea to be able to speak at the next CILIP conference), and the dreaded Imposter Syndrome rears its ugly head yet again… If you have any questions, Nick is happy to answer them. Just click on his name at the top.

I’m very pleased to announce that this episode contains some exclusive news, but you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out more. No spoilers…

If you’re new to the profession, you can join CILIP here

The next episode will be released on Tuesday 16th January and stars Alisa Howlett (we’re going international again, this time to Australia.)
Happy listening!

The Librarians with Lives podcast

LwL podcast image Hi

 

***INTRODUCTORY EPISODE NOW AVAILABLE ON SOUNDCLOUD!***

Subscribe to the RSS feed for the Podcast

It’s been a bit quiet on the blogging front of late (and don’t even *start* me on Fellowship) because I’ve been working on something incredibly exciting: the Librarians with Lives podcast. I’ve always been fascinated by other people’s career stories (I won’t use the ‘J’ word) and I wanted to give people who are part of the information profession but aren’t necessarily particularly well-known (although the Uber-Librariati will feature as well; it’s hard to avoid them!), a platform to tell others what they do, how they got there and their thoughts on the profession generally.

I’ve recorded four interviews so far (and have more scheduled) and although the basic structure has been the same throughout, the conversations have been very different in tone. The common thread has been the passion communicated by the interviewees about their respective roles, and how honest they have been about the high and low points of their careers so far. A couple of the interviewees have even described the process as ‘cathartic’ and ‘cleansing’!

Creating the podcast and ‘meeting’ the interviewees, both in person and over Skype audio, been brilliant fun and I can’t wait to interview more people. As well as being enjoyable for me to do, I hope it has value to those working in the profession, and anyone thinking of a career in libraries and related disciplines.

The plan is to release an episode per week from 6th September, although I’m aiming to do a little introductory podcast prior to that to introduce myself and explain the format. It’s been a huge learning curve for me, from working out how best to record Skype Audio, to wrestling with the Audacity editing software, to registering for a Soundcloud account and uploading podcast episodes, to deciding on the thumbnail image for the podcast on Bitmoji. The last thing may have been the most tricky!

If you’re working in the profession and would like to be interviewed for the podcast, contact me via Twitter (@JoWood04) and we’ll set something up.

CILIP Conference 2017: Part 3 – The art of lazy networking

To the evening reception! This year’s event was at the Museum of Science and Industry and it was an impressive venue that I spent a nanosecond exploring before I started chatting.

It’s tricky to get networking at conferences right. The received wisdom is that as practically everyone is a stranger you can just go up to anyone and say hi to them. In theory that’s fine, but in practice it feels quite forced. Also, bowling up to someone and saying “HIIII!” in a decidedly tiggerish way really freaks people out. I’ve had some bad networking experiences at conferences that come back to haunt me in the dead of night. Part of the problem is that I try too hard, forgetting that it’s not up to me to make all of the conversational effort. Networking has to be a two-way process.

I have, in the past, encountered a small handful of people who fall into the category of ‘Just a bit rude’. Being socially awkward is completely fine and I get it. I probably understand that more than anyone knows, as I spent a considerable amount of time last year not being able to have meaningful, intelligent conversations with anyone. I generally find that librariany types are nice; we’re used to dealing with people after all, but that some find enthusiasm a bit wearing and I can go into YAY! LIBRARIES! WOOHOO! mode when I feel a conversation isn’t going well.

giphy3

It feels much more natural if you chat to the people around you in the lunch queue, or when you sit down at a session. As I don’t drink tea or coffee I don’t get to join the queues for those so it makes networking during the morning and afternoon breaks a bit harder. During the first morning break I felt a bit panicky – completely my own fault as I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself to be outgoing, funny and generally great company AT ALL TIMES and it’s really hard to live up to that. I went for a little walk to calm down and resolved not to be so hard on myself. The rest of the day I networked like a demon and felt much better about it all.

It feels like a bit of a cheat but if you know one or two people really well you can rely on them to act as a social buffer. It also means you can be quite lazy about networking. At the evening reception I decided to calm the heck down and just enjoy it with people that I knew and liked. CILIP had organised a ‘getting to know you’ bingo game which I didn’t take part in myself, but I was able to assist some of the participants with answers to the questions. Later in the evening we were joined by lovely CILIP people and the evening got very interesting.

It’s kind-of difficult to explain my job to people and no-one knows what the acronym for my organisation stands for, so it’s a good talking point. I spent a lot of time chatting to the lovely Juanita about what I do. I sometimes forget what an interesting (and sometimes challenging but always rewarding) job I have. This means that when I am asked about my job, I can go on for absolutely ages. We also spoke about Fellowship, too and she was incredibly supportive. Prior to the conference I was seriously considering giving up on it, but she convinced me otherwise.

As a result of that I’ve made all kinds of interesting connections and some very good things could happen over the next few months. I’ve always felt before that as I run an unusual library, I don’t quite ‘belong’ in CILIP but maybe that’s changing.

Learning points:

  1. Don’t get into such a state about the pressure to network that it becomes overwhelming.
  2. Find ‘your’ people and spend time with them rather than trying to persuade the disinterested that you’re amazing (and making them dislike you more)
  3. If you look like you’re having a good time the fun, interesting people gravitate towards you (or they try to rescue the person you’re with. One of the two.)

Next: Day 2 of the conference. Likely to be very short as I was tired (see above)

 

CILIP Conference 2017: Part 1 – Getting there

I haven’t been to a CILIP Conference since 2011 and over the last few years had become increasingly gloomy at my prospects of ever attending one again. Last year was a particularly low point as I felt completely removed from the profession and everything happening within it. Oh, how things have changed since then.

Proposal fail

As part of my whole librarian reborn thing I decided to submit a proposal to speak at this years’ conference. It’s important that this reflection records both my successes and failures so I’m going to be terribly brave and admit that my proposal was rejected. It stung at the time but I now understand why. I misjudged the tone and pitched the proposal at the wrong level. I needed to think on a much grander scale and what I proposed was too niche and was (frankly) dull.

Bursary success (not me)

I then did my selfless nurturing manager thing and encouraged my Library Assistant to apply for a bursary so that he could attend. I figured that if he attended he could share the learning with me (this is one of the joys of working in a two-person library team.)  He was duly awarded a bursary by the Government Information Group SIG and I was happy, thrilled, proud, etc., but also a little sad that I wasn’t going.

Bursary success (me)

CILIP in London announced their bursaries comparatively late, so I took a punt, applied and was lucky enough to be awarded one. [Note: I have sat on two bursary awarding committees previously and I know that people are *really* bad at applying for what is essentially free money, so I’m not saying that my proposal was amazing but I knew the odds of success would be pretty good] I actually squealed when I got the acceptance e-mail because I loved attending Umbrella (yore!) in 2009 and 2011. Having started the Fellowship process earlier this year I wanted the conference to provide the platform for me to get on with it. A metaphorical kick up the backside, if you will.

The bursary gave me a full conference place (including evening reception), plus a generous allowance for travel and accommodation. I felt very nervous because it had been a while since I had done any proper networking with real-life information professionals ( ALISS doesn’t count as they’re not strangers) and I had all the usual worries about saying something stupid, falling over and/or inadvertently dropping food over someone. Only one of those things actually happened. [Top tip: never get into a conversation about knowledge management over lunch where the conversation turns so you are quizzed on your definition of the subject. This does not end well.]

Fashion. Turn to the left! Fashion. Turn to the right!

giphy2

The agony of deciding what to wear to a library conference! There seem to be no hard and fast rules. I didn’t want to wear jeans as I felt that they wouldn’t convey my professional persona but equally I didn’t want to look too dressed up. In the daytime I wore shift dresses with flat sandals, which is exactly what I wear to work in the summer. For the evening reception I wore a nice skirt and top and sandals with a slight heel that I could walk in. I’m really into patterns and florals and I have a definite style, so my chosen outfits reflected my personality. I even got a couple of compliments (Oasis collection nerds of the library world assemble!) I also took two sets of running gear because I can’t go to a different place without exploring and Instagramming the heck out of it on a run. The air conditioning in hotels tends to be aggressive, which I like, but I don’t like having cold feet so a pair of fluffy socks is a must.

To Manchester!

My journey to the conference was uneventful but I saw the singer-songwriter Paolo Nutini at Euston. [Insert joke about last requests and pencils full of lead here. Or maybe not] I used to spend a fair bit of time travelling up to Manchester for work, so I have a great fondness for the city. My bursary allowed me to stay at The Principal, which was quite a step up from the Premier Inn. I took full advantage of the facilities during my stay, including the gym, the bar, the table tennis table, the pool table, the free wifi, and the excellent breakfast. I ran, I showered, I Nando’sed, I Herdricks’ed (just a small one), I slept, I gymmed, I bathed, I breakfasted and then I was ready to take on the Conference.

Coming next: Day 1 of the conference

 

Umbrella 2011 overview

This is going to be a (personal) overview of the conference. I’ll post some notes, thoughts and ideas from the sessions I attended in separate posts.

It’s rare to leave an event and feel that you did everything you set out to. I’ve lost count of the number of times over the years that I’ve sat on the train home and thought ‘Damn! I really should have spoken to X and Y’. I spoke to everyone I wanted to and felt quite happy going up to someone randomly in the exhibition, sticking my hand out and saying ‘Hi…’. The me of 12 years ago would be rather shocked at the boldness of her older self.

I even managed to rescue a situation where I got one person confused with another and (after dying inside for about 30 seconds) had a nice conversation with them about their work. Long story, don’t ask…

Wearing a name badge helped and saved a couple of seconds at the introductions stage. The first thing that everyone asked me was what my workplace acronym  stood for.  It often led to an interesting conversation about my work, why it was different to lots of other library jobs and the old ‘making a real difference’ chestnut. By day 2 of the conference I had developed a natty little patter to regurgitate when the question arose.

I was really struck, particularly on the second day, by how downbeat lots of the attendees were. That in turn impacted on the mood of the conference. I think many of us are feeling battered and bruised, particularly if we’ve been affected by restructures and redundancies over the last couple of years. Maybe I’m being a bit soft here (it’s my age) but I would’ve really appreciated someone senior standing up and thanking us for all that we do and to keep fighting for our libraries. It may seem like a silly gesture but a simple word of thanks can mean so much.

The workshops and talks are the major feature of the conference (of course) but as a solo professional I really valued the chance to network. It’s something I do so rarely ‘in the flesh’ and I was pleased to see that my brain hadn’t completely atrophied in the two years(!) since I last attended a library conference. It was good to have conversations about libraries without sounding like a massive geek (not that there’s anything wrong with a. Talking about libraries and b. Being a massive geek).

It was also fun to put faces to names and find out if the Library Crowd on Twitter matched their online personalities. For the most part, they did. Goodness knows what they made of me with my grinning, hand-flapping and gabbling at 100mph. Oh well, to quote an Apprentice candidate, I am what I say on the tin.

The little things that you hide…

…and the little things you show (a prize for the first person to work out which song that – slightly paraphrased – line comes from). I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how much I reveal of myself on Twitter and what it really says about me as a Librarian with a Life.

I started off my Twitter life with one account and now have three:

JWo79 – personal/librarian. Likely to be fairly professional 9-5 Monday-Friday. Outside working hours the content is fairly random.

House of Twins – the Twitter presence for my ‘other’ life – terribly Twee and Twinny. Best avoided if you don’t like children. (It’s ok – sometimes I don’t like them much either)

Libswithlives – rather neglected, but it’s the official feed for this blog.

For some inexplicable reason the JWo79 account has the most followers and I’m aware that the vast majority of them are librarians.  As a result I’m now putting much more thought into my Tweets. Well, that’s the theory anyway. I still have red mist moments where I punt something out into the Twittersphere, experience instant Tweet regret and delete the offending message(s) immediately afterwards. If, like me, you rarely follow Twitter live, you won’t see the Tweet. If you follow in ‘real time’ then you’ll see my wobbler in 140-character technicolour.

With my grown-up head on, I know it’s not wise to have brain farts on Twitter. My JWo79 account is private but I don’t want to put myself in a position where I end up working with someone I previously had a falling-out with on Twitter or, even worse, not get a job because my social networking presence is considered to be too unprofessional.

I really like a balance of professional and personal content.  I’m far more likely to click on a link or follow a blog if I know more about the person than just the occasional link to a CILIP document. I personally find it harder to engage with librarian Twitter accounts that *just* talk about library stuff. I like to get to know the person beyond their job. A bunch of dry links and RTs and nothing else don’t really do it for me.

However you choose to conduct your Twitter account (and it’s very much a personal thing), you have to be comfortable with the image you project. Some people balance the personal and professional with ease. Others hide behind their professional front and offer tantalising hints as to their life beyond work. I’m fairly convinced that some people have no life at all beyond the profession. A few would rather tell you about the cocktail they’ve just mixed rather than the meeting they attended. As long as they’re not mixing a White Russian at 9am on a Monday morning…

Everyone develops their own boundaries and strong sense of what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour on Twitter. I don’t like being shouted at for not committing more of my time to library campaigning (to which I desperately wanted to reply ‘I can’t because I’ve got a F*****G life’. See? A classic red mist moment. I had to physically walk away from my iPhone, which is quite difficult to do on a train). My view on library campaigners is now a much more balanced ‘If they didn’t exist we’d have to invent them and I’m mostly glad that they’re around and that they care so much’.  I don’t like being ‘told’ not to watch a certain TV programme. Start imposing your will on others and you’re practically begging for an Unfollow. I know that the messages aren’t personal but it’s easy to forget that behind the usernames lie real people. That reminds me: a simple ‘Thank you’ when you answer a question doesn’t go amiss. Politeness costs nothing you know.

The longer you Tweet, the more you learn. Recently I joined in with a particular hashtag, but did so on my HoT feed rather than the JWo one because it revealed something about me that I wouldn’t be totally comfortable with a bunch of professional contacts knowing. Six months ago I probably would have Tweeted it as JWo79. I feel that I have developed a strong sense of who I am on Twitter and the image I want to project. It may not be perfect, but at least it proves that I am a rounded human being.

LwL seminar – 14-December-2010

I mentioned in a previous post: CPD in three dimensions that I was going to do a seminar on CPD and Librarians with Lives. I had grand plans to do a Prezi thing (bells, whistles, etc) but then, as it always does, life took over and I found myself hastily cobbling together an extremely primitive Powerpoint presentation the night before. I have posted it here for your delectation. Don’t laugh too much:

LwL presentation – SCIE 14-Dec-10

(Note – the original presentation had an extra slide in, which I have since removed)

I took away three messages from the seminar:

1. Find your CPD niche (I’ll write a post on that in the New Year)

2. Twitter isn’t always the answer (especially if you are uber-suspicious of the medium and you have vowed never to use it)

3. Don’t let the profession take over your life (if you don’t want it to)

 

Guest post #10 Professional Involvement – the #LwL way

Our latest guest post comes from another returning contributor: @georginahardy, who wrote for us previously on ‘Conversations in the pub’. This time she looks at professional involvement from a LwL perspective:

How many times have you heard professional activists telling you that “you will get more from CILIP if you put more in” and “it’s your professional organisation”?

At the end of this year, I will be stepping down as Chair for the West Midlands Division of the Career Development Group of CILIP, a role I have held for the last four years.  The role has been very rewarding:  I have had the opportunity to develop skills I don’t really use in my day job, I’ve met a wide range of interesting and enthusiastic professionals from all sectors of the library world, and it was a no-brainer in terms of gaining evidence for my Chartership portfolio.

But not all of us have the time or the sympathetic employers to allow us to attend committee meetings, organise full events, or edit a newsletter.  So here are a few suggestions of ways to engage with your professional institute that are eminently suitable for Librarians with Lives:

  • Check your special interest group membership.  Have you received newsletters from your special interest group in the last year?  Are you getting information from the most relevant groups?  When you renew your membership each year, consider whether you should change your special interest groups.  If you’re not getting anything out of your current membership, choose a different one.
  • Write an article for a newsletter.  Most regional branches and special interest groups have a newsletter or divisional newsletter of some sort (e.g. Central Issues).  This is an excellent way of maintaining your reflective writing skills once your Chartership is finished.
  • When your professional organisation asks for your opinion, give itVote in CILIP elections.  Complete questionnaires (such as the recent Defining our Professional Future consultation).  You might not be leading the charge, but you can certainly shape which direction it goes in.
  • Make suggestions.  You may not have the time or the opportunity to arrange an event or visit yourself, but you’re unlikely to be the only person interested and committees are always keen to find out what their membership would like them to do.
  • Follow and comment on blogs (such as the West Midlands Branch blog).  You’ll find plenty of discussion relevant to your professional institute via CILIP Communities, and it’s a good way to get your voice heard from the comfort of your home/office.

A word of caution: professionals with both the time and inclination to become activists are rare.  Once you express an interest, your local CILIP (branch or SIG) committee will be keen to involve you further.  Be prepared to say no, and state in advance the limits on your time.

Guest Post #9 – Following events from afar

Jo Alcock is an Evidence Based Researcher at Evidence Base in Birmingham City University. This basically means she’s a librarian without a library who spends her time on research, evaluation and consultancy for the library and information community. You can find Jo on Twitter @joeyanne and blogging at Joeyanne Libraryanne. Here, Jo introduces the concept of ‘Event Amplification’ and demonstrates that even librarians with the most active of lives can still find ways to participate in CPD:

I’m not at the stage of my life yet where I have delightful children who take up all my spare time (though our two cats can be demanding little fusspots at times!), but I do like to think that I have a life outside of work, so I consider myself a librarian with a life. I also have a few professional plates to juggle; I’m still completing my MSc dissertation, I’m a member of two different CILIP committees, and I write a blog.

CPD is important to me. I love to attend events, but it’s not always possible to attend the ones you’d like to – sometimes for financial reasons, or lack of time, or maybe it’s during the day and you have work commitments. But nowadays you can often still follow the event without physically being there.

Event amplification is a term which is being used more commonly now – it refers to the event being amplified beyond its physical barriers, often by utilising technology such as Twitter, live blogging or live streaming. Many event organisers are starting to utilise these technologies to enable people to follow the event from afar. It helps the event get more publicity and could mean more people attending their next event – I’ve certainly earmarked a few events I’d like to attend based on the information I have followed.

Through my Twitter connections, I’ve been able to follow events from all over the world. Sometimes it might not even be an event you’re aware of, but if you spot a tweet from someone and it has an event hashtag, you can then set up a saved search to see all the tweets with the hashtag.

More and more, event amplification information is publicised on the event fliers and emails, so you can even set it in your calendar and try to set aside some time during the day to catch up on the tweets from the event, or watch a particular section of the event when it is live streamed if it’s something you are interested in.

So, if you want to follow events from afar and help others do the same, here are some quick tips:

  • join Twitter and follow people within the community with similar interests to your own – they will be most likely to tweet from events that you will also be interested in following
  • keep an eye out for details of a Twitter hashtag for events or details of any live streaming or live blogging for events you are interested in – add them to your calendar with appropriate URLs where applicable
  • if you attend an event and are able to tweet, explain to your followers what event you are at and include a hashtag if there is one (if there isn’t, consider creating your own to keep all tweets together and make it easier for people to follow)

Here’s to more event amplification enabling us to follow events whilst sat at home in our jim jams or drinking wine – cheers!

CPD in three dimensions

I attended a small professional networking and development event today and didn’t even have to leave my building. The organisation downstairs (the Social Care Institute for Excellence) has a Knowledge and Information Management team and one of their staff has set up a series of one hour meetings (with biscuits – very civilised) and invited me along. Today was the first and it was lovely to talk CPD and library to three dimensional (mostly) like-minded people.

 

Every meeting is going to have a core topic and judging by today we’ll start and end with that and take a series of detours in between. The central theme today was abstracting and there was a brief presentation on the different approaches, which sparked off some interesting discussions around how far we should impose our judgments on a piece of research and whether there should be a ‘House style’ for abstracts and how a framework could – theoretically – be implemented.

 

The scheduled hour quickly became 80 minutes and we could have carried on talking but the biscuits were running out and we had to get back to our actual work (abstracting) but at the end we discussed the dates of further meetings…and then it all went a bit hazy…

 

…I found myself volunteering to lead the next discussion….on CPD and Librarians with Lives. What have I done?! I’m rather hoping that I’ll get some more willing victims to write guest posts and I’m going to use some of the previous LwL material in my presentation – if the guest posters don’t mind.

 

I’m hoping that I can use all of this for my Revalidation (of course) but it’s also very nice to meet up with fellow professionals and break out of the virtual library CPD world and into the real one.