Library Camp took place yesterday in the Wood Quay Venue and I had so much fun nerding out with my fellow librarians. The unconference was organised jointly by the LAI Career Development Group and the Academic & Special Libraries section of the LAI. An unconference involves librarians pitching ideas and then facilitating a conversation around that topic. It’s all very relaxed and informal and people are encouraged to move from pitch to pitch if they want.
I had so much fun at the first Library Camp that I really wanted to get involved this year. But what could I pitch? What do I know about? Well, I know about job hunting so that’s what I went with. I was pretty nervous standing up to talk, I’m relatively newly qualified, would people take me seriously? But I was only talking to a group of about 15 people and there were a few familiar faces so I relaxed pretty quickly.
I started with a quick introduction to the topics I wanted to cover, a few sentences about me and my journey so far and then I asked about the audience – anyone thinking of joining the profession? anyone currently studying? 5 years out? 10 years out?
The first topic we tackled was the job hunt itself. I recommended LibraryJobs.ie and University Vacancies Ireland. From the floor we added PublicJobs.ie, although the hiring embargo was recognised and the issues around this discussed. For those interested in technology courses related to social inclusion National Adult Literacy Agency (Nala) was recommended. And of course Linkedin got a mention. This is a great way to showcase projects you’ve been involved in and showing employers how you stand out from the crowd. Recommendations are also really important, as well as showing employers that you are comfortable with social media. Twitter is another really useful resource for making those all important contacts and finding jobs. New pros, if you’re not on there you should be!
Next up we talked about the elephant in the job hunting room – Internships. From my point of view, I wouldn’t have gotten my current job without the experience I gained during my internship. I was surprised that overall we decided that they could be positive given certain conditions. It’s important to be selective about which internships you do and to communicate your learning needs to your employer. Ask questions during the interview to get a sense of how seriously the employer take the internship. There has to be a two way benefit. Also ask your employer to put you in contact with other librarians who you may be interesting in talking to. If you can’t find a suitable internship, you can propose a project to an employer and create your own internship. We also discussed whether you should put the word Intern on your CV? It was felt that is could be explained somewhere on your CV/Cover letter to avoid it seeming like you’re a job hopper.
If you are doing an Internship, the LAI run an accreditation program.
The next topic we tackled was Networking & CPD. My advice was to go to all the LAI events you can and get onto any of the mailing lists of the groups within the LAI that you’re interested in. DRI also run great events that are mostly free. I also wanted to make the point that anyone with an interest in IT should try to evolve their skills as I see a gap in the skillset coming straight at us. And I don’t just mean someone who is ‘good with computers’, I mean we are going to need librarians who can manage a web presence from start to finish, can set up and manage an OPAC, small digital repository or online catalogue.
It’s also never too early to get involved with LAI committees, they’re always looking for new people and ideas. And Associateship of the LAI and Chartership of CILIP can really help increase your confidence in your skills.
As time was running quickly out I asked for any final thoughts, pearls of wisdom, advice from the audience. Jane Burns, who is a huge inspiration to me, summed it up nicely by advising that we NEVER STOP LEARNING. Isn’t that brilliant? What a perfect message. Never stop learning. I’ll just let that sink in…
Other areas that important for Info Pros to develop include IT skills, sociology, social media and marketing. If you’re looking to expand your skills and make yourself even more employable these are areas to consider.
Thank you to the organisers of what was another great event. I had a great day and I’m already looking forward to next year,