I never really trusted the word ‘networking’, as I don’t like the idea of only making an effort with people if you can use them to further your own career. However, I may be looking at it through rose-tinted spectacles but there really doesn’t seem to be too much of that involved with networking in the library world – from what I’ve seen, people are enthusiastic about meeting other information professionals, sharing their knowledge and expertise, and making connections in order to work together on interesting projects. And I have to say that one of the best things about my graduate trainee year has been the chance to get involved with real life networks, attend events, and chat to other people working in libraries.
I would highly recommend any new trainees next year to try and get involved as much as possible with real life networks – not only have I learnt a lot about the profession and met some nice people, there is often plentiful tea and cake as well!
I thought I would make a list of all the real life networking I’ve taken part in this year – hopefully it will help me remember, and perhaps give new trainees an idea of what to get involved with.
BIALL Graduate Open Day: I attended this event way back in October, when I hadn’t much of an idea of all the different possible library careers. BIALL is the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians, and as my trainee placement has been in a Law Library, my work kindly paid for me to attend the open day (the cost was around £35 I think). It was the first time I had been outside of the Oxford bubble, and it was great to meet trainees from law firms, inns of court, media libraries and health libraries. We heard talks from more experienced law librarians, representatives from the Masters course at City University, self-employed librarians and people working in library recruitment. We also got to visit the Wellcome Library, which specializes in the history of medicine and was really interesting. We got the chance to chat to the speakers and the other attendees over lunch, and I found it useful to hear from people who had already started the MA, as well as trainees at the same stage as me.
LISNPN London Trainee Meet-up: Although I probably prefer real life meetings to online networking, I don’t think there would be so many opportunities for one without the other, and this trainee gathering is a good example of that. It was organised through the trainee forum on the LIS New Professionals Network mentioned in Thing 6, and a couple of us from Oxford ended up adventuring into central London after work to meet some London-based trainees for food and drinks. It was fantastic to meet enthusiastic trainees from different libraries – we talked about plans for MAs/jobs, the differences between traineeships and what it was like working in such varied libraries. It’s something that I’d definitely recommend to any new Bodleian trainees, as it’s easy to start thinking that the Oxford libraries are the be all and end all, just because there are so many of them!
Libcamp Brunel: I didn’t get the chance to go to Library Camp 2011, as it was too soon after the start of my traineeship, but I heard good things about it from one of the other Bod trainees, so when I saw (via Twitter – again, the value of online networking!) that there was going to be a smaller version of Library Camp based at Brunel University in Uxbridge, I decided to go – encouraged further by the fact that it was free! Libcamps are organised in an unconference format, which means they are participant driven and anyone can choose to pitch and present a session. Here and here are blog posts about the event from other participants, which go into detail about what happened on the day. I attended some interesting sessions about information literacy, social media and next generation catalogues – I didn’t always feel qualified to contribute, as there were some much more experienced professionals there, but I learnt a lot through listening, and it was nice to talk to a mix of trainees and librarians.
Trainee visit to Oxford: Again organised through the LISNPN forums, this was going to be a small affair but ended up being a fairly large group of trainees descending on Oxford from such far flung locations as Cambridge, Sheffield and Leeds. One of the other Oxford trainees organized the visit, and I agreed to show the group round the Law Library as part of their day. Although the Law Library sadly isn’t the prettiest part of the Bodleian, I hope they enjoyed it – we almost got lost wandering around the maze of the secondary collection and we managed to dig out some Law Library treasures to show off, a tiny sixteenth century copy of the Magna Carta, one of the first maps of an African region and the ‘illustrated police news,’ gaudily illustrated with unlikely and theatrical true crime. We all met up in the pub in the evening and got to know some of the (exhausted) visiting trainees.
CILIP New Professionals Day 2012: I’ve already blogged at length about this, so I won’t go over it again – I really enjoyed it (and it’s free!), and would recommend next year’s to anyone. Remember to book quickly though, as places were limited.
CPD23 Oxford Meet-up: In order to do something proactive for Thing 7, a fellow trainee organized a cpd23 meet-up in a pub in Oxford after work. I enjoyed meeting a few other people following the CPD23 course in Oxford, and it was especially reassuring to find that they were behind with the programme as well! The Library Bee and Charlie’s 23 Things are two blogs from Oxford library staff and part time UWE students who I met at the meet-up. It was interesting to hear about their experiences of library school, dissertation topics and how their careers have progressed after the traineeship – especially interested in Charlie’s job as an information specialist for the NHS, as it sounds quite different from traditional library work!
I’m going to leave the blog post here for now, but I shall return with ‘Thing 7’ part 2, as I realise I haven’t touched on joining professional networks like CILIP – so far, I’ve stuck with free networking opportunities! But I finally got round to printing out the joining form for CILIP this week, so watch this space…