Happy birthday blog!

Happy birthday blog, have some giant Norwegian cake

According to WordPress, it has been three years since I registered this blog. Happily, this coincides with being one year into my first professional post, and uklibchat’s suggestion on Twitter to complete the phrase “When I started out in LIS I never thought I’d…”

When I started out in LIS I never thought I’d…

  • want to pursue a teaching qualification
  • have ‘marketing’ as part of my job title
  • visit Chicago and Norway for library-related adventures

Since starting this blog as a Graduate Trainee, I’ve completed a Masters degree in Librarianship at the University of Sheffield and spent a year as a subject librarian.

My role involves two things I never imagined myself doing as a Graduate Trainee: teaching, and marketing. However, over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve discovered teaching thrills me, and marketing fascinates me.

Teaching

My current job involves an awful lot of information skills teaching. Even just one year ago, standing in front of a room of people and talking was the worst thing I could imagine. Now it’s is an extremely regular occurrence. I’m hoping to do a qualification to become a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. This would improve my teaching practice, and would also formally recognise the amount of teaching I do to support students.

For those reading this who are just starting in LIS, I’d recommend getting as much practice as you can. If you work in HE, FE, school, law libraries, whatever; help out with inductions. Seek out opportunities for presenting. Even if you hate it. Trust me, it gets a lot easier the more you do! LIS degrees don’t often cover teaching and pedagogy in much detail, so the more experience you get early on, the easier it will be in a professional post.

Marketing

Being a member of the Special Libraries Association has taught me a lot about marketing. I think academic libraries can learn a lot from special libraries in terms of marketing, not least in how prominent marketing is for special librarians. SLA events, talks and conference sessions gave me the library marketing bug, and I’m now marketing assistant in my library. It’s a lot of fun, especially being involved with many of the new ideas and developments going on.

Marketing, for me, is all about two things: communication, and common sense. Again, it’s something LIS degrees may not cover (which in my opinion is mad, as every member of staff is involves in marketing the library, and it permeates everything you do. But, that’s a whole blog post in itself!).

International librarianship

Last year I won an SLA Europe Early Career Conference Award (ECCA) to visit Chicago for the SLA annual conference. It was an amazing, life-changing opportunity to attend a fantastic conference in a country I’ve longed to visit. As I said under marketing, being part of the SLA community changed my approach to my career and development.

Likewise, this year I received ERASMUS funding through my workplace to attend Staff Mobility Week at the University of Bergen, Norway. This was so rewarding, and I cannot emphasise enough the benefit of visiting other libraries, other sectors and networking with international colleagues – you’re forced to articulate why you do things a certain way, and can really get an objective view on your own practices.

If you’re interested…

If you’re interested in the kind of teaching librarians do, the best place to start is with the concept of information literacy. Of particular note are the SCONUL 7 Pillars of IL.

If you’re interested in library marketing, there is a wealth of information out there. I’ve found Ned Potter’s book The Library Marketing Toolkit (2012, Facet) really helpful, for which there is a companion website. Bethan Ruddock’s book The New Professional’s Toolkit (2012, Facet) also has a helpful chapter on marketing.

If you’re interested in international librarianship, I have found my membership to the CILIP special interest group International Library & Information Group really valuable.

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How time flies!

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