#newprofsday Reflections on CILIP’s New Professionals Day
This year’s CILIP New Professionals day was held at CILIP HQ, Bloomsbury. The event is aimed at those new to the profession, in their first professional library post, or those either studying for or considering the library qualification. I fell into the latter category. Having started work as a Senior Library Assistant at Cardiff University three months ago, I felt that I would appreciate the opportunity to network with other new professionals, hear about the various different library or information roles out there, and hear some practical advice on qualifications, interviews and CVs.
Having arrived at 9:30, I sat with a group of seven others and embarked on an hour of networking. The conversation instantly turned to the library Master’s qualification (indeed, this was also the topic returned to in the breaks). Half of the table had started the Master’s via distance learning courses and the other half including myself were considering it. Our initial questions were: is it essential for us to commit an abundance of time and money in order to gain a higher-up library position? Is it a struggle to motivate oneself to work in the day and study during evenings/weekends? Is it an enjoyable course? Is it worth risking temporary unemployment at the end of the course if one studies full-time, on campus without a job alongside? And does it expose practical guidance and thought for your current role?
It seemed that the main motivation for the distance learners had been financial, combined with the worry of possible un-employment post qualification. However, the consequential struggle for the distance learners has been finding inspiration and energy for assignments after having worked in the week - not having enough time to focus solely on an essay has proved stressful at times. Equally, not having enough time off whilst completing assignments is tricky. They would all highly recommend the Master’s qualification - though maybe not whilst working - as they have gained a much wider perspective on the information sector and got to consider many practical aspects of librarianship e.g. library management systems, cataloguing, social media and user engagement.
The most useful piece of advice I took away was to choose a course based on the interest I have in particular modules, rather than the reputation of the course. You will need inspiration! We then had talks from those in other information professions e.g. prison libraries, civil service and technology services. They all agreed that studying for a library qualification shows dedication and will almost definitely influence an interviewer’s decision. It may well be a box-ticking exercise, but given the current job market and the competition for vacancies, I get the impression that the qualification would be worth the money. You just have to decide how you want to fit studying in around your work life and weigh up the risks and benefits. These discussions allowed me to make a decision.
From the other talks, I gathered that information roles in the civil service sounded most contrary to what I do in my library role. The levels of clearance and referral needed from other teams for each email response was astounding, though reassuring. The time-limits, continuous deadlines, varying templates for enquiries dependant on which company, charity, or person has emailed and the volume of enquiries (sometimes 700 to 800 questions per day) dealt with by staff was admirable; though daunting. I left feeling grateful to have had the opportunity to work within HE institutions.
However, everyone that I spoke to at this CILIP event was so incredibly passionate about their job. Every information professional contributes in a different way through their institution, but it seems we all have the same goal: to disseminate knowledge and truth to as wide an audience as we can reach in efficient and engaging ways.
Danielle Stubbs, Senior Library Assistant, Cardiff University
Useful Recruitment companies in Knowledge & Information:
CB Resourcing. TFPL Recruitment. Sue Hill.