Archive for the ‘Conferences and events’ Category

Organising ‘Marketing Libraries’

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Earlier this month,  I organised a one day training event on behalf of the CILIP Career Development Group North Eastern division committee. The day was entitled ‘Marketing Libraries : Strategic and Creative Communications for Information Professionals’. When the committee first came up with the idea of running an event on marketing, I found myself accidentally volunteering (one of my favourite hobbies) to take the lead on organising the day. Given that my job centres around communications and marketing, it seemed a little unfair not to help out!

Someone suggested the University of Sunderland’s strategic marketing workshop, and I was keen for the rest of the day to cover practical areas of library marketing and look at some of the toolkit steps being used creatively in different library contexts. So I contacted speakers, organised a venue, developed the programme – and co-ordinated other members of the committee who handled advertising the event, the booking process and payment.

And you know what? Marketing Libraries was the first time I’d done any of that stuff. I’ve organised training sessions before – I do it pretty much weekly at my Brownies group. Organising events is part of my role (I’m currently juggling six separate induction fairs over the next two weeks! I might try to blog about that). But I’ve never organised a professional development event before on that sort of scale.

So how did it all go? Well, the preparations for the day took longer than I expected. You know, organising the timings and writing the programme for a training day actually takes quite a while, because you have to make executive decisions on things like how long each session will last, when people will want breaks, which order the presentations should go in, etc etc. And then after you’ve done all that you still have to make sure the booking process and costs are sorted, write some vaguely attractive sounding blurb and make sure all the speakers are happy with how you’ve presented them and their session, before you can even tell potential participants that the event is taking place!

This ‘not really accounting for the time things would take’ thing continued into the days before the conference, when I suddenly realised there were lots of little jobs to do, like making sure the room was correctly laid out, buying gifts for the speakers, printing the event handouts, finding name badges… there is a lot of work that goes into a training day that you just don’t realise as a delegate attending. I think at future events I’ll definitely be more appreciative of the effort that goes on behind the scenes.

On the day itself? Well, everything went well on the whole (apart from when the projector decided randomly to time out twice throughout the day – why does technology never behave?). Although I was concentrating on making sure the event was running smoothly, the sections of the workshops and presentations I did catch were really interesting. Myself and Aude, the committee’s Secretary, shared the job of introducing the speakers throughout the day, which was probably the most terrifying part of all – having the confidence to speak to large groups of people is  something I need to work on.

All in all, I get the impression that delegates seemed to enjoy the training day and took some useful information away from it – job well done. And the CDG North Eastern committee are satisfied that the event was successful and profitable, so I’m happy about that.

All that’s left now for me to do is look at the course feedback, and write a review for CILIP about how the day went. So I haven’t finished organising Marketing Libraries just yet!


Written by missrachelsmith

September 23, 2012 at 15:31

CPD23: Conferencething

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This week, I’m thinking about Thing 15 in the 23 Things for Professional Development programme: attending, presenting at and organising seminars, conferences and other events. Actually, the reason why it jumped out at me when I looked down the possible CPD23 topics for this post is because I’ve been reading tweets and blog posts over the last couple of days about the Library Camp event at the weekend – it sounds amazing and I kind of wish I’d been there! Except I don’t, because I would now be even more tired than I already am. Which is pretty tired, post Freshers-madness last week.


I’ll tackle attending first, as that’s the one I have most experience of. I went to my first big conference last year – the UC&R and CoFHE 2010 conference – after I managed to wangle a sponsored place from UC&R Northern. As a Library Assistant, I didn’t feel like I could really ask to go to a big national conference like that (in my head, that’s the kind of event that the Subject Librarians might attend, or members of Senior Management Team). So I was really pleased to be offered the place and be able to attend. It was my first opportunity to meet people from libraries all over the country and I took away lots of ideas. Attending really broadened my horizons in terms of being able to evaluate what we’re doing well as a library and what’s not so great.

Since attending that first conference, I haven’t looked back in terms of going to conferences and events. You can read my thoughts about some of the events I’ve attended here, here and here


As well as attending conferences, I’m now also exploring the possibility of presenting at them. I helped the library to win a CILIP Marketing Excellence award, and alongside a colleague gave a presentation to the 2010 PPRG conference about our winning Library 24/7 campaign. Earlier this year, I blogged about answering a call for papers for the first time and being unsuccessful.

What now? Well, I think I might feel ready to throw my hat in the ring again. The LILAC call for papers is out and there might be a good short paper in some of the work I’ve been doing recently, if I put my mind to it. Or if only I could find someone who is equally afraid of presenting a workshop on their own at the 2012 UC&R and CoFHE conference… (hint hint!).


The other Thing to think about for Thing 15 is organising events. That’s something I haven’t really got involved in outside of a work context. Have you been involved in organising conferences and seminars? Is it something I should start to consider?

I’ve certainly found this week’s Thing thought-provoking. And maybe something else will come out of it…

Written by missrachelsmith

October 11, 2011 at 10:05

Thoughts on the 2011 New Professionals Conference

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If you’ve followed my posts for any particular length of time, you may have picked up that I’m relatively new to the library and information profession. So I was really pleased when my line managers said that they’d support me to attend this year’s CILIP New Professionals Conference, held on Monday 20th June. After a bit of a mad journey, which involved getting thoroughly confused with the Manchester bus system, I did finally arrive at Hulme Hall at the University of Manchester to meet other new professionals, listen to the speakers and participate in the workshops. In this post I’m going to try to pick up on what you could describe as the incidental things; the running themes, the throwaway comments and the things that were missed. And I’m going to tell you what I thought, and what I’m taking away from it.

Social and online networking was mentioned a lot

Helen Murphy talked about the cpd23 programme, which I’ll be taking part in over the coming weeks and months and involves using social media for professional development. Ka-Ming Pang and Jo Norwood suggested starting up hacklibschool-type web chats for UK LIS students, Voices for the Library representatives talked about Twitter flash mobs as activism. Yet when I looked around, there were a number of people who didn’t include Twitter names on their delegate badges. And Rachel Bickley’s survey suggested that some experienced professionals see online new professional communities as cliquey. I’m pretty pro social media as a communication and networking tool, but I think it’s important to be inclusive; you shouldn’t need to have a Twitter account to be fully involved in a professional conference.


Engagement seemed to be a key theme emerging throughout the day. Alice Halsey and Simon Barron discussed engaging with people to advocate libraries and information services and prompt change in society. Katie Birkwood and Naomi Herbert talked about special collections outreach and engaging the local community. Megan Wiley discussed engaging with colleagues – ‘don’t assume that your colleagues know what you’re doing. Tell them’. This engagement theme was linked to issues surrounding threats to library services and articulating our value as information professionals. Maybe engagement is part of the answer, and as I find the activism thing difficult, maybe that’s where I can make a contribution towards the #savelibraries cause.

The old meets the new

There was lots of talk of the old and the new. One of Rachel Bickley’s survey respondents questioned, ‘why can’t the new profs just get involved with the old profs?’. In Nicola Forgham-Healey and Franko Kowalczuk’s workshop, we were asked to think about old and new professional skills.  Katie Birkwood and Naomi Herbert discussed ‘teaching old books new tricks’. I got the sense of new professionals perhaps struggling to find their place within an old, established profession, or the traditional profession of librarianship trying desperately to grasp the new. One or the other, or maybe both. I haven’t quite decided.

Question: Why do so many new professionals end up floating into the library and information profession by accident?

When asked why they chose a career in libraries and information services, 4 of the conference speakers confirmed that they sort of ‘fell into’ the profession. Answers on a postcard please…

I really hope that CILIP types amongst the delegates were taking notes

There were some important points raised about the way CILIP caters to its new professional members, and potential members. In terms of marketing the profession to potential new professionals, why aren’t sixth formers hearing about libraries and information services as a career choice? Why does CILIP charge the same subscription rate for everyone earning above £17,501, when a new professional’s salary is so vastly different to that of a library director? And can CILIP do more to attract student members?

The speakers blew me away

Massive admiration. They were very brave to talk in front of lots of people (something I need to improve on… I’ll be blogging about it soon after my upcoming public speaking jaunt on Friday). And they had interesting opinions, they talked about diverse subjects. I learnt about some areas of information work, such as careers information and special collections outreach, that I haven’t really encountered before.

The standard routes into the library and information profession were really reinforced

Which for me was a sad thing. From what I could gather, all of the speakers at this year’s New Professionals Conference either had a CILIP accredited Masters, or were in the process of undertaking one. In a time of downturn, an MA isn’t a possibility for everyone. I would have liked to have seen more engagement with the idea of non-typical routes into the profession.

And the issue of unemployment was skirted around

The title of this year’s New Professionals Conference was Professionalism and Activism in a Time of Downturn. Although recent news on unemployment figures has been quite encouraging, it’s still a tough old job market at the moment. What happens when you’re new, and you can’t even get into the profession?

All in all, I found that there was a lot to take away from the New Professionals Conference, and I met some great like-minded people. It might not be a detailed account of all the papers I heard (as evaluating is ‘not describing’!), but these are my thoughts, for what they’re worth.

Written by missrachelsmith

June 21, 2011 at 13:20

Building Your Portfolio

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Yesterday, I abandoned the library for the afternoon to attend a Building Your Portfolio workshop at Northumbria University Library. Attending a portfolio building course is a requirement of CILIP Chartership, so that was chiefly why I went (I didn’t bother when I was working towards Certification). However, the afternoon was actually pretty useful and the presentations from Michael Martin, Jackie Dunn, Patricia Crosier and Annie Kilner helped me to gauge how I’m getting on, what I’m doing right and what I need to think about a bit more.

One liners #3: Pearls of wisdom I gleaned from the Building Your Portfolio workshop

CILIP Framework of Qualifications designed to meet the needs of people at different levels/stages

Framework progresses from Certification to Chartership to Revalidation to Fellowship

Choose a mentor outside your workplace for objectivity, freedom when talking about work issues

Evidence of mentoring relationship can be used quite creatively, e.g. mentoring log

Initial PPDP: It can’t be wrong! It’s all about the candidate and their development needs

Completed PPDP can alter from initial PPDP as your job, priorities and ambitions change

Evaluative statement: Think of this as an executive summary of the whole Chartership application

Portfolios: Useful when preparing for appraisals, job interviews

Portfolio organisation: We’re information professionals! Should be well structured/organised

Electronic submission of portfolios is currently being investigated by CILIP

E-portfolio systems could be used to organised material, such as http://foliofor.me/

Chartership criteria 1 may be split in two… must demonstrate both aspects of this criteria

Chartership criteria 4 is the criteria which most applications fail on

Chartership criteria matrix can be useful to match development activities to criteria

Skills audits and CPD audits can be useful to look at/include in your portfolio

Don’t… include lots of material written by other people. Abstract or summarise

Attribute collaborative work

Be aware… of data protection and copyright

Your portfolio is about you. Should reflect your personality

Reflective writing skills: Lots of applications, relevant in a number of work situations

Evaluation is ‘not describing’

Never let documents stand on their own – annotate them, reflect upon them

Slide in reflection wherever you can

Your challenges can be the things you develop through most. Include the difficult stuff

Think deep and find ‘the rich veins of experience’, the activities you got the most out of

Link your development and experience back to strategy; team, library, organisational

Show awareness of the impact of national and global issues

Cross-reference the documents in your portfolio, it helps to signpost your evidence/reflection

Address future training needs/developments. What happens next?

One of the things I’ll really take away from the session was the importance of reflecting, analysing or evaluating all of the activities and evidence included in the Chartership portfolio, and making sure the evidence you include meets all of the Chartership criteria. This is the point of this blog, really, and I think writing about my development activities and experiences is a good practice to keep up.

The session also made it very clear that the organisational strategy and your individual contribution to it, as well as the contribution that your library service makes, needs to be at the heart of your application. I might have delivered an effective marketing campaign, which meant increased usage of a service, but how does that link into the strategies playing out around me? If I’m benchmarking our e-resource packages against our comparators, how does this contribute to the achievement of strategic plans? This is something I’ll be thinking about more over the coming weeks and months.

Lastly, I’ll need to begin thinking my last ‘one liner’ – I’ve got a year or so left to go, but what happens next? What am I going to do after Chartership? At the moment, I don’t know. This means I need to start to be strategic about where I’m headed, and what I need to do to get there.

Time is a funny thing, and it’s odd to think that around this time last year, I was starting to construct my portfolio for Certification. And that this time next year, I’ll be starting to put my Chartership portfolio together. It’s going ok, but I need to keep building.

Written by missrachelsmith

June 10, 2011 at 17:15

Doon tha Toon [(lib)TeachMeet]

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Last week, I visited Newcastle University for the afternoon to attend the inaugural Toon (lib)TeachMeet. A TeachMeet, for those who haven’t come across them, is a kind of ‘unconference’, where teachers meet to discuss ideas and share experiences. A library TeachMeet is a meeting of people who teach within the context of library and information services. The first (lib)TeachMeet was held last year in Cambridge, and since that point they’ve spread – as well as the Toon (lib)TeachMeet, there have been meetings arranged in Brighton, Liverpool, London and Huddersfield. Library TeachMeets involve a mixture of 2 and 7 minute presentations and anyone can present. The structure and agenda for the meeting are decided at the event and TeachMeets offer a great opportunity for discussion and networking with peers.

The Toon (lib)TeachMeet started off with the organisers, Helen Blanchett and Kirsty Thomson, explaining the concept of a (lib)TeachMeet, before a game of library bingo as an icebreaker(!). I didn’t volunteer to present at the meeting, but several others had prepared short presentations…

Anne Marie Laws told us about a project that was looking to bridge the gap between information skills teaching in schools and universities. The project aimed to explore the teaching skills of library staff and the embedding of information literacy within the curriculum, with the aim of creating an online skills toolkit.

Lucy Keating of Newcastle University described how she was trying to ‘zing’ up her teaching by making her information skills sessions more interactive, moving away from a standard presentation format. Lucy told us about the sessions she had recently conducted for new History undergraduate students: instead of giving students step-by-step instructions, she had suggested a range of resources for the students to explore. She challenged the class to work in pairs to find specific information using these sources, such as ‘the exact result of the Parliamentary by-election in Newcastle in 1908’ and ‘an example of 18th century advertising for a cough remedy’. The session became more hands-on and opened the eyes of the students to the range of resources Newcastle University subscribe to. The usage of key history databases had also increased by 60% in the months following the sessions.

Presentations by Julia Robinson and Kirsty Thomson discussed keyword searching; Julia used big post-it notes to get the class to think of synonyms within essay questions, which demonstrated the number of keywords that they could use to find information. Kirsty used keywords that her students came up with to discuss truncation and Boolean operators.

Lucy Carroll talked about working with students from her institution’s arts and media department to create library induction videos, whilst Helen Blanchett told us about the Librarians as Teachers Network, an online community for librarians involved in teaching.

Tracy Totty and Claire Donlan from Middlesbrough College presented a session on teaching academic staff about what the LRC had to offer. They created a Prezi to give their presentations to departmental meetings the ‘wow’ factor and promoted all of the different services the LRC could offer to academics. Following these meetings, the LRC has seen a surge in requests for follow-up sessions to train academic staff in using e-books and digital technologies, as well as increased usage of these resources.

So why didn’t I present? Well, teaching’s not exactly a large part of my role at present, and there was nothing that sprang to mind when I was booking my place. But now that I’ve attended and seen what a (lib)TeachMeet is all about, I may well store up some ideas that might form the basis of a short presentation in the future…

This was a really enjoyable event, and I got a lot out of it in terms of learning about other librarians’ teaching experiences, and ideas to use in my own training. I’d really recommend this as a worthwhile event to attend and hopefully this will be the first of a number of (lib)TeachMeets in the North East!

Written by missrachelsmith

May 10, 2011 at 17:20

A few of (a librarian’s) favourite things…

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My second library anniversary draws ever closer, and in the time I’ve worked here I’ve learnt a number of things about your common-or-garden librarian. Librarians are generally a very nice and knowledgeable bunch of people. High proportion of vegetarians, knitters, technology geeks, film buffs and dog/cat lovers. They do like a good acronym (CILIP, RFID, LMS, anyone?). And if there is anything to be discussed or decided, there’s a group for that: group meetings, project groups, purchasing consortiums, task-and-finish groups, interest groups, regional groups, working groups…

In the spirit of pretending to be a proper librarian, I thought I’d dedicate this post to two of the regional interest groups I’ve recently attended. Here in the North East, representatives from the academic libraries in the area (Sunderland, Teesside, Durham, Newcastle and Northumbria universities) often meet to discuss common interests, ideas and issues. I’ve heard of a few exchange events going on elsewhere in the country through JISCmail lists and Twitter: the cpd25 consortium put on staff training and development days for librarians within the M25 circle, the (lib)TeachMeets in Cambridge bring librarians involved in teaching together and NoWAL, the North West academic libraries group, recently held an exchange of experience event. But these are the more official events, the kind that you can book on – I think there must be hundreds of other exchange meetings going on within the LIS community (I can use librarian-type acronyms too!). In my experience alone I’ve been involved in four different exchange groups that the library contributes to and I’m sure there are others that happen even within my workplace that I’m not aware of.

Anyway – back to my subject. Back in February, I attended the North East Repositories Group, held at the University of Teesside. This was quite a formal meeting, with a proper agenda, minutes and Chair. I learnt that most of the institutional repository staff at the other member institutions were new to their role, suggesting that repository positions might have a high staff turnover rate. Two of the other institutions didn’t have technical support for the repository within the library and relied on external hosting – hearing about some of the problems they faced made me think we were lucky to have this support in-house. A change in staffing structure meant that another university no longer had a repository manager and advocacy of the repository was shifting to the academic liaison team. One institution was just setting up their repository, with their sights firmly set on the REF – I’m interested to see what happens there, as this didn’t seem to be a particularly long-term goal and their repository wasn’t necessarily engaged with Open Access, one of the key projects of institutional repositories. Amongst the group we discussed a range of issues; supporting different kinds of research outputs, publisher’s policies and embargo periods, recording author names, the REF… It was interesting to hear what our peers in other universities are doing. It helped me to see what both what we’re doing well as a team, and where our weaknesses are.

Due to the nature of its subject, the North East Communications and Marketing Group meeting that I attended last week at Newcastle University was very different. Usually more informal, with workshops and presentations, group meetings also involve lunch and tours of the host library. This time round, there was a presentation from Newcastle’s graduate marketing and communications project officer on the ‘marketer’s ideal library’. The presentation came very much from a marketer’s (rather than librarian’s) perspective and discussed a range issues surrounding library marketing including branding, staffing, advocacy, marketing materials and new technologies. Whilst Newcastle’s graduate project placement was about to come to an end, one of the other libraries had recently reinstated a marketing post. Talking to staff from other institutions, library videos seemed very much to be the order of the day, although nobody was planning to be as brave as the Harold B Lee Library. One university had installed a Big Brother diary room-style booth to capture student feedback on video(!) whilst another had gone for post-it note boards to invite and display comments from library users. We also talked about marketing e-books and internal communications amongst staff. Hearing other people’s experiences helped me to understand the common challenges associated with marketing academic libraries and I definitely noted a number of ideas that we might look into here.

There are a lot of groups going on internally, regionally and internationally that the library is involved with. Although I don’t see the need for quite so many groups, I do think attending these regional groups is really valuable for me at the start of my career in libraries. They help me to understand the wider context of the different areas that I work on and they help me to assess how we’re performing as a library service. And in both repositories and marketing, we’re not doing badly at all.

Written by missrachelsmith

March 15, 2011 at 21:00