Tuesday, 14 August 2012
CILIP Career Development Group National Conference 2012: Together We Are Stronger
Last month I attended the CILIP Career Development Group National Conference in Birmingham, held on 18th July at Austin Court. It’s taken me this long to get around to blogging about it – one of the reasons being that I was slightly underwhelmed by the experience. On reflection, I enjoyed the day, and feel I did get something out of it – but at the time I felt as though there was something missing.
I’ve attended the last two New Professionals conferences and in both cases came away feeling excited and inspired. This year, there was one conference for both new and established professionals. This was a good idea in theory – bringing together professionals at different stages of their careers – but I’m not sure it was marketed very well. There were comparatively few people there and the event lacked the buzz I experienced at previous events. I wasn’t alone as several people I spoke to felt the same.
Throughout the day a choice of two sessions were offered for most of the time, with a couple of exceptions, including the keynote address. The venue was lovely and the food was amazing (got to get my priorities right!): I loved the pastries for breakfast and there was a great range of vegetarian food at the lunchtime buffet.
The keynote address, Developing our community of practice: learning together for a stronger profession, was delivered by Liz Jolly. Liz was an engaging speaker and talked about developing a community of practice and the importance of learning together. She spoke about how we define what a profession is: via regulation, a code of ethics, a framework of qualifications and the existence of a professional community. Liz emphasised the importance of the professional body and suggested that if you don’t like something, it’s best to get involved and try to change it from the inside. Appropriate to this conference, she also talked about the different qualities that new and experienced professionals bring to the profession and how they can work together to create a ‘bi-directional knowledge flow”.
After the keynote address it was time for the parallel sessions on the theme of Sharing Knowledge and Experience. I chose to attend Karen Davies’ talk on Producing the evidence for effective evidence-based librarianship. She discussed the difficulties of applied research in a LIS context when qualitative research is more common and there is no right or wrong answer. She also gave research tips such as the importance of deciding what you need before you start and choosing your question carefully, as well as the necessity of critically evaluating your evidence and reviewing your outcomes. As a comparatively recent graduate I was familiar with most of the concepts she discussed but it was useful to have them reinforced and it made me wonder whether I’d be interested in undertaking research in the future.
I understand that parallel sessions on the theme of Wider Professional Outlook were planned, but one of the speakers dropped out so everyone attended Patricia Lacey and Emma Gibbs’ presentation on Developing your own skills network. They talked about a collaborative group set up to allow information professionals to learn from their peers and gain new skills. Participants have been able to engage in knowledge sharing, job shadowing and mentoring and gain benefits such as new skills to add to their CVs. Patricia and Emma gave tips such as the importance of planning and using diferent methods, such as email, to communicate in between face-to-face meetings and the importance of using feedback. The next theme of the day was Collaboration & Partnership and I attended Creating collaborative CPD opportunities delivered by Suzanne Tatham and Joseph Norwood. They spoke about their experience in a sub-branch of CILIP in Sussex, organising events such as a Brighton Library TeachMeet.
After lunch, Michael Martin from CILIP spoke on the Future Skills Project and discussed the new inclusive qualification framework. I had heard a bit about this but still found it interesting as it is highly relevant for me and for the profession as a whole. I was pleased to see that CILIP have taken on board feedback and the generic skills section is smaller than it was. Different skill areas are coloured differently on the wheel too which makes it easier to use. The new framework is due to be launched in September at the AGM.
Out of the two workshops on offer, I chose to attend the one on Career paths and networking led by Jeremy Clarke from Sue Hill Recruitment. The key concept I took away was the idea of finding security in your employability, rather than your employer. Jeremy made some useful suggestions including researching emerging skill requirements and recording, reflecting on and evaluating everything. He argued that to maintain enthusiasm and energy it is best to start the process when you are feeling particularly enthused, such as just after a really useful event.
Continuing the theme of Collaboration & Partnership, I attended Cross-sectoral staff development with CLIC by Kristine Chapman and Karen Pierce. CLIC stands for ‘Cardiff Libraries in Cooperation’ and it is run for all staff working in libraries in Cardiff. It runs mostly free, inclusive events including networking and 23 Things meetups. Finally, I attended Rebecca Dorsett’s presentation, Shelving together: collaborative working throughout different library environments, which had probably the best opening picture of the entire conference. Rebecca has worked in several different library sectors and in her talk she illustrated ways in which lessons could be learnt from one sector and applied to another: for example literacy schemes used in prison libraries could work in public libraries too, and work undertaken by many rare books and special collections staff to promote their collections and embark on digitisation projects could also be used in other libraries. Rebecca’s presentation was probably my favourite of the whole day: her enthusiasm really came across and I found what she had to say really interesting.
I do wish I'd written this earlier, as my memory is a bit hazy, and though I made notes, my handwriting is so dreadful that I had some difficulty deciphering them. Having said that, I do recall that generally, although my experience didn't compare to the previous New Professionals conferences I've attended, I did take away some useful points. All in all it was a worthwhile day and I enjoyed meeting up with old friends and people I’d previously only known on Twitter. I also spoke to a few new people, which I was pleased about. One thing at least hadn't changed from previous years: I was one of the last people in the pub at the end.