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There’s an ethical dilemma that goes something like this:

‘A building is on fire, and you can either save the last copy of an amazing book that could change the whole future of the world and save millions of lives, or a smelly nasty old person who’s never done anyone any good. Which do you choose?’

If you’re a librarian or archivist, you’ve probably heard it. It’s the kind of thing slightly “tired” people at parties like to nudge you and say ‘that’s an easy one for you, eh? You bookworm!’

And they’re right. It is easy. It’s tied right to the very heart of everything we do and are as a profession. We save the person.

Because without people, books are dead anyway. Printed books are dead trees. Ebooks are switch sequences that will never be flipped. Audio books are ghosts shouting at an empty world. Books need people, much more than people need books.

It’s easy to get so caught up in the processes, problems and successes of what we do that we forget why. We forget the ultimate goal: the improvement of society.

We make things better for people.

This is what the keynote speakers at CILIP’s 2015 conference reminded us of. They issued a call to arms. Remember you are heroes. Remember you are champions. Remember that you do this for people. This is (roughly) what I remember most:

R David Lankes: being a librarian isn’t nice. It’s not supposed to be. To be a librarian is to be someone who believes they can change the world for the better through knowledge. Examples of libraries in Ferguson and Baltimore: their heroic actions had nothing to do with books, and everything to do with people.

Cory Doctorow: information doesn’t want to be free, but people do. I don’t do what I do because I care about information, but because I care about people.

Shami Chakrabarti: the greatest human right is that which comes out of empathy: that of equal treatment, where we acknowledge everyone’s humanity and right to dignity. And we need people to make this happen, because without someone to stand up and represent you, your rights are nothing more than a dead page in a closed book.

Erwin James: prisoners are not a demographic. They are people, in prison, and deserve the same dignity and compassion as everyone else. You can’t begin to value anyone else until you’ve learned to value yourself, and that often takes someone to tell you that you have value.

And more: Jan Parry on the Hillsborough Independent Panel, where the documents and evidence were enormously, vitally important – because of what they could tell us of those who lost their lives, and the difference that information could make to the lives of those left behind.

Did I take much away from the conference that will materially affect what I do at work every day? Maybe not. What I took was far more important than that: a renewed belief in and commitment to the fundamental principles of my profession: equal access to information for all, for the betterment of society.

If we keep that in mind, I don’t think we can go too far wrong. It won’t always be easy. It’s not supposed to be. A person is heavier than a book, and harder to carry. The weight might hurt us. But it is the right thing to do, and so we do it, step after step after step. And yes, we have to concentrate on the steps, or we might fall. But if we forget our goal, we are surely lost.

Conferences are great. They’re a good way to make that fun face-to-face contact with your fellow professionals; to network, learn, and reflect. Sometimes they’re in really cool venues. Sometimes they involve alcohol. Often they involve cake.

Conferences are expensive. Well, someone has to pay for all that cake. And once you’ve paid the registration fee, you often have to find funds for travel and accommodation and subsistence (more cake). Not many people are in a position to fund conference attendance out of their own pockets, so who’s going to pay?

It’s always worth looking for bursaries and awards to attend conferences. Check out the conference website, any associations your’e a member of (such as CILIP, SLA, ARA). The lis-awards mailing list is useful (but definitely not comprehensive). There are some great tips on applying for conference awards from Laura Woods, Rachel Bickley, and Penny Andrews.

If you’re lucky, your employer might have some money available to support your professional development. I’ve been particularly lucky this year, getting funding from my employer to attend the SLA Conference and the CILIP Conference. For this, I had to write a business case detailing why I should attend. It’s very similar to writing an application for an award or bursary, with your employer being the awarding body.

It can be daunting to write a business case, especially when it’s one that involves being complimentary about yourself. It’s hard to overcome the tendency to modesty and self-deprecation, but if you’re going to convince your employer of the benefits of sending you to the conference, you have to convince yourself, too. (Once written it’s pretty daunting to post these celebrations of self on the internet, but that’s what I’m going to do, because I’m just so darn nice.)

I’ve tried in each of them to cover the following points (loosely inspired by this useful template letter):

  • what is the conference about?
  • who will I meet there?
  • why is it good for me to meet and network with those people?
  • what personal-professional connections will I make? what professional-professional (ie work-related) connections will I make?
  • what will I learn there?
  • how will this learning enhance my personal and professional development?
  • how will this learning enhance what i can offer my employer?
  • how will my employer’s reputation benefit from me attending the conference?
  • are there any practical benefits that will result?

I’m not saying that these are perfect examples, and looking over the list of points to cover I see that I haven’t always covered them all, but hopefully they are useful examples, and will help anyone who’s thinking of applying to their employer for support. (Details of colleagues have been redacted)

Application to attend the SLA Conference

I’d like to officially request to attend the SLA (Special Libraries Association) Conference in Boston, June 12-16.

I have had a contributed paper accepted, on the value of data sharing. This presentation will be based on a number of Jisc services and projects: LAMP, Copac, CCM, and the Archives Hub, and will focus on why libraries/institutions choose to share their data, the benefits of doing so, and the services Jisc provides that use this data. I will also be offering practical advice on working with library/archive/transaction data. I am required to submit a paper as well as the presentation. The paper may be ‘as long as necessary’, allowing me to go into as much detail as required about the topic, and will be made available after the conference on the SLA website.

The SLA Conference usually has over 2000 attendees from around the world, working in all areas of library and information management, including the academic sector. Attendees are often in senior roles in their organisation. Contributing this paper to the SLA Conference will allow me to promote Jisc services and projects to an international audience. While some UK academic librarians do attend, the SLA audience may not be the direct target market for Jisc services. However, it would build Jisc’s international exposure and reputation, and showcase Jisc innovation and expertise, potentially leading to enhanced future opportunities for partnership and collaboration.

I am currently serving on the Board of Directors of SLA, which is a prestigious leadership position of a large (over 7000 members) international organisation. This role means that I have a high level of personal visibility at Conference, and a large circle of contacts, who will be aware of my affiliation to Jisc. I will be attending Board of Directors meetings at the conference. These give me the opportunity to gain and improve skills around collaboration, committee work, finances, leadership, strategic planning, resource management, and objective setting. Through my Board of Directors work I will be coming into close contact and collaboration with members of prestigious organisations, including [organisations].

I will also have the chance to attend conference sessions, and improve my professional skills and knowledge. Sessions which have caught my eye include practical sessions on web design and UX (including a masterclass on Lean UX), introduction to developing a Competitive Intelligence function, transparency and open data, metaphoric-based customer research, a masterclass in grant writing, innovative outreach, masterclass in wargaming as an analytical tool, determining fees and ROI for information services, autocategorisation and human tagging, and the role of information professionals in supporting business development. I will live tweet the sessions I attend, to share with the wider community (I am usually one of the ‘top tweeters’ at conferences, with good visibility and interaction on the hashtag), and am also happy to share key takeaways with Jisc colleagues, as appropriate.

[Cost implications, timescale]

Application to attend the CILIP Conference

In the past, I’ve worked the Copac stand at the CILIP Conference, and found it to be an excellent event for keeping in touch with the UK library community. I’ve just asked about this year, and found that [colleagues] will be staffing the Jisc stand on behalf on Copac and CCM. I’d still like to attend, if possible. Even if I’m not there officially on behalf on Copac/CCM (ie behind the stand with a badge on), I am known among the community for working with Copac, and I often get approached at events informally with questions about the service, and other Mimas projects – I imagine that this will translate into other Jisc projects now!

For my own CPD, it’s an excellent place for professional visibility. I have a history of involvement with CILIP. I’m a Chartership mentor, was member of the Future Skills project board (http://www.cilip.org.uk/cilip/advocacy-awards-and-projects/projects-and-reviews/future-skills-project), and have written for CILIP Update, including a bi-monthly column in 2012, and Facet Publishing. Attending CILIP events (and especially conference) helps to reinforce this positive impression of my professional involvement and commitment, and allows me to catch up with contacts made during these activities. This positive impression would reflect well on Jisc, as a professionally involved and supportive organisation with considerable specialist expertise. I’d also be happy to provide support on the stand, as required.

The CILIP Conference attracts attendees from many sectors, and allows me to hear research and development from, and make contacts with, people outside the academic sectors, who dominate many other events. Speakers and topics of particular interest include the keynotes from R David Lankes, Cory Doctorow, Shami Chakrabarti, Will Moy, and Erwin James; contact curation; small scale tailored online CPD; demonstrating value using usage statistics; stakeholder engagement; research data management; research access management; and digital futures.

[Cost implications, timescale]

You may have noticed a distinct lack of posts here over the past – good golly, that’s a long time. The reason for this has just turned one, and loves dancing, stealing keys, and making me regret putting the bookshelves in the dining room Every Single Mealtime.

 

So, I’m back at work, and the first four weeks have flown by much more easily than expected. I’m in partly the same role I was went I went off, and things are similar enough that I remember just enough of my job to be dangerous, but different enough to be disconcerting. It’s a very odd feeling to look up how to do something you used to do every day and realise that you’re now having to consult documentation you wrote, for processes you implemented.

 

But overall I’ve got used to working, and concentrating, and thinking, rather more easily than I expected. My brain still feels about three sizes too small a lot of the time, and tends to cut off entirely at around 3pm unless jolted back to life with caffeine, but I’m finding that I stay in work mode while I’m at work, and parent-mode doesn’t kick back in until I’m out of the office and on the way to the station.

 

I’m also far more confident in my work and my abilities than I expected to be. In fact, far more confident than I was when I went away. I appear to have come back into my professional life with a considerably diminished does of imposter syndrome. Whether this is why I’ve come back in at a high-functioning level or because I’ve come back in at a high-functioning level I’m not even going to start trying to unpick now, but whichever it is, I can say: ‘I can still do this. I like doing this. And you know what? I’m pretty good at it.’

 

One thing I do know is that some of this confidence is because I didn’t ever entirely disengage with the profession. While on maternity leave I stayed involved with SLA, serving my first year on the Board of Directors. I’m not going to pretend that it was easy. I found managing parenthood and Board involvement very challenging at times, especially as they so often overlapped and conflicted. I’ve listened in to conference calls on headphones while doing bedtime. I’ve been called (screamed/yanked) away from calls to comfort a teething baby. I’ve nursed a baby while video-conferencing (with a very carefully angled camera).

 

But as well as challenging, it was incredibly rewarding. I had to think: to read and digest complex documents, to listen to in-depth discussions. I had to concentrate: video-conferencing into all-day Board meetings at conferences I couldn’t attend. And it was brilliant. It meant that I always had that undercurrent of ‘yes, you can do this’, reminders that my brain and abilities hadn’t atrophied.

 

An illustration: I’m very pleased that I’m going to be giving a contributed paper at the SLA 2015 Conference in Boston, on Jisc data sharing initiatives and services. It’s a great honour to have had my proposal accepted, and even more so because of how I wrote the proposal. It was pretty much my first piece of formal writing for about eight months. It was the first time I’d really thought about the projects involved since going on maternity leave. It written late at night, just before the deadline, after dealing with a baby who had eaten part of a foam ball just before bedtime and then very distressedly regurgitated it (and an enormous amount of milk) all over me and his poor, poor Twilight Turtle. And it was accepted. That was an enormous personal and professional boost: look out, world. I’ve still got it.

 

And so I was primed to come back to work much better, I think, than if I’d had a totally uninvolved year. The main challenge now is time management. I’ve been lucky in never having a restrictive commute, or anything else that meant I had to stick strictly to my hours, and so was used to staying as late as I needed to get the work done. It turns out that the ability to work extra time whenever you need to is a luxury.

 

Sounds odd, I know: extra, unpaid hours as a luxury? But it really is. It won’t ever make you money-rich, but it does show that you’re time-rich. Now I’ve been plunged into this strange new world of caring responsibilities, where every minute is precious and could be filled with a dozen tasks, I’m suddenly unreasonably jealous of the time-rich.

 

My new time-poverty means a rethink of how I work. I don’t have the option any more of staying on to finish a task. If something has to be done, it has to be done before I leave for the train I have to be on. This means that every day is suddenly fuller, every ‘I should’ becomes a time-critical ‘I must’. And the days themselves are fewer. I’ve come back part-time, and it turns out that four-day weeks are much more then a fifth shorter than five-day weeks. A day at a meeting or event, and suddenly my working week has almost vanished.

 

So I’m having to find new ways of time, workload, and performance management. This doesn’t just involve a change in working procedures, but in attitude. I have to be more focussed and selective in my workload, which goes against my usual attitude of ‘ooh, that sounds interesting! Can I help?’. I have to be more realistic about my performance. I’m going to have to accept that ‘good enough’ is, well, good enough. I can continue to strive for excellence, but within different boundaries.* Finding those new attitudes and boundaries is one of my challenges- not just for the week, or month, or year, but as an ongoing assessment and reappraisal of what I do and how I do it. It seems that continuous performance management isn’t just the best way forward, but the only way to retain a modicum of sanity and control.

 

*Not spending time on blog post titles being one of them…

When I was in secondary school, I was elected as form representative to the school council – not as an early recognition of my outstanding leadership qualities, but because no-one else wanted to do it. The first  thing my form asked me to raise was the strictness of our form tutor. ‘Tell them how mean he is!’ I was urged. ‘He won’t let us stay in at break!’

‘We’re not allowed to mention anything about specific members of staff. It’s in the rules.’

‘Well what’s the bloody point of it then? You can’t do anything!’

They never asked me to raise anything else.

This first experience of constituent dissatisfaction has stayed with me as an example of how easily rules governing councils, bodies, and boards can lead to anger, disconnection, and apathy among those they’re elected to serve. There may well be very good reasons for the rules, but if these – reasons as well as rules – aren’t clearly communicated to those members the body should be serving, it risks being seen as a self-serving, toothless bureaucracy.

This is very much in my mind as I prepare to take up a role as Director on the SLA Board. The question of how to ensure that power in an association stayed with the members rather than the council was raised at the CILIP hustings, and I’d like to share my thoughts on the role of an elected representative.

I see the board of a professional association as being of the members, for the members. They should be leaders, certainly, but mainly insofar as they are prepared to step forward and take the hard role of using their judgement and expertise to be a conduit and balance.

A conduit for the needs of the individual members: I believe every board member should be willing and open to listen to any member of the association, and have the respect and professional courtesy to give their opinions due consideration, even if they conflict with the representative’s own views.

A conduit for the needs of groups of members: whether these be official groups within the association, or ad hoc/unofficial groups. Representatives should endeavour to give all groups the same weight of consideration, and discern where the needs if several groups align.

A conduit for the needs of the association as a whole: the larger picture that many individual members may never need to consider. Is what’s best for individual members now best for the association as a whole, and in the long term? In a member organisation, it might be easy to say that the two should be the same, but they rarely are. To take a very trite example: to cut member dues in half would be a definite benefit for individual members now: they’d save money! Great! But it wouldn’t be good for the long-term, sustainable future of the association, or for members in the long-term, as the association becomes crippled through lack of funds, and unable to benefit members.

A conduit for the needs of the profession: the representative should always remember that the association is not the profession, and that the needs of the two may not coincide. The association is in itself a representative, of the profession as a whole, and its needs and those of its members should be considered as such. The representative needs to use their professional awareness and judgement to make sure these wider issues are not forgotten.

A conduit for the needs of society: above all, the representative needs to keep in mind the ultimate goal of all we do as a profession: to serve and improve society. They should be champions of this oft-unspoken ‘why’ that should append to all our motivations. We’re pretty good as a profession at articulating the why of what we do up to a certain point: ‘I learn x so I can better serve my users, so they can do their jobs better’. What often stays unspoken is the step beyond this: ‘I learn x so I can better serve my users, so they can do their jobs better, to better serve society.’

I think one of the reasons we so often forget to explicitly say this is that we all assume that we know it; it becomes taken for granted. ‘We’re librarians, information professionals – of course we work for the good of society!’ But sometimes you need to say it, as a reminder – and as a check. Does it work as the final context and motivation of your actions? Is what you’re doing really for the good of society?

Elected representatives need to always consider that question for themselves, and to be that voice of conscience for others. They need to be the ones who make sure they have the space and perspective necessary to step back and ask the question, and the guts to listen to and act on the answer.

Of course, there are many differing views on what is of benefit to society, and I’m not ever expecting people to find the one true answer. But I do believe that you must take the time to ask yourself the question, to listen to others’ opinions, and to make sure you sincerely believe that what you’re doing is right.

Balancing all of these factors is not at all an easy thing to do! And I haven’t even allowed for your own personal opinions – which, contradictorily, are probably why you were elected in the first place, but which will now often become subordinate to the views of those various constituencies you represent.

Because it’s not easy, and everyone gets it wrong sometimes, we have councils and boards and committees, not dictators. A peer group for discussion and support is vital – as is the humility to accept that you make mistakes, and the resilience to move past them. It’s also why most roles have fixed-terms: not only to ensure a rotation of talents and opinions, but to prevent burnout among those who serve.

The final role of a representative? To remember that they should be a conduit in both directions. They don’t just represent the members to the board, but the board among the members. They should communicate (as far as possible or appropriate) the decision-making process, as well as the decisions made. They should leave members in no doubt that the board remains rooted in the good of the members, the association, the profession, and society. They should advocate for the body within the profession, and for the profession within society. They are chosen so that they can use their voice to speak for many. Silence is not an option.

Will I achieve all of this in my role as Director? Can anyone reasonably hope to achieve all this? I don’t know, but I’m proud to have it to aim for.

I was browsing around the internet a few weeks ago, and found a link to Star in a Story. Your name in a classic story! for only $5.95! What a bargain, eh? How can you put a price on being part of classic literature?

Well, the ‘classic’ bit really is a bit of a hint. A quick glance at the list of title shows that they are all public domain! (well, actually, they’re not – more on that later).

I saw the site, thought ‘pah!’, and went away. But I couldn’t quite shake a nagging feeling, and ended up back on the site last night. The cause of my morbid curiosity?

One of the books was Anne of Green Gables. Now, I’m fairly familiar with the book, and remembered that Anne being called, well, ‘Anne’ was fairly important to the story at a few points. Hmm, thinks I. Surely they must allow for that? Surely they actually have some knowledge of the text, and have put a bit of effort in to making the name change believable. Surely, for $5.95 per text, they’ve not simply done a string match find and replace? Am I really going to fork over 4 quid of my hard-earned cash to find out?

Let’s see, shall we?

The original:

“Oh, I’m not ashamed of it,” explained Anne, “only I like Cordelia better. I’ve always imagined that my name was Cordelia—at least, I always have of late years. When I was young I used to imagine it was Geraldine, but I like Cordelia better now. But if you call me Anne please call me Anne spelled with an E.”

“What difference does it make how it’s spelled?” asked Marilla with another rusty smile as she picked up the teapot.

“Oh, it makes SUCH a difference. It LOOKS so much nicer. When you hear a name pronounced can’t you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished. If you’ll only call me Anne spelled with an E I shall try to reconcile myself to not being called Cordelia.”

“Very well, then, Anne spelled with an E, can you tell us how this mistake came to be made? We sent word to Mrs. Spencer to bring us a boy. Were there no boys at the asylum?”
(From Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery, available at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/45. Public domain in the US.)

and the ‘Star in a Story’ version

“Oh, I’m not ashamed of it,” explained Bethan, “only I like Cordelia better. I’ve always imagined that my name was Cordeliaat least, I always have of late years. When I was young I used to imagine it was Geraldine, but I like Cordelia better now. But if you call me Bethanplease call me Bethan spelled with an E.”

“What difference does it make how it’s spelled?” asked Marilla with another rusty smile as she picked up the teapot.

“Oh, it makes SUCH a difference. It LOOKS so much nicer. When you hear a name pronounced can’t you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished. If you’ll only call me Bethan spelled with an E I shall try to reconcile myself to not being called Cordelia.”

“Very well, then, Bethan spelled with an E, can you tell us how this mistake came to be made? We sent word to Mrs. Spencer to bring us a boy. Were there no boys at the asylum?” (From Bethan of Green Gables, copyright (apparently!) Chris Burgess)

And later on:

‘”Ann Ruddock has a very bad temper. Ann Ruddock must learn to control her temper,” and then read it out loud so that even the primer class, who couldn’t read writing, should understand it.’

Yup, string matching on ‘Anne’ and ‘Shirley’ it is. And if you look closely, you’ll see the formatting on the Bethan version isn’t great either – the em dashes are missing (as in ‘was Cordeliaat least’). For $5.95 I was expecting a nicely formatted pdf at the very least – what I got was an automatically generated webpage. If you’d like to see how it looked as a whole, (minus any name at all for the lead character!), check out http://www.star-in-a-story.com/Anne-of-Green-Gables.php. This (with my name in it) is what I got for my money. When I bookmarked the page and went back, lo and behold it’s the template copy! At least I’d copied and saved my little piece of immortality first, eh?

So what’s the lesson from this, for us as info pros? (other than that I’m a fool who can’t be trusted with money). It’s all about education, information literacy. I knew immediately I saw the list of titles that they were public domain. I chose to pay for it for investigative purposes. If I just wanted a copy of Anne of Green Gables with my name in it I know darn well I have quick, simple, and free alternatives.

But what about people who don’t know? Isn’t this the sort of thinking that we should be instilling through information literacy – don’t pay for anything on the internet without first checking out that you have to!

This doesn’t just apply to individuals offering services such as ‘Star in a Story’. The big boys are guilty of it too. Recently, I was looking for a version of Conan Doyle’s The Sign of the Four to read on my phone, and thought I’d check out the new Kindle for Android app. The cheapest copy I found in the Kindle store? 72p. Now, I know that’s only 72p, and not exactly a major investment – BUT I knew full well I could get a copy from Project Gutenberg (in a number of formats, including Kindle-compatible) for free. And hang, on, what about my local library? Yes, it’s available for download as a free ebook there too – but someone has it checked out. Back to Gutenberg for me!

Obviously, people may well prefer the convenience of the Kindle store, and that’s fine – as long as they’re making an informed choice, and not thinking that paying 72p in the Kindle store is their only way of getting hold of that text as an ebook.

And it’s not just potential buyers who might be in need of a little advice from an info prof! When I scanned the list of titles available in ‘Star in a Story’, my first instinct was that they were all public domain. ‘But hang on’, thinks I, ‘Pygmalion? I’m sure George Bernard Shaw is still in copyright in the UK!’ And yes, he died in 1950, and won’t be public domain in the UK for another decade yet. What about Anne of Green Gables? A quick check on the dates of L M Montgomery reveals she didn’t die until 1942 (I think the assumption that she’s public domain probably comes from Anne being published in 1908), and therefore her works are still in copyright in the UK too. Not only did Chris Burgess of Star in a Story sell me an overpriced, shoddy piece of work, but – unless he paid royalties to the estate of LM Montgomery – he also broke the law in doing so. Perhaps a little advice from his local librarian could have prevented this?

Now, I’m not against ‘your name in…’ in general. Ok, I found Bethan of Green Gables creepy and disturbing, but I see that there is a market for this sort of thing, especially for encouraging reluctant readers. But the key is doing it right, and ‘Star in a Story’ is, I’m afraid, doing it wrong.

Greetings from New Orleans! Do forgive any typos – I’m typing this on my phone as I move around the conf centre.

With no time to blog – this conference keeps you busy! I’ve mainly been tweeting. But my session yesterday pm had no wifi, and it was too good not to share, so you get a blog post from me 🙂

It’s not going to be hugely in-depth, but i’d like to share the main points I picked up.

The session was ‘evolving roles: conversations in the round’, and focussed on how info pros are seeing their roles evolve and change. The panel was Cindy Hill, Karen Huffman, Jessica Baumgart, and the moderator was Julie Domel. There were also a number of notable contributions from the audience.

One of the things that really resonated with me was a comment from Cindy, about her work at Sun. She said ‘I limited myself for years. Bosses told me I was doind great, and asked me ‘what do you want to do’?, and I said ‘I love working with people, information, knowledge, so anything you want to give me to do with that’. What I should have said was ‘anything you think I can do!’ By the time I realised, and did, Sun was on it’s way down, and it was too late.’

I think this is hugely important. Cindy is an extremely capable and talented info pro, yet she didn’t have the confidence to step outside what she felt to be her defined area – despite encouragement. Maybe it wasn’t even a lack of confidence as such – perhaps a feeling that it just wasn’t suitable? Perhaps that shows a collective lack of confidence in the profession.

An interesting corollary to this was Jessica’s description of the roles she took on following a down-sizing at her org. She didn’t limit herselfto things that might be expected to be in the remit of an info pro – she took on anything that needed doing – including running the radio booth! Wonderful practical example of the flexibility of info pros – we can learn to do anything! And the best way to show this? Do it!

Julie pointed out that stepping ouitside your expected roles like this allows you to make connections and build relationships which you otherwise might never encounter. These in turn lead to new opportunities.

One of the things that impressed me greatly about all the speakers was that they are their own catalysts and drivers for change – they act, not react. Its wonderfully inspiring in a time when we’re thinking about how to face the future – we need to take action to shape the future of our roles and profession, not sit around and wait for change to come to us.

A very brief note on conference as a whole so far: amazing! It’s only my 2nd sla conf and I’m hooked. I can see why ppl save up all year and use their holiday time to travel thousands of miles to attend. Don’t ever be put off by the name and think that sla isn’t for you – sla is for everyone! and no, I haven’t had a factini yet – I’m just high on the conference buzz 😉 laissez les bons temp roulez!

Time for a quick round-up of last week’s CILIP CDG conference: Working smarter: making more an impact with less. I tweeted the day, but foolishly didn’t set up a twapperkeeper, so I’ve harvested my tweets, and put them here. If you want more detail about what was said and when, try the tweets (read from bottom up), as this blog post will be more of an overview 🙂

I’d booked for this right at the last minute, as I was going to be in London the next day anyway, and am delighted I did! It was an interesting and useful day, where I heard some good ideas, met some lovely people – and, of course, won a bottle of Sue Hill champagne in the raffle!

I heard twice from Susie Kay from The Professionalism Group. I’d been intrigued by the descriptions of Susie’s sessions, and they were a strong pull in signing up for the conference. The main thing I brought away from both of these sessions (How to reduce the hidden costs of meetings and Professionalism for success) is that professionalsim and professional behaviour has a profoundly positive impact on your working environment. Professionals consistently monitor their own behaviour, and will always be looking for ways they can make improvements – whether this is by finding innovative alternatives to time-consuming and unproductive meetings, or ensuring that they create a positive impression on colleagues and managers. I was impressed with Susie’s definition of professionalism as ‘a way for an individual to have an entirely positive effect on those around them’ – what I need to do now is to keep finding ways to do that!

Susie’s points sat very well with the talk from Carol Brooks about training and development on a shoestring. Part of being a professional is a commitment to your own personal and professional development – you should always be thinking about learning and development opportunities. One of Carol’s points was that – especially in lean times – we need to share experience and learn from each other. Teaching is just as valid for cpd as learning – and you will learn while you teach. I particularly liked Carol’s suggestion that managers should shadow/second their managees, to get first hand experience and understanding of whether the support they provide is sufficient and appropriate.

Carol was also very emphatic about the benefits of mentoring, both for mentor and mentee (or mental and manatee, according to @jaffne). This was of particular interest to me, as I’ve just come out of a mentoring relationship (chartership), and am planning to become a mentor myself. I had a really productive and positive relationship with my chartership mentor, and am finding that I miss it. I think mentoring is something I’ll try to stay involved with throughout my career.

I’m writing most of this on my phone on the train (hellooo typos!), so will skip over fundraising with Kathy Roddy and marketing on a shoestring with Andy Ryan with less attention than they deserve. The main point I took from both of these sessions was the importance of leveraging existing relationships and networks. Marketing and fundraising have, I think, more in common than I had realised.

Overall, an excellent and enjoyable day, that was well-worth getting up at 5:30 for 🙂

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