Sarah Bicknell, Research Librarian Assistant at Baker Tilly, kindly reviews the BIALL, CLISG and SLA Europe Graduate Open Day held on 17th April 2013. Information professionals from all parts of the workplace sector spoke about their working day and offered tips on finding jobs in their area. If you are interested in what was said, you can view the slides of the speakers here.
17th April heralded a Graduate Open day organised by BIALL, CLSIG and SLA Europe held at CILIP headquarters. The day consisted of 9 speakers and a visit either to the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, or the Wiener Library.
I chose to go to the Wiener Library, which has an extensive and important collection of archives from Nazi Germany, as I had read some articles on it last year and was keen to visit in person. It was very interesting to see both their new building and their archives, including a family’s photo album that had been donated and documented how an individual had been affected by anti-semitic policies. They seem to have a full events programme and I hope to visit again.
Firstly it was great to meet other graduates and new professionals in a similar position to myself. I am not part of a large programme so it was a great opportunity to do some networking – thank you to all those who organised, spoke and sponsored!
Jacky Berry from the British Medical Association began the day, and she emphasised versatility, her varied career certainly opened my eyes to the possibilities of working in many different sectors across your career as the skills you develop are transferable. Sam Wiggins (Norton Rose) was next and continued this by highlighting ‘core’ skills, which are transferable and ‘acquired’ skills, any deficit in which can be countered by an eagerness to learn and adaptability. Sam also spoke of making the most of opportunities and creating your own. He also mentioned #uklibchat, which sounds really interesting and is on my list of things to follow up.
A lot of those speaking were from legal information but the talks highlighted the range of work available within this sector.
Emily Allbon works at City University for the Law School, so has an academic library role. She spoke quite enthusiastically of the student interaction and teaching that it involves – I was quite surprised she had to do marking though! Perhaps most interesting was the Law portal, Lawbore, which she created; it was great to hear an example of an information professional creating something in their work that is appreciated by a wider audience.
Sandra Smythe works at a law firm, Mishcon de Reya, so she told us about the role of a legal librarian from a corporate perspective, and highlighted some of the positives and negatives. She also pointed out that there can be great differences in attitude in different firms, e.g. whether they view the information department as support staff or as fellow professionals.
I had no idea about the Inns of Court prior to hearing Tracey Dennis (Inner Temple) so the next talk was an education. They are very traditional environments in which to work, and as Tracey said this would not suit everyone but she finds the work varied and rewarding. She has worked at 2 of the 4 inns as well as the House of Lords and a law firm as she sought to develop her experience and progress in her career.
Marie Grace Cannon, although she works at law firm Trowers and Hamlins, spoke on her trainee and library school experience. She introduced, to me at least, the idea of a ‘digital brand’ and that you can use your online identity to market yourself and present what you want to present. She pointed out that as CVs are generally limited to 2 sides in hard copy form, LinkedIn can be utilised as a place to have a comprehensive record of your experience – as a newbie to LinkedIn this is definitely something I intend to do! As well as making the most out of library school, including the tutors themselves, she also spoke of CPD 23, a free online professional development course that shows commitment to your own development and looks good on the CV, as well as enhancing your skills!
A contrast to law was Daniel Rees from the Wellcome Trust. With a collection that sounds like a vast and varied treasure trove, little wonder someone told him he had their ‘dream job’! He is now an ‘engagement officer’ getting involved with interesting projects and giving talks on things that interest him, like reading heads! He spoke very enthusiastically and again expressed that we should grab opportunities and get out of our comfort zones.
Simon Barron (British Library), is working on the British Library’s exciting Qatar digitisation project, spoke on Digital Librarianship. It is hard to imagine the future of the information profession without an increased need for IT based skills, and so it was interesting to hear his thoughts. I’ve not yet tried coding (sounds complex although useful) but Simon told us of ‘Codecademy’ where you can learn to code online and this is definitely something I’ll investigate.
The final talk was from Fiona Fogden (Linex), and she spoke about her varied career in libraries before moving to the ‘other side’ as she now works for a supplier – not something I’d have thought about as a future career option, so that was quite enlightening. She pointed out the merits of formal qualifications, such as Prince2 and CIPS, as opposed to just internal courses within your organisation, and in terms of career development it was interesting to hear that said she had consulted a careers expert to highlight any areas she needed to gain experience in to progress.
As part of the day there was a prize draw for two books donated by Facet publishing – and to my great surprise I won one! So Yay!
The main messages of the day were to seize every opportunity and to be proactive in terms of both personal development and career progression. Everyone who spoke and who I met came across as very dynamic, which I feel is a good sign for the future of the library and information profession! While I will confess to feeling a little intimidated, by the end of the day I felt energised and inspired, full of determination to get my LinkedIn page up to date and maybe to even start my own blog – watch this space!