Advocacy for public libraries is not something I have been involved with. Firstly because the threats to public libraries aren’t quite so terrible in Scotland as they are elsewhere in the UK and secondly because I work in the corporate sector.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t care about public libraries, I believe that they still have an important role to play in society. However I admit to being one of the many people who has drifted away from using the library regularly. As a child I visited weekly and pretty much read my way through the entire junior library! As a student I registered at the local library in wherever I was living at the time and carried on using the library regularly. Until I moved house a year ago I continued to visit the library every couple of months, my use being solely to borrow novels. However since I bought a Kindle I haven’t been back in the public library, it’s so much easier just to download what I want to read. Therefore how do I advocate for a service I no longer use either personally or professionally?
I am under no illusions that corporate libraries are also under threat for several reasons. Of course there is the recession, with less money to spend the library is often an easy target for spending cuts. Then in law firm libraries there are threats from outsourcing of support services, increased use of online services and law firm mergers. The energy and spare time that I have for advocacy has to be spent on working to ensure a future for the library I work in.
Since the start of the recession in 2008 it’s been much harder to get funding from the training budget to attend conferences or training as what budget there is must be spent on business essential training which often means expensive legal training for the lawyers, this means there’s not much left for the rest of us to share.
But it’s still possible to get to events by being creative. I applied for a bursary from the Scottish Law Librarians Group to pay the conference fee for a Career Development Group conference and work were happy to pay the travel costs so I was able to attend. Many professional organisations offer bursaries so look around and don’t be afraid to apply, you might just be successful.
An ex-colleague managed to get free attendance at a couple of conferences by running a workshop session at the conference. If you’re confident enough to do this it’s a great way of getting to conferences and has the added benefit of raising your profile within the profession.
Organising conferences and events can seem really daunting so start small! I recently organised a visit to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery library with dinner afterwards for the Scottish Law Librarians Group, easy to organise and enjoyed by the attendees! Obviously organising a full scale conference is an awful lot more hard work than just a library visit, but joining up with a professional group and helping them with their events programme is a good way to start. I’m not sure what events we’re planning next at the SLLG but I am sure our convenor will make sure I have plenty of tasks to do to help make it a success!
And I’ve also been lucky enough to be invited to attend two conferences organised by publishers we have accounts with for no cost. I was unable to attend the PLC conference earlier this year but a colleague was able to attend so we didn’t lose the free place. However I am able to attend the LexisNexis KM conference at the end of this month and by combining attendance with a long overdue day working in our London office it makes it cost effective for my employers to pay the necessary travel and hotel costs. The cost to me of the conference? Accompanying my account manager to the drinks afterwards and hearing about his holidays!
I work in a corporate law firm and as lawyers have their own way of citing cases and other references I have no need to use any of these tools in a work context. I’m not studying at the moment, nor do I have any intention to study again soon. Therefore I feel that these are tools I can quite safely ignore for the time being.
This is about the point that CPD23 started to go wrong for me last year due to lack of broadband at home for 4 months!
Oh dear another Thing that I am having trouble completing due to moving house!
Google Docs – I have played around with this a little. However I don’t need to use it at work as the document management system takes care of sharing documents internally. Personally I am not involved in any committees etc that require me to share documents. Although as I don’t have either Word or Excel on my laptop I wonder if Google Docs is something I might use instead just for me rather than sharing. I intend to have a more serious trial once I get home broadband again and retrieve my laptop from storage!
DropBox – I can’t even try this one out as it’s banned at work for security reasons!
Wikis – I have used other people’s wikis, for example Dumpling in a Hanky’s chartership wiki, however I have never needed to create my own wiki so I have never bothered. Another thing on my to list as I can see uses for a wiki at work, perhaps for sharing good practice in the team.
One day I will actually do the things on my to do list that I have added because of CPD23 ….
I’ve probably said quite enough on this blog recently with regard to participation in social media, I really have no more to say at the moment!
And as for Google+ I’ve still not got to grips with this, if you’ve found a good use for it please let me know
Here’s what I had to say about thing 12 in 2011 –
I love social networking and as I wrote a little excessively on it for Thing 6 I may already have addressed some of the questions posed in Thing 12 but I do have a few further thoughts prompted by these questions –
- are there any other advantages to social networking in the context of professional development than those already outlined above?
– I find social networking to be a great way to network for those that are a bit shy. On the internet no one sees that you are blushing, no one can hear you stutter or has to shake your sweaty hand.
- can you think of any disadvantages?
– There are all the usual concerns that you find on the internet such as “who am I really talking to?”. With professional use I still try to exercise some caution over who I connect with and how much information I give out about who I am and where I work.
– Networking online is not enough, if possible we must still get out there and meet with others face to face as well
- has CPD23 helped you to make contact with others that you would not have had contact with normally?
– A little, I have found a few new blogs to follow but I haven’t yet made much effort to get to know their writers
- did you already use social media for your career development before starting CPD23? Will you keep using it after the programme has finished?
– Yes and yes!
Social media really needs the social to make it work. I feel that if someone never updates their Facebook page or never tweets and never interacts with their friends or followers their presence on Facebook or twitter almost becomes stalking. I have unfollowed/unfriended some such people as I get nothing back from them. For social media to work the social part is the key, not the network or website.
What will I do next? Well at last I have access to Google+, I am a bit wary of it but as soon as I can I will take a proper look at it and decide if I want to be part of it or not.
At the moment I am not involved in professional mentoring at all, my final CILIP mentee chartered recently and I’m not intending to take on any more candidates until I resolve whether to remain in CILIP membership or not.
I mentioned last year that I’ve never had a formal librarianship mentor and this remains the case. I read someone else’s (sorry I didn’t note down who) post on Thing 11 recently suggesting that those of us further into our careers don’t really need a mentor and pondering on this I am happy to carry on without a mentor but with the excellent support given by the Scottish Law Librarians Group.
If I were to change careers (I’m not planning to) I would definitely seek out a mentor. My lovely friends are kind enough to act as mentors when I hit obstacles in my personal life so maybe I’m not too old for a mentor after all.