CPD23 2012 Thing 15 – Attending, presenting at and organising seminars, conferences and other events

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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!

CPD23 2011 Thing 12 – Putting the social into social media

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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?
    – Y
    es 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.

CPD23 2012 Thing 7 – Face to Face Networking revisited

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Rather than rehashing old ground I covered in 2011 I want to concentrate on three organisations in particular.

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)

I have been a CILIP member for 19 years and have been a Chartered member for 10 years.  Last year I talked about how much I had got out of being a committee member of the sub-group Career Development Group.   Sadly I am now beginning to question the value of membership and if I should renew for 2013.

My employer pays for one professional membership each for professional staff, in my case they pay for my membership of the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians as membership of this association is considered vital for my role. This means I have to pay CILIP membership fees out of my own pocket and it’s not cheap, leading me to consider why I remain in membership.

Number one reason to stay a member is to retain my chartered status. If I want to move to a new organisation this might become very important.  However my current employers are more interested in my ability to do the job rather than my CILIP qualifications and I’m not looking for a new job at the moment (fingers crossed it stays that way).

Of course I now hear you all shout that merely being chartered isn’t enough and that I should be revalidating.  True, enough time has elapsed for me to have completed a couple of cycles of revalidation, and I have had a couple of half-hearted attempts at putting a portfolio together but am suffering from a lack of motivation along with a lack of willingness to give up too much of my weekend to revalidation.  I do lots of CPD and keep up to date anyway, I just haven’t formalised it with CILIP, I don’t feel my career has suffered in any way from this so far.

I am registered as a chartership mentor but don’t currently have any mentees so no longer feel compelled to stay in membership so as not to let them down.

And most importantly I no longer feel that I am getting much out of my membership.  There are few events on in Scotland, and most of them aren’t relevant enough to me to warrant taking time off work and paying for the course myself, and certainly not relevant enough that my employer would pay.  I do flick through Update every month but rarely actually read that much of it.  It’s great for maintaining awareness of the library world in general but I can do that for free via blogs and twitter.

I feel very conflicted about the possibility of leaving the main organisation for my profession, I have another 6 months to decide and make sure I make the correct decision.

Scottish Law Librarians Group (SLLG)

I’ve been a member of the SLLG since 1998 and I recently decided that now is the time to give something back to the Group so I answered a call for new committee members.  It’s a small committee so although I only joined officially on 1st May I’ve already been put to work!

I am SLLG editor for the On Firmer Ground blog, I haven’t written a post myself yet but I have added a post on behalf of another SLLG member. I’ve found being involved with On Firmer Ground has rekindled my interest in professional blogging and got me posting on this blog again.

SLLG is a very sociable organisation and the first “event” I organised was a fun one.  We had an interesting visit to the library at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery followed by a delicious meal in a nearby restaurant.

At the last committee meeting a couple of days ago I somehow ended up agreeing to take over as secretary to cover maternity leave.  Better get those minutes typed up …..

It’s an exciting time for SLLG with a new website coming soon, I think I am really going to enjoy being more involved.

Special Libraries Association (SLA)

I am not a member of the SLA but I am seriously considering  joining as it looks like an organisation that I might get a lot of value from.   A twitter and LinkedIn contact has kindly lent me her copy of the SLA journal and done me some screen shots of the members’ area of the website so I can get a clearer idea of the benefits of membership.  I think I’ll give it a go and see if SLA can provide what I am missing from CILIP, there’s nothing to lose (except a year’s memebership fee!) and there may be lots to gain.

My concluding thoughts for thing 7 are that whichever organisation or organisations you decide to join get involved, don’t just be a passive member and you’ll get so much more out of your membership.  And please don’t be put off by my current negative stance on CILIP, if you work in a more mainstream sector you will no doubt find it much more useful than I do.