On 2nd June we were invited to a training session for the CILIP Affiliates group at Aston University Library. They hadn’t had enough takers so asked other local libraries if they would like to go, both academic and public. I decided to go, as it would be a good opportunity to find out more about CILIP, and it sounded like a really interesting talk, especially as I had interviews coming up.
First up, we had to find someone we didn’t know, and while talking to them come up with 3 words to describe them – I was speaking with Jane, who works at Walsall Library. We both knew the troubles of budget cuts, and I was glad to find she, too, was a fan of Voices for the Library. She described me as creative, intelligent, and an advocate. I described her as friendly, open, and intelligent.
Brainstorming: What does self-empowerment mean to you?
- In control
- Being yourself
- Preparing(ed) to change
- Not being afraid ie. Being brave
The next activity was to find out ‘What makes me ME?’, and after magically folding the chairs into tables, we split into groups of 4 and were given a pile of magazines to pull images from in order to make a poster about ourselves, and present to the other 3 in the group. We were allowed to draw on the poster as well, which I found more liberating, (although I was lucky to find an article on a daytrip toManchester with a hand-drawn map; which I was able to rip out and add MY favourite Manchester places to).
3 of us from UoB worked together, (along with a young lady from the Aston Uni library), which I found to be more beneficial, since, as we were all from different departments, (Serials, Recon, Information Points) we didn’t really know each other that well – mostly only from seeing each other around the corridors, so it was nice to get to know each other’s interests and what makes us tick, and actually get to know people you work with. I decided to express myself through the form of an Art Nouveau poster, with lots of arabesques, and a huge Eiffel Tower drawn on it, among other contents of my brain; and lots of people commented how much they liked it.
Points that came up evaluating the poster making exercise:
- How honest people were, and that they had included the ‘now’ as well as aspirations.
- Metaphors appeared on some peoples’, e.g. frozen chicken (on shelf waiting to defrost), watch (time), handbag (package, hidden things)
- Awareness of others
Brainstorm of drivers for Chartership:
- Job insecurity
- Status – e.g. working with Accountants who are ‘Chartered’ – proved to them Librarian is also a serious profession.
What skills and attributes do we expect from library and information professionals?
- Customer focus
- Ability to listen
- Ability to explain clearly
- Interest in new technology
- Ability to understand exactly what is being asked
- Given hand-out of list of personal attributes to evaluate ourselves against with ‘Wholly met’, ‘Partially met’, ‘Not met’ – along the lines of ‘Trustworthy’, ‘Enthusiastic’, ‘Helpful’ etc. They were all things that I think you would expect someone working in the profession to have at least partially met.
- Same thing again for Skills and Knowledge, for example things like, ‘Stock selection’, ‘Understanding user information need’, ‘Website and portal design’ – all were drawn from the various different scopes of our vast profession, and therefore there were quite a few ‘Not met’, which was good to sit down and evaluate what skills you did have and where there were gaps. Also would be useful for writing a CV.
What do I really want?
- This really made us think hard, not to be shared with the group, but just to actually put down in writing what we really wanted, in life, in work, or anything. It was harder than one might think.
Next steps…• You’ve begun to identify your personal and professional persona • You have an idea about your attributes • You have an idea about your skills • You know how others see you • You have considered your ideals • Now its time to take first steps…
- This was achieved by the final task, which was to choose a postcard from the selection passed around and write a message to the future you in 3 months time, of where you wanted to be / to have achieved, to get you started on the first steps to your goals. They would then be mailed to us in 3 months time to remind us of our goals. I think it could be quite a good thing to do, as life can go so fast you need a check-in to see if you’re actually doing something to work towards your goals, rather than just going with the flow.
- What did I take away? Stopping some of the mental blocks, ‘our inner nagging voice’, and considering personal and professional attributes and being able to put them down on paper concretely, and evaluating ourselves against them. Certainly left feeling empowered to make those first steps!