Thursday, 15 September 2011

Thing 16 - Advocacy, speaking up for the profession and getting published

I have been in two minds about my ideas for this blog - worried that it might expose me as a fraud & a misguided amateur! When considering my personal contribution to advocacy within the library & information sectors, I decided to write about my voluntary work in a primary school library. My para-professional employment as a health records clerk is relatively new &, as a small cog in a large machine, I don't feel 'qualified' to speak up for the profession, other than to say that medical records clerks are the sturdy pit ponies of health informatics (this is entirely my opinion!). Returning to my work in the primary school library, I have to confess that there was a touch of self-interest in my volunteering as it was very difficult to find any opportunities for library experience (paid or unpaid) in my town. I have, however, found it extremely rewarding to be involved in encouraging information literacy for children. In addition to learning the basics of shelving, accessions, cataloguing, & enrolment, I have become much more aware of the importance of supporting literacy skills in primary schools, & a keen advocate of the importance of primary school libraries (which, I believe, are not compulsory?) & librarians. My difficulty, as hinted at earlier, is that, as a volunteer, I may be championing the school library, but not the employment of a professional librarian. Am I selling the information & library profession 'down the river' by condoning the use of volunteers in place of authorities paying for proper skills? It seems to raise the same questions as the use of volunteers to keep certain public libraries going.  My other worry is that my work in the library is largely self-taught - I have the help & advice of the teaching staff, but I'm learning as I go along without a librarian to guide me. I hope that professional school librarians out there will forgive me! I am also 'doing my bit' to advocate public libraries through my volunteering at the school. Just before school broke up for the summer holidays, quite a few of the children were asking if they could borrow books during the break.Having held an end of term 'amnesty' to retrieve many lost books, the school was not lending out books over the holidays. I was very interested to discover that many of the children did not know about their local libraries & the different activities available (in addition to borrowing books), especially over the summer. I hope that my enthusiastic promotion tempted some of them to try their local libraries.

Getting published - as I have said in previous blogs about other 'getting involved' activities, I think that it is early days for me & I feel the same about getting published. I have enjoyed blogging for the first time for cpd23, but this is obviously publishing on a personal level. Maybe the way to get started is to try writing an article for a newsletter of one of the regional groups of which I am a member. 

Monday, 5 September 2011

Thing 15 - Attending, presenting at & organising seminars, conferences & other events

I have only been to one conference (a mini one) - CILIP's New Professionals Information Day 2011(NPID2011), & am currently booked to attend a second one (an 'unconference') - LibraryCampUK 2011. There's a common theme to my attendance - free events! Unfortunately, I haven't been in a position to be able to afford attendance at many events, although I have now become aware that I can put in applications for funding from various groups. Having recently started a new job, the issue is now one of taking the time off to attend! I don't feel that, as a 'newby', I can go swanning off to events, & my clerical position doesn't merit the organisation giving me time for cpd outside of its own training procedures (my interpretation, I hasten to add). If only there were more conferences at weekends eg. LibraryCamp, but I realise this is not the norm. Maybe I'll have to save myself for the summer conferences & book my holidays for then. As is probably clear from my blog about being a 'newby', I haven't presented at or helped to organise a seminar or a conference yet. I'm not sure how I'd fare with the presenting aspect as I'm not a natural public speaker, but never say never. I think that it is also the fact that I don't believe that I have anything to say just yet, but hopefully that will change.