Monday, 23 December 2013

An Early New Year Reflection

Before you go any further with this blog post there is a small disclaimer: yes, this is one of those annoying reflective posts that people tend to write at this time of year! I don't know if it's the emphasis on reflective practice inherent in the Chartership process or something else, but I've come to really value the importance of looking back on your achievements and thinking about how you could improve yourself.

I do a lot of extra-curricular activities that are library related but not specific to my job. I see things like attending conferences and webinars as important professional development tools and I don't mind doing them in my own time. Having said that, one important lesson that I've learnt this year is that it's important to really plan your CPD rather than just attending events because you think you should. If you attend everything you will burn out and grow to resent something you should be enjoying. When you see an event/course advertised ask yourself does it fit with your goals?, why do you want to attend? If you can't think of three solid reasons then it's probably best not to. Remember that not all attendance has to be physical. You can follow conferences on Twitter using hashtags or watch a recorded webinar at a time when you don't have as much going on.

One activity that I made a decision to pursue this year was joining the CILIP Cataloguing and Indexing Group Committee, which I did in January. I've wanted to be involved in this group for a long time and I'm so glad I am as it has been a great experience. As the blog manager I was able to build a blog from scratch and have built up a lot of transferable skills. I hope to continue long into the future.

Public speaking is never going to be my favorite activity but I've learnt this year that I'm not as bad as I think I am. I spoke at the Libraries@Cambridge conference in January as well as presenting a poster, I gave a nano-presentation at ARLG Teachmeet and ran a session at LibCampEast. As the year has gone on I've been less terrified of trying something new and the thought of talking in public no longer brings me out in a cold sweat. I think diving in at the deep end with something you don't like can sometimes work out for the best. The first presentation I gave this year was in front of almost all the librarians in Cambridge which was absolutely panic-inducing. If something went wrong then everyone would know, not just at my own library but all over town. Luckily it didn't and I found subsequent presentations much easier. Librarians at these events are very supportive, especially of first-timers. Maybe it's not a bad thing to start off with the most terrifying thing, everything after it seems less awful in comparison!

I've also worked on my writing skills, producing two articles which have been published with another still to come. I don't claim that these articles are anything earth shattering in terms of content but it was nice to get some experience of formal writing that wasn't for my degree course. It also helps to make the CV look good! My advice to anyone concerned about writing for any sort of library publication, or even a blog, is to just go for it. If you have something to say then someone will be listening. The library community is a very engaged bunch and is always grateful to have a new point of view.

'Mentoring' is a word I've never been comfortable with, especially in relation to myself. I've never had the professional confidence to think that people would want to take my advice but this has changed over the course of 2013. I've helped out some people, both within my workplace and outside, with career advice and they seem to be doing well. I think the fact that I have the faith in myself to do this is one of the things that I am most proud of for this year. The other thing is the fact that in the summer I graduated with an MSc in Library and Information Studies from Aberystwyth University. It was a hard journey but worth it. To anyone currently working towards a degree I would say that there is light at the end of the tunnel and being able to call yourself a librarian officially at the end of it is a great feeling.

I promise that my self indulgence is over for another year! I'd like to thank everyone for reading this blog, it really does mean a lot to me and the comments and interactions I get through the blog and Twitter are probably the main reasons that my confidence has improved so much. I wish everyone a happy 2014 both personally and professionally, and encourage you to keep developing and reflecting in any way you can. It really is worth it, I promise!

photo credit: Denis Collette...!!! via photopin cc

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