In this post I'm going to explore some of the reasons I wanted to attend IFLA. I can predict the answer people are currently shouting at their screens: "you're getting a trip to another country!". Well yes, it would be silly not to acknowledge that this was part of the attraction of applying for the bursary but it wasn't the only reason. Attending IFLA WLIC is my first chance to attend a major international conference. Many people assume that because I work at Cambridge I get money thrown at me to attend conferences and events all the time but we have the same financial constraints as everyone else. Almost all of the events I've attended have been due to bursaries or have come from my own pocket. There is no way I could afford to attend a conference abroad without assistance and I have been applying for bursaries to a range of events, including IFLA, for years. In 2016 I got lucky!
During my research for all of these applications I read the blog posts of previous winners who have had a chance to attend IFLA. Each person had different experiences but they all came away feeling inspired which is something I very much look forward to. Whenever I've attended conference at both a local and national level I have come away feeling inspired by the people I've met and the ideas that have been shared and I think that an international conference can only add to this. In my professional life I mainly come into contact with colleagues from the academic sector but I'm hoping to talk to those from across other sectors at the conference as I think we'll have much to learn from each other. Part of my role involves overseeing training for librarians from various Cambridge libraries (there are quite a few of them!) and I'm particularly interested to discover the different approaches to training that people use so that I can bring back some new ideas. I'm still relatively new to the world of scholarly communication but I know it's a growing area of interest in the profession. I'm hoping to talk to other attendees working in the same area about how they have developed their presence in the library. One thing I am especially interested in is securing staff buy-in with scholarly communication. Hopefully I'll be able to gain some insight and bring this back to Cambridge (and the rest of the library community).
Attendees also talk about the different experience of attending a major international event. Many call them overwhelming due to their size and scope. I'm not someone who normally thrives in situations like this but I know that I need to learn more about networking and putting myself out there. It's part of my role and part of the profession and is something I have been working on for the past few years. I'm not sure if or when I will ever get to attend an event of this size again so I'm going to make the most of this opportunity to develop my skills in this area. Nothing like jumping in at the deep end to make everything else seem less scary! Being in charge of professional development activities for library staff in my current role it's important to me personally to set an example and demonstrating a confident presence at an international conference would be an important step towards achieving this goal.
Following on from this on a more personal level this conference would give me a chance to make an impact in my workplace. My department has existed for less than two years and my role is a new one to the library. Whilst I'm excited about being part of providing professional development opportunities for staff it is a big responsibility (and hopefully one I can live up to) and I need to take a strong leadership role in order to make this a success. I've learnt a lot about leadership over the past year in the Leadership Programme and I'm looking forward to putting it into practice at the conference and beyond. IFLA will be a valuable chance to talk to world leaders in the information profession and I hope that this will help me with my own leadership journey moving forward.
As you may have guessed after reading this far this post is adapted from a section of my bursary application. I'm not holding it up as the perfect example by any means but at least people can see what I wrote. Hopefully if you are applying for similar opportunities in future this post will give you some pointers on where to start.
photo credit: Columbus' skyline via photopin (license)
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