Instant Ideas and Collaboration
Thank you to the NLPN team for this month’s feature article. Join us for the chat on Tuesday 4th November between 6.30pm and 8.30pm UK time to discuss all things networks and networking! The agenda document is open for you to add any questions you would like to discuss during the chat.
Who are we? NLPN (New Library Professionals Network) creates events for students, new professionals and those embarking on a career in Library and Information management. We aim to host events with practical application in mind.
Back in 2012, after CILIP’s New Professionals’ Day, we decided to put on a CPD event in Manchester. As we discussed the details, the speakers we’d invite and the methods of promotion we could use, we all agreed that “Even if no one turns up, at least we can put events organisation on our CVs and talk about it in interviews”. Two and a bit years down the line, and with six events under our belts (focusing on all manner of things from information literacy to new technology, to job interviews), we am pleased to say that our initial expectations have been far surpassed. Yes, it is useful to be able to talk about our input into NLPN in interviews, however, we are far more involved in CPD than I think we would be otherwise, but that isn’t the main benefit that we feel we have gained.
The main benefit for us is the network we have developed, and this is growing with each event. It is great to be able to meet people with whom you have something in common instantly, and we have learnt a lot from chatting to attendees at our events and on Twitter afterwards. We often receive feedback that attendees want to learn more about different library sectors. Even if we cannot meet that need with our speakers, we hope that the networking opportunity allows attendees to talk to someone from a library sector that they are interested in. An example of this comes from Siobhan who hadn’t met any school librarians before our first event but spoke to two on that day and was given some really valuable advice (useful as she had just got her school librarian job!). Informal networking can be a great way to learn about what other people are doing at work, what they are interested in, and developments in other sectors.
The key things we have collectively gained from the network are advice, guidance, help and understanding. This can be anything from a book recommendation (reading for pleasure is important) to help with job applications.
Advice and guidance are extremely useful, and being part of the network has opened up options to access this. We all appreciate being able to post a question on twitter and getting great answers from librarians all over the country and further afield. Librarians are some of the most helpful people in the world and we have been fortunate enough to find that they are also very generous with their time.
In terms of understanding, we value being able to spend time (either physically or online) with people who don’t ask questions about book-stamping, shushing and alphabetical order. It is valuable to be able to bounce ideas off people who understand your situation, and don’t need to have any jargon explained to them before they can chip in with their opinion. It is interesting and useful to get input from librarians outside of our own organisations and we are appreciative of the opportunity to find out what is going on at other institutions (both positive and negative) to inform our own practice.
Outside of NLPN we are all members of CILIP member networks and also have roles in Special Interest Groups, thus demonstrating the importance we place on networks. Furthermore we value the opportunity to collaborate with others which can be seen through our joint event with SLA Europe (“Scanning for New Technologies with Martin Bryant (The Next Web)”), our upcoming event with the Portico (“Showcasing independent libraries, archives & collections: More than just the love of old books”) and now our collaboration with #uklibchat on Tuesday 4th November at 6.30-8.30pm.
Now you’ve heard our thoughts on being part of a network we’d like to hear yours. Join us on Tuesday 4th November for #uklibchat and let us know your perspective of being a member of a network, whether positive, negative or indifferent.
About the authors:
The NLPN (@ManchesterNLPN) team consists of Amy Finnegan, Catherine McManamon, Helen Monagle and Siobhan Cottam. We currently hold events in Manchester but are very welcoming of contributions from further afield. For more information about us please check out our blog, our Twitter page, our Facebook group or email us