I haven’t blogged about a conference for a while, largely as I tend to tweet any highlights, and I prefer to write reflectively rather than descriptive as many of my previous conference blog posts were. However, this week I attended CILIP Conference 2015 and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to blog some of my highlights as I reflect now it’s over. It’s caused me to think about things differently, and really opened my mind to some things I hadn’t previously fully appreciated. 

The keynotes

The keynote sessions I attended were varied in terms of background and topic, as well as their approach to the talk (since doing more public speaking I often find myself examining the way others present whilst listening to the content). One of the things I loved about CILIP Umbrella 2013 was the keynotes, specifically the fact that there was something to be taken from each keynote for everyone in the audience. That’s not an easy thing with as varied an audience you will find at CILIP conferences – there will be librarians and information workers from such a variety of different sectors and organisations. I was really pleased to discover the same was true from the keynotes this year; regardless of background I am sure there was at least one take home point for everyone in the audience for each talk. The overarching themes all had relevance to the library and information profession, and they celebrated our similarities as a profession rather than highlighting our differences. The speakers were inspirational and at times challenging, and gave me a lot to think about. They spoke with passion and emotion, and drew the audience in. 

One keynote in particular really touched me; Erwin James. He spoke honestly about his journey including some of his early life, his time in prison, his rehabilitation (supported hugely by the prison library), and a little about his time since release. The nature of his story was of course highly emotional, but some of what he talked about, particularly the importance of hope and valuing yourself was a pertinent reminder of just how crucial that is, and how important other people can be in helping us get to a better place if we start to lose that hope or perception of our value. I found his story fascinating, and his delivery so natural; I was completely transfixed during the talk, and even now, a few hours later, I am still mulling over some of what he shared this afternoon. 

The exhibition

I took some time after lunch on the first day of the conference to explore the exhibition and chat to the exhibitors. The lure of the iPad competition helped initially (to enter the draw you had to collect a sticker from each exhibitor – an idea that works well), but I found that I was really enjoying chatting to the exhibitors and learning more about what they offer. Realistically, in my role I’m very unlikely to be purchasing anything from the exhibitors, but I may know someone who might want to, and I feel far more informed now than I did two days ago! I learned about some new products and services, and was able to share some of my experiences with those who were there to understand more about the current state of the profession. I enjoyed myself so much that I ended up staying in the exhibition all afternoon! I’ll definitely be making an effort to spend more time in the exhibition at future conferences; the exhibitors help make the conference what it is by providing funding and sponsorship, and they’re all there to help the profession. Often I feel like the exhibitors are seen as sales people, and of course some of them are, but that’s just one part of who they are and I had a really good time getting to know them and their products/services. 

The people

The library and information sector is full of fascinating people, and I’ve had some great conversations over the last few days. I spent time with people I’ve met at previous conferences, some I communicate with on social media, and some I’ve not met before. I’ve spoken to fellow delegates, exhibitors, and CILIP staff. Without exception everyone I spoke to had something interesting to share, and I really enjoyed being able to learn more about the diverse roles within our profession. 

The sense of community

As a librarian who doesn’t really work in a library (I’m technically part of the library in terms of structure, but I don’t spend any time in the library), and doesn’t do any librarian tasks any more, often taking on more of a consultancy role or that of a trainer I can find that sometimes I’m not sure where my ‘home’ is in terms of professional organisations. However, the common thread across all my work is that it supports other librarians, and I found that I not only got value from the content of the conference (which is difficult given the unusual nature of my role!) but also felt like I was part of a community, and not just that but a really excellent community (or perhaps ‘awesome’ is a more appropriate term as R. David Lankes used in his keynote!). 

Perhaps I’m getting better at explaining what it is I do, or perhaps the current projects I work on are things that are a bit easier to explain, but so many people made me feel welcome and commented that my role sounded really interesting. Often I feel like I need to use the caveat, “Well I’m not really a librarian any more”, but aside from a few early conversations in the exhibition I didn’t do this often at all at the CILIP Conference; I didn’t need to because everyone accepted and respected the fact that our profession is so diverse, and I really felt like I belonged there. 

The support

Since learning more about the things that drive me and the things I’m really passionate about, I’ve been able to share these with people and am fortunate to have been able to start to work on some of them.  The day before the CILIP Conference was the launch of the CILIP Leadership Programme, which is something I’ve been wanting to see come into fruition for a long time and am delighted to be part of. I was very touched by how supportive people have been during both the programme launch and the conference; some people very kindly thanked me for the part I’ve played in getting to where we are, and others have offered their own support to help towards the programme. It’s wonderful to be part of something that I’m so passionate about, and to find others who feel the same and really want to make the programme a success. So many people, both CILIP staff and CILIP members, have already been incredibly helpful and supportive, and I really appreciate it (and am sure the participants do too). 

I also presented at the conference about a couple of work projects, and spoke to a number of people outside the sessions about some of the other things I’m passionate about. Again I was bowled over by how supportive people were, and had some really exciting conversations. It’s great to find people who have similar passions or who really see the benefit in what you want to do. 

Overall

I really enjoyed the CILIP Conference and think this will be a conference I will aim to attend each year if I can. I love the cross-sectoral nature of the event, both in terms of content focus and delegates. Of course I do think there are some things that could be improved, and I have some ideas which I will be including in my feedback form, but overall it was a truly excellent event and one I’m sure I’ll be thinking about for a long time. 

What next?

I still find it helpful to use the ‘What next?’ question to encourage me to think about how I might apply what I have learnt for future, and in fact I’m likely to be getting back into the habit of more regular reflective writing, so what am I going to do as a result of the conference?

Firstly, I’ll be making sure the CILIP Events team get feedback from me via the feedback survey to help with future planning, so I’ll be sharing all the positives as well as some future considerations such as improving time keeping (or restructuring the day to help with this) and encouraging people from all sectors to share a bit about their work. I’d like to see something like a “Day in the life of a…” strand where you can go along and hear people talk a little bit about what they do. I’d love to learn more about the different roles within the profession and would like to see something fairly informal/conversational (so it’s not a huge undertaking for people who are willing to share) and interactive so people can ask questions about what it is like to work in different parts of the sector. 

Secondly, I’m going to be mulling over Erwin’s talk for a while but his message about the importance of hope I think will stick with me. It’s very pertinent for me at the moment and I’m going to be thinking about what that means for me, as well as how I can support others when they’re not feeling so good. I’d also like to learn more about prison libraries, and would really like to either visits one or speak to a prison librarians about their work (if anyone is reading this who is a prison librarian, or knows one, please let me know!). 

Thirdly, I had a bit of an epiphany during an impact masterclass when I suddenly realised that although I support libraries in demonstrating their impact, I don’t actually do this for my own work. I’m planning to discuss this with my manager and hopefully do some follow up work to understand more about the impact of workshops I have delivered. 

I’m also going to be registering for CILIP Fellowship soon, and plan to attend CILIP Conference next year if I can. I feel really invigorated after the conference, and despite the tiredness I also feel mentally refreshed and enthused (hence writing this blog post straight away!). 

I highly recommend the CILIP Conference – it’s a great event to attend to open your mind and inspire (and possibly challenge your views), and to help you learn more about the profession as a whole – there’s so many similarities despite the differences, and CILIP Conference offers a unique opportunity to bring people together to discuss this on a broader level. 

On completion of my Chartership, having had such an excellent mentor (a CILIP Mentor of the Year no less!), I knew I wanted to mentor other candidates myself. I completed the CILIP mentor training, which I found really interesting (I particularly welcomed the focus on a coaching approach to mentoring rather than a focus on the CILIP Professional Registration process), and soon found myself with some willing mentees. Everyone works at a different pace, so some of my mentees are taking a longer term approach, but my first mentee submitted her portfolio last month so I thought I’d share my experience as a mentor. 

I knew I wanted to mentor in a similar way to the way I had been mentored myself. I didn’t want to be the sort of mentor who is a task master or keeps people to deadlines – I don’t mind doing an element of this, but predominantly I want to be able to challenge mentees, guide them, and encourage them to develop. Fortunately my mentee was looking for that sort of mentor so it worked well. As I work remotely (I do have an office but a lot of my time is spent away from the office), much of our communication was via email, but we did also meet at key points throughout the process. The meetings were very much led by my mentee, though a week before each meeting I did ask them to complete a few questions in the form of a meeting planning template so that I knew what they wanted to focus on for our meeting. This really helped me, and I think it helped them too. 

We kept our communication quite informal (this was the way we’d agreed it would work best for us), so as well as the formal mentoring, we got to know each other better and share experiences. I learnt a lot from their experiences too so was keen to encourage this. I’m keen to mentor people from different types of work within LIS in future to continue this – the two-way learning process is a useful part of CPD I feel (and can help them with criteria 3 of CILIP Professional Registration on wider professional awareness!).  

We tended to meet in coffee shops, though we did meet once at my office as my mentee wanted to familiarise themselves with the CILIP VLE so I thought it might be useful to do that together. During this session they got access to the VLE, I explained the different sections and what they were for, and we discussed how they may wish to use the Portfolio functionality for their own portfolio. After this session, we communicated via the VLE as well as by email, which I found very useful. My mentee shared their portfolio page with me so whenever they updated it, I received an email alert and I checked in every so often and provided feedback/suggestions via the comment functionality. This was particularly useful during the final stages of the process, and also helped speed the submission process as they had been building it up for a while within the VLE rather than having to add everything in at the end.

During our discussions, I was able to use some of the coaching skills I have learnt to explore my mentee’s career goals, as well as address any barriers they experienced. I used the GROW model (Goal, Reality, Options, Will) to help them explore different options and decide on a way forward. I found the process incredibly useful, both in terms of practicing my coaching skills, and in ensuring the development ideas came predominantly from the mentee, with me acting as a guide. Hopefully this ensured the development was tailored to them and I think it helped with their motivation and commitment. 

The most rewarding thing for me was observing my mentee develop in confidence during the process. I knew from the beginning that they are an extremely competent professional, though they doubted themselves occasionally. They ended the process far more self-aware and with a much clearer idea of their current abilities and their future plans. I’m not saying this was down to me, but I was pleased to be able to be a part of it and to witness their growth. 

Their portfolio was excellent, and I had no doubt (apart from the tiny but ever present niggle of nerves!) that they would be successful in their application. They have received really positive feedback and I’m so pleased. 

I’d highly recommend being a mentor for CILIP Professional Registration; it’s a really interesting experience and incredibly rewarding to support someone through the process. I very much look forward to continuing to mentor other CILIP Professional Registration candidates.

CILIP Revalidation Hints & Tips

CILIP Revalidation Hints & Tips series

This post is part of a series of blog posts I’m writing about CILIP Revalidation. Last year I worked with CILIP as a Future Skills Project Worker on a part-time secondment basis helping develop CILIP’s Professional Registration (Certification, Chartership, Fellowship and Revalidation). I went on to use the new process to successfully revalidate my CILIP Chartership earlier this year, and am sharing my experience through a series of blog posts. For other posts in the series, see the Revalidation Hints & Tips series.

The final stage in the Revalidation process is to put together your CPD log and supporting statement, and submit it. This is all done via the CILIP VLE. If you’ve been recording your CPD throughout the year in the CPD log in CILIP Portfolio (see my post on Recording your CPD), and have your supporting statement written (see my post on Writing your supporting statement) this stage won’t take long at all. Read the rest of this entry »

CILIP Revalidation Hints & Tips

CILIP Revalidation Hints & Tips series

This post is part of a series of blog posts I’m writing about CILIP Revalidation. Last year I worked with CILIP as a Future Skills Project Worker on a part-time secondment basis helping develop CILIP’s Professional Registration (Certification, Chartership, Fellowship and Revalidation). I went on to use the new process to successfully revalidate my CILIP Chartership earlier this year, and am sharing my experience through a series of blog posts. For other posts in the series, see the Revalidation Hints & Tips series.

There are two parts to CILIP Revalidation; your log of CPD activities, and your supporting statement. The supporting statement is your opportunity to explain and reflect on your CPD activities. You only have 250 words, so you have to be fairly concise. Read the rest of this entry »

CILIP Revalidation Hints & Tips

CILIP Revalidation Hints & Tips series

This post is part of a series of blog posts I’m writing about CILIP Revalidation. Last year I worked with CILIP as a Future Skills Project Worker on a part-time secondment basis helping develop CILIP’s Professional Registration (Certification, Chartership, Fellowship and Revalidation). I went on to use the new process to successfully revalidate my CILIP Chartership earlier this year, and am sharing my experience through a series of blog posts. For other posts in the series, see the Revalidation Hints & Tips series.

The first part of Revalidation is completing 20 hours of professional development, or CPD (Continuing Professional Development) as it’s commonly referred to. The guidelines suggest that this would be on a roughly annual basis, though it may take slightly longer (or a lot less!). Read the rest of this entry »

CILIP Revalidation Hints & Tips

CILIP Revalidation Hints & Tips

Earlier this year I successfully revalidated my CILIP Chartership. Having been involved in developing the new scheme for CILIP Professional Registration (which incorporates Certification, Chartership, Fellowship, and Revalidation) during my part-time secondment at CILIP last year, I was keen to put what I had learnt into practice and test whether Revalidation was as straight forward as we’d hoped. I spent quite a bit of time examining Revalidation in other professional organisations, and it was evident that the previous version of CILIP Revalidation was much more involved than comparators. The message from member feedback (which also reflected my own personal view) was clear – Revalidation needed to be simplified so that it could be completed on a more regular basis to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to professional development (after all, the C in CPD is for continuing professional development). With that in mind, we set out to make the process less intensive and more relevant to all levels of Professional Registration – Certification, Chartership, and Fellowship (previously the focus had been more as a step up from Chartership).

As I’ve now been through the Revalidation process and have discussed it with a number of people planning to do the same, I thought it might be worthwhile me documenting the processes I used (and intend to continue to use) in case they are useful for others. I’ll therefore be publishing a series of blog posts over the next few days, including:

I’ll be writing about my own experience which relates to revalidating CILIP Chartership, but much of the processes apply to those revalidating CILIP Certification or CILIP Fellowship. If you have any questions, please let me know in the blog comments. I hope you find this series useful.

Another year has flown past and it’s time for my annual review – you can see previous ones for 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

2013 has been a funny old year; nothing particularly terrible has happened, but I haven’t felt as positive as I usually do and this has been reflected by a decrease in blogging and use of social media. It’s not all bad though, as another reason for this decrease is a continuation of what I mentioned last year as a major lesson – trying to achieve a more sustainable work-life balance. This year I’ve been doing a lot of other hobbies – for some months I was regularly running, I’ve been learning nail art (and building quite a large collection of nail polishes!), I’ve learnt to crochet, and I’ve been doing lots of knitting. Oh, and I’ve become a little addicted to Grey’s Anatomy. There have also been some professional achievements during the year, so I’m going to take the opportunity to highlight those as I have done in previous years.

2013 highlights

2013 highlights

Top left: Entering the CILIP offices for the final day of my secondment
Top right: Attendees at one of my CILIP Umbrella Conference breakout sessions
Bottom left: One of my CILIP Update columns
Bottom right: Lean In book by Sheryl Sandberg (image from Google Books)

One major thing this year has been my part-time secondment to CILIP for the Future Skills Project. Between May and November, two days of my working week were spent on the project along with another project worker, Julie Griffiths. Our focus was to work on the recommendations from the Future Skills project board to prepare for the launch of the new Professional Registration (previously referred to as CILIP Qualifications). We worked on the assessment criteria, the assessment process, the handbooks, and online support materials for Certification, Chartership, Fellowship, and Revalidation. For revalidation we reviewed the process and made it much more straight forward to submit on an annual basis, rather than a large portfolio every 3 years. We also provided training for a number of specific groups related to Professional Registration – the Professional Registration Assessment Board, Mentor Support Officers, and Candidate Support Officers. After a successful member vote in November, the new scheme has now launched and people are starting to use it. I hope they find it clearer than the previous system, and I know CILIP staff will be working hard to support everyone involved to make it a relatively smooth transition. The project was really interesting to work on, and totally different from my day job; the variety was good for me, and I enjoyed working with lots of different CILIP members. It was also really good to get to know more of the CILIP staff, who are lovely and made myself and Julie feel very welcome. I feel honoured to have been able to work on the project and the experience has certainly been a highlight of my year.

Towards the end of last year, I made a conscious decision to not attend as many conferences in 2013 as I had in 2012. This was a tough decision; I absolutely love conferences and learn so much from them, both through the sessions I attend and the conversations I have with people I meet at conferences. However, I find them pretty draining, particularly when I have a presentation to prepare for and deliver (though I love doing it and it is a really important part of my role as a researcher). I knew though that attending too many conferences could reach a stage where it impacts on my work, as it’s not just the time out at the conference, but the preparation time before and reflection time after. I knew I needed to prioritise so that I wasn’t spending as much time outside working hours doing activities relating to conferences.

I decided to only submit proposals for CILIP Umbrella Conference, which is a conference I’ve never been able to attend previously. I was delighted to discover that both my proposals had been successful, though of course that meant quite a bit of work ahead of me. I was very fortunate to be working with two fantastic co-presenters who made the whole process enjoyable, and I really enjoyed the conference. The keynotes were excellent as no matter what sector you work in, there was something to take from them all. I also really enjoyed a leadership panel discussion I attended, and breakout sessions on continuing professional development.

I was invited to present at other events, and although I couldn’t fit them all into my schedule, I was able to accept some and really enjoyed the opportunity to speak about topics that interest me. I presented workshops on tools and techniques to improve productivity; getting the most out of professional development; using mobile technologies in libraries; and at Internet Librarian International I was invited to share my experiences as a learner on a MOOC (see my previous blog post for further information on MOOCs). You can see a full list of the presentations I gave in 2013 on my Presentations page.

Another highlight of 2013 for me has been writing a column for CILIP Update. This followed on from an article I wrote for the magazine in 2012 on the Getting Things Done methodology, and this year I have written tips and advice on a number of different themes to do with improving productivity. I received some really positive feedback on the column and know some people have found the ideas useful in changing their own practice. I’ve drafted a blog post to summarise the key points from the column and will share that soon – in the meantime, the columns are available from my Publications page.

Something else I’ve enjoyed in 2013 is the Library Leadership Reading Group (LLRG). I started this after the CILIP in Wales 2012 conference on leadership, and since then have hosted discussions on ten different readings relating to leadership. I’ve found the discussions really useful – sometimes I haven’t really enjoyed reading the book but after the discussion have taken more from it due to other people’s perspectives after reading it. I’ve been tending to create a Storify of each discussion and you can see them linked from the LLRG Google document. At the moment we’re reading a book on change management, Our Iceberg is Melting, which we’re likely to discuss in January. Keep an eye on the #llrg tag on Twitter if you’re interested in joining us, everyone is welcome. One particular highlight of LLRG for me this year has been reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I absolutely loved it and it has had a huge influence on my life. I’ve discussed parts of the book with so many different people, and continue to think about some of the things mentioned in the book when I have to make decisions. I’ve also become part of a Lean In circle which has been a very positive experience for me.

So there we go, my personal highlights for the year. I hope you have enjoyed 2013, and whether or not you celebrate New Year I hope you have the opportunity to mark the beginning of 2014 in some way. I’m looking forward to a fresh start, beginning with a potential break of tradition (something I very rarely do!). First though, I shall be trying some new cocktails tonight including the one below – cheers!

I’ve recently started a part-time secondment to CILIP to work on their Future Skills Project. You may already be aware of the project, which has been working on the recommendations from the Defining our Professional Future report to review the CPD offering:

The Future Skills Project is reviewing CILIP’s qualifications to ensure every member gets the recognition they deserve from their employers and society for a unique suite of highly valuable, relevant and endurable skills.

This review has created the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB), the revised model for delivering Accreditation of academic and vocational qualifications and the suite of CILIP qualifications.

The two Future Skills Project Workers (one of whom is myself), are now working on preparing the material to support Professional Registration (i.e. Certification, Chartership, Fellowship, and Revalidation). We’ll be working on the recommendations from the project board and the information collected during the project (focus groups, surveys, etc.) but I’d like to pose a few of my own, more specific, questions to ensure what we produce is relevant and useful to current candidates and potential candidates. One of the first tasks I’m working on is thinking about what information needs to be in the handbooks provided by CILIP to guide you through the qualifications (see the current Certification handbook, Chartership handbook, Fellowship handbook and Revalidation handbook). I’d be interested in your views – please feel free to respond to any or all of these questions by commenting on the blog post or you can email me directly.

If you are currently working towards a CILIP qualification or have recently completed one:

What information in the handbook or on the CILIP website did you find useful in helping you complete your qualification?

Were there any resources outside of the handbook that you found useful? (e.g. book chapters, websites, articles, blog posts etc.) What did you find so useful about them?

Was there anything missing or unclear from the handbook?

What guidance would you have liked to see and in what format? (For example, we’ve seen mention of things like flowcharts for the process from start to finish, checklists of what you need to do and when – what would you have found useful?)

If you have considered a CILIP qualification:

Did you read the handbook? What did you think? Was there anything else you would have liked to know?

If you chose not to work towards the qualification, was there any information (or lack of) which contributed to your decision?

I’ll be working on the Future Skills project for the next three months and may well be asking for more feedback on things along the way, but if you have any comments or suggestions at any point, please email me. We really want to make sure that what we produce is clear, easy to understand and genuinely useful.

My three year term on the CILIP West Midlands committee has come to an end (two years as Marketing Officer, one year as Chair), and I only have a few months left chairing the ALA NMRT Online Discussion Forum committee, so I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my experiences and dispel some myths about chairing committees I’ve come across during my time as chair.


Only men over 50 can join committees

Only businessmen over 50 can join committees

Myth 1: You have to have X years of experience within the profession to chair a committee

Until I joined a committee I had assumed that everyone on the committee, and particularly the chair, secretary and treasurer, must have worked in the profession for a long time in order to know things inside out. What I have since realised is that though there is definitely value in having people on the committee who do have this extensive knowledge and experience, it’s not essential for each individual member to have that. In fact, those new to the profession have just as much to contribute as they are likely to have fresh ideas and suggestions for new ways of doing things – and they can take on roles such as chair, secretary and treasurer to possibly challenge the way things are done and make some changes. And that’s most definitely a good thing.

Myth 2: You have to know the committee and wider organisation inside out to chair a committee

Again, not necessarily true. All you need is a willingness to learn – coming to a committee afresh is of course likely to mean more time invested at the beginning to understand how things work. Experiences here may well differ depending on the organisation and committee, but there is often guidance for new committee members. In ALA New Members Round Table (NMRT) for example, there is a handbook wiki which contains all the information each committee needs. It includes details on the remit of the committee, key responsibilities and milestones for the year, reporting mechanisms, and who to go to for help. In addition, each committee is overseen by a member of the NMRT board so you always have people to turn to if you need further help.

Both CILIP and ALA are complex organisations and I’m willing to bet that the majority of committee members and chairs only know about a very small section of the organisation. A willingness to learn is again all that is needed here, and both organisations have council members who are incredibly helpful if you have any questions. They’ll also welcome new ideas so if it seems strange that something is done a certain way, ask the question and see if it can be improved.

This was the top image search for committee - not like any I've ever been on

This was the top result for a stock image search for committee – it’s not like any I’ve ever been on!

Myth 3: You have to be in a management role (or have held one previously) to chair a committee

Chairing a committee is a form of managing people, so any experience in this area helps, but it’s not essential – everyone has to start somewhere! I’m told it’s a very different experience to line management and I can definitely see that would be the case. It’s not a daily demand (for most committees anyway!), and committee members are usually volunteers so it’s a different type of situation, which of course has its pros and cons. Chairing a committee could be a useful way to get experience managing people if you don’t get the opportunity to do so in your job but would like to in future. As long as you’re willing to chair meetings and provide support for managing the work of your committee members, that’s all you really need.

Myth 4: You have to hold and attend a lot of face-to-face meetings to chair a committee

The number of meetings will vary depending on the remit and responsibilities of the committee, but sometimes these can be held virtually and for some committees no meetings are necessary at all. For most CILIP committees there seems to be a general acceptance that committees should meet face to face at least 4 times per year, however according to the current branch rules it is recommended that the committee meets as many times as is deemed necessary (which could of course be only once for the Annual General Meeting). Some committees never meet in person (this is the case for the NMRT committee I chair), whilst others meet regularly but rely mainly on virtual rather than physical meetings. Of course it’s still important for the chair to be comfortable to chair the meeting(s) and conversations however they occur, but I wanted to highlight the fact that his doesn’t necessarily mean numerous physical meetings. If you can’t commit to that, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t chair a committee.

Myth 5: You have to dedicate your life to a committee to act as chair

Well I didn’t, though I confess there were busy periods where a lot of my time was taken up with committee work (though I was on three committees, two of which I chaired). It doesn’t have to be a massive commitment though. You’re there to help steer and direct the committee, not do all the work. This was initially a difficult lesson to learn for me, but essential both for my well-being and for the sustainability of the committees. Clearly, you need to care about the core values of the committee to enable it to succeed, but if you can only give a limited amount of time, that’s absolutely fine – just choose a committee that suits. I would estimate that chairing CILIP West Midlands took on average around 1-2hrs of my time per week, whereas chairing the NMRT Online Discussion Forum Committee takes around 1-2hrs of my time per month. Committees vary hugely in this and depend on the type of committee – those with a specific purpose often have key periods of time that are particularly busy (e.g. conference organising committees) so you’ll need to take that into consideration.


So, that doesn’t sound so bad really does it? I’ve really enjoyed my time on both committees (and the CILIP Career Development Group West Midlands division committee which I was part of from 2009 to 2012). I can’t quite believe how much I’ve learnt in that time – about the organisations, about other people, and about myself. There have been highs, there have been lows, there have been lots of discussions and emails, and some fun and silliness thrown in too. Overall, it’s been a great experience and one I’d encourage people to participate in to help develop their skills and support their professional organisations (being involved in making it happen is one of the best ways to make sure the organisation is meeting your needs).

For both ALA and CILIP most chair roles are one year terms, with general committee terms for CILIP lasting three years. I recommend finding committees that interest you and seeing if you can get involved. Unless there are confidentiality issues, most meetings will be open so you can go along and see what the committee does – or just reach out to the current chair to get information. If you’re an ALA member, many of the divisions and round tables have volunteer forms for getting involved in committees (such as the NMRT volunteer form which I believe is still currently accepting applications). If you do become a committee chair, you might be interested in my earlier blog post on tips for chairing meetings.

It’s that time of year again – time to reflect on the activities of the previous 12 months (see 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 posts). Here are some of my highlights from 2012:

2012 highlights in pictures

2012 highlights in pictures

Top: My Emerging Leaders project group with ALA NMRT President (Janel Kinlaw, far left) and Past President (Linda Crook, far right)
Bottom left: CILIP Chartership certificate
Bottom centre: CILIP West Midlands Chair medal
Bottom right: Productivity and time management article

Professionally, one of the main things this year has been CILIP Chartership. I started the process early in the year, submitted my portfolio in August, and discovered I had been successful in October. I found it a really useful process for focusing my energy on developing skills and knowledge in areas I felt were important. It was particularly valuable in helping me prioritise tasks and projects, and having to do this has taught me a lot about time management and working towards goals. Throughout the Chartership process, I focused on research skills, formal communication, networking, presenting, event organisation, project management, delegating and leadership. Two of the other big things this year has involved are linked to leadership; ALA Emerging Leaders and chairing committees.

Being part of the American Library Association Emerging Leaders program was a truly incredible experience and I still can’t quite believe that I got to do it. I really enjoyed the project I was assigned to, I loved the enthusiasm and energy from all the Emerging Leaders and especially during our training days at ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual, and I made some truly fantastic friends. It also led to me getting more involved in ALA work, particularly in NMRT (New Members Round Table) where I now chair the Online Discussion Forum committee.

I’ve also been chair of CILIP West Midlands this year. It’s been an interesting challenge and one that has taught me a lot. During the three years I have been on the CILIP West Midlands committee I’ve been involved in trying new things and have been really proud of what we have achieved (e.g. held the first election hustings, continued to support event amplification for those who cannot attend events, organised informal social to complement formal training events). My term comes to an end at the end of the year (i.e. in a few hours!) and I feel ready to pass the baton on; there are a number of new committee members who I’m sure will bring some fresh ideas to the mix as well as some long standing committee members who know the ins and outs which help the committee function effectively.

This year I also developed a training workshop, and followed it up with an article for CILIP Update, on time management and productivity. It’s an area I’ve been interested in for a while and I’ve really enjoyed being able to put what I’ve learnt into developing something to help others. I’m looking forward to continuing this with my CILIP Update column next year.

My favourite cocktails of 2012

My favourite cocktails of 2012

2012 has been an interesting year and has resulted in a lot of personal reflection and development. I feel like I’m finding my place and learning what it is that makes me happy. Most importantly, I’m achieving a balance that suits me. I’ve completed the qualifications I set myself the challenge of gaining when I entered the profession in 2005, so now I can focus on other things – some covering other related professional interests, others covering different areas of my life. I’m really looking forward to 2013, I’ve been assured by both family and friends that it’s going to be a good year – I hope they’re right! Cheers everyone, here’s to 2013 🙂