As someone who has only been involved in the library profession since the commencement of my graduate trainee library assistant position in December, it seemed that the CILIP and NLPN ‘Get Career Ready’ event in Sheffield would be very useful. I am new to the profession and I am fresh on the career path. I graduated from De Montfort University in 2013 with a degree in History and I have worked in numerous customer focused roles, including a call centre and a pub, before starting at the J.B. Priestley Library.
This was the first organised event I have attended since starting my work in libraries and it was a fantastic one to start with. It was a little bit daunting for me to enter a room full of library professionals and library school students (and prospective ones). I had a preconceived idea that everyone would be a lot more experienced and I would not have anything overly useful to add to the group discussions and activities. I was of course wrong as I felt comfortable engaging with the activities and networking with the group who were all very friendly.
People talked honestly about their experiences and their insecurities and this helped me to realise that I am not alone in mine. Katherine Stephan talked about her experiences and concerns about moving from public sector libraries to academic libraries. This made me realise that even super qualified and experienced people still have little moments where they second guess themselves. Katherine’s realisation that she was in fact a librarian and she could do the library jobs that were being advertised was brilliant. The skills that she had developed in her various other library roles and within public libraries were absolutely transferrable to the academic environment. You just need to be confident in your own abilities.
When I work with all these fantastic, intelligent and experienced librarians, I sometimes feel that a professional post would be immensely difficult to obtain. Holly Singleton talked about her first professional position where she is managing a team of people at a University Library. Similarly, Darren Flynn is working in a fantastic school library after recently graduating from his MA course. Listening to the five talented speakers and talking to several others during the speed networking hour, opened my eyes to the variety of work available to library professionals. Lisa Jeskins’ career is inspirational! It had never occurred to me that being a freelance librarian was possible. Lisa highlighted the importance of getting involved with interesting projects that will help your CV stand out.
The main thing I have taken away from the experience was that wherever you are in your career, use the support networks that out there and trust in your own abilities. People within the world of libraries are encouraging and supportive and are always happy to help. Networking with other professionals is a great way to get ‘career ready’. They can advise you and point you in the direction of interesting projects which will in turn, improve your CV. NLPN and CILIP did a fantastic job with this event and I would just like to say thank you to all the speakers for sharing their experiences with us.
Amy Ward, Graduate Trainee Library Assistant at the University of Bradford.