Manchester based New Library Professionals Network (NLPN) hold regular events in the North West aimed at new or early career library professionals, and with an inclusive, low cost ethos. I attended their most recent winter event on Digital Skills in MadLab Manchester 30/01/16, and was also grateful to be given the opportunity to give a short presentation as part of their initiative to give people the opportunity to gain more experience presenting.
The venue, MadLab is a great place which hosts a number of creative and community groups and events. It was a lovely space, comfortably warm (freezing outside!!), big group tables with power sockets, and NLPN provided some tea, coffee and biscuits. CILIP North West provided funding for the venue hire, so the event was totally free to attendees.
The day was structured to comprise two main sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, with four ten minute ‘new professional’ presentations just after lunch. The whole event ran between 10am and 4pm. Very handily, NLPN point out on their website which areas of the PKSB these sessions can be used as evidence for if you’re applying for Chartership (and presumably this can be applied to Certification too).
LIHNN Literature Searching MOOC
The first session was led by Michelle Maden on the LIHNN Literature Searching MOOC. This was a great opportunity to gain insight into the processes and research behind setting up a MOOC, and having participated in a few it was really interesting to me to see it from the other side like this. They got some interesting feedback and results, finding that they attracted students from around the world and outside of the health library sector as well as within, that participants enjoyed the opportunity to share tips and experiences, and that issuing certificates only after completion of a survey was an effective way of getting feedback! It does seem that MOOCs are hugely cost effective to deliver as well as to participate in, are very flexible (although this could possibly contribute to pressure to complete them outside of work time), and look to be the way forward for delivery of this type of CPD. I do like MOOCs, and although I prefer learning in a class environment in the real world, I can’t deny that being able to fit MOOCs around work and other commitments and study in the comfort of your own home are a massive plus. The LIHNN MOOC is still available online if you want to work through it yourself, and we spent some time during the morning having a look at the content ourselves.
Research Support Service
An hour for lunch, and we stepped out into the still freezing cold, failed to find the central library, then back for the four ‘new professionals’ presentations. These were on a diverse range of topics. Rachel Davies began, sharing her experience of setting up a research support service from scratch at Leeds Trinity University. With quite a small number of research students initially, they were able to offer quite a personalised service which sounds like it worked very well indeed. It sounded like a great experience, with lots of opportunities to try things out and learn as they developed and share experiences with others along the way, and with future potential for further developments. I thought this was a great project to hear about as I think it’s probably an aspect of library service which a lot of users are quite unaware of, despite it being so vitally important to anyone doing research.
Next up was my presentation on PirateBox/LibraryBox which I raced through rather hyperactively and can’t really tell you too much about it from the audience perspective. I can, however, attest to the value of being given the opportunity to present to a group like this, and the commitment by NLPN to give new professionals the chance to do this at their events is fantastic. As someone who never gives formal presentations as part of my job, it was a brilliant (as well as quite terrifying!) experience and I definitely learnt a lot about what to do (and especially not do!) next time, so many thanks to NLPN for giving me this learning experience. To anyone else in a similar situation do apply if you get the chance, yes it may be nerve-wracking but it’s the kind of thing that will probably only improve with practice and if you push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Thirdly, Katie Nicholas gave a presentation on setting up the ebookmatrix, a comparison site of some of the ebook providers in the marketplace. This looks like a hugely useful site for libraries, is easy to use, and contains a lot of other helpful information e.g. setting up WAYFless links, for example. It also sounded like the effort and research the team put into setting up the sytem was also something that should be of great interest and use to the ebook providers themselves as useful feedback on their services. I’m definitely going to share this with colleagues, it’s a great site.
The LISDIS team, fourthly, spoke to us about the LISDIS conference, the first of which took place in November last year. LISDIS stands for Library and Information Science Dissertations and the conference was set up to enable LIS students to share the research undertaken in their dissertations. The first conference was a great success and they got a large number of submissions which they had the difficult job of choosing from for the days programme of nine. I really liked the emphasis on increasing visibility of LIS research and think they’ve already achieved a lot with this. I’d be interested in the future to see whether it evolves into a platform to encourage collaboration amongst researchers, particularly in-post and cross-sector, as I think that would be a really interesting and vibrant area. They hope to have another conference soon so check out their website or @LISDISConf for more info.
The afternoon session led by Emily Hopkins was on coding, and after a presentation giving us an introduction to coding we were able to get hands-on with some Python practice using free site Codecademy. Unfortunatley for me I couldn’t access the site properly on my browser, but I’ve used Codecademy before and it’s a good site to learn and get experience of coding and I recommend giving it a try. I’ll certainly be having a look at completing the Python work at home. These kinds of skills are becoming more sought after in the library and information professions, and as discussed at the event even if you don’t forsee yourself needing to use this kind of thing in your role it’s good to have an understanding of it as something you will no doubt come into contact with in one way or another.This was a really fun and practical session.
Overall a brilliant event from Manchester’s NLPN, a good venue, good speakers, and well attended (20-30 at a guess). It’s really good to have the opportunity to meet with others in the profession from a range of sectors and roles, and very motivating to hear about all the exciting things being done. I just wish that these kinds of events were given even more support to enable them to take place more frequently and during the working week!