As a new professional looking forward to potentially working towards chartership once I finish my LIS degree next year, I am always keen for a CPD opportunity. So, when I was encouraged by a colleague to join the committee of the Forum for Interlending and Information Delivery (FIL), I jumped at the chance. So, what does being a member of a committee involve, and how can it help a new professional develop their career?

I’m currently working in interlibrary loans (ILL), and absolutely love it. (Check out Chloë’s article for more information on ILL and what it’s all about!) I’m lucky enough to work with the current chair of FIL, and this year she suggested that I attend their annual Interlend conference in Portsmouth. As well as being my first conference as an LIS professional, this was my first real glimpse into the work of a committee.

So what exactly does the committee do? The FIL committee meets in person several times a year, with email and telcon updates in between. The main tasks of the committee are organising FIL’s events: Interlend each summer and an annual British Library event in November (I’m already excited for next year’s, as it will coincide with the BL’s Harry Potter exhibit! ). As well as this, there is the FIL journal to organise, website to maintain and finances and membership to manage. All of this takes time and dedication from committee members, who take on these tasks alongside their regular work. The committee is made up of people involved in ILL in a range of different roles and with different levels of experience, and members serve between two and four years.

As I only joined the committee this summer, I am still only starting out, but my experiences so far have been great. I was a bit apprehensive about taking on another responsibility outside of work, especially as I am in the middle of studying for a Masters in Information and Library Studies, which eats up a lot of my time. I need not have worried, however, as the team have been really welcoming, and I’ve started off with just a few small tasks, so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming. I’ve written a short introduction of myself as a new committee member for the journal, will soon be writing my first blog post, and at our first meeting last month volunteered to help out with organising next year’s conference. I’ll be shadowing the leader of the conference organisation team and learning what it takes to plan this kind of event. I’m hoping this will be a great opportunity to try something completely different from anything I’ve done in my work so far, and to learn some new skills.

So why join a committee? The main advantage, particularly for a new professional, is that it’s a great networking opportunity. In groups like FIL, you get the chance to meet other people in a similar role to you at other organisations, so its’s an excellent place to share experiences and ideas. In regional groups, it can be a great way to meet other LIS professionals in your area. Depending what your interests and skills are, you can help out with different tasks. It’s also a chance to learn something new, by taking part in activities you might not get to experience as part of your job, so it can be an effective way to enhance your CV.  Most of all though, I’d say that if you have time, being a member of a committee can be good fun. Getting to know great people with similar interests is never a bad thing, and if you also get to develop professionally along the way, so much the better!

If you’re interested in joining a committee, a good place to start is by looking up your CILIP regional member network or special interest group committees that you think you might be interested in. See if they need any new members, or just go along to a meeting and see what it’s about!

Featured image courtesy of 8 Kome on flickr. 



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