Ok, so you are student, super busy with studying and assignments, and not to mention the dissertation looming over you like the sword of Damocles. You may even be a distance learner or part-timer working as well.

OR you might be a new professional… either searching for a job or trying to get to grips with your professional role. Either way, you are busy, don’t have time to apply for these bursaries and you’re not even sure how going to a conference would benefit you?!

Why, oh why, would you think about applying for a bursary to go to a conference?! There conference takes time away from study or work and the application itself… well, who has time to do that?!


Well, reader, take two minutes to read this and see if this can change your mind… I will tell you why you should apply and then how!

Firstly, why you should apply for student/new professional bursaries/awards. Well, simply put, it is well worth it. It looks great on the old CV AND it allows for that all important networking, so people get to know your name and face. This, dear readers, is a serious gold cache in this tough industry where job vacancies have a high number of applicants and standing out from the crowd is very necessary… and a little bit of who you know won’t hurt!

The talks are also typically amazing, some awe-inspiring and you are sure to come away with a suitcase full of ideas! Yes, there might be one or two talks that aren’t your thing or sound, well brutally put, boring, but this is really the minority!

So. On to the applying part.

CamLibs18 conference
Me in the middle (flower dress w/white sleeves) with all the organisers for Cambridge Libraries Conference, Jan 2018.

What credentials do I have to write this blog post? Well, not many granted but I won last year’s LILAC student sponsored place and this year I was lucky enough to win the first student bursary for Cambridge Libraries Conference.

Thing to note: Some conferences just offer students the chance to apply, others open it up to students or those who have just qualified as a professional (typically within 5 years of getting the library/information science qualification). Keep an eye out for the terms & conditions!


How to apply:

  1. Well, firstly, I applied! Seriously important stuff. You have to be in it to win it, as they say.
  2. People get put off by the word count. DON’T! It is always less than 1000 words, but mostly it is about 500 words…and let’s face it we can all bash out a 3,000 word essay thanks to Library School. On the plus side, the fact that only 22 people applied for the LILAC student award last year might work in your favour… giphy (3)
  3. The awards and bursaries come with a very specific set of instructions about what they want you to show in your application. STICK TO IT and make sure you COVER IT ALL THOROUGHLY.
  4. Don’t think you’re not good enough. I am one of the world’s worst culprits for thinking I am not good enough for something, but this is NOT the time for it. APPLY BECAUSE YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. giphy (2)
  5. Always say what you hope to get out of the conference. Is there a particular talk you are interested in? A speaker? What is the theme of the conference?
  6. The above leads me nicely on to this next one: RESEARCH. Do your research. Have a look around the conference webpage. They often have their keynote speakers announced way in advance and more times than not, a suggested programme of talks. Use this in your application to highlight somethings you’d like to attend. And mention why you’re interested in those things.giphy (4)
  7. Use examples. This is a very inarticulate way of my saying illustrate your point. For example, how will this help your work/studies, say that your dissertation is on such and such, or you’re really interested in going into X, Y or Z area… How do you plan to use the information gained at this conference? You can say that you plan to implement the ideas at work, share with colleagues, etc etc etc… A clear plan of action following the conference is always a good thing!
  8. ENTHUSIASM. Do not under estimate the use of adjectives and sheer enthusiasm in the application. It may sound like your application veers into the realms of hyperbole, but the person reading it doesn’t know you and they do not know your enthusiasm for this conference or librarianship. It has to come through your words, so make it happen!
  9. The word count is limited when you consider you’ve got to fit all the above in, so make it succinct, clear and enthusiastic.
  10. Get a friend to read it through. A helpful editor to check for typos and be your enthusiasm-radar.


SO GO AND APPLY! There’s plenty of opportunity out there:

  • LILAC student sponsorship: https://www.lilacconference.com/lilac-2018/awards/student-sponsored-places.

CLOSES: 16th Feb 5pm.  (Neat thing to note: I got to write up my interviews with bursary winners in the Journal of Information Literacy another thing to add to the CV/LinkedIn profile!)

CLOSES: 28th Feb 5pm

CLOSES: 28th Feb midnight

And keep an eye out for CILIP’s conference in July in Brighton, where they offer bursaries…

Best of luck with your applications!

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