DO IT WHILST YOU CAN: Applying for student awards or bursaries & attend conferences for free…

DO IT WHILST YOU CAN: Applying for student awards or bursaries & attend conferences for free…

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:

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!

Lucky LILAC: an LIS new professional’s perspective of the 2017 conference

Lucky LILAC: an LIS new professional’s perspective of the 2017 conference

This is a guest post written by Catriona Robertson (@RabCShell), a new professional working in HE/health libraries.

Lucky might not be the term that springs to mind when you hear that it was LILAC’s thirteenth year in April, but that is how I, a LILAC newbie, felt to be attending this year’s conference. LILAC, the Librarian’s Information Literacy Annual Conference, is organised each year by CILIP’s Information Literacy Group and attracts attendees and delegates from the UK and further afield. This year’s conference was held over three days at the beautiful Swansea University Bay Campus. As an added bonus, there was plenty of sun rays, as well as ideas, to soak up.

Continue reading “Lucky LILAC: an LIS new professional’s perspective of the 2017 conference”

Libraries and the resident web


Last month I went to the British Library for a CPD25 event on professional identity and development for librarians. Over the course of the afternoon four speakers from different LIS backgrounds talked and discussed what it means to be a librarian in a period of change, and how to have an active role in shaping the way libraries and librarians are perceived by the public. Continue reading “Libraries and the resident web”

CILIP London’s New Professionals Social Event – October 2016

CILIP London’s New Professionals Social Event – October 2016

Last Wednesday, I had the privilege of attending the CILIP London Student and New Professionals Social in the Brass Monkey pub on Vauxhall Bridge Road. The organiser of the social, Amy, said it was the first of its kind put together by CILIP London, and the committee were not sure how many people would turn out for it. The number of attendees far exceeded expectations, with around 25 new professionals in attendance. This seems to show just how eager we all are to get to know our peers and to explore this career path more broadly.  Continue reading “CILIP London’s New Professionals Social Event – October 2016”

Manchester NLPN winter ’15/’16 event – Digital Skills

Manchester NLPN winter ’15/’16 event – Digital Skills

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. Continue reading “Manchester NLPN winter ’15/’16 event – Digital Skills”

CILIP New Professionals Day 2015

CILIP New Professionals Day 2015

The CILIP New Professionals Day was held on the 9th of October at the CILIP headquarters in Bloomsbury. The event was primarily aimed at information professionals either currently studying for their LIS qualification, recent graduates, or those who had begun their career less than 5 years ago. Many of the presentations were relevant to the profession as a whole so I thought I would share what I thought were the most interesting aspects of each presentation.

Many of the sessions from the event are not covered by this post – if you were at the event and would like to contribute a review, please get in touch, we would love to hear what you thought! Continue reading “CILIP New Professionals Day 2015”