It is approaching that time of year when a fresh set of graduate trainees are starting to enter the library world, so if you are a ‘library-trainee-to-be’, or thinking of things to tell your replacement, I’ve outlined a few things that might be of use to you. You don’t need to do all of them, but hopefully a little awareness will go a long way.
Library Current Awareness
- Sign up to some mailing lists – these are great for keeping an eye on opportunities for students and grad trainees (ie. conference bursaries), library meet ups that may be taking place in your area, and general library happenings. The JISC mailing lists (free!) are great, with a strong array of specialised lists, as well as general ones such as LIS-LINK. Have a browse to see which ones take your fancy; the majority of library related ones begin with “LIS-“. A word of caution though, if you sign up for too many, your inbox WILL become full VERY QUICKLY! I un-subscribed from several due to being inundated by emails that were not relevant for me. Being on two lists is about as much as I can manage, but every now and again, a gem of an email comes through and makes it all worth while.
Get Involved Online
- Join Twitter so that you can ignore it and call it a waste of time before realising the error of your ways and coming back to embrace it before the year is out. For some good beginners’ tips regarding Twitter have a look at Ned Potter’s guide.
- Start a blog to keep a record of what you get up to. I wish I had! At the time I probably wouldn’t have seen the point, but looking back, having something to compare my experiences to would have been fantastic. It will make writing your applications for postgrad courses and jobs easier too by providing you with a record of all that you have achieved and contemplated across the year.
- Keep an eye on the LISNPN forums for interesting discussions, and read through the anonymous reviews of library courses, very informative!
- Scout out a few library related blogs to read. You don’t need to add hundreds to your Google reader or RSS feed, but having a look at one or two every so often on your lunch break will give you a taste of the kind of issues libraries face and problems that you can tackle in the future. Great for getting a sense of how awesome and exciting the profession is and helping to understand the big library picture!
- Online activities give a great sense of what the library world is like, but the best way to understand it is to meet people! Keep an eye out for LISNPN meet ups in your area.
- Apply for things! When you see a bursary opportunity pop up in your inbox, apply! What is the worst that can happen? Maybe you’ll be sent to locations such as Newcastle, Dublin, or America!
- Question the people you work with! There is a mine of information sat around you, so why not question them relentlessly about every aspect of the LIS profession you can think of? If they don’t have time at work, then suggest some after work activity where you can sit them all down and grill them. You are there to learn after all, why else would they have a trainee role?
Join Some Professional Bodies
Student membership can help you to make an informed decision of what a body can offer before having to shell out big bucks later on… Most importantly though, don’t be afraid to go along to events. As I’ve said before with regard to networking, if you are enthusiastic and have ideas, people will be pleased to talk to you, no matter what job level you work at. You just need to put yourself out there!
- CILIP student membership is currently about £38. For me, the main benefit was access to some academic library journals, providing a taste of the kind of material I would be studying during my MA. I would also recommend the Career Development Group for getting involved- keep an eye out for their New Professionals Conference! You also receive Update and Gazette, useful for academic and public library news.
- Special Library Association (SLA) student membership is currently about $40, roughly £25 depending on the exchange rate. You’ll receive their magazine, Information Outlook, but also access to a division (specialist) and chapter’s (regional) information. For instance, I have joined the European chapter and the Legal division, though you are free to join more, and do not have to practice in an area to join that division. Also of note, is that it isn’t just for specialist libraries – for instance, there is a large academic division. For me, the real benefit has been the networking opportunities SLA has provided, it contains an amazingly diverse set of librarians and information workers, opening my eyes to roles that I never knew existed.
- Other specialist bodies such as the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL), the City Legal Information Group (CLIG) and the School Library Association (a different SLA) can provide networking opportunities and information more specifically related to interests you may have. Ask those who you work with what they would recommend!
Let me know if you wish you had known anything else while you were in your traineeship or first library post!