Rhiannon and Evie (Old Bodleian trainees) recently attended the CILIP New Professionals Day, held at CILIP headquarters in central London. The day was a worthwhile introduction to CILIP as a network of Library and Information professionals, and a great way to find out more about potential career paths and job sectors – and of course there were some freebies in there!
It was really useful and
reassuring to meet other new professionals who were all at very different stages in terms of their roles, their interests, and their educa-
tion. From a historian who is completing his masters while working as a Roving Support Assistant at Coventry University, to a former zoologist who is now Local Studies Librarian at Cheshire County Archives, there were so many different backgrounds and career paths amongst the attendees. It was very helpful to chat to people who have recently completed a library qualification, and to get their opinions on different universities, the Postgraduate Diploma versus the full Masters, and which modules they most enjoyed.
The talks were generally very interesting
and gave plenty of insight into the vast scope of the Library and Information field, covering sectors and employers ranging from corporate banks to humanitarian organisations, with employees and former employers of the NHS, Civil Service, and Microsoft represented.
One of the most exciting talks was about the role of the prison librarian, which debunked many misconceptions surrounding the job, and gave an honest and fair assessment of the challenges and rewards of working in a prison library. We were also surprised and gladdened to hear about the many charities and organisations providing support and funding for prisoners who want to further their literacy and education. It was gratifying to learn what an incredible difference prison libraries can make to children whose parents are in prison, by encouraging parents and children to engage with books and learn more together.
Evie also enjoyed the talk about Library and Information professionals working in the Civil Service, finding it inspiring to learn about the pivotal role of LIS professionals in researching, organising, and collecting data for important governmental reports and projects, such as the report into the Grenfell Tower fire. Again, the talk worked to counter pre-existing assumptions about working in the Civil Service as an LIS professional, and offered an intriguing introduction to the sector as a potential avenue for our future careers. The speaker was clearly a passionate individual with a love for the Library Services and this was particularly inspiring.
One of the most important things we took from the talks was the understanding that a career does not have to be a linear trajectory ‘up the ranks’ in one sector or organisation – it is always possible to transfer skills as an LIS professional from one sector to another, always branching out to new opportunities in different environments, or to build on your experience in one area and specialise further. The event also gave me a better understanding of what sectors might not appeal to me, as well – business and corporate sector information work, as an example. It was helpful to learn more about CILIP and their role as a supportive network for people in the field, and to find out about the events and qualifications available to CILIP members as they progress in their careers, such as their Chartership programme.
After the New Professionals Day, both of us feel much better equipped to articulate our own priorities and desires for the LIS careers we would like to build, and more informed about the realities of some key sectors within the field. We are excited to share this with our fellow trainees who weren’t able to attend!