This blog is part of 23 Things for Professional Development, a course encouraging information professionals to explore online tools.
Thing 7, Face-to-face networks and professional organisations, asks me to consider networking through professional organisations. Getting out and about and talking to other professionals is one of the parts of my job I enjoy most, and I always find it revitalises me and encourages me to try new things.
Networks I already know
Those who read this blog regularly will know that I have particularly strong connections with CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, so I guess that’s a good place to start. I’ve been involved with some central CILIP activities, such as the Defining Our Professional Future project, but like a lot of members the majority of my involvement with the organisation has been through the special interest groups (SIGs) and regional activities. I previously sat on the Career Development Group Yorkshire and Humberside division Committee, and have also attended events from the increasingly active East Midlands Branch.
Overall I’ve found these subgroups of CILIP are a fantastic way to meet other information professionals (from a range of sectors), and they organise a number of events I’ve found invaluable for my career development. In attempt to give back more, I recently joined the University, College and Research Group East Midlands division Committee, and the division was also kind enough to fund my attendance at one UC&R National Committee, which I found very enjoyable and educational. I’m not sure I’ve got a lot of scope to increase my involvement in CILIP right now, but I should probably aim to be more active and proactive on the UC&R East Mids committee.
Here’s some other kinds of groups I’ve really found equally valuable for training and / or networking:
- groups supporting subject specialities: the University Science and Technology Librarians Group (USTLG) and the Business Librarians Association (BLA)
- regional groups: like the cross-sectoral Libraries and Information East Midlands (LIEM)
- non-library groups like Royal Society of Chemistry (based at Burlington House, above), and other publishers
- events like Mashed Library, LILAC or EBLIP, and their attendee networks
- online fora like LISNPN, and the face-to-face meetings they organise (we really should do one for the Midlands: anyone interested?!)
- groups centred around activities, like CPD23 itself, for which I attended an online networking session earlier this week
I’m also hoping to get involved with the newly launched LIS-DREaM network of library and information science researchers soon: they’ve got a series of upcoming events and I’m hoping to find a way of getting to one or more.
The Other Contenders
A couple of the groups Bethan lists for this ‘Thing’ feel particularly relevant to me, but I haven’t engaged with them. Why not? The first is the Special Libraries Association (SLA). I did apply for SLA Europe’s Early Career Conference Award for a couple of years in a row but never got anywhere with it. Plus, the majority of their events are in London (I know there’s been one in Manchester, but that was harder to get to than London!) and so they’ve seemed really been compelling for me. Sorry guys! Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) is something I might consider aiming for, but the HEA seems to be heavily hit by current cuts, and I’m not sure it’ll still be there by the time I’m ready!
I feel I’m pretty active with face-to-face networks, but I have to be realistic about what I can manage in my own time, and what I can get the blessing to do at work, so I wouldn’t be comfortable taking on much more. That said, I’ve got two definite goals identified from this ‘Thing’: becoming a bit more proactive with UC&R East Midlands, and seeing how I can become involved with LIS-DREaM.