LISNPN, the New Professionals Network, has just announced it's first ever competition and I am really excited about it.
You can read all about it on the network itself, but the short version is this: we want people who have entered the profession in the last decade or so to create a piece of library advocacy. It could be an article, a video, a slide-deck, an essay, a piece of art, a project, a campaign - literally anything that doesn't pre-date the competition. The only criteria is that it gets some pro-library ideas to people who wouldn't normally engage with libraries at all. The idea is to indulge in a bit of stealth advocising - to package up some library advocacy in something so intrinsically awesome that it reaches new audiences. Doesn't even have to be particularly stealthy - just reach new people.
The first prize is a full pass to Umbrella, CILIP's biennial conference which takes place in July this year. We're working with CILIP on this competition so thank you very much to CEO Annie Mauger for agreeing to be part of this - the prize is worth up to £500 (based on what the pass would cost to buy; it'd be slightly cheaper if you are a CILIP member already) and includes refreshments, social activities and the Gala Dinner. Attendance at such a conference is usually out of the reach of New Professionals due to the cost, so we're really hoping the competition sparks loads of interest and is entered by people who would love to attend but couldn't normally. Not only that but there is a second prize of attendance at the New Professionals Conference this year! This has kindly been donated by the Career Development Group. Full details of this year's NPC are still to be decided, but it'll take place in June, somewhere other than London. You can read about last year's conference here to get an idea of what it's all about.
We'd really encourage as many people as possible to enter, whether it will be your first attempts at library advocacy, or if you're a veteran. You can read the full Terms and Conditions on LISNPN. (And thank you muchly to the LISNPN admin team for spending ages with me working those out!)
Apart from the great prize, and it being another step forward for the network, there's another reason I'm thrilled about this. Every single entry should benefit the library community, whether it wins or not. Many competition entries are inward-facing rather than out-ward facing - an essay about why you want to win, only ever seen by the judges, for example. That's fine, but this is different. Because every single entry to this competition will be a little piece of library advocacy, a small effort to raise awareness about the profession and the industry. The beauty of a competition format like this is that one prize inspires multiple efforts - to actually commission 10 or 20 or 50 people to create advocacy would cost a fortune, whereas here we only 'pay out' once, or rather twice as we have a second prize. So lots of innovation is (hopefully) catalysed. When this happened in the air-travel industry, with the Orteig prize in 1927, it moved things on by years in a single leap! Not saying that will happen here, but I'm still excited at the prospects of what we can do.