I've been working in libraries since 2006, and only really been aware of the wider goings on in the profession since I joined CILIP around a year ago. But as far as I can see, despite the massive economic difficulties involved in the sector, if you can secure employment it is actually a great time to be a New Professional. There's a growing realisation that you can really get things done and make things happen quite early on in your career - making opportunities, rather than waiting for them to come to you in management 10 years down the line - and of course social networking has made it much easier to connect with other New Professionals and share experiences and advice.
I'm pleased to see that CILIP (and indeed SLA-Europe) are not just responding to but catalysing that excitement about being a new professional. From what I can understand, a huge amount of credit for this emphasis must go to Maria Cotera, currently serving her year as Past President of the Career Development Group; it seems she instigated a lot of the stuff that is now going on. Chris Rhodes has his role as the first New Professionals Coordinator, and last year was the inaugural New Professionals Conference; this year's (coming up in July) I'll blog about at a later date but details of it are here.
On Thursday I went to CILIP HQ to plan this year's version of the Graduate Open Day, at which I presented a paper last time around. A whole bunch of New Professionals Support Officers for various regions of CILIP, plus some other interested parties, got together last year to draw up plans for a regional version of the Open Day - CILIP is often criticised for being too focused on London and the South. A working group of myself, Chris Rhodes, Annette Earl, Maria Cotera and the indefatigable Kathy Ennis reconvened last week to take those initial ideas to the next stage and actually plan the days.
What came out was a New Professionals Information Day, which may be themed to some extent along the lines of my previous blog post about the applicability of existing interests to the library profession. (That, incidentally, is a great example of opportunities for New Professionals... I went from writing a blog post on a Tuesday, musing about how we can make more of the fact that you can apply all sorts of existing intersts and passions to librarianship, to suggesting this on the Thursday as a theme for a whole conference which'll hopefully be attended by hundred of people. There are no comporable opportunities in my 9-to-5 role.) It'll probably run twice, once in London (replacing the Graduate Day) and once in Newcastle, and cater for people who are either starting out in the profession or just at the 'wondering if LIS is for them' stage, and we've devised what I reckon is a really exciting format and programme. One of the best things about it, which if I remember rightly was thought up by Bethan Ruddock at the previous meeting, is what I and sadly no one else except me likes to call* Palindromic Scheduling™ - where the parallel sessions from early afternoon are repeated early evening, either side of a central section with a couple of key presentations and some time to network... This allows different people to catch the same programme at different times suitable to them, and ensures the key social networking opportunity is hopefully available to everyone in the middle bit. The event will be welcoming, inclusive, free, and exciting, I think. We've got loads of great ideas for it, and it's a brilliant thing to be involved with. (If you have anything you'd like to see happen at it, leave a comment or send me an email.)
What struck me about the day was how the five of us seemed to contribute almost exactly the same amount of ideas (correct me if I'm wrong, fellow attendees!) - something that doesn't often happen with committees. Not only that but Kathy was really happy for us to have an equal say in what happened - despite the fact that she's the expert on this sort of thing, and it is in effect 'her' day that we're appropriating and mucking about with. I hope that when (if) I ever become an expert in anything, I'll be so open to everyone else's ideas!
By the way, another reason it's a good time to be a New Professional is that the online New Professionals Network (LISNPN) is almost ready to launch. Stay tuned for more on that, I think it's going to be ace.
In other news
I was also really pleased to get an email confirming my essay - The Unspeakable Truth - was one of the three winners of the LISNews Contest. It was a good contest to support and I'm glad I entered, as I got comments and interaction with people who'd never read this blog, so that's great. To win is a lovely bonus. :) I'll stick a PDF of the essay on the website shortly.
* I'm afraid I can't think of a way of phrasing this that don't be making me sound like a pirate. I likes to call it Palindromic Scheduling - yaaar!