It’s been a good year for attending events – the highlight for me was getting the sponsored student place for LILAC 2010. I absolutely loved the conference and spent a very enjoyable 3 days chatting to librarians from different countries about their experiences with information literacy. I always learn a lot from attending events, both from the formal sessions and from the conversations at the event, and this was particularly true at LILAC. I met some fascinating people and was able to chat with American and Canadian librarians (such as Sarah Faye Cohen who has always been an inspiration, and a lovely Canadian librarian who I chatted to throughout the dinner evening); these conversations really helped improve my understanding of issues common to many librarians.
I also attended my first UC&R/CoFHE conference this summer, for which I had two presentations accepted. I spoke about using social media to build your professional network (this was primarily aimed at new professionals), and I collaborated with Emma Illingworth to present on your library brand and the student experience. This was something of interest to both Emma and I, but not something we had much practical experience with – our presentation seemed to generate further interest in the area and marketing in libraries seems to be really taking off now (including an interesting book proposal from Ned Potter).
The major change of the year for me happened in late summer, when I applied for a new job at Birmingham City University. I was delighted to be offered the job, and started work as a researcher at Evidence Base in August. I was ready for a new challenge and that’s certainly been realised! I haven’t written much about my new job but I am really enjoying it so far. It’s very different to my previous role, involving working as a researcher for a self-funded department which is part of the university library (it used to be part of the library school). So far I’ve been involved in research and evaluation work for library/information community, including working with JISC projects. I’m looking forward to starting back after a relaxing break and beginning some new projects as well as utilising my skills to develop Evidence Base’s web presence and hopefully run some events.
Through my new job, I’ve been able to attend some different types of events and was invited to speak to school librarians about how they can help prepare students for university. I really enjoyed the event and have been invited to speak to a different group of school librarians about the same topic next year. I was also invited to a UKOLN organised event for the cultural heritage sector focused on social media. I used a case study approach to demonstrate how problems at my workplaces have been addressed by utilising social media.
I have also been busy with CILIP West Midlands commitments as Marketing Officer. My role includes managing our online presence (Twitter, blog, Flickr etc.), producing monthly email updates, and communicating with our users wherever possible to understand their needs and how we can meet them. As we are a relatively small committee, I’ve also taken on additional responsibilities including event organisation. We worked with The Birmingham Salon to organise a successful debate involving both library and information workers and the general public (focused on the new Library of Birmingham), and in November I organised and chaired a Hustings event for the CILIP 2011 candidates (Vice President and Councillors). This was quite a stressful thing to take on with all the governance that must be adhered to (and especially as I’ve never chaired anything before), but I’m really glad I did it – I developed a number of new skills, and we got some great feedback too which was very pleasing. We utilised online streaming and were able to include questions from outside the room which worked really well, and is something I’d definitely like to do again in future.
I also joined the American Library Association (ALA) this year (my membership card came through this morning!). I’m hoping to be able to get involved with the work of ALA and have joined the New Member’s Round Table – hopefully I will be able to attend a conference to get a flavour of the international perspective.
With all this going on, unfortunately progress on my MSc dissertation has slipped slightly. I did finalise my topic (strategic marketing in academic libraries, focusing on the West Midlands region) and completed a draft of the introduction and literature review, but am still finalising the draft methodology (thankfully my new job has helped develop my research skills which I’m hoping will help speed things along). The dissertation will be a major focus for the next few months.
In my personal life, I finally learnt to drive this year and have adapted to gluten free life (I was diagnosed with coeliac disease on 31st December 2009). I’ve also been cross stitching more and more in my free time – it keeps me sane by relaxing my mind and is something I hope to be able to continue.
The year ended with a new project which I really enjoyed – Festive 24 Things, an online advent calendar which I did with Damyanti Patel. I’ve always wanted to do a 23 Things style programme and this was a great introduction to that.
So, what are my hopes for next year? I think I’ll leave that for a resolutions post tomorrow. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2011! 🙂