I am still buzzing from my experience of attending the umbrella conference. This is my second in a series of blog posts about umbrella for PTEG. This time I will cover my general experience of attending Umbrella for the first time and one of the conferences key themes ‘Future Skills, Future Rolls’ as this fits into my role as a CILIP Mentor.
Overall Umbrella was incredibly inspiring not just in terms of the speakers but also in terms of the other library and information professionals I had the pleasure of meeting. The positive vibe of the conference (helped along by Unbrella’s social events) fostered a sense of joint purpose as well as a sharing of ideas and best practice across all sectors of the profession. The venue was fantastic and easily accommodated the 600 delegates! The app was useful but once I had registered and got my hands on the glossy paper programme I didn’t look back. I enjoyed tweeting throughout the conference; however, concentrating on the speaker, following the #hashtag and then tweeting took all my power in multitasking.
Future Skills, Future Rolls for the profession was one of the four themes of Umbrella and impacts not only on our own roles but also on those of our mentees and the skills they develop.
Janice Lachance, CEO of Special Libraries Association International (SLA) gave an inspiring keynote speech on ‘Highlighting and using your expertise.’ For me her key message was that in this ever changing information environment we need to learn from each other as professionals and adapt to change. It’s not about job titles and roles, our focus should be on transferable skills and expertise including, research skills, organisation, referencing, analysis, information skills, advocacy, communication as well as the power to persuade and influence others. Janice also highlighted the importance of a-lining your role with your organisations which is a key part of CPD and also Chartership. Absorb as much information about your organisation as you can and think about how your skills and expertise can benefit senior management. Read what they read (blogs, news etc.) and you will get to know how they think and then what information they want. Information is not just meeting needs but a tool that drives decisions. Librarians and information professionals do this by providing the right information to the right people at the right time. You don’t have to work in a library to use your skills and have an impact. Look for jobs and don’t be afraid to create them.
Janice worked at the White House as Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff and I just had to chat to her afterwards but not about libraries about the West Wing! I am a big fan and to hear from her first hand about how realistic the TV show is and how she met the actors as they job shadowed in the White House just blew me away!
Ben Showers from JISC gave a great talk on ‘Tooling up: arming the librarian of the future.’ Think Rambo! Think big guns! This is the image that Ben showed us at the beginning of his talk. The key themes were Participation, Understanding and Emergence.
- Participation is about engaging communities with a purpose examples are crowdsoucing, moocs and the summer of student innovation project.
- Understanding: We need a greater understanding of how we are using technology.
- Digital Residents (live life online) vs Digital Visitors (take from it the bits we need) we are all a bit of both using the Internet in different ways.
- The Learning Blackmarket: students using social media in different ways, collaborating and exchanging ideas.
- In the future we may see Lofi spots not wifi spots, a place with no distractions especially for students in exam time.
- From chore to core: redistribute where the value is and focus on the right thing.
- Emergence: Change is going to be the norm we need to have processes that enable us to adapt. Ben thinks the world will become a computer and we will interact with it. Take advantage of open access options and find the free alternative! Emergent skills, the decline of the specialist and rise of the generalist and entrepreneurial.
He ended his talk with a Bad News Sandwich! 1) We are part of a community, share and learn from each other and don’t reinvent the wheel 2) Disruption is a feature not a bug… (this was the bad news, change is a feature that is here to stay) 3) This is the best time to be a librarian. We are here at the start of the Internet. Just remember it took 150 years from the first printing press (which produced porn) to the first academic journal.
Rebbecca Bartlett, Innovation Manager at the Library of Birmingham touched on the future skills, future rolls theme in the debate ‘Where does the internet end and
the library begin?’ by highlighting that a Library of the 21st Century is not just the building but a relationship between digital and physical. We need to explore how can we change adapt and reform by seeing the Internet as an extension of services – “a library without walls.” Through utilising mobile technology, crowdsourcing and gaming Birmingham Library hopes to double the “footfall” (this could be digital footfall too and has changed the way the see their KPIs) of 16-35years! Geoff white, Technology Producer for Channel 4 News also touches on this theme by saying that Future rolls is about multi-skilling. People don’t want infinity of information, they trust in the gatekeepers e.g. Librarians. Find the need that’s not being met and make that your priority!
Here are the top tips from the Leadership in the Information Profession Debate about what makes a good Leader:
- Passion and belief in the service
- Lead by example, delegate and give credit
- You can’t change who you are but knowing is very important, you can learn to act out of character
- Network, collaborate and share best practice
- Be strategic
- Be an advocate
- Keep your skills up to date
- Work well as teams you can’t do it on your own
- Attitude: say yes!
- Do it with a sense of humour
- Have a little bravery and take advantage of the situation
- Influencing beyond authority: have your narrative clear
- Have a critical friend.
I am glad to see critical friend in this list as this how I see myself in terms of supporting my Chartership mentees and it’s nice to see that this is important at other stages of your career too.
Cpd23 and the CILIP PKSB, Jo Alcock and Niamh Tumelty gave a great presentation that highlighted how 23 things can not only help new professionals but can also map across the PKSB to help Chartership candidates who wish to improve their IT, communication, leadership and advocacy skills. It is definitely something I will be recommending to my mentees.
#uklibchat presented by Ka-Ming Pang is another thing I will be telling my mentees about. It’s an online twitter chat which happens for 2 hours once a month and is a great way to improve your knowledge and network with other professionals. The are also new feature articles and summaries available on their website
Ka-Ming was really inspiring and motivational saying “I started something and you can to!” Also encourage your mentees to check out Chartership chat on twitter and follow #chartership is stay in touch with other candidates.
Assistant Librarian, LRC
Guildford College, Stoke Road, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 1EZ