Tag Archives: Do something different day

Tasting other libraries

First week back at work in 2012, and so far I’ve had two CLIC meetings, one with the steering group, and one with the staff development sub-group.  The staff development group are sorting out events for the next six months, and its looking like fun!  With National Libraries Day on Feb 4th, we are going to do a tie in event, with a day of library tours (though not actually on the 4th as its a Saturday and we wouldn’t all be open).  CLIC SDG is all about the library staff in Cardiff (as opposed to users/patrons/students/etc) and we are going to offer them the chance to visit as many different libraries in Cardiff as possible.  Why, you may ask?  Well, surely you know that most library staff are essentially nosey and want to have a peek at other people’s libraries (no, its not just me, honest!).  Its a chance to look at new buildings, old buildings, different sectors, and might give people ideas about where they want to work next.

A similar but more expanded version of this is coming later in the year (May/June) when CLIC will be tying in with Cardiff University’s Information Services to have a ‘Do something different day’ when library staff across Cardiff will be able to spend a day, or half a day, working in a different library/sector.  I’ve talked about this idea before and its a great opportunity to find out what its really like working somewhere else, without having to commit yourself to more than a day.  It was always good when it was run within CU, but opening it up to the other libraries and sectors in the city will bring a whole new host of oppportunities.

Aside from these ‘taster’ days, we are also going to run a session on ‘innovative marketing on a low budget’ (probably in May) as we believe its something that would be useful to many of us; especially in these days of austerity.

And as if all that wasn’t enough, a few of us from the CLIC SDG are going to put together a poster presentation for the CILIP Cymru Conference taking place 17-18th May in Cardiff.   The conference for Welsh library, archives and museum staff is normally hosted in Llandrindod Wells, so we’re lucky to have it down here this year, and I’m sure many of us will be volunteering to help out too.

Phew, on top of all that I better get some cataloguing done as well 😉


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Filed under Conferences, Librarianship, Staff development, Uncategorized

Thing 22: Professional volunteering – or volunteering in the profession

I admit I have no experience of actually volunteering to gain work experience.  Possibly because I wasn’t feeling too driven once I’d gained my MSc in librarianship, I think I kind of sat out the wait in my library assistant’s job, and it didn’t feel like too long before I got my professional position as a cataloguer (there were quite a few applications filled in though).  I did see other people who did the course either at the same time as me (distance learning) or after me (full time) who seemed to zoom past on the career trackway, which did make me feel slightly inadequate.  However, I was dealing with a long term non-visible health problem which made me very tired/anaemic for many years – so maybe that is one of the reasons I wasn’t feeling very motivated (that has only just occurred to me, so its possible).

However, although I haven’t gone out of my way to gain volunteering experience, I think in a slightly less obvious way I have been doing so as I go along.  My first permanent/full time position was as an acquisitions assistant, there were two of us doing the job, and when the cataloguer left and wasn’t replaced for about 9 months, someone had to fill in the gap.  I guess we could have just not bothered ( I can think of some people who might not have taken that opportunity), but we had a go (after having training), gained in confidence, muddled along, and became (non-professional) cataloguers.  Even once the Cataloguer role was filled, the person was employed as a Cataloguer/Systems Librarian and as we were going through a change in library management systems at the time their job never really encompassed actual cataloguing.  So, not volunteering as such, but stepping up to fill a void and gaining valuable experience and skills  as a result.

I like to think that if opportunities arise within my job, I am usually able to seriously consider them, (despite being really busy all the time).  We can’t all do everything, but we might be able to do that little extra, that in the long run has given us experience to take further.

One of the events that we run within our annual staff development programme is a ‘Do Something Different Day’ (usually two a year), when staff get chance to have a go working in a different part of the library service (or even in other parts of Information Services, such as IT or Media Resources).  A co-ordinator matches up willing libraries/departments with willing volunteers and for one day (or half a day if that is what your hours consist of) you get change to try out a different job.  This can be simply working in a different library doing a similar job to your own, or trying out a completely different role for the day (A day with the couriers, or on the IT help desk, or in the Collection management dept).  Its an opportunity to broaden skills, to see what differences there are in different libraries (for instance the difference between one of the medical or health care libraries who have a user-base of nurses, doctors, and clinical academics as well as med students – in comparison to an arts based library dealing primarily with undergraduate students).  Sometimes these experiences have led to the participants applying for jobs that have come up in the library/department they went to – and that experience has helped to give them an edge over some other applicants.  Its a brilliant scheme and we are very lucky to have it run.  Next year we are hoping to have a special ‘Do Something Different Day’  and involve other libraries from within Cardiff in the scheme (in conjunction with CLIC) – giving people the opportunity to try out different sectors (eg, public vs academic).  So that should be even more exciting.

I think volunteering can generally be a positive experience, but if does rather depend on where you are in your career and what you are looking for.  One should be careful that there is no exploitation going on, and that you don’t just become that extra ‘free’ member of staff, so I would guess that careful guidelines probably need to be agreed on for participants.  I think it probably can get you that foot in the door, or those extra skills you weren’t taught at library school; and in today’s tough economic climate every extra skill, and experience, you can gain will certainly help you out at job applications/interviews.

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Filed under CPD, Librarianship, Staff development