Half Way Point – Semester 2 – Year 1

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I was meant to post this update before the Easter break, but sadly the Open Access essay and group work I’ve been doing took over! And some relaxing and not doing anything to do with libraries!

I’ve got to Week 7 of Semester 2 of the first year of my Part Time Masters in Librarianship and Week 8 begins next Monday.

Time for a recap!

Management Module

In Week 6 we had to do a financial management exercise. This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do in 2 intense hours!

We were put in teams and were asked to put together a budget proposal for a small specialised academic library for the next financial year. We were given fictitious figures from the previous year. This was presented to us in the form of a giant A3 spread sheet with tiny text and went into a lot of detail of what the budget was spent on the previous year. We were also given inflation figures for certain areas and had to reduce our budget from last year by 3% so we had to make cuts!

It was really interesting to see what different people wanted to cut. One person in my group was flat out ‘we’re not cutting any resources’, which I get, but we didn’t have any information, such as usage statistics. Were we subscribing to expensive databases or journals that weren’t being used? Maybe. Things we did cut were the casual/temp staff. I have two casual positions (one at a museum and one at an HE library) and I had to kind of stop myself from saying ‘Those are people!!!’ *gulp*

We also decided to cut our professional memberships and conference spending, which we got the previous Director of Information from the University of York library’s opinion on. He was helping host the session with our lecturer and he said that’s something he’d never cut. If I’d have had more energy in the session (I’d been at work for 3 or 4 hours before this 2 hour lecture) I might have mentioned that he’s talking to some of the youngest early career professionals who do not always have access to these things. I said cut them because if none of us have ever or rarely experienced these things why would we keep them? It seems harsh, but our plan was to deliver more training in house and look at the professional development we can provide without memberships. Sorry library groups!

We didn’t cut enough in the allotted time. We started small when we should have started big. And our group was quite fragmented, but it was an interesting (and scary) exercise!

Service Quality Evaluation Group Project

Background: This is a multi-part assessed piece of coursework we have to do in groups. I have reluctantly taken the leadership role in this project.

Before I did this project I knew that sometime in my career I might have to be a manager and I accepted that. I’ve heard too many people say ‘I don’t want to be a manager! I just want to work in a library!’ Whatever that means.

Now what do I think? Now I think please please please don’t make me be a manager. I have found it so unbelievably draining. I don’t think this coupled with some added pressures in my current job has helped, but it has really taken it out of me. I love going to work and being ‘on’ and talking to people and helping people, but outside of that when the working day is done let me hide and not have to interact with anyone at all.

Also it’s been figuring out how to deal with people who don’t meet deadlines and trying to get people to discuss things as a group and make group decisions. Giving people very specific things has been okay, but getting group input has been hard. People are quite happy to sit in silence and not voice any opinion. What happened to democracy?!

I don’t know what my group think of me, but I’ve tried really hard to hide my stress. I like having things done a certain way, I like things being done quickly and deadlines being hit. Because I am a massive panic-er and worrier I know I’ve made deadlines that can be missed for a week or so, but when those stretch on trying to push down my panic about this is really hard!

All in all it’s tough. I’m learning a lot, but consistently with this and uni and work I feel completely drained. It’s really made me understand how much of an introvert I am (at least out of work) and how much I need time away from people to decompress.

Academic and Workplace Libraries Module

This has been a really interesting module so far with a great range of guest speakers. In week 6 Rosie Jones (Director of Library Services at the Open University)  spoke to us about her many positions, but especially her role at Manchester University Library creating the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons (which I later learned from an ex-student is nicknamed the Ali-G library). It was especially interesting to hear someone talk about creating a library, which isn’t necessarily thought of as a “librarian” job.

I’m really looking forward to this side of the semester as we have more business library types coming to speak to us. Law librarians, Information Managers and business information professionals are all roles I’m interested in finding out more about.

Extra Curricular

I’ve been focusing more on myself and less on libraries. I recently gave up helping plan a conference with a library group. I’m really sad about this as it was a group I aligned with closely and I’d set aside a decent amount of time to help with their conference this year. Due to members of the library groups actions and certain people’s behaviour I’ve left. This might get its own blog post at some point because I’m so shocked and disappointed by the behaviour of a professional library group. I’m glad I left when things didn’t feel right, but I am sad I let other things I could have been involved in fall by the wayside or even just applying for some conference places instead of concentrating on this.

I hear a lot of library groups saying how much they want to attract new members and young career professionals, but a lot of the difficulties I came across were exacerbated  when I pointed out barriers I faced and having these overlooked or excuses made. If you only make opportunities available for those already in their “dream library job” how are people who want to do that same job one day going to get involved? People with more support, money and time because they are already doing THE job vs. people not doing THE job because they’re still trying to work their way up. If you’re not willing to actually support new members what’s the incentive to join?

There’s a lot of chat about this at the moment from so many different angles. Lots of library groups are coming under criticism and for good reason. There are library groups who aren’t even supporting the people who fit the criteria. By that I mean someone who is a Librarian (with a capital L) fully qualified, a good amount of experience etc. There are library groups not even helping and supporting the people the say they will. I enjoyed reading Johanna’s recent blog post ‘On “Moaners”‘ . It’s a very interesting and critical look at CILIP* and Johanna’s journey in librarianship. Even though I have very few similar experiences I clearly remember starting my library trainee role and being made aware of conferences and groups and reading about these things and having no idea how I, at my very small early stage, could ever fit in. Membership costs, conference costs, topics I’d never heard of. It felt very Professional and not very accessible.

Following on from this and in better library group news I want to take a moment to mention Diversity in Libraries in the North [DILON]!
What/who are DILON? Their blog states:

‘We are a friendly and active group made up of BME/POC/non-white library and information professionals.’ 

I’d suggest joining this group if  you’re POC/BME/non-white person who works in a library or information profession in the north of England and even if you’re not these things follow their twitter, follow their blog, promote and support!
You can follow DILON on twitter here @libdiverse

And a final shout out to one of the most amazing, warm and welcoming library groups I’ve met NLPN** who do fantastic, (usually) free events, on weekends.

(EDIT: Always FREE (bar travel costs you pay to get to the event yourself from where ever you are). Thanks NLPN for confirming all your events are free!)

I’ve been on 1 event so far (due to my own poor time management I would like to go to more!) and 1 event they have spoken at and they are all lovely, awesome, approachable people.

Again if you’re in the early stages of librarianship follow their blog (link above) and they’re on twitter too @NLPN_

*Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals
**New Library Professionals Network.

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