Exiting the Library

On Saturday 8th Feb 2020 I made my way over to Manchester University’s main library to attend and present at NLPN x SLA Europe ‘s event.

Orange background. Green exit sign with man running. Black text that reads exiting the library.

First I’ll talk about my experience of presenting because opportunities like this are so great! And basically I really want to promote this to anyone who’s maybe interested in presenting at NLPN in the future.

And then I’ll talk about who else was at the event and all the amazing things everyone spoke about!

Exiting the Library

So my 10 minute “Take the Floor” presentation was all about moving sectors and how I went about doing this. I’ve recently started working for an academic publisher (currently 3 weeks in!) and at the time of the presentation I was only 4 days in! But that didn’t matter to NLPN.

I broke the start of my presentation down into my experiences, job titles and areas of work so far. If you’ve read the blog/know me in any way shape or form you’ll know I’ve worked in a lot of different positions in libraries and in other areas like general admin, museums, archives and galleries.

Then I gave some tips where to look for jobs. I highlighted some good places and some not so good. What I wanted to get across is, if you want to move sectors and do something else that maybe isn’t necessarily the strict “Librarian” role, you can look beyond libraries to lots of other areas like the Arts Council, the government, charity and arts jobs and so much more.

I also gave some examples of jobs I didn’t get because I think that can make us all feel better and a lot more human. Lets talk about our failures! A lot of people tell me I’m good at getting jobs and I get jobs really quickly and I will definitely take some of that kudos, BUT I think there are jobs we all apply for an don’t get for a variety of reasons so I highlighted those.

I spoke about the differences between applying for HE jobs (which has been the main sector I’ve been working in the past few years) compared to other areas, the private sector, companies, etc.

Then I spoke a bit about my new job as a Publishing Assistant and the transferable skills I’d built up from academic libraries into this new environment. I spoke a bit about the company I work for now to give a bit of an idea on the size and scope of what they do too.

10 minutes is such a short amount of time to cram all this in! And I probably attempted too much. I practiced at home and it kept coming to around 7 minutes, which I thought was fine, but in real life when you maybe realise you have this new audience and have to explain yourself a bit more I definitely over ran!

You should be able to access my presentation via this link set up by the NLPN.

I would say presenting can be scary and I definitely feel I hadn’t prepped enough! I also walked away in a daze thinking…. “Did any of that even make sense?” It was a great opportunity for me to practice public speaking and talk about a topic of my choice. The audience were absolutely lovely and respectful and even laughed at some of my silly jokes! It’s a great community to present in front of… have I convinced you yet? I’ll stop harping on now.

Oh and I got two questions at the end! Which was nice as I thought no one would ask anything.

One was really to bring about another opinion on using LinkedIn for job searching. I’d stated how I didn’t really like it for finding anything I felt was relevant to me and it was important that someone did mention their experience of using LinkedIn. LinkedIn is great for something online for people to look you up on. I would recommend keeping it up to date! But I’d also suggest keep yourself a document somewhere of all the kind of info you’d put on LinkedIn and kind of record everything you do. Two reasons: 1. I really doubt LinkedIn will be with us forever and 2. There’s things you want to remember and record (maybe privately too) which don’t fit on LinkedIn.

I think it’s also important to remember with a platform such as this a few key things: who are you? what are you looking for? what’s the salary you need or want?

The individual who rightly so mentioned some of the pros of LinkedIn was at a very different stage of their career to the majority of people in the room. You might be able to find a library assistant role for maybe a salary say 18K or lower…. but in terms of trying to get to higher roles and salaries (to a point) I didn’t find it useful. I’m also not at the managerial/Head of Services etc. stage and LinkedIn does seem, to me, to focus on the highest roles and lowest roles and not much in between. I also don’t think it helps that the majority of job ads don’t post salaries and most of you will know my feelings about how little time I want to waste on any job advert that can’t give me the basics.

What do I need to know? Say it with me!

Salary! Hours! Location!

And I mean you know title, job role, expectations… have I missed anything else?

The other question I got was about how I found it looking for jobs in the North. Again another important question! I have never worked in London and I’m one of those people who doesn’t intend to. I don’t want anything, any job, that badly! Have I seen a load of dreamy jobs come up? Sure! Have I applied…. nooooo. The idea of even trying to afford to live there makes me sad. So it’s easier just not to consider it as an option. I essentially answered the question with compromise. I’ve let my old dream of being an arts librarian well and truly die… that and wanting to be a curator, work in museums etc. etc. DIE! and why? Lack of jobs! Poorly paid jobs! Contracts! Lack of security!

It’s freeing to let old ideas go. I’ve spent too long trying to do things that don’t work for me, it’s good to focus on the stability I need both financially and generally.

I think I ended the question by stating the importance of being happy…. corny I know! But find a job you like, that pays you a decent salary and lets you live how you want. If I never have a job where I’m called a “Librarian” I don’t care!

I know it’s not easy… it’s not easy letting something you wanted or thought you wanted for so long go, but try new things, try and figure things out, you might find something new you are good at and enjoy and get paid for! And we know there’s so much working against us all whether it’s class, money, race, disability, gender, sexuality, religion (I feel like I’m missing something) None of this is fair or good or right but a) lets try and change things and b) lets try and do what’s right for ourselves! And not worry about pressure from others.

NLPN x SLA Europe

The event started with a double presentation by Jennifer Bayjoo (@libdiverse).

The first, Make Good Trouble, introduced us to DILON – Diversity in Libraries of the North. This organisation, created by Jennifer Bayjoo Academic Support Manager, in 2018 is “a new network to support library and information workers who identify as BME/POC/non-white.” There was so much insightful, useful, important information in this presentation (links to all the presentations are in the NLPN blog post by Megan Price, which can be found at the end of this post!) The organisational goals were covered and also how people who cannot be members of the group can offer support.

The areas that really stood out to me are how libraries are continually considered as this “nice” and “safe” space, when in actuality this is not true for everyone. Professor Kalwant Bhopal was also mentioned as someone who’s research in these areas: Race, Racism, Gender, Class, Inequalities, Social Justice, Equity, is so important.

Jennifer Bayjoo’s next presentation was on Job Applications. This is one of those things that no one really tells you how to do and if you don’t know you can get it so badly wrong! There was super useful information on your CV and structure as well as HE job applications and to make sure you answer the question and give examples!

Then I gave my presentation, which I’ve already blabbed on about.

Next up was Research Support Librarian Jacqueline Vigilanti speaking about RDM Collaboration. It always strikes me that it’s so important when working in any kind of research support services that you collaborate. Not only to ensure projects and workflows have great outcomes, but also to build these positive, essential, working relationships between different areas in a university.

Ingrid Francis , NHS Librarian and Salford Zine Library volunteer, presented Welcome to your Zine Collection. They showed us some different collections; from institutional to community ran. They also highlighted issues with zine curation and the curator, and the authors of the zines who, in a way, lose their control of their content once it becomes part of a collection.

I think this was the end of the “Take the Floor” spots!

I love love loved NHS Library Manager Natasha Howard ‘s talk on Health libraries, literature searching and the future . One way to win me over in any session is give me a practical! Ask me to find something! I. Love. This. Stuff. Is it a surprise really with the line of work I’m in? I learnt all about PICO searching We used the Trip Medial Database. We also got to look at some NHS marketing material on reading around mental illness for all ages and looked at some NHS online resources.

The final talk was by Dr. Katherine Schopflin all about People Management. Dr Katherine Schopflin gave an extremely balanced view of managing people with the bright side of this and the difficulties that can occur. It was great to hear a manager speaking about listening to their employees, being transparent and getting the best out of people.


Throughout this blog I needed to refer to:

The NLPN Home Page

The Event Blog Post

This amazing write up by Megan Price (thank you Megan!) definitely read this to get an overview of the whole day! And it includes links to all the presentations from the day too!

I also just want to end this post by getting on my little soap box and saying how great NLPN are, thank you to all the organisers who do this in their free time, it’s always free – you just have to get yourself there and buy your own lunch, there’s always amazing speakers – again professionals giving their time for free to teach and tell you things – from all areas and it’s just such a great group we’re all so lucky to have. If you’ve not been to an event I’d recommend it 100%. Thanks NLPN!

One thought on “Exiting the Library

  1. Pingback: Joining the “dark” side – Rookie (almost) Librarian

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