10 Mar 2017

Connecting The Dots: From Study to Practice: A collaborative Review of #slip2017

At the recent SLIP Conference one bit of advice given to early career librarians was to write, to publish. Libfocus was mentioned as a good place to start. In the spirit of that sentiment we present three reviews of the event, all presenting a personal perspective of a different author.

James Gracey is a Library Assistant at St Mary's, Belfast. He studies LIM at UU.

The recent SLIP conference in Dublin was dedicated to the provision of advice and information for recent graduates, and for those new (and indeed not so new) to the profession who might wish to advance their career. Proceedings kicked off with a discussion between representatives from several institutions offering LIM courses. Professor Kalpana Shankar (UCD), Marie O’Neill (Dublin Business School) and Dr. Jessica Bates (UU) reflected on various changes in the sector and how these have influenced certain changes and modifications to the LIS courses they each offer.

After this discussion, various ‘lightning presentations’ were delivered by current students and recent graduates, all of whom shared personal experiences, offered practical advice and presented with efficiency and passion. The current, frankly Orwellian climate of fake news, political propaganda, misinformation and ‘alternative facts’ was addressed by Professor Kalpana Shankar in her quick-fire talk Why Information Professionals are Needed More than Ever. Kalpana detailed, with some urgency, the vital work carried out by ‘renegade’ information professionals, such as data rescue, the promotion of information literacy and guerrilla archiving, in an ongoing attempt to keep federal climate and environmental data accessible and untainted by those who wish to alter it or wipe it from existence. 

Recent graduate and Trinity College librarian Jesse Waters discussed his endeavours to find a permanent position in My First Year Out of Library School. Offering practical advice and sharing anecdotes of working 40 hour weeks in various positions to further his experience, Jesse talked about the importance of determination, commitment to professional development and a positive mental attitude in navigating the uncertainty and knock-backs of post-graduate life. Current PhD students Anne Marie McInerney and Jayne Finlay discussed their current research into prison libraries and the importance of literacy in rehabilitation. Jayne also reflected on the importance of embracing change and the unexpected, the wide range of roles within the LIS profession and how they can interconnect and complement each other, ensuring the honing of transferable skills. Other speakers explored the importance of presentation and stepping outside of comfort zones, the librarian’s role in promoting literacies, the importance of critical thinking while networking (which can often just perpetuate positive reinforcement), balancing the need for qualifications with acquiring experience, the interdependence of theory and practice, the utilisation of transferable skills, and the importance of continuous professional development, which was reiterated throughout the day.

The closing discussion was a personal highlight because of the practical advice offered by the panel - Jane Burns (RCSI), Meadhbh Murphy (UCD Archives), Katherine McSharry (National Library of Ireland) and Helena Byrne (British Library) - and because of their candidness and camaraderie. Amongst a deceptively wide range of subjects they discussed increasing digitisation, how to further experience, wielding a positive attitude, dealing with confrontation, improving your CV, networking, mentoring, and preparing for interviews.

The rapid delivery of the presentations throughout the day ensured a lively pace and the opportunity to informally approach speakers ensured an engaging atmosphere. Ultimately, Connecting the Dots: From Study to Practice provided a very positive and encouraging experience for attendees.

Stephanie Chen is a recent MSc Information and Library Management graduate, volunteer at the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and blog manager for SAH Journal Blog.

The 2nd Annual SLIP Conference took place on Saturday, February 25th at Pearse Street Library. The theme of the conference this year was “Connecting the Dots: From Study to Practice” and featured two expert panels as well as lightning presentations and posters from current students and recent graduates.

As a recent graduate from the MSc Informatiom & Library Management program at DBS, I’ve highlighted a selection of points that resonated with me below.

The conference opened with a Library School Panel Discussion with Professor Kalpana Shankar from UCD, Marie O’Neill from DBS, and Dr. Jessica Bates from Ulster University. Key remarks included Dr. Jessica Bates and Professor Kalpana Shankar stressing the importance of theory and having a strong foundation to inform practice and Marie O’Neill offering practical advice of publishing, joining associations (such as the LAI), and, of course, networking. But, what I found most important, was the commitment they all had towards supporting and advocating for students and graduates. I got the sense the panel was keenly aware those in library school are the next generation of leaders. As such, the three library schools recognize they have a responsibility to equip students with the necessary knowledge and skill sets to succeed. It was reassuring to know all three library schools were involved in the formation of the Information Professionals’ Network, which will be hosting its first Careers Expo on May 19th. Not only will this Expo highlight the numerous skill sets we as students and graduates have, but it will also create opportunities for more non-traditional librarian roles. 

In his lightning presentation, recent graduate Jesse Waters offered attendees great advice: be flexible and be involved. I was impressed with his ability to recognize gaps in his skill set and commit to constantly upskilling. Case in point – he wrote a blog post and made a poster because they were things he’d never done before. His willingness to step outside his comfort zones to close these gaps is something I feel we all should strive to emulate.

Speaking on behalf of the Library Association of Ireland (who sponsored the event), Dr. Philip Cohen highlighted the various ways in which the LAI supports the library and information profession – through accreditation, awards, formal and informal networking events, and much, much more. Most relevant to the attendees was the fact that student membership in the LAI is free for 2 years.
Professor Shankar, speaking on behalf of the event’s other sponsor, UCD School of Information and Communication Studies, also gave a short talk on the value of and need for information professionals. The passion Professor Shankar showed in her talk was inspiring and highlighted the fact that the profession is relevant now more than ever. We are the ones who come equipped with skills to “rescue” data, combat “alternative facts,” and manage the high volume, velocity, and veracity of information.

In her lightning presentation, Jayne Finlay, a first-year PhD student at Ulster University, traced her career path and demonstrated how it has not always been straightforward, a fact I feel many of us can relate to. Through her experiences as a student and assistant librarian, she realized her strengths and interests were in doing research. By drawing from her own personal experiences, Jayne demonstrated the importance of critical self-reflection as it can reveal how one can best contribute to the profession. Lastly, Jayne closed her presentation by asking attendees to be open to new paths and, most importantly, to say yes to things that scare you (like writing a blog post!).

The conference closed with a Practitioners Panel Discussion with Jane Burns, Meadhbh Murphy, Katherine McSharry, and Helena Byrne, who all offered fantastic advice. They stressed the importance of highlighting all transferable skills, doing all you can to demonstrate your competency, and being resilient.

One key theme throughout the day was the importance of getting involved and engaging with the profession. While library school can equip us students and recent graduates with a tremendous array of skills and a strong foundation, at the end of the day, the onus is on us to use these skills and upskill. We are the next generation of leaders so we should be making our voices heard by joining groups, publishing, and presenting.

Emma Doran is a 2016 graduate of the MLIS at University College Dublin with a background in History and Classics form Maynooth University Emma has previously worked abroad as an English Teacher in Japan and currently works with Kildare County Council as a Library assistant in the Maynooth branch. Doran

On Saturday the 25th of February 2017 SLIP Ireland held their Second Annual Student Conference. SLIP or Students, Librarians & Information Professionals Ireland is a relatively new organization to the world of library and information and champions the need for more discussion in the field of Library science in both practical and theoretical terms for students, librarians and other information professionals.

The Theme of this years conference was “Connecting The Dots: From Study to Practice”. As a newly qualified Librarian myself, I felt attending this conference was a huge benefit to me personally and gave me more awareness about the steps I need to take as a budding librarian to help my career flourish. Not only were the presentations and panels highly interesting and teaming with information but I found them to also be quite reassuring. I don’t know about you, but oftentimes when I speak to fellow graduates about the struggle to establish oneself as a librarian or information professional and to pin down that sometimes elusive dream librarian position. I find I am not alone in being disheartened occasionally. This conference helped me to meet other graduates in the same boat as myself professionally and helped to thoroughly re-energize my motivation and my ambition to succeed, while providing me with useful and career changing advice.

The day began with an opening Library School Panel hosted by Clare Murnane and featuring key representatives from UCD, DBS and Ulster University. They spoke to us about the changes happening currently in the schools and the possibility of introducing further avenues of career professional development for graduates and professionals. Afterwards we were treated to some wonderful lightning presentations by:
Jesse Waters on Work, Job Applications, and Professional Development: My First Year Out of Library School.  He gave some great advice for recent graduates. “ Be as flexible as you can and apply for jobs that you think you may not get.”

Next Anne Marie McInerney opened our eyes to an outlet of Library and information needs I was not very aware of in her talk on Prison Libraries and Prisoners’ Information Needs. 

After Ann Marie the SLIP Platinum Sponsor Presentation was given by the then President of The Library Association of Ireland, Dr. Philip Cohen on the Lai and what membership can do for you. He summed it up very nicely in one word by saying “In one word what do we do? We support, we support you through your career.”

Following Dr. Cohen was, Dr. Kalpana Shakar (UCD) who spoke to us about the key roles for librarians in their field and of the “scope of information 3V’s volume, velocity and veracity.” (Jane Burns)

A short break was taken and afterwards we were treated with some more presentations by Jayne Finlay, Gary LaCumbre, Michael Arnold and Rachel Hludzinski.  Jayne spoke to us about how her library experiences shaped her research and advised us to “say yes to things that scare you and don’t be discourages. Network, do CPD and follow your interests and they will lead you where you need to be.” Gary spoke to us about Networking as Critical Disengagement: Crisis in the Information Profession and how to be mindful of when and where we network. Michael spoke to us about the importance of presenting and reminded us “ sometimes what you don’t see as your main strength may actually be very unique to you.” Rachel taught us all a little about digital literacies. I felt I learned some valuable new things from her presentation.

Posters were also presented at the conference. This year featured a poster by Sarah Connaghan on Three Phases of Understanding: The Job of a Librarian. Éanna O’ Keefe, Enda Kehoe, and Stephanie Chen also presented a poster From Cupboard to Cloud: How a Small Organization Carries Out a Large Scale Digitization Project. Both of which have inspired to try my hand at a poster of my own this year.

And finally the day ended with a hugely beneficial closing panel of: Jane Burns (RCs), Meabh Murphy (UCD Archives), Katherine Mc Sharry (NLI) and Helena Byrne (The British Library). I found this panel to be extremely helpful; they gave guidance on how to further your career, how to future-proof yourself and how to be resilient and to value yourself even in the face of rejection. I felt the conference was a huge success and I personally cannot wait for next year!
For any nuggets of advice or inspiring and motivating quotes

From the day please feel free to head over to my twitter account @tumbling_tomes. Finally I will leave you with this wonderful piece of advice from Jane Burns “ You’re more than your work experience, you’re more than your education.”

I hope it inspires you as much as it inspired me.


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