Couldn’t hurt to try…

Less than 24 hours to go now before I fly out to Washington DC for the SLA 2009 conference! I’ve been thinking about just how lucky I am to be going out there: when I wrote my application back in December I was basically thinking that there was no chance I was going to win a place, but that it couldn’t hurt to try. Just goes to show that you can be right and wrong at the same time!

Actually, “couldn’t hurt to try” isn’t a bad motto, if I ever felt I needed a motto… It’s lead to a number of things besides the SLA Europe Early Career Conference Award: my new job, for a start (I didn’t think they’d want to take on someone who was still studying, but decided to apply anyway), plus a number of other student conference awards this year.

In addition to the SLA conference, I won a sponsored place at the UKSG annual conference in Torquay earlier this year; and will be attending the CILIP Umbrella Conference in July, with thanks to UKeIG for the sponsorship. Also in July, I will be at Mashed Libraries in Huddersfield, with sponsorship from COPAC.

I’m absolutely over the moon at the opportunity to attend so many great library events as a student: I learnt so much in the few days I was at the UKSG conference, and am sure that the other upcoming events will give me tons of food for thought too. I was actually really surprised at how many awards and sponsorships are available to LIS students: our department post press releases and calls for applications on a message board on the VLE, but I don’t know how many other universities do that. If I managed to scoop four sponsorships this year, it does make me wonder how many other people actually applied! Recently, @bethanar had the wonderful idea of setting up an email list to notify LIS students about awards available to them: the list is now up at https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A0=LIS-AWARDS. I think it’s a fantastic resource: there are so many opportunities available to students and you learn so much more from these kinds of professional events than you can in a lecture.

I’d be really interested to know how many other students or ex-students applied for any kind of sponsorships and/or awards while they were studying; and if not, why was that? Is it just lack of awareness, or lack of interest, or do people tend to think that there’s no point in applying? Or any other reasons I haven’t thought of!


4 comments on “Couldn’t hurt to try…

  1. Interesting post Laura, I’ve been having similar thoughts recently.

    I’ve also gained a lot from the “couldn’t hurt to try” mentality, including jobs, sponsorships, and getting the opportunity to speak at conferences too.

    Before LIS-AWARDS I only knew about these sort of opportunities through other mailing lists such as LIS-LINK. I never heard about them via Aberystwyth (where I’m currently a distance learner), although perhaps I wasn’t looking in the right places. For me it was definitely a case of lack of awareness, and I often only seemed to find out about opportunities the day before closing or even after the closing date.

    Hope you enjoy SLA2009, I bet you’ll have an amazing time and can’t wait to hear all about it. 🙂

    • Cheers for the comment Jo. Interesting that Aberystwyth don’t promote these kinds of things – given what a high proportion of distance learners they have (I think – or have I got this wrong?) I’d have thought they’d be pretty good at “pushing” information to their students.

  2. I think this is a really interesting point. I’ve had a very similar experience this year. I’ve managed to obtain places to the RLUK, LILAC and Mashed Libraries Conferences since starting my course in September. I think some students tend to be quite selective, or wait until they’re encouraged by someone rather than just going for it. In addition, I know my fellow coursemates are often nervous about going and networking alone at a conference in which they’re likely not to know anyone.

    I wouldn’t assume that others aren’t applying though, there were seven funded students at LILAC in the end (they managed to extend the funding for some extra places) and I know I applied for the SLA place too ;0)

    And, of course, there’s the selection process. I did a previous master’s directly from my undergraduate and a year’s work experience and didn’t apply for anything at the time, partly because I wouldn’t have known what to say in an application. Knowing where you’re coming from and what you want to do makes an application more convincing, but it’s something a lot of students are only working out as they carry out their course and move into a first job.

    All just theories on my part too, though!

    • That’s an interesting point – thinking about it, I probably would have been too nervous to do anything like this as an undergrad, and I’m not sure I’d have had the confidence as a postgrad either if I’d gone straight from one to the other. Maybe this is something library schools should be encouraging: some kind of module on professional networking/marketing yourself/the importance of CPD?

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