One day at Umbrella

Umbrella by tworm, on FlickrLast week, I was delighted to be able to spend a day at Umbrella. I was speaking in a session in the afternoon, alongside Ned Potter, on the echo chamber. That’s something I’ve talked about plenty on this blog before, so I’m not going to go over it again here (although please do go and have a look through these resources on the subject if you’ve not come across it before!). I did want to jot down a few thoughts on the other sessions I attended that day.

My first was Susie Kay and Sue Hill‘s session on skills and professionalism. I’d heard Sue talk before, and she’s always engaging and inspiring (and yes, she is a real person!). I’d not come across Susie Kay’s Professionalism Group before, but she also had a lot of great stuff to say and a very motivating way of saying it! One person came out of the session saying sh felt like her professionalism had been given a well-needed kick up the backside – I agree!

The session was very lively and interactive, with Sue and Susie putting various questions to us and moderating a free-ranging discussion around the theme of skills and professionalism. Some of my takeaway points:

  • Skills are what you do, professionalism is how you do it – linked to your values and reputation
  • You have more skills than you think you do! Easy to disregard something if it doesn’t relate directly to your job, but you should think about what skills you’ve learned in other areas of your life and how you can draw on those
  • Important to document and articulate your intangible, transferable skills so you don’t forget them
  • Your CV is an advert for yourself. Don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet!
  • Librarianship is difficult to define! Some attempts: “we are connectors & enablers”; “we don’t know everything but we know how to find it”
  • When talking about hiring, employers and recruiters always list soft skills as among the most important, e.g. attitude, people skills, motivation
  • Tips for interviews: Never say “we”, always “I”. Other banned words: “just”, “only”, “they”
  • Professionalism is also difficult to define! Examples: “maintaining and delivering standards of service & behaviour”; “the extra you provide beyond your subject knowledge/’hard’ skills”; “being engaged and proactive in your job and career”
  • Have a career plan B – what would you do if all the libraries closed forever tomorrow? Librarians have plenty of transferable skills. Out knowledge is in demand in other sectors, they just don’t use the L-word.

I’m ashamed to say I didn’t take in too much of what the other speakers in mine and Ned’s session spoke about – we were on last, and I was rather preoccupied with running through my bits of the presentation in my head! I was grabbed by Sharon Jones‘ talk, “From Melvil Dewey to Bear Grylls” – a rather nice summary of the skills needed for knowledge and information workers, based on Bear Grylls’ survival tips! I’m rather regretting not taking notes, and I don’t think the presentation is online yet sadly.

***EDIT 14/08/11***

Sharon’s notes from her presentation are now online! She’s written a series of posts on her blog, one for each “survival tip” – link below:

***END EDIT***

The final session I attended was a workshop on international CPD opportunities. There were some fascinating ideas discussed in this workshop – five speakers all talked about opportunities they’d found for getting involved in CPD activities internationally, ranging from speaking at international conferences to volunteering in African prison libraries. Although I have attended an international conference twice, I’ve never put much thought into getting involved in other overseas opportunities. Of course, part of that is down to language barriers (I only speak two languages – English and bad English 😉 ), and also financial constraints. I’d love to go visiting and volunteering in libraries around the world, but I have rent to pay! A couple of the speakers addressed this directly – Emma Hadfield talked about the various bursaries available for international conferences (and I can vouch for the value of these, having been the recipient of a couple myself!); and Sibylla Parkhill talked about her experience of touring American prison libraries after receiving the Travelling Librarian Award.

All in all, a very inspiring day at Umbrella! I was sorry to have to leave so soon – I couldn’t really afford to pay for the extra day’s registration, but there were some great looking sessions on the Wednesday that I really wished I’d been able to see. I did manage to follow some of the next day on Twitter though, and have been catching up with a few people’s blogs on the conference – hurrah for social media!


3 comments on “One day at Umbrella

  1. Great presentation. It’s the first time I’m hearing about the echo chamber concept.

  2. Laura

    Thanks for the prompt that I hadn’t made my presentation available online. Not the ‘full monty’ but Bear Grylls presentation notes are now published on my new blog (informationclassified.blogspot.com). SJ

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