So far I haven’t really been much involved with the profession, I have to admit. I have been a member of CILIP but gave that up (maybe I missed my chance in getting involved more then but to be honest I didn’t really know how). I feel that twitter has had the biggest impact on my involvement with the library profession. Now I feel like I’m in the midst of it all, because I can listen to what people say and sometimes even manage to say something sensible myself that might have only gotten lost in the office before. Now I can share it with people from around the world, in all sorts of sectors and with all sorts of backgrounds and ideas. That makes me feel positive and motivated.
I agree that it is important to attend events, to see what’s happening, to get involved and also represent the profession (if it’s not a library-only event). Lately it seems to have become easier to find out about upcoming events (I find out mostly via twitter) but I wish I knew about a central point where I could look for events in my area.
Recently I have only attended events that were not necessarily library-focused, such as training seminars and AGMs organised by the European Commission. Having attended these for a few years I feel that I know how to approach larger events, how to get the most out of them and also leave a good impression.
I haven’t done any official speaking at conferences but am always happy to get involved in discussions and workshops. I guess smaller groups are less scary. For example I have lead a twitter workshop with a colleague.
My main tips
Relax. Nobody is there to judge you. Be yourself and enjoy yourself.
Try to meet up with people you know to catch up but make a point of meeting new people as well. Your acquaintances might even know other people, then they can introduce you.
Don’t take too many notes, often presentations can be downloaded on the internet afterwards. Take photos to remind yourself of main points.
Take food. You might not like what’s on offer, or the good stuff is gone before your workshop finishes.
My next conference
Most of my colleagues seem to think that I’m slightly mad but I am very much looking forward to Library Camp! I’ll be able to meet so many people who I have only spoken to on twitter or via email, and who are at least as “mad” (controversial? open to ideas? not stuck in their ways? wanting to save the library service? trusting?) as I am. It’ll be really interesting, encouraging and fun!
Working in the public library sector makes this Thing harder to do. We are bound by our contracts and any activity that involves speaking out is seen as a political activity, which we are not allowed.
I am nice and helpful to everyone I meet and when they think of librarians at a later date I hope that I have portrayed a good image.
The library service I work for has marketing sheets for most services we offer, which are good for advocacy, but I’m not sure if those sheets go very far outside the libraries/city council. They are useful for outreach and I hope everyone uses them.