Libraries, the universe and everything

(net)working it
December 21, 2010, 16:30
Filed under: CPD | Tags: , ,

I’ve been reading quite a few end-of-year-review kind of posts and articles recently, with “things I’ve learned/used in 2010” being a common theme. Maybe it’s because I’m nosey, but I always enjoy this sort of thing, and they often contain information which is either useful or reassuring.

I thought about writing my own version, and began to consider what I might put into it, but quickly realised that everything I feel I’ve gained/learned/developed professionally this year is based around one thing – networking. Obviously I knew a bit about networking prior to 2010, and had even been found indulging in some from time to time, but this is genuinely the first year when I not only actively sought out opportunities to do it but also found myself enjoying it too.

Previously I’ve been the little mouse in the corner, hunched over my coffee, frantically reading my notes or checking my phone – anything really to avoid the horror of having to strike up a conversation. I’ve always known that this is a rubbish way to behave, and this has been the year in which I’ve finally managed to grow up and make a few changes.

I think this happened for a number of reasons. As I get older I seem to be getting more confident in myself both personally and professionally, I’ve been in my current job long enough to know what I’m doing, and I was missing having the sort of contact with librarians from other places which I enjoyed at library school.

All of which meant that I’ve finally felt able to overcome my diffidence and just talk to people (at conferences, training courses) etc. That said, getting involved with Twitter was really the catalyst. Not only did it enable me to tap into a fantastic network of library professionals but I also found out about all sorts of interesting events where I could meet some of these people. Occasions such as the LISNPN meet-ups and LIKE evenings are especially fantastic as you know from the outset that everyone else is there to network too, so just walking up to someone and saying hello is not only much easier psychologically but also usually welcomed by the recipient – it never feels like you’re interrupting anything important, and people are usually happy to introduce you to others too.

It’s also genuinely true that once you’ve tried it a few times, talking to complete strangers becomes a lot easier and much less scary. (I never believed this before but it really does!) I must admit that I still have to make the effort to get going, but I find that the more I do it the easier, and more enjoyable it becomes. I’ve also realised that the world (and especially London) is a every small place – increasingly I’m bumping into the same faces, or matching faces to names I’d already come across. This is great for two reasons – firstly it’s always nice to catch up with friends, and secondly it provides a bit of respite from chatting to the unknowns!

I realise this is in no way groundbreaking, but it’s taken me the best part of 30 years to put it into practice so I felt it was worth recording! As a result of what really were a few simple steps I’ve rejoined CILIP, met a lot of fantastic, interesting and helpful people, and joined my first committee since uni! As well as face-to-face networking and Twitter, reading blogs has also been really helpful in making me feel more connected to the wider library world, and I’m increasingly trying to add comments where I hope they can add something relevant or useful to the discussion.

This is probably my last post of 2010 (I’ve drafted a couple of others but they’re a bit ranty and I’m not sure whether they’ll get to see the light of day), so I hope you have a lovely end-of-year, whatever it is you happen to be doing 🙂

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