‘Twas a dark and stormy night… well, it wasn’t actually, though it did rain in Birmingham. That was the only real downside to attending the CILIP Career Development Group Conference back in July, an event held at the impressive Austin Court, and aimed at bringing a mixture of new and experienced professionals together in order to discuss & share ideas and working practices regarding continual professional learning and development.
Attendees included a mixture of both qualified and para-professionals, drawn from various sectors involved with the information professions- higher education, the health sector and public libraries- and as such, the event generated interesting conversations, particularly comparing & contrasting approaches to staff development opportunities, career progression and future challenges for the professions as a whole.
As professional conference debutante, I was impressed with the personal commitment demonstrated by both organisers and participants towards their profession, and of the need to support each other in terms of maximising talent and opportunity. Did someone say networking? Of course they did, and they’d be right as, the relaxed informal atmosphere allowed for meeting and greeting, whether during workshops, over tea and sandwiches, or whilst quaffing a welcoming morning pastry upon arrival.
In terms of details, the keynote speaker for the day was Liz Jolly from the University of Teesside who talked about the importance of reflective practice, the value of having a multi-professional team from a variety of backgrounds, and the issue of using social networking as a professional tool.
Michael Martin, Qualifications Advisor from CILIP (and part of the Future Skills project) also gave a presentation/update on the organisation’s internal review process, which has been looking at membership, qualifications and value for money.
The rest of the seminars were broken down into neatly bite-sized 3o minute chunks, which helped maintain a momentum and impetus. I particularly enjoyed Karen Davies’ presentation on her work at the university of Wisconsin-Milwaukee “Producing the evidence for effective evidence-based librarianship”, and Virginia Power’s (Bridgewater FE College) workshop “Changing places need changing faces”, which drew on her experiences of leading a dedicated and hard working team through a period of change. Her session included YouTube clips, and I won a chocolate for identifying a Keane lyric, which also may have also contributed to the enjoyment factor..!
I found the experience of going to a conference extremely valuable. It was great to spend some time with colleagues, to meet new people, and to listen to/share experiences to compare/contrast. I came away from the conference feeling confident in the work I have been doing with the Staff Development Group, and armed with lots of ideas on things we could do in the future. I would definitely recommend the experience to anyone who fancied broadening their professional horizons. Actually, there’s so much more I could talk about from the event, but then this post would just, like, go on forever; so in the interests of interest levels, I’m going to stop now and leave you wanting more. And they all lived happily ever after…