EARLL (Early Career Academic and Research Librarians in London) launch Event
London is unique. It has many libraries, yet a community of early career librarians doesn’t exist. Funding was granted through the UKSG Innovation awards, for free events organised by EARLL, a group created by some LSE librarians.
The launch event was held on 13th December 2019 at LSE Library and included CPD, networking and looking at the future development of the group.
We met, and schmoozed. There was cake. As an icebreaker, we introduced ourselves, what we do and said what our favourite library is, real or fictional. Someone challenged the cliché that an early career librarian is one who has just come out of university who also does not want to be an academic.
- Thought showers were created next, on the challenges faced by early career professionals with the headings: Job progression, Upskilling training, Leadership support, and others.
There was some discussion about: do we really need the MA/MSc qualification to progress in our careers? Nancy Graham, a manager at LSE library, who spoke about what employers are looking for, answered that at LSE they are looking for a professional qualification or equivalent experience in their job adverts.
To summarise, the group thought that line managers could push early career professionals for promotions, there were a lack of opportunities, that appraisals could be better used, and that training should be available on how to pitch yourself in job applications.
On funding a Librarian’s Professional Qualification, one colleague noted that most employers pay for employee training, but generally not in this profession. Another colleague shared how financially stretched she had been when studying, travelling and working full time. On reflection, I think it makes sense to work for a few years, specialise and then do a professional qualification, in that order. Maybe future generations of early career professionals can benefit from my experience.
- Next Roisin Gwyer (CILIP, University of Portsmouth) gave an excellent talk which was as expansive as it was academic on the trends in academic libraries over the last 28 years, with a view to predicting future trends and skills.
The top three trends in the past, she found, were Digital Information skills, Managerial practice and Collaboration. Roisin identified a possible future trend, blended learning design, which means that study spaces are becoming more important. Roisin also speculated that perhaps Virtual Assistants would replace us in five years, something a bit far-fetched I thought. The EARLL group thought that online support, digital literacy and how-to run a budget are important skills for Librarians to develop.
- Nancy Graham gave a talk on what an employer is looking for in job applications and interviews, and was immediately overwhelmed by questions.
The day ended with some collaborative group work on what should be included on their website and future meetings.