10 career building tips for library students and new graduates

I recently spoke at an online careers evening, with two other library professionals. The central idea for my talk was “It’s Up To You” and I wasn’t surprised to hear the other speakers talk about taking control of their career post-study, reinforcing my theme perfectly! And I wasn’t surprised to hear that both speakers talk about seizing opportunities, making hard decisions around study, moving for work and joining special interest groups to network and learn.

Once you have graduated from your library course, the learning begins all over again. You might secure a role straight away and HELLO! time to learn all the things about your organisation and job. Or you may be job searching or learning how to maintain your enthusiasm and library knowledge whilst working in another industry. But how do you find the right people to connect with, find a mentor or learn more about the specific area of library/information you are interested in?

Before the information session started, I created a Google Doc to capture articles and links that would be useful for those attending, and of course I shared it on Twitter and the Turbitt & Duck Facebook group, with a request for my fellow library people:

The collaboration and knowledge sharing game is strong in the library and information world, so here are ten tips from the It’s Up To You Google Doc, Twitter discussion, information session and me!

  1. Join Twitter – it’s brilliant for following conferences from afar, connecting with people, finding resources and sharing knowledge.
  2. Brush up on your interview skills.
  3. Ask a colleague or friend to review your resume or use a resume review service. If it’s been a long time since you’ve updated this document, do it now.
  4. Join a special interest group. You will expand your networks and find opportunities very quickly!
  5. Be curious! Ask questions and read widely.
  6. Create networks. If you are happy to do this online, join Twitter, Facebook groups, participate in online chats. If face to face is your thing, find a local group or event or start one.
  7. Volunteer at GLAM events. You’ll meet people, hear from industry experts and flex your networking muscles.
  8. Professional development comes in many forms – articles, blog posts, YouTube videos, podcast episodes, hands on learning, books, online discussions  . . . get creative!
  9. Spend time learning about transferable skills and how to translate what you already have into library and information terms.
  10. Don’t expect your employer to provide opportunities for you. It’s up to you to develop the skills, attributes and knowledge you need.

The “It’s Up To You” doc will stay open to all, so if you have something to add, please do! And thank you to everyone who has contributed, let’s keep adding and sharing!

One hashtag, many ideas

If you want an idea of how diverse the interests are of people in the library and information world is, look no further than #blogjune. Career planning, film festivals, imposter syndrome, morning coffee, technological obsolescence, books that you didn’t read – so many gems in one hashtag.

Take the time to read some of the posts, share them with friends and leave a comment on a post or too (trust me it’s quite exciting to receive a comment!).

Having never successfully joined #blogjune before (a couple of ‘meh posts and I was done), I’m happy to report that it’s a great community with plenty of support and good cheer. It’s not too late to join in, or at least put it on your list for next year.

In the meantime, get reading!

The DNF list

Do you persevere with a book even if you’re not enjoying it? Since I learnt to read until about 5 years ago, I did. I’d grumble and sigh my way through books (films and tv too), reading right until the bitter end. Maybe I thought there was some sort of medal for sheer bloodymindedness in book reading…who knows? At some point I came across the 50 page rule (if you’re not engaged with the story when you hit the 50 page mark, walk away from the book) and it was a revelation! If you’re shaking your head at this point, yes it’s completely silly, I agree.

Anyway, looking through my Goodreads lists the other night for the 3 books I’ve loved (recently) post I looked at my DNF list and what an odd mix of books it is. And I can still remember why I stopped reading each of the books…

The Elegance of the Hedgehog – the narrator didn’t work for me (a narrator that doesn’t engage or simply confuses me is an instant turn off). I wanted to like it but alas, I even tried to read this one a second time but no dice. Perhaps third time is a charm?

One Hundred Years of Solitude – sooo long, sooo many descriptions, too wordy and flowery and NOPE. This probably makes me a literary philistine, oh well!

The Great Gatsby – see One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Use Your Words: A myth-busting, no fear approach to writing – at the height of my frustrations about wanting to write but not getting anywhere (assisted by me actually not writing at all!) I picked up this book. A few chapters in, the author, Catherine Deveny suggests that if you don’t want to write, stop reading the book immediately and do something else. So I did. And then I started writing. Weird.

There are a few more on that list, and recently my selections from the library have been pretty average so there are some more to add.

Learning to stop reading has (I think) taught me to be more discerning and to think more about why I didn’t make a connection with the story – was it the tone, the writing style, characters, narrator? Actually it has made reading much more enjoyable – do you have a 50 page rule?



Books I’ve loved (recently)

Continuing on from my ‘Podcasts I love‘ post and because making lists is fun, I spent today thinking about books I’ve really enjoyed recently. Stories that have stuck in my head, made me think, laugh or cry and want to shove the book in someone’s face and say *READ THIS NOW!

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Wow. This book is incredible. There were paragraphs and sentences that I read and then read again because they were so beautiful and philosophical. Britt-Marie is awkward and difficult and her style of narrative takes a while to get used to (I also think that if you’ve watched any Scandinavian films, you will be used to the tone and style of the dialogue – but if you haven’t don’t panic!)

About halfway through this book I put it down and didn’t read it for a few days. Why? Because I didn’t want to finish it so wanted to delay the ending. Beautiful, moving, uplifting, gentle and REAL. Read this book!

Runemarks by Joanne Harris

Maddy is such a great heroine, awkward and feisty, I just love her. I really enjoyed (and struggled occasionally) with getting my head around the Norse mythology but you just need to roll with the story and figure it out later. I laughed a lot reading this book, there’s a particularly lucky character who is so enjoyable to read. Can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

Trespass by Rose Tremain

Rose Tremain is one of my favourite authors. **Restoration and Music & Silence are two of my all time favourite books and I admire her ability to write about many periods of history and different locations without them seeming at all similar or ‘samey’.

Set in France, Trespass is dark and sad, a story of siblings, retribution, and shared history. The setting is beautiful yet filled with simmering pain. None of the characters are particularly likeable but you want to understand them anyway. Trespass is not an easy read at times, as it explores the darker parts of life and family in a beautiful raw way, however it’s a moving story.

Tell me what you’ve read lately. Oh and here is my Goodreads which I’m not very good at keeping up to date or organised. #librarianfail

*This cry is often accompanied by me saying “if you don’t like it we can’t be friends anymore”.

**There is also a film version of Restoration starring Robert Downey Jnr which sounds awful but is actually quite wonderful!